Turkish Chicken, Roasted Squash, and Citrus Salad with Honey Lemon Dressing

I always like to try to pair sides with mains that are complementary, but sometimes I hit on a combination completely by accident and it is amazing.  This meal is now officially  part of my meal rotation because these three things together made the perfect harmony and were all easy and budget friendly to prepare.  I try to make my own dressing whenever possible, its easy and preservative free, plus it just tastes better.

The inspiration for this meal came from the fact that I need to finish a blog post that goes with the leftover chicken for this meal, and also because Hubby brought home a mystery squash from work.  Yes, I said it, mystery squash.  A coworker of his had some rather gorgeous winter squash grow out of her compost and wasn’t sure what variety it was.  It was a lovely deep yellow with green stripes.  I originally thought it was delicata, a variety of winter squash with edible skin, but after cutting into it I knew the skin was not edible.  As it turns out, it was a tasty variety of spaghetti squash.  Super yummy.

Turkish chicken is a recipe that I use from one of my favourite books, Simple by Diana Henry. 20170109_200442It’s got some heat, a ton of flavour, and is just as the title of the book suggests:  Simple to prepare.  I often change it up with different spices, but I wanted to give you the original version just as it is.  I use the leftovers from this for a variety of meals which you will see in future posts.  She pairs it with a parsley salad that I didn’t really care for but can appreciate.  Instead, I chose a tangy salad with a bit of sweetness to stand up to the warmth of the spice and the buttery-ness of the squash.  My family dragged their chicken through the salad dressing to intesify the lemon and add some sweetness to the chicken and the result was divine.  Sometimes they are the best tasters.  They occasionally do things with my culinary masterpieces that horrify me… like add ketchup to goat cheese fritata (I’m crying inside thinking about it), but sometimes they are geniuses.

You Will Need:

For the Chicken

  • 1/3 cup olive oil (don’t use extra virgin here, it will smoke a lot during the cooking process)
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Aleppo pepper or a tsp of cayenne (I reduced this to half a tsp of cayenne because I have tiny humans to feed and they cry when I burn their mouths)
  • 4 garlic cloves crushed (I used minced garlic in oil here to save some time)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • lemon wedges to serve

For the Spaghetti Squash (or any winter variety that you prefer)

  • 1 large spaghetti squash – sliced in half vertically with the seeds removed.
  • 2 tbsp of brown sugar, not packed
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • salt and pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 romaine heart, washed and chopped
  • 1 large shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of feta, crumbled
  • 1 cup of cucumber, sliced
  • 2 clementine oranges, peeled and segmented

For the Dressing

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp honey

Preparation:

The chicken needs to be marinated.  The longer the better, but anywhere from 30min to 8 hours will get you a ton of flavour.  For the marinade whisk the first 7 ingredients of the chicken in a bowl and pour into a large zippered freezer bag.  Toss in the chicken and mix it around until it’s evenly covered and put in the fridge.  Turn at least once while marinating.

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Preheat the oven to 400F and place the squash cut side up on a sheet pan.  I used a ceramic pan here, if you are using a traditional pan you may want to cover it with foil first.  Brush the squash with melted butter, sprinkle brown sugar evenly and season with salt and pepper.  Don’t worry, this doesn’t make the squash overly sweet, I don’t like candied squash, it’s just enough to highlight flavour and work with the other components of the meal.

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Bake on the center rack for 45-50 minutes until the squash is tender.  I baste them with the butter halfway through and I always try to arrange it so that these are ready a few min before the chicken.  They will benefit from some resting time and be easier to remove from the skin.

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Meanwhile, heat a grill pan or a heavy pan on medium high heat. Pull the chicken out and shake to remove excess marinade (otherwise you will end up with a very smokey kitchen) and place on pan.  Make sure to open up the thighs so they’re butterflied, otherwise you end up with burnt outsides and raw insides.  Cook until beautifully seared and flip.  About 4-6 min per side.  If you start these 20 min into the squash cooking time you will have enough time to rest them for 10 min before serving.

