Skillet Lemon Chicken

Tuck’s dad was called up to the Marlins this week and our whole family immediately gathered to watch him play Wednesday night. On nights like this – where we are unexpectedly entertaining – we love the ease of cooking a recipe in one pan. We made this skillet chicken using the base for a traditional gravy and adding lots of lemon and capers to keep the taste fresh. This recipe is hearty and flavorful and can be served with just about anything on the side that you already have in your kitchen. 

Skillet Lemon Chicken 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes     Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 8 – 10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup canola oil 
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 4 cups chicken stock 
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • salt and pepper to taste 
  • parsley (optional, for garnish)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Prepare your station for browning the chicken getting one bowl and one medium plate. Scramble the eggs in the bowl and set aside. Combine one cup of the flour, salt and pepper on a plate and stir to combine. 
  3. In a deep (2 inch) skillet, add the canola oil and heat on medium over the stove top. Using one hand for wet ingredients and one hand for dry ingredients, coat the chicken in the flour, the egg and then back in the flour. Place the chicken thighs in the pan and brown on both sides (roughly 3 minutes per side). You do not need to cook the chicken all the way through. Set aside on a plate and drain any excess oil from the pan. 
  4. Add the butter to the pan until it is fully melted. Using a whisk, add the 1/4 cup of flour and whisk until a thick paste is made. You may get some brown bits from the chicken – this is OK. 
  5. Continue whisking while you add the chicken stock one cup at a time. The chicken stock will start to thicken. Once it does, add the next cup and repeat until all four cups have been added. Whisk in the lemon juice and capers and season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  6. Add the chicken back into the skillet and be sure that all pieces are covered with the lemon sauce. Place the skillet into the oven for 15 minutes or until the chicken thighs are cooked completely through. 
  7. Top with parsley and serve immediately. 

Crispy Chickpea Grain Bowls

Tuck’s family has been on the road for about six weeks now, moving apartments every two weeks because baseball season likes to keep us on our toes! Part of the challenge of “settling” somewhere, even though we don’t know how long we are staying for, is buying the correct amount of groceries. If we buy too much we might have to throw away perfectly good food that just won’t make the drive. If we buy too little we are eating out every meal which gets expensive and old after a few days. 

To try and balance out these problems we try to make meals that mix the perfect amount of fresh ingredients with pantry ingredients that we have on hand. This grain bowl uses farro and chickpeas from the pantry and arugula, onion, and parmesan cheese to freshen things up. We’ve tossed the bowl ingredients with a creamy, garlicky lemon vinaigrette that gives some zing to ingredients that seem a little plain on the outside. What started as a solution to a packing problem is now a bowl we will have on repeat all summer long. 

Crispy Chickpea Grain Bowl 
Makes: 2 entree servings 
Prep Time: 30 minutes    Total Time: 45 minutes 

Ingredients For The Salad: 

  • 1 cup uncooked farro 
  • 4 cups lightly packed arugula 
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, cut into thin chunks  

Ingredients For The Chickpeas: 

  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained 
  • 3 tbs olive oil 
  • 1 tsp cumin 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder 
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes 
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients For The Dressing: 

  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced 
  • 1 tbs mayo 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Heat a medium pot with 2+ cups water. Cook the farro according to package directions (anywhere from 10-30 minutes). If you have excess water, drain the farro and fluff it with a fork to cool it down. 
  2. While the farro is cooking make the dressing. Whisk the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and mayo in a small mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside. If you are making the salad in advance refrigerate the dressing until you are ready to use. 
  3. After the dressing make the chickpeas. Make sure the chickpeas are drained and rinsed well. Gently pat them dry with paper towel or kitchen towel. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the 3 tbs olive oil and let it get hot before adding the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas, cumin, garlic powder, and red chili flakes. Season the chickpeas with salt and pepper and give everything a good toss to coat. Cook the chickpeas for about 5 minutes- they should be crispy but not rock hard. Remove the chickpeas from the pan onto a paper towel to keep them crispy and drain any excess oil. 
  4. Once all of the ingredients are prepped it’s time to make the bowl! Layer about 3/4 cup of farrow and 2 cups of arugula into each of two bowls. Add a bit of the dressing and toss. Top the bowl with the chickpeas, red onion, parmesan cheese, and the rest of the dressing. Serve immediately. 

Spicy Enchiladas

The other night we were craving Mexican food and enchiladas was one of the first things that came to mind. Enchiladas are not normally on our menu rotation and we thought this was a fun way to mix up our routine. This recipe is a bit homemade and a bit store bought. By using pre-made enchilada sauce instead of making our own, we found that we were able to save time and not compromise flavor. The result of this dish is a cheesy, savory, can’t stop eating until you are licking the plate kind of dinner that the whole family will love.

