Buffalo Chicken Pizza

Sometimes you get into a culinary rut and as much as you want inspiration to strike, it’s not coming. For this distancedishes date, Amanda had a night to herself and treated herself to a dinner she found quite exciting. Feeling a bit gloomy and uninspired that weekend, I was much more excited to lay in the fetal position and feel sorry for myself. Still wondering what I would make, even a few hours before our skype session, I thought that I would make something for those nights when nothing sounds good.

Sometimes, you’ve just been really on point all week and you’re just tired of bringing it. Sometimes you feel like you’ve been doing the same old thing for all your dinners lately and everything is so…blah. Sometimes, its a weeknight and you had a long day at work and just need food. Sometimes, you don’t want to deal but your tummy is still a-grumblin. All of that is fine. You should still probably eat though.

I know there have been quite a few pizza type things from me lately, but it’s so easy if you take a few shortcuts and I’ve been in the mood for easy lately, okay? It’s comfort food with its cheesy and bready goodness and you can make it as easy or fancy as your heart desires (and depending on where you are in your food rut). A buffalo chicken pizza is pretty low maintenance, especially if you get creative with the crust (go store-bought, or hey, use a tortilla, whatever). It’s a nice break from the traditional tomato and cheese flavors but still so comforting. Give it a try when you’re feeling good or just need a break, it’s great for all times!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken (however you wanna get there, store bought rotisserie, some instant pot breasts, or just bake)
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce (plus a little extra)
  • 3-4 green onions, chopped with whites and greens divided
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing.
  • 8 oz mozzarella cheese
  • Salt & Pepper as desired.
  • Pizza crust of your choice (see above–yeah I did not go homemade this time)
  • Cornmeal for dusting

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F for at least 30 minutes.
  2. To make the buffalo chicken spread, stir together shredded chicken, cream cheese, hot sauce, the whites of the green onions and salt and pepper if you would like. If you’re using cold chicken, it may take some effort for this to come together and I would recommend a stand mixer. If you’re really not feeling cooking, you can stop here, warm this up and curl up with a bowl of this and some corn chips and dip to your heart’s content. We usually make this as just a dip for potlucks (some ranch dressing in it makes it even better!).
  3. Roll our pizza crust onto a peel or baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Brush your ranch dressing onto the crust, leaving about 1/2 inch unbrushed on the outside all over.
  4. Spread your buffalo chicken spread evenly onto the pizza and top with the mozzarella cheese evenly. Sprinkly the greens of the green onions on top.
  5. Bake on the baking sheet or pizza stone/steel (or both) for 20-25 minutes until crust is cooked, cheese is melted and a little bubbly, and everything is a little golden. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing–everything usually becomes a melty mess if I try it before cooling. Drizzle a little extra hot sauce over the pizza so you feel fancy, slice, serve and enjoy while you await for culinary inspiration to return to your life.

Wine Pairing: ugh, I don’t know, what do we even have? Yeah ok, pour me some of that.

But seriously if you have more energy than I had, a dry Rose, Riesling or even Champagne would be a nice match. 

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Appetizer Sliders Three Ways

With the turn of the season and the heat in full swing, something about the start of the summer makes me want to entertain. For this theme week, we wanted to do some easy appetizers with a running theme that could be crowd-pleasers without being too much effort. While Amanda did amazing and fancy things with Balsamic Vinegar, I decided to go a little more “game day” with a series of sliders.

Since I was making a couple options, I knew I didn’t want any one type to dominate my time. With the electric pressure cooker to do the heavy lifting for the pork sliders, I was freed up to work on the other two options. I thought I’d cover my bases with the shredded pork in the pressure cooker, ground buffalo chicken sliders with ranch dressing and a vegetarian option of goat cheese and zucchini sliders. The zucchini was the surprise hit, and the herb yogurt sauce was such a great addition to this yummy little snack.

It is worth mentioning, if you don’t feel like standing over a pan or two waiting for all of these little patties to cook, you could always make these full size. Or if you don’t think this is enough slider options, check out our previous burger recipes, the Greek Chicken and Chickpea burgers which could easily be divided into more patties just before cooking.

