Lemony Chicken Foil Packets and Firing Up the Grill

The Bug at the Grill

It’s March, and I am grilling.  That never happens!  This has been the weirdest winter, and being somebody who is always cold and hates being cold, I am not complaining.  It would have been nice to have one good snowstorm, so that I could get a chance to play in the snow with The Bug, since he was not even walking last winter.  And since I spent good money on snow pants and boots, because if you don’t buy them in October, there will inevitably be a blizzard in December, at which time all of the snow pants and boots are gone, and you are left deciding on what swimsuit you want for the summer.  But that is neither here nor there.

Back to grilling.  The Hubby loves meat, especially grilled meat.  So sometimes, even in the coldest winters, he will go outside and grill a steak on a Saturday night.  He has even been known to dig a path through the snow to get to the grill.  Not me.  I wait until I can go outside in a tee shirt and flip flops before I am going to go outside of my nice, cozy kitchen to cook dinner.  Seventy degrees in March calls for cooking dinner on the grill.  So I threw together these tasty little packets, tossed them on the grill went inside to set the table, play with The Bug and say Hi to The Hubby.  Then 20 minutes later, dinner was on the table.

Lemony Chicken Packets Collage

If you don’t have a grill, don’t know how to use your grill, or, you know, live in North Dakota where it is too cold to grill, especially in March, you can always throw the packets in the oven.The Greek yogurt and lemon juice marinade give the chicken so much flavor, and help to create a little lemony sauce and some steam to cook the poatoes nice and soft, and the green beans still slightly crisp.

I didn’t get a picture, but The Bug was a fan!  Well, truthfully, he did not eat the beans.  Even when I put ketchup on them (yes, he is one of those kids who will eat anything with ketchup – but I do make my own.  I’ll get to that in another post).  For some reason, he will eat green beans at school, but at home, he won’t go near them.  Whatever.  Potatoes are always a hit, but he can be picky about meats.  And this chicken was so tender and flavorful that he devoured almost as much as I ate!  The Hubby isn’t the biggest fan of green beans, but he indulged me when I want them sometimes, and he thought they were pretty good.

IMG 4658

Don’t miss today’s Friday Fun!

Do you ever grill in cold weather?  What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

Lemony Chicken Foil Packets with Parmesan Green Beans and Potatoes(serves 4)

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1/4 c Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)

1 lemon

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or some dried thyme, I’d say about 1/4 t)

1 clove of garlic

2 t kosher salt, divided

freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. red potatoes, slice about 1/4 in. thick

1 lb green beans

1 T olive oil

1/4 c parmesan cheese

4T water

Directions

1.  Before making the marinade, zest the lemon before you cut it and squeeze it for the juice.

2.  Make the marinade by combining the Greek yogurt, the juice of one lemon, thyme, garlic, 1 t salt , and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl or plastic bag.

3.  Add the chicken breasts and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes, but the longer the better.

4. Toss the potatoes, green beans, olive oil, parmesan cheese, 1 t salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the reserved lemon zest.

5.  Take four squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil, or a double layer of regular aluminum foil, and spray the dull side with olive oil or coking spray.

6.  Divide the potatoes and beans evenly between the packets. Or you could be as meticulous as me, and start with a layer of potato slices, then put the green beans on top.

7.  Lay one chicken breast on top of the potatoes and beans in each packet.

8.  Fold up the foil into pouch, and before sealing, at 1 T water to each packet.

9.  Put on a medium to medium-high grill for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and chicken is cooked through. (Or you could put it in a 350F oven, probably for about 25-30 minutes).

10.  Open up your packets and serve.

Enjoy!

IMG 4660 with text

This recipe was shared with:

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

Addicted to Recipes’ Scrumptious Sunday Link Party #4


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Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

I’ve gotten a few people intrigued by spaghetti squash, and some who haven’t had it in awhile are looking for new ways to use it.  In fact, Katie, from ...and a glass of red wine was asking for a spaghetti squash recipe to make for her brother and fiance.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get this post up on Thursday, since The Bug decided that a 1 hour nap was sufficient, and then proceeded to be a cranky, miserable mess for the rest of the day.  And I think she came up with a faboulous-sounding dinner that incorporates some of my favorites – scallops, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  But maybe she’ll give this a try another time.  I hope you do, too.

