Tag Archives: Dinner

Make Ahead Greek Pita

I don’t claim to be any type of gym rat. Running on a treadmill just doesn’t turn me on the way eating chips in front of the TV with a beer after work does, you get me? But in the interest of keeping my heart healthy and my saddle bags under control and yada yada yada, I bit the bullet and joined the gym. The problem? Going to the gym after work leaves little to no time for cooking delicious dinners, unless I want to eat at 9pm. And I don’t.

This recipe is perfect if you’re like me, and want to take a maximum of 20 minutes to prepare dinner on a week night. It’s even MORE perfect for a Monday night when you have oodles of time on Sunday to get everything prepared. You can make the sauce ahead of time, cut up and marinade the chicken ahead of time, even chop the vegetables ahead of time. Then when it comes time to assemble dinner, you only have to toss the chicken in a skillet, cook it, and serve. Gym-sweaty to dinner-ready in no time at all.

On the menu:
Greek chicken pita
Serves 2 – 3

Tzatziki:
NOTE: this is WAY more tzatziki than you’ll need for this particular dish, so if you want to halve it, you totally can.
8 oz. plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 cloves garlic, peeled

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until blended. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, or for best results, overnight.

Marinade for chicken:
6 oz. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 medium sized chicken breasts, cubed

Add yogurt, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add cubed chicken and stir until chicken is coated. Let sit at least 2 hours, or for best results, overnight.

Preparation and assembly:
2 Tbsp olive oil
Marinated chicken (see above)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Heat olive oil and garlic cloves over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Wipe excess marinade from chicken, and add chicken to pan. Cook until chicken cubes are cooked through, around 10 minutes.

Add to a warm pita with freshly chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and thinly sliced red onions. Top with tzatziki. You can also throw all of this in a bowl without the pita, top with tzatziki and eat it as a salad over lettuce.

Disclaimer: the pita in the picture is actually Indian naan… still freaking delicious.

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Spring Risotto


It’s no secret to those devoted Food E. readers that I love risotto. It’s easy to prepare for company, it’s impressive to present, and it’s one single dish to make sure is ready by meal time instead of two or three separate dishes that you have to coordinate. Also, most people love it. This past weekend The BF and I had some friends over for dinner and I prepared this risotto with a small arugula salad with cucumbers to start. The original recipe calls for calamari and if you have a grill or a grill pan, I’d definitely suggest trying it. I went with calamari’s good friend, shrimp.

On the menu:
Spring pea and lemon risotto with shrimp
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh shrimp, de-veined and tails removed, patted dry and lightly sprinkled with garlic salt and flour

Heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers, lower heat and leave the stock on a low simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sautee leeks until softened but not brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice. Stir rice for one minute until fully coated with oil.

Add white wine to the rice and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed, around 3 minutes. Add one cup of stock and occasionally stir. Keep adding stock cup by cup until one cup remains, around 20 minutes*. Add lemon juice, zest, leeks, peas, and last cup of stock to the rice and stir until incorporated.

When you add the last cup of stock, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place shrimp in the pan. While the shrimp are cooking: add cheese and butter to the risotto and stir. Turn the heat off of the risotto. Flip the shrimp in the skillet after 3 minutes, cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Plate the risotto and place shrimp on top. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese if desired.

*Note: the best way to test your risotto for doneness is to taste it. Grains should be just barely hard in the center when you turn off the heat to complete the cooking process.

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Flop

Guys, I did it again. Messed up a recipe. This is twice in two weeks, I want you to know. The first flop was when I thought I could make risotto without chicken stock. It was pretty disgusting. Not only did it taste bitter and weird, it came out a sick milky-purple color from the red wine I thought I’d try and use to flavor it up. This last mess up was bright green: usually attractive in a pesto, gross and bitter (once again) from lack of salty flavor. The risotto debacle was the result of me trying to “make do and mend” with items I already had in my house. The pesto travesty came from a shoddy recipe (or from someone who REALLY loves the taste of watered down arugula juice*).

The (lovely and patient) BF tried to force down both dishes, but in the end I think his response was, “I don’t know if I can eat any more of this…” I feel like I have some serious mac-n-cheese-ing to do to compensate for these lost meals.

In any case, the shrimp in that above dish were INCREDIBLE so I’m including the recipe here. Totally worth trying with a regular pesto recipe or your standard tomato sauce.

On the menu:
Garlic fried shrimp
Serves 2

1 lb. raw shrimp, deveined and tails removed
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure shrimp are rinsed clean and patted completely dry. Sprinkle seasoning over the shrimp. Place shrimp in a plastic Ziploc bag, add flour, and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shake excess flour off of shrimp and place in the hot skillet. Cook on each side for around 3 – 4 minutes, or until they are no longer gray and translucent.

Add to pasta and sauce and grate cheese over the top.

*In case you’re interested, the sauce in question was arugula pesto: 6 oz. of arugula, 1 garlic glove, 1/3 cup of asiago cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup heavy cream, all blended together.

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Pork Loin with Pear and Ginger Chutney

Pork Loin served over mashed potatoes

A long, long time ago I bought a pork loin. Okay, not THAT long ago, but for the purposes of creating a dramatic atmosphere without the benefit of music, let’s just say it was a long, long time ago.

Ahem.

Anyway, I had grand plans for this pork loin. Then I kept seeing recipes with instructions like “marinate for 3 hours” or “slow cook” or “cook in oven for 2 1/2 hours.” I just… well, I just don’t have that kind of time. So I threw it in the freezer and thought, “Another day.”

