Tacos are always a welcome dinner in my house. New varieties are even more welcome. 🙂
These chicken tacos were a mildly sweet from the fresh orange juice. Because the seeds are removed from the chilies, the finished dish was not spicy at all. They were really delicious with all of the assorted toppings.
This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. We ate the tacos with refried beans, brown Basmati rice, and street corn on the side. Fresh and fabulous.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 ounce guajillo chilies (5 medium), stemmed, seeded and torn or cut into 1-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice (I used 4 large oranges)
5 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 T white vinegar
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp honey
1 teaspoon dried oregano or Mexican oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (I used 9 thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds)
warm tortillas, for serving (I used Trader Joe’s corn-wheat tortillas)
diced white onion, for serving
sliced radishes, for serving
cilantro leaves, for serving
crumbled queso fresco, feta, or shredded Mexican cheese blend, for serving
sour cream, for serving
rice and refried beans, for serving, optional
Squeeze the orange juice into a liquid measuring cup.
In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, toast the chile pieces, pressing with a wide metal spatula and flipping halfway through, until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes total. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel all-in-one pan.)
Transfer to a small bowl and pour in the juice; press on the chilies to submerge. Let stand until the chilies have softened, about 10 minutes. Set the skillet aside. (I placed the chilies in the liquid measuring cup with the freshly squeezed orange juice.)
In a blender, combine the chilies and juice, garlic, vinegar, coriander, honey, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Puree until smooth, about 30 seconds. (I used a Vitamix.)
Pour the puree into the reserved skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high.
Trim the chicken thighs of any excess fat to prevent the finished dish from becoming greasy.
Nestle the chicken into the sauce, cover and cook over medium-low, stirring and flipping the chicken halfway through, until tender and opaque when cut into with a paring knife, about 20 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large plate and set aside until cool enough to handle, 10 to 15 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred into bite-size pieces.
While the chicken cools, bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring, until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, about 10 minutes.
Stir the shredded chicken into the sauce, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Warm the tortillas. (I microwave them in a tortilla warmer with a damp towel for about 1 minute.)
Serve the shredded chicken with warm tortillas and assorted toppings, as desired.
Recently, we were able to take a trip to visit our COVID-vaccinated parents/grandparents. Yay! My mother-in-law made us a delicious buttermilk-brined roasted turkey breast. I had already bookmarked this recipe, so I had to make it myself after we returned home. Yum.
This recipe is from The New York Times, contributed by Samin Nosrat. Using this simple brine, the meat was incredibly moist and tender. The skin also browned beautifully. I marinated the chicken for 24 hours, used a 10-inch cast iron skillet for roasting, and served the chicken with broccoli, gold potatoes, and sweet potatoes that I roasted simultaneously in the same oven. Easy and absolutely perfect.
Yield: Serves 4
1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
2 cups buttermilk (I used low-fat)
The day before you plan to cook the chicken, remove the wing tips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife.
Season chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.
In a glass measuring cup, stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt into the buttermilk to dissolve.
Place the seasoned chicken in a gallon-size (or 2 gallon-size) resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk.
Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible, place in a rimmed dish or plate, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours. If you’re so inclined, you can turn the bag periodically so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but it’s not essential. (I turned it upside down after 12 hours.)
Remove the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it.
Heat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack set in the center position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can. (I just let it drip off.)
Tightly tie together the legs with a piece of butcher’s twine.
Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or a shallow roasting pan.
Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven. (The back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done.)
After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400 degrees and continue roasting for 10 minutes.
Rotate the pan so the legs are facing the rear right corner of the oven. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh, and/or the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. If the skin is getting too brown before it is cooked through, use a foil tent. (I tented the chicken in this step after 20 minutes.)
Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Many years ago, my husband and I first tried Romesco sauce while on vacation in Barcelona. It was served with grilled ramps. We were instant fans! Using jarred fire-roasted red peppers as a shortcut is an absolute genius way to create it. I served the meatballs and sauce in this dish with slices of sourdough baguette to sop up every last drop. 🙂
This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sara Frost. I modified the proportions. The original recipe notes that the delicious sauce can add richness to other lean proteins such as fish, pan-roasted chicken breast and can also be used as a dip for vegetables. Next time, I may serve this dish with grilled scallions. Yum.
My son ate the leftover meatballs and baguette as a luxurious sandwich with melted cheese, topped with Romesco sauce, of course. This dish could also be served as a fabulous appetizer.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
1 3/4 lbs ground turkey
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1/2 cup panko
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp paprika
4 to 6 T finely chopped parsley, plus more coarsely chopped for serving
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 T plus 1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup toasted almonds (I used toasted sliced almonds)
1 12 to 16-oz jar fire-roasted peppers in water, drained (I used Trader Joe’s)
2 to 4 small garlic cloves, crushed (I used a garlic press)
1 T red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
finely grated zest of half of a lemon
crusty bread, for serving, optional (I served it with a sourdough baguette)
Preheat oven to 425°. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
Using your hands, mix ground turkey, eggs, panko, cumin, onion powder, paprika, parsley, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a large bowl.
