Lemon Garlic Chicken and Israeli Couscous

Shanah Tovah!

Lemon Garlic Chicken

I want to wish all of my Jewish friends and family a very Happy New Year! For those who may not know this is  Rosh Hashanah also known as the Jewish New Year. Also, the Jewish calendar is not the same as the Gregorian Calendar so in Judaism it is not 2014, it is actually the year 5775. What?!?!That is kind of hard to wrap my head around but I do my best.

As I have come to embrace my hubby and his Jewish faith I have grown to love cooking for the High Holidays. Anyone who knows me knows that I love spending the holidays with my family. I think part of loving Fall is because it means that they holidays are coming and that means lots of food, family, drink and conversation. Since the hubby’s family lives in Cali I know how important it is for him to have a piece of home during the High Holidays.

Lemon, Garlic, Olives

I have done my best to master the traditional foods including the Matzo Ball Soup and Grandma Toby’s Noodle Kugel. Each year I think I get closer and closer to make it feel like home. We have even shared these dishes and traditions with my family so that they can become familiar with all of the holidays and meals. I had to prepare them for the fact that the meal tends to be on the sweeter side since Rosh Hashanah is all about ringing in the new year with sweet things (who wouldn’t get behind that?). I probably used a ton of honey and I certainly saw my fair share of raisins in the last two days.

One of the greatest things about coming back to Pittsburgh is that there is a pretty substantial Jewish population. The grocery stores have everything we need and it helps to make the hubby feel even more at home and special. I always had Jewish friends growing up so I feel like an honorary member of the Jewish community. I guess being married to a Jewish guy helps solidify that.

Israeli Couscous

As we were leading up to the holidays I must have been feeling a bit Mediterranean. I decided it would be perfect time to do my lemon garlic chicken. The hubby demanded that we pair the chicken with Israeli Couscous, I guess he was feeling Mediterranean as well.

Let’s take a minute to talk about Israeli couscous. The couscous is also called Ptitim and is actually a small pasta shaped like pearls. According to Wikipedia (this is always a credible source…) Ptitim is more commonly served to children in Israel. You can call it a child’s dish if you want but I’ll still love it. My favorite way of preparing the couscous is to impart a sweet element along with a buttery note. It is literally a side I could eat all alone.

Israeli Couscous

As we celebrate the new year (in Judaism) I will think about all the things I want to accomplish in this year. I’ll also think about the world and hope that we can finally have some moments of peace. I seriously cannot read the news without feeling some sort of despair. Thankfully I have all of you to come to and vent and share. The kitchen will always be my way of dealing with the chaos. Sorry I took a weird somber turn there but you know, you have to be reflective during the holidays.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Lemon Garlic Chicken 

Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 Chicken Thighs
Salt
Pepper
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Cup White Wine (Chardonnay)
3 Lemons Thinly Sliced
3-5 Garlic Cloves Sliced
1/2 Cup Black Olives
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Olive Oil

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large skillet  with lid over medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in skillet and then add chicken thighs, skin side down. Cook chicken until the skin starts to brown and get crispy. Flip chicken over and cook on the other side until it begins to brown. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add butter to pan, slowly add white wine to the pan and using a wooden spoon scrape any pieces of chicken from the bottom of the pan. Place half of the lemon slices in the pan along with the garlic slivers. Allow all the ingredients to simmer in the skillet.

Return chicken pieces to the skillet and top with remaining slices of lemon. Add olives to the pan and give everything a quick stir. Place lid on your skillet and allow the chicken to bake in the over for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Serve chicken as is or over rice.

Israeli Couscous

Adapted from Trader Joe’s Couscous with Pine Nuts and Parsley

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
1 Box Israeli Couscous (May be labeled Pearl Couscous)
2 Tbsp. Butter
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Bay Leaf
2 Tbsp. Honey
1 3/4 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Carrots Diced
1/2 Cup Raisins
Zest of 1 Lemon

Instructions:
In medium pot melt butter over medium-high heat. Add the dry couscous to the pan and stir until the couscous begins to develop color and smells toasted. Add the cinnamon stick and bay leaf giving the couscous one more stir. Add you chicken stock, carrots, and honey to the pot and cook until boiling. Once boiling cover and lower the heat to a simmer and allow the couscous to cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

Finish the couscous by adding the raisins and lemon zest. You can also add other dried fruit such as apricots or dates to this couscous.

 

Turkey Meatballs over Parmesan Mash

OMG!!!!!! Fall is coming!

