Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Savory, rich, and full flavored chicken thighs simmered with a few key ingredients — just what I wanted on a rainy evening.

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence

Fresh garlic and diced red tomatoes combine with warm herbes de Provence and Parmesan rind to create the perfect simmer sauce for chicken thighs.  Parmesan rinds are just that — the hard outer edge of my wedges of Parmesan cheese.  I save them in bags in the freezer and bring out pieces to add wonderful umami to broth or simmer sauces.

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and Herbes de Provence

Three key ingredients: fresh garlic, Parmesan cheese rind, and herbes de Provence

I consider this a pantry dish, as the ingredients are either shelf stable, or in my freezer.  Serve this warming dish with crusty bread or polenta.  Enjoy!

Chicken thighs braised with tomatoes and herbes de Provence
(serves 4)

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 TB olive oil
2 tsp herbes de Provence
Parmesean rind piece
Sea salt (start with 1/2 tsp, more if needed)

Heat covered sauté pan over medium heat.  When pan is warm, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and sauté just for a few seconds.  Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender.  Check toward the end of the simmer time to be sure the sauce isn’t getting too dry.  Add a bit of white wine or water to add moisture if needed.

Teff Porridge with dates and walnuts

Here’s a great addition to your breakfast repertoire:  warm, gentle, nourishing teff porridge.

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Teff Porridge with dates and walnuts

I topped this bowl with diced medjool dates and walnuts.  Add a dusting of cinnamon to make it even better.

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Medjool dates, walnuts, and tiny uncooked Teff grains

Simple to make, powerfully nutritious, and delicious – this may be a new go-to breakfast for your winter mornings.  Enjoy!

Teff Porridge
(serves two)

1/2 cup Teff grains
2 cups water
dash salt
4 medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup chopped lightly toasted walnuts
cinnamon for dusting
1 cup milk or milk alternative

Heat water in a small sauce pan to boiling. Stir in the teff grains and salt.  simmer, while stirring, until the porridge thickens — this will take about 15 minutes.  Divide into two bowls, top each with portions of the dates, walnuts, milk, and cinnamon.

If you’re cooking for one, just divine the cooked Teff into two bowls, and refrigerate the second portion.  It heats up in the microwave nicely for day two of a fabulous breakfast or snack.

Sunshine Hash

This delicious entree pairs butternut squash and potatoes with warm spices and fresh orange — for a smile of the sun even if the weather is gloomy outside.

Sunshine Hash

Sunshine Hash

Beautiful oranges are in season right now, and their gentle sweetness combines nicely with the smoked paprika, cinnamon and cumin to coax a smile from most anyone in the kitchen.  This dish easily pairs with either chicken breast or tofu to satisfy all eaters.  Added bonus — fabulous leftovers for a quick, warm lunch.  Enjoy!

Sunshine Hash

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts OR 12 oz extra firm tofu, cut into chunks
6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
one large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup olive oil
juice of two oranges
sea salt
1 TB smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (optional – if you like spice)

If you are using chicken breast in this recipe, start by sautéing the chicken chunks until almost cooked through with a TB of oil in a large covered frying pan.  Remove chicken to a plate, and set aside.

To the pan in which you just cooked the chicken, add 3 TB oil and onions.  Sauté for 3 minutes, then add the potato and squash chunks.  Sauté for a couple minutes then add the orange juice, 1 tsp. sea salt and spices.  Cover and simmer for several minutes.  Stir and check every few minutes, making sure to avoid burning the potatoes and squash.

When the potatoes and squash are almost tender, add the chicken chunks or tofu.   Sauté for several more minutes uncovered, or until all the various pieces of potatoes, squash and chicken/tofu are cooked through and there isn’t too much moisture from the oranges in the pan.  At any time in the cooking you can always add a bit of water if it’s getting too dry and beginning to burn.

When cooked through, adjust seasoning and serve.

Chicken, Potatoes & Carrots – One Pan Meal

This One Pan Meal takes little prep time, and in 45 minutes bakes together in the oven, the juices from the chicken flavoring the potatoes.
Chicken and potatoes panIn less than an hour from start to finish, you have a full meal ready to go, and tasty leftovers if you double up on ingredients.  Getting it to all bake in the same time is just a matter of sizing the three ingredients correctly.  I used beautiful purple and yellow carrots, but any carrot will do nicely here.  Put the pan in the oven, then put your feet up and have a drink while you wait for dinner.  Enjoy!
Chicken and Potatoes plate
Chicken, Potatoes & Carrots – One Pan Meal

6  chicken drumsticks
4  large red potatoes, skin on
6  large purple carrots
olive oilsalt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut potatoes into large pieces – either halves or quarters, depending on the size of the potatoes.  Cut the carrots into halves or thirds lengthwise.  Slice the fat end of the carrot pieces into quarters, and the midsection pieces into halves.  The idea is to have the thickness of the carrots all about the same.

Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment.  Arrange the drumsticks at one end, potatoes in the middle, and carrots on the other end.  Lightly coat everything with olive oil, then a dusting of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Bake for 45 minutes or until everything is tender and tasty.