Working one at a time, use a 1 1/2-inch scoop out to ration out the mixture. (I had 28 meatballs.) Place on a plate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. (I used a large stainless steel “all-in-one” pan.)
Working in 2 batches, cook meatballs until golden brown all over, about 2 minutes per side.
Transfer skillet with all of the meatballs to oven and bake until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
While the meatballs are baking, pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl.
Pulse drained fire-roasted peppers, garlic, vinegar, and cayenne in food processor until almost smooth.
Transfer to bowl with almonds and stir in remaining 1/2 cup oil; season Romesco sauce with salt, to taste.
Spoon romesco sauce onto a platter or into shallow bowls; arrange meatballs on top.
Finely grate lemon zest over and scatter coarsely chopped parsley on top. Serve with crusty bread, as desired.
This one pot dish was creamy, flavorful and absolutely delicious. The spices had a great balance with the richness of the coconut milk. I served it with roasted asparagus on the side. It was a perfect springtime dinner.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Shayma Owaise Saadat. I modified the proportions and method. I also swapped spinach for the kale. I increased the amount of leafy greens but would add even more next time! The original recipe notes that canned chickpeas can be substituted for the chicken to make a vegetarian version.
Yield: Serves 6
1 1/2 cups white basmati rice
2 T grapeseed or vegetable oil
2 medium or 1 large shallot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I used 9)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 13.5-oz can unsweetened coconut milk
6 to 8 cups of thinly sliced spinach or 4 cups Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise into strips
store-bought sliced pickled red chiles, for serving, optional
lime wedges, for serving, optional
Place rice in fine mesh sieve set inside a medium bowl; pour in cold water to cover.
Agitate rice with your hands until water is cloudy. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear (about 3 to 5 times). Drain.
Pour in water to cover rice by 2 inches; let soak 30–45 minutes.
Heat oil in a large heavy pot with a wide base over medium-high. (I used an enameled cast iron pot.)
Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 1 minute.
Using paper towels, pat the chicken dry.
Add chicken, turmeric, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons of salt to the shallots and garlic. Cook, turning and moving around chicken thighs as needed, until chicken begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
Pour in 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer.
Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, turning chicken once, until chicken is cooked through and very tender, about 20 minutes.
Remove the lid of the pot and wrap it with a kitchen towel, securing the corners up and over the top of the lid with a rubber band.
Drain the rice and add to pot with chicken, then add coconut milk and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir to incorporate and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to lowest setting and cook, undisturbed, 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Remove towel and lid. Remove towel from the lid.
Arrange spinach (or kale) in an even layer over chicken and rice and cover with lid. Let sit until wilted, about 10 minutes.
Top with chiles, if using. Serve with lime wedges.
I have shared my love for manicotti in the past– stemming from wonderful memories of enjoying it with my college roommate’s large Italian family on Easter Sunday.
I have made many versions of spinach manicotti, usually filling store-bought manicotti noodles. Using no-boil lasagna noodles instead was a great “less-hassle” shortcut. They were also chosen to mimic the texture of fresh pasta. It was absolutely true! I will never buy manicotti noodles again. 😉
This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen. I replaced one cup of ricotta cheese with an equivalent amount of chopped, steamed spinach seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg. I also used whole milk ricotta instead of part-skim, part-skim mozzarella instead of whole milk mozzarella, coarse salt instead of table salt, and modified the method. Fabulous.
4 ounces (about 2 cups) grated Parmesan cheese, divided (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
8 ounces (about 2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim mozzarella)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
16 no-boil lasagna noodles (I used Trader Joe’s)
Steam the baby spinach until wilted. (I did this on the stove top.)
Let the spinach cool slightly, then use a potato ricer to remove excess liquid. Coarsely chop. (You should have about 1 cup.) Season with salt and freshly ground nutmeg. Set aside.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
Make the Sauce: Pulse 1 can tomatoes with their juice in food processor until coarsely chopped, 3 or 4 pulses. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining can tomatoes.
Heat oil, garlic, and pepper flakes (if using) in large saucepan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt and simmer until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.
Stir in basil; adjust seasoning with salt. Set aside.
Make the Filling: Combine the chopped spinach, ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, eggs, salt, pepper, and herbs in medium bowl; set aside.
To Assemble: Pour 1 inch boiling water into 13 by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish, then add noodles one at a time. (I used a pyrex dish.) Let noodles soak until pliable, about 5 to 6 minutes, separating noodles with tip of sharp knife to prevent sticking.
Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on clean kitchen towels. Do not use paper towels because the noodles may stick. (I used flour sack towels.)
If using the same dish to bake the manicotti, drain the water and dry the dish. (I used a ceramic baking dish to bake the manicotti instead of using the pyrex dish.)
Place the preferred baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread bottom of baking dish evenly with 1 1/2 cups sauce.
