Friday, March 30

Roasted Eggplant & Lentils

I love eggplant but I rarely cook with it because my boyfriend claims that he doesn’t like it (but then he begs for seconds on dishes like this). I was so excited about this dish, which I based off a recipe in Plenty, that I endured his pouting and made it anyway. The eggplant gets broiled to the point where you think it’s completely shriveled and burnt, but once the charred skin gets peeled away you’re left with soft, sweet, caramelized flesh. I served it with French lentils (seen here) and a dollop of crème fraiche, which I like to mix altogether before eating. It’s one of those hearty vegetarian meals that fills you up and makes you feel good about yourself.

Roasted Eggplant & Lentils:
For Eggplant
  • Place one large eggplant on a foiled-lined baking sheet and pierce with a sharp knife in several places.
  • Cook eggplant under a hot broiler for 45-60 minutes, turning every 15 minutes, until eggplant is completely charred outside and the skin has broken in many places.
  • Remove from the broiler and let cool slightly, then peel off the burnt skin and scoop out the flesh into a fine sieve.
  • Let the eggplant sit over the sieve for 15-20 minutes,* then season with salt, pepper, and a splash of red wine vinegar.
For Lentils
  • Add 1 c. green lentils to a pot of cold water, bring to a simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, or until al dente.
  • Meanwhile, add 2 tbsp. olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 1 diced onion, 1 diced leek, 3 diced carrots, and 3 diced stalks of celery and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until soft.
  • Add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Drain the lentils and stir them into the pan with the vegetables.
  • Turn off the heat, season well with salt and pepper, and add in 1 tbsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. chopped parsely, and 1 tsp. red wine vinegar.
  • Divide lentils onto plates and top with some eggplant and creme fraiche.**

Serves two - three
*This will drain excess liquid off of the eggplant.
**Or greek yogurt, or nothing.

Thursday, March 29

Bacon & Egg Frisee Salad

This is a classic French salad that even the most die-hard meat lover will like because it’s dressed with a super flavorful warm bacon vinaigrette and topped with a luscious poached egg. It’s the type of food that I love to eat when I’m alone for a meal because it’s quick, requires just a few ingredients, and is a little messy. The dish really doesn’t require any more effort than it does to make bacon and eggs, but something about it (maybe because it’s French) just feels so chic and fancy. Serve it with some crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce and enjoy.

Bacon & Egg Frisee Salad:
  • Add 6 slices of diced bacon to a hot skillet and cook for 5-10 minutes, or until crispy and all the fat has rendered.
  • Turn off the heat and whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard and 3-4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.
  • Slowly whisk in 3 tbsp. olive oil* and season dressing with salt** and pepper.
  • Add in 1 head of roughly chopped frisee lettuce and toss well to combine.
  • Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water*** to a low boil and add in 1 tbsp. white vinegar.
  • Crack an egg into a small bowl, then gently drop the egg into the water.
  • Cook for 2 minutes, or until whites are set and firm. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain.
  • Repeat with another egg, then season both with salt and pepper.
  • Divide salad onto plates and top each with a poached egg.

Serves two
*You may need more or less oil depending on how much bacon fat you have in the pan.
**Be careful when adding salt, as the bacon will already be salty.
***Fill the water to about 1" deep.

    Wednesday, March 28

    Sweet Chili Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-Fry

    A lot of people feel that they don’t have time to cook dinner during the week, and while I certainly appreciate feeling strapped for time, I still be believe that it’s totally possible to create a healthy and delicious meal at home in less time than it takes to pick something up or even cook a frozen pizza. Even with all the cooking I do, I almost always spend less than an hour in the kitchen after work (and usually it’s much less time than that). One of my go-to dishes for a quick weeknight meal is a stir-fry because it requires few ingredients and cooks in minutes. This shrimp one gets a boost from one of my favorite Asian ingredients, sweet chili sauce. I added a few more ingredients to round out the flavor, but in a pinch the sauce can stand alone.

    Sweet Chili Shrimp & Vegetable Stir-Fry:
    • Combine 3 tbsp. sweet chili sauce, 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce* in a small bowl.
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. canola oil in a wok until very hot.
    • Add in 3/4 lb. peeled and de-veined shrimp** and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until opaque. Remove and set aside.
    • Add in 1 thinly sliced bell pepper and the chopped white parts of 1 lb. of bok choy.
    • Cook vegetables for 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender.
    • Add in the leafy green parts of the bok choy and cook for another minute.
    • Add in the sauce and the cooked shrimp and toss to combine. Cook for another minute to allow the sauce to thicken.

