Sometimes the best dishes are those that I’ve cooked quickly. I came home kind of late last night and needed to make a fast and healthy meal. I was pretty much throwing ingredients together that I thought would make tasty combinations. It came together in less than 30 minutes and the whole family along with a friend who happened to be hanging out all enjoyed dinner together. I love that. There’s nothing like eating a meal together and chatting and talking on a cool summer evening when the sun takes a long time to set. The tangy taste of the feta and artichokes with the hint of rosemary really makes this dish taste like summer….all bright and sunny!
Mediterranean style chicken and artichoke whole wheat pasta
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, coarsely chopped
1 cup of marinated artichokes, rough chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1 can italian style stewed tomatoes or 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
2 big handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1/2 pound of whole wheat pasta (linguine, fettuccine or egg noodles)
Cook whole wheat pasta to al dente. In a large skillet or wok heat olive oil, add chicken,salt and garlic and saute for a few minutes until chicken is no longer pink. Add in tomatoes, artichoke hearts, dill and parsley. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Add in dried rosemary and feta cheese and cook for about 1 minute. Add in spinach and let it wilt into the sauce. Turn off heat. Toss in cooked pasta and serve immediately.
We had a little party last night. It was only about 19 people if you counted all the kids. For our house that’s not a lot of people. We almost always have more people than we actually invited. One year for Thanksgiving I invited 15 people and 55 people showed up. How does that happen, you wonder? Well, people bring people. They know they’ll be welcome at our house so they bring their friends. The only problem it sometimes poses is that I don’t know about it in advance. It’s hard to feed 55 when you’re cooking for 15-20. I have learned to always make extra for those unexpected (but welcome) guests. Now my friends from the Marshall Islands, they know how to “partay”. They routinely have get-togethers for large crowds. There is no such thing as a small Marshallese gathering. They celebrate EVERYTHING. Oh, it’s Tuesday…let’s have a party. They never miss a chance to live in community. I love that about them as a people group as much as I love their grilled chicken. Of course when I asked around for a recipe nobody could really quantify anything. So, I decided to come up with my own concoction. You’ll be happy to know that many Marshallese have eaten my chicken and given it the “NOD” of approval!
Come on over for some good food, good times and mehndi (henna tattoos). There’s always room for a few extra people…
Marshallese Style Grilled Chicken
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs with the skin off and visible fat trimmed
1 1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley, chopped
1 whole garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 small onion
dash of chilli flakes
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Take the skin off the chicken thighs and trim all visible fat. Wash and set aside. Blend in a blender or processor garlic, ginger and onion together. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients before pouring in soy sauce, stir to incorporate well. Pour over chicken and either place in a large ziplock bag and seal or put in an airtight container. Marinate overnight in refrigerator. Grill over medium heat and serve!
Bollywood movies are always these epic musicals with really good looking people who play the lead. They are three hours of unreality with usually 6 song and dance numbers. I was riveted to a recent one because it was dubbed over in Mandarin. An incredibly unlikely combination. The high-pitched Mandarin speaking voices did not match any of the actors or actresses and added a crazy dimension to the already melodramatic movie. The mix reminded me of Indonesian food (I always think about food). What I love about Malaysian, Singaporian and Indonesian cuisine is that it is a fantastic fusion of South Asian flavors traditionally seen in India, Bangladesh or Pakistan with more East Asian influences. The results I think are phenomenal. The movie….not so much!
In a large saucepan heat oil and saute onions coriander, chili, garlic and ginger over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently for 5-7 minutes. Add lime leaves, cinnamon, whole chilis and lemongrass. Cook stirring occasionally for about 2 more minutes until all the flavors are released. Increase the heat to medium and add the chicken and cook turning once until golden brown about 8 minutes. Stir in one cup of coconut milk and 1 1/4 cup water and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is tender about 20-25 minutes. Add remaining coconut milk and cook for 2 minutes. Let cool for about 15 minutes before serving with plain rice or Coconut Fried Rice.
