easy peasy chicken dinner – spanish chicken skillet

easy two-pan spanish chicken with rice and peas

i wasn’t sure if this would turn out how i imagined it in my head, but basically i threw this semi-homemade “spanish” chicken together from random things i found in the freezer and pantry since we traveled to buffalo for christmas and didn’t want to buy a bunch of crap for meals at the store. soooo it was delicious. and i used rice-a-roni. yes. rice-a-roni. that i dug out of the very back of our pantry, standing on a chair to reach it. so easy and so quick to pull together for a weeknight dinner, especially if you have kids running around. love a meal you can just throw into a skillet, pop in the oven, and it’s ready. so much less cleanup for mom 🙂

ingredients

6 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 box rice-a-roni spanish rice
14 oz whole peeled tomatoes – the boxed rice calls for diced tomatoes, but i love the cento whole peeled italian style tomatoes so i used these instead
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cups of water
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
salt
pepper
paprika or smoked paprika
ground coriander
ground cumin
1 tbsp sherry vinegar (you could also use balsamic or white wine vinegar)

instructions

preheat your oven to 400 degrees. season both sides of the chicken thighs with a sprinkle of the salt, pepper, paprika, ground cumin, and ground coriander. heat a high sided skillet or dutch oven (must be oven safe!) to medium-high heat, add the olive oil, and sear both sides of the chicken until browned, about 3-5 minutes each side. meanwhile, prepare the rice-a-roni in a separate medium sized pot according to the directions on the package. first, take about half the can of whole peeled tomatoes (mine came in a 28oz can), plus the sauce and cut them up, or break them up with your hands. then melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in your pot over medium heat, and cook the rice mixture until toasted. add the water, spice package, tomatoes, peas, and the teaspoon of sugar and bring this to a boil. once the chicken is done browning, turn down the heat to low, discard about 2-3 tablespoons of the grease, and add the vinegar to the pan. once the rice mixture is boiling, pour it over the chicken, and spread out the rice and peas around the chicken so they’re not all clumped together in the middle. put the whole skillet in the preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. enjoy!

semi-homemade baking

triple-chocolate salted caramel brownies

do you guys remember sandra lee on food network? well semi-homemade food is my jam 🙂 more importantly, the lady loved a cocktail. anyway, these are super easy, since a boxed brownie mix takes the work out of measuring out all the ingredients, but homemade caramel from sally’s baking addiction, extra white chocolate chips, and some maldon sea salt add a little extra flair. great for busy moms or anyone who aint got time for making homemade brownies. the caramel can also be made in advance which saves you being in the kitchen too long. my husband said he couldn’t stop eating them, so fudgy and addicting. enjoy!

ingredients

your favorite boxed brownie mix (i used the specially selected “double chocolate” boxed mix from aldi)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips (recommend ghirardelli)
1 egg
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or any other oil of choice)
maldon sea salt (or any other flaked sea salt for sprinkling)
caramel
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt (sally’s recipe calls for 1 teaspoon, but i’m also sprinkling sea salt on top of the brownies, so didn’t want to overdo it)
1/2 tsp vanilla (sally’s recipe doesn’t call for this but i like the flavor it adds to the caramel)

instructions

make the caramel first by heating the sugar over medium heat in a medium sized pan, constantly stirring. the recipe here calls to use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula but when i make it again i’ll probably use a whisk, because i feel like it worked better. keep working the sugar until it is completely melted and a golden brown color. be careful not to burn it! as soon as the sugar is completely melted and golden brown, immediately stir in the butter and keep whisking to combine it. if the butter separates from the caramel, follow sally’s instructions, and take it off the heat and whisk vigorously until it comes back together. honestly, i always just thought caramel was ruined if this happened, but it actually worked for me. then return it to the heat and once the butter and sugar is all combined let it cook for 2 more minutes. slowly whisk in the heavy cream, it will bubble up since the cream is colder than the caramel mixture. let it boil for one more minute, then remove it from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla. pour the caramel into a heat safe bowl to cool a little before using, it will also thicken up. her website also has a great video if you are confused by any of the instructions.

then, start preparing the brownies according to the directions on the box. preheat oven to 325 degrees, and mix together the brownie mix, 1/2 cup of white chocolate chips (hence the triple chocolate), water, egg, and oil until all combined. spray a 9×13 or 8×8 pan with cooking spray (your preference, or just follow the instructions on your box mix), and pour the brownie mix in and spread it evenly into the pan. drizzle desired amount of caramel over the top of the brownie mix and then take a toothpick and swirl it around. bake the brownies according the package directions for the size pan you are using. this will also vary depending on if you like your brownies to be more done, or more gooey. mine were in for about 30 minutes and i used a 9×13 baking dish. sprinkle them with sea salt after taking them out of the oven, let them cool then slice and serve.

