braised chicken thighs with tomatillo sauce

Last night we were a little adventurous. We knew we wanted to cook something that could last a few nights but we wanted it to be a new recipe which is always a little risky. What if we make a huge batch of something nasty?  Do we push through it all week long or decide to throw away a perfectly good meal because we don’t find it to our liking? Having had a lot of red meat lately (which I have been craving!), we settled on a chicken dish. A lot of pregnant women have an aversion to chicken.  While I don’t hate it right now, neither do I go searching for it. This added an additional element of surprise to dinner: would I be able to even tolerate the meal based on its protein?  The answer was thankfully a resounding yes. As a one pot meal, it practically cooked itself and it was so flavorful and simple to piece together that I am sure it will get added to our rotation of repeat meals.

Ingredients:

6 bone in chicken thighs

3 cups of chicken stock

3 jars of salsa verde (approx 5-10oz)

1 jalapeno diced

1 carrot diced

3 garlic cloves diced

1 yellow onion diced

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

Canola oil

Salt and Pepper

Start by heating up a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of canola oil in a braising pot. When the oils are almost smoking, add the chicken thighs which should be seasoned with salt and pepper skin down until the skin is browned (approx 5-7 minutes). Flip the chicken over and add in the onion, jalapeno, garlic, bay leaves, carrot to the pot for about 5 minutes or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add in the salsa verde and the chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 1 hour. Serve in a bowl over rice and with warmed tortillas.

steak with balsamic reduction potatoes

Saturday was a gorgeous day in Boston.  We ran some errands in the morning and then came home to play with the pups outside and enjoy a lazy weekend with each other. When it finally approached dinner time, David started this delicious dish. Unfortunately, just as he had finished off the steak, I called my midwife a little concerned that during our lazy day  I had not felt the little man moving around. As a precaution for low fetal activity, the midwife suggested I head into the hospital for monitoring. So David turned the stove off, slid the steak onto a plate and we dashed off to the hospital both worried and a bit hungry. We drove in nervous silence punctuated with questions like, “Are you feeling okay?”, “Have you felt him yet?”, and “Do you think you could be going into labor?” When we arrived at the hospital, the staff was incredibly efficient and kind. We were rushed into a room and I was hooked to a fetal monitor. They asked us some questions about our day, brought us some water, and we waited for the heart monitor to “tell” us something about the little guy. Of course, as soon as they placed the monitor on my belly, the little man started to have a dance party. It was quickly established that despite his silence all day, he was perfectly fine.  We were dispatched and hurried home feeling much more assured and definitely ready to eat some dinner.

David headed straight for the kitchen and went back to whipping up this delicious meal! Thankfully, it still tasted AMAZING despite the delay.

Ingredients

1lb hangar steak

salt and pepper

1tbsp canola oil

3tbsp unsalted butter

fresh thyme

4 slices of thick bacon diced

10 fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise

1 red onion thinly sliced

1 clove of garlic

5tbsp balsamic vinegar

Place a cast iron skillet on high heat. Season steak with salt and pepper, add oil to skillet. When it almost smokes, sear the steak for 4 minutes on each side. Reduce heat to medium-low and add butter and thyme (4-6 spring). Using a spoon, bast the steak for 2-3 minutes flipping once to coat other side. Remove steak from heat and set aside.

Discard all the fat and thyme from the skillet. Over medium heat cook the bacon until crispy about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes cut side down to the skillet and cook until crisp and golden about 4-5 minutes. Turn the potatoes and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes. Add onions and cook until they are caramelized 10-15 minutes. Lower heat and add garlic. When you can smell the aroma of the garlic add the balsamic vinegar and reduce for about 3 minutes.

Carve the steak into strips and return to skillet and serve!

It is such an amazing dish. Flavorful, simple, and satisfying it was perfect after our hectic evening.

teriyaki salmon

This week I have been SO hungry!  I have just eaten through our pantry and refrigerator all day long.  Perhaps it is a growing week for the baby or perhaps it is just me being a fatty-pants but my hunger has been insatiable. I just finished dinner and seriously could eat an entire bowl of macaroni and cheese if it were offered. Part of me even wants to beg David to make it now as I write this! I am starting my 37 week this week and have so far gained 33 pounds. It took awhile to get to a place where I just accepted the rising number on the scale but  I am here now!  That being said, I did feel it was important for us to make a healthy dinner choice tonight after my week of binging of salty and sweet treats.  So we cooked up a quick and easy teriyaki baked salmon with our favorite kale salad.

