A Little Sweet & A Little Sour

I know after making my own turkey meatballs I said I should be making them instead of buying them, but I’m crazy at work for another 25 days. I can’t wait to rejoin life afterwards!
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Anywho, I made Sweet and Sour Meatballs using turkey meatballs from Trader Joe’s. I’ve made this before but it has been awhile.

Ingredients

1 can pineapple chunks
¼ cup brown sugar
3 tbs soy sauce
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
6 meatballs
½ green pepper, chopped
½ orange pepper, chopped
1 cup rice

Directions:

Bring pineapple chunks, some liquid, brown sugar, and soy sauce to a rolling boil for 2 minutes.
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Add red pepper flakes and meatballs before lowering heat to medium low.
Prepare rice.
Add peppers to meatballs and sauce for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
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How easy?! I didn’t have any egg noodles but it turns out Mr. J thought he’d like it better over rice. I also didn’t have any rice but I did have aborio. Risotto with sweet and sour meatballs turned out to be a success!

I had “natural” pineapple chunks and I liked it much better than regular canned pineapple. It’s definitely as close to fresh as you can get.

Intense Garlic & Balsamic Vinegar Chicken

I’d categorize Mr. J as a sauce person whereas my sauces don’t always come out perfectly. I think they are coming along. I made a lot of sauce even when making chicken-for-two. This was a FLAVORFUL meal.
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This was a pretty quick meal to put together and I loved the vinegar flavor. It felt different and made me want to use balsamic vinegar more often.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 cup of chicken broth

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and cook chicken thighs until a medium golden brown, about 5 minutes.
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Flip the chicken over and cook for about 3 minutes.
Put chicken into the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Add garlic to the chicken pan (careful: don’t let it burn).
Stir in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth over a low boil.

Whisk in mixed flour and butter to thicken sauce, cooking for about 2 more minutes over low.
Add in chicken and coat in sauce and cook for 5 minutes.
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I liked the balsamic flavor but also think I put in too much (I used about ⅓ cup) so I’d recommend a quantity of a few tablespoons.I eat a solid amount of chicken but I don’t use chicken thighs very often. They were a great change. A little dark meat here and there never hurts.
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I served this with mashed potatoes (with a touch of sour cream) and steamed green beans. It was a really comforting meal.

Honey Mustard Chicken with a Crunch

After a weekend of food, friends, diner breakfast, and drinks I wanted a slightly healthier Sunday night dinner. I was working with what we already had around, since I hate to grocery shop and we had been gone a lot.
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Honey Mustard Ingredients

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup yellow mustard
2 tablespoon orange juice
1 large clove garlic, minced

Honey Mustard Directions

Wisk honey, mustard, orange juice, and garlic
Refrigerate for at least an hour before enjoying

I love honey mustard. I know you can buy it but this is better. I sneak a little spicy brown into it as well which better rounds out the mustard vs. sweet flavor. A splash of cider vinegar would be good too.Honey mustard is so versatile! Marinate chicken in it, dip veggies in it, put it on salad, put it on a sandwich…the possibilities are endless. Bottled honey mustard always has a few weird preservatives and when it’s this easy to make, why buy it?

Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Ingredients

chicken tenders or chicken breasts
1 egg (with 1 tbs water), whisked
½ cup flour
¾ cup breadcrumbs (half panko, half regular bread crumbs)

Honey Mustard Crunchy Chicken Directions

1) Marinate chicken tenders in honey mustard.
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2) Set up your flour, eggwash, breadcrumbs, in that order
honey_must_flour_290_200 honey_must_egg_290_200honey_must_crumbs_290_200 3) dip the chicken into the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs
4) bake 20 minutes at 375 on a sprayed cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, turning once

This was so great! I really liked that I could taste the honey mustard and the crunch on the outside was awesome. I served it with honey mustard on the side but could have tossed the crispy tenders in the sauce too. I think I was too scared that the crunch wouldn’t stick since they were baked, not fried.
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Mr. J and I thought the chicken was cooked perfectly. It was a fun and different dinner that was lighter than the restaurant equivalent since the chicken wasn’t fried. I served it with couscous (where I snuck in some finely chopped baby spinach for another veggie dose) and some yellow squash and leeks we had.
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Itsa meatball!

I made meatballs for the first time ever. Well, not never, but I made them by myself for the first time. I can’t eat red meat so if I want meatballs, they have to be turkey and it usually means I eat them at home after buying them.

When I was little I remember making meatballs. My mum would put all the ingredients into a bowl and dad would let us help roll and cook them. I think as a kid I probably thought she was “letting us help” but it was probably more that she doesn’t like to handle meat with her hands because of the “ick” factor.

We would get some cooking and then make a big one with all the remaining mix and giggle relentlessly before continue to roll them.

