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Greek Chicken with Olives, Tomatoes and Feta

20 May


Simplicity is the name of the game on weeknights. Something healthy, satisfying and not boring is something I’m always looking for. And simple surely doesn’t have to equate to boring.

Sarah Foster’s recipe for Greek Chicken with Olives Tomatoes and Feta fit the bill for this weeks meal. It’s easy enough to whip together on a Monday after work and sturdy enough to reheat for Tuesday night dinner too.

Make sure to utilize fresh summer tomatoes and herbs. It’ll make a big difference.

Greek Chicken with Tomatoes, Olives and Feta

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1½ pounds)
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 tomatoes (on-the-vine or plum), diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup pitted Greek olives, chopped
  • 6 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips, plus more for garnish
  • 2-3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Place chicken in a shallow dish to marinate. Make marinade by combining lemon zest and juice, wine, and oregano with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over chicken and rub into all sides. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet on medium-high until butter melts. Remove chicken from marinade and place in skillet. Reserve the marinade. Cook chicken, turning once, for 4 to 5 minutes a side, until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.

Add onion and tomatoes to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until onion is soft and tomatoes soften and release liquid, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one minute more, stirring constantly. Add reserved marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 3 minutes, until reduced slightly. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Return the chicken to the skillet with the sauce. Add the olives and basil, simmer on low for 6 to 8 more minutes, until cooked through.

Transfer chicken to plates, spoon sauce over each breast. Garnish with the feta and additional basil and oregano. Serve immediately.

Spring Scallop Pappardelle

15 May



Last Sunday, I spent the afternoon with my friend Matt traveling from the Italian market to The Fresh Market picking up ingredients that spoke to us. Great prosciutto and locatelli cheese at Giacamos, the most beautifully packaged Cipriani pappardelle pasta, scallops, asparagus at The Fresh Market and fresh basil from the local shared garden. With no specific direction in mind, we put together a splendid dish that was enjoyed in my completed backyard garden. With my climbing rose bush in full bloom and a reflective glass of rose wine, it wasn’t too bad of a Sunday supper.

I encourage a similar adventure and outdoor meal this weekend.

Spring Scallop Pappardelle

  • 1 tablespoon each, butter and olive oil
  • 8 scallops
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/8 pound prosciutto, chopped
  • grated Parmesan or locatelli cheese
  • 1/2 pound  Pappardelle pasta
  • fresh basil

In a large skillet, melt olive oil and butter on medium high heat. Meanwhile, start a large pot of salted water for boiling.

Dry the scallops, season with salt and pepper, and sear the scallops on each side until brown. Remove the scallops (they may not be fully cooked through depending on their size) and set aside. Lower the temperature to medium. Add asparagus, garlic and shallot. Saute until tender and fragrant.

While the pasta is cooking, return the scallops back to the skillet with asparagus mixture. Saute together until scallops are cooked through. When the pasta is cooked through, transfer it directly from boiling water to the skillet. Taste for seasoning – you may want to add a sprinkle of salt, pepper or even more butter (our secret).

Add fresh basil, prosciutto and cheese. Stir together. Serve hot!

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce

7 May


Ina’s Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce is one of my favorite Spring to Summer recipes. I once made it for a (literal) boat load of water skiers on Smith Mountain Lake and I’m confident that I’ve never seen food disappear so quickly. There is something about the tangy lemon chicken with sweet and savory peanut sauce. It’s just different enough to make folks wonder what exactly is in it.

Put this on your standby list. It’s a winner, as most Ina recipes are.

Grilled Lemon Chicken with Satay Sauce, Ina Garten 

  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 lemons)
  • 3/4 cup good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, halved and skin removed

Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour over the chicken breasts in a nonreactive bowl. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 6 hours or overnight.

Heat a charcoal grill. Grill the chicken breasts for 10 minutes on each side, until just cooked through.

  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons good red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Cook the olive oil, sesame oil, red onion, garlic, ginger root, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, sherry, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute. Cool and use as a dip for Grilled Lemon Chicken.


They go together like good ham and gruyere cheese; Croque Monsieur

4 May

JP wedding


This weekend I was l honored to witness and celebrate the marriage of my very close friend’s Jamey and Phil. After 15 years of sharing their lives together, it couldn’t have been more special. With over a hundred friends and family of the couple, we celebrated over many drinks and delicious food at the Proximity Hotel. And, a lotta dancing. By the look of the photos, we had a blast. It was just as everyone could expect – a party that no one would forget! Thanks to J&P for including me in so many special moments throughout the years and this very special occasion.

In honor of things that go together just perfectly, I present the most amazing sandwich – the Croque Monsieur. Jamey and Phil go together like good ham and gruyere cheese…over buttery toast and bechamel sauce. Classic, luxurious and timeless!

