Saturday, October 10, 2015

Chicken with Rustic Apple Sauce

After an absolutely crazy summer, I am finally back to blogging.  While I have been cooking and trying new recipes throughout the summer, it has been very hard to find the time to write and I thought what better way to jump back into writing than sharing one of my favorite new fall recipes.  I developed this recipe from a combination of other recipes I have seen or have tried in the past.  I love apples and have cooked with them in past with pork but I have never paired them with chicken.  This recipe uses the same technique for cooking chicken thighs as the Garlic Chicken Thighs recipe but instead of a wine sauce, I substituted an apple sauce with fresh apples.

This recipe turned out amazing and tasted like Fall.  The chicken pairs perfectly with a white or brown rice.

So put on your chunky sweater and boots, drink a pumpkin spice latte while picking for apples for this perfect fall recipe. #whitegirlslovefall

Honeycrisp apples

4 chicken thighs, bone-in/skin on
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion
1/4 cup white wine
3/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 apples, cored, quartered and sliced (I prefer honeycrisp apples)
1/2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup white or brown rice

Preheat oven to 375 F

Dry chicken thighs well and season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil over medium high heat in an ovenproof saute pan.  Once oil is hot, add the chicken skin side down (do not flip).  Once the skin is a golden brown color, about 4 minutes, remove from pan.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and cook until they are lightly browned. Add the white wine.  Cook until reduced, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the apple juice, chicken stock, apples and thyme. Once at a boil, add the cream and dijon to the sauce.  Add the chicken back to the pan, skin side up.  Place lid on the pan and transfer to the oven.  Cook for about 30 minutes.

Place chicken on a large serving plate. Spoon sauce around chicken and serve.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grilled Chicken Tacos with Mango Salsa

It has been a while since my last post so I figured I'd start up again with one of my favorite new recipes.  This recipe combines my two favorite things about cooking in warm weather, cooking with fresh produce and grilling.  Since I do not have an outdoor grill I use a grill pan for this recipe.  At first I was intimidated using my grill pan because it would always smoke up but once I learned the proper way to use it, I try to cook with it whenever I can.  I love fresh grill marks on chicken or steak, it just tastes so much better to me than sauteing or baking sometimes, nothing tastes more like summer than grilled meat.

Let me start by saying that I have the absolute worst kitchen to try to use a grill pan in, so I searched the internet for ways to stop my grill pan from smoking up so much and now I have finally found a technique that works.  First off, I pat the meat dry before putting it on the grill pan, this ensures the meat sears correctly and creates the beautiful grill marks on the meat :) .  Next I preheat the pan for at least 10 minutes on a medium high heat.  To test if the pan is hot enough, pour a few drops of water on the pan, if they evaporate immediately, the pan is hot enough.  If the water steams up, try the test again in a few minutes.  Once the pan is hot, coat the pan with a thin layer of canola oil.  I use canola since it has a high smoke point as compared to olive oil, never use olive oil on a grill pan unless you want a kitchen full of smoke (I have come very close to that before I researched the different smoke points for different oils).  Now I can finally use my grill pan as much as I want without fear of setting off the smoke alarms, although I still open all my windows to make sure the air is circulating because I worry too much.

2 ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced (about 3 cups)
1 small red onion, peeled and diced
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
juice of one lime
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tsp salt

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tsp onion powder
1 Tsp garlic powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp pepper
8 flour or corn tortillas

In a bowl, combine the mango, pepper, onion salt, olive oil and lime juice.  Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Rub the mixture onto the chicken, set aside to marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat the grill or grill pan.  Grill the chicken for 7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  Let the chicken rest and slice into strips
Divide the chicken between the tortillas and top with salsa.  Every so often to mix things up, I add avocado as well.

Better quality pictures to come

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Garlicky Chicken Thighs

This is one of my favorite recipe, it is so simple to prepare but also very versatile to fit your tastes. The prep work is so easy, you do not even need to chop the garlic and the total active cook time is 10 to 12 minutes. The recipe can be used as an easy weeknight dinner or be served at a dinner party for guests  Since the prep work is so easy and the majority of the cooking time is baking the chicken in the oven, you can mingle with guests while the chicken is in the oven.  Just make sure you have the chicken in the oven before your guests arrive.

This recipe is also great for me because I already have most of the ingredients I need in the house so most days I just need to pick up chicken at the store but I usually buy garlic as well because this uses a lot, I use 10 cloves of garlic.  Before you think that is excessive, I leave the cloves whole and saute them up with the herbs to release their flavor into the white wine sauce.  When left whole, the garlic releases a mild sweet flavor into the sauce. 