Meatballs and Mash

You know all of those things going around the internet making fun of people who like the fall? I am all of those things. I get so giddy this time of year, why can’t every season be fall?!?! I’ll drink way too many PSL and eat too much pumpkin based pastry but I’ll love every minute of it. I have already sent the hubby a list of fall activities that I must do. The only downside is that Fall ends as quickly as it begins. I have to hurry up and get it all in before the snow comes and forces me to sit in the house under a blanket…that doesn’t actually sound horrible.

Oven roasted tomatoes

As a result of the seasonal change I am really inspired to make food that warms my entire body. You know, the kind of food that makes you say MMMMMMmmmmmmm the moment you put a forkful in your mouth. I can curl up on a couch with a bowl of this and never move.

The only downside to all of this seasonal change is that I sort of refuse to change out my wardrobe. As a result of moving, I haven’t successfully put away all of the clothes I had out for summer. The idea of switching everything out for fall is too much for my head to handle. Perhaps as the weekend approaches I’ll feel brave enough to take on this task. For now, I’ll continue to believe that it will be 80 degrees outside.

Turkey Meatballs

Also, yes for giant meatballs!!!!! I think I’ll only make giant meatballs now. Meatballs have been making waves in the food scene, I think every city has a meatball place now. I don’t mind jumping on the bandwagon of that trend.

I keep talking about the meatballs that I am forgetting that perfect of what makes this dish so comforting is the tomato sauce. This sauce could not have been easier to make. All I did was roast tomatoes and garlic in the oven and blended them to make a sweet, tomato, garlic sauce that pairs perfectly with these mashed potatoes.

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Turkey Meatballs Over Parmesan Mash

Serves 4

1 Pkg. Ground Turkey
1/4 Onion Diced
1/2 Cup Plain Breadcrumbs
1/2 Tsp. Paprika
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Rosemary
1/4 Tsp. Oregano
1/2 Tsp. Garlic Salt
1/2 Tsp. White Pepper
1 Egg
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Butter
Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (Recipe Below)
Roasted Tomato and Garlic Sauce (Recipe Below)

Instructions:
Combine ground turkey and all ingredients up through egg in a small bowl. Mix everything together with hands being careful not to overwork the meat. Grabbing a handful of turkey, lightly form the turkey into balls and set aside. In a skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add meatballs to the pan and brown on all sides. Remove meatballs from the pan and place on a cookie sheet. Continue to cook meatballs by placing in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until done (165 degrees). Place 2-3 meatballs on top of a healthy scoop of potatoes and ladle sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and enjoy! You may also serve with peas or other veggies.

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:
4 Medium Potatoes Peeled and Quartered
3 Tbsp. Sour Cream
2 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Cook until potatoes are done, they should be tender when you poke with a fork. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and mash together, careful not to overwork your potatoes they can get gummy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If needed add a little milk to create a smoother texture.

Roasted Tomato Garlic Sauce

Ingredients:
4 Large Tomatoes Quartered
3 Large Cloves of Garlic Peeled
2 Tsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tsp. Grated Parmesan
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Heat an oven to 375. Line a sheet pan with foil. In a small bowl combine tomatoes, garlic, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Lightly toss to ensure everything is coated in oil. Spread tomato and garlic on sheet pan and place in the oven. Roast in oven for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes start to wrinkle. Carefully remove tomatoes and garlic and place in blender, pulse until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. You can pour sauce into a sauce pan and keep warm until ready to use.

 

Beer Braised Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Did I ever tell you how much I hate moving?

Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

I love looking for places to live but I hate the process of moving. I think most people would agree with me on this so I wont drag this out. I will just say that I suck at moving and every time I think I have worked out the perfect system and it never happens, NEVER! Someday I am going to do it perfectly and seamlessly and without stress. Don’t bother telling me that it’s not possible because I just wont believe you!

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So as you may have guessed, we moved in to a new place recently. We ended up renting a place that was a bit of a downsize from our last place so trying to find a place for all of our things is a bit of a challenge. Turns out I own enough gadgets and gizmos to fill two kitchens (I don’t know how this is possible). If you know a really convenient ways to organize a small kitchen, I am all ears.

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As we continue to unpack and organize our new place I try to use this opportunity to work on my interior designer side. The hubs doesn’t appreciate it very much since it usually involves me saying we need to get rid of all of our things and start over. I am trying to resist the urge to throw away everything and start over. I think the problem is that I think as I get older I should have an apartment the reflects my age; translation: I should have fancy things because I am a fancy sophisticated person…right?