I enjoyed this recipe with my mom and her BFF Debbie a couple weeks ago for Sunday supper. Enjoy with a light salad and good crisp white wine.

Croque Monsieur

Makes 4 servings

For the Bechamel, melt:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4th Cup all purpose flour
Whisk in:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
For the Sandwiches
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 slices artisan-style white bread
  • 8 slices good cooked ham
  • 4 oz Shredded Gruyere (about 2 cups)
  • Chopped parsley
Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from the element.
For the Bechamel, melt the butter in a saucepan, heat until foamy, whisk in flour and cook roux 1 minute.
Whisk in milk, combine completely, Whisk in Dijon and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook until slightly thickened.
For the sandwiches, spread butter on both sides of bread and toast on both sides.
Cover one side of the bread slices with 2 Tbsp bechamel, ham, and Gruyere cheese.
Broil until brown and bubbly! Garnish with parsley!!!!

Mother’s Day Chicken Salad

27 Apr


A couple weeks ago I spent some time kicking my standard chicken salad recipe into a new gear. Extra herbs – dill and basil – plus really good sweet pickles and pickled beets for an extra flavor and color. My how it turned out – despite the interesting pink color, this salad full of moist chicken, crunchy celery and scallions had an extra boost from the sweet, herby, spicy and fresh additions.

I enjoyed mine in an open faced sandwich over watercress. However, it’s perfect on it’s on it’s own, in a full two-sided sandwich or in a salad with baby greens.

I think this recipe is perfect for a Mother’s Day lunch. It’s also perfect for a picnic or a lunchbox.

Mother’s Day Chicken Salad 

  • 2 whole split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
  • Good olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup small-diced celery 
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • 2-3 tablespoons dill, minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped sweet pickles
  • 1/4 cup chopped pickle beets

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Set aside to cool.

When the chicken is cool, remove and discard the skin and bones and cut the chicken into 3/4-inch dice. Place the chicken in a bowl and add the mayonnaise, and remainder of ingredients. Mix well and taste for seasoning. At this point, add more components you may want more of!


Grilled Rack of Lamb with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction

26 Apr


Tis the season for lamb chops. We enjoyed rack of lamb on Easter weekend to celebrate the come of spring. In an effort to put a different spin on them, I made a sweet and tangy blackberry and balsamic reduction to pour over the medium rare individual chops. They were messy and juicy – just perfect. We ate them with our hands – like any lamb lover would do.

Grilled Rack of Lamb with Blackberry Balsamic Reduction 

  • 2 racks, lamb
  • olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 spring rosemary, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

Pulse rosemary, kosher salt, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a food processor to form a coarse paste, scraping down sides. Rub oil all over chops, then coat evenly with rosemary mixture. Allow to sit for 4-6 hours.

Oil grill rack, then grill chops in 2 batches, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes per batch for medium-rare. Remove the lamb from the grill when internal temperature is 135-140 for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10 minutes and then slice into individual chops. 

While grilling, boil balsamic and blackberries together with a whole sprig of rosemary. Once reduced (to cover the back of a spoon), remove the rosemary. Spoon over lamb chops.


Spiced Lamb Burgers

28 Mar




Last weekend I experimented with this interesting Bon Appetit recipe for Spiced Lamb Burger. The ingredients are pretty typical of a standard lamb burger – filled with cumin and coriander and other Middle Eastern spices. But, the preparation had me wondering. This recipe asks you to fill a pita with the raw meat mixture and cook it on the grill. While there is the missed crispy burger factor, the juices of the burger fill the crispy pita was delicious juices.

This is a fun Spring grilling menu – baked fries, a good green salad and this lamb burger. Or, a super casual Easter menu!

Spiced Lamb Burger

  •  pounds ground lamb, preferably shoulder
  • 1 medium onion, very finely chopped
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for grilling
  • 8 thick medium pita breads with pockets


Using a fork, mix lamb, onion, parsley, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and ¼ cup oil in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.


Irish Fondue

17 Mar


Last night, in an early celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I hosted some friends for a casual supper of Irish fondue! At the risk of offending the French, this fondue recipe maybe better than my standard fondue with gruyere cheese. This recipe is unique with Irish cheddar cheese (I used Kerrygold Dubliner) and Guinness stout. Plus an odd sweetener from apple juice concentrate. Note that we enjoyed local Greensboro beer with dinner (at the risk of offending the Irish!).

I served the fondue with slightly roasted crispy brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, chewy bread and grilled chicken sausages. But, you can certainly get creative.

I find this dinner much more appetizing than the traditional corned beef and cabbage. And it can be enjoyed on any day you’re feeling lucky. Happy St. Pattys!

