I Hear There is Yummy Chicken in Morocco

Morrocan Chicken Final

This one requires some explanation. I have this Dutch Oven cookbook that I like a lot and this recipe title caught my eye, Moroccan Chicken and Pastina Bake. The picture above is from the second time I made this dish (I trashed all of the pics from the first time because they did not look yummy enough).

I hate to say it, but the first time I made it, it was bland and tasteless. And, I always follow the instructions explicitly when it’s a new recipe so you know I’m speaking the truth here. However, when necessary, I will take artistic license on future attempts of a recipe.

Trust me. It was necessary.

I thought it was weird that I wasn’t instructed to brown the chicken first (so, essentially boiled chicken. yuck.) So, on my second attempt, I used a Tweaked Out version of a Bob Greene pork rub to give it some pizzazz. For the original rub, click here.

My family agreed that my zipped up version of this Morrocan dish was waaaayy better than the original. The recipe below is what I’ll be going with from now on.

Moroccan Chicken with a Bob Greene Kick / The Dutch Oven Cookbook

Servings:  6-8

Cook & Prep Time: 90 minutes (30 minutes prep / 60 minutes cooking)

 You will need: 

  • a 7-qt Le Creuset stock pot
  • 1 small mixing bowl
  • a garlic press (unless you want to mince your garlic)
  • chef’s knife
  • tongs
  • zester
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Ingredients:

Chicken & Rub:

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 garlic cloves, pressed

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 Tablespoon of cinnamon

1/2 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon of salt

Everything Else:

1 lb of cherry tomatoes, rinsed and stemmed

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt (and more to taste)

1 large red onion, diced

1 quart of chicken stock

1 lb of penne pasta

2 cinnamon sticks

Zest and juice of 1 orange

Directions: 

Chicken:

Prepare the chicken first. In a small bowl, mix the following ingredients: dark brown sugar, oregano, cinnamon, salt and unsweetened cocoa powder. Mix these well with a fork. Then, add the pressed garlic and olive oil.  Use a fork to mix thoroughly until it is like a paste.

Place your chicken thighs on a cutting board. Dry them with a paper towel and then add the rub to the top of chicken thighs. Then, let the chicken marinate in the rub at room temperature for thirty minutes.

Chicken with Rub

While the chicken is marinating, prepare everything else so you are ready to go. And, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat some olive oil in the stock pot to medium high. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides for about 2 minutes each. Place on a platter until all have been browned.

While the chicken is resting, add the tablespoon of olive oil to the stock pot. Add the cherry tomatoes, salt and pepper. Cover the stock pot and put in the oven to bake for 15 minutes.

When the 15 minutes is up, pull the stock pot out of the oven, place on the stove and add the rest of the ingredients. Layer: pasta, chicken thighs, red onion, cinnamon sticks, orange zest, orange juice and chicken stock. Make sure there is enough liquid to just cover everything. (If you need to add a bit more stock, do it.)

Add a little more salt and pepper, put the lid back on the stock pot and put the pot back in the 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.  

The revised version of this dish was very tasty! Try it, you’ll like it.

I promise.

 

My First Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup Final2013 was definitely a challenging year for me and didn’t allow me to tend to my food blog. I really missed blogging and missed cooking. However, we did not starve! Our supremely generous friends and family made meals for us during my radiation treatments and during my surgery recovery.

It was so wonderful – we had some delicious meals that were new to us. I’m still waiting on some recipes, hint. hint.

While waiting on the recipes from my friends and family, the first new meal of the new year was found in my new cookbook that I received as a Christmas present. I highly recommend it for easy, yummy soup recipes. (Our family loves soup).

New Cookbook

Minestrone with Parmesan / easy soups (pg 20)

Servings: 4 (I actually doubled this recipe for us)

Cook & Prep Time:  25 minutes for prepping / 35-40 minutes for cooking

You will need:

  • 5 to 7-qt stock pot
  • Tongs
  • Wooden spoon
  • Chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils – dry and liquid

Ingredients:

1/4 Cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 Carrots, chopped

4 Celery stalks, chopped 

1 Red Onion, chopped

6 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 Tablespoons of Flatleaf Parsley, freshly chopped

3 Teaspoons of Tomato Paste

14 oz can of plum tomatoes, chopped (I bought can of crushed tomatoes)

4 cups of Chicken or Vegetable stock

14 oz can of Borlotti Beans (what? I used navy beans – they are a good substitute)

Parmesan rind (optional)

5 oz of spring greens, shredded (I used baby spinach)

3 1/2 oz of spaghetti, broken up

Salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

Veggies for soup

Chop the vegetables and put them in a bowl: Red Onion, Carrots, Garlic and Celery.

veggies ready for the pot

In the soup pot over low to medium low heat, heat the olive oil and add the vegetables. Saute the vegetables, covered for about 10-15 minutes (or until thoroughly softened).