Spicy Enchiladas

Makes:6-8 servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1- 4.5 oz can diced green chiles
  • 2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp cayenne powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 package of tortillas (we used whole wheat, but whatever floats your boat will do)
  • 4 cups of enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar
  • Optional toppings: sour cream, guacamole, olives, cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add in the ground beef and use a spatula to break the beef up into small pieces. Continue to “chop” and stir the beef for 5 minutes, or until the beef is mostly cooked through. Add the green chiles, chili powder, cayenne powder and salt and stir until all of the ingredients are well incorporated and the beef is thoroughly cooked (about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat.
  4. Put 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the beef mixture into a tortilla and roll in up as thinly as possible. This does not have to be perfect, just try to be consistent with portions. Place the tortilla in a large baking dish (must be at least 2 inches deep). Continue this process until the baking dish is full with tortillas. If you have extra ground beef, pour it over the top of the tortillas.
  5. Pour the enchilada sauce evenly over the top of the tortillas. You will want to be sure the tortillas are fully covered. Sprinkle the cheese on top and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve warm and top with sour cream, guacamole or any other extras you would like!

Grilled Calamari Steaks With Lemon Caper Sauce

When Tate’s family was living in Chicago, they became obsessed with eating the grilled calamari from Saranellos in the northern suburbs. The dish was perfectly created to feel light yet flavorful and filling. We were recently on a weekly grocery trip and discovered calamari steaks at the fish stand. Calamari can be a little tricky to cook. The secret to success on this dish is cooking the steaks at very high heat for only 2 minutes per side. We have paired the steaks with arugula and a lemon caper sauce. This is a great weekday lunch or dinner or can be paired with some hearty side dishes for a weekend with friends. 

Grilled Calamari Steaks with Lemon Caper Sauce
Makes: 4 lunch servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Total Time: 25 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 4 calamari steaks 
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tbs flour
  • 1 lemon, juiced 
  • 1 cup chicken stock 
  • 1 container capers (approx 2.25 oz), drained 
  • 1 bag (approx 6 cups) arugula
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly  
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Pat the calamari steaks dry with a paper towel. Season them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Over a high heated grill (at least 500 degrees), grill the steaks for 2 minutes per side and set aside. 
  2. Make the lemon caper sauce. In a pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until you get a thick paste. Keep whisking and add the lemon juice and chicken stock. The sauce should thicken. When it is as your desired texture, add the capers and turn the heat off and set aside. 
  3. Assemble the dish by placing the arugula on the bottom of your serving dishes. Top with the red onion and the calamari steaks. Drizzle over a few spoonfuls of the lemon caper sauce. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil

Every June Tate’s mom celebrates her birthday with a crab boil. It is a special treat that we have started looking forward to every summer. Over the years we have started perfecting the art of the crab boil and now just mix and match fun accompaniments to the meal to change it up every year. King crab legs are usually purchased pre-cooked and all you need to do is reheat them to serve. We choose to reheat them by steaming them in our giant turkey fryer pot, and boil any other side dishes underneath in a traditional seafood boil. We buy our crab legs at Costco; we have found they have the most reasonable prices and they can usually be found in the freezer section if they are not having their holiday seafood sale.

Tips For Measuring the Correct Amount of Water For the Seafood Boil: 

  • To determine how much water you’ll need for steaming crab legs, you’ll want to visually measure out enough water to cover your side dish ingredients, including sausage, potatoes, and corn. Shrimp, clams, and mussels can be steamed on top of the other ingredients with the crab legs so they don’t factor into the water measurement. 
  • If you are paranoid about not having enough water you can put the raw potatoes, corn, and sausage into the pot, add the beer, and add enough water to cover the ingredients. Remove the ingredients back out before seasoning the water and cooking. 
  • If your pot isn’t quite tall enough you can use foil over the top to tent the crab legs as a lid to keep the steam in. 

