weeknight skillet dinner

chicken broccoli skillet with rice-a-roni

this semi-homemade skillet is so so easy and quick for a weeknight dinner, and it’s definitely a new family favorite. chicken and broccoli are perfect add ins for the wild rice rice-a-roni mix, and it’s ramped up with white wine, garlic, heavy cream, and cheese. chicken thighs would also be really good in this, and i think would retain a little more of their moisture. instead of the white wine, you could use a white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar (about 2 tablespoons), which i’ve also tried in the past and it turns out delicious. feel free to use any shredded cheese you prefer, but i tried the grated gruyere and swiss from aldi and it’s amazing! this meal is also totally toddler and baby approved, but my kids both love broccoli, it’s definitely their favorite vegetable. you could also add some mushrooms which emmett also loves but hubby isn’t a huge fan so i left them out here. hope your fam enjoys this one pan skillet meal as much as mine does!

ingredients

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1 large head of fresh broccoli, cut into bite sized pieces (or 2 smaller ones)
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2-3/4 cup of shredded cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it)
1/3 cup white wine (or a couple tablespoons white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar)
1/3 cup of heavy cream (or half and half)
1 2/3 cups of chicken broth
1 box rice-a-roni wild rice mix
1 tablespoon of butter
salt & pepper
smoked paprika
onion powder
2 tablespoons of olive oil + 1 tablespoon olive oil, separated

instructions

preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and then start by cutting the chicken breast into bit sized pieces. if you’re using thighs i think you could also just leave them whole and arrange the broccoli and rice around them. cut up the broccoli into bite sized pieces and set aside in a bowl. if you are mincing your own garlic i would also prep this and set aside in a small bowl. but if you’re lazy like me and use pre-minced garlic… you don’t have to worry about this. heat an oven safe skillet to medium-high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and half the chicken pieces. sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper, onion powder, and the smoked paprika. just a pinch of each. brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate and do the same with the next batch. i do it in batches so it doesn’t crowd the pan and to make sure it browns instead of steaming. lower the heat to medium and add the last tablespoon of olive oil and broccoli into the pan for about 3-4 minutes just to get a little color on it, then add the garlic and cook for about another minute. transfer this all onto the plate with the chicken. with the pan on medium-low heat, add in the wine to deglaze and scrape all the brown bits up using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. then stir in the heavy cream until everything is combined, and then the cheese. add the chicken and broccoli back into the cheese mixture and coat everything. you can turn off the heat or leave it on very low while preparing the rice. prepare the ricearoni by adding the rice, the seasoning packet, the tablespoon of butter, and 1 2/3 cup chicken broth to a medium sized pot and bring to a boil. once it has come to a boil, pour the entire thing over the broccoli and chicken mixture in the oven safe pan. use your wooden spoon or spatula to evenly distribute the rice around the pan, and then pop into the oven for 30 minutes. the rice should come out perfectly cooked, but if there were any pieces of rice on top of the chicken and broccoli, and not in the cooking liquid they may be crunchy. if you don’t like crunchy rice, just make sure it is all pushed down in the crevices in the cooking liquid. then enjoy your one pot meal! this would also be good served with a nice, crusty piece of bread 🙂


easy peasy chicken dinner

easy two-pan spanish chicken

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!

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! 🙂

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.

perfect pastries

savory mushroom and leek hand pies

clearly i’m on a mushroom kick… these savory hand pies are great as an app or paired with a salad or veg for a meal. fresh thyme and sage pair so well with the mushrooms and leeks. these would also be great with a little grated fontina or gruyere, but we didn’t have any cheese sitting around and they still turned out amazing. plus, they’re vegetarian! enjoy!

ingredients

8 oz white button mushrooms
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms
2 leeks – white and light green parts only
1 cup white wine – i’ve been loving this prophecy sauv blanc
1 cup vegetable broth – i used better than boullion… so flavorful
1-2 cloves of minced garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh sage
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves stripped off the stem
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 tbsp flour
*1 tsp sugar (if you use a sweeter wine, you may not need to add, but the wine i used was very dry so this helped offset the acidity)
salt & pepper to taste
2 packages frozen puff pastry dough
1 egg + 1 tbsp cold water for egg wash

instructions

start by slicing the leeks thinly, and placing them in a large bowl of cold water to rinse. you’ll want to separate all the layers to make sure there is no sand. remove them from the water and place on a sheet pan or plate with a paper towel to dry. cut all the mushrooms in a small dice, then heat a large skillet or dutch oven to medium heat, add the butter and olive oil and saute the mushrooms until all the liquid has evaporated and they start to brown. remove mushrooms and place in a separate bowl. add additional tablespoon of olive oil and add the leeks to the pan. saute over medium heat until they soften, about 5-6 minutes. add the mushrooms back in, along with the chopped sage, thyme, garlic, and pepper. cook this mixture together for about 2-3 minutes, or until you can smell the garlic. sprinkle the two tablespoons of flour over this mixture and continue to cook until the flour is absorbed, and at this point add the wine and vegetable broth. add your sugar, and salt to taste. bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it has reduced by half, about 8-10 minutes.

let the filling cool completely, and as it cools it will continue to thicken and reduce. while the filling is cooling you can thaw out the puff pastry according to the directions on the package. to bake the pastries, preheat your oven to 400. whisk the egg with one tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. on a floured surface, roll out one sheet of puff pastry and slice the square into four smaller squares. put about 2-3 tablespoons of filling (depending on how big your squares are) onto half the puff pastry square, leaving space on the edge to seal it. use your finger to put a little egg wash around the edge, fold it over to make a triangle and crimp the edges with a fork. brush the egg wash over the top of the pastries, and then use a paring knife to cut a small slit in the top to vent. bake them for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. this recipe will make about 15-16 large hand pies, so definitely halve it if you’re cooking for a smaller crowd.