Then I got broke. $6-in-my-checking-account kind of broke. Nothing like poverty to make a girl resourceful. So with that giant hunk of pork in my freezer (get your minds out of the gutter, you dirt bags) and a jar of homemade pear and ginger chutney in my cupboard, I decided this was the weekend to finally tackle the pig.

On the menu:
Pork loin with pear and ginger chutney
Serves 2, Adapted from Epicurious.com

1.25 – 1.5 lb pork loin
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup pear and ginger chutney*
2 Tbsp dried thyme
3 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together the white wine, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, chutney, and thyme. Place pork in a shallow bowl and cover with the wine mixture. Use a spoon to distribute the mixture all over the pork so it is well covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I put mine in a Pyrex dish and put the lid on it) and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet on medium/high heat. Brown your marinated meat on each side, 2 minutes each side. Pour wine marinade over the pork and place the whole skillet in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the pork registers around 140 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Place pork on the cutting board and cover with a foil tent. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into rounds and serving. Pour pan juices over the pork once plated.

*You can use any kind of chutney you want. Apple and pear work best with pork, and this particular chutney was a KNOCKOUT. The BF kept saying, “It’s so… soft.” And it really was ridiculously tender. This dish takes almost zero culinary knowledge and is a great recipe to make for someone special on a date night. It looks super fancy, tastes incredible, and will get you major props.

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Warm Me Up, I’m Chili

Beef and bean chili with coleslaw, jalapeno goat cheese cornbread, and pulled pork

Fall is by far my favorite season. Sweaters, boots, crispy apples, baked goods, pumpkins, leaves changing colors… hand me a Hudson Bay blanket and point me to the nearest easy chair, kids. It’s all I’ll ever need in this world.

Cue today’s Fall Football meal. I wanted to make something that would warm the bellies of the boys in my life, but also allow me to watch the games all day without standing over the stove for 6 hours straight. For the next few days I’ll be posting each individual recipe from this meal because they all turned out SO well. And by Friday you’ll be ready to make it all for your own football party on Sunday.

Beef and Bean Chili
Adapted from Epicurious.com
Serves 8

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped*
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 28-ounce can tomatoes, diced
2 15.25-ounce cans kidney beans. drained
14 ounces beef broth

Heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a large pot. Add onion and saute for around 6 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic and saute for 1 minutes. Add ground beef and cook until the meat is browned. Add chili powder, paprika, and cinnamon, then mix in tomatoes with juices, kidney beans, and beef broth. Bring heat up to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let chili simmer for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve chili in bowls with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chives.

*I used one jalapeno because I’m not a huge fan of spicy food. If you love spicy, you can add 3 jalapenos chopped with seeds.

Recipes for jalapeno goat cheese cornbread and coleslaw coming soon!

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Cacio e Pepe

Someone recently asked for more commentary in my posts. This person may or may not The BF. No matter. A reader’s wish is my command!

One Saturday night I met my friend Celeste for dinner and we had no reservations. I don’t know if people outside of New York City realize what this means, but here in the Big Apple, that is dinner suicide. So we popped from restaurant to restaurant, hoping for an opening somewhere and finding nothing, except for Matthew Broderick at Morandi in the West Village. I bet Ferris Bueller doesn’t need a rez.

So finally, both of us having later plans, we found a little Italian spot and sat at the bar with glasses of wine and bowls of pasta and I tasted, for the first time ever, cacio e pepe. Let me break it down for ya: it’s noodles with butter, cheese, and pepper. It’s not rocket science. But holy… holy mackerel. I became obsessed.

So tonight I needed a little bit of my favorite. That… and I’m poor and had all the ingredients in my fridge. Hey rustic Italian!

On the menu:
Cacio e pepe
Serves 2 (…or 1)

6 oz. thin spaghetti
3 Tbsp butter, divided
2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated (WARNING: do not use the already-grated cheese you buy in a green shaker – that’s gross)

Boil salted water for pasta. In a non-stick pan, melt 2 Tbsp of butter. Add pepper and stir constantly for one minute. Add half a cup of pasta water to the pan and bring heat to a simmer. Once at a simmer, reduce heat to low and add cooked pasta. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and cheese and toss together with tongs until a thick sauce is formed, about 7 minutes.

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Mishmash

My first thought for dinner last night was, “Takeout.” Then I remembered my withering bank account. And my waistline. And my cholesterol.

My second thought was leftovers! I rummaged through the refrigerator, and since I was only cooking for one, decided I’d throw what I had into a pan and see what happened. Turns out… not so bad.

[Editor’s note: have you guys noticed that I love bacon? And cream? And that I will literally find any way that I can to incorporate bacon and cream into everything I eat? So much for that cholesterol.]

Spinach with bacon

On the menu:
Couscous with spinach, bacon, and almonds
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a meal

1 cup couscous
1 tsp salt
1 cup water
2 strips of turkey bacon, cooked to crispy
1 Tbsp butter
1 cup spinach, frozen or fresh
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1/4 cup slivered almonds

Add water and salt to a medium saucepan and turn to high heat. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, add butter to the skillet you cooked the bacon in and turn the heat to medium/low. Once the butter is melted, add the spinach.

(This is the time you’ll want to add the couscous. Add couscous to boiling water, stir immediately, turn off heat and let sit covered for 4 minutes).

Cook spinach until it is wilted and warmed up. Add garlic salt. Add cream and mix until incorporated. Add spinach to the couscous and stir. Add almonds and serve.

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