Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo

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Ok mamas…I now have a baby who is suddenly sleeping 10-11 hours at night only waking up once, maybe twice AND taking 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps!!!! I have made a couple changes recently, most notably to his feedings. But I’m wondering, is this normal that there is a shift around 5 months and babies just start napping well? Or is it possible that the feeding changes I made actually made the difference? Just want to know before I go tooting my own horn about sleep training in a blog post 🙂 Haha! That sounds way more “I’m-so-amazing” than I wanted it to.

Anyway…this dinner! I’ve made it twice now, and the second time was just as good as I remembered. It was really simple too, only 1 pot and about 30 minutes (minus putting the chicken in a marinade a couple hours prior), great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken & Tomato Basil Orzo
For the marinade:
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Italian herb mix
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

For the orzo:
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
14 oz can crushed tomato
3 cups chicken stock
1 tsp Italian herb mix
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup basil leaves

1. Combine all marinade ingredients and marinade for 1 hour – overnight.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add chicken and cook through, about 8 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
3. Heat 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in the skillet, increase heat to medium high. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2 minutes. Add bell pepper, cook additional 1 minute.
4. Add orzo, tomatoes, broth, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix, bring to a simmer, lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Pasta should be just cooked and still quite saucy. Take it off stove immediately.
5. Stir through parmesan and basil, adjust salt to taste. Spoon into bowls, top with chicken, garnish with more parmesan and basil.

*Original recipe from Recipe Tin Eats

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Paprika Chicken Thighs

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I decided last week to start tackling our breakfast nook in the kitchen, it was becoming my least favorite spot in the house and a catch-all for bags, mail, boxes, whatever we walked into the kitchen with. So here is what the area looked like when we bought the house…

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Real estate pictures tend to make rooms look so much better than they are in real life, don’t they? The walls in person we’re pretty bright, and all the materials used (floor, counters, backsplash, blinds) just weren’t my taste. For now, I’m just working on the corner near the windows.

I started by painting the walls with my staple taupe, Valspar Lyndhurst Timber. Last week I went shopping for a new light fixture and fell in love with this honeycomb chandelier from World Market. Then I updated the window blinds to the same blinds I’ve been using all throughout the house, Home Decorators Collection Faux Wood Blinds in White from Home Depot. Here’s where I’m at so far…

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Now time to decide what type of table!

Anyway, back to the recipe! This was an easy, weeknight meal that cooks in one pan for easy clean-up.

Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussel Sprouts
1 lb Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
4 small shallots, quartered
1 lemon, sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3/4 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground pepper, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp dried thyme
4 bone-in chicken thighs

1. Position rack in lower third of oven, preheat to 450°F.
2. Combine Brussel sprouts, shallots and lemon with 2 Tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet.
3.Combine garlic, remaining 1/2 tsp salt, paprika, thyme, remaining 1 Tbsp oil and a 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Nestle the chicken into the brussle sprouts.
4. Roast on the lower rack until the Brussel sprouts are tender and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken without touching the bone registers 165°F, 20-25 minutes.

Original recipe from Eating Well

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

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A question I am asked quite often is: Where did you learn to cook? To be honest, I never learned to cook anywhere in particular. When I got out of college and realized it was expensive to be a big kid in the real world, I started being smarter about my grocery shopping. I quickly realized that fresh meat and produce were often much cheaper that processed foods and eating out. So, one day I picked out a recipe and just went for it. These Lime & Cilantro Chicken Tacos were one of the first “difficult” recipes I made. I say “difficult” because now that I know my way around the kitchen, it is really very easy to prepare. I wouldn’t tell you to make this on a weeknight after work because there is a little food prep involved, but on a weekend or evening when you have a little more time. On top of that, my husband asks for these tacos time and time again. It is, without a doubt, in our top 5 favorite meals.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced chipotle chili in adobo sauce
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Chicken Taco Filling
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Taco Toppings
12 taco shells
1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded crosswise
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

1. To make the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the vinegar, lime juice, honey, garlic, chili, and salt and process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. Add the cilantro and process until the vinaigrette is deep green with small flecks of cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then set aside.
2. To make the Chicken Taco Filling, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up any chunks with a spatula, until the chicken shows no sign of pink, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the lime juice and soy sauce and cook until they are almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
3. To assemble the tacos, divide the chicken mixture evenly among the taco shells. Top with the lettuce and drizzle each taco with about 1 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. Add a scattering of tomato and yellow pepper, and garnish with some of the cheese and a cilantro sprig. Serve immediately, and pass the remaining vinaigrette at the table.

*Original recipe from Nordstrom Flavors Cookbook by Chef Michael Northern

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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I made frosted sugar cookies for Valentine’s day last night. I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in sugar cookie dough and cream cheese frosting…Needless to say, I have a stomach ache this morning.

In other news, what is everyone doing for Valentine’s Day?? I want to hear all your cute plans. I’m not big on holiday’s in general, especially Valentine’s Day and Halloween. On top of that, we both work weekends so going out on a night when everyone else is out, restaurants are booked and parking is hard to find, probably not going to happen for this couple. Nice night in with dinner and a bottle of wine it is!

I made these lettuce wraps a few nights ago and they were DE-LI-CIOUS! A little messy, but delicious. And very easy to prepare, marinate the chicken, mix up the sauce and chop some veggies. The chicken marinated for about 2 hours but the actual prep & cook time was about 20 minutes. Great for a weeknight if you start your marinade the night before or in the morning.