    Serves two - three
    *Optional, adjust according to your desired spice level.
    **Ask your fish person to do this for you to save time.

    Tuesday, March 27

    Minestrone with Cheese Tortellini & Pesto

    Spring showers have been in full force this month, and as a true California girl I’m not happy about the rain, thunder, and sub-optimal temps. Though on the bright side, I’ve been making some killer soups lately (such as this), and this minestrone is no exception. It’s so hearty and brimming with vegetables and pasta that it’s almost like a stew rather than a soup, which is perfect for a rainy day. There’s a little bacon in it which gives the whole broth a subtly-smoky flavor, and it’s a must to finish it with pesto (I used this recipe) and a dash of good balsamic vinegar. It’s a great one-pot meal and the perfect thing to have for leftovers another day.

    Minestrone with Cheese Tortellini & Pesto:
    • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
    • Add in 2 slices of diced bacon* and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until crispy.
    • Add in another 1 tbsp. of oil, 1 diced onion, 1 diced leek, and 2 minced cloves of garlic.
    • Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until soft, then add in 1 peeled and diced Russet potato, 3 peeled and diced carrots, and 3 diced stalks of celery.
    • Cook vegetables for a minute, then add in 6 c. vegetable stock and a 28 oz. can of tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes with your hands as you add them to the pot.
    • Season soup well with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid.
    • Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
    • Add in 3 c. chopped kale and cook for another 5 minutes.
    • Add in 10 oz. fresh cheese tortellini** and cook for 10 minutes, or until al dente.
    • Check again for seasoning, then divide into bowls.
    • Top each bowl of soup with a scoop of pesto, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

    Serves six
    *To make a vegetarian version, just omit the bacon.
    **Can substitute for frozen, just adjust the cooking time accordingly.

    Monday, March 26

    Mushroom & Pancetta Risotto

    This creamy, earthy risotto is my ultimate comfort food

    I'm a strong believer in food as a source of mental and spiritual healing (that's what comfort food is all about, afterall), but sometimes it's more about the cooking than the eating for me. So after a stressful week of life, work, etc., I spent the night making a mushroom risotto. I usually make a quicker weeknight version (see here and here), but there's something therapeutic about spending an hour at the stove, slowly adding the warm stock to rice and coaxing it until it it forms a creamy, rich sauce. This mushroom version is full of deep flavor, from the crispy pancetta, to the porcini-infused stock, to the loads of Parmesan cheese, and it's honestly one of the best risottos I've ever had.

    Related Recipes:
    - Lemony Asparagus Risotto
    - Mushroom Bourguignon
    - Lobster Risotto

    Mushroom & Pancetta Risotto:
    • Bring 10 c. chicken stock to a simmer, add in 1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms and allow them to sit for 15 minutes, or until soft.
    • Remove the mushrooms with a slotted spoon and chop them, leaving the infused stock over a low flame.
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.
    • Add in 1/3 lb. diced pancetta* and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes.
    • Add in 1 tbsp. butter and 1 diced onion and cook for another 5 minutes, or until softened.
    • Add in 2 minced garlic cloves and cook for another minute, then add in 1 lb. thickly sliced cremini mushrooms.
    • Cook mushrooms for 5 minutes, or until soft.
    • Add in 2 c. aborio rice and stir it into the pancetta and mushrooms. Let rice toast for 5 minutes.
    • Add in 2/3 c. white wine and let the alcohol cook off for 3 minutes.
    • Ladle in about 1 c. of stock, salt, and pepper, and stir into the rice. Wait until all the rice has absorbed, about 3 minutes, making sure to stir often so that no rice sticks to the bottom of the pan.
    • Continue adding stock and stirring for another hour or until the rice is cooked fully.
    • Stir in 3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp. cold butter. Check for seasoning.
    • Divide into bowls and serve.

    Serve four - six
    *Can substitute for bacon.

