With our busy schedules, weeknight dinners need to be fast. From refrigerator to table and yes even clean up, during the week I don’t have a lot of time to fuss over preparations. There are bonus points for dishes that are truly delicious and loved by everyone in the family. And as the cook and pan washer it is even better when the entire meal can be cooked in a single pan. And that is why this super fast and tasty dish from Cooking Light has quickly become an all around family favorite.
Preparation is fast and when I use my cast iron skillet cooking and clean up is a breeze. The chicken is seared on the outside then it finishes cooking in the oven ensuring that the meat is juicy and flavorful. And my family loves spicy flavors so the peppers and cilantro are palate pleasers. You can adjust these seasonings to satisfy your own palates. Any way you cook it, this is a delicious midweek keeper.
AVOCADO SKILLET CHICKEN
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ancho chile powder
2 small ripe avocados, halved and pitted
2 medium red onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rings
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Preheat oven to 450°.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the oil to pan, swirling to coat.
- Sprinkle the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and the chili powder.
- Add the chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes. Turn the chicken over; cook 1 minute. Remove chicken from pan.
- Coat pan with cooking spray and increase the heat to high.
- Sprinkle the avocados with the sugar.
- Add the avocados to the pan, placing them cut side down. Cook for 2 minutes or until charred. Remove avocados from pan.
- Re-coat pan with cooking spray. Add the red onions; cook 3 minutes or until charred. Turn the red onions; add green onions and poblano, cooking for an additional 3 minutes.
- Separate the red onions into rings and toss with green onions and poblano.
- Stir in the lime juice and the soy sauce.
- Return the chicken and the avocado to the pan, nestling it between the onion mixture.
- Place the pan in oven and bake for 7 minutes or until chicken is done.
- While the chicken is cooking, combine sour cream and water in a small bowl until thinned to a saucy consistency.
- Drizzle sour cream mixture over chicken and avocados.
- Garnish with the cilantro and lime wedges as well as the remaining salt and paprika.
If you love goat cheese and are of the mindset that everything tastes better with bacon, then these chicken breasts are for you. A simple filling of goat cheese and green onions turns ordinary chicken breasts into a fancy, yet fast and easy, week night dinner. Yes, that’s right. You can have stuffed chicken breasts that seem fancy in the middle of the week.
I do love goat cheese but not all goat cheese is created equally. Because the goat cheese really makes this dish, be sure to find one you like for this recipe. I prefer one from my local market that has a soft texture and is mild yet tangy. I did taste a lot before happening on this perfect variety though so don’t hesitate to do the same. But once you have your goat cheese, this recipe really comes together in a snap. And the results? Well, everything really is better with bacon so it’s sure to be a hit.
GOAT CHEESE & GREEN ONION STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 slices thick cut bacon
4 sage leaves
1/2 cup softened goat cheese
1 bunch green onions, minced
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, cut a slip into the center of each chicken breast in order to form a pocket. Do not cut all the way through the meat.
- In a small bowl, combined the goat cheese, green onions, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Mix well.
- Place a quarter of the goat cheese mixture into each chicken breast. The cheese may over fill the pocket but that is alright.
- Place two sage leaves on the to of each chicken breast then wrap each breast with two slices of bacon.
- Move the wrapped breasts to the prepared baking sheet then sprinkle with the garlic powder, remaining salt and remaining pepper.
- Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and an instant read thermometer reads 170 degrees.
- Allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.
When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.
This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD
For the flatbread:
1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup onion-port jam
1 cup crumbled bacon
1/4 cup green onions, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup water (more if needed)
1/2 cup port wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
- Add the onions, sugar and salt.
- Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
- Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
- Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
- Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
- Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.
When you are ready to build your flatbreads:
- Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
- Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
- Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
- Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
- Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
- Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
- Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Yields: 4 flatbreads
By the time late spring rolls around I’m all about lightening up my dinners and taking advantage of the fresh vegetables that are popping up in the local markets. Pastas are always a go-to meal in my family and they serve as the perfect canvas for highlighting the best vegetables of the season. In this dish adapted from Cooking Light, fresh snap peas, carrots and radishes are the featured vegetables. Many people shy away from radishes thinking their flavor is to pungent but when they are sliced thinly then lightly sauteed in butter, they emerge sweet and tenderly crisp. Topped with lemon zest and a handful of freshly chopped dill, this dish is bright, flavorful and a true spring celebration.
