Whole Wheat Orzo Risotto with Shrimp and Artichoke Hearts (low-fat)

Inspired by Ellie Krieger’s Herbed Salmon and Orzo Casserole with Feta. The way the orzo is cooked in minimal liquid, adds a yummy, creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12oz) package frozen artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup whole wheat orzo
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups water or broth (for orzo)
  • 1/4 cup water (for artichokes)
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp (21-30 count)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach)
  • Juice of a lemon
  • Spices – Whatever you like – my preference for this dish is lemon pepper, celery salt, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (divided), more for drizzling 
  • Parmesan or feta cheese for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Place fresh or frozen pieces of shrimp in a single layer. Sprinkle each piece with spices of choice.
  3. Cook for a minute or two and then flip the shrimp. Cook on the second side until pink and no longer translucent. Remove to a plate.
  4. To the skillet add orzo, water/broth, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer; cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove lid and stir; continue to cook 3 more minutes or until tender and all liquid is absorbed. If the orzo is still firm, add a bit more water.
  6. Turn off heat, squeeze some lemon juice on top and taste for salt.
  7. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Allow artichokes to brown slightly.
  8. Add 1/4 cup water and cover for a few minutes until artichokes are tender.
  9. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and greens, and toss until the greens are wilted. Remove from heat.
  10. To the pot with orzo, add the artichokes, greens, and shrimp. Sprinkle with feta or parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

30 Minute Cardamom-Lime Chicken and White Beans

Photo from Milk Street
This is one of my favorite recipes, and although cardamom and garam masala are two of the main ingredients, I actually prefer it without.
Adapted from Milk Street

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch chunks (bone-in would also work, but would need more cooking time)
  • 2.5 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper, divided
  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 4 bunches scallions (2 bunches are plenty) thinly sliced, white and green parts used separately
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala (I usually omit this or use just a pinch)
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground cardamom (I omit this – too strong of a flavor for me)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannelloni beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • 1 cup chicken broth (I use 1 teaspoon Better than Bullion with 1 cup water)
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (approximately 2 limes)

Directions

  1. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the chicken and scallion whites, then cook, stirring once or twice, until both the chicken and scallions begin to turn golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato paste, garam masala, cardamom, turmeric, 1.5 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds. Add the bean liquid, broth, lime zest and juice, then bring to a boil. Reduce to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a simmer, until the chicken is opaque when cut into, 5 to 7 minutes (I like to cook this, partially covered, for at least 15 minutes to allow the chicken to get really tender.
  5. Stir in the scallion greens and the beans, then cook until the beans are heated through, another 2 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

Tip: Don’t forget to save the liquid when draining the beans. It adds both body and flavor to the dish. If you do accidentally discard it, simply increase the chicken broth to 2⅓ cups. The braising liquid will be thinner, but the dish will still be tasty.


Allspice & Panko Crusted Chicken

My grandma starting making this long before “Shake and Bake” existed. It’s surprisingly delicious. The allspice is essential!

Ingredients

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I prefer Organic Smart Chicken)
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoned Salt (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 convection (if you have).
  2. Mist a wire rack with cooking spray, then set in a rimmed baking sheet. For easy clean up, line the baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. In a skillet, melt butter and add Panko. Mix constantly until lightly browned. Add the allspice, salt and pepper and mix well. Remove from heat and set the pan on a work surface.
  4. In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and a spoonful of milk or water.
  5. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip both sides of chicken in eggs and then transfer to the Panko mixture. Dredge both sides in the mixture while pressing to adhere.
  6. Transfer chicken to prepared wire rack, spacing evenly apart. Try not to place the chicken too close together. I once tried making a double batch on one sheet pan and they didn’t cook properly.
  7. If you’d like, spray the chicken with cooking oil to enhance browning.
  8. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes, or until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the chicken is 165. If the chicken isn’t browned enough, change the heat setting to broil and allow to bake another 3-5 minutes. If you’d like the underside to be browned as well, flip and broil a few minutes.

Bone-in chicken thighs work well too, but cooking time will increase to approximately 30 minutes.

The perfect side dish to go with this – they cook at the same temperature for the same amount of time: Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Broccoli or Cauliflower.


Chicken Francese

Photo from Real Food Tastes Good

Tyler Florence isn’t the first person that comes to mind when thinking of easy recipes, but this one is an exception. It’s a great weeknight dinner, but elegant enough for entertaining. Original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients

  • 4 thinly sliced, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
  • All purpose flour, for dredging
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs (2 is plenty)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, with rind, cut into the rounds
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Put some flour in a shallow bowl and mix with salt and pepper.
  2. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with 2 tablespoons of water.
  3. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet.
  4. Dredge both sides of the chicken in flour, pat off extra flour, and then dip the chicken into the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off.
  5. When the oil is hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer.
  6. Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  7. Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice, simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.
  8. I like to tip the pan to drain the oil before proceeding to the next step.
  9. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet, this will thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour.
  10. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan; place the lemon slices on top of the cutlets.
  11. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Turkey & Black Bean Chili

Adapted from a food network recipe by Matt Martinez.

