Grown-up Ramen with Chicken, Mushrooms, Spinach, and Crispy Onions

Last week, we had a stormy, overcast evening which was basically the perfect excuse for some grown-up version of Ramen for dinner. This is adulting at it’s finest! That-Boy-I-Love was very excited for this happiness in a bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 Thumb Ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 oz Mushrooms (I used button, baby bella would be good) thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP Sesame Seeds
  • 1 TBSP Sesame Oil
  • 1tsp Chili Flaes
  • 6 oz Ramen Noodles
  • 1 TBSP Pork Stock Concentrate
  • 1 TBSP Chicken Stock Concentrate
  • 2 TBSP Soy Sauce
  • 2 Chicken Cutlets
  • 5 oz Fresh Spinach
  • 1/4 cup Crispy Fried Onions (optional but +100!)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In small sauce pan, combine sesame seeds, half of the garlic, .5 TBSP sesame oil, a drizzle of vegetable oil, a big pinch of salt, and chili flakes. Heat over low heat.

When water is boiling, add ramen noodles, cook stirring for 2 minutes. Drain and toss noodles with a drizzle of vegetable oil to keep them from sticking.

Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in the pot you used for the noodles over medium-high heat. Add scallion whites, ginger, and remaining garlic. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Stir in 3.5 cups of water, pork stock concentrate, chicken stock concentrate, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Let it simmer until you are ready to serve.

While the broth simmers, pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt.

Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through 4-5 minutes peer side. Drizzle chicken with .5TBSP sesame oil and turn the chicken in it a few times to coat it. Rest chicken on cutting board.

Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt to pan used for chicken over medium-high heat. Cook until browned and soft 3-5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms to plate. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to the pan and add spinach. Cook until wilted 2-3 minutes. Season with salt.

Divide the ramen noodles between large soup bowls. Pour broth over noodles and stir in as much of the chili garlic oil as you want. Top each bowl with sliced chicken, mushrooms, spinach, and scallion greens. Sprinkle with crispy onions.

 

Happiness in a bowl!

Homemade Lasagna in Under an Hour Happiness

Today was a rainy kind of summer day. It was the gentle steady kind of rain that makes everything smell amazing, comes without thunder and lightening, and is a rarity on a summer day in Colorado. When I asked That-Boy-I-Love what he wanted for dinner, he immediately went for lasagna. Yes, a rainy Saturday afternoon is the perfect time for some Duke Ellington radio on Spotify and time in the kitchen making lasagna.

Lasagna was one of the first dishes that I perfected as an adult and it has been a regular staple in our house. You’ll notice that my lasagna does not include ricotta cheese. You can definitely beat an egg with some ricotta and add as a layer in your lasagna. Ricotta and I do not get along so I omit it at our house.

I do cut a few corners…but really, who doesn’t like lasagna that is homemade and ready in under an hour? *raises hand*

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 2 medium sized carrots, diced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 bunch fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (feel free to make your own, I go for simple)
  • Barilla Oven-Ready Lasagne noodles (this is a big time saver)
  • 6 oz shredded Italian cheeses or low-sodium mozzarella
  • 1 oz shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 375*
  • Heat heavy pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. When oil is shimmering, add diced carrots and onion. Cook 4-6 minutes or until softened. Add minced garlic and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add ground beef, salt/pepper to taste, and Italian seasoning. Cook breaking up meat until browned, 3-5 minutes. Add chopped spinach and cook until wilted. Turn off heat.
  • In rectangular or square oven safe dish (I wrap mine in foil to cut down on cleaning) spread marinara sauce on bottom of dish in thin layer. Put a single layer of dry noodle on top of marinara sauce. Top with a layer of beef/vegetable mixture, shredded cheese. Spread another thin layer of sauce on top of cheese and repeat layers with remaining ingredients. I always like to end with a noodle, sauce, shredded cheese at the top. Sprinkle over Parmesan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
  • Bake covered for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 5 more minutes.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes (this is the hardest part, we put garlic bread in the oven during this 10 minutes so that we aren’t tempted to cut into it too soon). Cut and serve. *If you don’t let the lasagna rest, you will have a soupy mess instead of fully formed layers. It tastes just as good but the rest time is worth it!*

 

That’s it, lasagna happiness in under an hour.

