Wednesday, April 30

Farro and Black Rice with Kale & Pine Nuts

A nutty grain salad made with farro, black rice, kale, and pine nuts

Farro Black Rice with Kale and Pinenuts

Suzanne Goin featured a version of this recipe in her A.O.C. Cookbook and said it was one of her favorite and most-craved foods, which immediately had me intrigued. It's a warm grain salad that's a mix of chewy farro and black rice, lightly-cooked kale, and toasted pine nuts. Once the grains are cooked separately, they stir-fry in a hot skillet with some seasoning, which really intensified their flavor and brings out a nuttiness. Thin ribbons of kale and toasted nuts are folded in at the last minute and mix with the grains for perfectly composed bites. Because the farro and black rice are less refined than most grains, the dish really fills you up for a long time. Feel free to experiment with different add ins like dried or fresh fruit, crumbled cheese, roasted vegetables, or different kinds of greens.

Note: The recipe looks long but it actually comes together quite quickly. Most of the steps are for cooking the farro and rice separately, which can be done a few days in advance.

Related Recipes:
- Farro Salad with Tomatoes, Asparagus, & Feta
- Coconut Basmati Rice
- Couscous with Preserved Lemons & Pine Nuts

Farro & Black Rice with Kale & Pinenuts:
For Rice
  • Add 2 tbsp. olive oil,  1/2 minced onion, 1 thinly sliced chile de arbol, and 1 sprig of rosemary to a pot over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent, then add in 3/4 c. of black rice.*
  • Toast the rice for a minute or two, then add in 1/4 c. white wine and cook for a minute, or until it is reduced by half.
  • Add in 1 1/2 c. of water and a large pinch of salt.
  • Bring the water to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 30-35 minutes, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  • Spread the rice out on a large baking sheet to cool.
For Farro
  • Meanwhile, heat another 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/2 minced onion, chile de arbol, and rosemary in a different pot over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the onion for 3-4 minutes, or until translucent, then add in 1 1/2 c. of farro.
  • Toast the farro for a minute or two, then add in 6 c. of water and a large pinch of salt and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until farro is al dente.
  • Drain the farro and then spread out on a large baking sheet to cool.
For Salad
  • Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1 thinly sliced chile de arbol in a large skillet over high heat.
  • Add in the cooled farro and cook, stirring a few times, for 5 minutes, or until the farro has toasted and stir-fried.
  • Add in the cooled black rice and 1 bunch of de-stemmed, thinly sliced kale.
  • Stir until the kale has wilted and rice is warm, about 2 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 c. of toasted pine nuts** and the juice of 1/4 lemon.
  • Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Serves four-six (side dish)
*Found at some high end grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
**To toast nuts, add to a hot skillet for 3-5 minutes, or until the nuts turn lightly golden.

Tuesday, April 29

Grapefruit, Fennel, & Avocado Green Salad

A raw salad made with two types of greens, grapefruit, fennel, and avocado

Grapefruit, Fennel, Avocado Green Salad

Spring is a great season for vegetables (see a list of my favorites), but it's kind of an awkward time for fruit. It's too early for summer favorites like peaches and nectarines and a little too late for special winter citrus, like blood oranges. Luckily, the farmers' market was still selling some juicy ruby red grapefruits, and I was able to snag a big bag of them at a discount. This salad incorporates the grapefruit segments with arugula and frisee lettuce, thinly sliced fennel, and creamy avocado slices. There's an interesting mix of textures and flavors that keeps each bite a little different and exciting. I made a double batch and served half for dinner and layered the other half (grapefruit and fennel on the bottom, then frisee, and then arugula) in a tupperware with a separate container of dressing and it held up perfectly for lunch the next day.

Note: Frisee lettuce isn't everyone's favorite, but I really like its slightly bitter taste and sturdiness. It adds great body to this salad, but you could replace it with endive or radicchio or something else similar.

Related Recipes:
- Butter Lettuce Salad with Cara Cara Orange & Avocado
- Strawberry & Mixed Green Salad
- Corn, Avocado, & Arugula Salad with Jalapeno-Lime Dressing

Arugula & Frisee with Grapefruit, Fennel, & Avocado:
For Dressing
  • Whisk together 3 tbsp. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice* and 1 tsp. dijon mustard.
  • Add in a pinch of salt and pepper, then slowly whisk in 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil.
  • Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Set aside.
For Salad
  • Cut the rind from 2 large ruby red grapefruits, then cut between the segments to make grapefruit supremes.
  • Use a mandoline or sharp knife to thinly slice 1 bulb of cored fennel as thin as possible.
  • In a large salad bowl, combine the fennel with 4 oz. baby arugula and 1 head of chopped frisee lettuce.
  • Toss the mixture with the dressing and season with salt and pepper.
  • Tuck the grapefruit supremes and 1 thinly sliced avocado evenly into the lettuces and serve.

Serves four
*I was able to squeeze this out from the leftover grapefruit after I cut out the segments.

