Chicken & Zucchini Cakes

chicken zucchini

Lately it seems Monday through Friday’s menu has fallen into a very predictable pattern. This is a recipe I randomly stumbled upon on a food blog that focuses on cooking with a spiralizer (if you don’t own a spiralizer yet, amazon prime it immediately- they are so quick & fun to use-even my mom was an instant big fan). Zucchini noodles are one of the most frequent vegetables I use in our spiralizer, however I feel like I always end up creating the same type of noodle when cooking with them. I was intrigued by this recipe because they chose to grate the zucchini instead, which I might add,  makes A LOT when finely grated. This is super quick to make, so a great alternative to your usual week night meals.

What I loved most about this dish is how entirely wholesome it is, with four basic ingredients; ground chicken, zucchini, green onion, and cilantro.The only adjustment I would make to these cakes the next go around, would be to serve them with some type of dipping sauce. We ended up using hot sauce, but I was thinking a jalapeno hummus type of dip would be great to serve with them. Or even better, you could turn this into a burger, with a toasted bun and spicy tartar sauce on top.

Chicken & Zucchini Cakes (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground chicken breast
  • 2 grated zucchinis (leave peel on)
  • 1 bunch of green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup of cilantro, minced
  • 3 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¾ tsp cumin
  • 3 table spoons of olive oil, for cooking
 Instructions:
  1. In a bowl, toss ground chicken with zucchini, green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt & pepper, and cumin. The mixture will be quite wet.
  2. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Roll the mixture into medium to large sized meatballs.
  3. Cook  for about 5-6 minutes on the first side. Flip and cook an additional 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and the centers are cooked through.
20160410_190709
Here’s how we all felt by the time Friday rolled around…..

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

When all you really want is Chicken Parm…

chicken bruschetta

Chicken Parmesan might be one of my all time favorite things on this earth. But when you order it on a Saturday night out (like we did), you can’t make it again for dinner on Sunday. Therefore, we improvised and gave it a twist with this Panko Crusted Chicken, Tomato & Fennel dish. We skipped the cheese, added fresh toppings, and swapped out breadcrumbs for our favorite ingredient, PANKO. If you haven’t cooked with panko before, I highly recommend trying it. I bet you won’t even notice the difference! This dish is great to re heat the next day for lunch might I add. Lately, I’m trying to really make dishes that can carry us through at least one extra day of leftovers. Nick heats it up at work, but I actually prefer it cold the next day. We served the meal with a simple side salad using leftover vegetables in the fridge, and of course topped it with our home made balsamic dressing.

chicken bruschetta 2

Panko Crusted Chicken with Tomato & Fennel Bruschetta

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied (sliced thinly in two)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 egg (well beaten)
  • Flour, chili powder, oregano, fennel seed, salt, pepper

For the bruschetta:

  • 1 bulb fennel
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tomatoes (scrape out insides or bruschetta will get soggy)
  • 2 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • small pinch chili flakes
  • generous pinch salt
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions for chicken:

1) Butterfly the chicken breasts to get 4 thin sliced pieces (sometimes you can just buy the thin-sliced breasts). Salt & pepper generously.

2) Get 3 bowls ready…

a) one with 1 cup of flower with 1 tbsp of chili powder.

b)  one with a beaten egg

c) one with 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp of fennel seeds.

3) Add each chicken breast to bowls 1, 2, and 3 in order, making sure to coat well each time.

4) Cook in a non-stick skillet over medium heat until golden (~7 mins per side). If the panko starts to burn, turn heat down to low and keep cooking.

Instructions for fennel bruschetta:

1) Use a mandolin the thinly slice the fennel bulb and red onion (if you don’t have one, slice them as thinly as possible.) Make sure to preserve the leaves of the fennel for later (add at the very end, or they get soggy.)

2) Saute the garlic with olive oil, until just golden.

3) Combine the fennel, onion, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, and spices. I’m gonna be honest… You might need to adjust the spices, lemon juince, and vinegar… I just improvised so not sure the proportions are exactly right. Don’t do this too far in advance, or it’ll get soggy.

We had a really great weekend with Charlotte, as Spring is in full force here in NYC. Park visits have become even more frequent (if that was at all possible), and we have started to use our rooftop. It’s getting us really excited for summer, picnics in the park, swim lessons for Charlotte, and Friday happy hours on the roof. Last summer I was pregnant, so needless to say I’m a tad excited to really enjoy this summer, and not feel like a sweaty, nervous whale! Below are a few pics Nick captured over the weekend.