Talon Multitool from Legacy Goods

Machining happiness: Talon Multitool for those surfaces you’d rather not touch

So my husband is talented…like ridiculously talented. He also likes to learn. This is basically a winning combination that ensures there is always, ALWAYS, a project of some sort going on at my house. His day job is as a graphic artist, but he is his happiest when tinkering in the garage. He’s made a lot of the furniture in our house,  a lot of the art in our house (I’m realizing that I never posted the masterpiece he created for our living room), and has done all kinds of remodel projects over the years. In the last few years his creating has led him to CNC machining. He has made super incredible golf tools, and has started designing his own putters. You can see more of his work on his site, Legacy Goods.

Talon Multitool from Legacy Goods

Talon Multitool

As we started heading out to run errands (ahem, food supplies!) we realized how many surfaces we have to touch to get into our favorite market and complete this chore. I don’t know about you, but this pandemic has made us serious germaphobes! Jonathan went to work creating a brass tool (brass because it naturally has antimicrobial qualities) that would hang on our keychain, and keep us from having to touch door handles, buttons, and touch screens. His pandemic creation is both practical and gorgeous. After having friends and family request the tool, he thought maybe others would appreciate it as well and launched a Kickstarter campaign to enable him to ramp up production. If you have surfaces in your life that you’d rather not touch, we would love your support for this campaign! Early backers enjoy a discount and, since this batch is already in production, you get your order filled first. That means that as things start opening back up, you can avoid touching all those surfaces you’d rather not come in contact with.

Machining happiness right here!

 

Support this project now: Kickstarter Campaign

Apricot chicken with roasted potatoes and green beans

I love recipes that can adapt to whatever you happen to have on hand. This sauce is one of those that you can riff on based on what is in your pantry or fridge. A few things you can always count on being in my house: chicken stock concentrate (my mom got me hooked on this stuff, it makes everything better!) and balsamic vinegar. I generally have a few types of balsamic because I’m a sucker for the flavored balsamic. I also always have a plain Jane version for flexibility.  This sauce uses apricot jam, but really…be creative. I have made this sauce with fig jam (which I decided I like better than the apricot), and with pomegranate jam. Pretty sure most jams could be substituted depending on your tastes and what you  have on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz Yukon gold potatoes, diced (you could really use any potato you have)
  • 6 oz green beans (trimmed as needed)
  • Shallot, minced
  • 2 Chicken Breasts (pat dry with paper towel)
  • 1/4 oz fresh Thyme (you can use dried in a pinch)
  • 2 TBSP Apricot jam (or jam of your choice)
  • 1 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Chicken Stock Concentrate
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/Pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 425*. On a baking sheet, toss potatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and salt/pepper to tasted. Roast 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add green beans to the other side of the sheet. Drizzle green beans with olive oil and salt/pepper to taste. Return to oven for 12-15 minutes more.
  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Cook 5-7 minutes/side or until cooked through. Let chicken rest on a cutting board.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan the chicken were in. Add shallot, whole thyme sprigs, and cook until shallot is soft 1-3 minutes. Stir in jam and Balsamic Vinegar. Simmer until it gets syrupy. Stir in the stock concentrate and 1/4 cup water. Simmer until thickened 1-3 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in 1 TBSP butter until melted. Remove thyme from the pan. Season with salt/pepper to taste.
  • Plate chicken and spoon over sauce.

 

Endless possibilities of sauce happiness!

Crunchy Spicy Maple Chicken with Mashed Sweet and Russet Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans

Sometimes your plans change last minute and you realize you don’t have quite enough ingredients to stretch a recipe to feed the new crowd. This was one of those moments for me. A quick improvisation and everyone was well fed and happy! One thing I love about cooking is the ability to riff on recipes. Don’t have the exact ingredient? No problem! You might even find a new combination that is a happy accident. In this case I didn’t have enough sweet potatoes to stretch, but had plenty of everything else. I could have switched to regular mashed potatoes, but I really like the flavor combo of the maple in the chicken with the maple in the sweet potatoes. I added a russet potato to the mix and no one was any the wiser, it mellowed out the sweet potato flavor just a bit but was no less delicious!