Monday, April 28

Baked Mac & Cheese

Creamy mac and cheese with a crunchy panko crust, inspired by the Barefoot Contessa

Baked Mac and Cheese Barefoot Contessa

Mac and cheese can be a divisive food: everyone loves it but there are many different versions out there and each person has their own definition of what's best. I'm partial to this adaptation of a Barefoot Contessa recipe, which has been my family's go-to mac and cheese for many years now. Apologies for waiting 3 1/2 years on KSD to finally post it! It's a little nontraditional (some might say "fancy") compared to basic recipes from the combination of gruyere and cheddar cheeses and the coating of buttery panko breadcrumbs on top. This is not one of those mac and cheeses where the macaroni is swimming in cheese sauce; instead, each noodle is perfectly coated with a layer of cheesy, creamy sauce and gets a nice crunch from the golden panko. I've even had friends call this mac and cheese "light" before, because it doesn't seem to weigh you down after eating it like some other versions do. It's a must-serve at any tailgate, barbecue, or potluck we host.

Note: This recipe will feed an army. I like to divide some of it into disposable baking pans and store it in the freezer.

Related Recipes:
- Tex-Mex Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Truffle Pappardelle
- Fettuccine with Peas and Garlic Alfredo Sauce

Baked Mac & Cheese with Panko Crust:
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook 1 lb. of cavatappi* until al dente.
  • Simmer 1 quart of whole milk in a pot over the stove.
  • In another large pot, melt 6 tbsp. butter and whisk in 1/2 c. all-purpose flour over low heat.
  • Cook for about 2 minutes, then gradually whisk in the hot milk until lump-free. Continue whisking for a minute or two, until thickened.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in 4 c. grated gruyere cheese, 2 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, and 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg.
  • Drain the noodles, then stir into the sauce.
  • Transfer the mac and cheese to a large baking dish.
  • Stir together 3 tbsp. melted butter and 1 c. panko breadcrumbs, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the mac and cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbling and golden brown.

Serves eight or more
*Or elbow macaroni or similar pasta.

Friday, April 25

Couscous with Pine Nuts & Preserved Lemons

A five-minute side dish featuring couscous, toasted pine nuts, and preserved lemons

Preserved Lemon and Pine Nut Couscous

I've gotten away from couscous in recent years, with a greater focus on substituting ancient grains like quinoa and farro, but this recipe converted me again. Couscous falls somewhere between a grain and pasta, but I generally treat it more like a grain. The best part of making couscous is that it literally takes five minutes to cook - just empty a box into boiling liquid (I like using low-sodium chicken broth for more flavor), cover with a lid, turn off the heat, and in 5 minutes you will have perfect couscous. I added in toasted pine nuts for crunch, preserved lemons for salt and acidity, and chopped cilantro for freshness. We ate it alongside a chicken tagine for a fun, Moroccan-inspired meal at home.

Note: Preserved lemons can be found in some specialty food stores or online here. But it's just as easy to make your own.

Related Recipes:
- Balsamic Vegetable Couscous
- Root Vegetable Quinoa Salad
- Tabbouleh

Couscous with Pine Nuts & Preserved Lemons:
  • Bring 2 c. of low-sodium chicken broth* to a low boil, stir in 2 c. of couscous, turn off the heat, and cover with a lid.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes, then uncover and fluff with a fork.
  • Stir in 1/4 c. toasted pine nuts, the rind from 1/2 preserved lemon, a handful of chopped fresh cilantro.
  • Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.**
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves four-six (side dish)
*Or water or vegetable stock to keep it vegetarian.
**The preserved lemons will already add a lot of salt, so more might not be needed.

Thursday, April 24

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken, Peas, & Fava Beans

This pesto pasta with chicken and vegetables can be served hot or cold

Pesto Orecchiette Pasta with Chicken, Peas, Fava Beans

If you keep a well-stocked pantry and fridge, it's amazing how simple it is to whip up a quick and delicious weeknight meal. This pesto orecchiette was an impromptu weeknight meal that I threw together from a bunch of leftover bits and ends I had in my fridge. I've been getting in the habit of roasting a whole chicken every weekend, which we usually eat half of immediately and then shred the rest to keep in our fridge for snacking and to repurpose for another meal later in the week. I always buy a bag of arugula during my weekly trip to the farmers market, since I add a handful of it to garnish nearly everything I make these days. I also always keep a variety of dried pasta in my cupboards for when there's nothing else to cook (toss with butter and parmesan for the best dirt-cheap meal ever). This dish combines all of them, plus some random vegetables I had lying around and some homemade pesto I also had in the fridge. We ate this warm, but it would be just as good cold or room temperature in pasta salad form. Feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand (or use frozen peas), omit the chicken, or adapt it to whatever is currently taking up real estate in your kitchen.

