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Craisin Almond Chicken Salad

3 Sep

I like to make a big chicken salad at the beginning of the week so I can A) make lunches off of it, and B) eat it cold while standing in front of the fridge looking for real food to eat. I typically will make between 4-8 chicken thighs if I’m doing it this way, or if I’m just making it for one meal I’ll just use one breast. This recipe is just my best guesstimate – I change it up every time I make it. Just a heads up – this makes a large amount of food! You can always scale it down to be a more… manageable? appropriate? not-so-ridiculous amount? Whatever. Have fun.

 

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What I used:
8 chicken thighs
2 green apples, cored/seeded and chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
4 oz craisins
4 oz slivered almonds (any nuts will do, but I like almonds)
¼ cup greek yogurt
¼ spicy mustard (or regular… but I like to live adventurously)
salt, pepper, basil – I tend to do it to taste

Cook the chicken thighs in slow cooker until cooked through – usually 3-4 hours or so. Pull off the bone and discard any remnants of fat or bone. Pop in the fridge until it’s cool. You can really cook it any way to your liking – especially if you’re scaling down. I think it’s a little ridiculous to slow cook one thigh!

Combine chicken, apples, celery, craisins, and almonds. In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, mustard, and spices. Pour over the chicken and mix in. If you find that you do not have enough sauce for your liking, you can always add more! That’s just the amount I like to start with.

I like putting this chicken salad on wraps or on a sandwich (especially if the bread is toasted… yum).

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

14 May

I know it’s been a while since I posted – life has been pretty nuts over here. I finished my clinical, somehow managed to graduate (ha-ha), have been studying for the boards, AND have been preparing for a couple vacations. But don’t worry, I still have enough free time to concoct a delicious dinner or two a week for my ever-appreciative roommates.

A few months ago Nick’s Aunt Marianne came to visit and made a delicious Pad Thai. Between that and the increasing stack of Chinese/Thai cookbooks in our kitchen, we have developed a constant hankering for any type of asian food. We decided to make our own “alternative” pad thai, which uses spaghetti squash instead of asian noodles.

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I really thought that everyone knew what spaghetti squash was, but it recently became clear to me that it’s apparently not as common as I thought. For those of you who don’t know, when you bake this kind of squash, it pulls apart into strands (much like spaghetti). The best part is that it’s healthier than regular pasta – weighing in at around 30 calories a cup it’s a guilt-free substitution to any meal.

This is kind of a long one, so hang in with me here.

What we used:
1 spaghetti squash, whole
½ white onion, diced into big chunks
3 stalks of celery, diced into chunks (or slivered)
about 7 baby carrots, slivered
1 orange pepper, sliced thin
2 scallions, chopped
2 eggs, whisked
½ cup peanuts
olive oil

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For the sauce:
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoon peanut butter
½ lime, juiced

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Optional:
I served with chicken and shrimp, but you can easily sub out for other meats/tofu/ whatever
2 raw chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 handfuls of shrimp, de-tailed

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Alright, here we go:
Preheat the oven to 350. Using a large fork, poke some holes in the squash. Wrap it up in a wet paper towel, and microwave for five minutes – make sure that you let it sit for a while when it’s done, it’ll be super hot. Once it’s cool enough to handle, put it in the oven whole for about 10 minutes or so. (I did my microwaving before I prepped my veggies and meat, and then threw it in the oven right after my chicken hit the pan.)

Coat a large frying pan in olive oil. Turn the heat to medium and add the celery, carrots, onion, and pepper. Fry for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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While that was going, I started my sauce – using a small saucepan, I combined the fish sauce, juice of ½ a lime, and vinegar together, and brought to a high heat. (I also added some scallions into the sauce, but that’s optional). Once it was warm, I added the peanut butter and let simmer, stirring occasionally until combined. I left it on simmer while the rest of my food was cooking, which was probably about 5 or so minutes.

At this point I recommend starting whatever meat you’re gonna use – I used a medium sized frying pan, some oil, medium heat, and cooked the chicken. I heated the shrimp in my veggie pan once they were done cooking. Nothing crazy.

(Now is the time to put the squash in, if you hadn’t already)

After the veggies have been frying for about 5 minutes, push them to the sides of the frying pan (see picture). Slowly pour in the eggs, and let sit for about 30 seconds. Proceed to cook as if they were scrambled eggs with a bunch of stuff in them – stir, when the eggs are cooked the veggies are done.

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The squash will be VERY HOT. I held it with a towel during these steps – cut in half, remove the seeds with a fork, and then gently scrape the walls of the squash to pull all the stringy stuff off. I put it in the (now empty) large frying pan on HOT with some oil and fried for a minute or two, just to make them a little less tender.

