easy peasy chicken dinner – spanish chicken skillet

easy two-pan spanish chicken with rice and peas

i wasn’t sure if this would turn out how i imagined it in my head, but basically i threw this semi-homemade “spanish” chicken together from random things i found in the freezer and pantry since we traveled to buffalo for christmas and didn’t want to buy a bunch of crap for meals at the store. soooo it was delicious. and i used rice-a-roni. yes. rice-a-roni. that i dug out of the very back of our pantry, standing on a chair to reach it. so easy and so quick to pull together for a weeknight dinner, especially if you have kids running around. love a meal you can just throw into a skillet, pop in the oven, and it’s ready. so much less cleanup for mom 🙂

ingredients

6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 box rice-a-roni spanish rice
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes – the boxed rice calls for diced tomatoes, but i love the cento whole peeled italian style tomatoes so i used these instead
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt
pepper
paprika or smoked paprika
ground coriander
ground cumin
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (you could also use balsamic or white wine vinegar)

instructions

preheat your oven to 400 degrees. season both sides of the chicken thighs with a sprinkle of the salt, pepper, paprika, ground cumin, and ground coriander. heat a high sided skillet or dutch oven (must be oven safe!) to medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and sear both sides of the chicken until browned, about 3-5 minutes each side. meanwhile, prepare the rice-a-roni in a separate medium sized pot according to the directions on the package. first, take about half the can of whole peeled tomatoes (mine came in a 28oz can), plus the sauce and cut them up, or break them up with your hands. then melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in your pot over medium heat, and cook the rice mixture until toasted. add the water, spice package, tomatoes, peas, and the teaspoon of sugar and bring this to a boil. once the chicken is done browning, turn down the heat to low, discard about 2-3 tablespoons of the grease, and add the vinegar to the pan. once the rice mixture is boiling, pour it over the chicken, and spread out the rice and peas around the chicken so they’re not all clumped together in the middle. put the whole skillet in the preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. enjoy!

christmas quiche

caramelized onion and mushroom quiche

quiche is one of my favorite foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. it’s the perfect food in my opinion; eggs for protein, usually a veggie or two, the creamy cheese and flaky crust just compliment each other so well. my family does not agree. emmett (2 year old) won’t touch an egg, and ryan (husband) says “he’s not a quiche guy.” they had frozen pizza for dinner. whatever, more for me. traditionally my mom makes quiche and creamed chipped beef for breakfast on christmas morning. we’ll leave the chipped beef for another time, but coming up on christmas i had to get my quiche fix since we won’t be spending it in maryland. this is my mom’s recipe with my fillings. hope you enjoy, let me know in the comments! 🙂

ingredients
crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick of cold unsalted butter
4 oz cold cream cheese

filling

1 medium sized sweet onion
8 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms
5 large eggs
2 tbsp butter (separated)
2 tbsp olive oil (separated)
1/2 cup milk – 2 percent or whole
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-6 oz grated cheese of choice – i used a shredded blend i already had but this would be amazing with fontina or gruyere as well
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard

instructions

the crust is the easiest part and can be made ahead of time and even frozen if needed. cut up one stick of cold, unsalted butter into small pieces and add to a medium sized bowl along with the flour and cold cream cheese. the cream cheese should also be cut into pieces. work the mixture together with your hands until everything is completely combined and comes together into a ball of dough. form it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold. i ended up sticking mine in the freezer for a few minutes because i didn’t make it far enough in advance, and that’s fine too.

the oven will need to be preheated to 375 degrees, but you can do this at any point since the onions and mushrooms will take a little while, and can be made in advance. i did my onions in the morning, and then had to do naptime with kiddos before finishing the rest :). the first step of the filling is caramelizing the onions, which can take around 20-25 minutes. peel and thinly slice the onion, then heat a skillet or dutch oven to low heat, and add one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. cook the onions over low heat, stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes until they are a deep golden brown and almost falling apart. as the onions are cooking you can go ahead and slice up the mushrooms. set the onions aside and add the second tablespoon of butter and olive oil to the pan and sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they have released most of their liquid, about 7-8 minutes. add the thyme to the mushrooms and cook for about 2 more minutes.

whisk together the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, pinch of salt, pepper, and ground mustard. then fold in the onions, mushrooms and cheese.

lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pie crust, then place it into a pie plate or oven safe pan. do whatever your heart desires with the edges of the crust. i’m obviously not talented with pie crusts as you can tell by my rustic style… this crust is really forgiving and if it rips you can just mush it back together. then pour the quiche mixture into the crust, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. remove the foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until it is just set. let the quiche cool for at least10 minutes, then slice and serve!

