Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables. One One Pan Wonder!

Dinner doesn’t always have to have dramatic preparation to be both beautiful and delicious. Last night when I got home late, my husband already had the chicken marinating in a balsamic concoction. All I did was figure out what vegetables to throw on a pan and dinner was underway!

I opted for beautiful tri-colored baby carrots, purple potatoes and spiralized beets. (I am on a spiralizing kick lately!) I sprinkled on some olive oil and salt and pepper, then popped them into the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. At 15 minutes, take them out and make a little room on the pan, then add your chicken and pop it all back in the oven for twenty minutes. Last night I got involved with writing for another site and I forgot this step which is why you see no chicken on this pan. No worries. I baked the chicken in the pan it was marinated in.

And here is the finished product. Aren’t they beautiful? Here, I usually sprinkle on a little more pepper and call it a day.

Here is my plated dinner. Okay, I lied. At the last minute we had a taste for some steamed broccoli so we made it. We could have just as easily roasted it on the same pan as the other veggies, but we didn’t decide on it until the other stuff was already in the oven. Beautiful and delicious and no one has to know how simple and easy it was to prepare.

Unless you write a blog about it to tell the world!


Balsamic Marinade Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp honey(optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-4 pounds boneless skinless chicken (There are just two of us so we usually opt for chicken tenderloins as they cook very fast.)

Directions

(Are you ready for this?)

  • Whisk together all ingredients.
  • Pour over chicken.
  • (Wipe the sweat from your brow. That was hard!)

How long you wish to leave the chicken marinating is entirely up to you. I like to let mine sit from 1-4 hours. Just cover it and put it in the fridge. Take it out and let it sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. If you are in a rush, just let it sit half an hour, it will still be great.

Bake at 400 degrees approximately 20-25 minutes.


For the one pan dinner:

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Decide on what veggies you like, roll them around in 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and salt & pepper.
  • Pour them on a sheet tray.
  • Bake 15 minutes, add chicken to the pan, bake 20-25 minutes more.

Use your common sense here. If you are roasting soft veggies that will cook fast like zucchini, yellow squash, onions, tomatoes, etc. Put everything, including the chicken, on one pan and cook them together.

When you are roasting dense veggies like potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash, etc, start them in the oven at least 15 minutes before adding the chicken.

Lemon Cilantro Baked Cod Fillets

I have always been that person who thinks cilantro tastes like soap. That is, until I started living with my husband, who is a fanatic over the stuff. At any given moment during the year, we have not one, but two bunches sitting in water on our counter; so over the summer I decided to give in and start using the stuff and now I am hooked.

I adapted this recipe from something similar that called for parsley instead of cilantro. I imagine it would also be great with fresh chopped basil or even rosemary.

I love this recipe because it’s unexpectedly creamy and it smells incredible! Prep time is just a few minutes and you can assemble this dish ahead of time if you need to- just pop it in the fridge until you are ready to bake.

Start off with with cod fillets. We buy ours frozen from Trader Joe’s. Once it’s thawed, be sure to pat it dry on both sides so the melted butter will adhere to it.

Next melt about 4 Tbsp real butter (none of that no fat, low fat, fake butter crap! Use the real stuff!) We buy Amish butter. You can’t beat the freshness.

Now for the dredging stations: 1) This is about 3/4 cup of flour, mixed with a generous amount of smoky paprika, salt and pepper and one of my favorite spice blends: Essence of Emeril.

2) Next, I zested one very large lemon and squeezed its juice (about 3 Tbsp, I said it was large!). For fun, I also zested a Meir Lemon. Then add about 1/4th cup chopped fresh cilantro. When your butter has melted, add it here.

Here it is with the melted butter.

Dredge each piece of cod, both sides in the butter/ cilantro mixture and then the flour. The original recipe called for dredging only one side but I always do both. I suppose you could leave out the flour entirely, but the dish will not turn out as creamy. (It will, however, still be delicious!)

Spray your baking dish with coconut oil (or whatever you have on hand-or leave it out. I forgot this step tonight. It made no difference.), then lay out your fish. Pour the remaining butter/cilantro mixture over the fish. Here, I usually toss in a little more cilantro and sprinkle a little more paprika.