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As I talk about being fancy and sophisticated I am going to share with you a recipe for chicken cooked in beer, wrapped in a tortilla and served with salsa. This is five-star cuisine folks! All joking aside, it is delicious and you should make it and love every minute of it!

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Beer Braised Chicken Enchiladas w/ Salsa Verde

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:
3 Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 Tsp. Chili Powder
1/2 Tsp. Salt
1/2 Tsp. Pepper
1/4 Tsp. Cumin
Pinch Ground Ginger
2 Tsp. Vegetable Oil
1/2 Onion Sliced
1 Can Beer (Lager)
1 Cup Shredded Cheese (Mexican Cheese Blend)
10 Small Corn Tortillas
1/2 Cup Chicken Stock
Salsa Verde (Recipe Below)

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400. Combine all of your spices together in a small bowl. Apply spice mixture to chicken thighs and set aside for 20-30 minutes (a good time to make the salsa verde). In a dutch oven heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add your onions to the pot and sweat until they become translucent. Clear a spot in the pot and place your chicken thighs in and brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes on each side. Once browned pour the can of beer over your chicken. Cover the pot and allow the chicken to simmer until the meat comes away from the bone easily. Once cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and shred the meat using two forks, cut out any additional fat or cartilage. Return the shredded chicken to the pot to continue soaking up the juice it was cooked in.

In a small saucepan heat the chicken stock until it begins to simmer lightly. To assemble your enchiladas create a station with the chicken and cheese. Dip your tortilla in the chicken stock to soften, about 5 seconds, place on a plate and add a spoonful of chicken and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll the tortilla and place seam side down in a casserole dish. Continue assembling until all your chicken is gone. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top along with 2 tbsp. of salsa verde. Place in oven and bake until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with remaining salsa verde (or as much as you like) and enjoy. Serve with rice and beans for a complete feast!

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde 

Yields 1 Cup

Ingredients:
3 Tomatillos
1 Large Jalapeno Pepper
1 Clove Garlic
1/2 Yellow Onion
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
Salt

Instructions:
Peel and rinse your tomatillos. Cut your jalapeno in half and remove seeds. Cut onion in to four smaller pieces. Add all ingredients minus the salt to a bowl. Toss the vegetables with the oil to make sure all is coated. Place your vegetables on a baking pan coated in foil. Place under the broiler until the peppers and onions begin to char. Carefully add your vegetables to a blender and pulse until everything is mixed. Add salt to taste and set aside to cool down. You may also use an immersion blender if you don’t have a blender on hand, be careful when blending so the juice does not splash in your face (yes, this did happen to me).

Little Italy Burger ft. Uncle Charley’s Sausage

I am doing something a little different today!

Little Italy Burger

One of the things I had hoped to do with my blog is to feature amazing local products. Moving  to Pittsburgh helped to make that possible since we happen to have a good deal of friends who are in the food biz. I already mentioned our friends who own the farm in Somerset, PA (Laurel Vista Farms). I’ll be featuring recipes with their products in the very near future.

Uncle Charley's Bulk Sausage

Today we are talking about sausage! It just so happens that we know the new President of Uncle Charley’s Sausage located in Vandergrift, PA. Uncle Charley’s (UC) has been a mainstay on the Pittsburgh sausage scene since 1988. The product is truly delicious! Every time we cook up Uncle Charley’s (which might be always) I always talk about how good the sausage taste. You don’t even need to add mustard!

UNCLE_CHARLEYS_LOGO

The product line is full of great bites and I have yet to find something that I didn’t like. I am especially a fan of the bacon (used in the Green Bean Salad) and their bulk sausage because there are so many possibilities. You should visit their website to find out what other UC products are out there and if you want to see more UC in your store you can even complete a form letting them know you want to see the best local sausage in your store!

Basil

I was inspired to make this burger after visiting Little Italy Days in Bloomfield this past weekend. The festival was a true tribute to Italian food and culture. The hubby and I had a hard time deciding what to eat because there were so many options. Ultimately we made sure to at least have a balanced meal which means starting with an app, moving on to an entrée and then finishing with an Italian dessert. I demanded that we end with fresh Cannoli’s…my mouth is still watering thinking about it.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

When putting together this Italian inspired burger I should note that the Uncle Charley’s sausage is the perfect canvas, you don’t need to season or add to the meat because it is everything you need when making an Italian dish. I just dressed up the sausage with some great toppings to create this scrumptious burger and tribute to Italy.

