Easy Tangy Citrus Chicken

Lemon Chicken

I love lemon. I love how it makes you pucker. I love how it makes everything smell fresh. I love that lemon can be used to counter a dish that tastes too sweet, or too rich, or just flat.

But the hubs hates lemon. He has this weird lemon radar, that goes off at even the slightest detection of tang.

“Baby, whats in this?”

“Nothing weird, just try it.”

“There’s lemon in here, isn’t there…”

Dangit.

I was craving Greek chicken, marinated in lemon juice and olive oil, baked in the oven alongside wedges of potatoes. But alas, I didn’t want to cook a different dish for my lemon-phobic love. So I came up with this simple citrus chicken. The oven was hot enough to crisp the skin, while leaving the meat nice and juicy. It was tasty served over rice, with the pan juices from the chicken and orange slices spooned over-top. Just add a simple green salad to round out the meal, perhaps with a honey-lemon vinaigrette? *sigh* Or not.

LemonChicken1

Easy Tangy Citrus Chicken

Marinade

1 cup of orange juice

2 tbls olive oil

2 tbls honey

1 tsp dried rosemary

2 tsp dried thyme

2 tsp dried oregano

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

For chicken

Cooking spray

4 chicken thighs or 2 chicken breast, skin-on & bone-in

1 medium orange, sliced

1. Combine marinade ingredients into a gallon zip-top bag. Wisk to combine.

2. Add chicken to marinade and place bag into a bowl to catch drips. Marinate in fridge for at least an hour or up to overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Apply cooking spray to a lipped sheet pan. Arrange chicken and orange slices on sheet pan. Discard marinade.

4. Cook chicken until skin is crispy and meat is cooked to 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.

Lemon Chicken

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Filipino chicken soup (tinola manok)

Chicken tinola

I meant to post this recipe last week, but life got in the way. I’m not complaining though. It was all the good things in life. Birthdays, fall photos, spending time with the hubs and little one. I had this intention of setting up a schedule for the blog, of updating it on specific days so that I would not get lazy and let things slide. But last week the leaves were changing and the weather was perfect; there was not a day where I wanted to sit down and write. I wanted to get out and live. And so I did.

My mom is a great cook, as is my dad. This is one of my favorite recipes of theirs, warm and comforting, it reminds me of home. Normally it is made with green papaya and hot pepper leaves, but chayote and baby spinach are appropriate substitutes. The carrot is an unusual addition, but I thought it gave the dish a little needed color.

I may be 14 hours and a border away, but this dish takes me home.

Chicken tinola

Filipino Chicken Soup (tinola manok)

2 pounds chicken pieces (I used thighs)
1 thumb size ginger root, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium chayote or green papaya, cut into wedges
12 ounce bag of organic baby spinach
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Patis)
3 cups of low sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp canola oil
Salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add chicken, ginger and garlic and cook until chicken is slightly browned.

2. Add stock and Patis and bring to a boil. Lower heat to barely a simmer and poach until chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes. Skip any scum and fat if necessary.

3. Add chayote and carrot and simmer for another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

4. Turn off stove and add spinach, stirring until it is wilted. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Savory Guinness Stew Hand Pies with Flaky Cheddar Crust

Guinness Pie

There’s something magical that happens to stout when you cook with it. Its chocolate undertones become more pronounced, as if the heat has broken down the beer’s molecules into its essential components, love and chocolate. What is that you say? Stout is made from water, and perhaps roasted barley, hops and yeast? Maybe literally, but figuratively, when that long-simmered stout reaches my tongue, my taste buds scream chocolate. Oh, and I love you.

Thats why, when presented with several pounds of chuck roast and little time to put things together, that stout came to mind. The little one had been taking up most of my attention this week, with her little nose running, and her little feet scampering into who-knows-what. So, not having any time to even brown the meat, I cubed it and chucked it into a crock pot with onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms. And of course two (that’s right) bottles of Guinness. After a day at work, we came home to the heavenly smell of simmering beef.

While browning the meat may have made the stew that much better; I’m thinking the second bottle of beer almost made up for the lack of fond (you know, the brown bits left from browning meat). Also, all of that chocolately stout disguised any paleness of the beef as a result of my laziness.

The first night, we ate the stew with a simple crisp green salad and delicious popovers. The second night was on its own, although I had planned to serve it over a bowl of white rice. On the third night, the stew was wrapped up by a  flaky cheddar crust and eaten as a hand pie. Yes, this recipe makes a lot of stew. And yes, the third iteration was my favorite. Serve the stew naked or as a pie; brown the beef, or choose not to. Either way, make sure you use two bottles of stout, and make sure you listen as your taste buds proclaim their love.

Guinness Pie

Check out that flaky crust!

Guinness Pie

Savory Guinness Beef Stew

2-3 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1 inch cubes
5-6 large organic carrots, cut into large cubes
8 ounces white button or crimini mushrooms, sliced in half
4 stems organic celery, cut into large cubes
1 large onion, cubed
2 tbls. tomato paste
1 tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 cup fresh flat leaved parsley, chopped
1 tbls. salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 cups low sodium beef or chicken broth
2 bottles Guinness or similar stout
4 tbls. butter
4 tbls flour
1 egg, lightly beaten.

