Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Loaded Veggie Pie (with Chicken)

After our "Food and Drinking Tour" or the greater northwest, we are back on track to eating healthy all the time.  (Well, most of the time.)  With that in mind, including as many vegetables as possible into a meal is again a priority.  I.  Love.  Veggies.  All of them.  Particularly when I cram as many different varieties as possible into one dish.

Insert: Loaded Veggie Pie (with chicken).  This delicious treat included TEN different kinds of vegetables.  Add some Italian seasoning, rosemary, thyme, sage, pepper, some chicken, and a dusting of romano cheese and the result is INCREDIBLE!  So easy, so versatile, so fresh, so delicious, so healthy.  An absolute (guilt-free) favorite!!

Veggies before spices and chicken.

Filling--fully spiced, with chicken, and ready to go.

Before baking.

After baking...can't WAIT to eat.


Loaded Veggie Pie with Chicken:
This pie is destined to be delicious with whatever combination of veggies and spices sound good to you.  I'll tell you what I did this time, but honestly, I have never made it exactly the same way twice.
  • half an onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large yukon gold potato cut into smaller pieces
  • 2 cooked cobs of corn with the kernels sliced off
  • about 1 cup of broccoli, cut into smallish pieces
  • half a zucchini, cut into small slices and then cut in half
  • half a yellow zucchini squash, cut the same was as the zucchini
  • 2 cans of low sodium diced tomatoes in water (again, our fresh tomatoes are awful)
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, diced
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2ish tablespoons of Italian seasoning
  • 1ish tablespoons each of dried thyme, rosemary, and sage
  • a healthy few dashes of red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated romano cheese to put on top
  • 1 pie crust
  1. Saute the onions, pepper, and garlic in a (very) large nonstick skillet with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Add the zucchini and the zucchini squash.
  3. Cook until until a little bit more tender.
  4. Add the tomatoes, corn, potatoes, and broccoli.
  5. Cover and simmer.
  6. While the veggies are sauteing, cook the chicken pieces in another skillet.  Heat a touch of olive oil and add the chicken pieces.  Rotate regularly until all the pieces are cooked through.  Once cooked, set aside until ready to incorporate into the veggies.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Put your pie crust in a pie dish.
  8. Once the veggies are almost entirely cooked, add the mushrooms.
  9. At the same time, add the spices.
  10. Add the chicken.  Let cook for a minute or two.
  11. Taste and adjust the spices for flavor.
  12. When the filling is perfect for your palette, pour as much as will fit into the pie crust.  Dust with romano cheese.
  13. Cook until the crust is lightly browned.
  14. Remove from oven and serve with more romano cheese.  
  15. SO GOOD!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Leek, Garlic, and Sweet Potato Soup

Since the middle of May, we have not spent more than five consecutive nights at home.  At this point, we are up to 6,000 miles on my car, about 1,000 miles in rental cars, more than 3,000 air miles, and still have a number of trips to go.  It has been no surprise that cooking has been put on the back burner (haha...that was an attempt at a pun).  Slowly but surely, things are slowing down, we are spending a little more time at home, and time in the kitchen has resumed.

While in Seattle on the latest trip, we came across a TV network that does not exist in the Last Frontier--the Create TV network.  Holy cow.  Public television that focuses solely on cooking and home improvement without all the drama and typecasting of the reality shows (which I absolutely love)???--count me in!  While watching Essential Pepin one evening, he made five different soups in a half hour show.  All of them looked absolutely delicious and will certainly make an appearance here at some point.  The one that looked most exciting, however, was his garlic soup.  Am I worried about vampires?  No.  But the soup intrigued me--huge flavor, few ingredients.

Pepin used garlic, onion, and potatoes as the base of his soup.  We used garlic, leeks, and a sweet potato instead.  I am sure his soup was incredible and ours was absolutely fantastic!  We both kept commenting, "Ohmygoodnessthisisgood (eat a little more) holycowwhowouldhavethoughtthiswouldbesodelicious (take another bite) thismaybethebestsoupwehaveeverhad (etc.)."  So good.  It was the perfect combination of hearty and soupy, and 100% healthy.  The garlic was not overwhelming in the slightest and really just added another layer of flavor.  The leeks and the sweet potato added some earthiness and a little bit of texture.  We spiced it with sage, thyme, rosemary, and some chives and the result was magical.  We served it with our perfected (and soon to be updated on the blog) baked broccoli, which was delicious as a complement, but also delicious dipped in the soup. 

You have to make this.  Seriously.  One of the best meals I have had in a LONG time.

Garlic, Leek, and Sweet Potato Soup:
Inspired by Pepin's Garlic Soup 
  • 2 leeks, cleaned and diced
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 15ish cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 35 ounces (or so) of low sodium chicken broth
  • about a tablespoon each of dried chives, thyme, rosemary, and sage--certainly adjust to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • optional:  about a tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with water (to make the soup a little firmer)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the diced leeks and garlic.  
  2. Cook until the leeks and garlic are soft, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock and the sweet potato.
  4. Bring to a boil.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to medium and allow to cook until the potatoes are soft.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and use and immersion blender until the soup reaches your desired consistency.  
  7. Add the spices.  Let cook for a minute or two.  Adjust for taste.
  8. If using, combine the corn starch and water in a small bowl and mix until it is completely liquid.  Add to the soup and mix to combine.
  9. Serve with veggies and/or use them as garnish.  
  10. ENJOY!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fig + Blueberry + Rosemary + Wine + Chicken = Awesome

