A few weeks ago, Chad and I revamped our kitchen and eating habits — we’ve always eaten reasonably healthy, but we started to realize that we were consuming a LOT of junk food. In New York, I’d usually stop by a grocery store once every few days, and there were always easy takeout options that we went to in a pinch. In Houston, our routine is really different — we cook a lot more on a day-to-day basis, but since everything isn’t in walking distance of our house, we depend a lot on what we have on hand.
Which… eventually became a lot of junk food. We were caught in this cycle of me buying food, Chad not knowing what we had and grabbing less healthy options by default, and then I wouldn’t buy as many healthy options because we never ate them… big mess. But a few weeks ago, we decided to make a major effort to be all-around healthier.
So I thought I’d share with you guys one of my new go-to recipes! Quinoa is actually super easy to make — it only takes 15-20 minutes to cook and it’s a whole grain that’s packed with fiber. Pair it with some easy staples like artichokes and fresh baby spinach, and you have a quick, simple dish that’s perfect for a healthy weeknight dinner!
And, yes, I still totally cheat — there’s still ice cream in our freezer and I’ll kick and scream before giving up flavor-blasted goldfish (love them!). But overall, these are good, healthy steps in the right direction!
Artichoke and Spinach Quinoa
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped baby spinach
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups uncooked quinoa
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Before cooking, rinse the quinoa thoroughly using a mesh strainer.
Cook the quinoa according to package directions, but replace one cup of water with vegetable stock (so, if the package calls for 4 cups of water, use 1 cup of vegetable stock and 3 cups of water). After the quinoa is cooked, stir in the artichokes, baby spinach, olive oil, garlic powder and lemon juice. Leave the mixture on low heat, stirring frequently, for about 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Once a year, everyone thinks about roasting a turkey — but what about the other 52 weeks?
I love turkey, don’t get me wrong. It’s delicious, it’s impressive, and it’s actually pretty darn healthy. But you know how often you’re going to buy and roast an 18-pound turkey? Once a year. Exactly that much.
But the same techniques can be used on smaller birds, and they’re just as delicious! (Ok, maybe not “just as” delicious, but also very delicious!) A perfect roast chicken only takes an hour and a half, and it’s SO much better than the boneless, skinless chicken breasts you buy at the store.
My secret trick? Start the chicken upside down! That way, as you cook, all the delicious moist juices run over the breast and not just into the bottom of the pan. An added bonus? No basting! Easy, simple and super delicious.
Perfect Roast Chicken
1 5-6 pound roasting chicken
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Wash the chicken and dry it with paper towels. Rub olive oil under the skin gently with your hands, and then over the skin. Season the entire chicken with garlic powder, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Place the chicken in a roasting pan upside down (breast side down) and cook for about 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, flip the chicken over so that the breasts are facing up, and cook for an additional 30 minutes until the breast temperature is 180 degrees and the thigh is 190 degrees.
Let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes before cutting into it. Serve in large portions with a simple side salad or roasted vegetables.
It’s funny, but some of the most popular recipes that I’ve made aren’t the ones that take all day in the kitchen, require fancy ingredients or equipment, or even seem all that creative. Some of the most popular things I make are simple, straightforward, and perfect for just about any weeknight.
So if that’s the kind of thing you’re into, you should definitely try this one. Combine a few ingredients that you’ve probably already got in your kitchen, spend a few minutes of prep time, and you’ve got a delicious dinner that makes a weeknight just a little more special. I’d take this over takeout any day.
Easy Stuffed Chicken
1 chicken breasts (can be adjusted for as many servings as you need)
2 ounces goat cheese
10 baby spinach leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Gently pull the chicken skin back from the meat. Place a layer of crumbled goat cheese between the skin and the meat, and then top that with a layer of baby spinach. Make sure everything is covered by the chicken skin, and then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and bake for about 40 minutes, or until juices run clear.
Want to know the craziest thing about this dish? The orange mac-and-cheese color in this pasta is all natural! Eveny pick eaters won’t know the difference, and you can sneak in a huge serving of healthy veggies without anyone being any wiser.
I’m going through a major baked pasta craze right now — I love making them on Sundays and then having quick, easy homemade dinners all through the week. Life has been so crazy lately, those extra few minutes on weeknights really make a difference!
I’m off to New York on Wednesday for a really awesome new project — can’t wait to tell you guys about it! I’m a little nervous about packing — it’s still so warm and beautiful in Texas (barely even cool enough for long pants), I can’t believe it’s sweater and jacket weather in the Northeast!
Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
1 pound macaroni pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 cups vegetable stock
1 large butternut squash
2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
1 cup grated Parmesan
First, cut the squash in half and roast it at 450 degrees for one hour, or until squash can be poked through with a fork. Once the squash is roasted, scoop out the flesh and reserve. Turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees F.
Heat a pot of water to boil for the pasta. Salt the water then add the pasta and cook to al dente or, with a bite to it.
While pasta cooks, heat a medium heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the extra-virgin olive oil and butter. When the butter melts into the oil, add the shallot. Cook the shallot for a minute or so, and then all the vegetable stock. Once everything is warm, combine with the butternut squash and cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in cheeses in a figure 8 motion and season the completed sauce with salt, paprika and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings.
Drain cooked pasta well and combine with sauce. Place in a baking dish and cook, covered with tin foil, for approximately 15 minutes, and serve.
We had a chilly weekend, and even in Texas, that means its time for some hearty fall pasta dishes! Obviously, this is the first thing that came to mind — totally delicious, and super easy to make (although it’s a multiple-pot dish, so be prepared for a little cleanup).
It’ll probably be ninety degrees again in a few days, so I have to eat stuff like this while I can! Because, seriously, combine pasta, ground turkey, tomato sauce and a ton of cheese? How could that NOT be delicious?
Baked Turkey Ziti
1/4 cup olive oil
1.5 pounds ground turkey
1 shallot, chopped
1 small eggplant, chopped (optional)
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 (1-pound) box rigatoni noodles
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large skillet, cook the turkey, olive oil, eggplant and shallot until browned. Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, and simmer until blended.
Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water according to package instructions. Drain and mix with the tomato sauce.
Pour half the pasta and sauce into the bottom of a 9 by 13 baking dish. Add a layer of mozzarella, and then top with the remaining pasta and another layer of mozzarella. Top with the Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish with foil and cook for 25 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove foil for the last 5 minutes of cooking to brown cheese.