chicken + spiced chickpeas

right now i’m visiting jon in san francisco. before I left michigan, I came up with a list of recipes that I wanted to try while i was out here, anticipating that exploring during the day would probably take up my allotted funds for the trip. the inspiration for this recipe came from bakelist–and judging by the fact that this was my second time making it (in the past two weeks), I was pretty happy with the results.  i love it because its easy to prepare, requires relatively few ingredients, but still has a lot of great flavor.

chicken + spiced chickpeas
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (organic if possible)
1 1/2 lb. cubed butternut squash
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. roasted red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
preheat the oven to 350 degrees. place the chicken in an 11×13 baking dish. in a small bowl, mix together the olive oil and spices, then season with salt and pepper. pour 1/3 of the mixture on top of the chicken, and 1/3 in the bottom on the pan. bake the chicken for 30 minutes at 350.
meanwhile, combine the butternut squash, chickpeas, tomatoes and spice mixture in a bowl and toss to coat. after the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, remove the pan from the oven & add the butternut squash mixture to the pan. raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and cook the chicken with the butternut squash in the pan for an additional 20-30 minutes, until the squash is soft and the chicken is cooked through. to serve, scoop the butternut squash mixture on two plates and place the chicken on top.
if there are leftover chickpeas and butternut squash, the mixture is great eaten on its own, with scrambled eggs, or on top of a green salad.

butternut squash soup with bacon+spinach

i’ve had so much fun being in kalamazoo and cooking with my family. cooking with friends and family is one of my favorite things about food–its ability to create a gathering.  a few nights ago, kate & will came over for dinner and we made butternut squash soup together. my sister is a really talented photographer, so we were not only to collaborate with the recipe, but the pictures as well.

butternut squash soup

butternut squash, about 3 lb.

l lg. sweet onion, diced

1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded

1/4 cup olive oil

kosher salt & pepper

38 oz. good quality chicken stock

dried oregano + thyme

your favorite hot sauce

4 thick slices bacon, chopped in 1″ pieces and cooked

3 cups fresh spinach, stems removed

heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven, and saute the onion for 5 minutes. add the cabbage and continue to saute, 5 minutes more. add the herbs, salt and pepper, cubed butternut squash, and broth, then bring to a boil. boil, covered, for 10-12 minutes, or until the squash is tender. puree the soup, in batches, and then return to the pot. add the bacon, a few dashes of hot sauce, and the spinach, stirring until it wilts.

serve the soup with some creme fraiche or greek yogurt and the gruyere croutons (recipe below).

gruyere croutons

4-5 slices artisan bread (we used the parmesan-peppercorn loaf from waterstreet coffee joint), cubed

2 T. olive oil

kosher salt and pepper

1/3 cup grated gruyere cheese

preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. toss the bread cubes in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. spread them out in a single layer, and bake for 10 minutes. after the first ten minutes, remove the pan from the oven and flip the croutons. sprinkle the cheese on top and bake for 10 minutes longer.

chicken in red wine tomato sauce

my brother came to visit this weekend. yesterday was a rainy, fall day and we didn’t end up doing much before one or two o’clock in the afternoon. after a few hours out and around kalamazoo and spending some time paging through the november issues of food and wine and cooking light,  i started to come up with ideas of my own for dinner.

since i hadn’t ever prepared anything like this dish before, i wanted to work from scratch, combining the ingredients that sounded most appealing to me. the overall flavor of the sauce is slightly sweet and complex, surprising because there were so few ingredients that went into it. i think that taking the steps in order to make the sauce give it that unique flavor. hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

chicken in red wine tomato sauce

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup + 2 T. olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 large sweet onion, diced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup red wine

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 tsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 14 oz. can tomato sauce

2 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped

2 cups fresh spinach

you’ll want to start the sauce first. dice the onions & garlic, and heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium-sized sauce pan. once the oil is heated, add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes, then add the onions and reduce heat, sauteing for another 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent and slightly browned. meanwhile, slice the mushrooms, then add them to the onions and garlic. continue to saute until some of the moisture has come out of the mushrooms and they’ve started to brown. bring the heat back up to medium.

carefully add the wine to the pan, stirring afterward to combine. after a minute or two, add the vegetable stock, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and chopped tomatoes chopped tomatoes. bring to a slight boil, then reduce the heat and allow the sauce to thicken.

while the sauce is cooking down, cut each chicken breast into two or three pieces, depending on the size. tear a sheet of parchment paper and season the chicken with the kosher salt, pepper, and oregano. put the 1/4 cup of olive oil in a dutch oven and heat over medium for a minute. once the pan is hot, add the chicken in one layer.  leave it for 5 minutes to let it brown, then flip and leave it again for 5 minutes. if it still needs to be cooked a bit longer after that, flip once or twice more, until the chicken is firm.

once the chicken is done and the sauce has thickened, carefully place the chicken into the pan with the sauce and stir. just before you’re ready to eat, add the spinach to the pan as well, and stir until the spinach is wilted.