Carrots, onions, celery & garlic sauteeing

Add the parsley, tomato paste and tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Next, add the stock and beans (whatever the variety) and bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. If you have the parm rind, add it here.

Add the pasta and cook for as long as the directions call for (about 7-8 minutes). Can we talk about the spaghetti? Against my gut, I used the broken spaghetti, but it just doesn’t work well in a soup. It was frustrating to eat for everyone. I would recommend a short pasta: rotini, penne, or farfalle. That was the only critique of the soup – everyone loved the flavor.

When the pasta is almost done, add the greens so they can wilt into the soup. Also, this is where to add the salt and pepper to taste.

Pile the Spinach on!Spinach Wilting

To serve, dish into pasta bowls and garnish with a small dollop of sour cream and freshly shaved parmesan cheese. I also served some awesome fresh bread. 

Dinner Table

This recipe received a thumbs up from everyone despite the spaghetti. It also reheats really well and tastes better the next day.

Orzo with Feta & Roasted Veggies

Veggie Orzo & SalmonSurprise, surprise! My going-to-be-college-sophomore cooked dinner for us the other night, and it was really, really good. She is always surprising me which is a good thing:)

One of her college roommates is a vegetarian and Rachel learned this easy, delicious recipe from her. Her roomie eats this as a main dish, but Rachel prepared it as a side dish with baked salmon. (Even my 13-year-old son had seconds!)

Orzo with Feta and Roasted Vegetables

Servings:  5-6

Cook & Prep Time: 35 minutes tops (10 minutes for prepping and 25 minutes for cooking).

 You will need: 

  • rimmed baking dish lined with foil
  • mixing bowl
  • chef’s knife
  • pot for cooking pasta
  • serving bowl
  • various spoons and spatulas
  • liquid measuring tools

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of orzo pasta

12 oz of crumbled feta cheese

3 medium-sized zucchinis (or one large eggplant), diced

2 red peppers, diced

2 yellow peppers, diced

1 red onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for coating the veggies)

salt and pepper

 Directions: 

In a mixing bowl, add the diced zucchini, red peppers, yellow peppers, red onion, and minced garlic. Coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the veggie mixture on your lined baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 20-25 minutes.

With about 10 minutes left on the veggies, cook the orzo pasta.

Also, mix the 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and olive oil to make the dressing.

When everything is done, mix the veggies, orzo, feta cheese and coat with the dressing while everything is still warm so the feta melts a bit.

You are ready to serve it!

IMG_9590

Try this recipe. You will not be disappointed!

Bawdy, Flattened Chicken (aka Chicken Paillard)

IMG_8205 FinalDid you know that paillard in French means bawdy? I looked it up online and that’s what I found. Hmmm… Obviously, in culinary terms, it means flattened. How did meaning get from bawdy to flattened?

If anyone out there really knows French and determines that the research I did was faulty, please feel free to correct me.

I’ve made this dish three times and the third time was the best. Below is my modified recipe. The original recipe can be found in my Rachael Ray Classic 30-Minute Meals cookbook.

Chicken Paillard on Baby Greens / Classic 30-Minute Meals

Servings:  4 (depends on how many chicken breast you want to buy)

Cook & Prep Time: 35 minutes (15 minutes for prepping and 20 minutes for cooking).

You will need: 

  • a large skillet
  • large plate & foil
  • dish for flour
  • tongs
  • whisk
  • chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Chicken Ingredients:

8 chicken cutlets

Olive oil

4 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces (let it set out and get to room temperature)

4 tablespoons of flour, then additional flour for coating chicken

Fresh tarragon, chopped

1 lemon, need both zest and juice

1/4 cup of white wine

2 cups of chicken stock

salt and pepper

1 bag of baby greens

Directions: 

Lay out the chicken breast cutlets on a cutting board, pat dry with a paper towel. Then dredge each piece in flour and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In the large skillet, heat the oil on medium to medium-high heat. Cook the chicken cutlets for 3 minutes per side.  Put the chicken in pan, sprinkle with some tarragon and lemon zest. Flip the chicken, squeeze a bit of lemon juice on the second side and also sprinkle with some tarragon. When done remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.