PS: This stuff? It’s your friend when you don’t feel like chopping. Find it at the grocery where you buy fresh spices.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until flakey.

We made roasted butternut squash, zucchini and baby Roma tomatoes as our sides. These just go in at 400 degrees coated in olive oil, salt and pepper. All on one sheet pan. I make then before I bake the fish, the cover with foil and let them rest.

Fresh out of the oven.

The thought occurs to me that I could have mixed the tomatoes in with the squash. I like to keep the zucchini whole, however. It’s a texture thing for me.


INGREDIENTS

4 tablespoons lemon juice

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tbsp smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

4 cod fillets (6 ounces each)

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Zest of 1-2 lemons

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°. In a shallow bowl, mix lemon juice, cilantro and butter. In a separate shallow bowl, mix flour and seasonings. Dip fillets in lemon juice mixture, then in flour mixture to coat both sides; shake off excess.

Place in a 13×9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Drizzle with remaining lemon juice, cilantro, butter mixture. Sprinkle on a little more paprika & lemon pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes or until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork. Garnish with more fresh cilantro & lemon zest.

Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Onions.

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I first saw these things on Facebook in one of those short instructional videos. I thought they looked delicious and easy.  NOT! While they do score high on the deliciousness scale, and I might try to make them again, stuffing these onions was anything but easy!

First, it took almost an entire bag of onions to get what you see here. Trying to separate the onion skins proved an exasperating task. I found out I am not skilled at this at all and ended up breaking pretty much all of my onion skins. Then once I did have enough, I broke a couple more while stuffing them. Of course, I  now realize they didn’t have to be perfect and I could have just pieced them together in two parts since they were held together by the bacon, but that’s not my style. (The curse I bear in this lifetime is perfectionism.)

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Ingredients:

You can actually stuff these with whatever your favorite meat or meatless mixture happens to be. If you have a favorite meatloaf recipe, use that. If you have a favorite recipe for stuffed mushrooms, use that. You can even sub the meat out and use mushrooms instead if you like. Ground turkey or chicken would be delightful as well. Make it your own!

2 yellow onions
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup onions, diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 Tbsps. cottage cheese
1 Tbsp. spicy ketchup
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 pack of bacon
1 bottle of BBQ sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, crumbs, egg, ½ cup BBQ, parsley, diced onions, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Mix together with your hands until thoroughly combined.
  3. Cut top and bottom off onion, cut in half and peel off skin. Then separate the onion into “layers”. Use the larger outside layers.
  4. Stuff your Meatloaf mix between two Onion Layers (essentially making an onion seal around a large meatball)
  5. Wrap each “bomb” with 3 slices bacon and secure with toothpicks.
  6. Bake on a sheet pan with a wire rack (see above) at 425 for approx 40 minutes or until internal temp 165.
  7. Add BBQ sauce all over and bake an additional 5 minutes!
  8. Enjoy!

 

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

One of my favorite recipes for feeding a crowd is enchiladas. They are simple, inexpensive, easy to make and they’re delicious. I have made them so many times I don’t even follow a recipe any more. These things are so forgiving, you can put anything in them. They are great to make when you want to make space in the fridge, which is how these happened. I had some onions and peppers I needed to use, so poof: enchiladas!

One of my favorite gifts to give are gifts of food. So we make a bunch of pans of these at least once per month and deliver them to friends and neighbors door-to-door. So fun and ALWAYS appreciated!

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These started by sauteing some onion & red pepper. I always season with  S&P, cumin, and that mexican spice mix we all have!

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Next I season my chicken tenders with S&P, cumin, smoky paprika, garlic, and chili powder, then cook it in my cast iron pan.

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Shred the cooked chicken with two forks.

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Add the chicken to the onions, pour in a can or two of prepared enchilada sauce & a can of drained black beans (because black beans are high in fiber and we love them!) Sometimes I sneak in some fresh spinach or kale. It’s still delicious!

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Don’t forget the shredded cheddar cheese and some adobo sauce for some heat.

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Now the fun part. Start rolling.

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Coat the bottom of the pan with sauce and then fill it up!

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Fill up the pan!

