Tag Archives: dinner

Chicken with Lemon & Olives

Chicken with Lemon & OlivesUnsurprisingly, the way to my heart is through my stomach. I mean, I’m a food blogger–of course it is.

To get specific though, it’s through salty, briny, acidic foods. Dessert is a wonderful thing, but I will happily destroy a jar of pickles or smear dijon mustard on everything or give you a tour of my salt collection (nerd alert!) any day of the week. And then I will make you a batch of cookies, because of course I will. But that’s a post for another day.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesToday, we’re talking about Chicken with Lemon & Olives, which is a dream dinner for someone like me. It’s got crispy-skinned chicken thighs, briny roasted olives and a garlicky, herby, dijon-spiked lemon sauce, so…yeah, um, hi. Sign me up.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesThis dish, y’all. It’s so delicious. The sauce is tangy and acidic from the lemon and mustard, and rich (but not overly so) from the chicken and olive oil. And the olives—ohhhh, the olives. They’re cracked open before cooking so that all that tangy, schmaltzy sauce gets in there and gets a little briny and…well, it’s very good.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesSpeaking of olives, I prefer to make this with castelveltranos because they’re my favorite. More of a kalamata person? Want to try a mix? Do what makes you happy. I used olives that still have their pits because, frankly, they always taste better. If you want to use pitted olives though, I won’t stop you. Just make sure to skip the step when you give them a thwack with the bottom of a cast iron skillet—nobody wants to clean that mess.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesI should note that the sauce stays on the thin side. If you’d like it to be thicker, you can reduce the amount of stock a bit when you pour it in, or remove the chicken, etc., and thicken it with a cornstarch slurry after roasting. Truly, the consistency of the sauce was the only thing I had reservations about during testing, but I like it as written. It nestles perfectly into a pile of polenta or mashed potatoes. Next time I’m going to try serving it with slices of toasted baguette.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesCan we discuss how absurdly beautiful this is? I love the golden chicken in contrast with the vibrant olives and roasted lemon wedges. This is definitely one of those mains that works as well for a dinner party as it does for a weeknight. And on that note, if you’re having a dinner party and making this, please invite me.Chicken with Lemon & Olives

Chicken with Lemon & Olives
makes 6-8 servings

2 cups olives (with pits), brine discarded (I used castelveltrano)
8 chicken thighs
1/2-3/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2-3 lemons, divided
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (based on preference)
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 cup chicken stock
polenta or mashed potatoes, for serving
chopped parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 450F. Grease a large casserole dish or 9×13-inch pan. Set aside.

Crack olives. On a sturdy surface, sandwich olives between two pieces of parchment. Use a heavy object (bottom of a cast iron skillet, meat tenderizer, large can) to give them a few whacks to crack the skin open a bit. You may also use a sharp knife to lightly score each olive.

Blot chicken thighs with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over the chicken and season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Use your hands to lightly and quickly massage oil and salt into the meat for even distribution.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches (unless your pan is giant), place chicken thighs in the pan skin-side-down and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate.

Meanwhile, juice 1-2 lemons, until you have 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice. Slice remaining lemon into 8 wedges. Set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of rendered fat. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary, and saute until fragrant (about 1 minute). Stir in red pepper flakes and mustard, followed by stock. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and a pinch of salt.

Pour sauce into prepared dish. Place chicken in a single layer over the top. Arrange olives around chicken and tuck lemon wedges in between. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake 45-50 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Let cool a few minutes until bubbling stops. Serve over polenta or mashed potatoes with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.Chicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & OlivesChicken with Lemon & Olives

