Chicken, Again?

If you ask my mom what she thinks Eric and I eat every night for dinner, I would bet you $100 that she would say chicken.  We do eat a lot of chicken, but we don’t eat it everyday…for the most part.  There was a time in my life when I had chicken and a salad every night, those were my single days when I was lazy and didn’t feel like making copious amounts of food.  Oh how the times have changed.  Granted chicken is a main staple in our house, we buy it in bulk and for good reason, its easy, versatile and delicious.

The other night I found a recipe for avocado orzo and garlicky shrimp.   I thought it sounded interesting, especially since I’m obsessed with anything avocado.  I wasn’t quite sure how Eric would like the orzo, he’s more of a red sauce on pasta kind of guy and doesn’t really like any “salad” that’s cold or room temp, well except tuna salad, but he’s even picky about that.   Surprisingly he said that we should try the recipe, I think it was the shrimp that sold him.   In addition to always having chicken in the freezer, I also always keep a bag of frozen raw shrimp.  For some reason  I feel like I’ve been eating a lot of shrimp lately, so I convinced Eric that we should use the marinade in the recipe and just swap in chicken.  I’m so glad I did!  The chicken came out amazing and I’ll definitely be making it again, maybe over a salad.  As for the avocado orzo, I think I’ll pass on it next time.  It tasted really good if you ate with the chicken, not so much when it was eaten alone.  Eric pretended it was guacamole and ate it with chips, can we say carb-overload?

Avocado Orzo with Garlicky Shrimp (or Chicken)-(Heather Christo Cooks blog)

Ingredients

Garlicky Grilled Prawns
6 large prawns in shell
2-3 cloves garlic
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
¼ tsp chipotle pepper powder
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt

Avocado Orzo
1lb orzo (I used 1/2 lb.)
2 avocados, spilt, pitted and peeled ( I used one avocado)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Lime, zest and juice
2 tsp vegetable oil
Kosher salt to taste
Extra lime wedge for serving

Directions

Slice the prawns up the front and pull the prawn apart, leaving the shell on the back and the belly open and exposed. If you are going to skewer them, shove the skewer in the back to keep the prawns flat- this makes grilling evenly easy. In a dish, combine the garlic, red pepper, chipotle, cilantro and vegetable oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let the prawns (or chicken) marinate (on both sides) in this combination. I let it go for like 1.5 hours.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook it to al dente according to the manufacturers directions.  While the pasta is cooking, prepare the avocado.

In a large bowl, combine the flesh of the avocados, the garlic, lime juice and zest and vegetable oil.  Mix it really well until the mixture is fairly smooth, season with kosher salt.

Drain the pasta and rinse. When the pasta is drained add it to the avocado mixture.  Mix together well and season one more time with Kosher salt if needed.

Prepare the grill to medium-high. Grill the prawns, shell side down for about 1 minute. Flip and repeat until the flesh is barely opaque in the center.  Gently peel the shell off of the prawns and discard. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a frying pan (that’s what I did)  I cooked the chicken about 2-3 minutes per side (I butterflied them so they were pretty thin)

Dish up the avocado orzo and serve with one or two prawns draped over the top.  Serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over the top before eating

Chicken and AvocadoVerdict:  We loved the chicken.  The marinade give a wonderful flavor, I’m sure it would have been awesome with shrimp.  I can take or leave the orzo, not too flavorful and basically tasted like bland guacamole and pasta.  However, if you put parmesan cheese on it, it wasn’t so bad…duh, cheese can make anything good.

Tonight we’re not doing anything fancy, probably leftover lasagna.  I’m making Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes tonight so I’ll need all the kitchen space I can get.  This is a new recipe, I’ll let you know how they turn out..I’m thinking AWESOME!

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Oh Momma Mia!

I know it’s Tuesday, but I’m going to go back a few days to this last weekend, I’m not sure what was going on, but the weather this weekend was awesome!  It really felt like Spring was right around the corner.   We took full advantage of the nice weather on Sunday afternoon, spending most of the day walking around Old Town.    We weren’t alone, whenever the weather is nice it seems like people come out of the woodwork, great for all the local businesses.

Sunday was not only a great day for exploring through town but also a great night to make lasagna.  I feel like the weekends are the perfect time to make those meals that may be a bit too time consuming during the week, not that lasagna takes 5 hours to make, but it does take some time, especially if you like to make your sauce from scratch.    I love lasagna, I probably could eat it all the time, especially if it were carb-free, calorie-free and fat-free…no such luck.  Eric on the other hand isn’t a fan of lasagna, well I should say he wasn’t a fan, I think he’s jumped on the bandwagon after this new recipe.   Lasagna can be made all kinds of ways, my mom always makes it meatless with just cheeses and sauce….so good and probably the best cheese lasagna out there.  My friend Emily makes the best meaty lasagna, it’s definitely a treat when she makes it and you have to fast the whole day because you can’t just eat one piece.    I don’t ever make lasagna….until now, my speciality is Pork and Fennel Lasagna.  I know, we’re pretty fennel obsessed lately, but it’s just so delicious I want to put it in everything.    I found this recipe on Pinterest…shocking I know.  I’ve made a few adjustments as per usual.