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I threw some peanuts in the oven on broil and pulled out when they started to roast – just a few minutes. I then put the veggie combo (top with the scallions), chicken, shrimp, sauce, and peanuts in a separate bowl and let everyone serve themselves. Use the spaghetti squash as your noodle base and dig in!

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Spinach and Chorizo Soup

29 Apr

I originally got these ingredients with a pizza recipe in mind. It took until we actually started preparing the food before we decided to change our mind and make a soup instead. It was pretty hearty, and just a little spicy.

The recipe makes a ton of servings – I think it ended up being about 9 or 10 cups worth of soup. We made it over the weekend and then just ate it for lunch every day – it held up surprisingly well.

If I make this again, I’ll probably add a couple more potatoes. You could could also up the amount of black beans, but I was happy with how many I had.

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What I used:
5 chorizo sausages, cooked mostly through, cut into 1” coins
2 potatoes, peeled, diced
1 red onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped – I used half each of a green, red, orange, and yellow
1 package frozen spinach, thawed
1 can black beans, undrained
6 cups chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, parsley, 2 bay leaves, salt/pepper

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Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion, potato, and sausage. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the potatoes are starting to get soft and the onion is translucent.

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Oh yeah, I became really hungry at this point and had a mug full of fruit loops. Nick insisted I add it to the post.

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Add the peppers and spinach, and stir until combined. Cook until the peppers soften a little bit, about 3 or 4 minutes.

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Add the black beans and broth. I used 6 cups here, but add however much you want – it’s up to your taste. Add the bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt/pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the potatoes are soft. Top with parsley.

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I served it with cheesy garlic bread, but serve it with whatever you want to.

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Sushi! (first attempt)

18 Apr

We made sushi last week – it was so much easier than I could have ever imagined. For some reason I expected it to be super hard and complicated, but it was so so easy.

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We went to Haymarket and grabbed a pound of tuna (for $3, come on, how could we not!). We decided to be risky and eat it raw – bold move, I know. We went to an asian grocery store and picked up a pack of seaweed sheets (the wrapper stuff). Try to get the perforated type! So much easier to deal with. We made two rolls and gobbled them down within about 2 minutes each. We were under the influence at the time (which explains why the pictures are disastrous) so it’s a little sloppy, but it was still really good (or so I remember….)

What we used:
Dried seaweed sheets
About a cup white rice (maybe a little more) – cooked and cooled
½ pound of tuna, sliced up thin
Whatever other delicious things you want to put in! We used cream cheese, carrots, and celery in our second wrap, sliced
Pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce – to eat with the wrap

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How we did it:
Lay the sheets out so the rough side is up. If there are perforations, you’ll want them to run left to right (it’ll matter later).

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Lay a thin layer of rice down – try to be sure the rice is completely covering the sheet, but also try and lay it down as thinly as you can. Leave about ½” at the right edge uncovered.

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Put your fish (or whatever) down the left side (perpendicular to the perforations). If you’re using other ingredients, you can put them in here – we used cream cheese, carrots, and celery.

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Roll it up, and cut it into pieces on the perforations. We dipped the pieces into soy sauce and topped with some wasabi – and then chased with ginger. It was supeerr delicious!

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I think next time we’ll be a little more wild with the other ingredients – maybe something a little spicy? Hmmmmmm

 

Chilled Asparagus Soup

16 Apr

I picked up a couple bunches of asparagus at Haymarket over the weekend… they were 3 for a dollar, how could I resist?! We used one bunch in a pasta dish – we roasted peppers, asparagus and onions over pasta with an olive oil/garlic sauce.

Anyway, that left me with two extra bunches of asparagus. The stalks didn’t look wonderful… they were pretty floppy. In order to try and salvage some of the whopping financial investment I had already made in asparagus, I pondered the ways to use extra bunches… and somehow decided on making soup (what is this, my third time making soup in two weeks?) It’s a lot simpler than the last couple soups I made, with a lot less ingredients. I wanted a cold soup, but this could be eaten either way.

I definitely think that next time I make this soup I’ll add some rice in – I liked it, but some people weren’t crazy about the texture (excuuuuuuuse me NICK). I think adding rice will make it more palatable.

As usual, this makes a good size serving (about 7 cups). You can easily halve this recipe if you don’t have an army to serve.

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Serving Size: 1 cup Total Servings: 7 Cals per serving: 89
Fat: 5.0 g – Protein: 4.9 g – Carbs: 7.0 g

What I used:
Two bunches of asparagus, washed
1 ½ onions
1 lemon
4 cups veggie broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, basil
a blender is a must!!

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What to do:
Start by chopping the onion up – actual size of pieces doesn’t matter, it’s all going to get blended anyway. Put the olive oil in your favorite soup pot over medium heat, and when it’s hot add the onion. Cook until translucent, stirring occasionally.

