Tag Archives: Dinner

Moules à la Marinière

Summer is approaching here in the District, and that means outdoor dining. There is nothing greater than meeting up with friends after work for a drink and a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants that have outdoor patios. I always enjoy good food with good friends on warm summer nights. Of course, I love preparing easy and delicious meals that can be enjoyed indoors or out. One of my favorite recipes that is light but packed with flavor is Moules à la Marinière. In English this dish is translated to mussels steamed in wine and flavorings. It is so simple and doesn’t take long to make, but will impress guests. This dish is also fun to make and eat slowly while sitting on the balcony/rooftop, chatting with friends. If you are feeling ambitious, homemade frites (French fries), go really well with mussels! My version of home cut fries will show up soon. Hopefully you enjoy these mussels as much as I do, and cheers to the start of summer!

moules

Moules à la Marinière

Ingredients:

2 cups dry white wine

1/2 cup minced shallots

1/2 bunch fresh parsley

1 bay leaf

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon pepper

6 tablespoons butter

6 quarts mussels, scrubbed, soaked, and debearded

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Directions:

In a large pot or sauté pan with a lid, bring all ingredients but the last two to a boil. Allow the alcohol to evaporate and reduce by boiling for 3 minutes.

Add mussels to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Every 30 seconds or so, shake the pot around (while keep the lid tightly on) so the mussels move around and cook evenly. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the shells open*.

Carefully spoon the mussels into large soup bowls, and ladle the remaining liquid over the mussels. Garnish with chopped parsley, serve immediately, and enjoy!

 

*Don’t forget: any mussels that haven’t opened should not be eaten!

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Fall Fun

It certainly has been a while. Oops! Summer somehow came and went in a blink of an eye. In that time, I managed to do a good amount of cooking and not write about it. I’ll have to take the time to post a summer recap.

As for this past weekend, fall has come upon us and a few friends and myself decided to take advantage. We drove about 45 minutes outside of DC to Homestead Farm in Poolesville, MD to go apple picking! The day was absolutely gorgeous.

There were endless rows of Sun Crisp, Fuji, and Cameo apples that we wandered through and filled our baskets with. At one point we found a ladder, which meant access to the untouched apples on top of the trees! And beautiful pictures like this:

We even found the perfect teacher apple!

I ended up with a beautiful bounty of 16 lbs of mixed apples, 2 butternut squash, and a box of the most delicious yellow grape tomatoes I’ve ever tasted (I had to stop my friends from eating them all in the car- they were that good!).

That night I wanted something easy for dinner, so I threw the tomatoes into a frying pan and added in some red grape tomatoes from the grocery (not nearly as flavorful as the farm-fresh ones).

This was a simple saute with olive oil, sprinkled with dried basil and ground black pepper, and finished off with some minced garlic. I topped some spaghetti with the colorful fresh tomato ‘sauce’ and chowed down. It was delicious!

I hope everyone has the chance to go apple picking at some point this season! All the produce was fresh and fantastic. Expect a lot of apple recipes to come!

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Greek Chicken Salad

Easy, but still delicious, dinners are the best. Last night was one of those nights where I was hungry coming home from work, but not in the mood to make a huge meal. Additionally, I had a rotisserie chicken left over from the day before that I wanted to use up. Solution? Clean all the meat off the chicken, and create something tasty with ingredients already in my pantry! If you ask any of my friends, they will tell you Mediterranean is by far my favorite genre of food. This means I always have staple ingredients such as Greek yogurt, feta, or olives in the house (this recipe could’ve used some kalamata olives but I was out!). Therefore, my rotisserie chicken was transformed into my version of Greek chicken salad!

Greek Chicken Salad:

3 tablespoons EVOO

Juice of half a lemon

Kosher salt and pepper

Leftover chicken meat from rotisserie chicken (I had everything left but the breasts and drumsticks), in chunks or shredded

2 mini cucumbers, very thinly sliced into half-moons

1/2 a small Vidalia onion

2 tablespoons of dill

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (you may need more)

Block of feta cut into chunks

Pita pockets

Arugula for garnish

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Fold in the chicken, cucumbers, onion, dill, and yogurt. Taste and adjust seasonings and add yogurt if it is too dry. Cut pita pockets in half, stuff with shards of feta, then chicken salad. Top with arugula and enjoy!