easy weeknight pasta dish pt. 2

mushroom artichoke pasta

my mom whips up this super easy and quick pasta all the time and i’m completely obsessed with it. i’m also obsessed with artichokes so maybe that’s why. probably not toddler approved by most kids standards but for some reason my child loves mushrooms, artichokes, and broccoli (weirdest foods for a toddler to like). hope you enjoy!

ingredients

1/2 lb linguini or linguini fini
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small to medium onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
8 oz baby bella or white mushrooms
6 oz chopped artichoke hearts – mine were from ALDI, i love this store!
6-8 italian style whole peeled tomatoes – my favorite are Cento
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons white sugar
optional: fresh basil for garnish

instructions

put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. finely chop the onions, mince the garlic (or don’t, if you’re lazy like me and like to use pre-minced garlic from a jar), and chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. chop up the artichokes and set them aside. heat a large high sided skillet or dutch oven to medium heat, add the butter and olive oil, and then saute the onions until they start to become translucent. add the mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and the italian seasoning, and keep cooking the mixture until the mushrooms start to release some of their liquid. add the artichokes and white wine and simmer until it reduces by about half. the water should be boiling by now, so cook the pasta according to package directions. then take the tomatoes and SQUISH THEM into the pot. you could totally chop them up but squishing them is just so much more fun. add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar to taste. i tend to like my pasta sauce a little sweeter. simmer the sauce until the pasta finishes cooking, then drain the pasta and add it directly into the sauce. finish by tossing everything together and garnish with fresh basil if desired.

hope you love this and let me know what you think if you try it! 🙂

pure comfort

chicken and dumplings – toddler approved!

this is what comes to mind when i think of comfort food. chicken and dumplings just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and best eaten in cold weather… despite living in southern california, it does get down to the 40s at night in the winter! we’ve all had a tough year, with the added stress of covid on someone who already struggles with anxiety, plus my husband being deployed, traveling across the country with a toddler and a baby, and california being on fire… i was really looking forward to the warmth and comfort of the holidays. emmett and josie both love this dish, and it’s one i’ll be making a lot this winter. hope you enjoy it as much as we do 🙂

ingredients

2 large chicken breasts
6 cups broth or stock – i used homemade turkey stock from thanksgiving, but as the queen would say, store bought is fine 😉
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 an onion
1 clove minced garlic
4-5 carrots – my kids both love carrots so i always add extra
2 stalks celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

dumplings
i used this recipe from allrecipes.com, and it was amazing. i’m firmly on team drop dumplings although my mom would strongly disagree. the only thing i did differently was melt the butter (recipe calls for margarine, but i don’t keep margarine around so butter it is) instead of cutting it in because i didn’t pay attention to the instructions. i also doubled it. you’ll need:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk

instructions

this recipe is so easy. start by cooking the chicken however your heart desires, then shred it. i was being super lazy and actually threw them in the instant pot completely frozen with some chicken broth on manual for 15 minutes. dice up the onions, carrots and celery, and sauté them with the butter and olive oil on medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven until the onions start to become translucent. then add in the garlic, thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. add your shredded chicken, white wine, stock or broth, and can of cream of mushroom. bring this to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. at this time also taste for salt and pepper, and season as needed. meanwhile, make up your dumplings. whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. add in the melted butter and milk, and mix until just combined. drop spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the simmering soup (make them as big as you like!). simmer over low heat, partially covered for 30 minutes.

power of breakfast

copycat dunkin power breakfast sandwich

this is a great make ahead freezer breakfast for moms on the go. i’ve been in a rut with either eating something quick and unhealthy for breakfast, or not eating anything at all because usually by the time i sit down, the kids are screaming at me. i love the breakfast power sandwich from dunkin, but obviously can’t go there every day, plus i’m always tempted by their pumpkin coffee and we’ve been trying to cut out some sugar and eat more whole foods. this was a good compromise!

ingredients

4 eggs and 4 egg whites
6 turkey breakfast sausage patties – either premade patties or make them yourself
6 slices of cheddar cheese
6 arnold sandwich thins – i went with the multigrain
one red, orange, or yellow bell pepper
1/4 yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 1/2 – 2 cups of fresh baby spinach
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dry mustard

instructions

preheat your oven to 350 degrees. mince the peppers and onions (and garlic, if you don’t use pre-minced like me, because i’m lazy), and chop the spinach pretty finely. heat a large skillet to medium, add the olive oil, and sauté the peppers and onions until they start to get soft, about 5-8 minutes. meanwhile, beat the eggs in a large bowl and add the salt, pepper, and dry mustard. mix the the chopped spinach into the eggs. add the garlic to the skillet after the peppers and onions have softened and cook for one more minute then remove this from the heat. line a sheet pan (i recommend 9×13) with parchment paper, then spray it with cooking spray to make sure the eggs don’t stick. spread the pepper and onion mixture evenly across the bottom of the sheet pan, and pour the egg and spinach mixture over this. use a spatula to make sure the spinach is evenly distributed and then bake this for 12-15 minutes, until the eggs are completely set.