Korean Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Makes 8 wraps
2 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp gochujang sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 tsp canola oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
8 Bibb lettuce leaves
16 cucumber slices
3 green onions, sliced diagonally

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Place 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture in a small bowl; set aside. Add chicken slices to remaining soy sauce mixture in bag; seal. Refrigerate 2 hours.
2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done. Sprinkle sesame seeds over chicken.
4. Place 3 tablespoons rice in each lettuce leaf; top each lettuce leaf with 1/3 cup chicken mixture, 2 cucumber slices, and about 1 1/2 teaspoons green onions. Serve with reserved 2 tablespoons soy sauce mixture. Serve.

Original recipe from Cooking Light.

Squash, Kale & Chicken Pot Pie

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December is in full swing and we’re only 4 days in! Being in the retail industry, my holidays have always felt hectic but this year, with a new job, remodeling a new home and the usual holiday insanity, things are feeling even more overwhelming. I had all these great intentions for the blog in the month of November, but, as always, I grossly overbooked myself and wound up not having enough time to do all the things I wanted to do. I decided to focus solely on the “Thanksgiving feast” posts. I hope you all enjoyed those and, at the very least, got a great recipe or two for your own Thanksgiving dinner. Now, it’s time to get back to basics and back to giving you more décor and DIY…right after I finish with this Chicken Pot Pit 😉

I made this for dinner a few nights ago and it was insanely delicious! Chunks of chicken, squash and kale in a yummy chicken broth gravy…umm…YES!!

Squash, Kale & Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 2 large dinner size pot pies or 4 side dish size pot pies
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 lb cooked chicken breast (about 3 medium boneless skinless breasts)
1 box frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg

You have 2 choices for serving your pot pie: 1) cook in a large cast iron skillet making one large pot pie or 2) cook all ingredients through step 5 in a regular skillet, place vegetable mixture in individual dishes and cook personal size pot pies (which is what I did). If you do decided to use a large cast iron skillet, you will need to adjust cook times for puff pastry to cook thoroughly.

1. Cook chicken in desired manner. I boiled mine, small stock pot with salt and boiling water, add chicken and boil for 20 minutes. Remove from water and cut chicken into 1″ pieces.
2. Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 400°F. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic and sage to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
4. Add kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing often, until wilted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle flour over, stir in broth, and mix to combine.
5. Add squash and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until squash is just softened and broth is thickened, about 8-10 minutes. Add chicken to skillet, stir, and season with salt and pepper.
6. Spoon chicken mixture and gravy into individual oven-proof dishes. Unfold pastry and smooth any creases. Depending on the size of your serving dishes, cut the pastry to the shape and size of dish with 1″ of excess dough to hang over side of dish. Place over dish allowing corners to hang over sides. Whisk 1 egg and 1 tsp water in a small bowl. Brush pastry with egg wash; cut 4 slits in top of pastry to vent.
7. Bake pot pie until pastry is beginning to brown, 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F and bake until pastry is deep golden brown and crisp, 15 minutes longer, Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Chicken Enchiladas

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So this isn’t the healthiest thing I make for dinner…but it is tasty! And one of my husbands regularly requested meals. It is also a relatively easy recipe with minimal ingredients, and can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven when you’re ready to eat.

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup salsa
2 tsp chili powder
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 can black beans (optional)
6 whole wheat tortillas
chopped tomato and green onion for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Cook the chicken breasts. In order to keep the chicken juicy and keep from drying out when it goes in the oven, I like to boil the chicken breasts. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add chicken and boil for 15 minutes. Once chicken is cooked, use 2 forks to shred for enchilada filling.
3. While the chicken cooks, make the enchilada sauce. Combine cream of chicken soup, sour cream, salsa and chili powder in a bowl and set aside.
4. Combine shredded chicken, 1 cup enchilada sauce, black beans and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese in a large bowl.
5. Divide the chicken mixture among the tortillas, roll and place seam side down in an 11 x 8.5″ baking dish. Pour the remaining sauce over the filled tortillas, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and cover with foil.
6. Bake for 40 minutes or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. Top with tomato, green onion, sour cream & salsa for garnish (optional).

Chicken Salad with Strawberries & Asparagus

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One of my all time favorite salads, and perfect on a warm summer afternoon. When I was working full-time, my husband and I decided we had to change our diets because eating out for lunch everyday was just not helping us in anyway. I got online and ordered a few different recipe books and this has turned out to be my absolute favorite, Paleo Power Lunch. There are 26 different lunch salad combinations and they are ALL so tasty. Let me put out a disclaimer here, I do not follow the Paleo diet. I just love the combos of fruits, veggies, meat and nuts/seeds that this book uses. Even my husband, who doesn’t love salads, enjoys them. So, here is #1 with plenty more to follow.

2 cups arugula
3 ozs grilled chicken, chopped
4 large strawberries, sliced
4 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1″ lengths
1 Tbsp red onion, chopped
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tbsp Annie’s Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

In the cookbook, they also give recipes for Paleo dressings. I, however, like my full-flavor, full-fat dressings…sorry Paleo. I like to use Annie’s Natural & Organic Salad Dressings because they come in so many different flavors and most are certified organic.

That’s that. Enjoy!