One of my favorite one-pot meals. This is a quick and incredibly flavorful turkey chili with vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3/4 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 large cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3/4 tablespoon salt (I use 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 3/4 tablespoon black pepper (I use 1/2 a tablespoon)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
  • 3/4 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sweet white onions (I use 1/2 cup)
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped green chilies
  • 1 (14 ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes (I drain the tomato juice into the pot and then chop up the tomatoes into smaller pieces before adding them to the pot).
  • 2 whole chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (I use one pepper and remove the seeds, otherwise it’s too spicy for us)
  • 1 cup fresh corn (I use frozen)
  • 1 cup finely chopped zucchini
  • 1 cup chicken stock (I add 2 cups)
  • I like to add 1 can black beans, drained and barely rinsed

Directions

  1. Preferably using a cast-iron skillet, brown the turkey in the oil.
  2. Add all the ingredients except zucchini and chicken stock, and saute for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetables and stock, and cook for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve immediately.
  5. I like to serve this with fresh baked corn bread crumbled on top.
  6. *tip – Since you only need one chipotle pepper, separate the peppers in a ziplock bag and freeze for next time.

White Beans in Tomato Sauce

This is a very simple dish that comes together in 10 minutes. It’s my son’s absolute favorite meal.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, diced (3/4 cup)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 ounce can tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
  • 2 cans cannellini, great northern, or navy beans (or 1.5 cups dried beans soaked overnight in a brine of 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt to 3 quarts water)

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a medium pot, Dutch oven or stovetop pressure cooker.
  2. Add onions, salt, and pepper and cook, partially covered, until the onions are completely soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add tomato sauce and beans and bring to a boil. Cover and let cook for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you prefer the sauce to be thicker, uncover and simmer until desired consistency is reached. We like ours pretty saucy.
  5. Pressure cooker instructions: Sometimes, rather than using a regular pot, I’ll prepare this in my stovetop pressure cooker. I let it come to pressure for about 5 seconds and do a quick release. It’s amazing how much of an impact that makes on the final result.

Serve over rice.


Quick Chicken Piccata

From Food Network

Recipe from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 pound thinly sliced skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large lemon-half thinly sliced, half juiced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup white wine or dry vermouth (I skip this)
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth (I use 2/3 cup since I skip the wine)
  • I like to add 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed

Directions

  1. Arrange chicken pieces in a single layer on a large plate or a tray. In a small bowl, mix flour, salt and paprika. Sprinkle half of the seasoned flour over chicken. Turn pieces over and dust with remaining seasoned flour.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add lemon slices and cook 1 minute on each side; remove and set aside. Add chicken pieces to pan in a single layer and cook until golden brown outside and white inside but still juicy, 1 to 2 minutes on each side; remove to a platter.
  3. Melt 1-tablespoon butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Pour in wine, broth, and capers and bring to a boil over high heat, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of the pan with a wooden spatula; boil until reduced by half, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in lemon juice and remaining butter and pour over chicken, garnish with chopped parsley.

Pasta with Cauliflower, Bacon & Breadcrumbs

Recipe from America’s Test Kitchen.

The unique way the pasta is cooked lends a special quality to this delicious dish. There are a few steps involved, but it’s very worth the effort.

Ingredients

  • 3 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large head cauliflower (3 pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch florets
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 pound campanelle pasta (I like Rigatone)
  • 5.5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (I skip this)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions

BACON PANKO TOPPING: Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until crispy, 5 to 7 minutes. (I remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat). Add panko and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until panko is well browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer Panko mixture to bowl and set aside. Wipe out the skillet.

CAULIFLOWER: Heat 5 teaspoons oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cauliflower and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is crisp-tender and browned in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm. (I’ve had mixed results cooking the cauliflower this way, probably because I don’t have a 12-inch skillet. I prefer to toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt and roast in a 450 degree oven until browned, stirring half way through, approximately 20 minutes.

PASTA: Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onion has softened, 4 to 7 minutes. Increase heat to high, add pasta, broth, and wine, and bring to simmer. Cook pasta, stirring frequently, until most of liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove pot from heat; stir in parsley, lemon juice, and cauliflower; and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with bread crumb topping, or leave it in a bowl to serve separately.


Beef Kabobs (Shish Kabob)

IMG_6244

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds top sirloin
  • 1 onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon allspice

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the olive oil, salt, pepper and allspice.
  2. Cut beef into approximately 2×2 inch cubes and place in bowl.
  3. Cut the onion into quarters and then separate the layers and add to bowl.
  4. Cover and refrigerate 1-2 hours.
  5. Put the meat onto skewers with a slice of onion in between each piece, careful not to stuff everything together too tightly.
  6. In my experience, top sirloin is best cooked to medium. It seems to be a bit tough if served medium-rare.
IMG_6235
IMG_6237



Shredded Chicken Tacos

Adapted from Sous Vide for Everybody by Americas Test Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, skinless (with or without bones) or 2 split chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons minced canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (I prefer 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I prefer allspice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoons juice

Directions

  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the chicken in two batches until browned on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now empty skillet. Add onion and cook until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in chipotle, cumin, and allspice, and garlic and cook until fragrant.
  5. Stir in tomatoes and sugar. Scrape all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  6. Transfer mixture to blender and process until smooth.
  7. Return mixture to the pan and add the chicken. Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until the chicken shreds easily when pulled apart with two forks. If using a stove-top pressure cooker, cook for 8 minutes and then do a quick release.
  8. Use tongs to remove chicken from the pot. Place onto a plate and shred.
  9. Meanwhile, raise the heat on the pot and gently boil until the sauce is as thick as desired. Return the shredded chicken to the pot; add lime zest and juice.
  10. Serve with fried corn tortillas. Garnish with sliced avocados, onion, cilantro, and diced tomatoes.