Ingredients for 3 servings:

  • Two sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2 inch dice is perfect)
  • One russet potato, peeled and diced (1/2 inch dice)
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 TBSP Butter
  • 2 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 4 TBSP Sour Cream
  • 3 TBSP Maple Syrup (if you don’t have maple syrup, sub honey instead)
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 12 oz fresh green beans (trimmed as needed)
  • Paprika (to taste)
  • Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Onion Powder (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425*
  • In a small bowl, mix 2 TBSP of maple syrup (or honey) with red chili flakes, set aside.
  • Place sweet potatoes and russet potato in a medium pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Salt water (as they say on Bon Appetit Test Kitchen, “salty like the sea”).  Bring to a boil and cook 20 minutes (you should be able to pierce potatoes with a fork easily when they are ready). Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water. Drain potatoes and return to pot. Mash off heat with 1Tbsp maple syrup (or substitute honey), 1Tbsp sour cream, 1.5 Tbsp butter. Season with salt and pepper. Add reserved cooking water and stir until mashed potatoes reach desired consistency.
  • Meanwhile, melt 1.5 TBSP butter in a microwave-safe small bowl. Stir in panko, 1 TBSP olive oil  paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  • Pat chicken dry with paper towels (don’t skip this step, it makes a difference!). Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Oil a baking sheet and place your chicken on one side of the sheet. Place 1 TBSP sour cream on top of each chicken breast and use the back of a spoon to spread it over the top of each breast. Top each breast with the panko mixture, pressing down to adhere. Roast chicken for 8 minutes.
  • Toss green beans with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Once the chicken has roasted 8 min, remove the sheet from oven and add green beans to the empty side of the baking sheet. Continue roasting 13-15 minutes more.

Drizzle chicken with spicy maple syrup and sprinkle with more chili flakes as you like.

Again, this recipe is also SO good with honey if you don’t have maple syrup on hand!

Happiness!

Cheesy -crispy-onion Honey Dijon Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Green Beans

So this is another one of those recipes that has endless room for riffing on. When I was a kid, my Aunt Sandy made a version of this with crunched up potato chips and mayo. Healthy? Absolutely not. Delicious and wonderful? Yes!

When we were first married, Jonathan asked me almost nightly, “so is this what life is now? Nothing but chicken?”  Hey, I could buy chicken in bulk CHEAP! My repertoire at 21 was pretty limited, so admittedly, chicken every night was getting old quick. But this is the kind of recipe that would revive our faith in dinner. So probably it is worth a try for you in the midst of a pandemic!

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese (but any cheese you have is good cheese!)
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1/4 cup crispy fried onions, broken into small pieces (potato chips would work here, too)
  • 2 Chicken cutlets (or chicken breast)
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 oz Green beans
  • 1.5 oz Honey Mustard Dressing

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425*

In a small bowl, mix finely crushed fried onion with cheese.

Place sweet potatoes in a medium pot. Cover with water by 2 inches. Salt generously (salty like the sea as our friends at Bon Apetite Test Kitchen say). Bring to a boil and cook 15-20 minutes or until tender. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, drain and return to pot. Mash potatoes and add in butter, sour cream, and salt/pepper to taste. Add in any reserved cooking liquid as needed.

Pat chicken dry with paper towel (seriously, this matters, it makes all your protein better!). Season with salt and pepper to taste. On a baking sheet, spread tops of chicken with a layer of honey dijon dressing. Mound with onion/cheese crust pressing to adhere.

On the other side of the baking sheet, toss green beans with a drizzle of olive oil, salt/pepper to taste. Roast 15-20 minutes until chicken is cooked through.

Serve with extra honey-dijon dressing on the side.

Happiness.

Smoked Turkey and Veggie Pot Pie

What I actually wanted to make was The Smitten Kitchen’s “Pancetta and Swiss Chard Pot Pie.” Alas, I had no pancetta and no Swiss chard to make this happen in my life; in the middle of a pandemic a quick run out to the store for the missing ingredients is not in the cards.