Like I said before, the versatility is one of the best things about this dish, you could make it a different way every time you make it.  You can swap the thyme for another herb, such as rosemary or oregano (just be sure to go lighter on these herbs since the tend to have a more intense flavor.   You can also try a different type of wine for cooking, I have used both pinot grigio and chardonnay both of which turned out great and can change the flavor profile a bit.

Ingredient count: 8 (and I only had to buy 4)

 Season the chicken

 Add the chicken to the pan skin side down

 Cook chicken until skin is golden brown.  I do recommend using a splatter guard during this step.

 Remove chicken from the pan.  Turn the heat down, add herbs, garlic and bay leaves

 Add Chicken back to the pan
Cover, place in oven, cook for 40 minutes

Garlicky Chicken Thighs

2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, patted dry
4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
3 fresh thyme sprigs  or rosemary
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup dry white wine 
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste  

Preheat oven to 325°

Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat olive oil over high heat in an ovenproof saute pan.  Once oil is hot, add the chicken skin side down.  Once the skin is a golden brown color, about 4 minutes, remove from pan.

Turn down to a medium heat, add garlic, herbs and bay leaves.  Saute, about 2 minutes, until the vegetables are just beginning to color.  Pour in the wine and vinegar.  Stir with a wooden spoon to dislodge and browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan skin side up, cover and place in the oven.  Cook until chicken is tender, about 40 minutes.  

Serve with braising sauce and garlic over chicken

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Roasted Butternutnut Squash Soup

OK so I am going to be promoting two of my newest obsessions The first is one of the newest additions to my kitchen, the Vitamix blender (thanks Mom and Dad!).  Ever since I got it I have been looking for new recipes so I can use it.  My husband and I have gotten in the habit of bringing healthy smoothies to work each morning (blog post on that to come) but this is the first dinner dish I have made with it.  If you don't already know, the Vitamix is a very powerful blender with a 2 horsepower motor which can pretty much blend anything and sounds like a rocket launch. 

My second new obsession was a gift from my sister, a subscription to Salted ( which is basically Netflix for cooking tutorials.  I am officially obsessed and watch the videos all the time even if it is about something I have made before so I can learn more about the reasons why things are cooked the way they are.  The videos are all from expert chefs that do a really good job of breaking down a recipe or cooking technique step by step so you can really learn the basic cooking skills that you need when cooking anything.  The tutorials range from making a basic sauce to cooking a Thanksgiving turkey.

The reason why I bring up my two obsession is because I used both for my butternut squash soup.  I have never made butternut squash so it was extremely helpful watching a video that broke down the process of making it.  I found the most helpful part to be cutting the squash open.  Squash has to be one of the most intimidating thing to cut into, it is round, unstable and has a very thick skin that is hard to break.  I was very uncomfortable cutting the squash at first but once I watched how it should be done, I felt so much more at ease because I had some idea of what I was doing.  Luckily everything worked out and I didn't lose any fingers (YAY!) and the squash was cut in two parts with a steady bottom ready to start preparing to roast.

The great thing about this recipe is it can be made ahead of time.  I had a busy week, so I roasted the squash a day before I made the soup.  After I roasted the squash, I let it cool completely and stored it in the fridge until I was ready make the soup.  You can even make the entire soup ahead of time and reheat in a saucepan when ready to use.  You can store it in the refrigerator for a few days or in the freezer for up to a month.  Note that the soup does thicken up when cooled, so you will need to add some water to thin it out a bit.

I was shocked how much my husband loved this dish.  He is not always up for trying new things but he loved it, he even wanted to bring the leftovers to work the next day.  This dish is the ultimate comfort food.  It has so many rich flavors and gives off such a great aroma, it just smells like Fall.  I can't wait to make more recipes like this in the Vitamix.

Ingredient count: 10 (only had to buy 5 ingredients)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  With the skin side up, cut  each half in half so you have 4 pieces of about even size.  Scrape out the seeds using a large spoon.
 Add squash to a roasting pan.  Season with salt, butter, rosemary, crushed red pepper, cinnamon, and pepper.  Place in the oven.

Depending on the size of the squash, cook for 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.  Squash is done when it can be easily pierced with a knife.

Remove squash from the pan.  Collect any juices from the bottom of the pan and set aside.

Remove skin from squash and mash the squash with a potato masher a bit.  Set aside.