Sausage Patties

I gave the family the option of topping it with a sun-dried tomato pesto or a pizza sauce. I think it works either way so feel free to choose which ever topping suits your taste.

Now go prepare this burger for your Labor Day BBQ and check out Uncle Charley’s sausage, you will not be disappointed!

Little Italy Burger #2

Little Italy Burger

Yields 7 Burgers

Ingredients:
1 Lb. Uncle Charley’s Bulk Hot Sausage
1 Lb. Uncle Charley’s Bulk Sweet Sausage
7 Slices Provolone Cheese
7 Leaves of Green Lettuce
1/2 Cup Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto (recipe below) or 1/2 Cup Pizza Sauce
7 Ciabatta Buns or Kaiser Rolls
1 Large Onion Sliced

Instructions:
In a small bowl combine the sweet sausage and the hot sausage. Form the sausage in to 7 patties of similar size. Place the patties on the grill and cook until done or until it registers 160 degrees. As the patties cook place your onions on the grill and cook until soft or until they start to get color. Tip: it is best to use a grill pan when cooking the onions. Once your patties are cooked top each one with a slice of provolone cheese and place in warm oven or under a broiler to allow the cheese to melt.

Assemble your burger by placing your lettuce on the bun followed by your patty then your sauce and finally your onions. Put it all together, take a big bite and enjoy!

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

3 Tbsp. Sun-Dried Tomato Slices in Oil
2 Tbsp. Basil chopped
1/3 Cup Almond Slivers
2 Garlic Cloves
1/2 Cup Parmesan
1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until all ingredients are combined. Scrape the sides of the container and slowly add the olive oil, pulsing to incorporate. Scrape sides as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste.

The thoughts and opinions reflected above are solely my own, no compensation was received as a result of this post. 

Bacon and Green Bean Salad

I need to catch up to my life!

Bacon and Green Bean Salad

Maybe that isn’t a real thing. I made this salad a week ago for a Pig Roast that we attended and I am just now getting around to blogging it…

Our friends Rick and Rita (I love saying their names out loud) own a farm outside of Pittsburgh and every year they host a Pig Roast. I should take a moment to mention that Rick and Rita’s farm, Laurel Vista, generates some great produce and canned yummies. If you live in Pittsburgh you might have even seen their products in the stores. One of the favorites is the dilly beans which are pickled green beans. Basically everything they make is fresh and delicious! Stay tuned to the blog for a recipes featuring some of their amazing products.

Rick and the Pig

Rick and the Pig

 

This was our second year going out to the farm and we even brought the pups along to get some fresh air. The pup likes nature but likes sitting on my lap more so he spent a good amount of time taking in the sites from the comfort of my lap, it was kind of embarrassing. When Rick and Rita’s dog showed up he finally remembered that he was a dog and started to run around. Thankfully that ensured that he got all tuckered out for the ride home.

Let’s take in the beauty of nature for a second…

Sky

Farm Lake

 

Lake #2

Not only was the view breathtaking, but the spread also took our breath away.

Dinner Spread

Dessert Table

Since this was our second year I knew that we should probably bring something green. Last year I brought the yummy Strawberry and Spinach Salad  which I think went over well with all the guests. This year I wanted to bring a salad that was a bit different so I decided on using green beans instead of any sort of greens.

Bacon!!

I also found it appropriate to use bacon because when you are having pork you should probably have more pork, right? Anyhow, I hope you enjoy this salad and maybe you should eat it while sitting next to a lake on the most perfect summer day!

Green Beans and Bacon

Bacon and Green Bean Salad

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 Lb. Green Beans trimmed
1/2 Lb. Thick Cut Bacon diced
6 Summer Sweet Tomatoes halved
2 Tsp. Shallot diced
3 Tbsp. Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp. Sugar
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. In a medium bowl add 12 ice cubes, cover with water and set aside. Add your trimmed green beans to the boiling water and allow them to cook for 3-5 minutes. Remove the green beans and place them in the ice water which will stop the cooking. Drain the water and ice and set the green beans aside.

In a medium saute pan cook your diced bacon over medium heat until fully cooked and crisp. Remove your cooked bacon and place on a paper towel to drain the excess fat. Drain your pan of the bacon grease leaving a teaspoon in the pan. Heat the pan and add the diced shallot and cook until crisp, remove shallots and place on paper towel to drain off any excess fat. In a small bowl combine your cider vinegar, sugar, vegetable oil and shallots. Season the vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss your green beans with the vinaigrette and then sprinkle the bacon and tomatoes on top. Allow the salad to chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

 

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