1. Set crockpot to low, add meat, followed by vegetables, tomato paste, she and herbs.
2. Mix in liquids and gently stir to combine all.
3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Adjust seasoning if required.
4. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir on flour and mix for five minutes.
5. Whisk in a couple of ladle culls of the stew broth into flour and butter. Once it has the flour mix has dissolved, add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil to thicken.
6. Add the thickened broth back to crockpot and serve in bowls.

Hand Pies
Prepared stew
Flaky cheddar crust
 
1. Cool stew and roll out dough.
2. Cut dough into 5 inch diameter circles.
3. Place 1-2 tbls filling in the center or the circles.
4. Fold over dough and seal with a fork. Brush tops with egg, and create vent holes.
5. Place pies on a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper.
6. Bake for 25-30 mins, or until golden brown.

Butternut Squash, Sausage, and Spinach Stuffing

Squash Stuffing

Ah butternut squash. Sweet and creamy, the perfect fall veg. Last week was Canadian Thanksgiving, so the hubs surprised me with fried chicken, mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Yes, fried chicken is indeed a proper substitute for roast turkey. So what was missing from this otherwise classic Thanksgiving dinner? Stuffing.

Stuffing is my favorite part of the holiday dinner, for sure. Especially when it’s cooked inside the bird, and the bread soaks up all the juices. Bread cubes saturated in poultry juice, heavenly! But when the dish is served outside the bird, it becomes the less flavorful cousin of stuffing, dressing.

Since one cannot stuff fried chicken (well I guess you could, but that’s for another post) what better way to liven up the boring dressing than with squash? Add some smoked sausage for a bit of meaty flavor, and throw in handfuls of baby spinach for some green and you’ve got the perfect Thanksgiving side. It was a weeknight, so to make things easy I went with a box of Stove Top. Of all the Thanksgiving food I like to make from scratch, stuffing is not one of them.  Perhaps I just haven’t tried a good homemade stuffing as of yet, but Stove Top just tastes better to me.  If you have a good stuffing recipe, let me know and I’ll try it. Until then, here is my doctored Stove Top stuffing, to go along with your fried chicken of course.

SquashStuffing2

Butternut Squash, Sausage and Spinach Dressing

1 box of Stove Top Stuffing (or your favorite boxed stuffing or homemade recipe, to feed 4)
2 cups diced butternut squash
1/2 lb diced smoked sausage
1 bag organic baby spinach
1 diced small onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
Olive oil
Baking spray
2 quart baking dish

1. Prepare stuffing according to directions.

2. In a medium sauté pan, fry smoked sausage and onion in a tablespoon of olive oil until slightly browned. Add garlic and squash and allow squash to lightly caramalize.

3. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

4. In a large bowl mix prepared stuffing, squash mixture, parsley, sage, nutmeg and egg until combined.

5. Pour into a 2 quart baking dish sprayed with baking spray. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden.

Asian pork al pastor

Pork tacos

Asian pork al pastor, that’s a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? There are cooks who cringe at the bastardization of traditional recipes. How dare I use soy sauce as a substitute for achiote, as there are absolutely no similarities between the two. This is know, but I needed something for color and flavor, and when I added some minced ginger, garlic and sesame oil and the Asian pork al pastor was born. Do not judge, until you try it.

Grilling is definitely the best method to cook the pork. After marinating in pineapple overnight, the meat is made so tender from the fruit’s enzymes that it is almost falling apart. So you certainly need some kind of grid to place on the grill grates if you decide that this is the way to go. The other option is to cook the meat in a pan in the stove top, but you won’t achieve the same smokey results. Also, if you fire up the grill, you may as well grill your tortillas as well. The combination of the sweet, tender pork, smokey tortillas and the spicy pineapple salsa is a classic one, with a bit of an Asian twit. Because that’s how I roll.

Ignore the weird shadows cast by the window blinds...

Ignore the weird shadows cast by the window blinds…

Loosely adapted from Steven Raichlen’s Tacos al Pastor

Marinade

1 cup sliced pineapple in juice

1/2 medium onion

juice of 1 lime

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp minced ginger

1 tbls minced garlic

1 tbls sesame oil

1 whole jalapeno

Tacos

2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/4 inch slices

corn or flour tortillas

pineapple salsa

Preparation

1. Add all marinade ingredients into a blender. Puree until smooth. Combine marinade and sliced pork into a large ziploc bag, mix, seal and place into a large bowl. Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 4 hours and up to one day.

2. Preheat grill to medium high heat.

3. Drain pork from marinade and grill on a grill grid or basket over medium high heat until center of meat is no longer pink.