    Friday, March 23

    Humboldt Fog Cheese Soufflés

    I finally took the plunge and acquired Cooking Channel on our TV (or rather I begged my boyfriend to do this for me since calling Time Warner Cable is one of the worst things ever) and now I have an entirely new source of food inspiration. Their website is pretty great too, which is where I found this recipe for cheese and herb soufflés. Now, I’m no stranger to soufflés (see here), but what struck me is just how easy and weeknight-friendly they can be. I used one of my favorite cheeses of all time, Humboldt Fog, which is a goat cheese, but really any type of cheese or herbs can be substituted as long as the proportions stay the same. It’s a great way to use up leftovers and the presentation is marvelously chic, so this is a great dish to whip up for a dinner party or formal luncheon. I like to serve it with a simple green salad with a strong vinaigrette to cut through the richness of the cheese.

    Humboldt Fog Cheese Soufflés:
    • Butter the inside of 4 ramekins* and then dust each with finely grated Parmesan cheese, tapping out any excess. Place in the fridge.
    • Meanwhile, bring 1 c. milk to a simmer in a small saucepan until very hot, but not boiling.
    • Melt 1 1/2 tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
    • Whisk in 1 1/2 tbsp. flour for a minute, or until the flour has completely dissolved into the butter.
    • Whisk in the milk, stirring constantly, for 4-5 minutes, or until very thick.
    • Turn off the heat and slowly whisk in 3 egg yolks (keep the whites in a separate mixing bowl), then stir in 3-4 oz. crumbled cheese,** and 1 1/2 tbsp. minced chives. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Meanwhile, beat 4 egg whites (left from the yolks plus one extra) and a pinch of salt over high speed until they form very stiff peaks.
    • Combine 1 spoonful of whites into the cheese mixture, then fold half of the cheese mixture into the whites.
    • Fold in the remaining half and divide into the prepared ramekins.**
    • Place ramekins on a baking tray and place in a 400°F oven.
    • Cook the souffles for 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the insides are just cooked.
    • Serve immediately before they deflate.

    Serves two - four
    *About 1 c. each in size. Or use smaller or larger ramekins and adjust the cooking time as necessary.
    **I used Homboldt Fog goat cheese, but any type of cheese can be crumbled or grated.

    Thursday, March 22


    This Mexican breakfast consists of tortilla chips smothered in spicy red sauce, cheese, fried eggs, and a ton of garnishes

    Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs

    Mexican food seems to be a common hangover cure (I would be ashamed to admit how many times I’ve waited outside of Chipotle for them to open at 11AM), and chilaquiles is one of the most famous dishes for this. It’s basically jazzed-up nachos with chips, cheese, and other toppings smothered in a spicy red chile sauce and topped with fried eggs. Since I rarely have the opportunity to make breakfast,  I served it for dinner instead. The warm chile sauce, crispy chips, gooey cheese, and runny egg are a decadent treat and pair nicely with the fresh lime and cilantro garnishes. It's a soul-satisfying meal that's great with a few beers.
    For Sauce
    • Place 6 Anaheim chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling hot water.
    • Let the chiles soften in the water for 15-20 minutes, then remove the stem and seeds and place in a blender.
    • Add  in a 14 oz. can of drained whole tomatoes, 1 c. diced onions, 1/2 c. chile soaking water, 2 chopped jalapenos (with seeds), 3 cloves of garlic, and a pinch of paprika.
    • Puree mixture until smooth then transfer to a pan and cook for 15 minutes, or until thickened.
    • Season sauce with salt, pepper, 1 tbsp. honey, and cayenne pepper (if needed).*
    For Chilaquiles
    • Pour canola oil into a deep skillet until it comes up 1/2" and heat until very hot.
    • Meanwhile, cut a dozen corn tortillas into quarters.
    • Add tortillas to the skillet in small batches and cook for 1-2 minutes a side, or until crispy and golden.
    • Remove chips from the oil and let drain on paper towels. Season with salt.**
    • Toss the chips with 3/4 of the sauce and place half in the bottom of a baking dish.
    • Top with 1/2 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese and then repeat with the rest of the chips and more cheese.
    • Spoon the rest of the sauce on top and place under a hot broiler for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.
    • Remove the chilaquiles from the broiler and top with 2 fried eggs.
    • Serve with a variety of garnishes, such as chopped cilantro, fresh lime slices, guacamole, etc.

    Serves two - three
    *Extra hot sauce is optional, but I like my sauce spicy. Sauce can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. Reheat before using.
    **In a pinch, you can use your favorite store-bought chips.