To start the soup, melt butter over medium heat and add rosemary and red pepper flakes.  Cook for 2 minutes, Add onion, cook until onions are translucent.
Add in squash and squash stock (juices from the roasting pan).  Bring to a simmer and cook down for 20 minutes.
Add heavy cream, stir to incorporate.  Bring to a simmer, cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Once cooked, remove from pot and let cool for a bit.

Pour contents into blender and blend until completely smooth.
 Serve immediately

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Recipe from Salted and Bruce Kaleman
Butternut squash, about 3 lbs.
4 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
Rosemary, 3 sprigs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup water

1 tbsp. butter
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
Rosemary, 1 sprig
Onion, julienned
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Mashed butternut squash
2 cups squash stock or vegetable squash
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Roasted Butternut Squash Instructions

Lay the squash length-wise on the cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, slice off the top of the squash, or about one inch away from the tip. Place the knife directly above the seed pocket and slice to remove.

Turn the squash pieces so that they sit flat on the cutting board. Cut these 2 pieces in half, yielding four halves total.

Use a large spoon to scrape the seeds from the bottom-most squash halves. If there are any extra hairs or seeds in the other squash halves, scrape these out as well.

To roast the squash, place four halves on the sheet tray, facing up. Season with salt, butter, chili flakes, rosemary, cinnamon, and pepper. Pour the filtered water into the pan, as this will allow the squash to steam. Cover with parchment paper and aluminum foil. Seal the edges to allow the squash to steam thoroughly.

 Place in an oven heated to 350 degrees. Depending on the amount of squash, cook for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Check on the squash by gently piercing the flesh with a knife; if the knife pierces easily, the squash is ready.

 Remove the squash from the oven. Remove the rosemary and continue with the desired squash recipe.

Soup Instructions

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the olive oil, rosemary and crushed red pepper and cook for about three to four minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and onions to the saucepan and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until translucent.

Add the roasted butternut squash and the squash stock to the saucepan, mixing with a spoon until fully incorporated. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and stir to incorporate. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

Once fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes. Pour the contents of the pot into a blender and blend on high for 30 seconds to a minute or until completely smooth.

Taste the soup and season with salt, as necessary. Blend the soup for an additional 15 seconds.

Pour the soup into individual serving bowls.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Green Beans with Shallot and Almonds

I always am on the lookout for recipes and ways to make vegetables into something I want to eat rather than just something I should eat.   This dish is so flavorful, you will want to eat all your vegetables and even make enough for seconds.  I grew up in a house where dinner almost always included a meat, a starch and a vegetable, so green beans have always been a staple for me.  I remember one of my first kitchen tasks as a kid was trimming the ends off green beans.

There is no excuse not to include a vegetable with dinner when you have a recipe this easy and delicious.

Ingredient Count: 5 (only needed to buy 2)

1 lb. Green beans
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small to medium shallot, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add green beans to boiling water.  Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until green beans are just about tender.  Drain and plunge in ice water. Let sit for about 1 minute and drain.

Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat.  Once hot, add the sliced shallot.  Stirring once or twice until golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the shallot to a plate lined with a paper towel using a slotted spoon. 

Add the green beans to the pan, season.  Cook until green beans are crisp- tender.  Serve with shallots and almonds on top.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Simple Rice Pilaf

 This is my go to side dish recipe.  It is so simple, even easier than boxed rice and it pairs with absolutely anything.  Before I made this rice for the first time, I would use the boxed rice when serving rice for dinner, but ever since I have tried this, I have never gone back to boxed rice.  It takes an equivalent amount of time but packs more flavor without the sometimes soupy consistency of boxed rice.  You also control the amounts of ingredients when you cook your own, which is always a plus if you are concerned about your sodium intake or unpronounceable ingredients in pre-made food products.   This recipe is my base recipe, but you can also add a variety of different ingredients to this depending on what your are serving as your main course.  You could add vegetables, garlic, almonds or even pieces of cooked chicken to make this a meal of its own. 

For those that don't know, rice pilaf simply means rice that is cooked in broth.  When I first started making this, I used standard chicken broth but one day at the store I saw that College Inn sold a white wine and herb flavored chicken broth so I thought I'd give it a shot.  That broth was amazing in this rice and adds such a rich flavor to the rice that standard chicken broth does not.  Ever since then, I use for this when I make the base (and others) recipe of this rice.

Ingredient Count: 6 (I usually keep all of these ingredients on hand)

To begin, add 4 tablespoons butter to a skillet and turn on the stove to a medium high heat, Watch to make sure that you only melt the butter and it does not burn.