easiest christmas treats ever

dark chocolate grahams with white chocolate and sea salt

these are seriously the easiest “cookies” or treats for christmas or any late night chocolate craving. i have a weird obsession with graham crackers but paired with chocolate and sea salt, they are over the top. they are so great for kids to help decorate, because all it takes is a little melted chocolate and sprinkles. believe it or not, emmett (2 year old) did most of the white chocolate drizzle on these… future cake decorator! he had the best time decorating and eating sprinkles and this is just a really easy and fun activity for toddlers and then *bonus* they get a sweet treat after. plus not a ton of clean up for mom.

ingredients

honey or cinnamon graham crackers
semi sweet chocolate chips
white chocolate chips – my favorite are ghirardelli
1/8 tsp coconut oil
flaked sea salt – i used maldon
optional – sprinkles to decorate

instructions

melt semi sweet chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in increments of 20-30 seconds, checking and stirring frequently until they are mostly melted. then stir them vigorously until all the chocolate chips are uniformly melted. add a tiny bit of coconut oil into the white chocolate chips and melt them the same way as the semi sweet chocolate chips. spread onto the graham crackers, sprinkle with toppings and pop them into the freezer for a few minutes to set them. they will harden at room temperature, but i always stick them in the freezer because i just can’t wait to eat them 🙂

christmas quiche

caramelized onion and mushroom quiche

quiche is one of my favorite foods for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. it’s the perfect food in my opinion; eggs for protein, usually a veggie or two, the creamy cheese and flaky crust just compliment each other so well. my family does not agree. emmett (2 year old) won’t touch an egg, and ryan (husband) says “he’s not a quiche guy.” they had frozen pizza for dinner. whatever, more for me. traditionally my mom makes quiche and creamed chipped beef for breakfast on christmas morning. we’ll leave the chipped beef for another time, but coming up on christmas i had to get my quiche fix since we won’t be spending it in maryland. this is my mom’s recipe with my fillings. hope you enjoy, let me know in the comments! 🙂

ingredients
crust

1 cup all purpose flour
1 stick of cold unsalted butter
4 oz cold cream cheese

filling

1 medium sized sweet onion
8 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms
5 large eggs
2 tbsp butter (separated)
2 tbsp olive oil (separated)
1/2 cup milk – 2 percent or whole
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4-6 oz grated cheese of choice – i used a shredded blend i already had but this would be amazing with fontina or gruyere as well
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 pinch of salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp ground mustard

instructions

the crust is the easiest part and can be made ahead of time and even frozen if needed. cut up one stick of cold, unsalted butter into small pieces and add to a medium sized bowl along with the flour and cold cream cheese. the cream cheese should also be cut into pieces. work the mixture together with your hands until everything is completely combined and comes together into a ball of dough. form it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until cold. i ended up sticking mine in the freezer for a few minutes because i didn’t make it far enough in advance, and that’s fine too.

the oven will need to be preheated to 375 degrees, but you can do this at any point since the onions and mushrooms will take a little while, and can be made in advance. i did my onions in the morning, and then had to do naptime with kiddos before finishing the rest :). the first step of the filling is caramelizing the onions, which can take around 20-25 minutes. peel and thinly slice the onion, then heat a skillet or dutch oven to low heat, and add one tablespoon of the butter and one tablespoon of olive oil. cook the onions over low heat, stirring frequently for about 20-25 minutes until they are a deep golden brown and almost falling apart. as the onions are cooking you can go ahead and slice up the mushrooms. set the onions aside and add the second tablespoon of butter and olive oil to the pan and sauté the mushrooms over medium heat until they have released most of their liquid, about 7-8 minutes. add the thyme to the mushrooms and cook for about 2 more minutes.

whisk together the eggs, milk, mayonnaise, pinch of salt, pepper, and ground mustard. then fold in the onions, mushrooms and cheese.

lightly flour a clean surface and roll out the pie crust, then place it into a pie plate or oven safe pan. do whatever your heart desires with the edges of the crust. i’m obviously not talented with pie crusts as you can tell by my rustic style… this crust is really forgiving and if it rips you can just mush it back together. then pour the quiche mixture into the crust, cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. remove the foil and bake for 15-20 more minutes, until it is just set. let the quiche cool for at least10 minutes, then slice and serve!

easy weeknight pasta dish pt. 2

mushroom artichoke pasta

my mom whips up this super easy and quick pasta all the time and i’m completely obsessed with it. i’m also obsessed with artichokes so maybe that’s why. probably not toddler approved by most kids standards but for some reason my child loves mushrooms, artichokes, and broccoli (weirdest foods for a toddler to like). hope you enjoy!