i made a cauliflower puree to serve with the chicken: take a head of cauliflower, and remove florets. steam the florets over boiling water for 10-15 minutes, until the pieces can easily be pierced with a fork. blend the cauliflower with 2 T. olive oil, 1/2-1 cup vegetable stock, and salt and pepper.

place a generous spoonful of the cauliflower puree on the plate, then set a few pieces of chicken + extra sauce on top.

parmesan whitefish + lemon chive butter

last week friday, my parents had a few friends over for dinner. four hours before we were expecting them to arrive, my mom and I were having a difficult time coming up with something to make–we wanted a dish that was warm and comforting for a snowy night without being too heavy. in the rush, i remembered a few cookbooks stashed away in the cupboard.

one of my favorite restaurants is the common grill in chelsea, michigan. each time i go, I’m always so impressed by the creative intricacies in each dish, and have never, ever had a bad meal there. it’s definitely a place to seek out if you’re in close-by ann arbor; but my family sometimes makes the hour and a half trip from kalamazoo just for dinner–it’s that good. craig common, the owner, can often be found around dinner time; running plates, checking on tables, and greeting his patrons–it’s a wonderful atmosphere.

the common grill cookbooks have wonderful ideas for entertaining. another thing I really appreciate about them is that they give ideas for a complete menu–so if you decide on having fish, there’s often the rice or vegetable recipe on the same page that you’d find on your plate if you were sitting at the restaurant. this recipe is slightly adapted from Return to the Common Grill.

parmesan crusted whitefish + mushroom orzo with radicchio

4 6 oz. pieces whitefish, skinned

milk, for soaking fish

2 cups orzo pasta, cooked

1/2 cup baby portobello mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup radicchio, sliced

1/2 cup Drake’s Fry Crisp Batter Mix

1/2 cup tempura rice flour (I just used rice flour)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 cup wesson oil, for sauteing

1/2 cup lemon chive butter (recipe)

2 cups steamed green beans

4 t. fresh chives, chopped

4 lemon wedges

lemon chive butter

1/2 lb. butter, softened

1 T fresh chives, chopped

1/4 cup butter (I took it from the 1/2 lb. above), melted

1/2 t. salt

1 t black pepper

1 t. sugar

2 T. lemon juice (you can roast the 4 lemons if you want, at 350 for 45 minutes, tossed with salt & sugar, to bring out the flavor, as craig common suggests, but I was running out of time!)

whip the butter in a mixing bowl until soft, then add the remaining ingredients & mix well. refrigerate till ready to use.

soak the whitefish in milk for an hour. mix the orzo, mushrooms, and radicchio together & refrigerate. mix the Drake’s mix, rice flour and parmesan together, then dust the whitefish in the mixture. heat the wesson oil in a saute pan, and cook the whitefish, turning once or twice, until its golden brown and the fish is firm. when its done, remove it from the pan, and then add the lemon chive butter while the pan is still hot, to melt it.

in another pan, heat more oil and add the orzo mixture, heating until its ready to serve. on each plate, place a generous spoonful of the orzo. place the whitefish on top of the pasta, drizzle with the lemon chive butter, and garnish with chives & a lemon wedge. the beans, or whatever vegetable you prefer, will be served on the side.

roasted red pepper dip

i’ve really wanted hummus all day today. when i make hummus at home, it hardly ever turns out the same way each time. i use ingredients that i have available and combine whichever sound the best. but this afternoon while i was looking at recipes online, i stumbled across mouhammara, a middle-eastern dip made with red peppers and walnuts, and decided to give it a try. even though it doesn’t include chickpeas or tahini, the dip has a really smooth and creamy consistency–and for so few ingredients, really has a lot of flavor.

3 red peppers

1-2 garlic cloves

1 T lemon juice

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

3/4 cup walnuts

1/3 cup olive oil

1 small sweet onion

roast the peppers at 350 on an oiled baking sheet for 20-30 minutes, turning every five minutes, until the skin begins to wrinkle and blacken. meanwhile, saute the onions until softened, 5 minutes at medium heat. when finished, add the onions and remaining ingredients to a blender and blend till smooth. when the peppers are finished and have cooled for 20 minutes, peel off the skin and discard the seeds. add to the blender & finish! serve with crackers, veggies or pita chips.

fish tacos + chipotle crema

fish tacos are one of those dishes that I’m admittedly a little intimidated by. after making them once a few years ago and coming up with less than impressive results, I decided that it might be something that’s worth going out for.

since then, having eaten fish tacos at numerous restaurants, I have come to the conclusion that whether fried or grilled, what really makes a standout taco is the correct balance of crunchiness, creaminess and spice. some of my favorite tacos are at kaya, a big burrito restaurant in pittsburgh, and after discovering them I was back within a few weeks to order the exact same dish.

but my limited budget and craving for fish tacos has me back to my own kitchen, willing to try again–so here’s to my second attempt. after some testing and recipe research, I think this version will be marinated & pan-fried fish, cilantro and cabbage slaw, and chipotle cilantro crema, with roasted red peppers and avocado slices.

chipotle-cilantro crema:

1/2 cup yogurt

3 T. fresh cilantro

1 chipotle in adobo sauce

1-2 T. lime juice

1 t. salt

pulse all of the ingredients together until the chipotle pepper is finely diced

fish taco marinade

10 4 oz. cod fillets

1/4 cup lime juice

badia adobo seasoning, available at most mexican grocery stores

2 T. olive oil

1/2 bottle modelo beer

make sure the skin is removed from the fish, and slice them lengthwise into roughly 1 inch strips. place the fish in a shallow pan and drizzle with olive oil and lime juice, and sprinkle adobo seasoning on top, then place in the fridge.

