Category Archives: simple

Homemade Chicken Stock

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This is so easy to make that it actually makes you feel guilty about buying chicken stock from the store. You basically have to force yourself to be lazy enough not to make this, especially when you make roasted chickens as much as we do. It’s basically a collection of what’s left in your fridge, some simmering, then freezing for fresh chicken stock all day, all the time.

HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK (makes about 3 quarts)

  • 1 chicken carcass (from a roasted chicken – I use this after we’ve used the bulk of it for recipes)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • handful parsley
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • Kosher salt & pepper, approx. 1 tsp of each

1. Get a big stockpot, the biggest you have.

2. Throw in the chicken carcass, parsley, carrots, onion, salt & pepper.

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3. Fill to the top with water – for me, this was about 12 cups.

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4. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 3 hours over very low heat, stirring every once in a while.

5. Taste, season, then remove all the chicken, veggies & parsley.

6. Store stock in large mason jars in the freezer (I stuck them in the fridge for a couple hours so they didn’t break while going from boiling to freezing) and thaw to use when needed. Enjoy.

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Chinese Pork Dumplings


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If I could pick one food to eat for the rest of my life (pasta is a given), it would be these. I love dumplings, especially the really good ones. Unless you live in a city, good-quality dumplings are really hard to find – most of the ones I order around here are either too thick, not flavorful enough, or some sort of variation on Asian pierogies.

That said, these are fantastic. Perfect consistency, great filling, light and super tasty. Brendan and I made them together, and it was amazing how many of them we got out of 1 lb. of pork. I gave in and stuck to the basics with this recipe, but I’m already planning what version we’re going to make next. These were a really fun kitchen project, AND they froze really well too. Who needs city Chinese food?? Ok, me. I do. But when I can’t have it, this is a pretty great substitute.

CHINESE PORK DUMPLINGS (makes a ton. Freeze whatever you don’t make in an airtight container)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • Pot Sticker wrappers (I found these at a little Asian specialty store)

1. In a large bowl, combine the pork, scallions, sesame oil, salt & pepper and minced ginger. Mix to combine.

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup


IMG_6896This “Arctic Freeze” makes me want to get into pjs, curl up under a blanket and eat a big bowl of soup. You know, pretty much like last year.  I love loaded baked potato anything, and now’s the perfect time of year for this soup. It was comfort food to the extreme, keeps amazingly well, is thick and rich and totally indulgent.  Plus, bacon. Mmmmmm.

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP (serves 6)

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • bay leaves
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 dashes nutmeg
  • 1.5 tsp. kosher salt
  • chopped chives
  • sour cream for garnish (optional)

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Breakfast Bananas

There’s this adorable restaurant in Scranton called Mansours, and every time I go in there I want to hunker down and spend the day there. It’s just beautiful and so welcoming.  It also doesn’t hurt that their food is amazing, and they serve La Colombe coffee, which I really miss from when I lived in Philly and there was a La Colombe about every block or so. They also serve one of my very favorite breakfasts. Are you ready?  Bananas, covered in peanut butter, rolled in really good granola and drizzled with honey. I know. I finally decided to try and make this myself since, you know, they’re not open every day. Enjoy.

BREAKFAST BANANAS (serves 2)
– 2 bananas
– Approx. 3 tbsp. peanut butter
– Really good granola-trail mix blend. This is key. Get something that’s flavorful and has whole almonds, cranberries and whatever other flavor you’d like on this. I used a mix of Wegman’s Organic French Vanilla and Almond Granola and Cranberry Sunshine
– Honey


1. Cut off the very top and bottom of the bananas.


2. With a knife, cover the bananas in peanut butter. I used Justin’s honey-peanut butter, which was awesome on this.

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Lemon-Dill Sauce

This goes with just about any kind of fish, combines some of my favorite things (lemon, dill & greek yogurt) and is super, super simple to make. It’s tangy and bright and we just love it. This becomes a kind of creme fraiche, which is terrific since I can rarely find that around here!
 
LEMON-DILL SAUCE (makes a little more than a cup)
– 7.2 oz. plain greek yogurt (usually the amount in 1 container) 

– juice of 1 lemon
– fresh chopped dill, about 1 tsp.
– pinch of kosher salt

1. In a small bowl, combine the greek yogurt and the lemon. 

 

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Homemade Baked Potato Chips

Someone in my family loves potato chips so much that they’ve been known to eat an entire family-size bag in one sitting. Oh, hi Mom! These chips are baked, which means they’re good for you, right? Okay, maybe not “good for you”, but they’re actually way better for you than the typical deep-fried ones, plus they’re ready in 20 minutes and super crunchy and delicious. We housed these.

HOMEMADE BAKED POTATO CHIPS (makes about 40)
– 2 russet potatoes cleaned really well (skin still on)
– 2 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. On a mandoline (be VERY careful – I swear one day I’m going to get over my fear of using these), slice these to 1/8 an inch. If you don’t have a mandoline, just try to cut these and thinly and uniformly as you can.

3. Rinse the potato slices in cold water, then pat dry really well – this is key to getting them to cook evenly.

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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.


Spinach and Artichoke Dip Pasta Bake (with Chicken)

There are certain things that just go together. Bacon and Cheddar. Sour cream and Onion. And of course, Spinach and Artichokes. What is it about that combo that’s so delicious?? I remember being a kid, and having it for the first time at probably the Ground Round or someplace like that, and feeling like my 8 year old culinary world had been blown wide open. There are so many different recipes that I make now, but spinach and artichoke dip is still one of my go-to favorites for a crowd.