And if you aren’t quite ready to make the spaghetti squash leap, try the sauce over some spaghetti or penne or whatever pasta shape you prefer.  It is really yummy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

And look, even easy enough that a not-quite-2-year old can help…

Mama and The Bug Cooking Tomato Cream Sauce

And I know I have been on an Italian kick, giving you this and this over the past few days.  Maybe I a using tomatoes and garlic to counteract all of last weekend’s chocolate.  I promise, I’ll be switching it up a bit this week.

Do you have a “go-to” meal that you like to serve to guests?

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

Ingredients

Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce1 spaghetti squash (or pasta of your choice)

3 sausage links (I like to use hot turkey sausages, but you can use the meat of your choice, and mild or hot)

Half of a large, sweet onion, chopped

1/4 c red wine

One 15 oz. can or half of a 28 oz. can (about 1 1/2 c) crushed tomatoes (I ALWAYS used Tuttorosso when I am using crushed tomatoes.  It has a little basil in it, so if you use a brand without basil, you may want to add a little fresh or dried)

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1 T fresh parsley

1/2 c frozen peas (optional)

1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

2-3 T grated parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

1.  Cook the spaghetti squash and scrape out the “noodles” (see this post for my oven method and a link to a microwave method).  Preheat or keep your oven set at 400ºF.

2.  Heat a pan over medium heat, and spray with olive oil or cooking spray.

3.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casings into the pan, and cook until is starts to get nice and brown.

4.  Add the onions and saute until translucent and soft.

5.  Add the wine, tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper, and simmer until it is hot and the onions are fully cooked.

6.  Stir in the heavy cream, parsley, 1/4 c parmesan cheese, and frozen peas.

7.  Pour enough sauce over the squash noodles (or pasta) until it is as saucy as you like (I like mine less saucy as my husband, so there may be some extra sauce, which you can serve on the side).

8.  Pour the mixture into a glass baking pan or casserole dish (I use the 1 1/2 qt. oval Corningware) that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

9. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until hot and bubble, and the cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce closeup

 

 

Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce and Being Part of the Foodie Blogosphere

I am definitely a newbie when it comes to writing a blog.  Really, I am even a newbie when it comes to recording my recipes.  Yes, I am a scientist, and in the lab I was always very exact with my measurements.  I think that is why I love baking – formulas, measurements, acids, bases, heat, reactions, solids, liquids, and gases.  It truly is a science.  Cooking is definitely more of an art.  I am not an artist, but when I cook, it is more of a little of this, a little of that, unless I am following someone else’s recipe.  So I decided to start making cooking like a science experiment, and my spiral notebook of recipes is my new laboratory notebook.  Just now it say salt and baking soda, instead of sodium chloride and sodium bicarbonate.

But I am also a newbie with really, seriously reading blogs.  I had a couple I checked out pretty frequently in the past.  Mainly Weelicious and Fix Me a Snack, trying to come up with healthy meals and snacks (and even healthier spins on treats) for The Bug.  For awhile, I was determined that no cracker from a box shall cross his lips.  And, while I have made a fair share of homemade Wheat Thins and Cheez-Its, my delusions did not last long.  Especially when we go to the playgroup at my church, and my kid steals Goldfish from all of the other kids.  After he has already eaten his entire bowl of Cheerios, raisins, and freeze dried apples.

But I digress.  So as I have been reading blogs, chatting on Facebook with other bloggers, I started to notice some chatter about “stealing recipes.”  Confessions of a Cookbook Queen even had this gem in her hilarious series “Ryan Gosling, Food Blogger’s Husband” series of pictures.  Well, I stumbled upon a recipe at Pink Parsley for Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos, and immediately began drooling and planning when I would make this amazing-sounding recipe.  Lasagna without pasta – I’m in!

Friday…  yes, it’s Lent, this is perfect for Friday.  And I am going to Mom’s.  I love mushrooms.  Mom loves mushrooms.  Sam loves mushrooms.  Larry… uhhh…  hates mushrooms.  Grrr!  But I still wanted lasagna, so I decide to change it up a bit to a version that we would all enjoy.

Spaghetti Squash in Pan

Well, we all loved it, so I had to post it.  Except the whole time I have been thinking about it, I’ve been paranoid that Josie (as if I know her well-enough to be on a first name basis) would think I was stealing her recipe.  I don’t want to be rejected by the blogosphere after I just joined it!!  So hopefully if she sees this, she knows that this was done in the utmost respect and appreciation of her recipe, which I will.  You should, too.  But I hope you try and like this one, as well.

