Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

Last week we spent four glorious days in Burlington, Vermont with our family.  In addition to hiking, eating, and puzzle-ing, this included one of the most epic LNDPs in which I’ve ever participated.  Lesson learned – the power of an LNDP is heightened through 1) a straight T. Swift soundtrack and 2) your mom/mom-in-law.

I also think the universe is trying to tell me something about New England.  The Husband and I got caught on “flypocalypse” on our way home – meaning we spent an extra two days in Vermont (there are worse places to be stuck).  And…this weekend I head BACK to Vermont for my BFF’s wedding.  I’ll just let that marinate.

Given our quick three days at home, not a whole lot of fancy cooking going on in our kitchen this week.  I bought some fresh herbs, veggies, and fruit – but other than that, we’re making do with what we have on hand.  Like this chicken, inspired by Bon Appetit.

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Smoky Chicken Breast with Roasted Vegetables

  • olive oil (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 handful smoked paprika
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 (small) handful cumin
  • 1 (small) handful crushed red pepper
  • salt, pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 pound chicken breasts
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 container cherry tomatoes
  • **2-3 portabello mushrooms, sliced (see below)
  • arugula
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Mix olive oil through salt/pepper in a small bowl, whisk together.  Pour about half of the oil mixture into the yogurt, mix thoroughly, and set aside.
  2. Rub the oil mixture into the chicken on both sides and then place on a baking sheet.  Toss the remaining oil with the tomatoes, chickpeas, and mushrooms and spread alongside the chicken.  Season again with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast everything for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink.  Serve on top of arugula with yogurt and parsley.

The Verdict:

I got creative here with the addition of the mushrooms, but truth be told, this would probably be better without them – the roasting makes them release a lot of liquid, which then means the chickpeas don’t roast quite as well.  However, for a one pot meal, this is healthy, tasty, and easy.  The yogurt, says the Husband, is key.

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Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki

I’ve been waiting all week to post these bad boys.

This past weekend, Husband and I hosted my parents.  Normally, this is a good excuse to shuttle off to that restaurant we’ve been dying to try but can’t quite justify the expense…but since my parents were coming off a 3-day Civil War/college reunion tour, they wanted some home-cooked food. Enter sandman Deb Perelman.

Tip: next time your parents are coming off a 3-day Civil War tour (I’ll let you all ponder that in your heads.  Parental units hopping on and off a bus, checking out battlefields, dressed in orange and/or tiger stripes, chanting about Old Nassau.  My dad , the civil war buff, bopping about in his Abe Lincoln t-shirt.  My mom, the bewildered German, wondering when the part is when she gets to see her kids.  Makes me giggle.) make them this.

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Spicy Sesame Turkey Meatballs & Smashed Chickpeas with Tzatziki (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

for your meatballs

  • 1 pound ground turkey (use a mixture of lean and fatty meat, so it does not dry out)
  • about 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • small handful cumin
  • small handful coriander
  • large pinch of salt & pepper
  • about a tablespoon of crushed red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (better if toasted quickly)

for your chickpeas

  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • small handful sumac
  • a big bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • a bit of lemon zest
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • pinch salt, pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper
  • olive oil
  • optional: olives (blech) or anchovy paste (yum), to add brininess

for your tzatziki sauce

  • about two cups plain Greek yogurt
  • about 1/2 cucumber, finely diced
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a little grated zest
  • pinch of salt & pepper
  • optional: fresh dill, 1 clove minced garlic (there’s lots of garlic in the rest of this recipe, so I omitted it, or I should say, Husband omitted it, since he’s in charge of tzatsiki in our house!)
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Comine all of your meatball ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly, using your hands, but do not overwork the meat.  Shape the meat into little golf balls.
  3. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large saute pan and brown the meatballs.  Do not overcrowd the pan.
  4. On a large pan covered with aluminum foil (to make your cleanup easier!), bake the meatballs for about 10 – 13 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, get your smashed chickpea salad going.  Combine all of the chickpea ingredients in one bowl, minus olive oil.  Mash (a potato masher works well!) together – leave it a big chunky.  Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste.
  6. Finally, mix all of your tzatziki ingredients together in another bowl.  Season to taste.
  7. Serve everything together, all at once, and let the praise wash over you like a college fight song.

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The Verdict:

I know it LOOKS like a lot, but if you have the ingredients, this is easy-peasy and oh-so-good.  Mom, Dad & Husband all raved about this little combination, which we also served with salad and pita bread…tiding us all over until the next Civil War battlefield tour.

Warm Quinoa Chickpea Salad

It’s official: I’m starting to feel like a human being again.  After nearly five days of not changing out of my pajamas, I finally put on real people clothes this morning and even dragged myself to work. I do feel sort of sorry for my colleagues, who are giving me a wide berth.  I promise…I’m packing Purell.

Feeling human again started with making this salad.  There are so many strong flavors in here you can’t help but wake up the taste buds.  And let’s face it: when you start tasting again – you start feeling and thinking again.  Or at least I do.  Recipe inspired by Food and Wine, but really, you can do this with anything you have in your fridge.

