Recipes

Parmesan Chicken & Rice

December is all about easy comforting dinners that keep you out of the kitchen & spending time with friends & family. This dish is not only quick to assemble but it also only requires one pot! This recipe came to be out of necessity when I was in college. I was looking for something easy I could whip up for dinner that was comforting & reminded me of home, but was also simple enough that I could get back to studying partying as quick as possible. The ingredients in this dish were things I always had on hand so I knew all I needed was some chicken & I could have a delicious dinner on the table in less than an hour. This dish is easily my most common dinner dish & I hope you love it as much as I do!

Parmesan Chicken & Rice

Yield: 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 cup yellow onion, medium diced (about half a large onion)*
  • 1 cup celery, medium diced (about 3-4 stalks)*
  • 1 cup carrot, small diced or shredded (about 3-4 small carrots)*
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 lbs chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 tablespoons, or 3oz, white wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil & butter.
  2. Once butter has melted, add onion, celery & carrot. Season with salt & pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Cook the veggies over medium heat until they become soft & begin to brown, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. At this point, you can remove the veggies before cooking the chicken but it’s not necessary. Cook the chicken over medium heat until mostly cooked, about 10 minutes. Make sure to season the chicken with salt & pepper.
  5. Once the chicken has cooked, turn the heat to high & add the wine. Mix in the wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits that have formed. Let the wine bubble & reduce by half, about 2 minutes.
  6. Next add in the garlic & rice. Stir to combine.
  7. If you removed the veggies earlier you can return them to the pot now. Pour in the broth & stir to combine everything.
  8. Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce to simmer & let it cook, covered, for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the rice should have absorbed all the broth & be tender. If there is still broth & the rice is not fully cooked, continue cooking another 5 minutes.
  9. Lastly, add the cheese, butter & parsley. Mix for a minute or two until everything is combine & the cheese has melted.
  10. Serve up with crusty bread or a salad & enjoy!

Notes:

* Most grocery stores sell onion, celery & carrots already diced up which makes this dish even quicker!

Recipes

Mom's Chili

Growing up, my mom wasn’t the biggest fan of cooking. She didn’t hate it, but she didn’t love the clean up that followed. Enough so that she didn’t cook often. She had what we called the “rotation” of dishes she would choose from when she did cook. Chili was one of those dishes that was always a favorite in the house. It had such a distinct smell that we knew immediately what was for dinner the second we entered the door after getting home from school. This dish was also a favorite of my moms because it is fairly simple. It requires a little prep work in the way of chopping vegetables & opening cans, but after that, smooth sailing. She always said she found chopping vegetables “soothing” & as a child I thought she was a freak. Fast forward to adulthood & I’ve never related to a sentence more.

My siblings & I most likely enjoyed the chili toppings more than the actual chili, but that’s not here nor there. Mom would serve this up with tortillas, sour cream, Fritos, lettuce & cheese. Sometimes she’d shake things up & serve it with pasta. This dish is pretty versatile with it’s toppings so it’s great for feeding a family of picky eaters (which we all were as children, let’s face it). This is comfort food at its finest & with the weather finally cooing down (I’m in California where winter JUST started) this is something you’re going to want to have on the dinner table!

Mom’s Chili

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 bell peppers, assorted colors, medium diced
  • 1 onion, medium diced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 – 2lbs ground beef or ground turkey
  • 2.5 – 3 tablespoons chili powder, depending on desired spice
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3/4 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans
  • 1 15oz can white kidney beans
  • 1 15oz can pinto beans
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Toss in bell peppers & onion, then season with salt & pepper.
  2. Sauté the veggies over medium heat until they become soft & translucent, about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Once the veggies have become soft, add the ground beef & season with salt & pepper once more. Cook the beef until it becomes brown & you can no longer see any pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you go.
  4. Add chili powder, dried oregano & basil. Stir to combine & cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Next add the beans & their liquid, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce & tomato paste. Stir to make sure everything is combined & tomato paste has disbursed into the mixture.
  6. Bring the while mixture to a boil. Once the chili has reached a boil, lower the heat to simmer & cook, uncovered for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes to ensure everything cooks evenly.
  7. After the hour is up you can serve the chili immediately, or it can continue cooking, covered, for another hour.
  8. Serve up with your favorite toppings & enjoy!
Recipes

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Finding meatless dishes continues to be a challenge as the weeks go on, but it has also really opened my eyed & my mind to new ideas. I found this recipe when reading through a Buzzfeed article about meatless lunches and thought it would make a great meatless dinner. It seemed simple enough to throw together on a busy day, which I always love.

