Salsa Verde Chicken

 Salsa Verde Chicken 2

Inspiration: So. The first several months after having a baby? Those were some crazy times. When I think back, I remember eating in a very specific way. 1)We ate previously frozen meals. 2)Family brought us food. 3)Brandon picked up take out from some favorite local places – namely, street tacos or gyros. Or…..4) I whipped up some quick meals like this one. There definitely wasn’t any fancy-schmancy paella making back then. And though I’m so happy that we’ve finally begun to fall into a nice little routine as a family, there’s definitely a part of me that is nostalgic for those insane, eating-on-the-sofa, baby-in-our-laps days. This little recipe (and a few others like it that I’ll share at some point) takes me back there in some tiny way. And that makes me smile.

What We Loved: This recipe gives you quick, delicious Mexican flavors without much time or any fuss. Time and again we’ve said that Mexican foods are our favorite cuisine, and we appreciate anything from tiny little recipes like this all of the way to the most authentic, time-consuming recipes that we’ve eaten or made. For how easy this one is, it’s pretty darn tasty. The best part is letting the onions and chicken get nice and browned in the pan, and then scraping all of those brown bits up into the salsa verde sauce. That makes for some delicious and rich flavor. The sour cream thickens everything up nicely, and some sliced grape tomatoes and cilantro add a great freshness to the dish.

Tips: Make this on a weeknight. It’s easy peasy. And do use chicken thighs. Chicken breasts are just so tough when cooked this way. Using chicken thighs = tender, more flavorful chicken.

Salsa Verde Chicken

Salsa Verde Chicken
Source: Original Recipe

Olive oil or butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
~1 lb chicken thighs, diced
Salt and pepper
8 oz salsa verde (I use jarred)
About 1/3 cup sour cream
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Diced grape tomatoes, for garnish

1. Heat the oil or butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened. Stir in the garlic.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan, and stir everything together. Saute until the chicken is cooked through and everything is getting nice and browned. The browning is important – it makes the sauce so much richer.

3. Add the salsa verde. Scrape the bottom of the pan, incorporating all of the brown bits into the sauce.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the sour cream. Stir to combine, and cook until heated through.

5. Serve garnished with cilantro and tomatoes.

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Chorizo, Chicken, and Tomato Paella

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Inspiration: We’ve been living in the same city for about eight years now, so we’ve got our favorite haunts around town. One of those places is a wine/beer/deli/fine foods store that is just fantastic. We’ve been shopping there for years and can always count on them for good advice on a bottle of scotch, help picking out the perfect wine for whatever meal we’re making, or a sampling of all kinds of cheeses and salamis and anything else that we’re looking for. It must have been a couple of summers ago (I remember that I was pregnant at the time) that we went to a pretty awesome paella demo there where we got to sit around a Big Green Egg outside, learn how to make paella, and then sample the results. Ever since then, we’ve been hooked on the idea of making paella at home. For Christmas this past year, Brandon bought me a fantastic paella pan and all of the ingredients to finally try our hands at making paella. We’ve been honing the recipe to our liking for the past several months, and we’ve finally gotten it just right.

What We Loved: As I said, we’ve been fine-tuning this recipe, so we pretty much love everything about it. The whole dish has a gloriously rich, smoky flavor due to the smoked chorizo (we use this kind and adore it – it’s our favorite single component of the meal), the smoked paprika, and the saffron. Add to that some tender, fall apart chicken; lovely bites of sweet tomato and pimiento peppers; a wonderfully rich base of delectable rice that just soaks up all of the spices and flavors of the other ingredients; and a fresh, citrusy sprinkling of cilantro to top things off, and there’s not much else that you could ask for. We crave this weekly.

Tips: We’re waiting for the weather to warm up a little bit more so that we can make this recipe on the charcoal grill outside. That will be perfection. So if you have access to a charcoal grill, I’d highly recommend cooking it that way versus on the stove top. Also, this is not a cheap or an easy meal to make, but in our opinion, there are upsides that outweigh those factors. For one, it’s such a fun dinner to make, especially for company. And secondly, this recipe makes a lot of paella. The last time that we made this, we didn’t have any guests, so Brandon, Ben, and I ate it for five dinners straight. That stretches the dollar a bit, right? And I might add that we didn’t tire of eating it for five days in a row, either.

