Category Archives: dinner

Black Bean, Acorn Squash, Kale & Cheddar Jack Quesadillas

Let’s say that you and your boyfriend are going to a city council meeting one night, and you’re both working basically right up to the time it starts. Do you A. Go to the grocery store and buy things for dinner which would probably consist of pasta, and a jar of sauce B. Pick up something on the way to the meeting or C. Think about the hodgepodge of ingredients in your refrigerator on your drive home from work, throw this together in 45 minutes and then watch your boyfriend inhale an entire quesadilla in the 5 minutes he’s home before you both have to leave for the council meeting, knowing that it’s made of almost completely healthy things? 
 
C. If this town could run itself as efficiently as this recipe came together, it would be a whole new world. 
 
BLACK BEAN, ACORN SQUASH, KALE & CHEDDAR JACK QUESADILLAS (serves 2-4)
– 1/2 an acorn squash, sliced
– 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into pieces
– 1/2 vidalia onion, really thinly sliced
– 1/3 shredded jack cheese
– 4 flour tortillas
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt & pepper
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
 
2. Carefully (these are really hard), with a serrated knife, cut the acorn squash into strips. Rub the cut sides with a little olive oil.
 
3. Place acorn squash on a baking sheet, roast for about 30 minutes, flipping sides around halfway through.



4. Thinly slice an onion, then cook it over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp. EVOO until it soften and starts to caramelize. Continue reading

Crispy Lemon Chicken

 There’s nothing better than produce from the Farmer’s Market. Everything is fresher, bigger, more flavorful. I love talking to the farmers and getting to know more about where what I’m eating is coming from. It’s also so much easier to make healthy decisions during the summer, and I usually end up stocking up on meats to try and make it through the winter, like a 21st century Pioneer (which Brendan, who would live off the land entirely if it was up to him, is going to love). Anyway, the only time I’ll get chicken thighs is from the Farmer’s Market – any other time I’ve bought them from a grocery store, they kind of skeeve me out. This was thrown together in 10 minutes, ready in 30, and while it was cooking I made cauliflower puree and Brendan whipped up this awesome garlic-y, lemon-y sauce with scallions and thyme for the chicken. It was a crispy, super flavorful, perfect Monday night dinner.

CRISPY LEMON CHICKEN (serves 2-3)
– 2 lbs. skin-on, boneless (if you can find them, if not, bone-in) chicken thighs 
– 2 lemons 
– 1 tsp. EVOO 
– Kosher Salt & pepper 
– Leftover chicken juices 
– 2 tbsp. flour (approc.) 
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
– Fresh thyme and the greens of 2 scallions 

1. Preheat the oven to 425. 

2. In a COLD cast iron skillet (I used Le Creuset), add the tsp. EVOO, circling it around the pan. 

3. Add well-seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down, then turn up the heat to medium. The chicken will start to cook in its own fat and develop a ton of flavor. 

4. Walk away for about 10 minutes. After that time, flip the chicken thighs over and cook for another 4 minutes or so. When you flip them, the skin should be brown and crispy looking – this is perfect. 

5. Drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a pretty decent coating. 

6. Thinly slice one of the lemons, then scatter them into the skillet with the chicken. Squeeze half of the other lemon all over everything. 

7. Bake in the oven for approx. 10 minutes, or until chicken is 160 and the juices run clear when cut. 

8. Remove chicken and lemons from the pan. 

9. Make the sauce. Pour what’s left in the pan through a fine sieve into a small sauce pot. Mash the lemons against the side of the sieve so the lemon-ness gets into the sauce. Add the garlic, lemon juice, thyme and scallions and whisk it all together. 


10. Over medium-low heat, whisk together this mix, adding a little bit of flour at a time until it starts to come together. Keep whisking it to get the lumps out. 


11. Serve chicken with the sauce, some of the lemon and the side of cauliflower puree. Oh and make sure you have the sauce on the table, since you’re going to want it all over everything.


Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro over Thai Peanut Quinoa

A bag of frozen shrimp should be a household staple. You can defrost it in ten minutes, put together some of the quickest, tastiest meals ever, and you probably have everything you need in your kitchen right now to get dinner ready, stat.  This recipe is soooo simple and so summery and great – shrimp, cilantro, lime & a little cumin – and you can serve it over pasta, rice, in a tortilla, or over quinoa dressed with spicy Thai peanut sauce, like we did. Shrimpy shrimp shrimp, how I love you so.

SHRIMP WITH LIME AND CILANTRO (serves 3)
– 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
– juice & zest of 2 limes
– handful of cilantro, chopped
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
– 1 tsp. cumin

1. If the shrimp is frozen, thaw quickly by immersing shrimp in a bowl of super cold water, and changing the water approximately three times over 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Add shrimp to a bowl, then add the lime zest & cumin.


3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the tbsp. butter.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. 


4. Add shrimp to the pan and cook, approx. 2-3 minutes on each side. Don’t over cook!


5. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and cilantro, mix well. 

6. Spoon shrimp over whatever you’re serving this with, add lime slices for garnish, enjoy.



  

Turkey Arugula Burgers

I’ve really cut down on the amount of red meat I eat, which means ground turkey is a substitute for a ton of recipes. After I got out of work early the day before the 4th of July, I came home and made these awesome turkey-arugula burgers for lunch. The onion gives them a little crunch, the dijon mustard holds them all together, and they were ready in maybe 10 minutes flat, which was just enough time for me to throw together a summer salad to go with lunch. We put these on potato rolls and mashed up some avocado to use as a base for these, which was awesome. Brendan made these killer dark and stormys and we kicked off the 4th of July weekend right.

TURKEY-ARUGULA BURGERS (makes 4)
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 1 cup arugula
– 1/4 onion, diced
– 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
– kosher salt & pepper (maybe 1 tsp. each)

1. Get the grill (or grill pan) ready.

2. In a bowl, combine turkey, feta, onion, mustard and salt and pepper.


3. Dig in with your hands and mix it all together.


4. Form mixture into 4 equal burgers.


5. Grill for maybe 3-4 minutes on each side.


6. Serve on a bun with more arugula and mashed avocado, and enjoy the weekend.



Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon, Creme Fraiche, & Chives

Ah, breakfast for dinner.  This is indulgent enough for suppertime, served with some good sourdough, or a real treat for breakfast.  If you can’t find creme fraiche, just substitute cream cheese, which is also awesome (so awesome, in fact, that I used to eat it by itself as a snack when I was a kid. I know).

SCRAMBLED EGGS WITH SMOKED SALMON, CREME FRAICHE, & CHIVES (serves 2)
– 6 eggs (3 yolks, 6 whites)
– 1/4 C. roughly chopped smoked salmon (approx. 2 oz.)
– 2 tbsp. creme cheese or creme fraiche
– 2 tbsp. half & half or heavy cream
– 1 tbsp. butter
– really good quality sourdough (or whatever kind you’d like)
– chopped chives
– kosher salt & freshly cracked black pepper

1. In a smaller saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat.

2. Whisk the eggs lightly together with the half & half (or cream), salt, & pepper.
3. When butter is melted, pour the eggs into the saucepan. The key to cooking them is to use a wooden spoon, and kind of push the uncooked parts around the pan so they can get some heat, not letting the cooked parts stay on the heat too much. Keep a pretty close eye on these until they’re finished (approx. 5-7 minutes). You want them to be soft & creamy, not overdone.

4. When eggs are almost finished, add salmon & stir to heat.

5. Remove eggs from heat, add the cream cheese or creme fraiche in little dollops, and stir to combine all of it.  The heat from the eggs will melt the cream cheese a bit, which is perfect.

6. Top with torn chives. Serve with toasted buttered sourdough.


— My new little indoor herb garden!!!  I love springtime. This has been a really transitional 6 weeks or so, but the gorgeous new apartment and the new experiences – and cooking in the new kitchen! – are all helping, a lot.  It’s a watershed moment in my life, and I’m really looking forward to everything that’s yet to come.