Any dish that resembles pizza in the slightest is something I can get behind. Calzones are no exception to that. This version is stuffed with spinach & cheese giving it a creaminess you always crave with calzones, but the spinach makes the calzones a little lighter, and I don’t know about you, but that always makes me feel a little better about what I’m eating. Not to mention the crust is whole grain so this dish is basically “healthy”… right?

Serve these up with a simple green salad, or Cesar if you’re feeling a little fancy on a Monday night, & some warmed marinara sauce for a complete meal.

I hope you love these!

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.

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Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick. For this recipe I used a whole wheat dough because its heartier & better for you, but you can use whatever dough you like.

 

Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)

 

Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.

 

After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.

Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.

 

Recipe adapted from Kitschen Cat-Ricotta and Spinach Calzones with a few small changes noted above.

Ricotta & Spinach Calzones

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4-6 calzones

Ingredients:
10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed & with all liquid removed
4 ounces shredded mozzarella
8 ounces ricotta
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 egg yolk
1 pound whole wheat pizza dough

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, oil & egg yolk.
  3. Place the pizza dough on a well-floured surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough until it is between 1/8″ & 1/4″ thick.
  4. Cut out 4 large circles to make larger calzones, or cut out 6 smaller circles for smaller calzones. (For this recipe I made 6 calzones, but the amount of filling will work for either.)
  5. Once the dough is cut it is time to fill the calzones. Divide the filling into either 4 or 6 portions, depending on the size of the calzones. Lay the filling on one half of the dough, making sure to leave a border.
  6. After you have filled each calzone, fold the half that doesn’t have the filling over the top of the half with the filling. Pinch the edges together (like a pie crust) to seal the calzone, then go over it with a fork to ensure a tight seal so the filing doesn’t escape in the oven. Then cut 3 or 4 slits into the top of the calzones to let any steam escape. Brush them with the egg wash and bake for 8 minutes. Remove the calzones from the oven, brush with remaining egg wash & sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to oven & bake an additional 8 minutes.
  7. Serve with a side of marinara & simple green salad.
Recipes

Turkey & Spinach Stuffed Shells

Any recipe that can be made in advance, and thrown into the oven when I get home from work is a recipe I can get behind. Stuffed shells can be a process to put together but if you take the time when you have it, maybe on a weekend or day off, you’ll be a happy camper on one of those notorious busy days.

This dish is also a great way to get your kiddos in the kitchen with you. You can put together all the ingredients and they can help you assemble the shells. It’s fun for the kids but also helps you finish dinner even quicker. In the words of Ina Garten “how bad could that be?”

Once the dish is assembled, all you have to do is throw it in the fridge or freezer (it freezes very well) and it’s ready for you to pop in the oven at the end of a busy day.

This dish is warm, comforting, cheesy and filling. It’s perfect to enjoy on a cold winter night, but the ground turkey and spinach filling make it light enough to enjoy even on a warm summer night!

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 6

1 package jumbo pasta shells
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
1/2 pound ground turkey
1/3 pound mild or hot Italian sausage
5 ounces fresh spinach
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
32 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt generously. When water boils, cook shells according to package directions. Drain pasta and gently toss with olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

In a medium skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Add the ground turkey and sausage, then cook until browned. Add the spinach and cover until spinach has wilted.  Toss the meat mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they become soft and just begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and cook until fragrant. Turn down the heat and add the tomato sauce and water. Stir to combine and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Add the ricotta and eggs to the bowl with the cooled meat mixture, stir until combined. Stuff each shell with about 2 tablespoons of the mixture.

Pour the sauce into the bottom of a baking dish and layer the shells into the dish. Cover the shells with parmesan cheese and top with shredded mozzarella.

If eating at a later time, cover the dish with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to eat. Remove the dish from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature (about 20-30 minutes) before baking.

Bake at 350°F uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until top is browned and sides are bubbling.