Ingredients:

Teriyaki sauce

Brown sugar

12-16oz wild salmon

garlic clove

 

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Mix together in a bowl the teriyaki sauce, chopped garlic cloves, and brown sugar. Marinate the salmon for at least 15 minutes in the marinade.

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Place the salmon on a baking sheet and pre-heat the oven to 450. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flaky.

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Then enjoy a super simple and delicious meal!

mezzaluna spinach soup

Not only is the school year coming to a close which is a whirlwind time but for the past two weeks, David and I have been fighting off a nasty cold. Our evenings have been consumed with sneezing, coughing, and trying to go to bed early. Yet, with the piles of grading calling to me from my work bag, I have tried to balance my need/desire for rest with the never-ending task of providing students with feedback on their assignments.  This has left dinners in a black hole. Last week, we simply pillaged our pantry. Which allowed us to eat through stocked items and goods that should have been eaten earlier but which also meant that we ate too many cheeseburgers and random meals for people trying to reinforce their immune systems. Finally on Sunday, there was (a) time and (b) ability to go grocery shopping. The only dilemma that remained was our low energy. We decided that since there was still a chill in the evening air that soup was probably our best bet. It would warm us up, include healthier ingredients than our depleted pantry, and would be quick and easy to pull together. This giant bowl of soup has sustained us thus far and hopefully after this week, we will both be in a place to rejoin the living.

1 box mezzaluna tortellini pasta

1 can 28oz diced tomatoes

6-8 cups vegetable stock

1 can white beans

1 bag of baby spinach

1 onion diced

3 garlic gloves diced

salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese

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In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until fragrant and translucent. About 3-5 minutes.

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Add the broth, spices to taste, diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and beans and simmer with a partially open lid until pasta is cooked to al dente. Add in a stir spinach until wilted.

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Serve with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

asian roasted brussels sprouts

I love Brussels Sprouts.  It could be because those little cabbages are super cute but the flavor always hits the spot. They could be cooked in any fashion and I would probably enjoy them. Recently at my friend Rodney’s house, he roasted them with some Asian flavors and this really enhanced this side dish for me. Prepared this way, they were so light and fresh. In an attempt to replicate this dish, I roasted some Brussels Sprouts last night and have now found my latest obsession. Seriously though I crave them now at every meal!

Ingredients:

1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, cut in half

juice of half of lemon

olive oil

salt and pepper

1/3 cup of fish sauce

1/4 cup of water

red pepper flakes

1/4 suagr

1 garlic cloves

Preheat the oven to 400.  On a roasting pan, toss the sprouts with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Lay the sprouts soft side down so that they really roast up and darken. Bake them for 20-25 minutes. In a bowl, toss together the vinaigrette ingredients. When the sprouts are done, toss them with the vinaigrette and serve.  It is seriously so easy and insanely flavorful!

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spicy dr. pepper pulled pork

When David was elbow deep in plaster and fixing our kitchen ceiling, I felt a little useless (post to follow soon about the Home Improvement Project). I know I am pregnant and I can’t be standing on ladders or near a work site, but I still wanted to help him. David’s weakness is Dr. Pepper. If left to his own devices he would drink himself silly.  Rhee Drummond , of the Pioneer Woman cooking empire, has an interesting pulled pork recipe with Dr. Pepper as a main ingredient. Dashing out to Whole Foods, I bought my supplies and put together the recipe. So as David plastered and painted, the pulled pork cooked slowly in the oven bathing the home in a delicious aroma. It was quite a nice Sunday after all. David was excited with the progress he was making on the project and I was thrilled that even though it was a DIY project that it would in fact be complete within the confines of the week. The rain outside made working inside desirable and the meal basting in the oven promised a scrumptious dinner to end on. And, it was.

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spicy sausage & arugala naan pizza

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10 weeks.  That’s all that is possibly left until we meet out little guy.  In some ways, 10 weeks still feels luxurious and distant and in other instances it feels like a blink away. Of course we are excited for the day to come but there is always so much on the “to-do” list.  Regardless of our planning though, I am sure he will come whenever he is ready to grace us with his presence! This week, 30 weeks pregnant, marked a change in my energy level.  My second trimester energy high is starting to wane a bit and I am curious if the crushing first trimester exhaustion that I have had an extended reprieve from is returning. Getting through the day isn’t too challenging but I definitely feel the day on my bones when I ride home and in my muscles when I finally collapse on the couch. Quick and easy dinners are therefore a major necessity now. This latest naan pizza was so simple that it might become my next obsession.