ingredients

1/2 lb linguini or linguini fini
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small to medium onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
8 oz baby bella or white mushrooms
6 oz chopped artichoke hearts – mine were from ALDI, i love this store!
6-8 italian style whole peeled tomatoes – my favorite are Cento
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 teaspoons white sugar
optional: fresh basil for garnish

instructions

put a large pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. finely chop the onions, mince the garlic (or don’t, if you’re lazy like me and like to use pre-minced garlic from a jar), and chop the mushrooms into bite sized pieces. chop up the artichokes and set them aside. heat a large high sided skillet or dutch oven to medium heat, add the butter and olive oil, and then saute the onions until they start to become translucent. add the mushrooms, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and the italian seasoning, and keep cooking the mixture until the mushrooms start to release some of their liquid. add the artichokes and white wine and simmer until it reduces by about half. the water should be boiling by now, so cook the pasta according to package directions. then take the tomatoes and SQUISH THEM into the pot. you could totally chop them up but squishing them is just so much more fun. add 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar to taste. i tend to like my pasta sauce a little sweeter. simmer the sauce until the pasta finishes cooking, then drain the pasta and add it directly into the sauce. finish by tossing everything together and garnish with fresh basil if desired.

hope you love this and let me know what you think if you try it! 🙂

mom’s chocolate chip cookies – with a twist

brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies

this recipe is a riff on my favorite chocolate chip cookies that my mom makes every christmas. brown butter and toffee bring a great nutty/toasted flavor and nothing is better than melty chocolate chips right out of the oven 🙂 i also had to add sprinkles for a little festive charm (here is a link to this fun sprinkle mix), but the other half of the batch is sprinkled with maldon sea salt and honestly they are to die for. next time i will go sea salt all the way around. or maybe sea salt AND sprinkles. can’t go wrong with sprinkles. hope you enjoy these as much as my family has over the years!

ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon brown butter (instructions below, but this will need to be made ahead of time)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 white chocolate chips
3/4 cup crushed toffee bits with chocolate (i used this one because i’m lazy, but you could also chop your own, or put the candy bars into the food processor)
optional – sprinkles and/or sea salt for decorating

instructions

a few hours or up to a couple of days before you plan on starting your cookies you will need to make the brown butter. cut up 1 stick + 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter into tablespoon size pieces and using a light colored pan or skillet, start to melt it over medium heat, stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. i use an extra tablespoon because some of the liquid evaporates as it’s cooking. cook the butter until the foam disappears, you start to see brown bits in the bottom, and it is giving off a nutty aroma. this should take around 5-8 minutes. be careful not to overcook it as it can burn! as soon as it’s done, pour the butter along with all the brown bits into a glass bowl and set aside to cool. the butter will need to solidify again before we bake the cookies, so you can leave it at room temperature, or put in the fridge and then get it out to come to room temperature before baking.

for the cookies, start by preheating the oven to 385 degrees. whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl. take the stick of regular unsalted butter and nuke it (yes nuke it) for about 15-20 seconds or until it just starts to melt. i don’t know why… this is how my mom does it… just trust me. add this, along with the room temperature brown butter to your electric mixer with the paddle attachment, as well as the brown sugar and white sugar. cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed until fluffy. add in the eggs and vanilla, and mix until combined. add in the dry ingredients in thirds with the mixer on low until everything is fully combined. add in the chocolate chips and heath bar bits, then mix on low until everything is incorporated and evenly distributed. scoop evenly sized balls of cookie dough (i don’t own a cookie scoop because i’m weird and just use a spoon) onto a baking sheet, sprinkle them with your choice of toppings, and bake for approx 10-12 minutes. mine never take longer than 10 minutes.


pure comfort

chicken and dumplings – toddler approved!

this is what comes to mind when i think of comfort food. chicken and dumplings just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, and best eaten in cold weather… despite living in southern california, it does get down to the 40s at night in the winter! we’ve all had a tough year, with the added stress of covid on someone who already struggles with anxiety, plus my husband being deployed, traveling across the country with a toddler and a baby, and california being on fire… i was really looking forward to the warmth and comfort of the holidays. emmett and josie both love this dish, and it’s one i’ll be making a lot this winter. hope you enjoy it as much as we do 🙂

ingredients

2 large chicken breasts
6 cups broth or stock – i used homemade turkey stock from thanksgiving, but as the queen would say, store bought is fine 😉
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 an onion
1 clove minced garlic
4-5 carrots – my kids both love carrots so i always add extra
2 stalks celery
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

dumplings
i used this recipe from allrecipes.com, and it was amazing. i’m firmly on team drop dumplings although my mom would strongly disagree. the only thing i did differently was melt the butter (recipe calls for margarine, but i don’t keep margarine around so butter it is) instead of cutting it in because i didn’t pay attention to the instructions. i also doubled it. you’ll need:
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup milk

instructions

this recipe is so easy. start by cooking the chicken however your heart desires, then shred it. i was being super lazy and actually threw them in the instant pot completely frozen with some chicken broth on manual for 15 minutes. dice up the onions, carrots and celery, and sauté them with the butter and olive oil on medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven until the onions start to become translucent. then add in the garlic, thyme, sage, parsley, bay leaf, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. add your shredded chicken, white wine, stock or broth, and can of cream of mushroom. bring this to a boil then reduce it to a simmer. at this time also taste for salt and pepper, and season as needed. meanwhile, make up your dumplings. whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. add in the melted butter and milk, and mix until just combined. drop spoonfuls of the dumpling mixture into the simmering soup (make them as big as you like!). simmer over low heat, partially covered for 30 minutes.