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Chorizo, Chicken, and Tomato Paella
Source: Original Recipe

12 cups chicken stock
1.5 oz saffron
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, diced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 onion, diced
1 lb dried smoked chorizo, sliced into rounds and then into half moons
1 lb chicken thighs, diced
2.5 cups calasparra rice
4 tomatoes, sliced into thick wedges
1 8 oz jar pimiento peppers, sliced into strips

1. Heat the stock in a large pot until simmering. Toast the saffron in a dry saute pan until it begins to release its aroma. Mix the saffron into the stock and keep warm over low heat.

2. Heat the oil in your paella pan. Add the garlic, and toss to coat. Add the diced tomato, paprika, a pinch of salt, and the tomato paste. Stir together and cook for 1-2 minutes. This is called the sofrito.

3. Move the sofrito to the side of the pan. Saute the onion until it softens and begins to brown, and then move it to the side of the pan.

4. Add the chorizo to the pan, and saute until it begins to brown. Move it to the side of the pan.

5. Add the chicken to the pan, and saute until it begins to brown.

6. Add the rice to the pan. Mix everything together, and distribute everything evenly around the pan.

7. Add as much chicken stock as will fit into the pan. Season generously with salt. It is important to season well with salt at this stage, because you won’t have another opportunity to incorporate the salt. At this point, do not stir the paella any further.

8. Arrange the tomatoes in a circular fashion atop the stock. Let cook for 15 minutes on medium-high.

9. Reduce the heat to low. As the paella cooks, continue adding stock until you have used all of the stock.

10. When the stock is completely absorbed and the paella begins to sizzle on the bottom of the pan, the paella is done. Add the pimiento peppers shortly before this point, so that they have time to warm.

11. Remove from the heat and let sit for 15 minutes in order for all of the flavors to meld and for the dish to cool. It is important not to skip this step.

12. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

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Sauteed Chicken with Blueberry Peach Salsa

Sauteed Chicken with Blueberry Peach Salsa

Inspiration: We sure have been piling the fresh fruit into our basket at the grocery store lately. I think it’s the best thing about summer eating – all of the lovely, fantastic fruits and vegetables. I’m all for great, earthy, comforting stews and soups in the fall, but while summer is here – bring on the peaches!

What We Loved: This is one of those recipes that’s great for people who love the meat and fruit combination. The salsa is sweet from the peaches and blueberries, but it’s also nice and savory with the addition of tomatoes and earthy basil. I wouldn’t say that the salsa would be nearly as good on its own – it needs that chicken as a buttery, savory complement to the earthiness of the basil, which really is a characterizing flavor of the salsa as a whole. This is a great dinner to enjoy as summer winds down before all of the great peaches and blueberries are gone!

Tips: We had some leftover salsa that I saved and ate on its own the next day, and I really didn’t care for it leftover or without the chicken complement. So I’d suggest eating it all up on the first night.

Sauteed Chicken with Blueberry Peach Salsa
Source: Original recipe to serve 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied and cut in half
Kosher salt and black pepper
Olive oil
2 peaches, pitted and diced
Handful blueberries
Handful grape tomatoes, sliced in half
Handful fresh basil, minced

1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add a good drizzle of olive oil to a saute pan. Saute the chicken until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side.

2. Meanwhile, add the peaches, blueberries, grape tomatoes, and basil to a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well.

3. Serve the chicken topped with the fruit salsa.

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Inspiration: We cook with cilantro more than any other herb. I’d say that about 90% of the time, it’s our herb of choice. We do use a lot of basil, rosemary, and thyme, too, but there’s just something about cilantro. It’s bright, it’s fresh, and it goes so well with many cuisines (including Mexican, of course, which is just about our favorite). Anything cilantro-based is  usually a go in our house, and when the recipe is an Indian curry, well, that just puts it over the top. We really do love curry in just about any form.