IMG_2845

IMG_2851

IMG_2862

 

Orchiette w/ Fennel, Sausage, & Red Pepper

orchiette sausage 3 - Copy

So I can’t take credit for this dish, because it was 100% Nick’s creation and under taking. My only actual role in this recipe was to buy the ingredients. We hadn’t made a really good pasta dish in awhile, so I told Nick to pick his favorite one and we’d treat our selves on Friday night. We had our friends over for a nice double date, welcoming them to the neighborhood (yay for recruiting west village folks uptown). This was the perfect dish to over indulge in after a long week, because it is based in olive oil, so you don’t feel as guilty. Might I add we scraped the bowl clean, then finished the night off with four different cakes from a diner down the street. YUM!

Lil miss Char only got to play with our guests for about 20 minutes before it was bed time. I think both Charlotte and myself were a tad run down this week. We had 3 play dates this week, which is much busier than usual. We went to music class, visited Brooklyn, ventured to the Central Park Zoo with friends, and explored some new play ground swings. Hmmm maybe mama overbooked us? I’m pretty sure that explains our exhaustion.

Orchiette w/ Fennel, Sausage, & Red pepper

Ingredients:

  • 1 box orchiette
  • 2 sweet italian sausages
  • 1 spicy italian sausage
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 bulbs fennel (cut into cubes about the size of the orchiette)
  • 1 yellow onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (sliced thinly)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 bunch parsley (chopped)
  • salt, pepper, chili flakes, thyme extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fresh grated parmesan

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425. Toss the fennel with some olive oil with a pinch of salt & pepper. Roast on a baking sheet until soft, ~25 mins.
  2.  Start boiling the water with a generous amount of salt. You can start the rest of the recipe while the fennel is roasting and while you wait for the water to boil.
  3. Remove the filling from the sausages and saute in a large saucepan w/ 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, until well browned. Crumble the sausage into smaller pieces, so they’re about the size of the orchiette. Remove the sausage from the pan, preserving the left over oil.
  4. Add the garlic, onion, and red pepper to the pan, with a generous pinch of salt, pepper and dried chili flates, saute until just golden (3-4 mins). Sprinkle 2 Tbsp flour over the sauteed veggies, stirring well, until they start brown again (~1 min).
  5. While preparing the sauce, you can start boiling the pasta, cook until al dente (not quite fully cooked… it will cook a little more in the sauce).
  6. Add white wine and 1 tsp dried thyme to the veggies, bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce until most of the wine is gone (~10 mins). Add the chicken stock and the cooked sausage to the pan, reduce again until most liquid is gone (another 5-10 mins). At this point you should have a reasonably thick, almost like glazed veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Add the bread crumbs, mix well, and toast until golden. stir frequently, approx. 2 mins.
  8.  Add the pasta and roasted fennel to the mixture, tossing lightly. Cook all together for 1-2 mins. Transfer to a large bowl, toss with the parsley.
  9.  Serve in bowls, sprinkling toasted breadcrumbs and parm on top.

orchiette sausage 4.JPG

 

IMG_4501IMG_4481IMG_4457

orchiette sausage 1.JPG

Blackened Cod with Cauli Mash….

blackened cod 1

TGIF Everybody!!! I’m not going to lie, I’m really jazzed about this recipe! Maybe because Nick and I went into it with low expectations. I mean how great can you really make a white fish taste at home?? I went to the grocery store and was actually shocked at just how expensive white fish has become. Literally, bass, halibut, snapper, grouper etc were all at about 30$/lb. When did this happen? And then there was Tilapia, which was strangely only 8$/lb (the fact that it is so much cheaper, kind of alarms me?). So I settled in the middle, on a large piece of cod. Note to self, for two people, you truly don’t need a full pound, we had some leftovers.

What really made this dish great, was the cauliflower mash we placed underneath the fish. Honestly, I would eat this over true mash potatoes any day (not sure Nick would ever give up his true mashers though 🙂 but he still really enjoyed them). We decided last minute to roast some tomatoes tossed in olive oil, basil, and fennel seeds. I think they were the perfect compliment to the fish and mashers. PS. Did I mentioned this entire dish can be done in under 20 minutes!

It’s been a great week and Char and I had a lot of fun. She really is our greatest blessing, and sometimes I need to take a step back and realize just how lucky we truly are to be healthy and alive! We spent the week at the park on most days, attended her 2nd music class (she LOVES it by the way), and cooked up a storm in the kitchen each night. She’s getting much better at sitting up and has definitely figured out how to move unassisted (frog pose on her back), which makes me realize it’s not too much longer before she really keeps me on my toes!

