Lemon Greek Chicken

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I am a jet-lag fighter. I like to think that I can go from one time zone to another with out missing a wink. I fully expected to come back from China and need about a day or two to adjust and then be fine. HA! I think the fact that I fell asleep on the couch by 8 pm 4 out of 5 nights this week proves otherwise.

I was exhausted this week, which was a huge bummer because I had a lot of plans to jump right back into my kitchen and make dinner every night. The night I made lasagna was a huge personal accomplishment and utterly wore me out. To the point that the next night we just had sushi. By Thursday I needed something simple. This one-dish meal (well one dish and a measuring cup) was just what the doctor ordered.

Besides being fast and easy to throw together, this meal is light but filling at the same time. The lemon really brightens the potatoes and chicken. Jesse liked to take each bite and rub it into his lemon slice. Flavor wise this is the perfect summer meal and in San Diego, where there is a breeze and the temperature is in the mid-70’s, I don’t mind turning my oven to 400 degrees. But, if you’re in the part of the country that is over 100 degrees you may want to wait until it cools down a little!

Lemon Greek Chicken
(Adapted from The Pampered Chef Stoneware Inspirations)

Ingredients
2 lemons, divided
1/4 olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lbs chicken breast (I used boneless, but it originally called for bone-in split breast)
8 small potatoes cut into fourths *
1 medium onion, cut into 1 inch wedges
1 medium bell pepper, cut into strips **
8 ounces whole mushrooms **

*I found a package of red, yukon gold, and purple potatoes at Trader Joes
**Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, there are no peppers or mushrooms in the picture. 15 minutes into roasting I realized I had forgotten to add these, but I’m including them in the ingredients because I know they will be great.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Zest then juice one lemon into a 2 cup measuring cup. Add oil, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper to the cup and mix well. Slice the second lemon into thin slices

In a large oval baking dish, or a bar pan with at least 1 inch tall sides, lay out the onions, potatoes, peppers, mushrooms. Pour 1/2 of the lemon juice over the vegetables and use (clean) hands to evenly coat. Add the chicken and lemon slices to the dish and arrange so the vegetables are surrounding the chicken. Pour the remaining lemon juice mixture over the chicken and use a pastry brush to evenly coat. Cover the dish tightly with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for 30 minutes then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until the juices of the chicken run clear and the potatoes are fork tender. Occasionally baste the chicken and vegetables with the pan juices.

Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta

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I am working on a verrrrry long China post (hopefully will be posted tomorrow morning), so this is going to be short and simple! Much like the preparation of this meal.

The most time consuming part of this dish was removing the shells and de-veining the shrimp. Luckily you can purchase raw shrimp without the shell. I forgot that half of the shrimp in my freezer had the shell/vein so when it came time to prepare the meal I was happy to have my mom there to help me get through it quickly. As a side note, I can appreciate the tail on for the appearance of the dish, but when it comes to eating I think it would be more pleasant to have the tails removed. It’s really up to you and the dish will turn out great either way.

I think this shrimp would go wonderfully with a simple side of pasta in garlic butter, with rice, or, as I served it, with a nice crusty bread brushed with garlic butter. I liked to use the bread to sop up the extra sauce. Add a green salad or green beans and you have a well rounded meal that will be well received by guests, but also simple enough for week night.



Shrimp in Tomato Sauce with Feta
(Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1½ tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
3 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1.5 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on if you like)
5 oz. crumbled feta cheese
Juice of 1 lemon
Fresh lemon wedges, optional for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil . Then add the onion and cook until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half.

Reduce the heat to low. Stir in the tomatoes with the liquid, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper and simmer for 10-15 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss together the bread crumbs, parsley, and the remaining tablespoon olive oil.

Carefully pour the tomato sauce into a medium size casserole dish, then lay the shrimp in a single layer on top of the the tomato mixture. Sprinkle the feta cheese then the bread crumbs over top of the shrimp.

Bake for 15 minutes until the shrimp is pink and the bread crumbs have started to brown. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over top and serve immediately.

The Best Meal I’ve Had in a While

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It was Saturday night and I was looking for pretty much any excuse to not go to the gym and started thinking that I really hadn’t eaten lunch, and since it was already almost dinner time I should probably buckle down and come up with something (leaving no time for the gym). I peeked in the fridge and wasn’t really inspired by anything. Then I remembered a promise I made myself a few weeks ago to start using more cookbooks. I have a bunch of them, some really good ones too, but for some reason when I’m looking for meal inspiration I always start with the internet and my most trusted blogs/recipe sites. So I sat down on the floor in front of my cookbooks and started browsing (this browsing had nothing to do with looking for an excuse to not go to the gym).