Related Recipes:
- Pesto and Sundried Tomato Pasta
- Pesto Linguine with Farmers' Market Vegetables
- Pesto Orzo and Vegetable Salad

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken, Peas, & Fava Beans:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with salt.
  • Add in 1 lb. of orecchiette pasta* and cook until al dente.
  • During the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, add 1 c. of fresh shelled peas to the boiling water.
  • Drain the pasta and peas, reserving 1/2 c. pasta cooking water.
  • Return the pasta and peas back to the pot over low heat, along with 1/2 c. shelled fava beans,** 1 c. cooked and shredded chicken, 1/2 c. pesto sauce, and some of the pasta water.
  • Stir to combine and until the pesto coats everything. Add more pasta water as needed to moisten and salt and pepper as needed.
  • At the last minute, stir in a few handfuls of wild arugula.
  • Divide the pasta onto plates and sprinkle with a little bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Serves four-six
*Or any small pasta, such as small shells.
**To prepare favas, remove them from their pod, add to boiling water for 1 minute, and then slip the beans out of their tough outer skins.

Wednesday, April 23

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Chicken simmered in a Moroccan spice blend with olives and preserved lemons

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives and Preserved Lemons

This is a great recipe for anyone who is stuck in a chicken rut or who is looking for a unique dinner party dish. After all, how common is it to serve Moroccan food to your friends and family? I originally had the idea to cook a tagine after Googling ways to use my preserved lemons and put together this version based on my favorite elements from the different recipes I read. Tagines get their name for the special type of cooking vessel they are traditionally made in, but I adapted the recipe for use in an large heavy pot or dutch oven. The chicken legs are browned and then simmered with sauteed onions in a sauce made from chicken stock, preserved lemons, and spices. The olives and preserved lemons add a wonderful salty briny flavor, so hold off on adding too much additional salt until you taste it at the end.  Make sure that you serve the tagine with couscous, rice, or flatbread to soak up the amazing sauce.

Note: Preserved lemons can be found in some specialty food stores or online here. But it's just as easy to make your own.

More One-Pot Chicken Recipes:
- Braised Chicken with Mushrooms
- Roasted Lemon Chicken & Sunchokes
- Chicken with Fig & Wine Sauce

Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Olives & Preserved Lemon:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add in 4 whole chicken legs* and sear for 3-4 minutes per side, or until browned.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside.
  • Add in 2 sliced onions and lower the heat to medium.
  • Cook for 4-5 minutes, or until softened. 
  • Add in 3 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in the pulp from 1 preserved lemon, 2 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper.
  • Let the spices toast for a minute, then add in 1 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken stock and scrape and bits from the bottom of the pot.
  • Add in the chicken and any accumulated juices, bring to a boil, and then lower to a simmer.**
  • Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in 1/2 c. green olives and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • Divide onto plates and sprinkle each with a little chopped preserved lemon rind and chopped cilantro.

Serves four
*Bone-in drumsticks with the thigh attached. Can replace with 4 chicken drumsticks and 4 bone-in thighs.
**The chicken shouldn't be fully submerged, but the liquid should come up to about half.

Tuesday, April 22

Preserved Lemons

A salty, tart condiment that adds fresh flavor to braises, pastas, vegetables, and more

Preserved Lemons

For someone who has an overly abundant lemon tree, it''s taken me way too long to make my own preserved lemons. Now that they're ready, I can't stop adding them to all of my dishes for a unique salty and tangy flavor that wakes up just about any meal. I've been hesitant about canning my own produce because it always seemed like a lot of work (not to mention all those intimidating warnings about sterilizing the jars beforehand) but making preserved lemons was so simple. I just ran the jar through a hot dishwasher, stuffed some quartered lemons with salt, and packed them as tightly as I could into the jar. The whole process took me about 10 minutes - the hard part was waiting for three weeks until they were preserved and ready to use. See my notes below for some ideas on how to prep and use the finished product and stay tuned for some great recipes utilizing them soon!

How To Prepare & Use Preserved Lemons:
- Remove any remaining seeds and rinse the lemon with water to remove any excess salt.
- Most of the flesh of the lemon dissolves during the preservation, but any remaining flash can be scraped off and minced before getting stirred into sauces or dips.
- Finely dice the lemon rind and sprinkle into rice or pasta dishes, on top of braised meats, or onto roasted vegetables.
- Try using a twist of preserved lemons instead of olives in martinis.

Preserved Lemons:
  • Sterilize a glass mason jar or canning jar.
  • Scrub 6-10 organic lemons* until very clean.
  • Cut the lemons into quarters without cutting through entirely so that each lemon is still intact.
  • Remove any visible seeds, then stuff the lemons with kosher salt.
  • Add a thin layer of kosher salt to the bottom of the jar, then add in the salted lemons, squishing them down to release some juice and pack them as tight as possible.
  • Fill the entire jar up with lemons, and add in more lemon juice if necessary to completely submerge the lemons.
  • Tightly screw on a lid and sit at room temperature for 2 days, turning upside down occasionally.
  • Transfer to a fridge and let them preserve for 2-3 weeks before using.
  • Lemons will keep in the fridge for several months.

Make as many as you like
*You will be eating the peel of the lemons, so you don't want any that have been treated with wax or pesticides.

