Tag Archives: Dinner

Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips

Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips
I won’t go into detail on this, but have you ever researched what’s inside a chicken nugget? I’ll give you this: it’s not cute. It’s barely even chicken.

But who doesn’t love a nice dunkable, battered chicken strip? It’s American comfort food at its best and it is beyond easy to make. So skip the McDonald’s and try them at home. This particular recipe is SPICY so you can easily cut down on the cayenne to make it family friendly if you like.

On the menu:
Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips
Makes 2 – 3 servings

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup bread crumbs*
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, blend pecans, bread crumbs, and spices until you have a coarse mixture.

Cut chicken into strips, approximately 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch tall (they don’t have to be perfect but uniform size means uniform cooking). Dredge each piece of chicken in egg mixture and then in pecan spice mixture. Shake off excess and place on baking sheet.

Bake chicken strips for 30 minutes. Flip the pieces and bake for another 5 – 7 minutes or until each piece is cooked through and the breading is crispy. Serve with honey mustard dipping sauce.

*Note: I never, ever have breadcrumbs on hand. There’s something about buying a tub of crumbs of bread that just seems wrong to me. What I did in this instance is toast up a piece of white bread until it was very crispy, tear it up with my hands, and then toss the pieces into the food processor with the pecans and spices. Voila. Bread crumbs.

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Zucchini, Tomato and Corn Fettuccine with Walnuts and Feta

Dish shown here with parmesan instead of feta

Dish shown here with parmesan instead of feta

It’s a beautiful moment when you visit the farmer’s market in the summer and all the vegetables and fruits are bright and bountiful and you just know your chances of getting sweet, fresh produce is far better than say, the end of February. Sometimes I forget how produce is supposed to taste until sunny July rolls around and my taste buds are like, “HEYOOOO TOMATOES.”

This recipe celebrates summer produce. If you try this recipe in February, I hope you live in Australia.

On the menu:
Zucchini, tomato and corn fettuccine with walnuts and feta
Serves 3
Adapted from Real Simple

1 lb. fettuccine [full disclosure: I had half a box of linguine and half a box of fettuccine so VOILA mixed pastas]
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 ear of corn, kernels cut off
2 small zucchini, cut into thin ribbons with a vegetable peeler
2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.

In a medium sized skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and corn and cook for about 4 minutes or until corn is cooked through. Add a liberal pinch of salt and pepper.

Add corn, zucchini, and tomatoes to pasta plus the 1/2 cup pasta water. Heat over medium heat for 8 – 9 minutes or until pasta is coated with sauce and vegetables are heated through. Add oregano and toss to combine. Plate pasta and top with walnuts and feta*.

*NOTE: The BF isn’t a big fan of feta, which does have a strong flavor. I thought this flavor made the dish but I topped his with freshly grated parmesan and he still went back for seconds. So if you hate feta, try parmesan. But definitely top with cheese. Always cheese.

Second note: I served this pasta with garlic bread (CARBS ON CARBS ON CARBS!) and The BF and my dad were preeeetty into it. Here’s the secret to incredible garlic bread: melt butter with garlic powder, stir to combine, spoon over slices of fresh bread, and broil for a minute or two until tops are lightly browned. De.Lish.

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Grilled BBQ Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

One of the most frustrating things about living in New York City is the lack of outdoor space. Sure, there’s Central Park and a variety of restaurants with back patios for outdoor seating, but what about a nice patch of grass in the backyard where I can drink my morning coffee in PJs without terrifying other park goers with my lack of makeup and bed head?

That’s right. I got nothin’.

So to make up for my nonexistent backyard and subsequent lack of a grill, The BF bought me a grill/griddle pan. It’s this magical device that sits over two burners on your stove and basically gives you a nice, grill-marked crust on various meats and veggies, while on the other side waits a griddle for pancakes. It’s a New York City home cook’s dream.

This dish was created on such a grill pan, and you’ll find the full recipe over at Spice to Meet You.

BBQ Pork Chops with Peach Salsa

Which brings me to my next point. I’m super fortunate to be guest blogging over at Spice To Meet You for the next few months. I’ll be contributing recipes and possibly video posts to the blog, and basically pushing this AWESOME service on you. I don’t hawk anything I don’t truly believe in so I’m really serious when I tell you to go take a peek at this monthly spice delivery service that also gives you access to delicious recipes that show you how to use said spices.

The monthly service starts at $6 a month (hey perfect birthday/mother’s day/father’s day gift) and the perfectly blended spices can be used on anything… anything like BBQ pork chops. Just an idea.

The site is also offering a one month free trial! So you really have nothing to lose by trying it out. Go on. Go now.

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Greek Pasta Salad

I love looking around for new recipes. Especially in the summer months when I’m not necessarily going to want to spend too much time in a boiling hot kitchen slaving away over an oven.

One recipe I stumbled across on the AllRecipes website was a Greek style pasta salad. Obviously I’d heard of Greek salad on its own, but it had never occurred to me to add pasta into the equation. I’m glad I tried this one though. Not only is it healthy (so long as you go easy on the oil you dress it in), but it’s also delicious and practical for a picnic or barbecue, you know if you’re saving your next trip to a restaurant like 100 Hoxton in London or Fig & Olive in New York for another time.

Ingredients:

150g penne or fusilli pasta

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

salt and pepper

160ml extra-virgin olive oil

10 cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1/2 cucumber

70g sliced black olives

125g crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Pull out a large saucepan and fill it with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and stir in your pasta of choice (penne and fussili work best). Cook the pasta for about 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the pasta with a fork. If it slips through the pasta easily and isn’t chewy, it’s cooked.