Once again, it has been a long time since I posted and we have also traveled countless miles.  Since the Moroccan Tagine, we've traveled from Alaska to Seattle, ventured to the farthest corner of eastern Washington (with a detour through Canada) to attend a lovely wedding, back through Leavenworth (with a float on the Wenatchee River, some epic putt putt, and even better wine tasting), a quick dip (literally) into Greenlake, then back and forth from Seattle to every one of the surrounding burbs.  I woke up one night in the midst of our traveling and honestly could not remember where we were.  Nonetheless, we have had a blast.  We have both seen many of our dearest friends, which hasn't happened in years.  I met some new and absolutely incredible people that I can't wait to see again and get to know better in the near future.  I smell some more trampoline adventures and jumps into random bodies of water.  I also got to see some girlfriends from high school that I hadn't seen since before they had kids.  What an absolute treat!!!  (Girls, I love you, and your little ones are precious.)  We have both been able to spend so much quality time with our loved ones that we--for a fleeting moment only--toyed with moving back.  

Needless to say, we haven't cooked much.  But we certainly have eaten an awful lot of incredible food.  Starting next week, I should rename the blog to "we are going on a diet from all of our summer food and are back to eating really, really, really healthy things only".  I sort of started that trend tonight on the one night "home" (thanks guys!) before heading off for more fun in even hotter climes this weekend. 

Of course this healthy dinner was provided by the lovely goods at Whole Foods, my hands down favorite food store on the planet.  There is nothing I love more than walking around the store waiting to be inspired.  Figs were the inspirational item today.  Big, beefy, guaranteed to be perfectly sweet and sumptuous, the ideal fruit item to pair with a summertime grill option.  Voila--chicken with a sweet fig, rosemary, and garlic reduction.  The chicken was perfectly juicy, the rosemary perfectly complemented the sweetness of the figs, and a handful of blueberries and a healthy glug of white wine added the perfect hint of tart.  It was the perfect (AND HEALTHY!) summertime dinner.  We paired it with red and white corn on the cob, had a little rice, and a splash of wine on the side.  So good.

Rosemary Chicken with a Fig, Blueberry, Wine, and Rosemary Reduction: 

For the Chicken:
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2-3 tablespoons of crushed rosemary (use much less if using the fresh stuff)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • the juice of half a lemon 
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • olive oil to coat
  1. Combine all of the above ingredients in a bowl.  
  2. Stab the chicken with a fork a few times.
  3. Use a spatula to turn the chicken breasts to evenly coat.  
  4. Set aside until you are ready to grill.
  5. When the reduction is ready, grill your chicken so that it is cooked through.
For the Reduction:
  • 8-10 figs, stems removed and cut in half
  • 1 handful of blueberries (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2-3 tablespoons of crushed rosemary
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic minced
  • a very healthy glug of dry white wine
  • the juice from the other half of the lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Add all of the ingredients into a saucepan and heat on medium high.
  2. When the liquids start to release, use a potato masher to mash the figs and blueberries.
  3. Cook until the liquid is mostly reduced.
  4. Adjust for taste as needed.
  5. After the chicken is grilled, top with reduction.
  6. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Moroccan Chicken Tagine

It is hard to believe how much has happened since I last posted.  We have managed to put 4,000 miles on my car; my brother got hitched to the most amazing woman and friend I know; we've tour-guided our guests through Seward, Homer, Talkeetna, Denali, Soldotna, Portage, Girdwood, and Anchorage; we went to a cooking class housed in a boat on the other side of Kachemak Bay in Tutka Bay; we've kayaked, hiked, and biked; ate a exorbitant amount of delicious food; and thoroughly enjoyed time with families.  Needless to say, there hasn't been much time in our kitchen. 

Caribou Antlers at the Toklat River

Tutka Bay Cooking School...inside the boat!

Sea Lions in Seward


Last night was the first home-cooked meal we have had in almost 6 weeks.  And boy was it tasty.  We made a traditional Moroccan Chicken Tagine--bursting with flavor and just a touch of heat.  It was the perfect meal to cook the first time back in the kitchen.  It was healthy, tasty, and fun to make--meeting my criteria for good food.  Saffron, cumin, paprika, tumeric, ginger, and cinnamon marry together in the most delicious way.  Try it.  You will love it.

Moroccan Chicken Tagine:
Loosely adopted from this recipe.
  • 4 chicken breasts cut into smaller pieced
  • olive oil to coat the chicken and for the pan
  • 1 1/2 large sweet onions diced (or 2 if your onions are smaller)
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • 1 heaping teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 heaping teaspoon tumeric
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/3 (or more) pitted and chopped kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the chicken with the diced onions, coriander, cinnamon, saffron, minced garlic, cumin, ginger, paprika, and tumeric.  Coat with olive oil and use a rubber spatula to mix.
  2. Add the olives and the lemon juice.
  3. Lightly salt and pepper.
  4. Heat the tagine bottom with olive oil.  (If you do not have a tagine, a large cast iron pot with a sturdy lid will work too.)
  5. Add the chicken mixture.
  6. Cook on high until the liquid begins to boil.
  7. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Cook until the onions are tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
  9. Serve with jasmine rice and ENJOY!