Category: Vegetables & Sides

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetables is one of my favorite comfort foods. Comfort food by definition is, ” food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic or sentimental appeal.” For most, that means lots of carbs and lots of sugar. For me, comfort food really does fit the Merriam Webster definition, that is, a traditional dish that brings back childhood memories. So what is it about One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake that makes me nostalgic? I have so many childhood memories of being at my Tayta’s around dinner time. She’d whip up her chicken and vegetable bake. She always had a way of making even the hardest dish seem easy to pull together. It must be all her years of cooking for 8 children. Yes, eight. The apartment always smelled amazing. It was wafting with aromas from a mix of garlic, onion and Arabic spices that made me practically drool as I waited not-so-patiently in the family room watching TV.

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

My mom learned to cook Arabic dishes from my Tayta. And I’m so happy she did. I grew up eating vegetables, stews, beef, chicken and lamb. You name it, I grew up eating it. I’m pretty sure my baby food consisted of full Arabic meals smoothed out in the blender and served in plastic Barbie bowls. And for that I’m thankful. There is no other comfort to me than cooking with Arabic spices, lots of garlic, lots of onions and lots of olive oil. I know I’ve done something right when my dishes look and smell like my mom and Tayta’s dishes.

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

A note on “thirds of an oven.” You may have read in some of my recipes, or in other recipes a reference to cooking something in the top or bottom third of an oven. If you’ve baked sweets, you’ve definitely read baking in the middle rack. So here’s the deal with thirds of the oven. Different recipes require direct, medium or indirect heat. Most sweets are safe in the middle rack, where you’re ensured that the bottom won’t burn. While, other recipes, such as roasted vegetables, may require more direct heat to get that roasted and charred flavor.

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

Open up you oven and take a look. Visually divide your oven into thirds. You’ll see there is a Top third, Middle, and Bottom Third. Keep that in mind when reading recipes. For the One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake, I mention baking in the bottom third of the oven. When I refer to the bottom third, it means place your rack in the lower half of your oven, closer to the heat.

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

 

One Pan Middle Eastern Roasted Chicken and Vegetable Bake

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 4 Chicken Thighs, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons Seven Spice (found at your local Arabic store)
  • 2 tablespoons Sumac
  • Salt, to taste (I used about 1 tablespoon)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, cut into wedges
  • 1 cup Carrots, chopped
  • 3 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Stock

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Prepare the chicken and vegetables
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the seven spice, salt, sumac and garlic
  4. Using your hands, rub the chicken generously, back and front and all over, with the spice mixture, then set aside
  5. Next, toss the potatoes in the spice mixture and set aside
  6. Heat a large cast-iron skillet (or oven safe skillet) over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chicken skin-side down in an even layer, and the potatoes
  8. Cook the chicken for 2-3 minutes, until the skin is crispy, then remove and set aside
  9. Cook the potatoes until crispy on the outside, about 2-3 minutes on each side
  10. While the chicken and potatoes are being sautéed, toss together the carrots and onions with the spice mixture.
  11. Remove the potatoes from the pan and add the carrots and onions, cooking for about 5 mins (or until slightly charred)
  12. Turn the heat off
  13. Using tongs or a spatula, arrange the vegetables in your large oven-safe skillet (or in an oven-safe baking dish), then nestle in the chicken, skin-side up.
  14. Pour in 1/4 cup chicken stock
  15. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the bottom third of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the carrots are tender and can be poked easy with a fork
  16. Serve warm

Notes

Your oven is divided into thirds. Visually imagine the thirds as: Top third, Middle and Bottom third. When I refer to the bottom third, it means place your rack in the lower half of your oven, closer to the heat.

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Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

I love planning things. I almost think that in another life, I should have become an event planner. The only downside is that I don’t like to deal with rude people, and you never know what kind of clients you’ll get. I’m obsessed with planning anything and everything from my outfits, to dinner parties, to weekend trips, to big vacations and beyond. I’m a little biased, but I think I have some pretty good ideas.

