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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Remember many moons ago when I said you would hear from me on how to incorporate muhammara into kabobs? And then I forgot (even though fittingly, in that very post, I discussed my terrible memory)? Welllll. I finally remembered!

These kabobs have the standard Middle Eastern flavors of warm spices and parsley, much like these kafta kabobs, but they also incorporate muhammara, which is a red pepper-walnut spread for a little extra punch. They are incredibly easy to prepare and cook very quickly, making them really easy for a weeknight (assuming you already have the muhammara made). You can eat them as-is or dress them with some tahini, tzatziki, labneh, or anything else you wish. I love serving Lebanese and Lebanese-ish meals with fattoush on the side, and considering my husband requests fattoush at least once a month, I think he’s on board with that idea, too.

I’ve baked as well as pan-fried these, but you can also grill them if you want to brush a foot of snow off your grill. Although I haven’t tried it, I imagine broiling these would also be great.

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There are a lot of bad things about moving this time of year. You know, like getting acclimated to a new commute that involves walking over a mile each way in -30 temps. Or not having chosen a new pediatrician during the height of sick season. But one good thing is it’s the perfect time for soups and stews that can be made ahead on the weekend and then reheated on a busy weeknight.

The last couple of Sundays I’ve made soups to reheat on Monday nights. If you make them at the same time you’re making Sunday dinner (which is easy to do if Sunday dinner is something like a casserole, roast, or similar that has some hands-off cooking time), it’s almost like getting a free homecooked meal the next day.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve  never made a creamy chicken soup at home, although it’s always been my intention. Tom is always talking about how much he loves wild rice and how we never eat it, so I decided to go that route rather than noodles or white rice, but obviously you can change up the starch any way you see fit (keep in mind, though, that the rice to liquid ratio for wild rice is higher than most starches, so you will want to decrease the broth/cream a bit). I had planned on making this soup with mushrooms, but I forgot to put them on the grocery list (story of my life these days – I forget at least one thing a day). No matter, because it turned out great without them, but of course if you want to add them, please do! Bottom line – this soup is really adaptable to your tastes and what you have on hand. It’s creamy, comforting, and hearty, and I’m sure it will be making a reappearance during this absolutely ridiculous winter. Can you believe it’s only January?! Sigh…

 

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If you couldn’t tell by the eighty bazillion recipes for roasted chicken on here, we kinda sorta like roasted chicken. I’m pretty sure Zachary could eat half a chicken on his own. I save so many roast chicken recipes that I’d likely be able to try a new one every week until I die. And I’m okay with that.

The thing that makes this one a little different is its use of Spanish (dried) chorizo. We are lovers of sausage in this household (or “shausage,” if you’re Zachary), so it was obvious we’d like it here. The chicken juices flavor the chorizo, the chorizo flavors the chicken, and both flavor the potatoes. Sooooo, obviously it’s a winner. This recipe uses orange zest and if you’re like me and like citrus flavor, I’d add a little juice, too, to make it a little more prominent.

I used a mix of fingerling potatoes and purple potatoes (I have a mild fingerling potato obsession), but really any potato you want to use is fine as long as you cut it small enough to cook in time. This takes a little while to cook, but the prep couldn’t be easier, so it’s great for a Sunday when you want to make a nice dinner, but still have plenty of time to hang with the kids.

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::tap tap:: Is this thing on? Hi! So sorry for the lack of blog posting. You’re just going to have to bear with me while I figure out this whole new routine. You see, I’m officially a suburbanite. And the last week or so has sort of been hell.

We made the dumb decision to travel to both sides of our families during Christmas time when we really should have been packing. So, of course all our packing was done at the last minute (special shout out to the -46 degree wind chills that kept my office closed on Monday and allowed me to spend more time packing). We were up late for several nights, and then we moved on Wednesday, where thankfully we had a heat wave of around 25 degrees or so. On Thursday and Friday, we decided to send the kids to their new school to test our commute. We thought we could spend those days unpacking. Silly us! Instead we had to wait on deliveries, run errands, return to our condo to clean and finish packing (getting stuck in the snow and needing to push the car twice) and a million other things. So our house is still in shambles. But we’re getting there. Slowly.

The commuter train is not a bad deal, really. I’m downtown in less than 30 minutes, but I do have about a mile hike to work, which I have found sort of annoying at least for the first 1/3 or so because there are so many people walking. And if you know me at all, you know I’m one of those people who does NOT like walking slowly (very UNEuropean of me). Because we now live and die by the train schedule, the evening commute is a bit worse. We’re getting home later than we would like, by quite a bit. Dinners are going to be HARD until we figure something out. This week we’ve gotten by on soup I made ahead and the crockpot. So, I can’t make any promises as to how often this blog will be updated, but hopefully this will motivate me to make some really awesomely delicious stuff on the weekends when I have more time, to share with you. :)

This recipe, though, is a great one to make when you’re short on time. It’s done in the time it takes to boil water/cook soba noodles and it’s nice and healthy to boot. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat protein and you can adjust the spice level to your preference. Anyone who is ready to pull their hair out due to weekday schedules should have this in his or her life.

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In honor of my blog turning 7 years old, and also to celebrate the holidays, I’ve been doing weekly giveaways. We still have a few more to go, and I hope you’ve been enjoying them!

Today I’m giving away one of my two most used pieces of cookware (the other being my cast iron skillet): an All Clad 3 qt sauté pan with lid. I use this pan ALL the time. It’s a great size, is perfect for everything from searing to one-pot meals to pasta sauces, it goes in the oven and the dishwasher, and just performs amazingly well all around.  I’ll even throw in a bottle of Bar Keeper’s Friend to keep it looking shiny and new, because I know you are going to be using it a TON.

 

Enter below for your chance to win! The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on January 9th. This giveaway is sponsored by yours truly, because I love you all so much. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Today, bloggers everywhere will be posting roundups of 65235 healthy recipes, resolutions, low calorie dinners, and less-guilt snack options. But me? I’m posting these incredibly rich chocolate caramel bars. Because, you know, you don’t want to shock your system *too* much after all the holiday eating…

These bars start with a layer of shortbread and are then topped with chewy caramel, chocolate, and a sprinkling of salt. In other words, they are ridiculously delicious. And also ridiculously rich. You’ll probably want to cut them in small pieces, which will make for about a million pieces. But, they’re great for giving away or freezing, and they should last a while as-is, too. Unless you keep sneaking a piece from the fridge because they’re just so small that it’s okay to take a few in a day. (I wouldn’t know anything about that.)

This was my first time making caramel with condensed milk (well, let’s be real. This is my first time making caramel that actually worked and didn’t burn or do something else).  I’d actually taken the day off to do some baking and finish up my Christmas shopping, but then Ian woke up with a fever, which meant he had to stay home. Making these with a sick, mobile baby who is in the throes of separation anxiety was perhaps not my best idea. An empty box, a ladle, and whatever else I could toss to him while I was stirring helped for a little bit. Thankfully, making the caramel is the most time consuming part and everything else comes together pretty quickly and easily.

I might increase the shortbread layer by just a bit the next time around. I think it would also be good with a splash of vanilla but then, I add vanilla to everything, so that’s not surprising. :)

I wish you all an incredible new year, and I hope 2014 brings you much happiness and joy. And good food. Lots and lots of good food.

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