Mediterranean Shrimp & Feta Bake

Not only is most Mediterranean cuisine amazing for you & your health, it’s also awesome. There’s an emphasis on fresh cooking, olive oil instead of butter, foods with flavors of their own so you don’t need a bunch of add-ons, and then flavors like dill, lemon, olives, feta, etc. The “Mediterranean diet” practices eating habits that the U.S. recommends for us, and just think of how much better off we all would be if we lived like this all the time! Plus, I’m a fan of any eating plan that encourages drinking red wine.  So pour yourself a glass and get this Shrimp & Feta bake started.  It’ll be ready in 30 minutes, tops.

MEDITERRANEAN SHRIMP & FETA BAKE (SERVES 4-6)
– 1 lb. frozen, uncooked shrimp
– 1 vidalia onion, diced
– 3 cloves garlic, chopped
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 28-oz. can chunky crushed tomatoes
– 1 tbsp. chopped dill
– 1/4 c. fresh chopped flat-leaf parsley
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/3 c. crumbled feta
– Kosher salt & fresh-cracked pepper to taste
– Orzo, or pasta, or rice, to top with the Shrimp & Feta bake

1. Quickly defrost your shrimp.  Fill a bowl with cold water, add the shrimp, and change the water twice over the next 20 minutes.  You’ll be able to throw the rest of this together by the time they’re de-thawed.


2. Preheat the oven to 425.  

3. In a saucepan (or better, to make this a one-pot meal, a Le Creuset Dutch Oven), heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until softened, approx. 5 minutes.


4. Add the chopped garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 60 seconds.


5. Add the tomatoes, stir to combine, and let heat until it starts to shimmer (approx. 2 minutes).  Then, lower the heat to a simmer, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until the juices start to thicken.

6. Remove from the heat. and stir in the dill & parsley, juice of 1 lemon, feta, shrimp, and salt & pepper.


7. Place pan on the middle rack in the oven and bake, uncovered, until shrimp are cooked through, approx. 10-12 minutes.


8. Serve over cooked orzo, pasta, rice, etc.  – or eat it on its own for a fully gluten-free meal.

Fish Tacos spiked with Cilantro and Lime

When I first heard of fish tacos, I thought they sounded totally gross.  Fish tacos??  How would that work? Weren’t tacos just meat, salsa, lettuce and shredded cheese? Little did I know.  A couple of years later, these are one of my favorite things to make – they’re healthy, full of flavor, and are really adaptable to different ingredients.  This one infuses tilapia with cilantro and lime flavors, and is topped with avocado slices and a tomatillo salsa for a fresh, quick dinner.  A fresh, light creamy avocado dressing would also be really nice with this, too.

FISH TACOS SPIKED WITH CILANTRO AND LIME (serves 2 for dinner – approx. 4 tacos)
– 1 lb. tilapia
– handful cilantro, chopped
– small whole-wheat tortillas
– 1 lime, zested and juiced
– 1/2 tsp. cumin
– dash paprika
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– couple grinds of fresh black pepper
– sour cream, for topping
– tomatillo salsa, for topping
– avocado, for topping


1. Zest the lime (just the green, not the white – the “pith” is really bitter), then juice it.  This was the first time I got to use our new Rosle Citrus Reamer, and holy moly.  Game-changer.


2. Combine the lime juice with the lime zest, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper, stir to allow the spices to mix with the lime juice.  Add the olive oil & chopped cilantro, stir to combine.  


3. Add the fish to a ziplock bag, then pour the marinade over it. Ziplock the bag, shake it all up so that the marinade covers the fish, and let sit for approx. 20 minutes (I used this time to make a tomatillo salsa).



 4. If you have a Le Creuset Grill Pan (Le Creuset continues to be awesome), get it super hot (medium-high heat, no oil), then add the fish.  Cook until it’s flaky and cooked through, approx. 7 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the tilapia.


5. Warm the tortillas in a microwave – 4 at a time, in a paper towel, for approx. 45 seconds – then top with the fish.  Add avocado slices, tomatillo salsa, sour cream.  These are light and delicious, and a little different than our typical mexican fare, the turkey taco lettuce wraps.  Hope you like them as much as we do!