Blackened Cod and Cauliflower Mash: serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb of cod (or any white fish)
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 table spoons of sour cream (I suppose you could substitute with greek yogurt)
  • 3 table spoons of butter
  • salt & pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • Equal parts for the fish (1 tea spoon each): cumin, oregano, fennel seeds, paprika, chili powder, thyme, salt, pepper

 

Directions:

For the cauliflower mash (start with these first, as they take longer):

  1. Boil chopped cauliflower and garlic until soft.
  2. Drain, add sour cream, butter, salt, pepper and puree with a hand blender (PS If you don’t own one of these I highly recommend buying one. It’s probably our most used gadget in the kitchen).
For the Cod: 
  1. Heavily dust both sides of the fish (fish should be pretty well covered with the spices), using your hand to lightly pat the spices into the surface of the fish (hard enough to get the spices to stick, but not so hard that you crush the fish).
  2. Over medium heat, melt 1 tsp of butter in a non-stick pan. Add fish, cooking for ~4-5 mins, or until spices are blackened and the fish has a nice crust. Turn over carefully (I use my hand on the uncooked side to help keep the fish together.) Fish like cod, halibut, and bass come apart very easily while cooking, so try to only turn them over once. Cook other side for 3-4 mins, or until the crust has formed

 

 

IMG_4333
First time on a swing and loving it!!!

 

 

A Little Spring Inspiration, Shrimp & Quinoa Bowl

shrimp quinoa

I know it’s hard to see, but quinoa is the primary ingredient making up this bowl. This recipe came together after Nick and I realized our scale had been lying to us for the last year (we just bought a new one to confirm the truth). Therefore, we spent last week eating very clean and healthy! I tend to stay away from recipes involving shrimp, and I’m starting to wonder why? It’s seriously the fastest item to cook, and requires zero prep work. This quinoa bowl is full of flavor between the fresh diced tomatoes, feta cheese, chick peas, and lemon vinaigrette. The sauteed garlic and spinach adds a great touch to balance out the stronger flavors. Lets not forget that this entire dish can be put together in 10 minutes (or however long it takes your quinoa to cook lets say).

Ingredients: serves 2

  • 3/4 lb of shrimp (I buy already peeled and de-veined to make it super easy on me)
  • 1 bunch of fresh spinach
  • 2 finely sliced garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup of chopped feta cheese
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 table spoon of dijon mustard
  • 1 table spoon of salt& pepper
  • 1 table spoon of garlic powder
  • 2 table spoon of dill
  • 1 box of quinoa (or 2 cups give or take)

Instructions:

  1. Mix together sliced garlic, salt & pepper, and 2 table spoons of olive oil in a bowl. Toss shrimp in the sauce and let marinate while you prep the rest of the meal.
  2. Cook quinoa on the stove top for about 15 minutes, leave simmering until ready to serve.
  3. In a large bowl mix together spinach, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, dill, and feta cheese. Add Quinoa to the mix, once cooked.
  4. In another bowl stir together lemon juice (1/2 lemon or more if taste desired), dijon mustard, garlic powder, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar.
  5. Saute shrimp on stove top for 1 minute or until they turn pink on both sides.
  6. Pour vinaigrette dressing and shrimp over the entire dish at the very end and toss lightly. Be careful not to over dress the bowl (so pour moderately).

And voila!!! You are finished!

As for this week in Char’s world…..she hit 5 months on Tuesday! She has definitely been in great spirits lately, which makes us so happy! She is constantly laughing and giggling, as well talking to herself a lot in her crib.  Sometimes I find myself just watching her through the monitor, just entertaining herself with her feet. Her ‘rolling’ is also getting much smoother, and she is finally starting to not shriek at the sight of tummy time!! We start solids in a month, and I’m starting to get a tad nervous. Although I think she is ready, judging by the stare down we get when eating in front of her lately.

Here are a few pics from the park today! Could it be….is Spring actually upon us??!!

 

IMG_430220160410_151645

Never Retiring the Roasted Chicken …….

zz

With out fail, a roasted chicken with fresh veggies is one of our most repeated and favorite dishes for the weekend. It’s great for entertaining, because you can prep ahead of time and put it all in at once, leaving you more time to hang out with your guests. Our new trick, thanks to Aunt Noelle, is taking the left over bones and meat and making a chicken broth out of it, to use for later in the week. It’s crazy how much tastier (while much more nutritious) the broth is this way, vs those store bought cartons.  The biggest trick with this dish is timing the bird, which can be kind of intimidating at first. Sometimes it takes a few tries with your oven to determine the best length of time (still juicy, but fully cooked). I’m kind of always paranoid of eating under cooked chicken, but thankfully Nick has it timed perfectly now. I’m currently obsessed with this meal, so hopefully Nick doesn’t get sick of it anytime soon.

Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes (serves 2 with leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large roasting chicken
  • 2 yukon gold potatoes per person
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  •  4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tea spoon of salt & pepper
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 tea spoon of ground ginger
  • 1 tea spoon of cumin
  • 1 tea spoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tea spoon of fennel seed
  • 1 tea spoon of chili powder
  • 1 tea spoon of nutmeg.
*The trick to this dish is that you let the potatoes roast under the chicken, which sits on some form of grate (lots of roasting pans have holes in them to let the juices flow through.) This allows the chicken juices to baste the potatoes as they cook, creating the best roast potatoes ever. You could probably even just cook the chicken directly over the potatoes, although I’ve never tried that.
For potatoes: 
1) Nothing special here… just wash and quarter your potatoes, then boil them with a generous pinch of salt, 4 sprigs of rosemary, and 3 sprigs of thyme, until just soft enough to piece with a fork.
2) Here you can start the chicken, as the potatoes boil.
3) Drain the potatoes (should be a good amount of rosemary and thyme stuck to them, which is good), toss in a little olive oil and pretty generous amount of salt and pepper (although remember you can add more salt and pepper later, so don’t go crazy). It’s ok if they start to crumble apart.
4) Add these to a roasting pan., sitting under the chicken.
For the chicken: 
1) pre-heat oven to 500F
2) rinse chicken, removing organs if they’re there (sometimes come in a little pack stuffed into the body cavity.) Dry inside and out (you want a dry chicken to get crispy skin).
3) generously salt and pepper the cavity, with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
4) Truss the chicken so that the legs are held close to the body. Fold the wings under the back of the chicken.
5) sprinkle the chicken very generously with salt and pepper (salt draws away moisture and gets it to crisp up… I once saw Thomas Keller say it should look like the bird was under a light snow.) I like to sprinkle the salt from a little ways above the bird so that it spread reasonably evenly. Some people rub the bird with olive oil, I just leave it dry.
6) add the chicken to the oven, reduce temperature to 425. Then just let it roast for 1 hour to 1:10 depending on how big your bird is. Test the temperature with a thermometer (trust your thermometer, don’t let the bird over cook).
7) let the bird sit for 5 mins before serving. Don’t cover with tin foil, or the skin will get soggy.
For the Carrots:
1) peel carrots, sprinkle with olive oil
2) Sprinkle generously with ground ginger, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, fennel seed, chili powder, and a little nutmeg. Mix so carrots are well coated with the spices.
3) Add to the roasting pan, under the chicken. I leave the tops under the potatoes so they stay green. Roasting the entire time should get the bottoms nice and caramelized.

IMG_2591

We had a busy filled weekend with friends and brought little Miss Char down to our old hood in the West Village. It was fun to be back, but actually reassured us that we made the right decision moving up town with a baby. People are way more accepting of strollers up here 🙂 Today we had a little play date with Char’s buddy Jade. They were both fascinated with the jolly jumper (successful purchase Nick!).

IMG_4179 (1)IMG_4200

Basil Chicken Stir Fry

IMG_2578.JPGSometimes you just need a good hearty rice bowl packed with flavor. The great part of a stir fry is you can add what ever you want to it, making it always different! Snap peas, green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, you name it, it all tastes great with rice and some sort of sauce!

It really felt like a long week, so this is one of those dishes that requires very little thinking behind it. I feel like whenever we travel, it takes me a good week to catch back up on life & sleep. Needless to say, I am certainly looking forward to a calm weekend ahead….and maybe a good take out pizza! TGIF everyone!!

IMG_2552.JPG

Basil Chicken & Mixed Veggie Stir Fry

Ingredients: servings 2

  • 2 skinless/boneless chicken breasts (or 1 lb of chicken tenders)
  • 3/4 lb of green beans
  • 3 large carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 table spoons of sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1 table spoon of red chili papers
  • 1 tea spoon of salt & pepper
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 package of basil leaves

IMG_2567.JPG

Instructions:

  1. Chop raw chicken breasts into bite size pieces, then in a bowl, marinate in soy sauce for at least 30 minutes
  2. Rinse and chop green beans into bit size pieces
  3. Rinse and peel carrots into long shreds (you might want to cut these in half for easier eating)
  4. Chop garlic and jalapenos peppers
  5. Once chicken has marinated, pour the marinade and chicken into a heated frying pan w/ olive oil. Cook on high  for about 10 minutes, or until cooked.
  6. Add carrots, green beans, garlic, & jalapenos to the frying pan and continue to stir the mix.
  7. Sprinkle on more olive oil to keep the dish from drying up. You can even add a little sesame oil on top too.
  8. Right before you are ready to serve sprinkle basil leaves through out the pan. They only need to cook for about 1 minutes. 20160319_164055IMG_2560