This recipe lets you feel like you’re indulging in a classic appetizer for dinner, but actually lightens up everything by replacing the cream cheese with Greek yogurt and halving the sour cream, using about 1/2 of the cheese and adding protein-y chicken. Plus – pasta!!!  This makes a ton, keeps really well, is able to be thrown together in 30 minutes, and will have your dinner companions full and happy in an hour and a half total, tops.

SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP PASTA BAKE (WITH CHICKEN) makes about 10 servings
– 1 lb. chicken tenders, chopped
– 1 box orecchiette pasta, or similar (you want something kind of small that will stand up with this bake – bowties, mini penne or mini rigatoni would also be good)
– 2 9-oz. boxes creamed spinach (creamed is key)
– 2 15-oz.cans artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
– 1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
– 1/3 c. parmesan cheese
– 1 5.3 oz container plain greek yogurt
– 1/3 c. sour cream
– 1 cup pasta water (reserved)
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– Kosher salt & pepper
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1/3 c. panko bread crumbs

1. Set your oven to 375.

2. In a large pot, boil water, then salt it kind of heavily. Add pasta and cook until 2 minutes before its “al dente” stage. BEFORE YOU DRAIN IT, grab a cup of the pasta water out and set aside to let it cool. Drain the pasta.

3. In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp. EVOO over medium heat. Add chopped chicken, which has been seasoned with kosher salt and pepper.


4. Cook until the chicken is almost all the way cooked through, stirring occasionally but letting it get a little browned.

5. While the chicken is cooking, heat up the creamed spinach in a microwave.

6. In a large bowl (use one bigger than you even expect will be big enough), combine the creamed spinach, 3/4 c. shredded mozzarella, and the chopped artichoke hearts. Add a little of the parmesan cheese and combine everything.


7. In a separate bowl, combine the greek yogurt, sour cream and a little more of the parmesan cheese.


8. Take the almost-fully cooked chicken off the stove and put the chicken on a plate.

9. Add chicken and pasta to the spinach/artichoke mixture. Combine well.

10. Mix the greek yogurt/sour cream blend with the cooled pasta water, a little at a time, until the sauce is pretty thin but still has enough consistency to coat a spoon.


11.Spray a casserole dish with a little olive oil. Add about half the chicken/pasta/spinach/artichoke mix. Top with 1/4 c. of the shredded mozzarella, then half of the greek yogurt/sour cream blend.


12. Add the rest of the chicken/pasta/spinach/artichoke mixture. Top with the rest of the greek yogurt/sour cream blend, then another 1/4- 1/2 c. of the shredded mozzarella and the rest of the shredded parm.


13. In a small pan, melt 1 tbsp. butter, then toast the panko breadcrumbs. Top the casserole with the breadcrumbs.


14. Cover with aluminum foil, then bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover, put on the lowest rack, and cook for another 20 minutes – just make sure the chicken is cooked through.

15. Serve and feel like you got away with getting to eat a big bowl of healthy-ish spinach and artichoke dip for dinner!

Polenta Fries with Sage

Polenta fries. They’re healthier for you than traditional fries, about 100 times more delicious, and super simple to throw together, especially if you use pre-cooked polenta. You can mix up any sort of seasonings to dress them up, serve with any sort of dipping sauce, but for a little dinner party app, these – topped with sage and served alongside a little bowl of pasta sauce – were perfect. I had some of my girlfriends over for dinner and these were gone in about 10 minutes flat.

POLENTA FRIES WITH SAGE (serves 5)
– 1 package of polenta
– 2 tbsp. fresh chopped sage
– 2 tbsp. butter
– Kosher salt & pepper
– Pasta sauce (for dipping)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Using a package of precooked polenta, cut into fry-shaped pieces. Place on one layer on a baking sheet.


3. Melt butter.  Add chopped sage to this, some kosher salt & pepper and mix well.


4. With a pastry brush, lightly coat both sides of the polenta fries.


5. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, flipping once or twice, until crispy.

6. Drain on paper towels, serve alongside a side of pasta sauce.

 

Summer Salad: Watermelon, Avocado and Cucumber with Herbs

I don’t know about you guys, but for me, summer doesn’t really begin until I’ve had at least one watermelon (“I carried a watermelon?). They feel like such a summer indulgence, and they’re one of my favorite bases for salads. This combo of watermelon, cucumber & avocado is perfectly sweet, crunchy and creamy, and the lemon-lime dressing pulls it all together. Throw in some chopped fresh basil, mint and chives and dig in. Nobody puts Baby in the corner. 

SUMMER SALAD: WATERMELON, AVOCADO AND CUCUMBER WITH HERBS (serves 4)
– 1 English cucumber, peeled and diced
– 2.5 C. seedless watermelon, cubed
– 1.5 avocado, cubed
– 5-6 basil leaves
– 4-5 mint leaves
– small handful of chives
– Juice of 1/2 lime
– Juice of 1/2 lemon
– 5 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tsp. Herbamare, or 1/2 tsp. kosher salt & pepper mix


1. Dice the peeled cucumber (if you can’t find an English cucumber, seed a regular one and use that), and put the pieces in some paper towels to drain it a little bit.


2. Dice the watermelon into about the same size pieces as the English cucumber, wrap that in towels too, so that drains.

3. Make the dressing – juice the lemon and the lime, then add the Herbamare or kosher salt/pepper blend. Mix so the seasonings react with the acids of the lemon/lime mixture.  Add the EVOO, stir (or shake) well to combine.

4. Roughly chop up all the basil, mint and chives. 

5. Add about half the cucumber and half the watermelon to a pretty big bowl. Dice the avocado into similar-size cubes and add half of that to the bowl. Add the remaining cucumber, watermelon and avocado. 

6. Add the dressing evenly over the top of the salad. Then add herbs. 

7. Mix, serve and enjoy. This doesn’t keep well, but chances are it’ll be gone before you have to worry about that.