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Greek Quinoa Salad

I meant to post this recipe a while ago (2 months ago, in fact), but clearly life got in the way. Between work and friends and everything else, I have been so busy and have sadly neglected the blog a bit. However, I am back and have cooked a lot in the lapsed time! This means many posts to come. This recipe for Greek Quinoa Salad is the one I made when my girlfriends came over a few months ago for wine night. It is fresh and very herbsious, which I love. It has very fresh notes when you bite into a cucumber or tomato, and a nice tang from the calamatta olives. I highly recommend making a large batch of this: it is great to much on as a snack or bring for lunch throughout the week (and nothing is better than having lunch prepared a week in advanced when you work!).

Greek Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

2 Cucumbers, diced

1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

Scallions, diced

1 can chick peas

½ cup chopped calamatta olives or black olives

Handful of chopped fresh parsley

Handful of chopped fresh basil

Crumbled feta cheese

2 cup Quinoa

4 cups chicken broth

½ cup Olive oil

½ cup Red wine vinegar

Juice of one lemon

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp turmeric

1/8 tsp paprika

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp pepper

Directions:

Mix all vegetables and herbs in a large bowl, set aside.

In a saucepan heat over medium/high a tablespoon of olive oil add the quinoa and a little bit of each of the spices (last 6 ingredients), sautee for about a minute and add the chicken broth and fresh lemon juice. Heat on high, when it comes to a boil, crack the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot (from this point, cook according to your quinoa box’s directions).

While it’s simmering whisk together 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of vinegar with salt and pepper (to taste). Pour the dressing over all of the vegetables and mix them together.

When the quinoa is done fluff it with a fork and let cool.

Mix the quinoa in with the vegetables.

To serve: top with the feta cheese

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Wednesday Wine Night

Earlier this year, a small group of my girlfriends decided we wanted a regular gathering every month or so. Thanks to Jordy, ‘Wednesday Wine Night’ began in the Fall! The idea is simple: every 4-6 weeks a different person in the group would have everyone over, serve wine, and prepare some offerings to snack on. Though I am allergic to wine, and we do not always meet on a Wednesday, this has been a great way to have a relaxing night with girlfriends. This past Monday the group came over to my apartment, which I took as an opportunity to try and wow everyone with my food. The menu consisted of:

  • Homemade sun-dried tomato hummus with veggies
  • Herb crusted sweet potato bites
  • Greek quinoa salad
  • Roasted red pepper pizza with a splash of balsamic
  • Lots and lots of wine & desserts

Thankfully, my wonderful friends loved the meal! I had been nervous about the pizza because it was the first time I used a real pizza pan, but the crust came out perfectly crisp. Everyone enjoyed the sweet potato bites because they were something tasty and different. One of the best compliments to the chef was when a few people asked for the recipes! Most importantly, everyone had a great time with each other chatting about life and nibbling the food.

For now, feast your eyes on some photos from the evening. Recipes to come individually!

Herb Crusted Sweet Potato Bites

Greek Quinoa Salad

Roasted Red Pepper Pizza

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Recipe Exchange: Chicken Sausage, White Bean, & Cabbage Soup

The other day while at work (before Christmas), I received an email with the subject line “Recipe Exchange”. I opened it and read:

Hi friends!

We are participating in a collective, constructive, and hopefully TASTY experiment. As such, you have been invited to be part of a recipe exchange concept. We hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would make this fun. Please send a recipe to the person whose name is in position 1 (even if you don’t know him/her) and it should be something quick, easy and without rare ingredients. Actually, the best one is the one you know in your head and can type right now. Don’t agonize over it, it is one you make when you are short of time.