 So here I am, planning a girls dinner for February. Date is still TBD. I’m not too worried about locking down a date as much as I am worried about planning my menu! Anyone who’s hosted a dinner party knows you have to ask your guests ahead of time (especially if it’s a small group) for any dietary restrictions. You have got to take into account people’s allergies, and other things such as … vegetarians. Admittedly one of my guests is a vegetarian and also allergic to sesame, so that makes menu planning a little bit difficult. So, I’ve come up with a preliminary menu. After some recipe testing, I’ll have a better handle on the full menu and I’ll be able to share it with links to my recipes, and other recipes I may try out. I decided to go with a Mediterranean theme. It’s healthy, full of fish, meats and veggies and it’s just so colorful.  

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

 Time to recipe test one of the sides I’m thinking of including. I love potatoes in all forms, but I especially love fried and roasted potatoes. Here I opted for roasted, it’s a lot healthier than the fried alternative. The key here is to roast the whole potatoes until they’re crispy on the outside. The marinade can also be heated separately in a saucepan and poured over the potatoes once they’re done roasting.

Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1lb Small Round Potatoes
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Juice from 2 Lemons
  • 1 cup Vegetable Broth
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 cup Parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsps Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp rosemary

Instructions

  1. Mince the parsley, rosemary and garlic in the food processor.
  2. Add parmesan cheese, paprika, and salt
  3. Add lemon juice and vegetable broth
  4. Place potatoes in a gallon-sized ziplock bag, pour in the marinade and toss until fully coated
  5. Marinate for 1 hour in the fridge
  6. Preheat oven to 400F
  7. Take the potatoes out of the marinade and set the marinade aside
  8. Place the potatoes in a single layer on an aluminum lined rimmed baking sheet
  9. Roast for 1 hour until golden and slightly browned
  10. Meanwhile, pour the marinade in a small saucepan over medium-high heat
  11. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes
  12. Pour the heated sauce over the potatoes once you've taken them out of the oven
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Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

 

I’m trying really hard to stay healthy (read as: cut carbs) but it’s just so hard. I love carbs. I especially love bread and pasta and rice and all those delicious things that add inches to my thighs when I eat too much. We’re on week 2 of 2017 and I’m doing pretty well so far. I’ve been going to the gym, taking a healthy breakfast to work — and actually eating it, I’ve been packing my lunches, filling up on veggies, fruit and protein. Yes, I’ve been having some cheat meals. But come on, I need to live a little!

I don’t have anything against veggies, I just prefer to have the carbalicious version. In the warmer months, I was all about the zoodles, zucchini cut into a noodle-like texture. If you loved zoodles, you’re going to really like spaghetti squash. Yea, it’s another vegetable, but it’s naturally stringy and makes for … you guessed it … the perfect spaghetti noodle substitute. While you can go with the classic tomato sauce and meatballs, I invite you to try some different variations. Most recently, I experimented with Pesto Spaghetti Squash. If you love pesto, this is recipe for you. The most time consuming part of the Pesto Spaghetti Squash recipe is roasting the spaghetti squash, 50 minutes to be exact. Other than that, it’s smooth sailing and so healthy. As matter of fact, if you don’t take any part of this recipe except how to roast spaghetti squash, I have no issue with that!

Feel free to use pre-packaged basil pesto, or if you have some extra time, whip up my parsley pesto. My parents wanted grilled chicken in their squash, while I opted for meatless. It’s delicious either way. If you feel you need some added protein, grill some chicken or sauté some shrimp and Ta-Da! 

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Pesto Spaghetti Squash

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1-2 tablespoons Olive Oil, for brushing
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup Pesto (use my Parsley Pesto Recipe LINK or use pre-packaged)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Cut spaghetti squash in half, the long way (it's easier to cut if you've microwaved the squash, whole, for 1 minute)
  3. Remove the seeds, and the squishy insides. Don't worry, the "spaghetti" comes from the flesh
  4. Place face-up on parchments paper lined baking sheet
  5. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
  6. Bake for 50 minutes on a middle rack
  7. Meanwhile, if you're making pesto, this is the time to do it
  8. Remove squash from the oven
  9. Using a fork carefully pull at the flesh until it becomes shredded -- resembling spaghetti noodles and place in a medium bowl. Save the squash shells.
  10. In a medium bowl, mix the shredded squash and pesto until combined
  11. Scoop the pesto squash back into the shells and serve
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Bacon and Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

Bacon and Puff Pastry Wrapped Asapargus

Over the weekend, we celebrated Mother’s Day. The boys and I usually take mom out for a bottomless brunch at a fancy restaurant, but this year we decided to change it up a bit… a simple brunch at home. The weather was gorgeous on Sunday, so we were able to eat outside on my parents’ deck. Obsessed with party planning, I picked our theme and started working on decoration ideas and drafting a menu almost a month in advance. Needless to say, I consulted Pinterest. Although I did all the cooking and craft making, the boys really came through for me, helping me prepare, decorate and pick up last minute things. It was absolutely gorgeous — a Pinterest-worthy party, if I should say so myself.