30-45 minutes before you’re ready to cook the fish, pour the beer over the fish and remove the pan from the refrigerator. to cook the fish, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. lay the fish in the pan, making sure not to crowd them too much. turn the heat up to medium, and add the remaining beer to the pan. cook for at least 5 minutes on each side, until the fish is firm & slightly browned on each side.

the extras

12 white corn tortillas

1 avocado, halved and sliced horizontally

3 red peppers, halved, seeded & roasted, cut side down, for one hour at 300 degrees. when finished & cooled, slice into strips to serve.

apple + goat cheese quesadillas with heirloom pepper salsa

heirloom pepper salsa

4 heirloom sweet peppers, cut in half & seeded

whole canned tomatoes, 4 total with some sauce, pureed

4 T. chopped cilantro

1 small red onion, chopped

2 T. lime juice

1 large clove garlic

1 T. salt

4 T. hot sauce, or jalapeno pepper

preheat the oven to 300 and coat a baking sheet with olive oil. cut the peppers in half, seed them, and place them cut side down on the sheet. roast in the oven for one hour, or until skin begins to blacken. when finished, the skin should feel papery and peel off quite easily. meanwhile, roughly chop the onion and garlic, then place in a food processor and pulse until minced. place in a bowl, and then pulse the tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, hot sauce or jalapeno, and salt until the pepper and cilantro are nicely chopped, and combine with the garlic and onions. when the peppers are out of the oven & cool, peel them, pulse in the food processor, and add to the bowl with remaining ingredients. season to taste & let sit so the flavors combine, at least a few hours.

the apples, goat cheese & peppers were all items that jon & I bought on saturday at the farmers at the firehouse market in the strip district. I was thinking I would make a quinoa salad with the peppers & goat cheese, but when I saw this recipe today I changed my mind. apple + goat cheese quesadillas instead!

you can also try adding your favorite hot sauce, which will change the flavor of the salsa. i recommend franks’s redhot or chipotle tobasco—-the chipotle flavor would complement the roasted peppers nicely.

apple + goat cheese quesadillas

4 corn tortillas

1 cup goat cheese, at room temperature

4 apples, sliced vertically, seeds removed

1 T. olive oil

assemble the quesadillas by spreading a quarter cup of cheese on each tortilla, and covering half with slices from one of the apples. fold the other side in, pressing to make sure the apples are in place. brush the outside of the quesadilla with olive oil, and make the remaining quesadillas. broil in the oven, 5-8 minutes on each side, until the cheese melts & the tortilla has begun to brown. serve with the heirloom pepper salsa & chopped avocado.


pumpkin soup

fall is definitely my favorite season.  the cooler weather and changing leaves are always such a welcome change, and after the unseasonably hot summer in pittsburgh, I’ve been looking forward to it even more.

growing up in michigan, each time the fall came around, my family would make a trip out to the VerHage Farm to pick apples. what stands out most in my memories from these occasions are all of the wonderful fall things we would make after each visit. this year I’m looking forward to the apple crisp and cider just as much, but have come across a new recipe that I think will become part of my annual repertoire. butternut squash soup is usually the soup I’ve made in the years past, but when my friend Andre presented me with a pumpkin a few days ago, I thought I would give pumpkin soup a try.

the soup is really simple and takes only about an hour to make, but the result is really satisfying.

white bean + tomato soup

one of my good friends, elisabeth, is on a strict gluten free and dairy free diet. when we decided to have dinner together, making soup seemed like the best option. anything that begins with olive oil, garlic & onions is pretty difficult to mess up. I started there, chopped and added the vegetables in the kitchen that seemed to pair well, and came up with a thick, hearty tomato base flecked with thyme, basil and hints of garlic. the result, with a bottle of wine, roasted cauliflower, and friends–made for a pretty great evening.

  • 2-3 T. olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped

heat the oil over medium, then add the garlic & onion and saute till translucent, but not brown, for about 5 minutes. after the five minutes are up,

  • 2 12 oz. cans white or navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 summer squash, cut in half and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 12-16 oz. vegetable broth

season with kosher salt & pepper, dried rosemary, thyme, and basil, and red pepper flakes

cover, reduce to a simmer and let everything cook together for 3o minutes. then use an immersion blender to puree the soup.

herb pistou: combine a handful of fresh herbs with garlic, 2 T. olive oil, and salt and pepper in a food processor.

eggs & spicy rice

on hand: heirloom tomatoes, brown rice, sweet onions, eggs & hot sauce:

layer the cooked brown rice on the bottom of the plate, top with sliced tomato. slice the onion and cook over low heat in 1/2 T olive oil and 1/2 T butter until caramelized. place on top of the tomatoes, and finish with an over-easy egg and hot sauce.