Instead, I pulled together what we did have in our house and used the Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for our flaky and delicious tops. We had some left over smoked turkey breast in our freezer, onion, carrots, and green beans. The great thing about a pot pie is that it is endlessly flexible. Choose a protein, some veggies you have on hand (fresh or frozen) and you are on the road to happiness. When I’m in a real hurry and don’t have time for this crust (make the time, it is SO good!), I go with a ready made puff pastry like Pillsbury crescent rolls, or a ready made pie crust for the top.

Ingredients: 

Lid

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6.5 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp sour cream (whole Greek yogurt works, too)
  • 1/2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/8 cup ice water
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash (you can skip this if you don’t have an egg to spare during a pandemic!)

Filling

  • 1 smoked turkey breast, chopped (alternately chicken, pancetta, beef, pork, or really any cooked protein works as well. This is perfect for your leftovers!)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1.5 cups chicken broth (veggie or beef broth works depending on your protein)

Directions:

To make the lids (instructions directly from Smitten Kitchen, if you don’t own this cookbook, you should, it is my FAVORITE!)

Make lids: In a large, wide bowl (preferably one that you can get your hands into), combine the fl our and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingertips, cut them up and into the flour mixture until it resembles little pebbles. Keep breaking up the bits of butter until the texture is like uncooked couscous. In a small dish, whisk together the sour cream, vinegar, and water, and combine it with the butter-flour mixture. Using a flexible spatula, stir the wet and the dry together until a craggy dough forms. If needed, get your hands into the bowl to knead it a few times into one big ball. Pat it into a flattish ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the fridge for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

For the filling:

Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add carrots, onion, red pepper flakes, salt/pepper to taste and heat until softened 7-8 minutes. Add in the chopped green beans and chopped smoked turkey and cook until heated through 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring the whole time, until the mixture takes on a bit of color. Whisk in the broth, a little at a time until it’s incorporated with butter/flour mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce is gravy-like in consistency. Mix in your veggie/protein and stir until combined. Split between two oven-safe ramekins.

Preheat the oven to 375*

Roll out the pastry so that it covers your oven-safe ramekins. Drape pastry over the ramekins (if you have the egg wash, brush the egg wash over the edges of your ramekins before you drape. This helps the pastry stay in place. I did not do this which is why mine sunk into itself. Sometimes you can’t spare an egg for a wash! It will taste amazing either way. Cut some slits into the pastry to let steam escape. Bake 30-35 minutes.

Seriously, what makes this pot pie happy is the perfectly flaky and amazing crust. It is worth the time every time!

There you have it, endlessly flexible and always brings happiness!

Pork and Corn Street Tacos with Chili Lime Crema

Is there anything better than tacos? We think not. They are relatively simple to put together, and they leave room for endless customization and choice of toppings for picky eaters. Plus, they require no silverware!

These ground pork and corn street tacos could be made with any protein you have at home. Ground beef, ground chicken, chorizo, chicken breast strips, beef strips would all be good alternatives.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 Shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 Jalapeño, thinly sliced (seeds removed for less spicy)
  • 1 Lime, zest and halved
  • 4 Tbsp Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 13 oz corn (can be frozen- thaw, or canned, drain)
  • 10 oz Ground Pork (or protein of your choice)
  • 1 Tbsp chicken stock concentrate (or chicken bullion cube)
  • 6 small flour tortillas (these could be corn tortillas…we aren’t a fan because they tend to fall apart too easily!)
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin

 

Directions:

  • In a small bowl, combine sliced shallot, sliced jalapeño, juice from half the lime, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally to pickle.
  • In a second small bowl, combine sour cream 1/4 tsp chili powder, salt, pepper, lime zest, and juice from half the lime. Stir until well combined.
  • Pat corn very dry with paper towels. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil. Add corn in a single layer and cook 3-4 minutes or until browned on the bottom. (If you are like me and don’t do a through dry job, your corn may start popping out of the pan and all over the kitchen. The dog was very entertained by this!) Once the corn is browned, transfer to a bowl.
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in pan used for corn over medium high heat. Add pork, salt, and pepper. Cook breaking up the meat until it is browned (4-6 min). Stir in 1/2 tsp chili powder, garlic powder, and cumin. Cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in stock concentrate and 1/4 cup water. Cook until the sauce has reduced 2-3 min, scraping up browned bits from pan.
  • Strain the shallots and jalapeño over the corn so that the picking liquid gets mixed into the corn. Stir in a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.
  • Warm tortillas
  • Fill tortillas with pork and corn, pickled shallots, and jalapeños. Top with crema.