    Wednesday, March 21

    Baked Chicken & Spinach Flautas

    I used to be obsessed with taquitos/flautas back in college, whether they were made in the toaster oven and eaten as an after-bar snack or washed down with a few margaritas at The Rio. I still love them, but as a more health-conscious adult I can’t justify downing a box at 2 AM a few times a week. Luckily, I stumbled across this recipe for baked chicken and spinach flautas and I honestly think they’re more delicious than anything I can buy at the grocery store. The chicken is seasoned with a super flavorful spice blend and the spinach is easy to hide in there for an extra nutrient boost. Even though the tortillas are baked versus fried, they still manage to get super crispy and hold their shape. I like to serve them with guacamole for dipping.

    Related Recipes:
    - Chicken & Black Bean Nachos
    - Jalapeno Margaritas
    - Queso Fundido Dip

    Baked Chicken & Spinach Flautas:
    • Grill* 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts over high heat for 8 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center.
    • Let cool, then shred the meat into small strips and place in a bowl.
    • Mix the chicken with 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. cumin, and 1 tsp. chili powder.**
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a skillet and add in 1 minced jalapeno.
    • Cook for 2-3 minutes, then add in 5 oz. roughly chopped baby spinach and a pinch of salt and pepper.
    • Let the spinach cook for 3-4 minutes, or until wilted, then mix into the chicken.
    • Add 2/3 c. grated Monterey Jack cheese to the spinach and chicken mixture and stir to combine.
    • Meanwhile, warm 8-10 flour tortillas until they're flexible and easy to roll.***
    • Place a large spoonful of chicken along the edge of a tortilla and roll into a tight cigar shape.
    • Place the flauta seam side down on an oiled baking sheet and repeat until all the filling is gone.
    • Brush the tops of each flauta liberally with canola oil.
    • Bake flautas in a 450°F oven for 10 minutes, then flip over and cook for another 10.
    • Remove from oven and serve.

    Makes 8 - 10 flautas
    *Or roast, poach, or buy an already cooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery store. This is a great way to use leftover chicken too.
    **Or use your favorite Mexican seasoning blend.
    ***I microwaved each one for about 10 seconds.

    Tuesday, March 20

    Creamy Mexican Rajas

    It had been way too long since I cooked any Mexican food, and my cravings built up to the point where I decided to do a whole week of back-to-back Mexican meals. First up was this recipe for rajas, a blend of creamy roasted poblano peppers, corn, and onions. I’ve tried something like it at La Super Rica (my favorite Mexican restaurant of all time), and even though I never come close to being able to recreate their cooking, this was still super tasty. I served it with tortillas and spice-rubbed grilled chicken, but it would be great on its own for a satisfying vegetarian meal. I’m also thinking of adding more cheese (never a bad idea) to turn it into a dip for tortilla chips for my next potluck.

    • Place 4 poblano* peppers on top of a direct flame over a gas stove** and char until black on all sides, about 10 minutes.
    • Cover charred peppers in a plastic bag and allow to steam for 15 minutes.
    • Rub the charred skin off with your fingers and pull off the stem and seeds.
    • Slice peppers into thin strips and set aside.***
    • Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Add in 1 small thinly sliced onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, or until soft.
    • Add in 1 c. corn kernels and cook for another 3 minutes.
    • Stir in the peppers, 1/3 c. creme fraiche, and 1/4 c. whole milk.
    • Let cream reduce until thick, about 5-6 minutes, then stir in 3/4 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese.
    • Stir mixture until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.
    • Serve directly from the skillet or pour into a serving dish.

    Serves three - four (main course)
    Serves six - eight  (side)
    *Also called pasilla peppers. They are very mild in flavor.
    **Or place under a hot broiler.
    ***Can be done a few days ahead and kept in the fridge.

    Monday, March 19

    Green Eggs & Ham

    Toasted English muffins topped with prosciutto, fried eggs, pesto, and arugula

    As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a big fan of Irish food but I still love to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. I settled on making "green eggs and ham", a tribute to a dish I regularly order at Huckleberry that consists of fried eggs, pesto, arugula, prosciutto and English muffins. It really makes a difference to splurge on good quality prosciutto and to make or buy fresh pesto since there are so few ingredients in the recipe. Its green color (from both the pesto and the arugula) was a festive touch to St. Patty's and a hearty start alongside what ended up being quite a few mimosas. Despite the whimsy, it's a craveable dish to add to your weekend breakfast repertoire all year long and it requires very little effort or time to make.