Monday, April 21

Oven "Fried" Chicken

An easy alternative to traditional fried chicken that's just as juicy and crispy

Oven Fried Chicken from Food52

This recipe (adapted from Food52) is a great alternative to fried chicken for people who don't like to deep fry. This oven "fried" chicken isn't actually fried at all, but is seared in a pan and then baked in the oven instead. First the chicken sits in a simple brine for a few hours, which helps to flavor the meat and keep it moist while cooking. Then it gets dried off, shaken in a bag seasoned flour, and then browned in a pan of melted butter before making its final trip to the oven. The breading is lighter and thinner than traditional fried chicken, which usually goes through a three-coat breading process, but it stays flavorful and crispy. And I love the mess-free process (and fun!) of shaking the chicken in a bag of flour. This is a great recipe to make for friends and family and I found that leftover chicken reheated well in a hot oven.

Related Recipes:
- Fried Chicken
- Mustard Chicken Milanese
- Chicken Parmesan

Oven "Fried" Chicken:
  • Dissolve 1 tbsp. kosher salt in 3 1/2 c. cold water in a large tupperware container.
  • Cut up a whole chicken into 8 pieces* so that you have 2 drumsticks, 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and 2 wings and add the chicken to the salted water.
  • Let the chicken brine in the fridge for 4 hours or up to overnight.
  • Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Remove the chicken from the brine and pat until completely dry with paper towels.
  • In a large resealable plastic bag, add in 1 c. all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp. paprika, 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper.
  • Add in a few pieces of chicken at a time and shake the bag to coat the meat with the flour.
  • Meanwhile, melt 4 tbsp. butter in a large heavy pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add in the chicken a few pieces at a time and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, or until the chicken is browned.
  • Transfer the browned chicken to a sheet pan and repeat until all the chicken is browned.
  • Put the sheet pan of chicken in the oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, or until chicken is crispy and cooked through.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve.

Serves four or more
*Or have a butcher do this for you. You can also make this with all thighs, drumsticks, or breasts if you prefer.

Thursday, April 17

Easter Brunch Recipes

Easy make-ahead recipes for a delicious Easter brunch

Easter Brunch Recipe Ideas

Easter has got to be the number one brunch holiday of the year. Whether or not you're religious, it's a great excuse to get together with friends and family and enjoy a springtime meal together. Brunch is one of my favorite meals to entertain for because you can still host a party, clean up, take a nap, and have the rest of the night to yourself. The key to an easy Easter brunch is to prepare as much as possible in advance (many of these recipes can be made the night before) and serve things family style. Rather than making a bunch of scrambled eggs or pancakes to order, whip up a crowd-pleasing vegetable frittata or bake a big batch of french toast in the oven. These simple recipes will wow your guests ... and they'll have no idea how easy they were to make!

Easter Brunch Recipes:
  • Mini Spinach & Onion Frittatas - Bite-size frittatas made in muffin pans for easy portioning. This recipe is made with sautéed spinach and onions, but feel free to use whatever flavor combination you like.
  • Baked Cinnamon Walnut French Toast - This cross between french toast and bread pudding feeds a crowd and is baked in the oven so that you can enjoy time with your guests instead of being glued to the stove. 
  • Potato Pancake with Smoked Salmon & Greens - A giant hash brown cake makes an impressive presentation and can easily be cut into wedges to serve guests.
  • Lemon Yogurt Cake - This cake works as well for dessert as it does for breakfast. Serve with farmers' market berries to really take it to the next level.

**See my full list of breakfast and brunch recipes here.

Wednesday, April 16

Spaghetti with Asparagus & Poached Egg

An easy weeknight meal with buttered pasta, tender asparagus, and a poached egg

Spaghetti with Asparagus and Poached Egg

My husband and I try and make it a priority to have dinner together every night after work, but I recently had a rare night alone and made this easy spaghetti dish. This is the kind of food that I love - carbs, vegetables, and a perfectly poached farmers' market egg - but that my meat-loving husband doesn't appreciate as much. It makes a great dinner for one, although I adjusted the recipe to serve two. Everything except for the egg is cooked in the same pot: first the pasta gets added to boiling water, then the asparagus gets thrown in during the last minute, then everything gets drained and added back to the pot with some butter and parmesan to create a sauce. This leaves just a few dishes to do after dinner, which is a must for any single person meal. I took the bowl onto the couch and ate it in front of the TV and it made for a perfect night alone.

More Vegetarian Pasta Recipes:
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio with Romanesco
- Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto
- Mushroom Marsala & Artichoke Pasta

Spaghetti with Asparagus and Poached Egg:
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and cook 1/2 lb. of spaghetti until al dente.
  • Trim the tough bottom ends off 1 bunch of thin asparagus and throw into the boiling water with the spaghetti during the last minute or two of cooking.
  • Drain the pasta and asparagus and reserve 1/2 c. pasta cooking water. 
  • Place pasta and asparagus back in the pot over low heat and add in 2 tbsp. of butter, /4 c. grated parmesan cheese, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a little of the pasta water.
  • Stir until the butter is melted and thin sauce coats the noodles, adding more pasta water if necessary.
  • Divide onto plates and top each with a poached egg.*
  • To eat, break up the egg with your fork and toss with the pasta to coat it with some of the soft egg yolk.
Serves two
*See how to perfectly poach an egg here.