Miso Broth Chicken or Tofu

This rich, brothy dish tastes much richer and more complex than it should, as it takes just 15 minutes to get together.
Miso Broth Chicken
Why?  The umami-bomb flavors of miso, soy, and shitaki create instant depth.  Sauteed onion gives this dish backbone, while fresh grated ginger adds sparkle.  Use sliced chicken breast or tofu for substance, and serve with cooked brown rice for a surprisingly easy yet satisfying meal.  Is it winter where you are (Boston? New York?) and are you on a limited food budget?  Good.  This is the recipe for you!

Miso Broth Chicken
(This is one of those dishes where exact measurements aren’t helpful.  Just aim for a rich, savory broth in which to poach chicken breast or tofu.  Use your best judgement as to how much miso, soy and water to use – just taste the broth and adjust to what your mouth says.  This recipe doubles easily and makes great leftovers.)

2 TB oil
1 medium yellow onion, halved and sliced against the layers
1 cup fresh shitaki mushrooms, sliced into bite size pieces
3 – 4 cups water
miso paste – about 1/3 cup
Soy sauce – to taste
1 TB grated fresh ginger
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin bite size pieces
or
1 tub firm tofu, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
(2 cups baby spinach – optional)

Heat a large sauce pan on high until medium-hot, then add oil and onions.  Saute onions until wilted and beginning to brown.  Then add shitaki mushrooms and saute for another few minutes.  Add water, miso paste and some soy sauce, and fresh ginger.  Bring to a simmer and simmer, covered for 5 minutes.  Add chicken or tofu and bring back to a simmer.  Allow to cook, covered, for another 4 – 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  If desired, through in a the baby spinach now)

Taste for seasoning, and add more miso or soy sauce until the broth tastes just right.  Serve in bowls with spoons for slurping, with rice in a separate bowl.

Lime-Chipotle Chicken

It’s winter in California, which means spicy, tart, ripe limes.  This recipe is my go-to marinade for chicken thighs.
lime chipotle chicken 2lime chipotle chicken 1It stars a threesome of flavor all-stars:  lime, garlic, and chipotle.  These three are bold individually, but there is special magic when they get together in this marinade.  Whip up some Lime-Chipotle chicken, and then use a few more of those juicy limes in a Margarita.  Even if it’s cold and dark where you live, you’re sure to have an evening of warmth with this on the menu.

Lime-Chipotle Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
juice and zest of two limes
2 TB extra virgin olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. chipotle powder (depending on how spicy your like your chicken)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, pressed

At least two hours prior to cooking, mix together all the ingredients in a 1 gallon zippered plastic bag.  Press the air out of the bag so that the marinade and the chicken are in good contact.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

Heat your grill, grillpan, or frying pan until hot.  Take the chicken out of the marinade, but don’t worry about too much of the liquid clinging to the chicken.  Discard remaining marinade.

Grill or fry the chicken until done.  How to tell when it’s done?  The meat should tender, and not rubbery.  Any juices that come out should be clear rather than pink.  Chicken thighs take longer to cook than chicken breast meat of the same thickness.

Serve with a couple of lime wedges on the side.  Add cooked rice and a salad for an easy, tasty dinner.

Asparagus + Chicken + Quinoa = the Beauty of One

I just returned from a multiple city trip to look at colleges for my daughter.  Though we ate fabulous restaurant meals, I found myself longing for fresh, simple food centered on the seasonal produce I find here in the Bay Area.  One of the college students we ate with was a California girl living in the heart of NYC who wanted some fast, fresh meal ideas.
quinoa, asparagus, chickenIt’s a challenge to make good meals in a tiny kitchen, especially for young cooks with limited time and small budgets.  One pot meals can be a good way to tackle this problem.  Consider the different ingredients individually, then layer them into the cooking pot based on their cooking needs.  I call it The Beauty of One.

Start with one flavorful vegetable to star in the dish, one protein source, one grain or starch, and one aromatic (onion, garlic, etc), then add personality with spices and herbs.  Keeping your vegetable selections seasonal will help keep your budget in check, and the the flavors fresh.  It is officially Spring, so that means heavenly green asparagus has arrived in the markets.  I know that asparagus pairs well with delicate chicken breast.  Add some nutty quinoa to round things out, and flavor with fresh pepper and marjoram.  Voila – a beauty of a one pot meal.

Asparagus + Chicken + Quinoa =  the Beauty of One
(serves 3 – 4)

1 large leek, rinsed and diced
3 TB olive oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into one-inch pieces
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock or water
1 big bunch fresh asparagus, stems trimmed, cut into bite size pieces
salt
fresh ground pepper
sprig or two of fresh marjoram or oregano (optional)

Heat a skillet on medium until hot.  Add 2 TB olive oil ans saute the leeks for a minute, then cover and sweat for 2 minutes.  Remove cover, add the quinoa and stock.  Stir, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove cover, add chicken breast pieces and stir to bury the chicken in the cooking quinoa.  Cover and simmer for 4 minutes.  Remove cover, add asparagus pieces and stir.  Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes.  Check for seasoning, then serve with another drizzle of olive oil, a couple grinds of pepper, and some fresh herbs.