4. Once pork is cooked, wrap in foil to keep warm.

5. Grill tortillas until warm and blistered in some spots. Serve pork on tortillas with pineapple salsa.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Blueberry  Streusel Coffee Cake

I had reservations about posting this particular recipe. Not that it came out all that badly, just that I’m not a fan of blueberries. Initially, the berries had been purchased because I saw this amazing smoothie recipe on Pinterest, that when combined with handfulls of spinach, dollops of yogurt and a spoonfull of chia seeds, promised to help me lose weight and get gorgeously glossy hair. Ultimately, it was all for naught. While I really didn’t mind the taste of the spinach, I just am not a fan of blueberries. Ah well, next time maybe I’ll try it with raspberries.

Anyways, back to the coffee cake. If it weren’t for the blueberries that ruined it for me, the cake turned out pretty well. The combination of the chunky streusel and the moist, tangy cake would have been a winner, if it weren’t tainted by the blueberries. Are you sold yet? If you like blueberries, you’ll like this recipe. Myself? Let’s just say my colleagues and the hubs benefited by my poor berry choices.

Blueberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen and PBS Food

Streusel Topping
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 3/4 cups cake flour

Coffee Cake
1/2 cup butter softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 heaping cups organic blueberries
1 tbls flour

Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9 inch square baking pan.

2. For the streusel, add sugar, spices and butter in a small bowl. Then add the flour with a spoon, mixing it together until it resembles kneaded dough. Put aside until later.

3. For the cake, mix butter and sugar on medium speed of a stand mixer. Add vanilla and egg and mix until combined.

4. In a separate medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

5. On low speed, stir in buttermilk and dry ingredients until just combined.

6. Mix the tablespoon of flour with the blueberries. Carefully fold in the blueberries into the batter. Spread batter into prepared pan. Using fingers, sprinkle streusel on top of batter by breaking into large crumbs.

7. Bake cake in center rack of oven, until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 minutes.

8. Cool completely and serve.

Classic spaghetti and meatballs

Classic spaghetti and meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs. Quintessentially comforting, a warm hug of pasta strands, sweet and tangy tomato sauce, and satisfyingly meaty balls. It also conjures up a notable SNL sketch with Alec Baldwin and two NPR radio hosts, but I digress. Spaghetti and meatballs may be a simple thing, but it often can go wrong in so many ways. Unrecognizable meat, canned sauce, and mushy pasta a la Chef Boyardee comes to mind, but even an attempt at homemade meatballs may bring about tough meat if mixed with too heavy of a hand or with the wrong proportions of meat. My 5th grade international fair saw my first attempt at the dish, and since then I have been trying replicate it. Seriously, it was that good my friends. Sadly, I did not write down the recipe, nor do I remember where I got it from. All I do remember was that the mix involved fresh bread crumbs, ground pork and beef and grated cheese.

What follows is the culmination of twenty odd years of experimenting with different ratios of pork and beef, fresh breadcrumbs versus dried, Parmesan or Romano. It is a very loose adaptation of Epicurious’ popular Spaghetti with Sicilian meatballs

The magic ratio here is 2 parts ground chuck to one part ground pork. More pork and the meatballs aren’t beefy enough, too much beef and they lose that yielding tenderness. Soaking the breadcrumbs in milk also adds to the succulent texture of the meatballs. While finishing their cooking in the simple sauce causes them to release their juices to create a lovely, unctuous tomatoey gravy. Top it all with a sprinkling of nutty parm, and you end up with a delicious dish. Good times, good times.

P9216442

Yields 8 servings

Tomato Sauce
3 cans (28 oz) organic crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil
2 tsp (or more) red pepper flakes
1 tbls dried oregano
1 tbls sugar
Salt
Pepper

Grated Parmesan, for serving.

Meatballs
1 lb ground pork
2 lbs ground beef chuck
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup organic Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely shredded
2 large organic eggs, lightly beaten
3 slices bread, torn into large crumbs
1/2 organic milk
3 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Meatball preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks evenly in the oven.
2. Combine meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly, but lightly with hands moistened with water.
3. Using hands, shape out 2 inch meatballs, scooping out the meat and gently rolling it into a ball using the palm of your hand. Take care not to compress the meat too much as this results in a dense meatball.
4. Continue to roll out balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. You should have about 24 meatballs in total on 2 cookie sheets.
5. Bake meatballs for 30 mins. Do not worry if meatballs are not cooked all the way through, they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Sauce preparation
1. Sauté onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat, until translucent.
2. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, adding salt and pepper to taste.
3. Let sauce simmer on low heat, stirring occasionally until meatballs are done.
4. Once meatballs are done, add to the simmering sauce, removing any solid fat that may have adhered to the meatballs.
5. Simmer sauce and meatballs over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pasta preparation
1. While sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
2. After adding meatballs to sauce, add pasta to the boiling water.
3. Cook pasta according to directions, or until al dente.
4. Drain pasta and assemble dish, serving 2-3 meatballs per person. Top with grated parmesan.

There will be plenty of leftover meatballs, which are great as leftovers, or assembled on a nice crusty roll with mozzarella as a sandwich. Leftovers meatballs in sauce also freeze well, and can be defrosted in the microwave.