Ingredients

4 Naan

tomato paste

ricotta cheese

1 Spicy Sausage

1 red onion

parmesan cheese

red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

olive oil

arugula

Preheat the oven to 425.  On a baking sheet lay out the 4 naan.  Mix 4 tablespoons of tomato paste with 4 tablespoons of water. Spread this mixture over the naan, leaving a little room at the edges for “crust.” Lay some thin slices of red onion on top of the sauce, crumple the ricotta cheese and scatter over sauce, sprinkle parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Remove sausage from casing and crumble and distribute over the 4 naan. Drizzle olive oil on each naan. Bake in the over for 16 minutes. Once the time is up, top each pizza with arugula, serve, and enjoy!

roasted chicken and root vegetables

The picture associated with this meal does not do it justice. I should have taken the shot before David carved the chicken, but the smells of the delicious meal had permeated the house for 90 minutes and we were ravenous to begin dinner. The chicken’s photo shoot was rushed but boy oh boy did we savor this meal. We actually even broke out into a little “fight” over the potatoes and whose plate was perhaps being too potato gluttonous! So even though this picture is a bit underwhelming, we had to post about the meal in order to add it to our growing list of delicious dinner options.

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Ingredients:

1  4lb chicken

salt, pepper

1 stick of butter

chicken stock

1-1.5lb of fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise

4 carrots, cut into 1-2inch sections

2-3 yellow onions, cut into quarters

1 lemon

1 head of garlic

In a roasting pan create a “bed” of carrots, potatoes, and onions. Pour 1 cup of chicken stock over the bead of veggies. Rinse the chicken and stuff the chicken with the lemon cut in half and the head of garlic cut in half . Seal cavity with a toothpick. Bring the stick of butter to room temperature and smear all over the chicken, even between the skin and breast meat if possible. Generously sprinkle pepper and salt all over the chicken. Bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 425, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for another 30 minutes, then flip the chicken over (add more chicken broth if needed to avoid burning vegetables and baste chicken), bake the chicken for a final 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and wrap tightly in aluminum foil for 20 minutes to let the juices set. Carve and serve with the roasted veggies!!

spicy pork & mustard green soup

My cravings primarily come in two categories: salty and spicy. I find myself picking the spiciest item on the menu or adding drizzles of Sriracha sauce to everything (including my lunchtime salads!). This little dude has a “hot” tooth and I find myself giving in to it every day.  Thankfully,David already was a spicy food eater otherwise this latest phase of food cravings would be miserable for him. I sort of want to try a chicken wing eating contest with him now to see who can handle the hottest of hot. Prior to the baby-to-be, I wasn’t a lightweight when it came to spice but I definitely feel a new level of spice competency! It is my latest “super power” perhaps?

Last night for dinner in order to tap into this craving, we cooked up a spicy pork and mustard green soup from Bon Appetit. With David helping as my sous chef, cleaning the greens and dicing the scallions, the dinner from beginning to end took no longer than 20 minutes to make. Super easy, spicy, and flavorful my craving was satiated….for now. (Though a drizzle of Sriracha really added just that little bit extra I needed).

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paella & pregnant winters

The Winter is a beautiful season in New England. Snow covers the trees, streets, and yards of every home, while people huddle with loved ones and friends to stay warm. The sun shines brightly most days with clear blue skies, but the temperatures remind you that winter prefers for you to stay indoors or to layer yourself.  I like to pretend sometimes that I live in the North Pole when the banks of snow are higher than my thighs. How rugged are we? I say as I take Buster and Bella out back to carve a path. This winter has been particularly snowy.  Snuggling indoors with David, we cook solely belly-warming meals like paella. Yet, this winter has turned me a bit against it. Part of me has started to ache for warmer temperatures and springtime rains. Perhaps being pregnant contributes to this a bit. Snowy streets are treacherous for me now. I worry a lot about falling down and what that could mean for the little one. Thankfully (knock on wood) I have avoided this seasonal hazard so far. This morning though, I was in a panic as I tried to climb the hill to my school and found myself sliding backward more than moving forward. While I definitely don’t want to “wish” winter away, I am getting ready for the Spring thaw to come our way.

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