While the chicken is cooking, mix the 4 tablespoons of flour and the room-temperature butter until it looks like a paste. You will use this to thicken your sauce.

Once the chicken is done cooking, use the same pan and turn the heat down to low and give it a minute. Add the white wine to the pan to deglaze. Next add the flour-butter paste and whisk quickly – this is your rue. Turn the heat up to medium. While whisking, add the chicken stock and keeping stirring until the butter, flour and chicken stock are thoroughly incorporated. Your sauce is done when it can coat a spoon.

If you have left over tarragon, add it to your sauce. Also, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the sauce as well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

The Greens:  You are supposed to just use some lemon juice and olive oil. I did this the first time and it was too lemon-y. The last time I made it, I bought some Henri’s® Sweet & Tangy Blend Tas-tee Homestyle Dressing for the greens. I just used a light coating for baby greens. It was a nice complement to the chicken.

To Serve, cover the bottom of the plate with the warm sauce. Top with a small pile of the baby greens, 2 chicken cutlets and then drizzle more sauce over the tops of the cutlets.

Sides: I’ve made pasta as a side as you can see in the picture (use the brown sauce on the pasta). I’ve also made roasted asparagus – 375 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, asparagus, olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

It’s been well-received every time I’ve made it. It’s a quick, but elegant meal if you need to impress someone and don’t have a lot of time!

What do you do with a Pomegranate?

Pomegranate braised short ribs - final

You guys are going to think I’m nuts, but here is another short rib recipe. I love these things – they are relatively inexpensive and really delicious. They take a while to cook, but are worth it.

Today is my husband’s birthday so I picked this recipe to make for his special day. First, because it was a short rib recipe and second, because I was intrigued by the pomegranate. I’ve never cooked with them. However, I do recall eating one as a child and having memories of them being kind of hard to eat, really messy and not very fulfilling as a snack.

Pomegranates & Wine

This recipe is in my December 2012 issue of my everyday FOOD magazine if you want to review the original.

Pomegranate Braised Short Ribs / everyday FOOD Magazine

Servings:  6-7

Cook & Prep Time:  20-25 minutes for prepping and 3 hours for cooking

 You will need: 

  • 7-quart stock pot
  • small bowl for pomegranate seeds
  • chef’s knife
  • tongs
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)
  • platter
  • sauce pan
  • sieve

Ingredients:

12 bone-in short ribs (3-inch pieces)

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 cup of dry red wine (I found pomegranate wine!!!!!)

3 cups of pomegranate juice

1 large yellow onion, sliced into wedges

1/4 cup of flour

10 sprigs of Thyme

1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, for garnish

Salt and pepper

Directions:

 

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

Season the ribs on all sides with salt, and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in the stock pot to medium-high so you can brown the ribs. Brown them on all sides for about 3 minutes a side. I worked in batches. When browned, remove the ribs and place on the platter.

Turn the heat down to medium and give it few minutes. Then add to the stock pot:  garlic, onions and thyme. Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the flour and coat the onion mixture – about a minute. Next, add the pomegranate juice and wine and whisk together. Bring to a boil while stirring frequently.

Turn the heat off, then add the short ribs back to the pot.

Cover the stock pot with the lid and place in the oven for 3 hours. Bake until the ribs are easily pierced with a paring knife.

Once done, remove the ribs to a platter.

short ribs out of the oven

Strain the liquid into a fat separator and let sit briefly. Since I do not have one of these, I used a sieve and strained the liquid into a sauce pan and let sit for about 5 minutes. Then I spooned the as much fat off the top as possible. Once that was done, I boiled the liquid down about 10 minutes so it looked like a gravy.

For the garnish, cut the pomegranate in half. Holding one of the halves over a bowl, give the pomegranate a squeeze (to loosen the seeds) and smack the top of it with a large spoon. This process, while sounding bizarre, actually works to get the seeds out with too much of mess (it still looked like a mini crime scene, but I’m thinking it could have been worse if I has used another method).

pomegranate

Side Dish:  I served the braised short ribs with goat cheese mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Make sure and cover the short ribs with the gravy and garnish with the pomegranate seeds.

