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.

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!!

spinach & fruit salad

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I have decided that the best way to beat the winter blues is by making summertime lunches. With another snow storm approaching, we have decided to focus on our countdown to our “babymoon” in 18 days!! In just a little over two weeks, we will be packing our suitcases full of shorts, bathing suits, and tank tops and heading away from this arctic chill that won’t shake Boston and onto the sunny beaches of the Caribbean.  While I still enjoy my belly warming meals for dinner, lunchtime has become a time for light, crisp, and citrus infused meals.  While David and Laura painted the nursery upstairs (I will post pictures soon!), I busiest myself in the kitchen tossing everything “summer” into a salad bowl. The final result was exactly the slice of summer I was aiming for.

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In a salad bowl toss together:

baby spinach

1 diced apple

1/2 diced blood orange

1/2 diced avocado

1/4 cup dried cherries

1 cup yellow tomatoes cut in half

1/4 cup diced strawberries

drizzle of fig balsamic dressing

Salad is best paired with Girl Scout Cookies, preferable Thin Mints and Caramel Delights…

fresh bruschetta

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On snow days, I am all about comfort food. Give me macaroni and cheese, meatloaf, or a hot minestrone soup. My belly demands the warm comfort of rich, savory foods. This last storm though was a little different. While David shoveled us out of almost twelve inches of snow, I diced up some tomatoes tossed them with some oil and vinegar and toasted a baguette.  Dinner was light, cool, crisp, and clean and the bruschetta was just delicious (even if it wasn’t my usual macaroni and cheese)! I  burnt my finger a little while toasting the bread because I was over-zealous is my desire to eat this up immediately, so be careful when you flip the toasts.

Ingredients:

2 cartons of red cherry tomatoes

2 cartons of yellow cherry tomatoes

balsamic vinegar

olive oil

garlic

basil

salt

pepper

red pepper flakes

baguette

In a frying pan, toast 5-6 cloves of garlic in olive oil until they are golden brown. Transfer the garlic and oil to a medium size bowl.  Slice the tomatoes in half length-wise and add them to the bowl. Bunch basil together on a cutting board and slice into thin strips, add these as well to the bowl. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and red pepper flakes into the mix. Toss in about 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix everything together and taste.  Add whatever you feel you want more of.  Set aside to let the bruschetta juices mix together and become amazing. Then slice the baguette. In the same frying pan that you browned the garlic, add a tablespoon of butter and place the slices of baguette into the frying pan to toast. Flip the toasts after 1-2 minutes to brown both sides (add more butter if necessary so as not to burn the toast). Transfer to a serving plate. Enjoy!!

soy-braised short ribs with sugar snap peas

I love three day weekends!  It would be amazing to have one every weekend. Three days is just enough time to fully recharge one’s battery, check off items from the to-do list, and, for teachers, have time to grade without having to compromise on time with a loved one.  I had such a good weekend of all of this. And, of course the time spent with friends and David was the best. How did we tie together this delightful winter treat?  By cooking up a delicious crockpot dinner by Real Simple.

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vegetable chili with quinoa

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On New Year’s Eve, David’s co-worker invited us to her home for an afternoon shindig. It was really nice to spend time with his work friends who are collectively hilarious and welcoming. While chatting around the kitchen island, we snacked and shared various stories.  A few soups were also served to keep everyone warm on an otherwise quite cold afternoon. David enjoyed his vegetable chili so much that he asked for the recipe and we immediately replicated it for ourselves. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!! Not one for leftovers, David has been enjoying this meal over the course of a few days.

2 28oz cans of diced tomatoes

2 14oz cans of black beans, rinsed

1 cup of quinoa

1 onion diced

1 red pepper diced

4 carrots diced

4 garlic cloves diced

2 tablespoons cumin

4 cups vegetable stock

1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

In a large pot heat olive oil and saute the onions and garlic for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat. When the onions and garlic are translucent and fragrant, add the cumin and mix in for another minute. Pour in the vegetable stock, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer and partially cover the pot for about 10-12 minutes. Uncover the lid and stir all of the ingredients. Add the red pepper and carrots and cook on medium low heat for another 4-5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!!