while the eggs are baking, fry the sausage patties in a skillet over medium-high heat until they are completely cooked through. i made my patties pretty large and thin to try to make them the same size as the bread. they still ended up shrinking a lot during cooking. once the eggs are done, let them cool enough to handle, then remove the parchment from the pan and slice the egg into six squares, big enough to fit the sandwiches. you could also use a large round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter if you want them to fit perfectly! assemble each sandwich by placing egg, sausage, then cheese and wrap each one individually in foil for freezing. to reheat, just place a wrapped sandwich in a 400 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until everything is heated through. you can also wrap it in a paper towel and microwave it.

perfect pastries

savory mushroom and leek hand pies

clearly i’m on a mushroom kick… these savory hand pies are great as an app or paired with a salad or veg for a meal. fresh thyme and sage pair so well with the mushrooms and leeks. these would also be great with a little grated fontina or gruyere, but we didn’t have any cheese sitting around and they still turned out amazing. plus, they’re vegetarian! enjoy!

ingredients

8 oz white button mushrooms
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms
2 leeks – white and light green parts only
1 cup white wine – i’ve been loving this prophecy sauv blanc
1 cup vegetable broth – i used better than boullion… so flavorful
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stem
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 tbsp flour
*1 tsp sugar (if you use a sweeter wine, you may not need to add, but the wine i used was very dry so this helped offset the acidity)
salt & pepper to taste
2 packages frozen puff pastry dough
1 egg + 1 tbsp cold water for egg wash

instructions

start by slicing the leeks thinly, and placing them in a large bowl of cold water to rinse. you’ll want to separate all the layers to make sure there is no sand. remove them from the water and place on a sheet pan or plate with a paper towel to dry. cut all the mushrooms in a small dice, then heat a large skillet or dutch oven to medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and saute the mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated and they start to brown. remove mushrooms and place in a separate bowl. add additional tablespoon of olive oil and add the leeks to the pan. saute over medium heat until they soften, about 5-6 minutes. add the mushrooms back in, along with the chopped sage, thyme, garlic, and pepper. cook this mixture together for about 2-3 minutes, or until you can smell the garlic. sprinkle the two tablespoons of flour over this mixture and continue to cook until the flour is absorbed, and at this point add the wine and vegetable broth. add your sugar, and salt to taste. bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.

let the filling cool completely, and as it cools it will continue to thicken and reduce. while the filling is cooling you can thaw out the puff pastry according to the directions on the package. to bake the pastries, preheat your oven to 400. whisk the egg with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. on a floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry and slice the square into four smaller squares. put about 2-3 tablespoons of filling (depending on how big your squares are) onto half the puff pastry square, leaving space on the edge to seal it. use your finger to put a little egg wash around the edge, fold it over to make a triangle and crimp the edges with a fork. brush the egg wash over the top of the pastries, and then use a paring knife to cut a small slit in the top to vent. bake them for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. this recipe will make about 15-16 large hand pies, so definitely halve it if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd.


sandwich love

two cheese veggie panini

a vegetarian panini that hits the spot with herby balsamic mushrooms, roasted peppers and onions, spicy arugala and 2x the cheese. you could definitely add some rotisserie chicken, but with everything going on here you won’t miss the meat!

ingredients

herbed balsamic mushrooms
baby bella mushrooms, sliced
olive oil
fresh thyme, about 1 tsp of leaves stripped off the stem
1 clove minced garlic
splash of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

roasted peppers and onions
1-2 red or yellow bell peppers
1/2 yellow or sweet onion sliced thinly
olive oil
salt & pepper

sandwich
crusty panini bread – i like this one from aldi, but you can use anything!
herbed balsamic mushrooms
roasted peppers and onions
goat cheese
muenster cheese
baby arugala
sliced tomato
butter

instructions
for the roasted peppers and onions, preheat your oven to 415. thinly slice onions and peppers and lay flat on a sheet pan covered with foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. toss to evenly coat everything then bake for 10 minutes. remove them from the oven, toss and return for 5-7 more minutes until onions start to brown. for the mushrooms, heat a large skillet to medium heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. add in the mushrooms, thyme, and some salt and pepper to taste, and saute until the mushrooms release all their liquid. once the liquid begins to evaporate, add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone. add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes. arrange your sandwich by buttering both slices of bread on the outside, stack up the goat cheese, mushrooms, onions and peppers, tomato, arugala and finish with the muenster. press in a panini press or grill over medium heat in a skillet until both sides are golden brown and the cheese is melted. enjoy 🙂

perfect fall salad

arugala salad with roasted sweet potatoes and maple balsamic viniagrette

it’s been a while! we’re currently staying with my parents in maryland until ryan gets back from deployment so my mom typically does most of the cooking while we’re here. i can’t complain! i made this salad a few times last year and was craving it again with the crisp, cool fall weather brought on by october. it’s definitely my favorite time of year in maryland, and this is one of my favorite salads.