 Once melted and hot, add the orzo to the pan and saute until golden brown, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes.
 Once the rice is a golden brown color, add the rice.  Stir to combine,  Saute for about 1-2 minutes
 Add the broth, bring to a boil.
Once at a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan.  Cook for 20  minutes.  Once complete, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.  Serve immediately.

Simple Rice Pilaf

4 Tbsp. Butter
1 cup Orzo
1 cup Basmati rice
14.5 oz chicken broth (I prefer College Inn white wine and herb chicken broth)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

Melt butter in a saute pan.

Once butter is melted, add orzo and saute until lightly golden.

Once the rice is a golden brown color, add the rice.  Stir to combine,  Saute for about 1-2 minutes

Pour in the chicken broth, stir and bring to a boil.

Once at a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cover the pan.  Cook for 20  minutes.  Once complete, remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork.  Serve immediately.

Vegetable Rice Pilaf:  Add 1 cup finely chopped onion, 3/4 cup diced carrots, 2/3 cup diced celery,  and 2 cloves minced garlic after adding orzo.  Continue with step 3.  Add diced zucchini or yellow squash after removing rice from heat.  Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  (This will steam the veggies) 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Pot Roast

There is nothing better on a cold day than having a pot roast cooking in the oven for dinner.  The past few days have been absolutely freezing here in the DC area so it was a great time to cook one of my favorite cold weather recipes. 
While a pot roast does take a while to cook, the  the majority of the cooking time is the roast in the oven and the results are well worth it.  The meat is so tender and shreds so easily when it is cooked through.   

Ingredient Count: 12 (only needed to buy 6)


Pot Roast 
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 2-3 lbs. beef chuck roast
2 cups beef stock
1/2 cup red wine
2 Tbsp tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
3 carrots, cut in 1 in. pieces
4 red potatoes, cut in 1 in. pieces

Preheat oven to 350 .  In a dutch oven, heat oil over a medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper the roast and place it in the pan.  Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes.

 Turn meat fat side up.  Add stock, wine, onion, garlic, bay leaf, tomato paste and thyme.  Bring to a simmer, cover.  Place in the oven and roast for 2 hours

After 2 hours, add carrots and potatoes and cook until tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer the roast, carrots and potatoes to a platter.  Cut the roast into thick slices and serve with vegetables

Friday, January 2, 2015

Porter Braised Chicken Thighs

I found this website on the Williams Sonoma Blog and absolutely fell in love with the rich flavors of this dish.  To me this the perfect dish for the Fall and Winter time.  I love that it has a slow cooker taste but only has to cook on the stove top for 40 minutes.

My husband and I love craft beers, so this is a perfect dish for us to be able to use a bottle of beer we have in the fridge.  If you are not a dark beer drinker, you can always buy a mix and match 6 pack (which is what we do a lot).  Or buy a pack of porter and do not refrigerate them and keep a few on hand for making this in the future (which you'll want to do once you try this).

My husband loves this dish because not only am I cooking with beer, I use one of our easiest pieces of cookware to clean, the Le Creuset dutch oven.  The Le Creuset is one of favorite cooking tools of all time.  It cooks like nothing else and is perfect for anything from braising to cooking a pot roast to just sauteing meat or vegetables.  I look for any excuse to use it especially in the winter  (even though I love our All Clad cookware as well).

While this recipe is from Williams Sonoma, I did make a few edits such as cutting out the celery root and only making 4 pieces of chicken, rather than 8, due to the size of my Dutch oven and number of people I am cooking for.

Ingredient count:11 (only needed to buy 5)
Porter Braised Chicken Thighs (credit:

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium, Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes.

Add the carrots, and potatoes, then stir in the porter, broth, brown sugar, mustard, tomato paste and thyme.

Return the chicken thighs to the pot, submerging them in the liquid, and bring to a simmer.

Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Serve in a shallow bowl.

2 carrots, cut into 1 in chunks
2 red potatoes, cut into 1 in chunks
1 yellow onion, minced
4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
2 Tbs olive oil
1 (12 fl oz.) bottle Porter
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs, packed light brown sugar
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp, tomato paste
3 sprigs of Fresh thyme

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until very hot but not smoking. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down, and cook, turning once, until lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter.

Reduce the heat to medium, Add the onion and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes.

Add the carrots, and potatoes, then stir in the porter, broth, brown sugar, mustard, tomato paste and thyme. 

Return the chicken thighs to the pot, submerging them in the liquid, and bring to a simmer.

Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.