Summer Crab Leg Boil 
Makes: 4 servings 
Prep Time: 45 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients For The Water: 

  • 4 cups (+/-) water
  • 1 summer beer (shandy or pilsner are good choices) 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 lemons, cut in half 
  • 3 tbs Old Bay seasoning 
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves 

Ingredients For the Seafood Boil: 

  • 4-6 king crab legs (thawed if purchased frozen)
  • 2 lbs kielbasa
  • 2 lbs other seafood (shrimp, clams, or mussels) 
  • 4 ears of corn, husked
  • 2 lbs baby potatoes
  • 1 stick salted butter for dipping, melted 

Directions: 

  1. Measure out the correct amount of water so that the combination of the water and beer will be enough to submerge any of your chosen side dish ingredients (sausage, potatoes, and corn). Add the beer, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning, and garlic to the pot. Squeeze each of the lemon halves and add them as well. You can taste the water if you want at this point- it won’t taste particularly good but it should taste very flavorful. If it doesn’t, add another tablespoon or two of Old Bay seasoning. 
  2. If you are using potatoes or sausage, put them into the water in the pot. Heat the pot over high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat just a touch so that the water is at a steady simmer, cover with a lid, and cook for 20 minutes. 
  3. While the pot is heating and doing the first cook, make sure any seafood you are using is clean. Peel and devein the shrimp (the tails can be left on) and soak any clams or mussels in ice water. They will release a bit of sand that you don’t want going into the boiling water. 
  4. After 20 minutes remove the lid and add the corn to the pot. Strain any seafood from the soaking water and add the seafood on top of the corn in an even layer.  Add the crab legs thick side down, bending the crab legs as necessary to get them in the pot. Cover the pot and cook the seafood another 15-20 minutes. You will know the boil is done when the shrimp are cooked through, potatoes are fork tender, the crab legs are hot, and any clams and mussels have opened. 
  5. Carefully remove the ingredients from the water with a strainer, getting rid of as much water as possible before placing onto a platter. Serve the seafood boil immediately with lots of melted butter for dipping! 

Mediterranean Lamb Stuffed Eggplant

During this time of social distancing, we have become very specific about which markets we are going to and how we grocery shop and plan for the week. One of our favorite middle eastern markets, Arash, was our go-to this past week and this dish is inspired by all of the great ingredients that we found there! We typically have had stuffed eggplant using Italian ingredients but loved the flavor combinations of cauliflower, lamb and eggplant. The sauce can easily be swapped or paired with tzatiki or spicy green tahini to help make the flavor pop!

Mediterranean Lamb Stuffed Eggplant
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients For the Eggplant:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 whole eggplants, halved
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tsp each salt & pepper

Ingredients For the Yogurt Sauce:

  • 2 cups 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, diced
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Prep the ingredients (see ingredient list) and cut the cauliflower into bite sized pieces. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and put the cauliflower and eggplant halves in the oven for 20 minutes. Be sure the the eggplant is skin side down.
  2. In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent but not brown.
  3. Add the lamb and use a spatula to break the lamb into small pieces. Add the salt and pepper and cook for 10 – 15 minutes until the lamb is completely cooked through.
  4. While the lamb is cooking, make the sauce. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. If made in advance, keep the sauce stored cool in a refrigerator.
  5. Once the cauliflower and eggplant are done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. Use a spoon to scoop out the inside of the eggplant halves and place the eggplant in a large mixing bowl.
  6. Dice the cauliflower until the pieces are smaller than bite size. Add the cauliflower and lamb mixture to the eggplant and stir it all together until the ingredients are well mixed. Use a spoon to put the lamb mixture back into the eggplant halves. Overstuff the eggplants as best you can- you will have more filling than what can fit into the halves – which is ok!
  7. Put the eggplants back in the oven for 5 minutes. Top with the sauce and use the extra filling for your kids, second helpings or leftovers!

Cioppino

Summer means it is time for seafood and there is no better way to get a seafood fix than making cioppino. Cioppino is a seafood stew that originates in San Francisco- it has an Italian flavored tomato broth and can be made with just about any seafood you like. We like to go to the grocery store and see what is fresh and looks the best and plan our meal from there. For this version we used shrimp, cod, mussels and clams. You can use any type of fish (halibut, sea bass, even salmon) and other seafood ingredients like scallops, crab, or langoustines. It’s a light and filling summer dinner best served with a thick slice of sour dough bread.

Cioppino
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 whole lemon
  • 12 clams
  • 12 mussels
  • 12 shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lb white fish – halibut, sea bass, or cod- cut into large, bite sized pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Scrub the clams and mussels with a food brush to clean off any excess dirt or sea particles. Remove the beards from any mussels. Soak the clams and mussels in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. While the seafood is soaking, heat a large Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter, swirling until melted. Add the garlic, white onion, and chili flakes to the pot. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.
  3. Add the white wine to the pot. Increase the heat to medium-high and let the wine reduce by half. This should take about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and vegetable stock to the pot and reduce the heat to medium-low. Slice the lemon in half and add it to the sauce. Cover the pot and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. After the 30 minutes has passed, remove the lemon from the sauce, carefully squeezing out any extra lemon juice, and season the sauce with salt and pepper. Add the clams to the pot, increase to medium-high heat, and cover to cook for 5-7 minutes. If you are using larger clams like little necks, go the full 7 minutes.
  5. While the clams are cooking, season the shrimp and fish with salt and pepper. After the 7 minutes has passed, add the mussels, fish, and shrimp to the pot. Do not stir, just layer everything in that order, and cover to cook for another 5-6 minutes. The dish is done when most of the clams and mussels are open and the fish is opaque and cooked through. When the fish is cooked through, give everything a gentle stir so that the shrimp and fish absorb some of the sauce.
  6. Serve each serving of cioppino with a few pieces of each type of fish and seafood and a generous helping of the sauce. Garnish with some fresh basil and serve with a slice of crusty sour dough toast.