ingredients

salad
baby arugala
peeled sweet potato, cut into rounds
goat cheese
toasted pecans*
craisins
corn starch
olive oil
salt & pepper

dressing
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 clove of minced garlic
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste

instructions

preheat your oven to 415. place sweet potato rounds on a sheet pan covered with foil. sprinkle generously with corn starch and then salt and pepper. sprinkle with olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp), and toss together until there is no more dry corn starch, and all the sweet potatoes are evenly coated. roast for 10 minutes, then turn the sweet potatoes and return to the oven for five more minutes. some pieces will start to brown around the edges, i love the crispy ones! *if you are toasting your own pecans, spread them evenly on a sheet pan and toast in the 415 degree oven for about 2-3 minutes or just until you start to smell them. for the dressing, combine all ingredients in a mason jar or small bowl, and shake or whisk together until combined. combine all the salad ingredients in a large salad or pasta bowl, toss with the dressing and enjoy! pomegranate seeds could also be substituted for the craisins and i think that would be delicious as well.

easy pancakes

cinnamon oat pancakes

been a little mia lately since we last minute decided to travel home to maryland for the last portion of ryans deployment. hence, we have been relying on easy meals, and also putting together some freezer meals for friends before we leave. these pancakes are easy to whip up with a baby on your hip, and added fiber from the oats might make you feel better about feeding your toddler syrup for breakfast >.< they’re also perfect for freezing. i usually will keep a bag of them in the freezer and pop one in the microwave for 30 seconds. toddler and baby approved!

ingredients

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup quick or old fashioned oats
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tbsp white sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk (i prefer 2% or whole)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 tbsp melted butter

instructions

sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and cinnamon. whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. nuke the butter for about 30-40 seconds or until completely melted. add the wet ingredients to the dry, as well as the butter, and mix until fully combined. fry the pancakes over medium heat on a pan or griddle top using butter, or cooking spray to coat the surface. we served them with maple syrup and our favorite wild blueberries.

socal heat wave – instant pot butter chicken

instant pot butter chicken served with jasmine rice

Instant pot butter chicken with jasmine rice.

if you haven’t heard, socal is on the tail end of a massive heatwave, and we don’t have ac. no… we are not ok. hence i’ve been using the instant pot a ton, since i can’t stand over the stove or have the oven heating up the house any more. adapted this butter chicken recipe from cafe delites for the instant pot, changed a few things around and it turned out amazing. this sauce is what dreams are made of. disclaimer, i did still use the stove to brown off the chicken since i really don’t love the saute setting on the instant pot. also, i typically would never do this but i realized last minute that i didn’t have any onions so i substituted with dried minced onion. it turned out so well, i’d make it again that way.

marinade for chicken

4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of most fat (depending on how many people you’re feeding. I only had four thighs, but there is so much extra sauce you could definitely do 6).
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
*splash of white wine for deglazing the pan after browning

sauce

14 oz crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tbsp dried minced onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
*parsley or cilantro to garnish, if desired

instructions

make the marinade for the chicken by whisking together the greek yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, chili powder, turmeric, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. add chicken thighs and coat them all. cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight if you have time. start the sauce right in the instant pot by adding the crushed tomatoes, minced onion, grated fresh ginger, cumin, garam masala, coriander, chili powder, salt, and sugar. basically everything except the cream and butter. save these for later. simmer the sauce on the low saute setting while browning the chicken. heat a heavy bottomed pan (dutch oven or cast iron skillet) to medium-high. melt butter and add olive oil. brown the chicken in batches for about 3-4 minutes on each side, just to get a nice brown color. it will finish cooking in the instant pot. as they finish, add them to the sauce in the instant pot. once finished browning all chicken, add a splash of white wine to the pan and deglaze it using a wooden spoon (scrape all the brown bits off the bottom) then add all this flavor goodness into the instant pot as well. Set on manual for 12 minutes. allow to naturally vent for at least ten minutes before releasing valve. remove the chicken and set aside on a plate. add sauce to a blender, and blend until uniform. add back into the instant pot and stir in the heavy cream and butter, and add the chicken back into the sauce. serve over steamed basmati or jasmine rice, and garnish with parsley or cilantro if you like it!