Pork Slider

Blackberry Pulled Pork

  • 12 oz fresh or frozen blackberries
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 pork tenderloin (can also use about 1 lb pork shoulder preferred)
  • Salt &  Pepper
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • Slider Buns

Instructions:

  1. Generously coat your pork tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add it to your instant pot along with the chicken broth. Seal your instant pot and cook on high pressure for 45 minutes and allow the pressure to release naturally when done.
  2. After the pressure has been released, remove the pork tenderloin and shred the meat with two forks. Return the shredded meat to your instant pot to keep warm while you cook the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, stir together the blackberries and wine. Allow the mixture to boil and reduce by half, stirring occasionally. About 10-15 minutes.
  4. When reduced, pass the mixture through a sieve to filter out any seeds and bits of berry.
  5. Place some of the shredded pork on a slider bun and top with a spoonful of the sauce. These are now ready to serve and enjoy!

*Mer’s Note: So there are some flavor combinations that are just classic, and I completely forgot Amanda did something similar previously. Because I was trying this one as a keto recipe, you might want to check out hers as an alternative as well. Both could be converted into sliders!

Buffalo Alternate

Buffalo Chicken Sliders

  • 1 lb of ground chicken
  • 5 tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 1 stalk celery finely minced
  • 1 medium carrot, shredded
  • 3 green onions, greens and whites minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Ranch Dressing to serve
  • Slider buns to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Combine the ground chicken, buffalo sauce, celery, carrot, green onions, 1 tsp salt & pepper, garlic powder and breadcrumbs. Combine with your hands until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Separate the mixture and form/flatten into 16 equal patties.
  2. In a large pan over medium heat or a grill, cook the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Place the cooked patties on slider buns and top with a dollop of ranch dressing to serve. Enjoy!

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Zucchini Sliders

  • 2 medium zucchinis, coarsley shredded
  • 1 tsp salt plus a pinch extra for seasoning zucchini
  • 2 oz herb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp neutral, high smoke point oil (like canola)
  • Slider Buns to serve

Yogurt Sauce

  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon

 

Instructions: 

  1. Sprinkle the zucchini with the pinch of salt and squeeze the shredded zucchini over a sieve and sink to release as much water as possible. If time allows, wrap the zucchini in paper towels and place in the sieve with something heavy on top to drain over an empty container for 30 minutes to an hour. While allowing the zucchini to drain, mix together your yogurt sauce.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, herbs and lemon juice together and allow to sit in the fridgefor at least 30 minutes for the flavors to come together.
  3. Once you have released as much moisture from the zucchini as possible, combine the zucchini with the goat cheese, Parmesan, oregano, garlic powder, and the egg. Mix together and form into 16 flat patties (they will be very delicate).
  4. In a wide bowl or container, combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining salt and pepper to your liking. Meanwhile, heat a large pan with the oil over medium heat. Dip each zucchini patty into the breadcrumb mixture until you have an even coating and transfer directly to the heated pan. Until cooked, these patties are very delicate so I would recommend as little handling as you can manage.
  5. Heat the patties for about 1-2 minutes on each side until a brown and crispy, and the egg firms up the patty a little bit.
  6. Transfer to a slider bun and top with a dollop of your yogurt sauce to serve. Enjoy!

 

 

Za’atar Chicken Hummus Wrap

I originally bought my slow cooker with the intention to never be limited by its size when I wanted to make a meal, which turns out to have backfired. I bought a larger model so that I could cook large, cheap cuts of meat without thinking about the leftover implications. Usually when I use my full sized crockpot, those leftovers sit in the fridge for far too long with my excitement over eating a crockpot creation waning with each reheating (chili again?),. Sure, I could freeze soups for another day, but my freezer is pretty full and since I’m mostly cooking for two, the slowcooker does not make an appearance as often as it should in my home. So, when Amanda and I decided on slow cooker theme week, I knew I needed to make something that would keep me coming back for more.