None of us were in a pasta mood that night, so we just scooped up the sauce and cheese with some bread.  But this would go fabulously with some pasta (regular or gluten-free), or even some spaghetti squash.  Or even make just the sauce to go with your noodles.  Salting and draining the eggplant (“making the eggplant cry”, like my Grandma always said) really gives it a nice meat-y texture – something good to give to your carnivorous husband (like mine) on Meatless Monday or a Lent Friday.

Eggplant Parm-lasagna on plate

Are you more of a scientist or an artist?  Baker or cook?  Leave some comments below.  I’d love to “chat” some more with you. 

And if you are liking what you are seeing, “Like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and tell your friends to stop by.

This recipe was shared with:

Hodgepodge Friday 3/9/12 at It’s a Hodgepodge Life

Blogger Secret Ingredient – Parmesan at My Kitchen Adventures

Eggplant Parm-lasagna with “Faux”-lognese Sauce (serves 4)
Adated from Pink Parsley‘s Lasagna-Stuffed Portabellos

Eggplant

2 medium eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise

1 T olive oil

1/8 t oregano and 1/8 t parsley (which I used), or 1/4 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper

1 c ricotta cheese

1/2 t dried parsley

1/4 c plus 2-3 T (for topping) grated parmesan cheese

salt and pepper, to taste

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut in thin slices

about 1 cup “Faux”-lognese sauce, see below, or your pasta sauce of choice

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 425ºF.Eggplant shells

2.  Scoop out the flesh from the eggplant, leaving approximately a half-inch thick “shell”.  Reserve the eggplant for the sauce, if making.

3.  Sprinkle a little salt inside the eggplant shells, and flip them upside down on a paper towel to draw out some of the water for about 5-10 minutes.Cheese filling

4.  Blot out some of the water from the shell, and place them cut side down in a glass baking dish sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

5.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until eggplant starts to become soft.

6. While the eggplant is “crying” and baking, make the cheese mixture by combining the ricotta cheese, 1/2 t dried parsley, parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a small bowl.Stuffing the eggplants

7.  Remove the eggplant from the oven.

8.  Spoon about 2 T sauce into the bottom of each eggplant.  Divide the cheese mixture evenly between the shells, and top with another 2 T sauce on each.

9.  Lay the mozzarella on top of the stuffed eggplants, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese.Eggplants in oven

10.  Baked for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through and the cheese in bubbly and browned.

“Faux”-logenese Sauce

Eggplant reserved from preparing the “shells”, cut into about 1/4 in. cubes.  If you are just making the sauce, 1 medium eggplant, or about 1 1/2-2 c chopped eggplant will do

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 t dried oregano and 1 t dried parsley (which I used), or 1 1/2 t Italian seasoning

salt and pepper, to taste

1 T fresh basil

Directions

1.  Sprinkle the eggplant cubes with a little salt and let sit for 5-10 minutes (make it cry again).  Squeeze out the excess liquid using a paper towel or kitchen towel.

2.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, and saute until translucent and soft.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3.  Add in the eggplant, oregano and parsley, and salt and pepper, to taste.

4.  Simmer until it is heated through, or longer, if desired.  Just before serving or stuffing the eggplants, stir in the basil.

Enjoy!

Eggplant on plate close

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli – Best Supporting Actor (Simple Side Dish)

Like the Oscar acceptance speeches, I am going to keep this one short.  The past few days, I have posted the pot roast and mashed potatoes from my Oscar Night meal for some of my leading men.  I made them happy, but being a good granddaughter, daughter, wife, and mother, I also want to keep them all healthy.  So I knew that I had to work a green vegetable into the meal.  Since they were being my guinea pigs for the other parts of the meal, I figured I would stick with a tried and true recipe.  I’ll call this the Best Supporting Actor of the evening, since it complemented, but didn’t but didn’t stand in the way of the Lead Actor and Actress.  And, for The Bug, it was a scene stealer.  He loves broccoli, and usually eats it like it is candy, especially when it is roasted.  I think it has something to do with my insane cravings for Wendy’s Broccoli Cheese Baked Potatoes and Panera’s Broccoli Cheese Soup when I was pregnant.