IMG_3179Warm Quinoa Chickpea Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 bunches bok choy, chopped
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • olive oil
  • 2 oz feta cheese (goat also works)
  • 3-4 scallions, chopped
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • a large handful parsley, chopped
  • simple vinaigrette – I like a dash of olive oil, balsamic, garlic powder, cumin, lemon juice, salt, pepper, crushed reds and just a splash of apple cider vinegar, whisked together
  1. Rinse quinoa well; cook according to directions.
  2. While quinoa cooks, prepare and chop all of your vegetables.  Whisk together your vinaigrette and set aside.
  3. With about 3-5 minutes to go on your quinoa, heat olive oil over medium heat in a saute pan.  Add minced garlic and chickpeas, cook about 2 minutes, or until chickpeas are warm.  Add bok choy and cook for a minute, then turn off the heat.
  4. In a large bowl, add all of your ingredients together – quinoa, veggies, chickpea, etc.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the salad. Add the vinaigrette last and serve warm.

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The Verdict:

This is the perfect meal.  It’s healthy, delicious, and oh-so-easy to make.  And the Husband, no quinoa lover, had TWO bowls.

Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Chickpea Medley

So.  It’s Friday and I still haven’t posted my menu plan for the week.  This is because March is #crazypants and there IS no menu plan.  I’ve been eating cereal for dinner.

March is regularly the month where work becomes a little more insane than usual, and cooking/exercising/sleeping/being a nice person (sometimes, I do try to be one!) goes by the wayside.  Planning, schmanning.

And then yesterday, we had a glorious snow day, and I scrounged around in the pantry and came out with this heaping bowl of comfort – inspired by Cooking Light.

IMG_3152Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Chickpea Medley

  • olive oil
  • 2 cartons mushrooms, sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large red onion, sliced
  • leaves from about 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • about 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons or so balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veggie or chicken stock
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 box instant polenta and…
    • 4 1/2 cups water
    • blue cheese
    • a little pat butter
    • salt, pepper
    • about a cup of parmesan
  • topping: parsley (note: this would probably be heavenly tossed with a little arugula, which I did not have on hand)
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add mushrooms, onion and thyme; cook down about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Add white wine and vinegar, cook down a few minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper.  Add chickpeas, bring the whole thing to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.
  2. For the polenta, bring your water to a roiling boil.  Add the polenta slowly – whisk swiftly so it doesn’t clump!  Remove from heat after it thickens and add your cheese.  I added the blue cheese cream from the steaks we had for Valentine’s Day as well as a hefty about of parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the polenta at the bottom of a bowl, top with the mushroom mixture, a little bit of parmesan and the parsley.

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The Verdict:

This is basically just comfort food in one bowl.  March: bring it on.

Fiesta Friday: Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

First off, a very, very happy first-ever block party to Angie and the crew over at The Novice Gardener! I am not a regular over there, more like a creepy neighbor, looking over the fence.  So this time, I’m actually bringing something.  And it’s delicious and totally not creepy.

We ate this recipe, inspired by the Smitten Kitchen, for dinner, but made with smaller eggplants, this is a delectable, decadent appetizer.  (As the Husband said, right after he finished his eggplant off, and right before he heated up some leftover pizza, “this might be too much veggie to be dinner.”)

all lined up.
all lined up.

Roasted Eggplant with Yogurt-Tahini Sauce and Crispy Chickpeas

for the eggplant & chickpeas

  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry (really, you just need one can, but if you’re like me, you’ll eat so many of these as they’re coming out of the oven that if you want enough to actually eat with your eggplant, you should make two cans)
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • generous handful each of smoked paprika and garlic powder
  • 1 or 2 large eggplants, or 3 small, Italian-style eggplants

for the sauce

  • 3 heaping tablespoons tahini
  • about 2/3 cup plain greek yogurt (I supplemented with a bit of light sour cream)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon, plus a bit of freshly grated zest
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt & pepper, a touch of crushed reds, if you please
  • 3-4 tablespoons parsley, divided
these are the healthiest things you'll ever become addicted to.
these are the healthiest things you’ll ever become addicted to.
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil, spread out the chickpeas, drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil all over.  Toss chickpeas evenly with salt, pepper, smoked paprika and garlic powder.  Bake for about 30-40 minutes; make sure to give them a toss at least once or twice so they don’t burn.  Dust with another quick pinch of salt as they come out of the oven.
  2. On another baking sheet, spread out another layer of aluminum foil, and spray with a bit of olive oil.  Cut the eggplants in half and spray both the tops and the bottoms with a bit of olive oil.  Arrange cut side up and season generously with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes and then flip.
  3. As the chickpeas and eggplant cook, make the sauce.  Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, salt, a few grinds of pepper, a tablespoon of parsley and a touch of crushed reds.
  4. Serve the eggplant, cut side up, topped with sauce, the crispy chickpeas, and a bit more parsley.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn't matter.  just eat it.
appetizer or dinner, it doesn’t matter. just eat it.

The Verdict

This. Was. Awesome.  As appetizers go, this IS a dish for which you will need a knife and a fork, but hey, that’s a small price to pay.  This does not reheat well, as the eggplant gets a bit mushy…so invite all your friends!  And thanks, Angie, for inviting us!