(except, I’m calling it chicken and rice because I increased the chicken. :))

 

Oh, first day of spring. Weren’t you just lovely? Sigh. Like pretty much everyone, I am so over this winter. On this particular first day of spring, my littlest kid turned one (how the hell did THAT happen?) after battling a few days of a high fever. Not to be outdone, Zachary apparently might see snow on his birthday in April if the forecasts are to be believed. Duuuuude. Come on already.

The one redeeming factor of this looooong winter is getting to eat a lot of comfort foods. And this dish is about as simple and easy as you can get with regards to comfort foods. Chicken and rice are cooked together alongside a carrot-onion-celery pestata for a dish that is truly homey and rich. Using short-grained arborio rice and finishing it off with just a touch of butter and cheese make this creamy and, by all accounts, a big winner for everyone in our family (as long as you don’t count the whole cleaning-rice-up-after-a-baby-eats-it problem).

Although this is perfect winter food, I have no doubts that a little lemon zest and juice could brighten this dish right up and make it more spring-y. Of course, I’ll look for any way to eat a dish like this year-round, and would have no qualms eating it in the dead of summer, either.

 

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This rice, alongside the Hawaiian-marinated chicken, was a favorite dinner of mine as of late. It was quick, healthy, and a nice change from the standard “comfort” and hearty foods we’ve been eating so much of during this endless winter. It gives me some hope that maaaaaaaaaybe spring is coming soon. (Yesterday’s snowfall during the first day of spring, though, not so much.)

I mentioned earlier that we’ve been eating too much white rice lately, in part because brown rice takes too long to cook for us during a weekday. But fried brown rice is easy to achieve during the week, because you can just cook the rice the night before, since cold rice is ideal. Then, making the actual dish is really fast.

This particular fried rice has a little island-y feel to it thanks to the pineapple. It’s nice and colorful from the peppers and it just tastes great. You really can never go wrong with ginger and garlic, right? The soy sauce adds a nice salty balance to the sweet pineapple and you get a little deep, toasty flavor from the sesame seed oil. This was a hit with everyone (even Ian, who enjoyed his portion soy sauce-less :)).

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Today is St. Patrick’s Day. I’m eating leftover Japanese for lunch, making Greek food for dinner, and posting a Hawaiian chicken marinade on the blog. Keeping it global!

Marinated chicken is definitely one of those “been there, done that, sick of it” meals for a lot of people. I admit I used to make it a fair amount, got sick of it, and then it sort of fell off my radar. (It “helps” that organic chicken breasts cost as much as our mortgage.) But with this weeknight circus we currently have going on, trying to get meals on the table in not nearly enough time, I’ve been bringing it back. I came across this marinade recently and it sounded perfect – so few ingredients, really quick prep, and what sounded like flavorful chicken. I could tell with the ingredients it would be a big hit with all of us, but especially with Zachary. I was right!

It took so little time to get together, which is much appreciated when you’re also trying to get together bottles, kids’ breakfasts, and all your own stuff after the kids go to bed but before collapsing on the couch, maybe making it through a DVRd episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine,  going to bed, and starting it all over again.

We had this with pineapple fried rice (recipe forthcoming) and it worked especially well because the pineapple went into the rice and the juice went into the marinade. I really loved the meal all around, and I can’t wait to make it again.

 

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Guys! I remembered Pi Day two years in a row! Despite my memory being terrible, I somehow manage to have what Zachary calls “a good mind” regarding chocolate, I guess. And, to make it a two-for-one, I bring you something that is equally festive for St. Patrick’s Day as it is for Pi Day!

I’ll be honest and say that maybe this isn’t really a pie. It’s called a “dessert” on the Taste of Home site, so I took liberty in calling it a pie. I mean, it’s round, so it’s got that going for it. Anyway, it starts with a layer of brownies studded with mint chocolates. Then, there’s a layer of what is basically a white chocolate no-bake cheesecake, also studded with mint chocolates and some peppermint extract for good measure. Finally, it’s topped with a layer of ganache.