Even after buying some frozen turkey meatballs at Trader Joe’s (theirs are the best!). I decided to make some and they were AMAZING, if I do say so myself. This is a prime example of a simple meal, made with really great ingredients, and letting them speak for themselves.

Ingredients

¾ pound ground turkey
2 links sweet Italian sausage
1 egg
1 cup bread crumbs
½ cup milk
2 tbs parsley
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tbs Parmesan cheese
½ cup red wine
salt & pepper

Directions

Remove sausage from casing.
Mix bread crumbs and milk. Let sit a minute.
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Combine ground turkey, sausage, egg, parsley, garlic, Parmesan, wine, salt and pepper. Add breadcrumb mix and combine well.
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Form into balls depending on your size preference. I went with larger ones.
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Heavily oil a baking sheet.
Bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees, turning every 10-15 minutes to evenly brown.
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I was so happy with these! I thought sausage would provide enough fat for moist meatballs instead of proscuitto or bacon, but those would be good too. I was super diligent about turning them to ensure that they cooked evenly. I could have fried them but baking them was way easier.

I’ll continue to purchase them but they weren’t a big deal to make myself. The wine was a HUGE flavor enhancement. A few glug glug glugs of a pinot noir that was already open definitely added some depth of flavor.

They smelled simply amazing! Have you met my sous-chef Windsor? He was standing by, under my feet in our tiny kitchen as usual. I think he was super excited to see what delicious item was coming out of the oven! Even with that cute face he still doesn’t get anything I make.
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Part of my inspiration to make some came from another blog I love We Are Not Martha. Theirs were featuring prosciutto and were pan fried. I literally read the recipe and thought, ooo red wine would be good with these as I channeled my wine-loving college roommates as inspiration. Parsley isn’t my favorite so I just used dried parsley. Rosemary would be good.

I served these with a basic red sauce and spaghetti. I thought my meatballs were good enough and deserved to shine! I’m so proud!
meatball_plate_290_200I didn’t make a ton of meatballs but now that I know this recipe is a winner I’m sure I’ll make more and freeze them. I will probably also make some cute little ones to freeze for appetizers or soup. They aren’t that much effort and I keep thinking about all the exciting additions! Spinach very finely chopped would be good, sun dried tomatoes, maybe a little nugget of mozzarella? Mmmm the possibilities are endless. I also love sweet & sour meatballs which would definitely highlight these guys.

A Comeback with Chicken

I know a few of you felt cheated with the Brownie post. In an effort of full disclosure: I love all food. I love to make things myself and I love that which others make for me too. There are not as many restaurant reviews as I originally anticipated but winter in New England makes us hole up inside sometimes.

I’ve been sick so I agree that my recent posts are not all AMAZING. The other night I did make a pretty amazing meal. Without further ado…I present to you: Smoky Grilled Chicken with Mango Salsa. Boo-yeah.

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts
marinade
spice rub
1 ½ cup chopped mango
1 cup chopped tomato
½ cup chopped roasted red pepper
½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ tsp brown sugar
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

Marinate the chicken and then dredge into the rub. I used my fav lime salad dressing and a rub blend I got Mr. J in Seattle from the famous Chef Tom Douglas.
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Grill the chicken until cooked through. Since our chicken breasts were so enormous I cut them each in half (yes, those are 2 breasts cut in half, woah!)
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Chop the mango, tomato, roasted red pepper pieces. Add vinegar, oil, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Roughly mix with a fork to incorporate all the flavors. Let stand while chicken finishes cooking.
mango_salsa_290_200Serve over rice with salsa spread on top.
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This was so easy and was wonderful! The chicken was veryyy spicy because of the rub but I liked that combo with the sweet salsa. Mr. J may not have been expecting the kick during his first bite! I hadn’t been sure what to make for dinner when I defrosted chicken early that morning but this was almost all pantry/freezer items!

I used frozen mango chunks that I keep handy for smoothies or when we’re just out of produce and I’m in fruit-withdrawal. Since mango can be so pulpy or fibrous I probably should have chopped it while frozen, but I didn’t care that it wasn’t perfect. Pineapple would be a great alternative!

We ate the chicken & mango salsa over instant brown rice to cut the spice. I steamed some pea pods on the side. I really enjoyed this flavorful & instant dinner! It was refreshing and was a perfect amount.

Oodles of Noodles in a Chicken Stir-Fry

It has been awhile since I made an exciting meal that I was really truly happy with. I don’t think my standards were too high, I’ve been busy and a few recipes fell a bit short. I LOVED this. Super flavorful and fresh tasting. The sauce was a great combo of sweet and spicy. It was quick to whip up and made great leftovers for lunch the next day.