What We Loved: The sauce in this curry was earthy and wonderful. It was characterized mainly by the flavor of cilantro, with a great kick of heat from serrano peppers and a touch of sweetness from the coconut oil and coconut milk. Like all great curry sauces, it was rich, complex, and full of earthy spices. I really love meatballs, too, so I enjoyed that aspect of the dish as well. It’s nice to experiment with meatballs in recipes other than those that are Italian or marinara-based.

Tips: This recipe makes a lot of sauce. I would think that you could double the meatball recipe and still have enough sauce (or maybe make half as many more meatballs). I froze the leftover sauce and then served it atop sauteed chicken breasts for another Indian meal later in the week (bonus!).

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce

Meatball Curry with Cilantro Coconut Sauce
Source: Slightly adapted from Girl Cooks World
Serves: 2-4 

For the Meatballs
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste

1. Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, and mix together. Form into 16-20 meatballs and set aside on a plate.

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
2 cups loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened.

2. Add the ginger, garlic, and serrano. Cook for a few minutes until everything begins to brown.

3. Add the cumin, coriander, and garam masala, and stir to coat the vegetables.

4. Add the coconut milk, cilantro, spinach, and salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

5. Use an immersion blender to process the mixture until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil again.

6. Add the meatballs, and reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.

7. Stir in the vinegar and serve.

Chicken and White Bean Burgers with Ham, Avocado, and Cheddar

Chicken and White Bean Burgers (Two Ways)

Chicken and White Bean Burgers with Ham, Avocado, and Cheddar

Inspiration: I’m a planner. I’ve been trying to break myself of that trait, but it sure is dying hard. When I go shopping, I like to have my grocery list all ready (organized by department, no less) with everything that I need for whatever meals that I have scheduled for the week. It’s just what works for me and my slightly ridiculous brain. Anyway, lately I’ve been trying to go to the store without my list and shop for dinners according to what’s on sale. While in a way it stresses me out (….why?), it really has resulted in a bit more creativity in the kitchen, which is always a great thing.

What We Loved: Chicken and white beans are a great combination, as both ingredients have very light flavor profiles that really play off of each other well. Combined together in burger form, there really is a lot of versatility with the toppings, as you can see from the two different ways that we prepared our burgers here. Mixed with cilantro and topped with shaved ham, avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese, the burgers were light and spring-like, with a nice tropical feel. And when we threw in some oregano and topped the burgers with marinara, mozzarella, and sauteed mushrooms, we ended up with an Italian-style burger that was rich and comforting. Using two simple ingredients as a base and building from there, we really ended up with two completely different but equally delicious meals.

Tips: Using ground chicken to make burgers is very messy. The burgers certainly don’t form together nicely as a beef burger would. Just shape it into a patty form as best as you can and throw it into the pan, though – it’ll come together and be easy to work with as soon as it starts cooking. Also – be sure to season the chicken mixture well with salt and pepper. Finally, I didn’t use any butter or oil to cook the burgers, and they cooked up just fine, but if you’d like more flavor imparted into the meat, you could certainly use your cooking fat of choice.

Chicken and White Bean Burgers with Ham, Avocado, and Cheddar
Source: Original Recipe

1/2 lb ground chicken thigh
1/4 cup navy beans, cooked
1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt and black pepper
Deli ham, shaved
Avocado, thinly sliced
Sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded

1. Mash the navy beans with a potato masher or fork until they are about 2/3 mashed, leaving some of the beans in tact for texture. Add in a little water as necessary to get a creamy texture.

2. Mix the ground chicken, beans, and cilantro together with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Saute the burgers over medium heat until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. A few minutes before removing the burgers from the pan, top the burgers with some shaved ham, thinly sliced avocado, and sharp cheddar cheese. Let cook for a few minutes to heat the ingredients and melt the cheese as much as desired.