After you’ve sent the recipe to the person in position 1 below and only to that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1 and put your name in position 2. Only my and your name should show when you send your email. Send to 20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this within 5 days, let us know so it will be fair to those participating. You should receive 36 recipes. It’s fun to see where they come from! Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas. The turnaround is fast as there are only 2 names on the list and you only have to do it once.

1. xxx      2. xxx

Happy Holidays!

Naturally, I was very excited about this! I immediately responded with my Chocolate Chocolate Chip Candy Cane Cookies recipe which I felt was appropriate since 1. I had just made them the night before and 2. it was the holiday season. I proceded to forward the email to 20 friends and waited my turn to receive recipes in return. So far, I’ve gotten a few interesting ideas but have only made one: chicken sausage, white bean, and cabbage soup.

Chicken Sausage, White bean, and Cabbage Soup:

  • Olive oil
  • 12 ounces fully cooked andouille chicken sausages cut crosswise into bit sized pieces (about 4 sausages, I used portobello mushroom chicken sausage which added another layer of flavor)
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 large head or 1 whole small)
  • 3 leeks or 5 shallots thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (1/2 small can)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
Heat  olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage slices and saute until brown around edges, about 5 minutes. Add cabbage; cook 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add olive oil to same pot and heat over medium heat. Add leeks or shallots and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste, parsley, and rosemary and stir 1 minute. Add broth, sausage-cabbage mixture, and beans and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 40 minutes.
This soup is very hearty and delicious. Simple and easy, this is a great dish to make ahead for dinner or lunches throughout the week. I was able to get about 8 servings (give or take on portion size) out of the recipe. I highly recommend trying this soup to warm up during the cold winter months!
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Christmas Dinner

It has become tradition in my house that I cook a Christmas Eve feast. For the past few years I’ve made a variation of the same meal. The main dishes on the menu this year were bruschetta, baked ham with cloves (I used a half butt), roasted garlic smashed potatoes, sauteed string beans with slivered almonds, and a sugar free key lime pie (my father is diabetic). And now, our eyes can feast:

Bruschetta

Roasted Garlic

Sauteed String Beans with Slivered Almonds

Baked Ham with Cloves

Graham Cracker Pie Crust

Slice of Sugar Free Key Lime Pie

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Tabbouleh with Chicken (Or Tofu)

What is Tabbouleh? I bet most of you have no idea what I am even talking about. Well, let me tell you. Tabbouleh is a Levantine (originally from Lebanon) wheat salad. I have traveled to the middle east and have always had many friends from the region, so this is a dish I started enjoying early on. It is super simple, and the light lemony flavor is GREAT for summer time!

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup bulgur wheat

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

Olive oil

Kosher salt

1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on

Freshly ground black pepper

1 cup minced scallions, white and green parts (1 bunch)

1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)

1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and medium-diced

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare the bulgur wheat according to package directions. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 1.5 teaspoons of salt to the bulgur as it sits and cooks. Set aside for about an hour to let cook through.

*Next, rub chicken with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the over for 35 minutes, or until just cooked. Again, set aside and let cool off.

Remove chicken meat and dice into medium pieces and add to the bulgur wheat. Then add scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. At this point, you MUST taste the dish to see if it needs more seasoning! The most important thing when cooking is to taste your food! Make sure it is seasoned to tasted. You can either serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold. The longer the Tabbouleh mixture sits, the flavors will intensify and improve.

 

Cool, refreshing Tabbouleh can be used as a side dish or a main dish. When I know I am cooking for a vegetarian and meat eating audience, I love to use this dish! Follow the same directions, but serve the chicken or tofu on the side and allow guests to help themselves.

*This step is easily replaced with Tofu! Cut extra firm tofu into cubes and sprinkle with the same seasonings. Roast in the oven until crispy and use in place of the chicken.