Lamb Kofta Meatballs

We have been making variations of this Lamb Kofta recipe for years now- it’s one of our go-to recipes for entertaining. Although we aren’t doing much entertaining these days, we found ourselves missing all of these flavors and made a trip to Arash, our local Middle Eastern grocery store. In just about 45 minutes we made this entire Middle East Feast for our little quarantine family! There is nothing better than homemade tzatziki and a fresh cucumber tomato salad to pair with rich, lamb meatballs. We love this kofta recipe because the fresh herbs, hint of jalapeno, and loads of spices brighten up the rich lamb for a dinner we can eat all year round. 

Lamb Kofta Meatballs 
Makes: 6 servings 
Prep Time: 15 minutes    Total Time: 35 minutes 

Ingredients: 

  • 2 lbs ground lamb (can use a mix of ground lamb and beef)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup parsley 
  • 1/2 cup mint 
  • 1/3 cup walnuts 
  • 2 tsp coriander 
  • 1 tsp cardamom 
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tbs olive oil 
  • salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Use a small blender to chop the jalapeno, garlic, parsley, mint, and walnuts. The consistency should be chopped but not paste-like. Put those ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the coriander, cardamom, cinnamon and olive oil. Whisk together.
  3. Add the lamb to the mixing bowl. Get your hands dirty and mix everything well to combine. Season the lamb with salt and pepper. 
  4. Form meatballs with the lamb mix that are roughly the size of large golf balls. Place them into rows on a large cookie sheet. 
  5. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with hummus, pita, tzaziki, and cucumber tomato salad. 

Mapo Tofu

We have been seeing a ton of recipes online lately for Mapo Tofu. We have our go-to favorite place in Denver for getting very good, traditional Sichuan cuisine (Shanghai Kitchen) but had not tried Mapo Tofu until recently. We ordered it, immediately fell in love, and knew we wanted to recreate it at home. This dish is rich, spicy and will warm you up any night for dinner. We prefer to serve this with rice and a green veggie on the side for an easy weeknight dinner.

Mapo Tofu
Makes: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1-2 tsp Chinese red pepper depending on your spice preference
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tbs red bean paste
  • 2 tbs black vinegar
  • 1 lb soft tofu, cubed

Instructions:

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and ground pork. You do not need to add oil as the fat from the pork will melt and add liquid to the pan. Sauté for 6-8 minutes until the pork is cooked completely through.
  2. Add the Chinese red pepper, peppercorns, red bean paste and black vinegar. Mix thoroughly to combine the ingredients. Add the tofu, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Be sure the tofu is heated throughout.
  3. Serve over rice, hot, and enjoy!

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lemon Herb Sauce

We have been trying to incorporate more fish into our dinner menus lately. If you have people that aren’t into fish, the key to making it a winning dish is to up your sauce game. Mahi mahi is a white fish that is very mild in flavor; it will take on nearly any flavor profile you throw at it. To keep things fresh and vibrant for spring and summer we use this lemon herb sauce. This sauce is a great accompaniment to the fish but also is great for chicken kabobs, shrimp, or grilled veggies. We like to make extra and keep it in the fridge to use throughout the week (eat with a spoon). We served this mahi mahi with white rice and grilled asparagus for the perfect healthy spring dinner.

Grilled Mahi Mahi with Lemon Herb Sauce

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 fillets mahi mahi
  • 2 lemons- zest and juice
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh herbs and stems- we used cilantro and parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup olive oil + 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs water
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat your grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Prepare the mahi mahi by seasoning it with the 2 tbs olive oil and salt and pepper. We prefer to grill our fish on top of foil on the grill to prevent sticking- if you prefer to cook directly on the grill make sure the grill is very clean! Grill the fish for 5 minutes per side, 10 minutes total, or until the mahi is opaque all the way through.
  3. While the fish is cooking make the lemon herb sauce. Combine the lemon zest and juice, fresh herbs, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Pulse until completely blended, adding as much as 2 tbs water if necessary. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve the fish over rice with lots of lemon herb sauce.