Using a large cookie scoop or a soup spoon, spread 3 to 4 tablespoons of the spinach-cheese filling mixture evenly onto bottom three-quarters of each noodle (with short side facing you), leaving top quarter of noodle exposed.
Roll into tube shape and arrange in baking dish seam side down.
Top evenly with remaining sauce, making certain that pasta is completely covered. (It seems like a lot of liquid but it’s necessary for the no-boil noodles to cook properly.)
To Bake: Cover manicotti with aluminum foil. Bake until bubbling, about 40 minutes, then remove foil.
Remove baking dish, adjust oven rack to uppermost position (about 6 inches from heating element).
Sprinkle manicotti evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Return to the oven on the adjusted oven rack; bake for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling.
Set the oven to broil.
Broil until cheese is lightly brown or spotty brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Cool 15 minutes, then serve.
Note: The manicotti can be prepared through step 15, covered with a sheet of parchment paper, wrapped in aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. (If frozen, thaw the manicotti in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.) To bake, remove the parchment, replace the aluminum foil, and increase baking time to 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
This is another dish with a crispy and delicious parmesan topping. Cheese makes everything better. 🙂 I loved that the base of the dish was an arugula salad. The crunchy roasted almond topping provided a nice contrasting texture too.
I cut the head of cauliflower through the center into two steaks and roasted the additional florets in a formation as close to a plank as well, for presentation purposes. Next time, I may change the orientation of the cauliflower to keep the florets attached to the core.
This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. I used French green lentils, added red pepper flakes, and modified the cooking and serving methods. It was a lovely, fresh and healthy light meal. We ate it for dinner, but it would also be wonderful served for a special lunch, of course. 🙂
Yield: Serves 4
3 cups of cored and chopped tomatoes, about 3 beefsteak tomatoes (I used 2 beefsteak and 3 romas)
2 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced, plus 1 clove for cooking the lentils, if desired
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup (8 T) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut through the core into 1-inch planks
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (I used French green lentils)
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (3/4 cup)
1 bunch arugula, trimmed (I used about 4 oz wild baby arugula)
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
toasted almonds, chopped, for serving (I used sliced almonds)
Cook the lentils: Place 3/4 to 1 cup of dried lentils with a large smashed (but intact) garlic clove, optional, in a pot covered by 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil and season with salt. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until tender. (You will have leftover cooked lentils.)
Toast the almonds: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread almonds in an even layer on a rimmed quarter sheet pan. Toast the almonds, stirring once or twice, about 4 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant. Remove and set aside.
Increase the oven temperature to 475°F, with a rack placed in the center and another rack in top position. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
In a bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic, capers, large pinch of red pepper flakes, if using, and 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
Place cauliflower planks on a rimmed baking sheet.
Brush cauliflower evenly with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.
Roast until undersides are golden, 12 to 13 minutes. Remove pan from the oven, flip the cauliflower and push to one side.
Add tomato mixture to other side of the pan.
Reduce the oven temperature to 450 degrees; roast 12 minutes more.
Stir 1 1/2 cups drained lentils into tomato mixture. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil; season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle everything with cheese.
Switch oven setting to broil, and broil on top rack until cheese has melted, 1 to 2 minutes.
Toss arugula with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
Serve the roasted cauliflower planks over lentils and arugula salad, sprinkled with toasted almonds.
I have made this wonderful roasted chicken twice recently. The grated Parmesan forms a crispy and delicious topping on the skin and the meat is very nicely seasoned with fresh rosemary and lemon zest. I served it with roasted potatoes and vegetables on both occasions.
The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. If roasting vegetables with a short cooking time, such as asparagus, it would be amazing to roast them in some of the pan juices while the chicken is resting. I drizzled my roasted potatoes and other vegetables with the lemony pan juices after they were cooked. Great.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
zest and juice from 1 lemon, divided
2teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus 3 to 4 sprigs
large pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving, optional
1(3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, patted dry
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/3cup finely grated Parmesan (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
parsley, for garnish, optional
Finely grate the zest from the lemon and place it in a small bowl. (Save the zested lemon for the drippings.)
Stir in 2 teaspoons salt, pepper, chopped rosemary and red-pepper flakes, if using.
Season the chicken inside and out with salt mixture. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate uncovered for up to overnight.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. I set my oven to convection roast.
Place chicken, breast-side up, in a large skillet, sheet pan or roasting pan. (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet.)
Stuff cavity of chicken with rosemary sprigs. Drizzle breast with a little olive oil.
Roast chicken for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle chicken all over with Parmesan.
Return pan to the oven and continue roasting until bird’s juices run clear when skin is pierced with a knife and the skin is golden, 25 to 30 minutes longer. (I used an oven probe and cooked the chicken until the breast reached 165 degrees.)
Let chicken rest for 10 minutes. (I tented it with aluminum foil.)
Squeeze juice from the zested lemon, to taste, into the pan drippings and season with more salt and red-pepper flakes if you like.
Carve and serve with drippings spooned over the meat. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired. (I also had extra drippings available at the table.)