Sunday, October 30, 2011

Recipe #136: Baked Chicken Thighs

Chicken thighs are my new thing- my new cheap, easy, delicious go-to meal.  I've realized lately I LOVE this part of the chicken, (blah on boring old chicken breasts...) and there's so many ways to season them.  This is my base recipe- change the seasonings how you want.  Just so you have an idea how cheap these are- I bought 8 thighs for $5.  Two is good per person as part of a meal.


Chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
Olive oil (spray works great)
Dried seasonings (here I used thyme, rosemary and sage)


Preheat oven to 350.  Grease a casserole/baking dish.

Melt a half a stick of butter per 4 thighs.  Mix in chosen seasonings.  Lift the skin on the top of the thigh to create a pocket, and spoon some of the buttery seasoning in, then cover with the skin.  Repeat for all and place in the baking dish.  Pour remaining seasoning mix over the thighs, and then spray with olive oil spray (it will help create a crispy skin).

Bake for about 40 minutes.  Near the end, switch to broil and broil about 5 minutes until skin is crispy.

(Note, times may vary depending on how many thighs you're baking.  This time worked for me for 4.)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Recipe #135: Pasta with Squash and Pancetta

I have to admit, I thought the smell of the pancetta was pretty gross while this was cooking, and I worried that it was going to ruin dinner.... but once the seasonings were added and everything was finished, this dish came out great and the pancetta was perfect for it!  Here's something a bit different.... subbing bacon in for pancetta would probably be pretty good too.  I liked it even better as leftovers.


  • 1 medium (about 2 1/4 pounds) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 3/4 pound penne pasta
  • 3 ounces pancetta, sliced 1/4 inch thick and finely chopped  (I found some pancetta crumbles that I used instead)
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, flakes
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, coarsely chopped or torn  (I used dried sage because I couldn't find the fresh leaves)
  • 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place butternut squash on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil; season with salt. Transfer to oven and roast until squash is browned and tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt water and return to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Set pasta and reserved cooking liquid aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add pancetta and cook until just crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Add shallots, crushed red pepper, and sage. Cook until shallots are soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add penne and squash and toss gently, adding reserved pasta cooking liquid as necessary to moisten.
  4. Add cheese and black pepper and cook, tossing gently, until pasta and squash are heated through. Serve immediately with more grated cheese, if desired.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Recipe #134: Chicken Paprikas

I loved how the house smelled after I made this!  Another great recipe from a friend with minimal and common ingredients!  Lots of flavor, and the German in me loved the spaetzle ;)


1-1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces  (leave some of the soft fat! It cooks down and creates more flavor- trim off any hard fat or too much excess.  Chicken breasts aren't recommended)
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
Heaping tablespoon of paprika (Use good quality stuff!)
1c (8oz) sour cream
Salt to taste (optional)
Cooked spaetzle, noodles, or rice


Sautee onion in olive oil for a few minutes, then add chicken, salt, and paprika.  Cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring often so chicken doesn't burn or stick.  (I had to add a little chicken broth because I didn't stir often enough).  Near the end, add the cup of sour cream and heat through.  I always use spaetzle and mix that in after nowadays, heating through.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recipe #133: Skillet Lasagna

I had this growing up and always loved it, and when I introduced it to Nick, it was an instant hit.  Made it for dinner last night for movie night with the girls, and doubled the recipe.  Don't be fooled by how simple this is:  The flavor is awesome.  Nick ate for two people.  The leftovers are fantastic!


1lb ground beef
8oz shredded Mozzarella or Italian mix cheese
3c penne, ziti, mostaciolli (etc) noodles
1 jar pasta sauce


Brown meat in skillet, drain if necessary.  Add 2.5c water, bring to a boil.  Add noodles and cover, cooking 15 minutes and adding water and stirring as necessary to prevent burning or sticking.  When noodles are cooked and water is absorbed, pour in pasta sauce and cheese, mixing thoroughly.  Heat through and serve.  Makes 4-5 servings.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Recipe #132: Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Quick to prep, quick to cook, and definitely delicious!  Next time I'll maybe put them on a wire rack over a pan so they're not sitting in all the juices, but I didn't mind too much regardless...


  • 1 (9.6 ounce) package Jimmy Dean® Original Hearty Pork Sausage Crumbles (I used 9oz breakfast sausage because I couldn't find this, browned and crumbled)
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend, divided
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
  • 4 medium portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine sausage, 1 cup shredded cheese, ricotta cheese, onions and tomatoes in large bowl.
  2. Brush tops of mushroom caps with oil; place, top-sides down, in shallow baking pan.
  3. Top with sausage mixture. Drizzle with vinegar, if desired. Sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese.
  4. Bake 10-12 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe #131: Honey Balsamic Chicken

Alright, I admit it:  I've been totally lazy about cooking lately... hoping to break out of this lame food funk soon... BUT Facebook came through when I asked my friends for a simple, healthy, easy recipe for dinner yesterday, and one recipe stood out- for good reason!  Nick and I scraped our plates clean.  This is from Sarah H, via


    1 1/2 tsp of dried thyme 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp black pepper 1 tsp olive oil 1lb chicken breast (I used thin-sliced) 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 2 tbsp honey


Combine first 3 ingredients; sprinkle over both sides of chicken.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 7 to 8 minutes on each side or until chicken is done.

Transfer chicken to a platter; keep warm. Reduce heat to medium-low; add vinegar and honey to pan. Simmer 1 minute or until glaze thickens; stir constantly. Pour glaze over chicken.