I have a few cookbooks marked with sticky notes for things I want to try but still, nothing was calling to me. Finally I pulled out a 5 year old copy of Cooking Light magazine that I impulsively bought at the check out counter but had never actually used. I took one look at the picture on the cover and instantly remembered why I had impulsively bought it. At the time I saw the picture, thought it looked amazing, threw it down on the conveyor and didn’t think twice. When I got home I opened the magazine and read the title of the recipe “Pineapple and Teriyaki Glazed Salmon”. Ick! What had I been thinking, I don’t mix fruit flavors with savory dishes.

Well since that day I have expanded my palate by leaps and bounds. While I still don’t think I’ll be having pork chops and applesauce or eating a big hunk of apple pie, I am no longer afraid of a slightly sweet tang to my savory dishes. So it was decided. I ran to Trader Joe’s and picked up the things I needed. Can I just tell you how much I am kicking myself for not having made this dish sooner? It was amazing. The salmon was moist and flaky and the glaze was sweet, slightly acidic and salty. So so good. I served it with a simple couscous cooked in chicken broth with just a little bit of parsley and oregano added at the end. Also, I’m not usually a fan of frozen vegetable medleys but I saw this Healthy Colors mix a few weeks ago and it wasn’t too bad. Though next time I think I’ll just stick with fresh green beans because the Salmon is the star of this meal.

One last note, the original recipe called for 4 salmon fillets with this amount of glaze, trust me you’re going to want more than that (I got up mid meal to get just a little more). So if you make 4 fillets double the glaze and thank me later.


Pineapple Teriyaki Glazed Salmon
(Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2006)

2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp fresh orange zest
6 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small sauce pan, over high heat, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, orange zest, pineapple juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool and thicken a bit.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon and set in the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes without moving. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Carefully remove the salmon from the pan and place with the cooked side up in the baking dish. (Alternatively you could use a cast iron skillet, flip the salmon and put the whole pan straight into the oven)

Bake for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and generously brush glaze over the tops of the salmon. Return to oven for 1-2 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.

Serve with couscous or rice and a simple vegetable.

Margherita Time

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This time last year Jesse and I were taking the first giant step of this newest journey in our life. We left the Thursday before Memorial Day and made our way across the United States to San Diego. I’m pretty used to long drives but this was in a class of it’s own. Still it was amazing. It was great having a chance to spend 3 days with just the 2 of us. Plus let’s be honest, this is a pretty cool country and we went from lush farm lands in the midwest, to wide open spaces in Texas, to dry flat dessert in Arizona, then green beautiful mountains in Arizona, then the most amazing mountains that looked like giant mounds of over-sized pebbles, and finally we landed in San Diego where the palms trees are plentiful and the air smells of the ocean. Just awesome.

Looking back a year later I don’t think I could have guessed how many incredible changes and wonderful experiences we would have in just one year of our lives. Of course with the good came some bad. The worst of it being that we have been separated for more than half of the last year. That part sucks, no way around it. But we’ve made the best of it and in 3 weeks we’ll be together again! Here is to hoping that this next year is even better (and has us together more than we are apart!)

What’s all that have to do with Margherita pizza? Uh, nothing. I just had some things to get off my chest before sharing the recipe. This pizza tasted great and would be perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. You can double the dough recipe, divided it into 4 and freeze 3 parts individually so you always have homemade pizza dough on hand. You’ll never need a processed, sodium laden frozen pizza again!

Margherita Pizza

1 ball pizza dough (recipe below)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic powder
1-1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup diced (or sliced) tomato
3-4 fresh basil leaves, julienne

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 500 degrees, with rack in the lowest position in oven.

Roll out pizza dough until ~1/4 inch thick and ~10 inches across and transfer to a piece of parchment paper. Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic powder.

Spread the mozzarella cheese over the pizza dough and sprinkle the tomatoes and basil on top.

Remove hot pizza stone from oven and carefully transfer the pizza (parchment paper and all) to the stone. Bake for 8-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it the whole time so the cheese doesn’t burn.

Easy Weeknight Pizza Dough
(Adapted from Amber’s Delectable Delights)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package quick-rising (instant) yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a measuring cup, add the sugar to the warm water and stir until dissolved. Add the yeast and let rest while you prepare the dry ingredients.

In the bowl of a food processor add the flour and salt. Pulse a few times to blend the flour and salt.

Turn the food processor on and stream in the water/yeast mixture. Turn the food processor off and stream in the olive oil. Then pulse in 4 second increments until a ball of dough is formed. It should be slightly sticky but not wet. If it is too dry add water a tablespoon at a time. If it is too wet add flour a tablespoon at a time.

At this point you can do one of two things. One, let the dough rest for 15 minutes while you gather your toppings, then roll out. Two, transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 45 minutes to an hour until almost doubled in size. Then divide the dough in half and roll out. I typically let it rise, but the great thing about this recipe is that you don’t have too. I’m just used to letting it rise (for other recipes) and I like my dough to be a bit fluffier. I also feel like I have more dough to work with if I let it rise for longer (able to get 2 balls of dough).