    Related Recipes:
    - Homemade Basil Pesto
    - Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon
    - Bacon, Egg, & Cheddar Sandwiches

    "Green Eggs & Ham" - English Muffins with Eggs, Prosciutto, Pesto, & Arugula :
    • Halve and toast 2 English muffins, then layer 2-3 thin slices on prosciutto on each half.
    • Meanwhile, fry 4 eggs in a pat of butter to your desired doneness,* season with salt and pepper, and place one egg on top of each muffin.
    • Top the eggs with a spoonful of basil pesto and a handful of wild arugula.
    • Divide two halves onto each plate and serve.

    Serves two
    *I made mine over-easy to over-medium.

    Friday, March 16

    Pan-Roasted Tilapia with Lemon-Chive Sauce

    I love cooking fish – it’s healthy, it’s quick, and it’s delicious. The only problem I have is that the types of fish I usually buy (salmon, trout, halibut) can be pretty expensive. Tilapia is a much cheaper alternative (I bought a pound of it for less than $6) and available pretty much everywhere, making it the perfect fish for a casual weeknight dinner. It’s mild flavor and flakey texture make it universally loved and the perfect blank canvas to a marinade, rub, or sauce. I served it last night with a lemon-herb-wine sauce (it reminded me of this dish), but it would also be great for fish tacos or fish and chips.

    Pan-Roasted Tilapia with Lemon-Chive Sauce:
    • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter in a large pan.
    • Season both sides of 1 lb.* boneless, skinless tilapia with salt and pepper and add to the pan.
    • Cook for 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through.
    • Remove the fish and set aside.
    • Add the juice of 2 lemons and 1/4 c. white wine to sauce pan.
    • Let the wine mixture reduce for 2-3 minutes, or until all the alcohol has burned off.
    • Add in 1 tbsp. minced chives and season with salt and pepper.
    • Turn off the heat and swirl in 1 tbsp. cold butter.
    • Spoon sauce over fish, divide onto plates, and serve.

    Serves two - three
    *About 3-4 fillets total.

    Thursday, March 15

    Grilled Pineapple with Honey Crème Fraiche

    Pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. I’ve been known to eat a full one in a single sitting or until my mouth goes raw from the overload of acid and enzymes (who’s with me?). It’s obviously great on its own, but I like it even better when it’s grilled. The sugars begins to caramelize and the pineapple starts to soften until you’re left with a sweeter, juicier version of an already delicious fruit. This dish (inspired by this recipe) is the perfect quick and healthy dessert, with tender pineapple, tangy crème fraiche, and crunchy nuts. With a few tweaks, like substituting yogurt and adding in granola, it would also make a great breakfast. And the best part? It only takes about 5 minutes to make.

    Grilled Pineapple with Honey Crème Fraiche:
    • Mix together 1/3 c. creme fraiche,* 1/2 tbsp. honey, and 1 tsp. freshly grated orange zest in a small bowl. Set aside.**
    • Slice the top, bottom, and skin off a pineapple, then remove the core and cut the fruit into tall, thin spears.***
    • Brush a hot grill with canola oil and cook the pineapple for 3-4 minutes a side.
    • Remove the fruit from the grill and place a few pieces on each plate.
    • Drizzle with the honey creme fraiche mixture and sprinkle the top with roasted, chopped almonds.****
    Serves four
    *Can substitute for yogurt.
    **Can be done a day ahead and kept in the fridge.
    ***Or take a short cut and buy it already cut up at the supermarket.
    ****Or any nuts you like. Granola would make a good substitute as well.

    Wednesday, March 14

    St. Patrick's Day Menu Planning

    Modern Irish fare is so much more exciting than the traditional corned beef. Pictured: Grilled Lamb Chops with Roasted Fennel & Mashed Parsnips

    St. Patrick’s Day seems to be more of a drinking holiday rather than an eating one, but if you’re like me, those two activities tend to go hand in hand. This year the holiday (dangerously) falls on a Saturday, and I’m certainly looking forward to the opportunity to wake up with a hearty breakfast and a few mimosas (more to share on that next week). I don't have much experience with Irish food, but I do consider myself knowledgeable on party planning and theme events, so here's a few ideas of things to serve alongside your green beer or Guinness. 