I am doing a shout out to my former student “Nate”. He mentioned several times in class how much he loves to grill and I promised him some Indonesian/Thai inspired food…. so here it is Nate!! Not only are these Chicken Satays very quick and easy to do, they are high in flavor and low in fat. Perfect accompaniment for our summer workouts. (I should mention that we’re almost done with our first week of P90x and Insanity and I’ve lost 1 1/2 pounds so far….13 1/2 to go!).
I should mention that I always prefer to use chicken thighs over chicken breast because they have a lot more flavor and they are a lot cheaper too. You can buy boneless, skinless chicken thighs or you can easily de-bone the chicken thighs at home. All you need is a sharp knife and the ability to cut along the edges of the bone and you’re done!!
The secret to this dish of course is the sauce. I love how this sauce turns out. I could eat it by the spoonful but then I’d have to work out some more. Please do use the Sweet Soy Sauce instead of the regular soy sauce. If you must use regular soy sauce then choose the low sodium kind and use only 1/8 cup otherwise your sauce will be very salty. This is great as an appetizer or a main dish served with Coconut Fried Rice and a fresh crunchy salad. We also ate other veggies dipped in the sauce along with our chicken!
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into strips
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (or you can grind up some peanuts) – I like chunky
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sweet soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 garlic cloves, minced
scallion, diced (for garnish)
In a saucepan place all ingredients except chicken and scallion. Cook over medium heat until sauce is bubbly. Take off heat and cool sauce. Divide sauce into two parts.
Cut chicken into 1″ inch long strips and thread onto skewers. If using bamboo skewers make sure you soak them before hand so they don’t burn and fall off. Spray chicken with non-stick cooking spray and place on hot grill (about 300-350 degrees) cook for 6-10 minutes covered, turning once. Baste with half of the sauce (make sure the dipping portion is never in contact with the raw chicken) during the grilling process and serve with remaining sauce garnished with sliced scallions. The sauce is also fantastic for dipping carrots, cucumbers and other fresh veggies as well.
It’s (almost) summer time and that means lots of cooking on the grill. I really enjoy using the grill to cook during the warmer weather because it keeps the house cooler and I love how everything tastes when they are grilled. I decided to make pizzas on the grill. It’s one of my fast go-to grill dishes because everything can be cooked outside without any prep in the “house” kitchen. All you need is a grill basket for vegetables so smaller pieces don’t fall through and you’re good to go.
I have been using the no-knead artisan bread for my pizza crusts because they turn out beautifully and this bread dough is a dream. You mix the thing up with a wooden spoon and stick it in your fridge, it’s sooooo easy! I usually have some in my fridge ready to go (each batch can keep in the fridge for almost 2 weeks). The toppings for these pizzas are as varied as the person making them. I hope you try some out and go crazy with the toppings. When my basil is full-grown, I plan to make home made mozzarella and have Margherita pizzas on the grill. What’s not to love?
Assorted vegetables: red onion, bell peppers, zucchini, eggplants etc.
If using chicken breasts, cut into strips and marinate in a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar,salt, garlic and thyme and throw it on the grill to cook.
Cut vegetables into strips and the cherry tomatoes into halves. Toss with salt, fresh cracked pepper, basil and olive oil and place in grill pan on the grill and let it cook.
Take a small portion of the dough and roll it out fairly thin (about 1/4 inch thick) and pat it lightly with olive oil on both sides. I like to make it personal size – so about 6-8 inches “circles” or whatever shape they turn out to be. When vegetables are cooked, place pizza directly on the grill and close the lid for 3 minutes (grill should be on high heat, 600 degrees or so). Flip the dough over so the cooked side is on top and place some of the grilled cherry tomatoes on the dough along with other veggies and chicken (if using). Sprinkle a little cheese (go easy) less is better. Close the lid and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Pizza should be done with the cheese melted and the crust wonderfully crunchy and smoky.
