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Archive for Main Dish

::summer love:: Southwest Keen Wah Salad


This past year has been the year of changes. Now that I have a deck, someday we’ll get deck furniture, and then I will have a place to eat outside. For now, I’ll drag a kitchen stool out there on the occasional evening, enjoy a margarita, and watch the sun go down. If I did have deck furniture, this is a perfect dish for a Summer dinner on the deck.

I’ve never really been one for pasta salads. Just in the past few years have I even been willing to try non-creamy looking ones. I’m not really sure why I still hesitate on them. Beyond burgers, I have always shied away from most picnic foods. Last year, I decided it was time to experiment with quinoa (pronounced keen wah) in the kitchen. The most appealing things I found turned out to be fancied up “pasta” salads. Go figure. But quinoa is a “super grain”, so I had to try it! My first quinoa salad scared everyone I served it to. No one had ever seen or heard of it before. But it was delicious. I never wrote down the recipe, but I know there was edamame, garlic, lemon, roasted red peppers and scallions involved (I took pictures). It looked like this:

I’m going to have to recreate it at some point this summer, because it was good. I just made way too much of it. It may have been about 2 gallons of Quinoa Edamame Salad… This one was a bit smaller, but not by much, and still seemed to last us forever. It can be served as a side on it’s own, or if you want it as a main course, add to the top of a bed of greens, and for a finishing touch, some slices of avocado on top do the trick quite nicely. Best part: we got to use some cilantro from our garden 🙂

What You Need
Step One

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
Step Two
lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper
Step Three
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 med red onion, chopped (~1/2 cup)
handful of cilantro, chopped
Step Four
Salad Greens

Always rinse your quinoa first! Then just like rice, combine the quinoa and water in a pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then take it off the heat and sit for 5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together all step two ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together all step three ingredients.  Add the cooled quinoa to the large bowl and mix in. Once combined, stir in your dressing.


Make your presentation fancy. Serve on top of a bed of greens. I would not recommend an herb salad! The extra cilantro can take the flavor balance overboard a bit.

The slices of avocado add exactly what this salad needs to round it out. Be careful with your portions, this can be quickly filling!

::spicy nights:: Chicken Paprikash


I’m starting to get back in the kitchen finally. My first attempt at cooking resulted in PTB learning how to make Gumbo. My second official attempt was much more successful. The little man is settling down a little bit and I am learning to take shortcuts a little more.

I made Chicken Paprikash once before and my only complaint was that it was too incredibly hot (it has officially taken me 6 months to write this post). It was so spicy that I couldn’t eat any of the leftovers. Which made me so sad since it tasted so good. This time around, I had to make it faster and I learned to adjust the spice a bit to be more reasonable. And, sadly, you don’t get too many photos when I am rushing through making dinner.

What You Need
400F oven
Step One
1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut into 1″ chunks
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Step Two
medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp double concentrate tomato paste
Step Three
1 cup chicken broth
Step Four
Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic
3 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika
1 Tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika (more if you want it spicy)
Step Five
8oz sour cream (room temp)
1lb egg noodles

I typically use chicken tenderloins to make this dish. When I trim my chicken breasts to freeze, I package the tenderloins in 1-2lb batches so that I can quickly make dishes that require any chopped up chicken.

Cut the chicken into 1″ pieces, pat dry and salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet or a dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium high heat until smoking. Add the chicken, cooking until browned on all sides. Remove form the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

If necessary, add a bit more oil to the pan and add the onions cooking 5-7 minutes until they begin to brown. Once they are browning, stir in tomato paste and cook for approx. 1 minute.

Using the chicken broth, deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Add step four ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken (and any juices accumulated in the bowl) back to the pan and transfer the entire thing to the hot oven. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. When your timer has about 5 minutes left, start your egg noodles.

Once you remove the pan from the oven, allow it to sit for about 3 minutes, then stir in the sour cream. Serve hot over the egg noodles.

Mmmm…now that I have typed this up I want to make it again  🙂

::spicy nights:: Chana Masala


In an attempt to cleanse myself of the cookie madness I have been involved in the past few weeks, a recent trip to the grocery store resulted in a TON of fruits and veggies, and supplies for vegetarian dinners. It is no joke that I went through more than one 5lb bag of flour, an entire 5lb bad of sugar, 32oz of molasses, and who knows how many pounds of butter in the past month. And while you would think, most of those cookies were eaten by others… they simply weren’t. I would make far too many and end up eating all the remaining goodies. Thank goodness for pregnancy. It has made a decent excuse.

But now I need to get back on track! Since we moved out of the city we don’t have the easy access to our favorite Indian restaurant, Tiffin, anymore. While this gives us good reason to go visit our friends and Chuffin (NBC’s Chuck and Tiffin nights) buddies Dave & Karyn, it also gives me a good reason to expand on my Indian recipe collection here on the site.