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While the chicken is resting toss the ingredients of the salad together.  In a small empty jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until combined.  Pour about 1/4 cup on the salad and toss until evenly coated.  I put the remaining dressing on the table to flavor the meal if desired.  (I accidentally spilled the remainder on my plate the first time I made this and it went well with everything!).

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Vegan Breakfast Cookies

By Corinne

I like my cookies soft and not too sweet. I like to think of these as ‘breakfast cookies’ as there is some goodness packed in there. These cookies stay soft even after baking, but the sunflower seeds and almonds give them a bit of a crunch.   I prefer them without chocolate chips, but my husband has more of a sweet tooth and prefers them with.  They are vegan as long as you use chocolate chips with no milk solids.

Time: prep 10 min, bake 20-22 min per batch

Makes: about 48 medium sized cookies

Oven: preheat 350F

You will need:

  • 3 cups quick oats*
  • 1/2-1cup lightly packed brown sugar (I tend to use the smaller amount as I find with the other sweet ingredients(cranberries, chocolate chips) they are sweet enough.
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds (roasted, salted)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds(need nut free? Substitute pepitas-shelled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seed
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom (If you love cardamom and would like it to be more ‘present’, go 1 tsp cinnamon and 2 tsp cardamom instead)
  • 1 can (398 ml) 1 3/4 cups canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup virgin coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup semi sweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Mix together all dry ingredients. Melt virgin coconut oil in microwave, about 1 minute. Add coconut oil, canned pumpkin to dry mixture and thoroughly mix together. This can be done pretty easily by hand, or if you have a mixer, that works too.

Roll a scoopful of cookie dough into a ball between your palms, then squish flat.  They cook into whatever shape you make them now and they don’t spread or ‘puff up’  so you can snuggle them up close together.

Bake for 20-22 minutes. Cookies will be slightly browned around the edges, bottoms and tops. Cool completely and store in an air tight container, or freeze and take out just a few at a time as desired.

*oats are one of those ‘maybe’ items for many celiac people. While oats themselves are gluten free, crops may be contaminated with wheat. Some brands of oats will say ‘gluten free’ and others don’t.

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

By Corinne

This officially qualifies as my most planned blog post. I wrote this last spring/summer. Of course, by the time the vinegar is ready, the chives are long done blossoming so wouldn’t be useful to anyone. So here it is- hopefully still early enough for the folks in Southern Ontario, and in lots of time for my peeps in Thunder Bay 🙂

I actually think chive blossoms are beautiful and underrated in bouquets 🙂 There are some snuggled into this one.

 

The bees love them and I do too. Chive blossoms broken up a bit make a pretty addition to a salad, but you can also make a lovely flavoured vinegar with them.

This is a recipe that barely even qualifies as a recipe.

You will need:

  • jars
  • vinegar (I just use plain white vinegar)
  • chive blossoms (you need enough to half fill whatever jar you are using)

Snip chive blossoms and give them a good rinse and then a spin dry in a salad spinner. Fill jars about half full of blossoms, and then fill with vinegar. Affix lids to jars, then place in a cool, darkish place out of direct sunlight for a few days. At this point check them, you may need to top them up with vinegar at this point. If not, leave them for another 2-3 weeks. By this point the vinegar will be a pretty pink and the flowers will have lost most of their colour.

 

Strain the vinegar into clean jars. Discard used blossoms. Use this lightly oniony vinegar in your favourite vinaigrettes. Keeps for at least a year!

 

Pomegranate and Blood Orange Salad with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

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By Corinne

I didn’t realize that eating pomegranates was something people struggled with until I started seeing various videos being posted about the ‘right’ way to peel them, or how to eat them without making a mess. Even still, a shocking number of these videos called for you doing this in a bowl of water? I feel like that seems like more trouble then it needs to be.  I use this method, and always have- though I’ve never really thought of it as being a ‘method’ exactly.