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Top with some more sauce!

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Add some more cheese and cilantro!

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Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

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Serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices and whatever else your heart desires!

 

Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

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Okay I have had a day to feel better about all of the hatred I observed on my Facebook feed Sunday, so I will go back to my original idea of posting about one of my favorite fall soup recipes: Roasted Butternut Squash soup. I can’t think of anything that is easier, more delicious, festive and comforting than this soup.

I was inspired to make it after having spent the weekend reflecting on my favorite things about Fall for another blog I participate in.

 

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 Veggie’s all cut up, drizzled in Olive oil and tossed in salt & pepper. Easy Peezy.

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After sauteing the onion, I added my stock and other seasonings.

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When the vegetable are ready, I add them to the stock and simmer for about 5 minutes.

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Add the cream, stir and taste. Here is where you might add additional seasoning.

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Puree using an immersion blender, a regular blender or a food processor. Return to pot, I topped with smoky paprika for color, but you could use anything you like-even chopped herbs.


Bobbe’s Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

1 largish butternut squash peeled and cut into chunks

4-5 medium carrots peeled and cut into chunks

1 medium onion chopped

(1) 32oz box of vegetable stock

(1) 15 oz can of chicken stock

¾ c. cream (you can sub Half & Half or leave it out if you don’t do dairy)

3-4 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP Smoked Paprika

1 TBSP cumin

1 TBSP hot sauce (optional) We like Sriracha.

S & P to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400

Assemble carrots and squash on a sheet tray, drizzle with olive oil, S&P

Roast 30-40 minutes or until you see they are browning just a bit.

Meanwhile saute your onions until translucent in a Dutch oven (I use 1-2 TBSP real butter but you can do it in olive oil too) Remember to salt & pepper your onions.

Add stocks and seasonings to onions. Simmer on low while waiting for veggies to roast.

Add Roasted vegetables to the pot

Add cream & stir.

Lastly, puree the soup using an immersion blender. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree using a blender or your food processor.

We like to serve this topped with sour cream, chives, bacon, hot sauce, even shavings of Parmesan cheese; whatever you really like will work, even garlic croutons!

 

 

 

 

 

Here are My Cooking Influences. What are yours?

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Major Raymond A. Rodgers. My Granddad.

One of my favorite memories of my Granddad, Major Raymond A. Rodgers, was the time he tried (in vain) to teach me how to make a simple roux. It was after the death of my Grandma and he was living with us. He happened to love gravy and he thought it would be a good idea to teach me to make it. In my defense, I was about 22 and the very last thing in the world I had interest in was learning to make gravy. I hated gravy, but I loved my Granddad, so I was up for the challenge.

He started out by demonstrating the proper technique, then told me stories about how he used to make it in the army and finished up with a batch of really silky white gravy. Then it was my turn. After the third attempt resulted in yet a third pile of gluey goo and a thousand giggles later, Granddad retired to his room smiling and laughing in defeat! We laughed about that experience for years following.

I often think of him now when I am making up sauces to go on whatever dish I’ve created. I know he would be so proud that I finally know how to make a decent cream gravy and an even better sauce!

I have been asked a gazillion times where I learned to cook. I didn’t grow up in the kitchen with my mother or my grandmother learning family recipes. In fact, I didn’t even start cooking at home in earnest until around 2009.

I actually credit part of my cooking talent to the old show, “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood”. I know it sounds very silly but it’s true. If you ever watched the show as a kid, you will remember that at least once per show, Mr. Rodgers showed us how something is made. Often, the show would visit factories to watch how every day items such as crayons or pencils were made. These were my favorite segments. I think they taught me how to sit back, observe and learn and they are definitely what led me to love watching the early cooking shows such as; Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, The Cajun Cook, and the BBC2 series, The Two Fat Ladies. (That last show was a total hoot. My sister and I used to roll around on the floor laughing at those two motorcycling ladies!) Oh and I cannot forget to mention how I used to just love and adore Emeril Lagasse! (BAM!)

