Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Chicken over Cous Cous

sp_cp_chick1One of my dear friends is in town this week for a conference and while we thought we might not get to fit in a visit at all, we’ve now had two nights in a row of hanging out–what a treat! This evening after work we met up downtown and spontaneously decided she’d come home with me and eat with us. Bonus treat! And to top it off, she surprised me with the most delightful of gifts – a beautiful new cookbook. I’d never heard of this one, but from the flip of the first page I was hooked. Stunning food styling and photography, perfectly presented healthy, fresh, seasonal recipes, and an overall philosophy about how to eat and cook healthy and why — without going nuts. The book is Quick. Easy. Healthy. Good Food Every Day by Callum Hann and Themis Chrissidis, and their central message is, “We don’t believe in health products, ‘superfoods,’ ‘diets’ or strict eating plans. We just believe in food…” YESSSSSS. Preach on, my people!

I opened the book and flipped through the recipes and basically was like, ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes.’ I want to make everything. I started with a recipe called Moroccan Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Chicken Salad, but did a little tweaking to make it a heartier dinner and, because, I can’t help myself, really. You know me by now. Anyway, here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDsp_cp_chick2
* 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
* 1 medium-sized red onion, quartered and cut into slices
* 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
* 2T olive oil, divided
* 1T paprika
* 1/4C raw pumpkin seeds
* 1/4C dried cranberries, cherries, raisins, or currants (I used a cranberry/cherry combo)
* 1-1.5lb chicken tenderloins, cut in half
* 1T ground cumin
* 1T grainy dijon mustard
* zest and juice of 1 large lemon
* handful of fresh parsley or cilantro leaves rough chopped
* whole wheat cous cous

WHAT TO DOsp_cp_chick3
Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare a large and a small roasting pan, set aside.

Put the sweet potato chunks, onion slices, and chickpeas in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil add the paprika and toss to coat. Pour into an even layer into the large roasting pan and roast 20 minutes.

Next, put the chicken pieces and the cumin in a bowl and mix to ensure all of the chicken is coated. Spray the smaller roasting pan with nonstick spray and then add the chicken to it. Place the pan in the oven for 10-15 minutes, just until cooked through.

Try to overlap the timing on both pans so that they finish at the same time. When the vegetable pan is ready, add the pumpkin seeds and dried fruit to the pan, and return to the oven for another minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the cous cous according to the package directions.

In a large serving bowl, whisk together the second tablespoon of olive oil, mustard, and lemon zest and juice. Add the vegetable mixture and the chicken and toss to combine.

Serve the chicken and veggies over cous cous. Garnish with the fresh chopped parsley.

It’s sweet but not too sweet, and warm and rich and deep in flavor. It’s hearty and filling, but still light and fresh. It’s easy, quick, beautiful, and totally family-pleasing. One recipe in, and I’m basically obsessed with this cookbook and these chefs. More please!

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Pesto Chicken Parm

I have to apologize in advance that the photos in this post are wimpy. I got home later than planned and was rushing and totally neglected to take the right/good pictures as I cooked and served this meal. I would have skipped posting and waited until I repeated, but it turned out so good I had to share it! Real life, man. Actually, all things considered, this dinner is TOTALLY weeknight/rushing-friendly. This meal caught us back up time-wise to our normal work- and school-night timingΒ in spite of how late and spazzy I was. Anyway… the other day when I was meal planning I saw a photo of someone else’s Chicken Parm on Instagram and got a craving. However, I knew I had spinach and basil that needed to be used, so I decided to substitute a pesto for the marinara sauce and see how it turned out. Fast, easy, healthy, totally delicious. What else do we need? Time. We need more time. But you can’t always get what you want right? So how about a yummy meal instead? Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDpestoparm2
for the pesto
* 1/2C baby spinach leaves
* 1/4C fresh basil leaves
* 1/2C grated Parmesan cheese
* 2-3 cloves fresh garlic
* juice of 1/2 a lemon
* 1/2C walnut pieces
* 1/2t salt
* 1/2t black pepper
* 1/4-1/3C olive oil

for the chicken
* 1 1/2lb thin cut chicken breasts
* 1 or 2 eggs, beaten
* panko breadcrumbs
* vegetable oil
* shredded mozzarella cheese
* Parmesan cheese

WHAT TO DO
Preheat your oven to 350F. Cover a baking sheet with tin foil (for easy clean-up later!) and set aside.