Greek Turkey Meatloaf “Roll-Up”

I love making Spanakopita, even though all those delicate layers of pastry dough are my nemesis (nemeses??).  That said, all those Greek flavors – spinach, feta, a little lemon, and dill – are some of my very favorites.  Could we take those and incorporate them into a turkey meatloaf?  Yes.  Yes we could.  This was delicious, and I didn’t tell B what I had added, but he noticed the light lemon and dill flavor after a couple of bites.  They definitely add a different dimension to your typical turkey meatloaf, but in an awesome way. Rolling this up makes it so pretty, too!
 
GREEK TURKEY MEATLOAF “ROLL-UP” (serves 4-6)
Ingredients:
– 2 lbs ground turkey
– 1 Vidalia onion, diced
– 5-6 packed cups fresh baby spinach (approx. a 10-oz. bag), wilted, drained, and chopped
– 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
– 1 egg & 1 egg white, slightly beaten
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– 2 tbspns olive oil (or 1 tbspn olive oil and 1 tbspn butter)
– salt and pepper
– dried dill (1.5 tbsps)
– juice of 3/4 of a lemon  (approx. 1.5 tbsp)
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
 
2. Heat 2 tbspns olive oil (or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter) in a large saute pan over medium heat.
 
3. Dice the vidalia onion like this:
Half an onion, slice off the top part (but keep the “root” part intact) and then make slits along the ridges of the onion, almost down to the root. You can kind of follow the natural lines of the onion.  Then flip it on its side, and slice it horizontally. The onion will “dice” itself naturally.
 
4. Saute the onion in the oil or oil/butter combo until soft, add salt/pepper to taste.
 
5. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, combine turkey, dill, breadcrumbs, the lemon juice, the egg, 1/2 a teaspoon salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon pepper.
 
6. When onion is soft, remove from the pan and put on a plate to cool slightly.
 
7. Put pan that previously contained onions back on the heat, and add spinach to it.  Lower heat and stir until just wilted, then remove spinach and drain by either pressing spinach against the sides of a sieve, using a cheesecloth to wring it out in bunches, or squeezing most of the liquid out with your hands (but let it cool first, obviously). When the spinach is drained, roughly chop. Set aside.
 
8. Add cooled onions to the turkey mixture, stir everything to combine. You can really get your hands in there to mix it up, which is probably easiest. Form turkey mixture into a ball, and then press into an oblong shape on a piece of wax paper, and flatten minimally.
 
9. Top turkey mixture with chopped spinach, and then top with the crumbled feta:
10. Using the wax paper to help get things moving, roll the turkey meatloaf, beginning at either short end of the roll. It should look like this when you’re finished:
12. Put the meatloaf in a foil-lined baking pan, and bake in the oven at 400 for approx. an hour, or when the internal temperature reaches 160 Degrees 160 degrees.  About 45 minutes into this, I took it out of the oven and drained off the fat/liquid that had pooled in the foil. You don’t have to, but it probably helps.
 
This is really pretty, so tasty, and is even better for lunch the next day, hot or cold.

Linguini with White Clam Sauce

This recipe has been my simplest go-to meal to cook for company since I got my first apartment. It’s comfort food that seems fancier than it really is, it takes almost no time at all to throw together (minus the simmering), and if you make it with fresh pasta (please do) it’ll be immediately added to the rotation.  I have never known anyone who didn’t completely love this recipe.  Thanks Mom!


LINGUINI WITH WHITE CLAM SAUCE (serves 3-4)

– 3 cans whole baby clams (& juice of 2 of those cans)
– 1 vidalia onion, sliced into thick half moons
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– handful fresh parsley, chopped
– 3/4 cup good white wine (optional, but lends a nice dimension of flavor)
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
– pasta, approx. 1/4 lb., or 3-4oz. for each guest 

1. In a large pan, melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat until combined. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 60 seconds.  Add the onions and saute until soft, approx. 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the wine and let the alcohol burn off, approx. 3-5 minutes. 

3. Add juice of 1 can and all the baby clams.  Take 1 can of juice and discard. In the remaining can with the juice, add 1/4 c. grated parm, combine, and add to the pan.

3. Stir to combine, then turn heat down to low.  Cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring every now and then.