Rinse out the pasta with cold water and drain it well with a colander over the sink. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt and olive oil together and set aside.

Chop the onion, green and red peppers, slice the cucumber and black olives, and halve the cherry tomatoes on a chopping board, and combine the pasta and vegetable ingredients together in a large bowl. Then crumble the feta cheese on top.

Finally pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and mix the whole thing together thoroughly, making sure the entire dish has a proper coating. Cover it over and allow to chill for about 3 hours before serving.

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Edamame, corn, and avocado salad

Edamame, corn and avocado salad
Making a vegetable to go along with dinner for my meat-and-potatoes-loving BF is often a real challenge. He’s just not a fan of most things green. And when I asked him last night, “Do you like edamame?” he made a face. But um… then I tricked him. Haha! Tricking someone into eating vegetables. I’ll be a great mom someday.

This salad has lots of good stuff in it but it’s so fresh and sweet tasting, the best of the best ingredients are all but hidden.

It should also be noted that fresh corn would be WAY better in this salad than frozen. But it is obviously not corn season yet so this will have to do.

On the menu:
Edamame, corn, and avocado salad
Serves 2

1/2 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 small avocado, cubed
3 Tbsp red onion, diced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp red wine vinegar

In a small saucepan, add corn and edamame and cover with water. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Bring water to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook for approximately 8 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and lime juice. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. In a small serving bowl, add cooled corn and edamame, red onion, cubed avocado, and dressing. Toss to combine.

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Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta

Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta
This past weekend I had my girlfriends over for dinner, which is always a welcome treat. Way too much wine is had, embarrassing stories are told, and if we’re lucky, by the next day some truly incriminating pictures are posted to Facebook. All the markings of a successful evening, right?

When it comes to making a meal for a group of people I occasionally feel really lost on the menu. I try to take into account the evening’s plan (I knew we’d be having a few cocktails so I wanted something substantial, but we also wanted to try the late night menu at Pachanga Patterson so I didn’t want something so filling that we wouldn’t be hungry by 11PM), but sometimes all I can come up with is pasta. Lucky for me I have really outspoken friends. “Can you somehow incorporate spaghetti squash into the meal?” one of the girls asked.

Bingo.

Now I had the staple around which I could build the meal. I’d never actually cooked with spaghetti squash but it seems to be the low-carb-friendly food of the moment, right? You can use it pretty much any way you’d use real spaghetti. It was a BREEZE to make, it was delicious, and I’ve become a total convert. So thanks for the suggestion, Jenna! Not only did you make cooking dinner easier, but you introduced a new delicious and healthy food into my life. You are truly a keeper.

On the menu:
Spaghetti squash with asparagus and ricotta
Adapted from TheKitchn.com
Serves 3

1 medium sized spaghetti squash
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound asparagus
Zest from one small lemon
3/4 cup ricotta
1 large clove garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp slivered almonds, toasted

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice your spaghetti squash in half from stem to root. Scoop out seeds. Brush both sides with olive oil and place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 35 – 40 minutes.

Trim rough ends from asparagus and cut stalks into 2-inch pieces. After squash has roasted for 35 – 40 minutes, add asparagus pieces to the baking sheet (scatter around the squash). Place garlic clove underneath one squash half. Place the whole baking sheet back in the oven and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the asparagus is easily pierced with a fork.

While the roasting is happening, in a small bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, lemon zest, parmesan, and thyme. Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Once the asparagus and squash are done roasting, remove the baking sheet from the oven. Add the asparagus and the softened garlic clove to the ricotta mixture and stir to combine. Once the squash has cooled for 5 minutes, scrape the flesh out and add it to the ricotta. Place in a serving bowl, top with toasted almond slivers*, and serve immediately.

*To toast almond slivers: place almonds in a small skillet and cook over low heat until the almonds become fragrant. Do not overcook.

PS – thanks to Meagan at Trippin’: A Travelogue for taking the photo!

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Parmesan Chicken Cutlets and Warm Mustard Potato Salad

Parmesan chicken and mustard potato salad

This meal is not groundbreaking, it’s not difficult, and it’s not really anything new. But it feels complete, it took all of 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook, and it was delicious. Just add greenery. The asparagus we ate alongside this took forever to cook so we ate it as a kind of dessert. Oh, who am I kidding, we ate cookies for dessert and I put the asparagus in the fridge.

My reason for posting this recipe is the potato salad. Back when I was unemployed I was doing some recipe testing for a meal delivery website and more often than not, the recipes were mediocre and tasted like they were missing something. One in particular was a mustard potato salad that was SO bland and I couldn’t figure out why. Then I found a recipe in Real Simple magazine for a mustard potato salad that had a splash of red wine vinegar… and there was the missing ingredient. I once read on a blog, “if your dish is missing something, it’s probably an acid.” And in this case, it was true. You learn something everyday, kids.

On the menu:
Parmesan chicken cutlets and warm mustard potato salad
Serves 2

Chicken:
1 lb. of thinly sliced chicken cutlets
1 egg, scrambled
3 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup bread crumbs (or my favorite kinda-bread-crumbs, crushed Ritz crackers)
Salt and pepper
Nonstick cooking spray

Potato salad:
2 cups small new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put egg in shallow dish and scramble well. In another shallow dish, combine parmesan, bread crumbs, rosemary, salt and pepper. Dredge cutlets in egg and then bread crumb mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and breading is browned.

Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot. Add potatoes and cook for approximately 16 – 18 minutes or until potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Add mustard, red wine vinegar, oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Serve warm alongside chicken and a green vegetable.

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