Mother’s Day isn’t complete without the woman who is the core of our family, my Tayta. She is the glue that holds us all together and I can’t imagine a world without her.

My mother is my idol. I admire her for so many things. Most of all, her patience, unselfish nature, support and intellect. She’s one tough cookie and I really hope that one day I could be a fraction of the mother, wife, sister and friend she is.

Bacon and Puff Pastry Wrapped Asapargus

Bacon and Puff Pastry Wrapped Asparagus

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Turkey bacon
  • 1 1/2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1 Egg
  • Water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Wash and cut off the bottom ends of the asparagus
  3. Cut each slice of turkey bacon into three long strips
  4. Cut the puff pastry into 1/4 inch strips
  5. Wrap one strip of turkey bacon around one stalk of asparagus
  6. Then wrap one strip of puff pastry around the asparagus stalk in the opposite direction
  7. Place on a baking sheet
  8. Repeat with the rest of the asparagus stalks
  9. Once all the asparagus are on a baking sheet, whisk the egg with a little bit of water and brush over the asparagus
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes
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Grilled Garlic Hassleback Potatoes

Grilled Garlic HassleBack Potatoes

There are a few times a year when it seems almost obligatory to BBQ – either BBQ yourself or attend one. And those times are Memorial Day weekend, July 4, and Labor Day weekend. That’s not to say you can’t BBQ all summer long, if you so desire. But it’s around those holidays that you see the grocery stores pull all their grilling items to the front of the store so you can’t miss the charcoal, the sodas and the chips and dip.

Everyone grills differently. Usually, my family focuses on the sides and salads, and sticks with grilling steaks. But we’ve also done the All-American burgers and hot dogs with chips and dips. Mom and I decided why not start up the grill and make a simpler version with burgers, salad, chips and dip and potatoes.

We’ve been thinking about my Aunt Lauri a lot lately, she was the most amazing person, who could literally whip anything up out of nothing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to spend a ton of time with her – with her living in Michigan and me in Northern Virginia, and the added element that I was still really young – but from what my mom tells me, I seem to have inherited some of her qualities. She was sweet, but sassy and blunt, she loved to cook, and for some reason she smelled everything. Hmmm … that all sounds really familiar.

My Aunt Lauri made grilled hassleback potatoes that I tried to recreate for the BBQ, with mom’s help trying to remember how she made them, of course.

 

Grilled Garlic Hassleback Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 4 small Russet Potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons I can’t Believe it’s not Butter (or Salted Butter), melted
  • 1 tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Aluminum Foil

Instructions

  1. Wash and dry the potatoes thoroughly
  2. Slice the potatoes like chips, without cutting all the way through
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the butter, garlic powder and salt
  4. Brush each of the potatoes with the butter mixture. Be sure to pull the potato slices apart slightly, so the mixture can get inside.
  5. Wrap loosely with aluminum foil and place on the grill
  6. Grill until the potatoes are tender (20 minutes)
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Garlic Almond Green Beans

Garlic Almond Green Beans

 

Because I’m always on a diet (or so it seems), I’m constantly trying to find ways to make veggie sides more interesting. Sure, I could steam broccoli and asparagus, and sauté spinach until is comes out of my ears. But in reality, how appealing do steamed veggies sound? That’s what I thought. I’ve recently starting grilling veggies. Yes, it’s winter and it’s too cold to be outside using a grill. That’s where my stovetop grill comes in handy. I’m telling you, I’ve becoming a grilling fanatic, minus the smell of food that lingers in the house long after we’ve devoured dinner.

In my latest experiment, I’ve taken your boring side of green beans and upped them to more than just watered down beans.

Garlic Almond Green Beans

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Almonds, blanched and cut into halves
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat
  2. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant
  3. Add sliced almonds and sauté for 2 minutes
  4. Add green beans and sauté until cooked through
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