Start with your chicken. Prepare two shallow dishes – one with the eggs and one with the Panko breadcrumbs. One at a time, place a chicken breast in the egg to coat on both sides, then into the breadcrumbs to coat on both sides.

Heat vegetable oil in a large, high-sided pan about 1/4-inch deep over medium heat. When the oil glistens, place your chicken breasts into the oil and fry until golden on each side (turn once). Because you’re using thin cut breasts, they will cook quickly, so keep an eye on them so they don’t over-brown on the outside (= dry on the inside). When you’ve lightly fried all of your chicken breasts, lay them out on the prepared baking sheet.

While the chicken fries you can prepare your pesto. Place all of the pesto ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend all of the ingredients, and while that’s blending, slowly stream in the olive oil, allowing it to incorporate in with the pesto. When it’s reached your preferred consistency, it’s ready! So easy! (NOTE: this is a very basic pesto recipe – feel free to substitute what you have or prefer – different greens, different nuts – all will be delicious!)

Spoon a generous layer of pesto over each chicken breast. Top the pesto with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese, and then shake on some Parmesan on top. Bake at 350 for about 7-10 minutes. Turn the broiler on after that, and broil just two minutes, to get the cheese all browned and gooey.

Serve hot over pasta or rice, or beside sauteed veggies. So yummy and so so so so so easy! Even with no time at all! What’s your excuse?

Bon apetit!

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Quick Meal: Chicken and Broccoli Ramen Stir Fry

This dinner was inspired by a recipe I saw somewhere for a beef and broccoli ramen dish. But I couldn’t find that recipe when I was meal planning this week, so I decided to come up with a quick variation of my own. Voila. A 20-minute delicious dinner! My Tiny Sous Chef made the sauce herself – and then ate three servings! WINNER! Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDchixrbrocramsf3
for the sauce
* 3/4C low sodium soy sauce
* 1C beef broth
* 1/4C honey
* 3T rice vinegar
* 2T brown sugar
* 4t minced garlic
* 1T sesame oil
* 1T cornstarch
* 1/2C water

for the stir fry
* 2 packages of quick-cook ramen noodles (like Top Ramen), any flavor (discard flavor packets)
* olive oil
* 1-1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders, cut into chunks
* 1 head of broccoli, broken down into small florets
* sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

WHAT TO DO
In a bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together. Set aside.

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chixrbrocramsf2Cook the ramen noodles according to package instructions (about 2-3 minutes in boiling water), until noodles are just softened. Drain immediately.

Heat just enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet over medium heat – about a tablespoon or so. Cook the chicken until it begins to brown, then add the noodles, broccoli, and sauce, and mix to combine and coat everything.

Cook until the sauce thickens up a bit, just about 5 minutes. Serve immediately, sprinkled with sesame seeds.

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Combining Recipes: Grilled Garlic Lemon Chicken Pitas w/Sweet Potato Cashew Cream Sauce

When the temps hit mid-to-upper 60s in February in Chicago, you make sure your grill is gassed up and ready to go! Get outside, man!

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t a new one, but I did combine a few recipes into one meal. I knew I wanted to take advantage of this likely-too-brief grillin’ weather, so I planned to make these ridiculously easy and ridiculously yumm-a-licious grilled garlic lemon chicken skewers. I decided to serve them with warm pita wraps and a salad of arugula, spinach, and sliced Roma tomatoes, tossed in olive oil and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Which would have been perfectly delightful all on its own.

But then last night’s dinner left us with a decent amount of leftover sweet potato cashew cream sauce (which packs a powerful garlicky punch!) and I could not let it go to waste. And that’s where the magic happened.

I warmed the pitas up, then spread a scoop of the cream sauce down the middle, added a pile of the arugula/spinach salad, and a couple slices of tomato, and finally topped it with a few pieces of delicious grilled chicken. Wrapped that baby up, and yeah, buddy!

If you read back in that grilled chicken recipe post, that marinade is CRAZY good. It can hold its own. But this sweet potato cashew cream sauce is unreal. I could eat it with a spoon. Put those two together and YOWZA.