So as not to get too tired of those leftovers, I knew my plate after the night of the wonderful slow cooker whole chicken dinner had to look different enough to entice me. Chicken is so versatile, and I decided to shred what I did not devour on the first night to turn into a healthy and fresh wrap for the following evening. The result, I think I liked even better than the original intended slow cooker meal. What’s that you say? This wrap looks so delicious but you don’t have the time to cook a whole chicken and deal with that whole other recipe? Well, this one could easily be made into a weeknight meal with some leftover grocery store rotisserie chicken or quick pressure cooked chicken breast–whatever floats your boat. I think this recipe will be making an appearance whenever I get that magical combo of feeling lazy but also wanting to stay pretty healthy (that’s a lot…it happens a lot…).

Oh, and if you do happen to shred your own whole chicken for this recipe, be sure to save the bones to make some broth, like Amanda does (you could even do it in the slow cooker)! That can help turn one slow cooker Sunday into a week of dinner delights.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of shredded cooked chicken
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from one lemon)
  • 1 tsp za’atar seasoning

Toppings:

  • Spinach
  • Red onion
  • Feta cheese
  • Hummus
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber, seeded and sliced thin
  • Bread wrap of your choice

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together your za’atar, lemon juice, 1 tsp of salt and oil to create an emulsion vinaigrette.
  2. Pour 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette over your cup of shredded chicken with an additional 1/2 tsp of salt and mix
  3. Spread a layer of your hummus onto your wrap bread to create a cement for the rest of your ingredients.
  4. Add a layer of spinach, chicken, tomato, cucumber, and feta cheese. Drizzle an addition tsp of your vinaigrette over all of your ingredients and close your wrap as tightly as you can. Slice in half if desired and enjoy!

Wrap Alternate pic

If you wanted to go the pita route, that’s a delicious option as well!

 

Wine Pairing: I really want to sit outside on some Mediterranean island while enjoying this wrap and in my mind, a chilled Rose just works with that image. Something medium bodies would stand up nicely to all the acid in this wrap, while also keeping with the lighter feel of the whole experience. 

Slow Cooker Whole Chicken Dinner

I’ve had a whirlwind couple of weeks! Between having the pleasure of visiting Amanda in Tampa (and running a very humid half marathon together), road tripping to Iowa on another adventure and driving to and from the St. Louis airport a few times in the last few weeks I was beat. Plus, somehow while I was away, my oven heating coil suspiciously decided to snap–the maintenance men said “it happens” but I still have my doubts what happened :). So, when Amanda and I were brainstorming themes for this week’s skype date, we were all about that low effort deliciousness. I’ve written about the benefits of using the slow cooker in the summer, but really the slow cooker is great all year round for so many reasons. Between my strong desire to be lazy on the day or our date and the fact my oven was out of commission, this slow cooker meal was just what I needed.

I decided to do a whole chicken and vegetables for this meal, and while Amanda has done a traditionally cooked whole chicken dinner here before, I decided to mix up the spices a bit so that I could repurpose the leftovers into something delicious the following night. I even saved the bones so that I could make chicken stock, as Amanda demonstrated previously. The flavors are light and remind me of a warmer season, which makes this a nice choice for both the summer and winter. Plus, if you ever make this chicken for a dinner party, they’d never know how little prep and effort this really takes!

Ingredients: 

Spice Blend:

  • 1 tbsp za’atar seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp salt

Other Ingredients: 

  • 1 whole chicken, giblets and neck removed if applicable
  • 2 tbsp softened butter
  • vegetables of your choice to line the bottom of the slow cooker (I used 2 potatoes, 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, and 1 zucchini)
  • 1 lemon, cut into quarters
  • 2-3 stalks of thyme
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic (ish)

Instructions:

  1. Mix together the above spices listed (from za’atar to oregano) and the salt.
  2. Chop your vegetables into large chunks (since it will be cooking for a long time, you don’t want them to be so small they fall apart), and add them to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  3. Miz your softened butter with your blended spices to form a butter paste. Spread generously over your chicken and try to get some under the skin on the breasts and legs if possible.
  4. Stuff 1 quarter of your lemon (add the rest to your vegetable layer in your slow cooker),  at least 5 garlic cloves and a quarter to half of an onion (whatever you can fit) into the cavity of your chicken. If you have garlic leftover, sprinkle amongst your veggies.
  5. Place the chicken on top of your veggies, cover with your lid and cook on low for 8 hours. Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is at least 165°F at the end of the time period, and return to the cooker for additional time if needed.
  6. Optional: If you would like crispy skin on your bird, move your chicken to a baking sheet and broil in the oven on normal setting for 2-5 minutes depending on the strength of your broiler (keep an eye on it! Mine goes from perfect to charred mess in about 2 seconds).
  7. Carefully remove the chicken from the slow cooker and carve, and enjoy with your cooked vegetables as well. You can shred any remaining chicken for a variety of recipes. This one fed me for a few more meals so stay tuned for how I repurposed my leftovers!

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Wine Pairing: Since this one is light with a hint of lemon, I think a perfectly chilled Pinot Grigio would be a nice light pairing to go with these yummy flavors. 

Chicken Curry

The flu hit Merideth and I hard at the beginning of this year, so we wanted to make meals that we low key, warming, and flavorful enough to soothe our sniffles. With its warm spices and forgiving ingredients, curry is my go-to comfort food. I mixed my own curry powder for this out of turmeric, paprika, ginger, white pepper, and a pinch of salt, but any curry spice you have on hand will make a tasty dinner. I also roasted my own whole chicken (part of my stubborn determination not to turn on my heater in Florida), but to make this even easier, you can use a premade, grab and go chicken available at the grocery store or deli.

Ingredients

  • Whole chicken, cooked (or store bought rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • 4 tbs garam masala or other curry powder
  • 3 tbs fish sauce
  • 2tbs tamarind paste
  • 2 tbs fenugreek
  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3tbs butter
  • 2 cups spinach
  • Cooked rice, to serve

Instructions

  1. Debone cooked chicken and put bones into a medium pot. Cover with 6 cups water and simmer until reduced, about 30-45 minutes. Turn off heat.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot. Add diced shallots and minced garlic and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk and garam masala to pot and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  4. Cut incisions in the tomatoes and add tomatoes and chicken to pot and ladle chicken broth into the mixture until curry has reached desired consistency.
  5. Simmer for 30 minutes and serve over rice!

Maple Chipotle Breakfast Biscuits 

Usually, Merideth and I skype for dinner, but with the holidays keeping us busy, it was easier this week to meet in the morning. Not to say that breakfast for dinner isn’t a good option, too 🙂

For this I used the homemade chicken nuggets recipe from an earlier blog session! This particular morning I made two servings, but you can adjust for a bigger crowd, with the understanding that one per person is never enough!

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 4 biscuits, halved
  • 12 chicken nuggets (or store bought and cooked according to package directions)
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4tbs chipotle pepper sauce, or to taste
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Mix maple syrup, chipotle sauce, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Taste and adjust to your preference.
  2. Toss chicken nuggets into sauce and stir to coat. Remove with a fork, shaking off excess sauce.
  3. Serve inside biscuit and enjoy!

Chicken Nuggets

Merideth and I’s schedules got a little crazy in the month of October, so instead of our usual Saturday night Skype date, we made quick weeknight dinners! Nothing better for some comfort food than chicken nuggets and some cut up veggies. This easy and versatile chicken nugget recipe came in handy for a breakfast biscuit (more on that soon!)

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Canola oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Set aside a plate covered in a few layers of paper towels to absorb oil after frying.
  2. Cut chicken breasts into bite size chunks.
  3. Set ingredients into three bowls, left to right: flour, eggs, and bread crumbs.
  4. Dredge chicken nuggets first in flour, then egg mixture, and then bread crumbs until thoroughly covered. Set aside.
  5. Using tongs, place nuggets into hot oil and heat for approximately 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Note: the oil will lose heat, so wait for oil to reheat in between batches and keep a close eye on the frying process.
  6. Place nuggets on paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil. Enjoy!

