Breaking out of the rut

We love pizza and have it often as an easy weeknight dinner.  We tend to get in the habit of having some of the same ones over and over and I wanted to change it up.  Looking back at blog, we have had this before.  However, we haven’t had it since 2012.  So I guess that doesn’t count as a rut if you have something once every 5 years!

Chicken Pizza Francaise

  • 1 prepared pizza crust, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 whole boneless, skinless chicken breast, slightly pounded
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence (you can substitute thyme)
  • 5 medium shallots, sliced
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 TB Dijon mustard
  • 2 TB mayonnaise

Sprinkle chicken with garlic and Herbes de Provence.  Heat olive oil in a nonstick pan and cook chicken about 3 minutes a side until browned on the outside and just cooked through.  Set aside.  Add shallots to the pan along with about 4 TB of water.  Stir and cook until shallots are soft and golden brown (about 5 minutes).  Add another 1 – 2 TB of water and the spinach, stirring until spinach is wilted.  Set aside.

Thinly slice chicken.

Preheat oven to 450.  Combine dijon mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl and spread on pizza crust.  Top with spinach and shallot mixture.  Top with chicken and then with cheese.  Bake at 450 about 10 minutes until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!


A new entree salad for Spring

I have a fairly new salad cookbook and was looking through it for inspiration.  I found an entree salad that screamed spring – it included asparagus and smoked salmon.  These are two things we love and two things that feel springy.  I tweaked it a bit and served it for dinner.  A definite hit and do-over!

Smoked salmon and asparagus salad

  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 TB white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TB minced tarragon
  • 1 package salad greens of your choice
  • asparagus (tough ends broken off and blanched in salted water for 2 – 3 minutes, then chilled)
  • 1/2 lb smoked salmon
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced

Whisk together half and half, vinegar, lemon juice and tarragon.  (Cream will curdle and thicken.)  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Top each plate with greens and asparagus.  Spread smoked salmon across veggies and top with shallot.  Pour dressing over salad and serve.



Vacation cooking

Last week we were in Park City for Spring Break.  We rented a house with our friends and try to keep costs down a little by cooking in.  The tricky part about cooking in rental houses is you never know what kind of kitchen supplies/utensils you will have and you don’t want to buy a whole bunch of stuff that you will need to throw away.  (Samantha had a great vocabulary word in her homework – equipage.  It was in an article about tea and the increasing popularity of tea drinking in England pre-Revolutionary War.  The article described the interest in the silver service, china cups, etc. – the equipage of tea drinking.  The definition I found indicates that it is an archaic word meaning “the equipment for a particular purpose”.  Keith and I were joking that we would have to check the kitchen equipage before we planned our meals.  Fortunately, it was sufficient for our needs.)

I tried to keep it to meals with just a few ingredients – all of which will be familiar to my blog followers.  We ate in 4 nights as follows:

  • Boursin chicken, oven roasted potatoes and salad in a bag – the Boursin chicken is only 3 ingredients (bone-in chicken with Boursin cheese and a little olive oil), I bought the Little Potato company potatoes with the seasoning packet and a delicious salad in a bag with walnuts, craisins, cheddar cheese and apple dijon vinaigrette.  Simple to fix, simple to cleanup and minimum items to purchase at the store
  • Grilled rosemary and garlic shrimp with pine nut cous cous and grilled asparagus – I marinated the shrimp in rosemary, garlic and olive oil (I did breakdown and buy a small bottle of olive oil), everyone loved the cous cous and the grilled asparagus just needed a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.  I did also buy a package of wooden skewers for the grilling but they were not very expensive.
  • Salmon dijon with instant risotto and steamed broccoli – I already had mayonnaise and Dijon mustard for lunches so just bought a small bottle of horseradish and some panic.  The risotto mix is excellent and broccoli is always delicious.
  • Grilled lamb chops with horseradish mashed potatoes and salad in a bag – we bought a small bottle of Worcestershire to marinate the lamb chops and Keith used some of the leftover horseradish in the mashed potatoes

Definitely saved some money by eating in and none of these required much in the way of equipage!