Tuesday, April 15

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

Tender, flakey buttermilk biscuits make a delicious breakfast or dinner side

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

My husband is an avid golfer and sports fan, so the final day of the Masters tournament is one of his favorite Sundays of the year. In honor of the Augusta location and my excitement over adhering to a theme for every small event, I made some Southern food for us to lunch on while we were watching the TV. These biscuits, adapted from an Alton Brown recipe, were a huge hit and so simple to make. The key to making the dough is to make sure that all the ingredients, especially the butter, stays cold before baking. The clumps of cold butter create steam while they bake, which leads to flakey layers of biscuit. I like to split the warm biscuits open and slather them with a little soft butter and local honey, but they also make great little sandwiches to fill with ham or turkey. Any leftover biscuits are great to have with jam the next morning.

More Recipes for Southern Food:
- Smothered Chicken
- Buttermilk Cornbread
- Chicken, Sausage, & Shrimp Jambalaya

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits:
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Stir together 2 c. all-purpose flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. sugar, 3/4 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 c. baking soda in a mixing bowl.
  • Dice 4 tbsp. of very cold butter and then use your fingers or a pastry cutter to quickly work the butter into the flour mixture until the largest pieces of butter are the size of small peas.
  • Form a well into the center of the mixture and pour in 1 c. of cold buttermilk and stir until the mixture comes together in a ball.
  • Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 1" thick rectangle.
  • Cut the dough into rounds* and place on the baking sheet.
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter and brush on top of each biscuit, then transfer to the oven.
  • Cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and turn lightly golden.
  • Let cool slightly, then serve with butter, jam, honey, etc.

Makes 6-8 biscuits
*I didn't have a round cookie cutter, so I used the top of a drinking glass. You can also cut the dough into squares.

Monday, April 14

Bahamian Jerk Chicken Skewers with Mango-Avocado Salsa

Spiced grilled chicken skewers with a sweet salsa, inspired by our trip to Abaco

Bahamian Jerk Chicken

This is another recipe inspired by our trip to Abaco in March. We had a chef come to our house and cook a few nights while we were there, and we all loved the jerk chicken skewers she made for us. I had gotten in the habit of going over to the kitchen after we ate and asking for the recipes to some of the dishes we had, and she would happily rattle off the ingredients and steps in a relaxed way, never specifying actual measurements. For the jerk chicken, she said, "it's just chicken and jerk seasoning and a little oil", so that's exactly how I made it at home. Unlike Jamaican jerk seasoning, Bahamian jerk is not very spicy and focuses more on the flavors of allspice and cinnamon than hot peppers. I ended up using the jerk chicken and fish seasoning from Penzey's Spices and thought that is was a close match to what we had on our trip. For a little California spin on the dish, I like to serve the chicken with a mango and avocado salsa spooned on top. The sweet and creamy relish adds a ton of flavor and texture to the grilled meat and really makes the dish special.

More Recipes from Our Trip to the Bahamas:
- Bahamian Peas and Rice
- Lobster Hash

Bahamian Jerk Chicken Skewers with Mango-Avocado Salsa:
For Salsa
  • Peel and dice 1 large, ripe mango (or 2 small) and mince 1/2 Fresno chile and put in a bowl.
  • Add in 2 peeled and diced ripe avocados and 1 tsp. lime juice and gently toss together.
  • Set aside.*
For Chicken
  • Cut 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 2 inch pieces.
  • Toss the chicken with 1/4 c. jerk seasoning, 1-2 tbsp. canola oil, and salt,** making sure to rub the seasoning well into the meat.
  • Thread the chicken pieces onto 8 skewers, dividing the chicken evenly among them.
  • Ideally, let the chicken rest in the fridge for a few hours and then let sit at room temperature 20 minutes before grilling.
  • Heat a grill to high and cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes per side, or until the outside has charred in some areas and the inside is cooked through.
  • Let the chicken rest for a few minutes, then serve with the mango-avocado salsa.

Serves four
*Don't prepare the salsa more than 45 minutes in advance or the avocados will turn brown.
**My jerk seasoning didn't include salt, so I added it separately. Check your seasoning's label before adding salt.

Friday, April 11

Revisited Recipe: Green Eggs & Ham

I have over 600 recipes (and growing) in the Kitchen Sink Diaries archive. Some of them have been tweaked and improved since their original post or were just really special to begin with. These revisited recipes are some of my all-time favorites that deserve a second look.

Green Eggs and Ham

This "Green Eggs & Ham" recipe is one of my favorite brunch dishes of all time. I've ordered the original version of this dish from a local cafe, Huckleberry, countless times and it never fails, but it's just as easy to make at home. English muffins are split and toasted, then topped with thin slices of prosciutto, fried eggs, pesto, and arugula. The butteriness of the prosciutto and runny egg yolks add a richness that works really well with the fresh pesto and peppery greens. It's essential to use homemade pesto or a fresh store-bought pesto (usually found in the refrigerated section by the cheese) - I've tried to cheat with a bottled version and it completely threw off the whole recipe. To speed up breakfast assembly, I make the pesto a day or two before and keep it in the fridge. The rest of the recipe can be made in under five minutes, as the only cooking required is frying the eggs and toasting the muffins. It's the perfect thing to whip up on a lazy weekend morning or even for a late brunch, since the savoriness of the pesto and greens lends itself nicely to an afternoon meal.