Pomegranates are often a bit pricy, but they are SO pretty and tasty and make such a pretty addition to dinner salads, fruit salads and drinks that I feel they are totally worth it. I also love that they are a bit of work to eat. They also keep amazingly well in the fridge. And even when the outside starts to look a little dried and sad, they are usually still perfect and bright on the inside! They are a good sort of picking at snack… for when you’re not *really* hungry, but looking for a little something.

At least around here, you can generally only find pomegranates in the winter, so they are something I associate with winter salads rather than summer ones.

Time: about 10 minutes

Serves: 2 as a very generous side

Dressing– makes about 1/3 cup of dressing (more than you need for 2 servings)

You will need:

  • 1/4 cup of pomegranate arils
  • 1 blood orange(or regular orange)
  • about 4 cups salad greens
  • a few shavings of a hard sharp aged cheese (parmesan, pecorino, romano, asiago – anything aged and sharp)

Dressing 

  • juice of one or two fresh lemons – you want about 1/4 cup of juice, so it will depend on the juiciness of your lemons
  • 2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • several generous grinds of fresh pepper
  • *1 tsp apple cider vinegar if you feel it needs a bit more acid

Whisk together dressing ingredients. Taste your dressing. If you feel like it needs a bit more of an acidic punch, add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar.  Mix greens and dressing (you probably don’t need all of it, but it depends on how dressed you like your salad)

Add dressed greens to bowls and top with pomegranate arils, blood orange slices, a few curls of a sharp salty cheese of your choice and a few grinds of fresh pepper.

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Vegan (or not) Garden Pesto

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By Corinne

Basil is amazing. I am so in love with basil in the summer I can hardly help myself from adding it to everything. Basil in every salad, basil on sandwiches, basil gently rubbed between my fingers just to smell every time I go outside on my deck… Ah! Well, enough with this summer reverie. It’s February and the days (while getting longer) are still short and dark and cold and we’ve just had two weeks of -20C without a break. I’m craving summer in a bad way!

This pesto is infinitely versatile- in the summer I use much more basil than other greens, but in the winter good basil is hard to find and pricy! Tonight when I made it, I used about 15g of basil and 15g of parsley(a small handful of each)- the rest was spicy arugula, so I omitted the pepper.

While I’ve historically always used cheese, I decided to give nutritional yeast a try for this recipe. I probably could have thinned it out a BIT more, but it actually emulsified easier than the cheese version, was smoother, and as a bit of a shock to both myself and my taste tester, was the preferred version!

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Time: under 10 minutes

Makes: about 1/2- 3/4 of a cup 

You will need:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup olive oil or other oil of your choice (I used sunflower oil)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, outer skin removed
  • 1 ½ cup(lightly packed down) fresh herbs such as basil, parsley or greens such as spinach, kale or arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp salt – to taste
  • pepper – to taste

In a food processor or using an immersion blender(I usually use my immersion blender as this is a relatively small batch and I have a large food processor), combine the herbs/greens and garlic and process for 15 seconds.

With the food processor still running, add the oil SLOWLY until the mixture is smooth – you want it to emulsify. The mixture should look almost matte, and not oily. If your pesto looks oily you rushed the emulsification process and added too much oil at once.  You are looking for the mixture to be loose, not chunky but not watery or runny at all.

Add the nutritional yeast or cheese and process for ten seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can see in the picture that I did a better job of emulsifying the one version on the left than the one on the right today. I’m going to blame using a different container than I usually use!

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Toss with warm pasta, put on pizza, spread on a pork tenderloin or chicken… pesto is delightfully easy to use! This will stay good in the fridge for about a week. 

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Quinoa Taco Salad

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By Corinne

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with quinoa as I shared in my post on Lemony Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas. I find it tends to suck the flavour out of things, and isn’t really that exciting on it’s own. Ha, ha, am I selling you on this yet? This really is a wonderful supper full of savoury flavours and delightful textures. I have found that red quinoa seems to have a bit more flavour, and I prefer it for this dish and most others. It is vegan as long as you either use dairy free cheese shreds and either omit or use a dairy free version of sour cream.