The Bug and The Hubby (and most of my family), like their broccoli fairly soft, so you’ll see that I steam it a bit before roasting it.  If you like it a little firmer, you can just skip the steaming part, and maybe just roast it a bit longer.  Mmm, the browned cheese and edges of the broccoli give it a toasty, nutty flavor, and the lemon adds a bit of tang.  It is simple enough veggie side dish to make any day of the week, but special enough for a Sunday dinner.  And it is one of our faves, so I hope you like it too.

This recipe shared with:

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients

5-6 cups fresh broccoli florets (about 3 heads, a little less than a pound)Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Prep

1 lemon

1/2 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

freshly ground pepper

3 T parmesan cheese (I like to use a good parmigiano reggiano – ugh!  I sound like the Barefoot Contessa!)

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 450ºF.  Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

2.  Steam the broccoli until it is slightly tender.

3.  Zest the lemon and set aside about 1/2 T of the zest.

4.  Toss the broccoli with the juice from the lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and put in a glass or ceramic baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

5.  Sprinkle the parmesan and lemon zest over the broccoli.

6.  Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli is as soft as you like it, and the cheese and edges of the broccoli are browned and crispy.

7.  Enjoy!

Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli Close-Up

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes and Sunday Dinners

When I was a kid, Sundays always went the same way.  I got dressed in my Sunday best, which, much to my displeasure, usually involved tights and patent leather Mary Janes.  Then we were off to church at 9am, followed by an Entenmann’s chocolate frosted mini-donut from the church basement and a ride across town for CCD (a.k.a. Catechism or Sunday School).

Religious education complete, the whole family then congregated at Grandma & Grandpa’s house for Sunday Dinner.  The cousins all played while the adults sat in the dining room reading the newspaper and chatting.  I was typically in the backyard losing a game of one-on-one baseball (we had a very complex set of rules in order to do this) or H-O-R-S-E to my cousin, Nathaniel.  At some point in the afternoon, I would crawl in Grandpa’s lap to read the comics.

Then we would all gather around the table for one of my Grandma’s wonderful Sunday dinners.  Sometimes it was spaghetti or chicken noodle soup, or stuffed cabbage (which I always ate without the cabbage), but more often than not, it was some sort of roast or chicken with a side of mashed potatoes.  I would have a huge pile of mashed potatoes, usually with my corn mixed into it – those were pretty much the only two vegetables I ate as a kid.  Probably too many mashed potatoes, since now I don’t really love them.  On Thanksgiving, with all of the other awesome side dishes, I don’t feel that they are worthy of any of the valuable real estate on my plate.  Then I found a recipe for Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes, and I was a fan again.  I’ve made them several times, and thought it was time to put my own spin on them.

Caramelized onions

During The Bug’s nap, I cooked the onions till they were all browned and caramelized, added some balsamic vinegar and water, then let them cook a little more, until they were all gooey. Then I put them in the fridge till it was time to finish up dinner, and folded them into the potatoes right at the end.

Caramelized onion mashed potatoes on my plate

They were sweet, salty, tangy, and tasty, and went perfectly with the flavors in the gravy from the crockpot roast and Lemon Parmesan Roasted Broccoli (future posts to come on these recipes – dinner was delish!).  I hope you like them, too!

Shared in:

My Bizzy Kitchen‘s Blogger Secret Ingredient: Potatoes

The Nourishing Gourmet‘s Pennywise Platter Thursday 3/1

Recipes for My BoysThursday’s Treasures

Did you have family Sunday Dinners as a kid?  Do you now?  What are some of your favorite Sunday Dinner meals?

Parmesan Balsamic-Caramelized Onion Smashed Potatoes (serves 6-8)

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Caramelized Onion Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

1 T olive oilBowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes

1/2 of a large or 1 medium sweet onion (Vidalia, Maui, etc.), chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T water

2 lbs white potatoes, peeled and cut into about 1 inch chunks

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 grated parmesan cheese

1 T olive oil

1/2 t salt

a few grinds of pepper

Directions

Prepare the caramelized onions (can be done ahead, and kept in the fridge):

1.  Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat, and add onions.

2.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.  You may have to lower the heat a little as they start to brown.

3.  Add balsamic vinegar and water, cover and lower heat.

4.  Cook until soft and sticky.

5.  Set aside until potatoes are ready.

Prepare the potatoes:

1.  Cover potatoes in a pot with water, and bring to a boil.

2.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain.

3.  Add the buttermilk and mash with a hand potato masher.  I like to leave it a little chunky.

4.  Stir in the reserved caramelized onions, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

5.  Enjoy!

Bowl of caramelized onion mashed potatoes from top