English Muffins with Eggs, Prosciutto, & Pesto:
  • 2 English muffins
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 thin slices of prosciutto
  • 1/4 c. of pesto
  • 2-3 handfuls of arugula
  • A pat of butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
Serves two, but can easily be multiplied

Thursday, April 10

Asparagus Pizza

Whole wheat dough topped with mozzarella, asparagus, scallions, and arugula

Whole Wheat Asparagus Pizza

I've been spring vegetable crazy lately (see a list of my favorite spring veg recipes here) and this pizza was a great way to use up some of the bounty from our latest farmers' market trip. Just like eggs or pasta, pizza dough is a great canvas to add pretty much anything to. I go the extra step and make homemade dough, but it takes five minutes to throw together the night before and is definitely worth the minimal extra effort. This is a white pizza because I think that tomato sauce would complicate the tender flavors of the vegetables but it would be any easy change to throw in some sauce or drape a little prosciutto on top or customize it just about any way you like. I love the peppery addition of the arugula on top, which also eliminates the need for a side salad. It make a great one-dish meal and would also be a perfect party appetizer for a spring soiree.

Related Recipes:
- Whole Wheat Corn & Shishito Pepper Pizza
- Wild Mushroom & Caramelized Onion Pizza
- Spicy Broccoli & Onion Pizza

Whole Wheat Asparagus Pizza:
  • Preheat the oven to 425F.
  • Dust a surface with flour and roll out one ball of whole wheat pizza dough* to about 1/4" thick.
  • Transfer to dough to a lightly-floured baking sheet and top with a layer (about 1 1/2 c.) of grated mozzarella cheese.
  • Cut 1 bunch of thin asparagus in half lengthwise and thinly slice 2 scallions and scatter over the pizza.
  • Sprinkle 1/4 c. of grated parmesan cheese on top and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the cheese has melted and started to bubble along the edges.
  • Let cool slightly, then sprinkle with a handful or two of wild arugula and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cut into pieces and serve.

Serves two-three
*Homemade or fresh store bought.

Wednesday, April 9

Three Exciting Weekday Lunch Ideas

It's possible to bring delicious, healthy meals to work with these easy recipes and ideas

Exciting Weekday Lunch Ideas

Is there anything more depressing than eating a boring weekday lunch? Lunch should be a relaxing break from workday chaos and if I bring a lunch that doesn't excite me, I'm more likely to spend the rest of the days feeling unsatisfied. I try to bring my lunch at least three days a week, and find that it makes life a lot easier if I do a little planning over the weekend. With these make-ahead recipes and ideas, it's easy to bring healthy and exciting lunches all week.

Bonus: Bringing food saves precious time during my lunch hour and actually gives me time to relax and disconnect from work. I like to take my lunch outside and enjoy the sun, read a book, or take a walk around the neighborhood next to my office.

Three Exciting Weekday Lunch Ideas:
  • Grain salads - It's hard for me to get excited about eating a simple green salad for lunch, but adding in grains like farro or quinoa add bulk and nutrients and keep me full. And they won't get soggy, so you don't have to store the dressing separately. 
  • Soup - I'm a big fan of eating a hot lunch, and soup is a great option. I try and make a big batch on Sunday afternoon so that I can get three or four lunches out of it. I pack a piece of bread and some fruit to round it out. 
  • Soba Noodles - Leftover noodles can be enjoyed cold or at room temperature and make a great canvas for any leftover vegetables or meat you have in your fridge. Because soba noodles are made of buckwheat, you won't crash from the carbs mid-afternoon. 

Tuesday, April 8

Pesto-Dijon Salmon

Roasted salmon fillets topped with a flavorful pesto-mustard-lemon sauce

Pesto-Dijon-Lemon Salmon

This recipe is about as perfect as it gets for a simple weeknight meal. It's inspired by something I saw Geoffrey Zakarian make on The Kitchen and you know it's going to be good if it was developed by an Iron Chef. Just mix together some pesto, mustard, and lemon, spoon it over salmon, bake in the oven for 10 minutes, and - voila! - dinner is ready. The pesto and mustard combo is tangy and bright and melts over the salmon while it's cooking to form a flavorful glaze. Try it out on other types of fish or chicken, too. I made a big batch of homemade pesto earlier in the week and used it for pastas, sandwiches, and etc. for several days, since this recipe didn't require more than a few tablespoons. It calls for skinless salmon, so there's no worrying about crisping it in a hot skillet, and the lower oven temperature is much more forgiving to the delicate fish (i.e. it's much harder to overcook it). It's one of those multi-functional recipes that's easy to whip up on your busiest weeknight but is still elegant enough for company.