 

Greek Chicken Burger

It was burger week for Amanda and me with our latest Distance Dishes date. While I don’t crave them often, something about that warm, summer air that has been moving in made me want to bite into a nice, juicy burger. While classic beef burgers are all well and good, we wanted to experiment with some alternatives for when red meat just won’t do.

Amanda got creative with a vegetarian version soon to come, but Mediterranean flavors were calling my name. With a heavily seasoned patty topped with a refreshing tzatziki, this burger packs an amazing flavor punch while still feeling refreshing. Biting into this delicious sandwich topped with fresh vegetables is quite the reward for standing over a hot grill (or pan).

One tip I will say Amanda and I both learned is not make your patties too thick or you’ll be waiting forever for that middle to cook. I had to delay our skype date because I was waiting for a safe internal temperature forever. The picture above is an eight ounce patty, but I’ve adjusted the recipe below. Learn from my mistakes 😉

Greek Chicken Burger Patty:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 mini bell pepper, minced
  • 1/4 cup cooked spinach, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions: 

  1. In a large bowl, hand mix together all ingredients so that everything is well incorporated into the meat.
  2. Form into 4 patties and cook in a pan or grill over medium heat until internal temperature reaches 165°F. Then, they are ready for assembly.

Tzatziki

  • 1/4 cucumber, shredded
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill

Instructions: 

  1. Whisk together all ingredients and chill until ready to use.

Assembly/Toppings:

  • Ciabatta Rolls
  • Tomato
  • Red onion slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tzatziki

Assemble as desired and top burger with Tzatziki. If you’d like, serve with the Grilled Balsamic Zucchini and enjoy!

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Wine Pairing: For this meal, I wanted to try out a new pitcher and actually made a Summery Wine Punch (below) to add to the summery vibes. However, for a true pairing, actually a Pinot Noir might stand up to the tartness of the Tzatziki  while also balancing out the flavor profile. 

Summer Wine Punch: 

  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • 1 qt pink lemonade
  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • Fresh, sliced strawberries for garnish

Add all ingredients into a pitcher, stir and serve with ice.

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Japanese Style Curry & Chicken Katsu with Satay Spices

This weekend, I found myself home alone which has become a bit more rare in married life. Therefore, Amanda and I got to talking about meals we like to make when no one else is home and we have the whole kitchen and day to ourselves. While I like to use these home alone days to delve into new culinary experiments, I do often love to use this time to treat myself to an old comforting favorite that I could probably eat every night of the week. Of course, for me, this means one of two meals: Curry, or Chicken Satay.

While these two meals are hardly exotic or out of the realm of Amanda’s and my normal cooking, I wanted to combine these two favorites to create the ultimate comfort meal with leftovers enough to entertain me for the rest of the weekend should I decide sip wine and watch rom-coms for the rest of the time alone. This can be as hands off as you’d like once you get past making the roux (which can be done in advance or you can buy this part), or you can go more traditional with the actual frying of the chicken if you’re feeling it. The possibilities are what you’d like to make of it! The results are something I’ll certainly be adding to my comfort food rotation and I hope you like it too.

Satay Spice Blend

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, if desired

Satay Marinated Chicken Katsu Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp Satay spice blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp Mirin
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts butterflied and pounded thin
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp butter (if pan frying)

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl mix together the spice blend, cilantro, water, soy sauce, mirin, and sesame oil until blended.
  2. Place the butterflied and pounded chicken breasts into a large zip-top bag or a shallow dish and pour the marinade over the chicken. Make sure the chicken is fully covered by the marinade and allow to sit in the refrigerator (covered/sealed) for 8-24 hours.
  3. Once the time has passed, prepare 3 shallow dishes (or paper plates for easy cleanup). Add your flour to one, the egg to the second (and scramble it) and the panko with some salt and pepper to taste to the third. Remove the chicken from the marinated and try to shake off any excess liquid.
  4. Dip the chicken first into the flour and shake off the excess, then dip into the egg and then the panko ensuring even coating at each step. Repeat with additional breasts.
  5. The traditional Katsu is fried, but you can either pan fry with 2-3 tbsp of butter over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side or you can bake on a greased wire rack over a baking sheet at 350°F for 30 minutes if you want a lower maintenance approach. Slice and serve with the curry.