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Fred Rodgers

Two fat ladies

The Two Fat Ladies

Long about 2010, Charlie and I moved to a new house that had a wonderful kitchen. It wasn’t fancy; just had a lot of space. One night he was about to make something and out of the blue I declared that I would like to make something new I’d seen on television. I cannot even recall what it was, but I do remember the satisfaction I felt when it turned out beautifully and Charlie scarfed it all down. From that point forward, I did 98% of the dinner cooking in our home. My love of cooking shows grew and “The Food Channel” became the most watched network and explored web site in our home!

Working in a church has afforded me the unique opportunity of spending some time in an industrial kitchen once per week. Although my real job is in the finance office, Charlie and I were Grandfathered into preparing the weekly Fellowship Meal for 100-125 people. It started with someone else deciding the menus and purchasing the food. We would be left with instructions on how to prepare and serve it and eventually, we took over the entire thing. To me, it’s like planning a party each week, and I dearly love it when we pack up to leave, exhausted and sweaty, knowing that we prepared a great meal that left everyone satisfied!

My Mother often asks me how in the world we are able to do meals on such a large scale. She usually says that the mere thought of being responsible for all that food would make her too nervous to do it. This is when I stop and realize that if I sat around thinking about it like that, I wouldn’t be able to do it myself!

Tonight is the last Fellowship Meal for this season. We’ll take off a little over a month and return in July, so we’ve decided to make beef tenderloin. It’s a bit of a daunting task, IF I think about it, so I will just end here with the promise of photos tomorrow.

What are some of your cooking influences? My current favorites are, “The Pioneer Woman”, and “Barefoot Contessa”, but mostly, I just like to explore recipes and then tweak them to make them my own.

I’d love to hear how you got started cooking! Please share!

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This is me in the church kitchen a couple of years ago! Not the most attractive photo but I think you can tell I love being there!!  ❤

 

 

 

Low & Slow Scrambled Eggs & a Breakfast Burrito!

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Growing up I was most certainly NEVER an egg fan. The only way my mother could get me to choke even half of one down was to scramble them with more cheddar cheese than egg, which resulted in a greasy pile of orange stuff. (Bring on the cheesy grease pile!) I would then slather it on toast and gobble it up.

Fast forward to adulthood. Eggs are supposed to be the perfect food, especially if like me, you are on a weight loss program. Thought I have tried them every conceivable way -and I have tried with all that I am- I still haven’t been able to really like them. I can force down a deviled egg, eat a fried or poached egg on toast and once I even baked eggs inside of avocados; but I still won’t say I am a fan…UNTIL now.

Recently I was watching the Food Channel, (because as I’ve told you, I am obsessed with food and learning about food). I watched a Master Chef talk about the proper method of scrambling eggs. The way he did it resulted in the creamiest looking eggs, I’d ever seen. The very next morning I tried his method and I haven’t looked back since. I can now say with certainty, that I simply ADORE scrambled eggs!

His method involved using a regular pot instead of a frying pan. You crack your eggs into a bowl and add 1 Tbsp sour cream and whisk until frothy. Placing the pot on low heat, add 1-2 Tbsps butter (depending on how many eggs you are making). Once the butter has melted, add the eggs and wait a few minutes for the first sign of curds forming. Once this happens, you whisk continuously until the eggs set up. (My mouth is actually watering while typing this. Seriously. Who would have thought! )

Here is what the whole shebang looks like:

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Once you have your delicious eggs made, you can gobble them up OR go the extra mile and make a breakfast burrito! This is fast becoming a Sunday tradition for Charlie and me. We love these things!

Assemble the ingredients:

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We like flour tortillas (burrito sized) but you can certainly use corn or whole wheat or even the gluten free variety. I usually microwave each one about 15 seconds before trying to roll them. It makes them more pliable. Then just pile up what you like. I put the eggs on the bottom of mine, but you don’t have to. Here we have eggs, sauteed peppers, onions and corn with raw chopped onion, fresh cilantro, avocado and a dash of pico de gallo. (I think the raw onion and pico add a great texture. (I love a little bit of bite to things.) Then you just roll them up.

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Once rolled, I put ours into a medium-high cast iron skillet coated with coconut oil spray seam-side down. Not only does this seal them up, the little bit of crust adds great flavor and it helps the burrito to stand up to being cut in half.