Being married to a Bajan (slang for someone from Barbados) I’m usually alternating between cooking Caribbean style food and South Asian food among other flavors we usually try out. Jerk seasoning originated in Jamaica but it’s used throughout the Caribbean islands. I usually grind up my version of Jerk seasoning and use it for marinating a variety of meats. I love using Jerk seasoning when baking whole chicken because the flavors are so fantastic. The left over bones make an incredible stock as well. This weekend I was incredibly busy. I was making food for three different events, attending a wedding, working and my baby girl came home from college for the summer (YAY). I didn’t have a chance to take my usual detailed pictures. But I do hope you make up some Jerk seasoning to have on hand. It’s wonderful to have it ready for the BBQing season!!
1 tablespoon all spice powder – if using whole allspice the use 2 1/2 tbsp
1 tsp whole peppercorn
5-6 whole star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
8 whole cloves
1/4 of a whole nutmeg
4 dried whole red chilies
1/4 cup light brown sugar (I use raw sugar)
Toast everything (except the sugar) together in a dry pan until flavors are released, approximately 2-3 minutes. Grind in a coffee or spice grinder until smooth. Store in an airtight container.
Jerk Seasoned Roasted Chicken
5 tablespoons Jerk seasoning
2 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste (1:1 ratio)
1/2 onion finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
Mix everything together and rub chicken inside the cavity and all over the skin. Roast uncovered at 350°F for 1 1/2 hours or until done. Let it rest before carving.
I love using ground chicken or ground turkey in a lot of different dishes. They are low in fat, versatile and taste great. Traditional koftas are actually meat ground in a big mortar and pestle called a Shil Pata. The resulting texture is a very smooth meat mixture. I think ground chicken or turkey naturally lends itself to a smoother kofta like texture without using a giant mortar and pestle (or a food processor). I know that I say in most of my posts that the recipe was “quick”, “fast” or “easy”. A friend recently told me that she doesn’t have hardly any spices in her pantry so when she thinks of cooking something that has more than 3 spices listed she feels overwhelmed and it doesn’t seem “fast” or “easy” to her. She is also bored out of her mind with what she fixes for her family. Hmmmm. There are two options, keep eating boring food or invest in some spices. I know that many who are not used to cooking South Asian or African dishes think we use too many spices. Since we were the hub of the spice trail its kind of hard not to use what was so readily available. It does make things taste wonderful. I think that having a variety of spices in your pantry is an investment. You can’t experiment if you don’t have it handy. Some of my best dishes were accidental discoveries. When spices are in your pantry it is “easy” and “fast”. I took her shopping recently after work. Utilizing the bulk section of a local grocery store, we stocked up on 15 different spices and her total cost was less than $20. My post today is to challenge my friend to use her new spices. She has every one listed (I know that for a fact!). You go girl!
Here’s the recipe:
Chicken Kofta Curry
1 pound ground chicken
handful chopped cilantro
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 seeded green chili, chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera)
4 whole cloves
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 sticks cinnamon sticks (Dalchinne)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
3-4 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup greek yogurt mixed with a little water
1/2-1 cup water
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Mix together the meatball ingredients and form into golf ball sized meat balls. Set aside.
In a large skillet heat oil add onions, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Stir fry until onions are tender and the spices are fragrant. Add in chili powder, turmeric and garlic. Stir fry a minute or two before adding the tomato paste. Stir to incorporate. Add about a cup of water and meatballs to the sauce, turn heat to low and cover. Let meatballs simmer covered for about 15-18 minutes, stirring often and adding water as needed until meatballs are cooked through. Add yogurt last and stir through and cook an additional minute to incorporate everything. Top with chopped cilantro. Remember to fish out the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves before serving. Serve with rice or with a naan.
The last several days were like a blur. I made too many cookies, ate things other people made that I didn’t like (green bean casserole with little hot dog chunks, bad jello salad with beet pieces and funeral potatoes – that’s a Utah thing ), skipped meals, ran around doing a million things. It was busy, it was hectic, it was crazy. But today, I wanted to come home and eat something I made because dang it, my worst effort had to be better than a casserole made of macerated hot dogs (I have HUGE issues with hot dogs, it’s a long story). I had leftover baked chicken from last night and a couple of Zucchinis in the fridge. I decided it would be great to take out my mandolin (the cooking kind, not the musical instrument) and use the zucchini as the noodle and make some kind of a filling with the chicken and other veggies. It turned out pretty great and it was fast too. Total time with prep and baking under 45 minutes. It sure beats the beet jello salad (pun intended).