My interpretation of Ina Garten’s Chicken with Tabbouleh

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Show-Stopper Roast Chicken

There is nothing more impressive to guests, or your stomach, than a perfectly roasted chicken. What seems like a complicated feat is actually one of the easiest and best recipes to have in your repertoire. This particular recipe is great to serve to your special guy (can you say new *engagement chicken!?) because it is wrapped in BACON! Who doesn’t love bacon? Ok, my roommate doesn’t like bacon, but I don’t need to make this for her. But any single, hungry guys out there are welcome to come over for dinner!
But seriously, how amazing does that look? Lets get into making it. You will need the following ingredients:
1 roasting chicken, about 6 lbs
Kosher salt and pepper
1 bunch of fresh thyme
4 lemons
3 heads of garlic cut in half
2 tablespoons of melted butter
1/2 lbs of sliced bacon
1 cup of white wine
1/2 cup of chicken stock
First, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove chicken giblets (anything inside of the chicken) and rinse the entire chicken both inside and out. Pat the outside dry and place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken and stuff the cavity with the thyme (saving enough to garnish the dish later), 1 halved lemon, and 2 halves of garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (or, if you are like me and forget to buy kitchen string every time you go to the store, don’t tie them) and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Quarter 2 of the remaining lemons and place around the chicken with the rest of the garlic. Lastly, lay slices of bacon over chicken until it is covered (this is obviously the best part!).

Put chicken in the oven and roast for 1 hour. After this time, remove the bacon from the chicken and set aside. Finishing roasting the chicken for another 1/2 hour, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and thigh. When the chicken is done, set aside and cover to keep warm so you can make the gravy.

Using the fat drippings at the bottom of the roasting pan, add the wine and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes or until reduced by half.

Everything is now ready to come together! Place the chicken on a nice serving dish and garnish with the bacon, roasted garlic, reserved fresh thyme, and the remaining lemon sliced. Serve the gravy on the side and enjoy!

As you can see above, I served the chicken with sides of sautéed zucchini and small roasted potatoes. The zucchini is one of my go-to vegetable sides that is easy to make and very delicious. The cute little potatoes are also great with the chicken because not only are the tasty (and of course every good chicken meal needs a potato side) but they are fun to eat because they are so small! When making small potatoes like this, the key is to buy them all in similar size so they cook evenly.

Slice up the chicken, load up the plates, and enjoy! I lucked out and the chicken breasts were perfectly juicy and moist. Ladle some gravy on your plate for a little extra flavor (I found it to be dominantly wine flavored, which I enjoyed). This simple but delicious meal will wow guests and provide ample leftovers for you to enjoy later! Enjoy your Show-Stopper Roast Chicken!

*For those of you who don’t know what engagement chicken is, it basically is a simple but amazing recipe for roast chicken. The story goes that a girl who makes this roast chicken for her significant other will soon after be proposed to because it is just that good. Hence, engagement chicken!
**This recipe is my version of Ina Garten’s Lemon & Garlic Roast Chicken
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Maple-Glazed Pork Chops

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Ingredients

·         4 teaspoons ancho chili powder

·         1 teaspoon kosher salt

·         6 (10-ounce) center cut bone-in pork chops, about 1-inch thick

·         2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

·         3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

·         1/2 cup butter maple syrup

·         1/2 cup chicken stock

·         Pecans, toasted and chopped, optional garnish

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder and salt and sprinkle evenly over both sides of the pork chops.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork chops and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook until desired doneness, about for 4 to 6 minutes.

In a small skillet, over medium-high heat, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced by half. Stir in the maple syrup and chicken stock. Cook over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the maple syrup. Garnish with toasted pecans, if desired.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/maple-glazed-pork-chops-recipe/index.html

These pork chops are to die for! Super delicious and goes with almost anything as sides. A great note about this dish is that if you cannot eat regular maple syrup you can use sugar free maple syrup instead. If you do, be sure to keep an eye on the sauce because it will burn much faster than regular maple syrup. I did not use the garnish but I am sure it would be good if you like nuts. For sides with these pork chops I made roasted asparagus and roasted potatoes.

Roasted Potatoes

Ingrediants:

3 small red potatoes per person

salt and pepper

olive oil

parsley

basil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut potatoes in halves or quarters. Toss all ingredients together. Lay out on baking sheet and roast in oven for about 30 minutes or until browned.

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