The other part of the grocery trip that the holidays inspired was saving a bit of money, so a few extra vegetarian meals seemed like a good plan. So we started with Chana Masala. I just ordered this the last time we got Tiffin, and my how they are different. Their version is smoky and stewy and very homey. This version inspired from a Food.com recipe was fiery and kicked your butt a bit. Nothing like clearing the sinuses on a snowy day. 🙂 I cannot wait to have it as leftovers. Curry is one of those things that just keeps getting better.

What You Need
Step One

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 medium onions, minced
~1 Tbsp ginger (about 1.5″ piece), minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
Step Two
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Step Three
15oz can whole tomatoes, chopped small
Step Four
2/3 cup water
2-15oz  cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Step Five
1 lemon, juiced

In a large skillet or saute pan heat oil over medium heat. Add all step one ingredients and cook about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in all the spices. Allow to cook for a minute or two.

Stir in tomatoes, returning to medium heat and using the juices to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the pan.

Add step four ingredients, and reduce heat to medium low, simmering uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and serve over hot rice.

Serves: 4-6   Cost: >$2/serving (for 4 servings, all organic ingredients!)

::savory soup:: Roasted Butternut Squash

I like to think that the weather has officially changed. The few 90+ degree days we had last week have passed, and it hasn’t stopped raining in a few days. Oddly enough, except for the horrible drivers it seems to bring out, this is one of my favorite things about Fall. When things seem to really transition. Rain is no longer cooling you off and welcome. Everyone thinks it is dreary, and yes, it is a bit gray, but the air feels so clean and crisp. It is irresistible. I know sunny days with crisp air are right around the corner, so I will take the rain. Make those pumpkins grow!

Speaking of pumpkins… did you know that the butternut squash is referred to as the butternut pumpkin in New Zealand? Fun fact of the day 🙂 I don’t know that I was exposed to squash of any sort enough as a child. I was hesitant to eat anything that involved it except pumpkin pie. Oddly enough, I’m not that crazy about pumpkin pie as an adult. Now it is a different story. PTB may go crazy with the amount of squash-related recipes I have hopes for this fall.

This soup was perfect for a lazy night. There is so little work involved, but you do need to be around while the oven goes for almost an hour.

What You Need
Step One

~ 4 cups cubed butternut squash (my whole squash was 3lbs)
4 large shallots, peeled and halved
1″ piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Step Two
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use veggie brother for a vegan soup)
Step Three
fresh chives
cracked black pepper

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Combine all step one ingredients in a foil lined baking dish. Roast for approximately 50 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Allow to cool for 10 minutes. If you have an immersion blender, combine roasted veggies and stock in a large pan. Blend away until you have your desired consistency.

If you do not have an immersion blender, go buy one. Or, you can combine the veggies and stock in a blender in batches, and pour into a pan.

Cover and heat through over a medium heat. Serve topped with cracked pepper and chives.

Are you warm and cozy yet?

Serves: 4-6   Cost: ~$2/serving (4 servings)

::summer love:: Charred Onion and White Bean Salad


I thought I was finally getting the chance to dig into my Cooking Through the Seasons book. We have had so many things going on lately that were interupting the dinner schedule. I was so excited to make my grocery list on Wednesday morning. But as I was planning out the menu, I realized once again that we would not be making dinner Saturday, Sunday or today. No need to buy too much when I was really only going to need three days worth of food.
Luckily, I realized I needed to make something to take with me to some events over the weekend, so I had a good excuse to go back Friday morning for Whole Foods cherry sale.
So there I was, only three days to cook dinner. And then Wednesday went crazy and I didn’t get to make the dinner I was planning. PTB’s loss. I made it for lunch the next day. It was delicious. But that was another pasta sauce. And I post a ton of those (sorry, I love pasta). That recipe might need some perfecting anyway.
So now I am being stubborn and I only want to post Summery things. This salad was a perfect combination of bitter and sweet. We ate it with a grilled chicken breast which was just the right amount of warmth. It makes enough for four servings if you serve it with a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Since there is just the two of us, I am sure you can guess what I had for lunch the next couple days.[/donotprint]

What You Need
Step One
one Vidalia onion
Step Two
1/2 cucumber, seeded & chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 can cannellini beans
Step Three
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced

I you have a grill, the best way to get these onions nice and crispy is to throw them on the grill charring each side within about 4 minutes.  Since I am in an apartment and have no access to a grill, I went with my cast iron skillet to char the onion.  Cut the onion into 1/4 slices, and char away  🙂

While the onions are charring, drain and rinse the beans.  Seed the cucumber and chop into 1/4″ pieces.

Let the onion cool, and chop.

In a large bowl, whisk together all step three ingredients.  Add the vegetables.

Serve over mixed salad greens of your choice.  We used arugula.  I liked the bitter with the sweet of the Vidalia Onion.

Serves: 4  Cost: ~$1/serving