This is my favorite of the short rib recipes that I’ve posted so far.

By the way, the birthday boy was happy and that’s all I cared about!

Baked Salmon with Fennel & Cauliflower

Salmon with Cauliflower & Fennel finalThis is another salmon recipe I found in my  everyday FOOD  magazine – the December 2012 issue. We LOVE salmon in our house and I make it about 2-3 times a month.

I’m always on the look out for new recipes.

I did change this recipe a bit from the original – below is my version.

Salmon with Fennel, Cauliflower & Bell Pepper / Everyday Food Magazine

Servings:  6

Cook & Prep Time: 40 (15 minutes prepping / 25  minutes cooking)

You will need: 

  • baking dish
  • rimmed baking sheet
  • small bowl
  • tongs
  • spatulas/wooden spoons
  • chef’s knife

Ingredients:

6 salmon fillets (mine are usually about 6 oz)

2 tablespoon of olive oil

zest of one orange, then orange sliced into wedges

1/2 head of cauliflower, thinly sliced (the original recipe never mentions cauliflower, I just added it)

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced

2 tiny cans of sliced green olives

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

dried tarragon

salt and pepper

Directions: 

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, combine the cauliflower, fennel, orange zest, orange slices, green olives, olive oil and yellow bell pepper. Give it a good stir before placing the mixture on the rimmed cookie sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Cauliflower, fennel ready to be roasted

To prepare the salmon, brush it with olive oil and season it with salt, pepper and the dried tarragon.

Salmon ready for oven

With both dishes prepared, put the fennel/cauliflower in the oven first for 10 minutes. When the 10 minutes are up, add the salmon to the oven for 15 minutes. At the end of the 15 minutes, both the salmon and the fennel/cauliflower will be done! You will want to check the salmon – it should be opaque.

Side Dishes: I served this salmon with a quinoa dish that I’ve made before. Click here for the recipe (the kids LOVE it).

This salmon recipe made it into the “Make It Again” category. I will be honest and let you know that my two youngest kids would NOT eat the fennel/cauliflower side dish. And, that was fine with me and the hubs – more for us!

Sauteed Chicken & Olives with Dijon Asparagus

This recipe is a variation of one that I saw in my everyday FOOD magazine. I used sliced green olives instead of capers because that’s what I had available in my pantry.

Both the main dish and the side dish are very easy and quick to fix. And, everyone (and, I mean, everyone) cleans his or her plate!

The kids do pick around the green olives, but they do add a nice salty flavor to the sauce.

Sauteed Chicken with Olives / everyday FOOD (variation)

Servings:  4 (depends on how many chicken breast you want to buy)

Cook & Prep Time: 25 to 35 minutes (15 minutes for prepping and 10-15 minutes for cooking).

You will need: 

  • a large skillet
  • a medium skillet
  • tongs
  • whisk
  • wooden spoon
  • chef’s knife
  • measuring utensils (dry and liquid)

Chicken Ingredients:

4 chicken breasts or 8 chicken cutlets

Olive oil (about 3 tablespoons)

3 tablespoons of butter, cut into pieces

Flour

1 2.25-oz can of sliced green olives

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

salt and pepper

Asparagus Ingredients:

2 bundles of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

8 oz of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

salt and pepper

Directions: 

Chicken:

Lay out the chicken breasts on a cutting board, pat dry with a paper towel. Then dredge each piece in flour and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In the large skillet, heat the oil on medium-high heat. Add one to two pats/tablespoons of butter and cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes. Then flip the chicken and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When done remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil.

Now add the white wine vinegar to the pan to deglaze. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the bits. Then, add the butter and the olives (including the brine) to the pan. Stir until the butter is melted. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the skillet and warm for a few minutes.

I fix the asparagus while the chicken is cooking.

Asparagus:

In another skillet, cook the bacon until is crisp (medium high heat). When done, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the skillet to a paper towel lined plate.

Add the asparagus to the skillet and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add the Dijon mustard and the bacon pieces. Cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Side Dish:   None. The chicken and the asparagus were enough.

To Serve, cover the chicken with the olive sauce and serve with a spoonful of the asparagus.

This dinner is very easy and delicious. We’ve had this a few times. Also, I’ve made the side dish with green beans instead of asparagus (which was more popular with kids).