This recipe was inspired by one from Thug Kitchen 101- but edited for both additional flavour and simplicity. It could also easily be used as a filling for tacos, or as a topping for nachos 🙂

 

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed (to rinse or not to rinse? I buy mine in bulk so rinse)
  • 1 3/4 cups water or veggie broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 cup canned (cooked) black beans
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1-2 fresh jalapeño, minced (don’t be afraid to use at least one here! The quinoa really does make things less spicy somehow)
  • 2 heads romaine, washed and chopped
  • juice of one lime, + additional lime wedges for each salad
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • tortilla chips
  • garnishes- avocado or guacamole, additional jalapeño, green onions, diced cherry or regular tomatoes, salsa, sour cream, shredded cheddar or queso fresca

Combine 1 cup quinoa with water or veggie broth. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp oregano. Bring to boil, and then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Stir every few minutes until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy- about 20 min. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a bit more of everything to your taste, or leaving it as is. While quinoa is cooking, prepare vegetables.

Add 2 tbsp oil to pan on medium high heat, and add onion, black beans, bell pepper,  and jalapeño to pan. Fry until veggies are starting to get tender and getting some colour- about 5-7 min. Add cooked quinoa, lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. Stir for an additional minute or two.

Serve hot over lettuce with toppings of your choice. Also delicious cold for lunch the next day!

 

 

Chicken with Chardonnay Cream and Pancetta

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By Corinne

I love cooking with wine! You don’t have to buy a super expensive bottle, but you should buy one that isn’t horrific or that makes you gag. I often use Grey Fox Chardonnay from California for cooking, as it’s inexpensive but also not the worst if you’re going to have a glass to finish the bottle.

This recipe was inspired by one in Niagra Cooks by Lynn Orgryzlo, but has been adapted. I wanted it to be gluten free, with more sauce, and a few less steps. A grainy mustard also works well here, though will give the finished sauce a slightly different texture. I have made it before with 1/2 and 1/2 cream, if you do this, you will need more time for reducing and definitely need to finish by thickening with corn starch.

Time: about 35 minutes

Serves: 4 

You will need:

  • 4 chicken cutlets (about 1.5lbs or 0 .66kg)
  • 4 slices of pancetta, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup (about 1/2 a large onion) finely minced
  • 2 cloves garlic finely minced
  • 2 tbsp butter
  •  1.5 cups chardonnay
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup chicken or veggie broth
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp corn starch + 2 tbsp broth, water or wine
  • a few tbsp safflower, or canola oil
  • salt and pepper

Cook pancetta until crisp in the pan you will be cooking the chicken in. Only cook pancetta over medium/medium low. It will get quite smokey if you do it on a higher heat.  Remove pancetta, add butter to pan. Add minced onion, cook until softened and starting to get golden, about 7 min. Add minced garlic and cook for about 1 more minute. Remove onion and garlic from pan, but leave any residual oil.

Add enough oil to the pan so that the bottom is covered in a thin layer. Turn up heat to medium high. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Add chicken to pan, it should sizzle loudly. You want some nice browning action so the pan has to be hot (though it should not be smoking). Cook 3-4 min on each side, turning once, until cooked through. If you are not using cutlets and are using rather thick breasts, brown both sides and then finish in a 400F oven until internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You may have to cook in batches. Remove when cooked and keep warm in oven.

Add the chardonnay to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Add the onions you cooked earlier. Let reduce for a few minutes until reduced by about a 1/4. Add chicken or vegetable broth and cream. Allow to simmer for 3-4 minutes. If sauce requires additional thickening, mix together 1/2tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp broth, wine or water. Mix into sauce.

Serve cutlets with a generous scoop of sauce, and a piece of pancetta crumbled over top. Delicious sides that go well with this sauce include rice and almost any vegetable, though tonight I made twice baked broccoli potatoes- which also worked well 🙂

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