If you couldn’t tell, this is not the world’s healthiest dessert. It is, in fact, quiiiite terrible for you. But, that only means it’s really good. :) I actually liked this better on subsequent days than on the day I made this, which surprised me. Tom thought the top layer should have been a little thinner, and I don’t necessarily disagree. Ganache is awesome, but you probably don’t need quite so much. I’m leaving the (not-quite-but-almost) same amount below, though, so you can make up your own mind.

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I was intent on getting a rice cooker for our wedding 7 years ago. It’s sat in the box for about 6.95 of those years and has become a point of contention in our marriage. Because…I don’t use it. And really, there’s no room for it. But for some reason, I refuse to get rid of it.  To be fair, Tom still owns a laptop that has not worked/turned on since 2006. I mean, at least my useless item could be useful if I took it out of the box, right?

The thing is, even though it took me nearly 30 years, I learned how to make the perfect white rice—and not in a rice cooker. And it’s been hard to have pretty much any other rice ever since, because steamed white rice is so good and fluffy and goes with everything (if you guys are interested, I will do a blog post about it at some point).  However, recently I started thinking about prasorizo, and couldn’t get it out of my mind. Prasa, or leeks, are cooked alongside rice and it’s all finished off with a healthy dose of lemon juice and dill. it’s a nice, bright side dish that can be served with pretty much everything, though on this particular night we had it with keftedes.

The rice will typically look a little greener that in the photo above. I shied away from using as many leeks as I should have because my leeks were SO huge, but I shouldn’t have. They all cook down and mellow out beautifully, so even if you have a pot full of leeks, no worries.  (I was also trying to compensate for poor lighting and may have over-whitenened the rice in the process. :))

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Can we get a technicality out of the way here? Are these called Rice Krispies Treats or Rice Krispie Treats? Because, personally, I’ve always said the latter. But that doesn’t seem right since the cereal is called Rice Krispies. And I can tell you that their website surely did not shed any light on this issue—on there, they’re called “the original treats.” I’m pretty sure it’s because they don’t know what to call these, either.

Whatever you call them, marhmallowy rice cereal bars (BOOM) are fanfreakingtastic, right? I can pretty much never make them because I will eat an entire pan on my own. I have absolutely ZERO restraint around them, possibly less than any other dessert. I don’t know what it is, but they are incredibly addictive.

Now, normally, I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to these babies. Don’t even think about adding peanut butter to them, for example. But these screamed out to me as soon as I saw them. I pinned these a while back, but when I saw Courtney posting them, then I really knew I had to make them (even if it did take over a year…).

Maybe it’s because in addition to being rice krispie treats obsessed, I’m also s’mores obsessed. Maybe because this version just makes sense, considering a predominant ingredient in s’mores is already a predominant ingredient in rice krispie treats. I don’t know, but I can tell you that adding a  buttery graham cracker crust and chocolate certainly did not help me have any restraint around these.

 

 

 

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Let me get this out of the way: I’m pretty sure this took me a little longer than 15 minutes to make. Maybe I’m a little slow or maybe Jamie Oliver is a little crazy for assuming your water is already boiled and your ingredients are out (because who doesn’t just have water boiling and ingredients out all day while they’re at work?), or maybe a little bit of both. I can’t tell you exactly how long this took me since I did some prep the night before, making my tzatziki, chopping the vegetables (admittedly, I was too lazy to wash the food processor so I just diced them since I was already chopping fruit for the kids’ breakfasts), and pounding the chicken. The evening we had this, all I really needed to do was cook the chicken and couscous and toss everything together. So while it may have taken a little longer than 15 minutes when it was all said and done, this was still very quick and easy, healthy, and we all loved it. And you really can’t beat that.

The dish is not “traditionally” Greek, but has plenty of components found in Greek cuisine, like dill, tzatziki, and feta. The chicken is flavored with oregano, allspice, and lemon zest (a few of my most favorite things) and placed atop a bed of colorful, herby couscous studded with crunchy peppers and peas. It’s finished with some salty feta and cool tzatziki. I  had reservations about the peppers not being cooked, but it definitely worked. Plus, I think this could easily work as a cold dish, making it perfect for lunch.