Aged Cheddar and Guinness Fondue, from Steamy Kitchen

  • 2 cups cauliflower florets, roasted slightly
  • 4 chicken sausage links, grilled
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, halved and roasted slightly
  • 1 baguette (or any bread with lots of crusty crust)
  • 1 lb good aged cheddar, grated
  • 2 ½ tbs all-purpose flour
  • 8 oz. Guinness stout + more if needed
  • 6 tablespoons frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 1 tsp powdered mustard
  • 1 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Toast bread: If your bread is day-old, skip this step. Otherwise cut the bread into 1” squares. Turn oven to 250F. Toast bread pieces for 15 minutes. Remove and cool. Roast the veggies and grill/chop the sausages.
Make fondue: Toss grated cheese with the flour. In your fondue pot over low heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and garlic. Fry until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn heat to medium-high. Add Guinness, apple juice concentrate, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Bring to boil. Add cheese a little at a time, stirring constantly until fondue is smooth and melted. Thin with more Guinness, if needed throughout the meal. Season with salt and pepper.
Serve: Arrange bread, vegetables and meat around the table.

Shrimp Creole for a Crowd

11 Mar



Several months ago, under the glow of lighted Christmas balls, two cooks met and plotted a dinner at another friend’s home. Sarah and I came up with a scheme. We would cook a fantastic meal and crash our friend’s Todd and Laura’s fabulous house for a dinner party. They were kind enough to accept the idea. Months later, Sarah and I planned a creole themed dinner for nine people. My family’s traditional shrimp creole, a grapefruit and avocado salad, small creole flavored deviled eggs and a most rich and decadent chocolate croissant bread pudding all made the menu.

Special thanks to Laura and Todd for hosting us! Thanks to Sarah for a fun night of collaboration!

The theme was rooted in the idea that I wanted to cook most the dinner at home – in advance – and arrive in style with an easily assembled unusual meal. This shrimp creole recipe can be cooked in big batches weeks ahead. I made the sauce on a rainy Sunday afternoon the weekend before the party — without the shrimp. Day of the party, I defrosted, tasted for final seasoning and hauled the pot over to Laura’s. Right before we ate, I tossed in shrimp to fully cook before serving. It couldn’t have been easier.

Shrimp creole is perfect served over a bed of fluffy basmati rice. Here’s the recipe!


Showstopping Brussel Sprout and Pancetta Pizza

6 Mar



Are you looking for a last minute Friday night supper? A Brussels Sprout and Pancetta Pizza, a glass of good vino and a cute dog are all you need. This recipe is from The Candid Appetite – a beautiful and inspiring blog with lots of delicious photographs. I was taken with the idea of a sneaky (sort-of) healthy idea of brussels sprouts plus the most delicious salty cured Italian pancetta. Did I mention the egg? (Yes, save it for the weekend. )

This is a fun alternative to the normal homemade pizza night. Enjoy it with friends. It’s a showstopper. Meaning, don’t get it while watching House of Cards.

Brussels Sprouts and Pancetta Pizza, from The Candid Appetite

  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2¼ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 7 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ¼ cup pecorino cheese, grated
  • ½ pound thinly sliced pancetta
  • 4 large eggs

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a large bowl combine the warm water and yeast. Lightly stir and allow to rest for about 5 minutes. Add the salt, sugar, 1 tablespoon olive oil and flour. Mix with a wooden spoon until it comes together into a shaggy dough. Add a bit more water, a little at a time, if the dough is too dry. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 to 7 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the mixing bowl, that has been greased and turn it over to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap, loosely, and a damp kitchen towel. Set in a warm place to double in size, about 1 hour.

In the meantime, prepare the other toppings. Separate the Brussels sprout leaves and throw them onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Toss to evenly coat and roast in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the leaves are crispy. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Sauté the diced red onion in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper, for about 5 minutes, or until translucent and slightly browned. Allow to cool down.

In a small pot heat the remaining (¼ cup) olive oil with the whole garlic cloves and rosemary sprigs. Cook on low for about 5 to 10 minutes to develop the flavor. Remove from heat and allow to cool down.

Cut the dough in half and roll out each half on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into a large thin circle. Place each rolled pizza crust onto two baking sheets. Brush the crusts liberally with the garlic herb infused oil. Bake for about 5 to 7 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Sprinkle each dough with the mozzarella and pecorino cheese, dividing it among both crusts. Top with the crispy Brussels sprouts, and sautéed onions. Lay a couple slices of pancetta on each pizza. Bake for about 5 minutes to melt the cheese and continue to brown the crust.

Remove the pizzas from the oven and crack two eggs onto each pizza. Return to the oven and continue to cook for another 5 minutes (for runny yolks). Remove from the oven and cut into wedges. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!



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