Related Recipes:
- Roasted Salmon with Green Harissa Sauce
- Grilled Chicken with Salsa Verde
- Panko and Herb-Crusted Salmon

Pesto-Dijon-Lemon Roasted Salmon:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • In a small bowl, stir together 3 tbsp. pesto,* 1 tbsp. dijon mustard, and 1 tsp. lemon juice.
  • Brush a small baking sheet with softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the skin and pin bones from two 6 oz. salmon fillets (or have your fishmonger do this for you).
  • Place the salmon on the baking sheet, brush the top with a little more softened butter and season with salt and pepper.
  • Gently spoon the pesto sauce on top of each fillet.
  • Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked through.
  • Divide onto plates and serve with a wedge of lemon.

Serves two
*Homemade or freshly prepared from the store.

Monday, April 7

Bahamian Peas & Rice

My version of a Bahamian staple made with white rice and fresh peas

Bahamian Peas and Rice

We ate a lot of great food in the Bahamas last month (see full recap here), but peas and rice was probably the most common item on the menu. It's a staple in Bahamian cooking and consists of rice and peas - often black-eyed peas - cooked with vegetables and spices. This is my version of the dish, although it's not entirely authentic. Bacon, onion, bell pepper, and tomato paste form the base for long grain white rice and fresh green peas. Fresh peas aren't usually used in peas and rice, but they're in season now and add a wonderful freshness to the recipe. It makes a filling side dish alongside chicken or fish and leftovers are even more flavorful the next day. It's a great way to add a little island flair to your next family meal or dinner party.

Related Recipes:
- Coconut Rice
- Broccoli Fried Brown Rice
- Risotto Carbonara with Peas

Bahamian Peas & Rice:
  • Heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat.
  • Add in 3 strips of diced thick-cut bacon and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until crisp and most of the fat has rendered.
  • Add in 1 diced onion, 1 diced green bell pepper, and 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent.
  • Add 2 heaping tbsp. tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the paste turns a rusty brown color.
  • Add in 2 c. long grain white rice, 3 c. of water, and a generous pinch of salt.
  • Bring to a boil, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot, then lower to a low simmer and cover with a lid.
  • Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until mostly cooked, then add in 1 c. of fresh peas.*
  • Cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender.
  • Fluff with a fork, adjust seasoning as needed, and keep warm until serving.

Serves six-eight (side dish)
*Or frozen.

Friday, April 4

Risotto Carbonara with Peas

The only thing better than spaghetti carbonara is risotto carbonara

Risotto is already one of my favorite comfort foods, but this carbonara version is the ultimate. Adapted from a recipe in The A.O.C. Cookbook, creamy rice is studded with chunks of tender bacon and pancetta and fresh peas. All the traditional components of spaghetti carbonara are present, including a few egg yolks that get stirred in at the last minute to add even more richness. The peas and pea tendrils keep the risotto from feeling too heavy and add a nice burst of freshness and sweetness next to the salty bacon. I made this for lunch over the weekend and we savored our bowls outside with a bottle of white wine before enjoying a glorious afternoon nap. It made us nostalgic for the long lunches we enjoyed during our honeymoon in Europe and is a feeling we hope to recreate over many sunny afternoons in our backyard this spring.

Related Recipes:
- Spaghetti Carbonara
- Deconstructed Spaghetti Carbonara
- Fettuccine with Peas & Garlic Alfredo Sauce

Risotto Carbonara with Peas:
  • Remove the peas from 1 lb. of fresh English pea pods.
  • Bring 4 c. of low-sodium chicken stock to a simmer in a pot on the stove.
  • In another heavy pot or dutch oven, add in 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/3lb. of diced bacon or pancetta, or a mix of both.
  • Cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
  • Add in 1 diced yellow onion and cook for another 7-8 minutes, or until the onion is soft and the bacon has browned.
  • Add in 1 1/2 c. of aborio rice and stir to coat with the bacon fat. Let the rice toast for a couple minutes, then stir in 1/4 c. of white wine.
  • Stir until wine has evaporated, then lower to medium-low heat. Immediately add in a ladleful of simmering stock and stir until mostly absorbed.
  • Continue ladling stock and stirring until the rice is al dente and a creamy, starchy sauce is coating each grain.
  • Stir in the shelled peas and cook for another few minutes, then turn off the heat.
  • Immediately stir in 3 egg yolks, 1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese, and salt and black pepper as needed.
  • In another small skillet, melt a pat of butter and add in a bunch of pea tendrils* and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute or two until wilted.
  • To serve, spoon some of the risotto into a shallow bowl and top with some of the pea tendrils.

Serves four
*Optional, but they are a great addition if you can find them.

Thursday, April 3

Asparagus Gratin

Asparagus baked in a creamy parmesan sauce

Asparagus Gratin

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables to make since it requires almost no prep time and cooks very quickly. Usually I simply roast it by tossing it on a sheet pan with salt and pepper, but this gratin is an easy step up that really packs a wow factor. Make a quick roux, stir in some dairy and parmesan, and pour the creamy sauce over the asparagus before baking. The cheesy sauce bubbles and turns lightly golden while the asparagus roast to a nice crisp-tenderness. It's one of those impressive side dishes that will turn a normal roast chicken dinner into a fancy and exciting meal.