Use the recipe as a suggestion and choose whatever vegetables you prefer. Really, your options are endless so pick a few vegetables that look good, add in the freshly chopped herb of your choice and enjoy!
SPRING VEGETABLE PASTA
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup thinly diagonally sliced baby carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
8 ounces snap peas
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 tablespoon finely shredded lemon zest, divided
5 ounces cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
10 ounce fresh noodles of your choice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain into a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the carrots and radishes and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 4 minutes.
- Add the snap peas, green onions and half of the lemon zest. Simmer for 3 minutes or until liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup and vegetables are crisp-tender.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, cream cheese, and pepper to vegetable mixture, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
- Add the cooked noodles to vegetable mixture; toss to coat.
- Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking liquid; adding additional cooking liquid as needed to thin sauce to your liking.
- Sprinkle with the remaining lemon zest and dill over pasta mixture.
- Divide pasta mixture into 4 shallow bowls.
- Serve immediately.
If you are anything like me, whenever you cook up a pot of rice you inevitably make too much. No matter how many people I am serving I always end up with extra rice. Every single time. Rice is one of those grains that is difficult to reheat; the texture changes and I usually end up with a sticky mess that no one wants to eat. My solution? Repurposing the rice into a completely new side dish.
I love this baked rice dish that I adapted from Food 52. More of a method rather than an exact recipe, this dish combines your leftover rice with herbs, greens and cheese to create a tasty rice dish that is both creamy and crispy. I used green onions, parsley, and Cheddar cheese but you could easily substitute whatever aromatics and cheese you have on hand. Not only does this dish make for a great accompaniment to meat at dinner, it is a nice addition to a brunch buffet table. And if you have leftovers, simply reheat them the next morning in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil. It will taste like a crispy risotto cake. Yum!
CHEDDAR & PARSLEY BAKED RICE
4 tablespoons butter
3 bunches green onions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
2 cups cooked white rice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped parsley
Salt & pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a round pie plate with either more butter or non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Melt the butter in a large saute pan set over medium high heat.
- Add the green onions and cook until they are soft and golden with just a bit of crispiness.
- Remove the pan from the heat, season with salt and allow to cool slightly.
- Add the cooked rice and stir to combine. All of the rice should be coated with the butter and onion mixture.
- Combine the eggs and milk in a medium sized bowl then add to the rice mixture, stirring to form a thick batter.
- Add the shredded cheese and the chopped parsley, stirring well.
- Season again with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the rice mixture to the prepared pie pan.
- Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the rice has set.
- Allow to cool slightly then slice into wedges.
For me, spring means longer days, the greening of the world around me, and lighter food. After the heavy comfort foods of the colder months by the time April comes around I feel as though my body is craving more fresh vegetables. And what better way to celebrate spring than with one of my favorite vegetables of all time, sugar snap peas. Growing up I would eat handfuls fresh from the garden. While they are sweet, juicy and crunchy and totally satisfying as is, a quick saute turns the vegetable into a side dish.
With just a bit of oil and both lemon juice and lemon zest, these peas are a bright addition to any dinner table. They cook in a matter of minutes so make sure the rest of your meal is ready to be eaten before starting to cook. And definitely don’t over cook them; whereas they are great when tender crisp, when they are soggy they are disappointing.
LEMONY SUGAR SNAP PEAS
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
Pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half a lemon
- Rinse and snip the ends off of the peas. “Unzip” the string that runs down the side of each pod.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized skillet set over medium-high heat.
- When the oil shimmers add the green onions and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the snap peas and stirring frequently, saute until tender crisp and bright green.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Toss well.
This super easy side dish is the perfect accompaniment to everything from enchiladas to grilled meats. The ingredient list is more of a suggestion rather than a hard and fast rule. Add or subtract other vegetables, or even fruits, as you like. And because the salad truly takes only minutes to make, it is the perfect side dish for any of my grilled Fast Friday meals. Enjoy……and let me know what you pair it with.
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1- 15 ounce can corn
4 roasted red peppers, diced
1/4 cup minced green onions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
Juice of 1 lime
Salt & pepper to taste
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and toss well to combine.
- Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes then adjust seasonings and serve.