Curry Roux:

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tbsp satay spice blend

Instructions: 

  1. Over low heat, heat the flour and butter in a small saucepan,stirring constantly so it does not burn.
  2. Once the butter has melted, continue stirring over heat for 20-30 minutes. The mixture should thicken and take on a light brown color.
  3. Add the garam masala and satay spices and heat for about 30 more seconds until the mixture is thick and there is little liquid left.
  4. Allow to cool and use immediately or refrigerate until needed. It will keep in the fridge in a sealed container for up to a week or you can freeze for up to a year if needed.

Curry Sauce:

  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Remainder of satay spice blend
  • Curry roux from above or store-bought cubes.
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes to remove starch
  • 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • Cooked white rice to serve

Instructions: 

  1. Over medium heat in a large saucepan, add the oil, onions and spices to the pan and cook until the onions are semi-translucent and fragrant.
  2. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, roux and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Stir to incorporate the roux, and simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Serve with white rice and the breaded chicken. Enjoy!

Alternate Pressure Cooker instructions: 

  1. If you’re looking to have a maintenance free night, saute the onions, oil and spices in the pressure cooker. Then add all other ingredients and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Valve release the pressure and spoon over white rice and add your chicken.

Wine Pairing: Since these flavors are pretty unique and loud by themselves, I’d go with a Pinot Grigio to lighten it up a bit. 

Grown Up “Spaghetti-O’s”

For this week, Amanda and I were looking to make a dish that could be served in a bowl. She went above and beyond and made an amazing Gumbo, so I wanted to go for a more simple, weeknight vibe. When I think back on an easy, comforting dinner in a bowl from my childhood, that can of Spaghetti-O’s which were only minutes from de-tinning to dinner table came to mind.

Of course, posting an article about opening a can would have made for a very easy Distance Dishes skype date with Amanda but probably not the best writing, so I wanted to adult-up this classic a bit. I’ve recently been on a spinach kick so I thought that might be an easy, delicious way to add some nutrition and color to perhaps make that glass of wine with dinner a little less guilt-inducing. Additionally, this recipe can easily be vegan-ified by using non-dairy milk and omitting the sausages if you prefer.

The beauty of this dish is it can be as simple or as complicated as you like. The recipe calls for some tomato sauce which can be bought or homemade. I made a Basic Tomato Sauce to go in this dish which can be built upon your tastes, or you go for that jar in the store if that’s what makes you happy! Either way, this makes for a nice, simple dinner with some healthy elements so you can treat yourself later.

Ingredients: 

  • 3-4 Italian chicken sausages, casings removed
  • 8 oz of small, cooked pasta
  • 1 cup of the starchy pasta water
  • 2 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup milk (non-dairy works)
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast (optional, could also use a sharp cheese or omit altogether)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Pinch of salt to taste depending on your tomato sauce
  • 2 cups baby spinach

Instructions:

  1. Remove the casings from the chicken sausages if they have them. Slice into 1/2″ thick pieces and sear in a pan until fully cooked/heated.
  2. Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted water and drain while al dente. Be sure to save 1 cup of the starchy water for the sauce.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat the tomato sauce over low-medium heat and add the starchy water, milk, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes and a small pinch of salt if needed.
  4. Once fully incorporated and heated through, remove from heat. Stir in the spinach and allow to wilt in the sauce for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in your pasta and sausages and serve. Goes well with some nice, crusty bread as well.

Wine Pairing: Since this can be on the spicy side with the sausages and the pepper flakes, you want a wine that can stand up to those flavors. While this is hardly authentic, you could keep with the Italian theme and go with a Chianti to pair. Usually a Chianti is bold enough to go with a lot of seasoning, and should bring out the flavors nicely.