    There can never be too much green on St. Patty's Day, and your food should reflect that. Pictured: Pesto Penne with Kale & Pignolas
    Potatoes are the most famous Irish food (and they're friggin' delicious). Pictured: Perfect Mashed Potatoes
    Rich stews and braises keep with Irish tradition and can be made well ahead of your guests' arrival. Pictured: Braised Leg of Lamb

    Tuesday, March 13

    Lemon & Garlic Lamb Chops

    Now that we rolled our clocks forward, I feel like spring has really sprung. I celebrated with lots of new veggies from our farmer’s market, some bright orange tulips to brighten up our bedroom, and grilled lamb chops. Lamb is such a spring-time food (perfect for an upcoming Easter meal) and stands up really well to a simple but flavorful lemon-garlic marinade. I like to marinate the meat overnight and then quickly grill it right before serving. I paired it with tabbouleh and drizzled some store-bought tzatziki sauce on top for a Mediterranean-inspired meal, but it would also be great alongside some roasted new potatoes or baby vegetables.

    Lemon & Garlic Lamb Chops:
    • Combine the juice of 2 lemons, the lemon halves, 1/4 c. olive oil, 4-5 large chopped garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. dried herbs,* salt, and pepper in a large resealable bag.
    • Add in 1 lb. double-cut lamb chops (about 4 total), seel the bag, and place in the fridge overnight.**
    • Remove the lamb from the marinade and scrape off any large clinging pieces of garlic.
    • Season lightly with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature for 30-60 minutes.
    • Grill chops for 4 minutes a side on a hot grill, or until cooked to your liking.
    • Let rest for 10 minutes, then divide onto plates and drizzle with tzatziki sauce (optional).

    Serves two
    *I used these. You can also use any fresh herbs you have on hand.
    ** Or less, if you don't have time. Turn the meat occassionally to make sure the marinade gets distributed evenly.

    Monday, March 12

    Lentil, Sausage, & Kale Soup

    After weeks of warm weather, we've been threatened with an upcoming cold spell. I made a big pot of lentil, sausage, and kale soup (inspired by this recipe) in anticipation and it seems like there's enough leftovers to eat all week. It's full of chunky vegetables, garlicky sausage, and creamy lentils, so it's almost like a hearty stew rather than soup. It's the perfect thing to curl up with on a chilly night, especially served with some crusty bread to eat alongside.

    Related Recipes:
    - Chicken, Shrimp, & Sausage Jambalaya
    - French Lentils & Sausages
    - Curry Coconut Lentil Soup

    Lentil, Sausage, & Kale Soup: 
    • Heat 2 tbsp. duck fat* in a large dutch oven on high heat.
    • Add in 1 lb. sliced garlic and/or herb chicken sausages** and cook for 4-5 minutes per side, until brown and crispy.
    •  Remove the sausages with a slotted spoon and set aside.
    • Lower heat to medium and add in 1 tbsp. olive oil and add in 1 diced onion, 4 diced carrots, and 4 diced stalks of celery.
    • Cook for 4-5 minutes and add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and cook 1 more minute.
    • Add 1/2 c. red wine and cook for 2-3 minutes while scraping the bottom of the pan.
    • Pour in 4 c. cooked lentils, 5 c. chicken stock,*** 1 tbsp. dried herbs, salt, and pepper.
    • Add in the sausages and 1 bunch of sliced kale and cover the pot with a lid.
    • Simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. 
    • Stir in 3 tbsp. ketchup and 1/4 c. minced fresh parsley and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
    • Divide into bowls and top each with a dash of red wine vinegar. Serve with crusty bread.

    Serves six+
    *Or bacon fat or olive oil.
    **Or any type of sausage you like.
    ***Or vegetable or beef stock, or a combination of both.

    Friday, March 9

    Panko Parmesan Chicken

    Our apartment doesn't have a dishwasher, which makes the cleanup after cooking a big meal quite a buzzkill. I'm always trying to make dishes that don't require using too many pots and pans, so I was thrilled to discover this recipe for parmesan panko chicken. The whole thing can be cooked on a sheetpan lined with tin foil, which makes the cleanup virtually non-existent. I created a quick side of roasted brussels sprouts (leftover from this) on another foil-lined baking sheet in the same oven, too. It's a great meal that's perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, and it's also just 350 calories per serving.

    Panko Parmesan Chicken:
    • Combine 1/4 c. grated Parmesan, 1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 tbsp. minced parsley in a small bowl.
    • Season two 7-8 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place on a foiled-lined baking sheet.
    • Pat the panko mixture on top of each breast and place in a 450°F oven.
    • Roast the chicken for 20-30 minutes*, or until the top is golden and the chicken is just cooked through.
    • Divide onto plates and serve.

    Serves two
    *Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the breasts.