Everyday Cassoulet

Updated 12/28/2018: This post was edited to add (much) better photos.Everyday CassouletLiving far away from home means that when I get a call from friends or family, I “play the hits,” if you will. I tell them all about the big things going on in my life–a new apartment, the awesome kid I take care of, the brown and white spotted schnauzer I saw yesterday (I really love a schnauzer). But in all the fuss of sharing my life and hearing about theirs, I can let amazing things go by the wayside because they might seem mundane if the person on the other end of the phone call is not directly involved.Everyday CassouletTake for example this Everyday Cassoulet. It’s rich and delicious and one of my favorite meals to make at home, but at the end of the day it’s *just* dinner. Everybody eats dinner. It’s not really a “call your mom down in Texas to tell her about it” kind of thing.Everyday CassouletWe all have our go-to meals though. My best friend, Emily, asked me a few months ago what I had been making for dinner lately, and this was the first thing I told her about. Mind you, I’ve been making this for five years. When I found the original recipe, I still lived in Manhattan! I was still working office jobs! The only thing I had ever baked from scratch were Ina Garten’s brownies! And while all of those things have changed, my go-to dinner has not.Everyday CassouletEveryday CassouletSome of you may be wondering: what is cassoulet? It’s a slow-cooked meat and white bean stew from the south of France. Cassoulet is traditionally baked in a dish called a cassole. The fanciest versions contain things like goose, lamb, and duck confit. But this is a weeknight version of the classic French dish, so it’s been pared down. Don’t worry though, it’s still every bit as good and comforting as the real deal!Everyday CassouletEveryday CassouletThis Everyday Cassoulet is made with Italian sausages in place of any specialty meats. Traditional white beans are baked with grape or cherry tomatoes, pearl onions, crushed garlic, and fresh herbs. Nothing has to be sliced or diced–you only need a knife to crush the garlic! Everything is drizzled with a simple mixture of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard, and baked for an hour in a regular casserole pan–no need for specialty dishes here!Everyday CassouletAnd oh my, is it delicious. The sausages get super crispy, and the tomatoes burst and create the most wonderful sauce with the balsamic mixture. The beans soak in all the flavors and get super tender. This is fantastic served with crusty bread. I forgot it when I took these photos, but trust me, you’ll need it.Everyday CassouletPut this Everyday Cassoulet on your list of weeknight dinners! It’s easy as can be, but sure doesn’t taste like it! Your family and friends will definitely ask for the recipe 🙂 Everyday Cassoulet

Everyday Cassoulet
adapted from Quick Cassoulet by Julie van Rosendaal
makes four servings*

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, rinsed
1 cup peeled pearl onions (fresh or frozen)*
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lb. raw Italian Sausages*
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Preheat oven to 425F.

In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In a small casserole dish, combine garlic cloves, tomatoes, and pearl onions. Top with rosemary and thyme sprigs, followed by sausages. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar mixture. Bake for 40 minutes.

Remove sausages to a plate. Stir cannellini beans into tomato mixture. Place sausages back on top of vegetables with the less-browned sides up . Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove dish from oven. Let cool a few minutes before serving in shallow bowls.

Leftovers keep covered in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Notes:

1. This recipe doubles easily in a 9×13″ pan. The bake time is the same.
2. If you don’t care for onions or simply don’t want to use them, they may be omitted.
3. I used pork sausages, but I think chicken or turkey would work well here.
Everyday CassouletEveryday Cassoulet

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

  Well, I know I just vowed to make some healthier recipes this month, but things have changed. Namely, the temperature. November and December were positively spring-like. It was 71 degrees on Christmas Eve! But now, winter has reared its ugly head, and it’s a frigid 18 degrees. It’s supposed to get up to a balmy 30 this afternoon though😁 There is a time and place for super healthy dinners, but my kitchen on a day when the temperature never creeps above freezing is. not. it. Weather like this calls for Baked Macaroni & Cheese: al dente macaroni covered in a velvety cheese sauce, then topped with crispy panko bread crumbs and baked ’til bubbly. With a salad or some roasted vegetables, it’s a perfect meal for these frigid days.