Mom’s night in

Keith and Samantha have a Father/Daughter dinner tonight.  That gives me a chance to enjoy one of my favorite treats – shad roe.  Not only do I get to enjoy it, I get to enjoy it without my child telling me how gross she thinks it is.  (For the uninitiated, shad roe is the egg sac from shad when they are spawning and it is only available for a short time in February and March.)  I’ll cook some bacon and then saute the shad row in some of the bacon grease.  I’ll grab a glass of wine and enjoy a little bit of quiet time and be happy when they are back!  Here’s a picture from a previous shad roe dinner.


Something(s) new

We’ve tried a few new things this week and the results have been very positive.  The chicken thighs went over very well, last night’s pork was excellent and we both loved the tilapia tonight.  Here are the updates.

Roasted pork tenderloin with brown sugar and mustard

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375.  Season pork with salt and pepper.  Combine brown sugar, mustard and thyme together.  Line a pan with aluminum foil and place sliced onions on the foil.  Put pork on top of the onions and top with about 1/2 of the brown sugar/mustard mixture.  Seal edges of foil and roast for 25 – 30 minutes.  Take temperature of pork (it should be at 130).  Top with remaining mustard mixture and broil for 1 minute.  Let rest for 5 minutes and carve.  We had this with a baked sweet potato.  Delicious!

Parmesan tilapia

  • 1 tilapia fillet per person
  • 1 TB butter (softened)
  • 2 TB Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp basil

Line a pan with foil and preheat broiler.  Combine butter, cheese, mayonnaise and basil.  Broil tilapia for 3 minutes a few inches from broiler.  Flip fillets and broil another 3 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with cheese mixture.  Broil another 2 minutes and serve with broccoli.  Excellent!

3 experiments = 3 wins!

Rosemary and garlic

I was out of town for work last night so Keith and Samantha ended up eating out.  I was happy to get home early enough to cook tonight.  I had found a recipe in the newspaper that I wanted to work with.  Since it had rosemary and garlic (two of our favorite flavors), I thought it had promise.  I wasn’t sure that was enough to overcome the fact that it included rainbow chard and chicken things (Keith usually prefers chicken breasts.)  It was greeted with enthusiasm and is a definite do-over.

Roasted chicken thighs

  • 2 bone-in chicken thighs per person (seasoned with small amounts of kosher salt and sugar)
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 5 – 6 sprigs of rosemary
  • butter
  • red pepper flakes
  • rainbow chard, washed, dried and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 450 and place a small roasting pan in the oven.  In a deep skillet, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add chicken thighs (skin side down) and sear for 1 -2 minutes.  Add garlic and rosemary to saucepan (around the chicken) and cook for 5 – 7 minutes.

Remove roasting pan from oven and place chicken (skin side up) in roasting pan.  Top each chicken thigh with rosemary, garlic and a small pat of butter and return to oven for 10 -12 minutes.

With a few minutes remaining until chicken is done, add 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes to oil in skillet over medium heat.  Then add chard and saute, tossing for 3 minutes.

Place a portion of chard on each dinner plate and top with a small pat of butter.  Put two chicken thighs next to chard (along with roasted garlic and rosemary) and squeeze lemon over the plate.

Grill night

Ever since we had the insanely delicious strip steaks from John Brown’s Butchery, I’ve been craving another serving of excellent beef.  We went today to see what they had and bought gorgeous bone-in ribeye steak.  (The steak was enormous so they kindly cut it in half for easier cooking and serving.  It will serve 3 of us.)  I had some dry rub leftover and used it on the beef.  I’m sautéing some spinach in olive oil with chopped shallots and garlic to have on the side.  The other side was a cheat – mushroom risotto from a mix.

Dry rub

  • 2 TB whole allspice
  • 2 TB black peppercorns
  • 1 TB cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 2 TB sweet paprika
  • 1 TB chipotle powder
  • 1 TB ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Toast allspice, peppercorns, cumin, cinnamon and cloves in a nonstick pan over medium heat, tossing frequently.  When fragrant, remove from heat and let cool.  Grind in a spice grinder and place in a bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and whisk together.  Keep the leftover in a jar for another time.

About 45 minutes before you are ready to eat, rub both sides of steak with rub.  Let sit at room temperature.  Before grilling, spray with cooking spray and then grill 5 minutes on one side, 4 on the other and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.