4. Serve the burgers garnished with additional cilantro.

Chicken and White Bean Burgers with Marinara, Mozzarella, and Mushrooms

Chicken and White Bean Burgers with Marinara, Mozzarella, and Mushrooms
Source: Original Recipe

1/2 lb ground chicken thigh
1/4 cup navy beans, cooked
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
Butter
Garlic powder
Handful baby portabella mushrooms, diced
Your favorite marinara sauce
Mozzarella cheese, freshly shredded

1. Mash the navy beans with a potato masher or fork until they are about 2/3 mashed, leaving some of the beans in tact for texture. Add in a little water as necessary to get a creamy texture.

2. Mix the ground chicken, beans, and oregano together with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.

3. Heat some butter in a small sauce pan, and add the diced mushrooms. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, and saute until cooked through and browned. At the same time, heat some marinara sauce in a separate sauce pan.

4. Saute the burgers over medium heat until cooked through, about 4-5 minutes per side. A few minutes before removing the burgers from the pan, top the burgers with some of the marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella. Let cook for a few minutes to heat the ingredients and melt the cheese as much as desired.

5. Serve the burgers topped with the sauteed mushrooms.

Corned Beef Hash

Corned Beef Hash

Corned Beef Hash

Inspiration: Why not share another breakfast hash recipe? We’ve been enjoying having breakfast meals for dinner lately (see last week’s chorizo and sweet potato hash). Having breakfast for dinner is nice because night time provides a little more flexibility to make a breakfast that I normally wouldn’t make on an average weekday morning. Plus, Brandon loves anything and everything corned beef (….I think he could eat a reuben every day and be a happy man).

What We Loved: There’s something awesome about throwing all of your ingredients in a pan, sauteeing them up, and serving them in a big pile on your plate. It’s not very beautiful (to say the least), but it really is so comforting and tasty. This corned beef hash is a fairly standard recipe – just some nicely browned bacon, onions, corned beef, and potatoes with a good bunch of seasoning. It’s a great combination of rich and simple flavors, and the best part is the nice brown crust that you get on the pieces of potatoes and corned beef as you let it cook away in the pan.

Tips: I served this topped with sliced avocado, which was lovely, but I also think that a poached or sunny-side up egg would be a fantastic topping. Goat cheese would also be nice. A colorful topping works well – corned beef hash is not pretty.

Corned Beef Hash
Source: Original Recipe

5-6 slices bacon, diced
About 1 lb leftover cooked corned beef, finely diced
1 small onion, diced
1 large russet potato, grated
Kosher salt and black pepper
Garlic powder
1 avocado, sliced or diced

1. Heat a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Add the bacon, and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper-towel lined plate, and set aside.

2. Add the diced corned beef, grated potato, and onion to the pan. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir to combine.

3. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are softened and everything is beginning to get nice and browned, about 15 minutes.

4. Serve topped with sliced or diced avocado.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash with Pimiento Peppers

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash with Pimientos

Inspiration: I’ve seen a lot of chorizo and sweet potato hash recipes all over the web for a few years, and it’s one of those ideas that I’ve always wanted to try. It’s a recipe that could be great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Excellent.

What We Loved: This was one of those dishes that was a great contrast between spicy and sweet. The chorizo had a great spicy kick, and the sweet potatoes and peppers were both nice and sweet. I thought it was interesting that the two sweet ingredients provided different kinds of sweet – the peppers had a nice, tangy sort of sweet, while the potatoes were more in the line of sugary sweet. Combined with the spicy sausage, some browned onions, and a nice bit of salt, the flavor profile was really quite lovely.

Tips: I really went simple with this dish, which is good if that’s what you’re looking for. If you’d like to complicate things a bit, though, I think that cilantro or black beans would be a good addition, and sour cream or goat cheese would be nice toppings.

Chorizo and Sweet Potato Hash with Pimiento Peppers
Source: Original Recipe

1 lb chorizo sausage
2 small sweet potatoes, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 4 oz jar pimiento peppers, diced
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Place the chorizo, sweet potatoes, onion, and peppers in a large saute pan over medium heat. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

2. Cover and cook, stirring often, until the chorizo is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are softened, about 15-20 minutes.