Best served with a margarita!

Happy street tacos!

BBQ Ranch Chicken Flatbread Pizza

This is one of those recipes that is quick to put together, and leaves a lot of room for adaptations based on what you have going on in your pantry on any given day. Don’t have or want to make flatbread? Make this Pizza on toasted flour tortillas (ooh, flour tortillas sandwiched with cheese…like a cheese quesadilla with BBQ Ranch pizza toppings on it), you could also make this creation on a gluten free crust, on a cauliflower crust, or pizza dough.

Ingredients:

  • 2 flat breads (or other base of choice, seriously topped on a quesadilla sounds so good!)
  • 1 Long Green Pepper, diced (any other color pepper would also work here)
  • 10 oz chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 4 TBSP of your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (more if you want quesadilla)
  • 2 oz Ranch dressing

Directions:

  • Start by placing a lightly oiled baking sheet in your oven and preheat oven to 450*  (I actually like to use olive oil spray because it makes life easier and less messy)
  • Pat chicken dry (any time you are cooking meat, it is best to pat it dry with paper towels…everything turns out better, this is a tip I wish I had learned earlier in my cooking adventures).
  • Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a pan over medium/high heat. Add chicken and diced green pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook until chicken is browned and cooked through (5-7 min).
  • Stir in BBQ sauce and remove pan from heat.
  • Place flatbread on the preheated baking sheet. Spray or drizzle with olive oil (again, I always spray because it’s easy). Season with salt and pepper to taste and bake until golden brown 5-7 min. (If you were going to make this atop a quesadilla, I would make that in the oven following same directions above.)
  • Top flat bread with BBQ chicken mixture, mozzarella, and both cheddars. Return to oven 2-3 min or until cheese melts.
  • Drizzle with ranch.

 

So simple! This dinner takes about 20 minutes to make and is delicious. As I mentioned above, you could easily swap out the crust of this pizza, or add your favorite veggies to the topping mix.

BBQ Pizza happiness.

Taco Squares (AKA Comfort Food)

IMG_0717

Some days just call for major comfort food. Yesterday was one of those days as we had to say goodbye to our 15 year old Shiba Inu (pictured right)… in the midst of being home bound due to COVID-19. So yes, definitely a day that called for some major comfort in the form of food.

This is one of those recipes I grew up eating and it represents feelings of cozy and home to me. It’s also one of those recipes that I can always count on having all the ingredients at the ready. This is the recipe I make when I’m tired and don’t know what to make for dinner because I can make it by feel in 25 minutes.

I grew up calling this recipe “Taco Squares” because my mom made it in a square baking dish. With just two of us, I prefer to make it in circle ramekins because it’s a built in serving dish and requires less dishes to wash.

02CB4EAA-651C-4A49-BBCD-5CEB48E033FC

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tbsp chopped onion
  • 1 small can chopped green chilies (or about 1/4 cup chopped green chilies)
  • 1 cup Bisquick
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 pint grape tomatoes halved OR 1 tomato thinly sliced

Directions:

  • Heat oven to 375*
  • Grease 8x8x2″ pan (or 4 small ramekins)
  • Heat pan over medium high heat, heat drizzle of olive oil
    • Add chopped onion and sauté 2 min until softened
    • Add ground beef and cook until brown. Drain off any fat
    • Mix in can of chopped green chilies
  • In a small bowl mix sour cream, mayonnaise, shredded cheese
  • Mix Bisquick and water until a soft dough forms
    • Pat into 8×8 pan or ramekins pressing dough 1/2 inch up the sides
    • Spread the cooked ground beef/green chili mixture over the dough evenly
    • Spoon sour cream mixture over the top in an even layer (if you are feeling fancy, sprinkle with paprika)
  • Bake 25 -30 minutes.
  • While Taco Squares bake, slice tomato or half grape tomatoes
    • Top baked taco squares with sliced tomato (original recipe put the tomatoes on before baking…I like it better with fresh tomatoes on top…choose your own adventure!)

**Recipe for 4 servings

Enjoy this comfort in the form of food happiness!