Pork and Fennel Lasagna (original recipe from Daily Unadventures in Cooking)

Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 lb ground pork
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 heaping tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (less or more is up to you)
1/4 cup finely diced onion
2-3 cloves of garlic (I love garlic so I use a lot, or you can use 1-2)
1/4 cup red wine
1 large  can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bulb fennel
1 package lasagna noodles
2 cups ricotta
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. parsley
1 Tbsp. basil
250g fresh mozzarella
Directions

Heat a large frying pan to medium heat. Add one teaspoon of the olive oil and then the ground pork. Start browning the pork, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it cooks. While this is cooking place the fennel seeds and pepper flakes in a mortar and pestle. Grind until all the seeds are broken, but not as fine as dust. Sprinkle over the meat as it cooks along with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and freshly ground pepper. When the meat has started to brown, you likely have a significant amount of fat in the pan. Pour it off and discard. Now stir in the onion and garlic. Continue cooking until onion is soft. Now add the red wine, and allow to cook down for 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and tomatoes. Stir well to combine and use a spoon to gently break apart the tomatoes (I use a potato masher). Allow to simmer gently for 15 minutes (or more, I simmered mine for almost 2 hours, but I always tend to let sauce simmer a long time) to blend. If your lasagna noodles need cooking, start boiling a pot of water (I used Barilla no cook noodles, worked awesome)

In the meanwhile you want to gently cook the fennel. First off remove any of the fronds of the fennel and discard. Cut the bulb in half and remove the core. Now slice very thin.

For the ricotta, add both eggs, parsley and basil.  Mix to combine.  I like to do this because it adds more flavor and lightens up the ricotta, which can be a little dense and heavy.

Heat a dutch oven to medium with the remaining olive oil. Wash the sliced fennel throughly and add to the pot along with a big pinch of salt. Stir and cover. Checking every 5 minutes and stirring as needed to wilt the fennel.  Softening the fennel should only take 10 minutes. Turn on your oven to 350F.

If your lasagna noodles require cooking, cook them now. Slice the mozzarella thinly or grate it. Prepare a 12″ square dish by placing a few tablespoons of red sauce on the bottom and distributing evenly. Build the lasagna as follows: a layer of noodles, a layer of ricotta, a layer of red sauce, a layer of fennel and then a layer of mozzarella.   Repeat layers until lasagna is complete. Transfer to oven and bake for 35 minutes. Since I used the no boil noodles, I followed the box instructions and cooked it for about 50 minutes.  Allow to cool outside of the oven for 15 minutes before serving.

sausageLasagnaVerdict: Awesome!  I think Eric had like five pieces.  I enjoyed my one hearty piece.  Best thing is we have leftover for the week and you know, lasagna always tastes better the second day.

This truly was a delicious meal to end a great weekend and to start the week off right.  I just hope the weather cooperates, it rained all morning here and I hear we may get snow next week!

Sloppy Joe Saturday

I feel like I haven’t posted in ages, but to be honest, you really don’t want to know what I’ve been up to, nor hear about the food I’ve sort of made or have eaten in the last two weeks.  Let’s just say I was shocked when I got on the scale and saw that I’ve lost 5 lbs…not that I’m complaining.

Today was the first time in two weeks I’ve been grocery shopping.  We planned a whole week of new recipes, most of which I found on Pinterest.  So far the first recipe we chose came out awesome.  Tonight we had one of my favorite comfort foods, Sloppy Joes.  I’ve tried many different recipes, none of which included Manwich, and I have to say this recipe is the best I’ve found.  If you like a combination of smokey, sweet and spicy, you’ll totally dig this.  Just a heads up, you’ll need to find a spice shop to buy some of the spices, unless you can find them in the supermarket, but I had no luck with that.  If you don’t live by a spice shop, you can order them online, I suggest Penzeys , we have a store near us and I just love it!  Be sure to sign up for their catalog, they include tons of recipes that always look amazing.

Sloppy Joes ( from twirlandtaste.com-Libby Murphy)

Ingredients
1 pound ground brisket (or ground beef)
1 large yellow onion, chopped (or less if you prefer)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/8 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon jalapeno, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
Dash cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
4 hamburger buns, lightly buttered and toasted on inside
Directions
 In a large skillet over high heat, sauté the beef, onions, and garlic until the beef is cooked and browning, and all the liquid has boiled off (around 10 minutes). Turn the heat down to low; then add the spices and cook, stirring, for a few seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then partially cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. If mixture is still not thick enough to your liking, add a bit more flour until it is. Divide the mixture among the buns and serve.
SloppyJoe2
Verdict:  Like I said, this is probably our favorite Sloppy Joe recipe (I may have said that about another recipe in a previous post, but oh well, this one wins)  Eric loved it, as usual.  I served this with green beans and Lays Sriracha potato chips (if you haven’t tried these, go do it now, so good).  There is only a little of the meat mixture left, I’m sure Eric will eat it before he does the dishes, he tends to graze on leftovers so we never really have leftovers.
I’m not sure this is a kid friendly meal, unless your kids have sophisticated taste buds, but hey, you never know, they may just love it as much as the adults.
Tomorrow we’re making lasagna, YAY!!! I love lasagna but never make it since Eric isn’t a huge fan.  This recipe has fennel in it so I know that’s why he agreed to try it.  I’ll let you know how it comes out.