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All that remains is to remember that you eat with your eyes first, so make a pretty plate!

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¡Comiendo feliz! Delicioso!

(Happy Eating! Delicious!)


Breakfast Burritos Recipe (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • Flour tortillas (4) 8″ or large
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1.5 Tbsp sour cream (or Mexican crema)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 avocado sliced
  • 1 c sauteed vegetables (whatever you like – we used onion, green pepper, red pepper & jalapeno here-sometimes we include spinach or kale)
  • 1/2 c. chopped raw onion
  • 1/2 c. fresh pico de gallo
  • 1/2 c. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 4 Tbsp Sriracha (optional)

Directions:

  • Read above!
  • Scramble eggs
  • Saute vegetables (whatever you like)
  • Warm tortillas in the microwave 20-30 seconds)
  • Spoon 1/4 eggs onto the bottom third of tortilla (see above)
  • Spoon 1/4 sauteed vegetables over the eggs
  • Add cilantro, avocado, onion and pico (plus Sriracha if you are so inclined)
  • Fold the two sides in and roll the burrito
  • Spray a cast iron skillet or frying pan with coconut or vegetable oil
  • Heat to medium high
  • Sear burritos on all sides (1-2 minutes)
  • Assemble a pretty plate! (That’s an order!)

These can be wrapped in plastic, then wrapped in foil and placed in a zip lock freezer bag for later. To re-heat, just unwrap one, place on a microwave safe plate, cover with a paper towel and microwave 30 seconds, then turn over, 30 seconds more, etc…until heated through.

Viva!

 

Food creations. Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers. Delicious!

The other day Charlie was out shopping and came home with two enormous pork chops he’d found on sale. Then he remembered that we were making pork tenderloin that night for church supper. I suggested we freeze the chops for later use, but he said he might grill them over the weekend so we left them alone.

That was one week ago.

Of course time got away from us and last night when I pulled them out for dinner, they smelled disgusting -so into the trash they went. Lesson learned. (Next time, put the meat in the freezer.)

This is the kind of thing that usually lends itself well to creativity, because at this point, it’s too late to defrost something else. I knew we had some ground chicken in the fridge. Don’t ask me why I bought it or why I didn’t freeze it. It was just one of those purchases that was absent-minded. Charlie questioned me about three times as to to why in the world I would want ground-chicken. I dunno. It was cheap and it’s lower in fat than ground turkey.

So what to do with this mysterious ground chicken? (Okay it’s not mysterious, but it sounded good.) One of my favorite apps lately is my Yummly app. I opened it, typed, “ground chicken” into it and poof, recipes started appearing. We happened to have tons of cilantro and loads of limes around so I settled on cilantro lime chicken burgers. Of course, I tweaked the recipe to suit my own tastes.

I am here to tell you this is a keeper. Those burgers were not only delicious and tangy, but they stayed moist. You wouldn’t imagine something as mundane as ground chicken would be tasty but it was and so, we will be repeating this again in the future.

One other thing: Ground chicken runs about $3.99 per pound. Cilantro is always in season and can be found for $.99 a bunch. Limes are equally as inexpensive. This is all to say if you are on a budget and also happen to be counting calories and fat grams, this meal was awesome. If you are solo, you can eat one and freeze the other three for easy microwave lunches!

Yes, I know this is unlike any of my usual posts! I’m switching gears a bit for a change and everyone should know by now that I am obsessed with food!

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Cilantro Lime Chicken Burgers

Ingredients:

1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup cilantro (I used way more because we love it.)
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic (I used granulated garlic-about 2 tsp)
Zest of two limes
Juice of two limes
Salt & Pepper to taste.

Directions:

Mix it all together and form 4 patties.
Heat a cast iron skillet (I use a cast iron grill pan) to medium high.
I use olive oil and butter to coat. (@2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp butter)
4 to 5 minutes each side.

To make this super healthy we serve these with Ezekiel Muffins (found in the freezer section of the health foods section of your grocery store) and we dress them with either spinach or kale leaves, red onion, mustard an tomatoes. Occasionally we slice up an avocado, too. Pairs wonderfully with roasted zucchini & yellow squash.