I came home at 5 p.m. last night and decided to make 300 sugar cookies and decorate them for Easter Sunday because I thought everyone at church would be delighted by them. It was a brilliant idea that quickly lost it’s luster. First, I’ve not actually decorated sugar cookies before, well at home with the kids but not to pass out to people who are not family. Secondly, what was I thinking? I often have these crazy ideas and find myself knee-deep in projects of my own making. Which means, I completely forgot about dinner. I had a sea of cookies cooling on the kitchen counters and about a gallon of royal icing but NOTHING, absolutely nothing to eat for dinner…..Dang it! I opened my pantry and gazed at the contents in desperation and inspiration struck. Bengali people love to smash food. We call it “Vortha”. Sometimes, we like to smash stuff and then fry it up in oval shapes, we call those “Chops” (I have no idea why, it could have been another desperate cook at dinner time who came up with the name).
So, I found a can of chicken. I didn’t even know I had such a thing in the pantry. It wasn’t expired (yay). So I decided to make Chicken and whatever veggie was in the refrigerator chops. It was good. Really good. I think I’ll actually make them again…..on purpose.
Here’s the recipe.
1 12.5 ounce can of unexpired chicken breast
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Serrano Chile, seeded and chopped
Cilantro – chopped, about a handful
1 tsp cumin powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Zucchini, grated
1/4 cup bread crumbs (helps absorb moisture)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
little vegetable oil for shallow pan frying
Mix everything together and shape into little patties. Heat a skillet with about a 1/4 cup or less of oil. Add the patties in the oil and fry until golden brown. Serve with some rice or in some pita with lettuce, cabbage and fresh tomatoes. Makes 10 patties.
There are days when things get super hectic. Today was one of those days. Time got away from me and I had to prepare dinner quickly. This is one of those dishes that packs a punch nutritionally along with exceptional taste and all that under 30 minutes. I had picked up some great food bargains at the grocery earlier which included gorgeous red, yellow and orange bell peppers and fresh flat leafed parsley. Armed with all these colors and textures I was ready for a quick meal of pepper pesto. “Pesto” in Italian means to pound or crush, basically what you’d do with a mortar and pestle. You can make a “pesto” out of a myriad of combinations not just the traditional Basil Pesto. Roasting the vegetables intensifies the flavors and makes the pesto a rich and delicious delicacy. This one was definitely a winner!
Here’s the recipe:
Roasted Sweet Pepper Pesto and Chicken Pasta
5-6 variety of red, orange and yellow bell peppers cut into large chunks
1 large red onion, cut into chunks
6 whole cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup rough chopped flat leafed Parsley
16 oz Fuscilli, bow tie or a curly noodle
1 cup cooked chicken, cut into small pieces
In a large 5 quart pan bring water and salt to boil for the pasta. In the meantime cut the bell peppers and onion into large chunks, toss with salt and pepper and a little drizzle of olive oil and place in a large cookie sheet. In a small ramekin or oven safe bowl, place the whole, peeled cloves of garlic and pour in 1/2 cup of olive oil. Place ramekin in the corner of the cookie sheet filled with the peppers and onions and roast at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Take out the roasted peppers and onions and place them into a food processor, add the whole garlic cloves and the Parmesan cheese. Turn on the food processor and drizzle in the garlic flavor oil, reserving a couple of tablespoons. The peppers and onions should get blended well. Add in 1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leafed parsley and pulse a few times to incorporate.
In a large skillet heat the reserved garlic flavored olive oil and add the pesto mixture and stir for a few minutes. Add in chicken and cooked pasta and toss together. Serve immediately and enjoy.