Of course, I did completely forget the olives. Oh well, next time!

 

 

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I’ve fallen into the habit of making side salads to go along with so many meals. It’s not my favorite—especially when tomatoes aren’t in season and when I don’t really give much thought to the contents of those salads—but it’s easy. It’s also quick, which is more than I can say for roasted vegetables. Between heating the oven and roasting, we simply don’t have time for that during the week, sadly.

The easiest way to make a salad feel a little less mundane is to make a new dressing. Dressings are both easy to make and incredibly adaptable. Also, they’re delicious. I had a friend tell me once that really the only reason people bother eating salad is because what they really want to eat  is dressing. I won’t argue that’s often the case. Sort of like how the only reason to eat red velvet cake is to eat cream cheese frosting. ;)

Roasted garlic is one of my favorite things, and it works really well in a vinaigrette. The garlic is not at all pungent, but just lends some mellow, sweet garlic notes to a very straightforward vinaigrette. Roasting the garlic does take some time, but you can easily roast it ahead of time and make the dressing the day-of, or just make the dressing on a weekend and keep it sealed in the refrigerator for up to a week (which is what we did).

 

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The idea for this dish came from something I ate at brunch several years ago. Although the restaurant has since shut down, I still recall this meal every once in a while.  (And I love that you can add pancetta to risotto and suddenly it’s acceptable breakfast fare.)

This dish was actually served with a farm fresh/uncooked egg yolk, and I wasn’t really a fan of that. It’s honestly taken me a long time to come around to egg yolks in general. It’s crazy, I know, but ever since I was little, I always preferred whites, whether they were hard-boiled or pan-fried. I never went gaga for a runny yolk like so many seem to do, so obviously I was not particularly interested in poached eggs. But lately, I’ve given them another chance and I really enjoy them in certain applications. They are especially great here because not only do they really make this more “breakfasty,” the runny yolk mixed with the creamy risotto makes this almost carbonara-like in texture, and that’s certainly not a bad thing.

When I first decided to try making poached eggs at home, I was incredibly intimidated. Imagine my surprise when I followed Deb’s tutorial and my very first egg turned out perfectly (unfortunately, the dish I topped it with that time was not perfect, which is why it was never blogged; hah!). So, if you’re intimidated by trying to poach eggs at home, or have tried in the past and failed, have faith in Smitten Kitchen.

I’m sure there are endless adaptations to this dish. I thought of doing a sausage and cheddar one, myself. Or what about chorizo and Chihuahua cheese? Vegetarian with goat cheese? The possibilities are endless.

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When I was abstaining from dairy due to Ian’s intolerance, Josie was being terribly mean and posting a million cheesy recipes I wanted to try, including this one, which has been at the forefront of my mind ever since. As soon as things were evidently going well with re-introducing dairy, I made this casserole. Like, 5 minutes later, basically.

You probably don’t know this about me, but I like Mexican food. ;-) I love that this has all the flavors of enchiladas in a form that is a bit easier to throw together and is much healthier, too. Although there are a few components to the dish, most of them are pretty hands-off and can be done simultaneously (I actually combined the sautéing of the onions/jalapeno with the cooking of the quinoa, too). I love meals like that on Sundays, because the hands-off/cook time allows me to play with my kids, make Monday’s dinner, or do any one of the other bajillion things that need to be done. (On this particular day, it was necessary to play the longest game of Uno known to man between 23 loads of laundry.)

This dish is protein-packed, from the chicken to the beans to the quinoa.  Ever since making this baked chicken & quinoa parmesan, I’ve been all about subbing quinoa in dishes where you might typically see rice or pasta. Might as well get a little extra nutrition where you can get it, right? If you’ve somehow managed to avoid quinoa up until this point, try it  in an application like this. Believe me, you will not be disappointed.

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