Macaroni & Cheese needs no introduction, of course. It’s everyone’s favorite comfort food. It’s super simple to make, taking less than an hour from putting the water on to boil to taking the final product out of the oven. It’s nearly as fast as the boxed stuff (and way more delicious). Also, this recipe makes enough for an army, so it’s perfect for freezing. It also halves easily. If you’ve never taken the time to make macaroni & cheese from scratch, this is a great recipe to start with–it may just keep you from ever buying the box again!

Baked Macaroni & Cheese starts with boiling water for pasta. Cook the macaroni for 4.5-5 minutes, until it’s just barely al dente. If it is fully cooked, it might be too soft after baking in the cheese sauce. The last thing we want is gummy mac & cheese. Drain the pasta and put it back in its cooking pot while you make the sauce.
  The sauce is the key to making really spectacular mac & cheese. It’s very simple to put together, but requires your full attention while it’s cooking. Start by heating 3 cups of whole milk, just until it’s warm to the touch. Make a roux by melting butter in a large saucepan and then adding an equal amount of flour. Stir with a whisk or wooden spoon for a couple of minutes, until it’s a golden yellow paste. Stir in one teaspoon of prepared Dijon mustard. This will offset the richness of all the dairy–I promise it will not make your mac & cheese taste like Grey Poupon! Slowly whisk the warm milk into the roux. Do not stop whisking until it thickens a bit. You want to be able to see faint whisk “tracks” before you start adding the cheese. Whisk in cheese by the handful, making sure that everything melts completely. Once the sauce has a smooth, even consistency, stir in salt and pepper. This will seem like a ton of sauce for the amount of macaroni, but as baked mac & cheese tends to dry out a bit in the oven, we need a lot of sauce to keep everything nice and creamy. 

Pour the sauce into the pot with the cooked pasta and fold it all together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Transfer the coated pasta into a buttered pan (I used two pie plates, but this also fits in a 9×13″ casserole dish). Top with panko breadcrumbs and dot with butter before baking for 15 minutes at 400F. Once the breadcrumbs are starting to turn brown, it’s ready! Let the full pan(s) cool for a few minutes before serving.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese involves a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult. The most tasking part is making the sauce, and that really isn’t hard at all! So, now that it’s cold out, ditch the box and make something way, way better. Your family and friends will thank you for it.
 Baked Macaroni & Cheese
makes one 9×13″ pan or two 9″ pie plates
serves 10-12

1 pound (16 ounces) dried macaroni*
3 cups whole milk*
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard*
2 1/2 cups grated melting cheese, like extra-sharp cheddar*
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs*

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter one 9×13″ pan or two 9″ pie plates. Set aside.

Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add dried macaroni and cook until barely al dente, about 4.5-5 minutes. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pot it cooked in.

Warm whole milk over low heat* until it’s just warm to the touch. Remove from heat.

Put a large saucepan over medium heat. Melt six tablespoons of butter. Add flour and stir with a whisk or wooden spoon until the roux is a golden yellow color, about two minutes. Whisk in Dijon mustard. Slowly add warmed milk to the pan, whisking constantly. Once the mixture has started to thicken,* add grated cheese by the handful, making sure it all melts before adding more. Once the sauce has an even consistency, whisk in the salt and black pepper before removing the pan from the heat.

Pour the sauce into the pot with the drained pasta. Fold pasta and sauce together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Pour mixture into prepared pan(s).* Top with panko and dot with two tablespoons of butter. Bake at 400F for 15-20 minutes, until browned and bubbly. Let cool five minutes before serving.

Notes:

1. Use any small pasta you like. Shells or cavatappi are good choices here.
2. You may use 1% or 2% milk, but I do not recommend using skim or fat free.
3. This may be substituted with 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder, or left out entirely.
4. I prefer Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar in my mac & cheese, but any combination of melting cheeses will work.
5. Regular plain breadcrumbs may be substituted.
6. Milk may also be heated in the microwave.
7. If sauce gets too thick, add milk until it has thinned to your liking.
8. At this point, macaroni & cheese may be frozen in a pan for up to two months. Bake from frozen for one hour, adding panko topping at the 45 minute mark.