Ingredients

1 orange pepper
1 cup pea pods
2 cups bean sprouts
1 package asian noodles (Nasoya or similar)
½ cup cashews
1/2 cup chicken stock or veggie stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons ginger peanut sauce or 3 tbs minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tsp chopped garlic

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the stock with the soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch slurry, vinegar and sesame oil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add peanut oil, ginger and crushed red pepper and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant and golden and boil over high heat until thickened and glossy, about 1 minute. Add garlic and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
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Fry chicken and start boiling water. Flash-steam the pepper slices and pea pods before adding into a large skillet or wok with some of the stir-fry sauce. I got a nifty double-boiler/strainer and it made it easy to flash team then use the same pot of water! 2 in 1!
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Start dry roasting the cashews separately while water boils for the noodles (or rice if you prefer). Fresh Asian noodles cook for about 10 minutes then they cook for another 2 in the sauce with your chicken & veggies.

Add the sauce into the veggie skillet and add the noodles when they’re ready. Cover the pan while everything combines for 2-3 minutes. Add the cashews right before serving.
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If you haven’t used these noodles you should try them. They are in the produce section of the supermarket and come in Chinese (round), Japanese (flat & my favorite) and wonton wrappers. Regular spaghetti works fine too, but these noodles absorb the stir-fry sauce better.
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This ended up making about 3 pretty hefty servings. It was really good and a perfect amount of sauce.

Wine IN Dinner and WITH Dinner

Chicken Marsala

Another Mr. J delighted our group with his Chicken or Filet Marsala.

I was very appreciative that he accommodated my inability to eat red meat by offering the chicken option! (hopefully that helped the meal not break the bank either!) He based it off a Weight Watchers recipe

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
1 cup mushrooms, sliced (he used baby portabella)
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast (there was also a filet option)
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
½ cup Marsala wine
1 ¼ cup reduced sodium chicken broth (for the filet the sauce used beef broth)
1 ½ tbs cornstarch

Directions

1) Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender and releasing liquid, about 5 minutes.


2) Meanwhile, season chicken on both sides with thyme, salt and pepper. Move mushrooms to outer edge of skillet once cooked. Place chicken in center of skillet and sauté until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes per side.

3) Add wine to skillet; simmer 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of broth and simmer, uncovered, until chicken is tender and cooked through, about 8 minutes.

4) Dissolve cornstarch in remaining 1/2 cup of broth in a small bowl; add to skillet. Simmer until sauce thickens, stirring constantly and incorporating mushrooms into the liquid, about 1 minute. Serve chicken with mushroom sauce spooned over top.

He served it with mashed russet potatoes and broccoli. We loved it!

Say mmmm: Chicken Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuit Topping

This is a great meal to come home to or to pull out of the freezer (adding drop biscuits just before cooking).

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I’m not a fan of peas, so I don’t include them in my pot pie. In the past, I’ve included edemame for some color. Individual ramekins would mean you could customize per person! How fun?! Turkey instead of chicken, sweet potatoes, celery, turnips, or anything else you like of would be great additions too.

I make this occasionally and thought it was a great use for leftovers too! I made a crock pot recipe the other day which wasn’t great. It was chicken, white wine, cream cheese, onions, and a packet of italian dressing. I served it over egg noodles and it was OK but not overly blog-worthy. When photographed it showed how white it was!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cooked
2 cups carrots, cooked and cut into bite sized pieces
1 cup corn
2 medium potatoes, cooked and cut into cubes
1 can cream of celery soup (or cream of potato, or cream of mushroom, or cream of chicken)
1 cup milk
drop biscuits (recipe below)

Directions

1) Cook potatoes and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2) Cook carrots and corn.
3) Tear or dice chicken and put into a greased 9” pan.
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4) Add chopped potatoes, chopped carrots, corn, and onions.
chickenpotpie2_290_2005) Combine cream of celery soup and milk. Pour into pan.
6) Mix the pot pie insides and spread drop biscuits onto the top.
7) Bake 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees.
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Drop Biscuits Recipe
Ingredients

1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons butter, cut in small chunks
3 to 4 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (if desired)

Directions

1) Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl stirring well.
2) Cut in butter to form small chunks.
3) Stir in enough milk to form a wet batter (I make it more soupy when it is for topping).
4) Mix in cheddar (if desired).
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The drop biscuits don’t look great, but trust me, it is awesome when baked. This time I turned the broiler on for the last 2 minutes to get it more golden once I was sure the biscuit was totally cooked and not gummy underneath.

I like these amounts but thought about mixing the insides with cream of celery soup and a cup of chicken broth. I’ll probably try it next time. Sometimes I make a second one and leave off the topping to freeze it. Just add the topping before baking. Pie crust or puff pastry would make a good topping too, but I’m partial to the biscuit myself. Enjoy!