4. At the very end, throw in the chopped parsley and stir to combine.  Cook the pasta, then top with the white clam sauce.  There will be quite a bit of juice, which is delicious, so keep the pasta separate so it doesn’t soak it up (if you’re going to have leftovers).

5. Serve, per my Mom’s instructions: “with a salad & of course a good bottle of white wine.  Invite a friend over for a real treat!”

That’s a well-used recipe card from my Mom, right there!

In other news, I am super psyched for a weekend yoga workshop with the amazing Pradeep at Balance Yoga  despite this snowstorm that’s meant to be bombarding the Northeast this weekend.  Also, snowstorm “Nemo”?  Seriously??

Chicken, Black Bean, Kale, Roasted Butternut Squash, & Avocado Enchiladas


Say you have friends over on Monday, and you make an enormous roasted chicken. Then let’s say you have a ton of leftovers, since apparently an 8 lb. roast chicken is way too much for 4 people. And let’s also say that you would like Mexican food, but not turkey tacos, since although they are delicious, you make them all the time.  

Enchiladas??  Okay.

These were so tasty, and so filling, and I was able to convince myself that the kale, squash, and avocado made them healthy (enough). I thought the roasted butternut squash might add too much sweetness, but it ended up acting as sort of a binder for the filling, and lending just a little bit of flavor. This recipe uses a  tomatillo sauce that I found in the store, so if anyone has a tomatillo recipe they love, I’m all ears. These keep, and reheat, really well. I think they might actually even be good cold.

CHICKEN, BLACK BEAN, KALE, ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH & AVOCADO ENCHILADAS (makes 7 enormous enchiladas)

– 1 lb. shredded chicken
– 2 cups kale, “ribs” removed and roughly chopped
– 1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
– 1/2 roasted butternut squash
– 1 small avocado, diced
– Mexican cheese – I was able to find a small wheel of “quesadilla cheese” in the grocery store which was perfect
– 2 cups tomatillo sauce
– Smaller-size flour tortillas
– 1 small onion, diced
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt or Herbamare
– Fresh-squeezed lime juice
– Sour cream, for topping

1. Roast your butternut squash. This is really easy but takes a little time. First, heat the oven to 400. The just take the whole squash, with a couple of holes poked into it, into the oven for about 15 minutes.  The squash will soften, and make cutting it a slightly less terrifying experience.
2. After 15 minutes, cut off the bottom of the squash, then cut it down the middle and scoop out all of the seeds.


3. Rub a little olive oil on the cut side of each half of the squash, then place cut-side down on an ungreased baking sheet.

4. Cook at 400 for approx. 30 – 45 minutes (depending on the size of the squash). Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.  The skin of the squash will peel right off, and you can then cut the squash into chunks for this recipe, or salads, or soup, or whatever.

5. While the squash is roasting, dice an onion.  The easiest way to do this is to cut the onion in half, then make vertical cuts along the onion’s natural lines.  When you then cut the onion, it will dice itself naturally.


6. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add 2 tsbp EVOO, and when hot, cook the onion until soft. 

7. Add the rinsed and drained black beans, chopped kale, and chicken. Stir to combine.
8. Add about 1/2 C. of the tomatillo sauce to the bean/kale/chicken/onion mixture for some flavor. Taste and adjust seasoning.

9. When the mixture is cooked, add the roasted squash and the avocado. Stir gently to combine.

10 Lower oven heat to 375.  In a microwave, heat the tortillas (4 at a time) in paper towels, for approx. 45 seconds.

11. Spread approx. 1/2 C. of the tomatillo sauce over the bottom of a large baking pan.


12. Assemble your enchiladas – spoon filling into the middle of a warm enchilada, grate some mexican cheese over the filling, and squeeze a little lime juice over it as well.  Roll up the enchilada and place in the baking pan seam-side down.

13. Step and repeat.

14. When all the enchiladas are in the baking pan, pour the remaining cup of tomatillo sauce over the top of them, then top with approx. 1/2 C. of shredded Mexican cheese.

15. Bake, covered with aluminum foil, for approx. 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

16. Serve with lime wedges, sour cream, salsa, etc. Ole.