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While that cooks, start on the asparagus. Begin by cutting off a couple tips (2 for each serving, they’re for decoration). Chop the rest of the bunches into roughly 2” pieces. Once the onion in done, add the 2” pieces of asparagus, sprinkle some salt, pepper, and garlic powder and cook for about five minutes – the asparagus will become a more vibrant green than before.

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After the five minutes is up, add the broth, cover, and turn to high heat. Once it boils, let it simmer for about 15 minutes or until the asparagus is pretty soft. Take it off the heat and let it cool for a bit… and grab your blender.

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Blend it in small batches, being sure to take the middle piece out of the blender top before turning on (see picture). Otherwise it explodes EVERYWHERE. I used an oven mitt over the top of the blender as a precaution – whatever you do, be sure to secure the top down well.

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Pour the blended parts into a bowl and stir to combine. I like to squeeze the lemon juice onto the soup at this point, but I’ve heard of people who just use the lemon rind here.

Refrigerate the soup until chilled. Take those asparagus spears (bet you thought I forgot about them, didn’t you) and remove the little thorns. Pour into bowls and top with the spears, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic.

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We served with stuffed peppers and crusty bread, but Nick mentioned it’d probably be really good with some steak and potatoes, too.

 

Tequila Lime Chicken

9 Apr

No special background story for this one – we just had a bunch of leftover cilantro, limes, and jalapenos, and I needed to figure out a way to use them all up. I was thinking about making this into a pasta, but we’re trying to “eat healthy” so that wasn’t going to happen. I served the chicken breasts along with some avocados and a side salad, which served for a pretty filling meal.

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Just a warning, this ended up being a pretty spicy dish – if you’re spice-sensitive I would only use ½ a jalapeno, and de-seed/de-rib it before blending. I did make a pretty kick-ass barbecue sauce last week, so we threw some of that on here.

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What I used:
For the marinade:
⅓ cup tequila (the cheap stuff)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped (or a couple tbsp if still whole)
2 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeno, stem removed
The juice of one lime

3 chicken breasts
½ cup white wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 avocado, sliced
BBQ sauce
Side salad – greens, onions, bacon, cheese, sour cream….

Using a food processor, combine the tequila, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, lime and blend until well combined. Place the chicken breast in a ziploc bag (butterfly it if you’d like, I didn’t), and dump the marinade in. Put it in the fridge for a few hours before eating – I refrigerated mine for about 4 hours.

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When you’re ready to cook, set a large frying pan on medium heat. Pour in the chicken and all of the marinade from the bag. Cover, and cook on medium until done all the way through – it was about 8 minutes each side.

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While that’s cooking, combine the white wine and cornstarch. Pull the chicken out of the pan when it’s finished cooking, a pour the wine/cornstarch mixture in, and turn the pan to low. Whisk for a minute or so, until the sauce starts to thicken. In the meantime, slice or cut up the chicken so it’s in easier to manage pieces. Serve on top of a salad along with avocado, bbq sauce, and plenty of sour cream.

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Pretty easy and fast meal if you have the time to set the marinade up!

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Chicken Pot Soup

4 Apr

It’s been a little chilly (and rainy) up here the last few days. Whenever it is crummy out, I always crave hearty soups or stews – or really any warm food. As I was sharing this sentiment with Nick, he told me that he has been craving chicken and dumpling soup, and thus, an idea was born.

I had some trouble right off the bat – I didn’t know what he was talking about. I thought he meant dumplings that you get with chinese food. Apparently, from what I understand, it’s basically a ball of dough that cooks in your soup. I thought the challenge of making something I’ve never heard of could be fun, right? WRONG.

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I tried making the soup following a couple recipes and managed to absolutely screw it up – and make something even better. My end product was a chicken pot soup (like chicken pot pie, but more soup like). If I were to make this again, I would probably double the amount of chicken and veggies and keep everything else the same – that way it would have more of the feeling of actual chicken pot pie.

What I used:
For the soup
2 tbsp butter
1 white onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
¼ cup white wine
2 lbs chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
6 cups chicken broth
⅓ cup 1% milk
salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder
3 bay leaves

For the topping:
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cup 1% milk
2 tbsp dried parsley

I started by making my normal chicken soup – If you have a recipe you love, feel free to use it, but this is what I usually use.

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Melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Season the veggies with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the wine and cook down until the onion is translucent. Add the chicken, chicken broth, bay leaves, and bring to a boil. Turn down and let cook for about thirty minutes on low, covered.

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For the topping: In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and parsley, sifting to get rid of any clumps. Add the milk and stir well to combine.

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Carefully and slowly spoon the mixture on top of the soup, being sure to cover the whole surface with dough (my dough expanded when cooking, so this wasn’t a problem for me at all).

Bring the soup to a boil (again), partially cover, and let cook until the top of the dough turns hard and browns.

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Let sit for a few minutes (it will be hot!) and then enjoy.