Tag Archives: weeknight dinners

Grilled Chicken with Caprese Topping

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We have been having a bit of a heat wave in L.A., so I have been avoiding turning on the stove or oven. This caprese chicken from Baked Bree is the perfect light summer meal.

Grilled Chicken with Caprese Topping
Adapted from Baked Bree

2 chicken breasts, cut into halves or thirds if they are large
grill seasoning
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 c fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 c red onion, finely chopped
10 leaves basil, chopped
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

To make the salad, put the tomatoes, mozzarella, and red onion in a medium-sized bowl. Season with salt and pepper, then drizzle with vinegar and oil to taste. Add the basil and toss. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Season the chicken on both sides with grill seasoning. Grill on medium-high heat until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the chicken with the caprese salad on top.

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Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Sauce

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I have had smoked salmon in a creamy pink sauce at restaurants, so I tried to recreate it at home with a base of vodka sauce. The results were a savory and welcome change from our usual red sauces (pork ragu, eggplant parmesan, linguine all’amatriciana, spaghetti and meatballs).

Farfalle with Smoked Salmon and Vodka Sauce

4 oz smoked salmon fillet
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
kosher salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c vodka
14 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 c half-and-half
8 leaves of basil, finely chopped
1/2 lb farfalle (bowtie pasta), prepared using package directions

Heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute the olive and garlic until softened, seasoning with salt and red pepper flakes. Add the vodka, then simmer until half of the liquid has evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then stir in the half-and-half and basil.

Break the smoked salmon into small pieces, then stir into the sauce.

Toss the pasta in the sauce.

Chicken tortilla soup

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In high school, I worked at a Mexican restaurant, where I learned about enchiladas, pozole, and carnitas. Tortilla soup was one of the staff’s favorite meal items. Here’s a quick, healthy version.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 T vegetable oil
3 c water and/or chicken broth
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1 T tomato paste
14 oz can tomatoes with green chilis
2 c chicken broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 c frozen corn

For the garnish:
shredded cheddar cheese
green onion, finely chopped
tortilla chips
lime wedges
avocado, diced

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and grill or pan fry until they are browned and cooked through. Allow to cook, then cut them into bite-sized pieces.

In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, poblano pepper, and saute until the onions are softened. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Bring to a boil, then add the corn. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the chopped chicken to the soup, and serve with cheese, green onion, chips, lime, and avocado on the side.

Clams with Bacon, Corn, and Cherry Tomatoes

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This is a delicious and quick summer stew.  It only takes 20-30 minutes to make, so it won’t heat up your kitchen.

Clams with Bacon, Corn, and Cherry Tomatoes

2 lbs clams (Littleneck, Venus, or any other hard-shelled clam), rinsed and scrubbed if necessary
1 T olive oil
4 slices of bacon, diced
1 shallot, sliced
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
black pepper
kosher salt
1 c dry white wine
4-6 basil leaves, finely chopped
baguette, for serving

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a small dutch oven. Add the bacon and fry until crisp. Add the shallots and corn, and saute for 3-5 minutes, seasoning with a tiny bit of salt (the bacon is already salty), pepper, and smoked paprika. Add the wine and tomatoes.

When the wine is boiling, add the clams, then cover and steam for five minutes. Once all of the clams have opened, the dish is done. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread.

Taco Thursday!

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Paco and I went to Taco Tuesday two weeks ago, which inspired an at-home taco night. We tried out a new Mexican market, and bought some marinated carne asada and tiny tortillas for street taco style tacos.

AND–as a huge bonus, they sell kastakan there! Kastakan is a cross between chicharrones and carnitas — fried pork skin with some meat attached. I read about it before we went on our honeymoon to Playa del Carmen, and I forced Paco to walk across town in 100+ degree weather to get these tacos. 100% worth it. Here’s me in Playa del Carmen with the aforementioned tacos.  Note the large chicharrones served on the side in lieu of chips.

The kastakan that we bought here was not as delicious as the one in Playa, but it was a nice change from carne asada. This is how it looks at the store. Just heat it up and cut it into chunks.

We made a taco bar with carne asada, kastakan, homemade guacamole, tomatillo salsa, roasted tomato salsa, cilantro, red onion, lime, and grilled Mexican scallions.

I love the tiny tortillas!