Related Recipes:
- Potato Gruyere Gratin
- Asparagus with Poached Eggs & Crispy Onions
- Summer Squash Gratin

Asparagus Gratin:
  • Preheat the oven to 400F.
  • Trim the tough ends from the bottom of a large bunch of medium-thick asparagus* and arrange in a snug single layer in a baking dish. 
  • Sprinkle the asparagus with salt and pepper.
  • In a small pot, melt 1 tbsp. of butter and then whisk in 1 tbsp. of all-purpose flour.
  • Whisk the mixture until smooth and cook for another 1 minute.
  • Gradually whisk in 3/4 c. of half and half** until smooth and slightly thickened.
  • Turn off the heat, then whisk in 3 tbsp. of grated parmesan cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Pour the sauce of the asparagus, then sprinkle with another 2 tbsp. of grated parmesan and 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves.
  • Bake for 12 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and sauce has browned slightly.

Serves four (side dish)
*If using thinner asparagus, cook for less time.
**Or whole milk.

Wednesday, April 2

Crab & Fava Bean Omelet

A spring omelet that works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

Crab and Fava Bean Omelet

Eggs are always a mainstay in my diet, but lately I've been really into making omelets. This is a slightly fancy version, given the addition of lump crab meat and fresh fava beans. Combined with a bit of scallions and fresh-from-the-farmers-market eggs, it's a wonderful spring dish. It makes a great light meal for lunch or dinner, but there's something extra decadent about eating crab for breakfast.  It will change the way you experience the rest of the day, especially if you pair it with a mimosa.

Tip: The key to a great omelet is to spend the extra minute to really whip the eggs until completely smooth and slightly paler in color. This will cause the omelet to rise slightly and have a light fluffiness.

Related Recipes:
 - Fava Bean, Asparagus & Goat Cheese Omelet
- Crab Salad with Poached Eggs on English Muffins
- French Potato Omelette

Crab & Fava Bean Omelet:
  • Whisk together 6 eggs, 1/4 c. half and half,* 1 tsp. lemon zest, and a large pinch of salt and pepper until it turns an even light yellow color in a mixing bowl.
  • In another bowl, stir together 1/4 lb. of cooked lump crab meat, 1/4 c. shelled fava beans,** 1 thinly sliced scallion, and a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper.
  • Melt a pat of butter in a small skillet over medium heat and pour in half of the eggs. 
  • Swirl the pan so that a thin, even layer of eggs covers the whole skillet.
  • After about a minute, spoon half of the crab mixture down the center of the eggs.
  • Once eggs are mostly set, fold the outer halves of the omelette into the center of the omelet like a letter.
  • Gently flip the omelette once and continue to cook until the eggs are just set.
  • Transfer the omelette to a warm plate and repeat with remaining eggs and crab.

Serves two
*Or any milk or cream you have.
**To shell favas, remove from their pod, then add the beans to boiling water for 2 minutes. Rinse them immediately with cool water and then slip the beans out of their tough outer skin.

Tuesday, April 1

Roasted Clams with Favas & Sherry

A Spanish-inspired dish full of spring flavor from The A.O.C. Cookbook

AOC Roasted Clams with Fava Beans and Sherry

Steamed clams and mussels are one of my favorite foods, so I was thrilled to check this recipe from The A.O.C. Cookbook off my list. Here, the clams are steamed in dry sherry (instead of the usual white wine) and flavored with some of spring's best produce: fresh fava beans and green garlic. The whole dish in cooked in a single pan (I used my cast iron skillet) and roasted in the oven instead of the typical stovetop method. It makes for a beautiful presentation and fun, interactive meal with friends. Make sure to serve with a generous amount of toasted bread to mop up all the sauce; I never feel like we have enough. Open up a bottle of white wine and enjoy!

Related Recipes:
- Springy Linguine and Clams
- Fava Beans, Meyer Lemon, & Parmesan Farro
- Malaysian Black Pepper Clams

Roasted Clams with Favas & Sherry:
  • Remove the beans from 1 1/2 lbs. of fava beans in their pods.
  • Add the beans to a pot of boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  • Slip the beans outside of their outer skin.*
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Add 1/4 c. of olive oil to a large skillet or round baking dish, then toss in the favas, 4 heads of thinly sliced green garlic,** 2 sliced or crumbled chiles de arbol, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Cook the fava mixture in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse and scrub 3 lbs. of manila clams.
  • Arrange the clams on top of the favas in the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Pour 1 c. dry sherry over the clams and cook for 7-8 minutes, basting once.
  • Scatter 1 stick of cold, cubed butter over the clams and change your oven to the broiler.
  • Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the clams have fully opened. Baste once.***
  • Sprinkle with a handful of thinly sliced scallions and minced parsley.
  • Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Serves two - four (main course)
Serves six or more (appetizer)
*Beans can be prepped a few days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
**Also known as spring garlic. Can substitute for 5-6 cloves of regular garlic.
***It might take a little more or less time depending on your clams and oven. My oven wasn't getting hot enough so I ended up finishing them on high heat on the stove for the last few minutes.