Category Archives: simple

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.




Spinach and Feta Turkey Meatballs

 

Meatballs top the list of my favorite foods, especially when they’re over pasta. My mom’s meatballs are completely amazing, so I’ve never tried to duplicate them, but I’ve got to start somewhere. I put these together based on a recipe for my Greek Turkey Meatloaf, and ended up with a lighter, brighter, Greek-er (is that a word? Anyway.) version of a traditional meatball. They were fantastic. I’m seriously convinced that a combo of spinach and feta makes just about everything better. 

– 1.5 lbs ground turkey 

– 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained pretty well 
– 1/2 tbsp chopped dill 
– Squeeze of lemon – this sounds weird, but just trust me. 
– 1/2 C crumbled feta 
– 1/3 panko bread crumbs 
– 1 egg 
– Salt & pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400 and lightly grease a baking tray. 


2. In a large bowl, combine turkey, feta, spinach, egg, dill, lemon, salt & pepper. Dig your hands in and just mix it up – it’s kind of gross and satisfying all at once. 


3. Form turkey meatballs into approximately golfball sizes, place on the tray. 


4. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip and bake for 12 minutes more until they gain a little color and are fully cooked through. I put these on top of a mediterranean quinoa and topped them with Tzatziki sauce, and we housed them. Fantastic. 



Tortellini and Basil Shrimp in a Lemon-White Wine Sauce

 

So, let’s say you go to the grocery store and shop for the week, then get to the checkout aisle and only after the checkout girl starts ringing you up, realize that you’ve forgotten your wallet back at the office, and have to leave everything there. Then, let’s say you go back home and wing a recipe by putting cheese tortellini, lemon, shrimp and basil together, make a lemon-white wine sauce with a little butter and parmesan, then sit down for a really delicious meal that’ll knock your socks off and only leave you with one pot to clean. Who needs a wallet anyway. It’s Monday. This is a great recipe to start the week.

ONE-POT TORTELLINI AND BASIL SHRIMP IN A LEMON-WHITE WINE SAUCE (serves 3-4 as a side; 1-2 as a main) 
– 1 lb. shrimp, frozed, uncooked, peeled & deveined, tails off 
– 1 12-oz. bag of frozen tortellini
– zest of 1 lemon 
– juice of 2 lemons (divided) 
– 2 tbsp. butter 
– 1 tbsp. EVOO 
– 4 cloves garlic, chopped 
– Bunch of fresh basil, chiffonaded 
– 1/3 grated parm (use same microplane you used to zest the lemon) 
– 1/4 c white wine 

1. Cook tortellini in salted water in a french oven (I would cook absolutely everything in this), set aside.

2. In the pot that you used to cook the tortellini, melt butter, add EVOO & simmer with the lemon zest on low for 5 minutes.


3. Add chopped garlic and shrimp, cook until pink (2-3 mins).

4. To this mix, add juice of 1.5 lemons, and 1/4 c white wine, then let infuse for another 2 minutes on low.


5. I removed the shrimp at this point and put them on a plate to rest, so they didn’t overcook, then cooked down the wine/lemon/butter/garlic sauce a little bit. When the shrimp cooled, I chopped it up into bite-size pieces. 


6. When sauce is mildly reduced and the alcohol has burned off the wine, add the shrimp & the juice collected on the plate, tortellini (dry – don’t add EVOO or anything, or it won’t stick!), parm, basil, and give everything a big stir.


7.  Remove from heat, cover, let sit to warm up the tortellini and shrimp again (get a salad ready or something – we had it with a green salad topped with my favorite avocado-cilantro dressing).

8. Right before serving, put a little slice of butter in, along with half a lemon, juiced, and a little more grated parm. Taste and adjust seasonings, and enjoy.  


Four-Layer Mediterranean Dip

 

Last summer my friends and kids spent almost every weekend at Regina’s pool. Everyone would bring something, we’d have a couple cases of juice boxes (for the kids) and coronas (for the adults) and would just swim and eat and hang out. It was one of the best summers I’ve had in a long time…the little things, I know. My friend Adrienne would make this dip almost every weekend, and we’d devour it. It’s hummus, lemon-flavored greek yogurt, feta and then a blend of english cucumbers, red bell peppers, olives, tomatoes and scallions. You eat it with Carr’s water crackers and IT IS THE BOMB.  Ohhhh I’m so excited for pool season to start!!

FOUR-LAYER MEDITERRANEAN DIP (very slightly adapted from House Tweaking)
– 8 oz. plain hummus
– 1 tbsp. dill
– 2 tbsp. lemon juice, divided
– 1 regular size container plain Greek yogurt
– 1/2 tsp. pepper
– 1/3 english cucumber, chopped
– 1/2 small tomato, chopped
– 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
– 1 scallion stalk, sliced thin (both whites and greens)
– 1/4 c. kalamata olives, chopped
– 1/2 c. crumbled feta

1. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice and the dill to the hummus, mix well. Spread in 1 layer in a pie pan (clear is best since you can see the layers when it’s finished, but if you don’t have one, no worries).


2. Add the other tbsp. lemon juice and the pepper to the greek yogurt, mix well. Spread that in a thin layer on top of the hummus.


3. Crumble the feta in an even layer over the lemon greek yogurt mixture.


4. Add the english cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, scallions and kalamata olives (make sure these are all chopped in pretty much the same smallish size) over the top of the feta.


5. Serve with Carr’s Water Crackers and feel like Houdini as you watch this disappear.

— On another note, if Memorial Day Weekend was any indication of how this summer’s going to go, it’s going to be awesome. 

Modest Mouse at Ommegang – it poured but we had a blast

An unbelievable meal at the Red Caboose in Oneonta

“I’m always red.”

Brendan’s first Phillies game!! (He’s from Colorado)

Ommegang 
Otesaga Hotel – so so gorgeous