I was able to find this roast for $.99/lb quite a while ago, and it’s just been hanging out in the freezer waiting for the perfect recipe. This is definitely it. I would’ve never thought of using lemon zest in a rub, but as it turns out, it goes really well, especially with all the spices mentioned here. Definitely going on the keeper list.

Roast Chicken with Plums

Ingredients

Roast Chicken

  • zest of 2 large lemons
  • 2 T ground sumac
  • 4 t sea salt
  • 1 T fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t allspice
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated or minced (I went minced)
  • whole chicken (original recipe recommended 2 4ish lb chickens, I went with one big almost 10 lb one)
  • 1 bunch thyme (or ground, if you’re me and don’t want to get the fresh herbs)
  • 1 T lemon juice (fresh squeezed ideal)

Plums

  • 2.5 lbs plums, halved, quartered if on the larger side
  • (original recipe mentions shallots, I omitted them, didn’t want to make the grocery run)
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T olive oil
  • .5 t cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 bay leaf torn in half
  • 2 T water

Take your lemon zest, and mix in the sumac, salt, pepper, cinnamon, allspice, the minced garlic, and 3 T of the olive oil. The resulting mixture should feel like wet sand. Rub the mixture all over the chicken, including the insides. Take your thyme bunch and rest it inside the cavity (or if you’re me, just sprinkle a bunch of thyme in the cavity). Let the rubbed chicken marinate in the fridge for a minimum of one hour, or up to 24 hours. 

Either way, once you’re ready to roast the chicken, take it out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature, letting it sit for about 30 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450.

While the chicken sits and the oven preheats, take the plums, honey, water, olive oil, cinnamon, allspice, and bay leaf, and toss together in a roasting pan. Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom of the roasting pan. Once the oven is preheated, transfer the chicken to the roasting pan, resting it on top of the plums, and roast for 30 minutes to start.

After 30 minutes, take 1 T of lemon juice and the remaining 1 T olive oil from earlier, mix it together, and drizzle over the chicken. Put the chicken back in the oven, and continue to roast for another 45 minutes, until cooked all the way through. 

Let your chicken rest under a foil blanket for 10 minutes once it’s been removed from the oven, and then enjoy!

This is a neat little recipe. Didn’t really notice that it was billed as “skinny”, but eh. The recipes in the original are a little vague, so I tried to spell things out as much as possible. Nice, hearty recipe, though. 

Chicken Saltimbocca
Makes however many chicken breasts you use

Ingredients

  • boneless skinless chicken breasts (either packaged, or however many you may want to get if you have a good meat counter)
  • sea salt 
  • fresh ground pepper
  • sage leaves (didn’t have any, used a liberal dash of ground sage per breast)
  • slices of prosciutto (get as many as you have chicken breasts)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • .25 c white wine (I used Cupcake Winery’s Angel Food)
  • .5 c chicken stock
  • 4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 T capers
  • .5 T butter

Season your chicken with sea salt and fresh-ground pepper. If you have the sage leaves, take two leaves, and if you don’t, season both sides with ground sage. Wrap the prosciutto slice around the chicken breast, and secure with a toothpick, securing the sage leaves if using just under where the slice ends meet. 

Heat your olive oil in a large skillet over medium high, and sear the wrapped chicken for six to ten minutes a side, until golden brown and the prosciutto is crispy. (Original recipe recommends shorter and lower temp, but that doesn’t get it done all the way through.)  Remove to whatever you will be serving/storing the chicken in.

Deglaze the pan with your white wine, and then add your chicken stock, lemon juice, and capers, bringing to a simmer. Simmer until the sauce is reduced by half (about 6 to 8 mins), and then add in your .5 T of butter, and cook until melted and the sauce has thickened a bit, an additional 2 to 3 mins. If it’s not thickening enough, throw a dash of corn starch in. 

Then, pour the sauce over the chicken, and nom!

So, this right here? I’m not gonna lie, this is a bit more complex than I usually do my dinners. You’re gonna be doing a lot of stuff in order to get it to work. However, the end result is pretty fucking spectacular, so, if you need to impress someone? This is the meal to make.

Made a few alterations – I’m not that big of a fan of nuts, so I took out the walnuts in the brie stuffing. And yours truly picked up boneless skinless chicken breasts for this, because they were what was on sale – and the recipe needed skinned. If this happens to you, no worries! There’s a workaround from the pepperoni stuffed chicken that I make that works here. The end result is still tremendous.

One Pan Apricot-Glazed, Brie Stuffed Chicken with Potatoes
Lasted for a week’s worth of meals with the breasts split in half

Ingredients

Potatoes:

  • 1.5 lbs mix of roasting potatoes, halved (one of the stalls at the local farmer’s market sells a roasting mix of various potatoes, I just used that)
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • dash sea salt
  • pinch pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated (I went minced)
  • zest of 1 lemon

Chicken, Stuffing, and Glaze:

  • 4 boneless, skin-on chicken breasts (accidentally got skinless? there’s a work around)
  • 1 c fresh basil (got it from the plant in my garden, hee)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated (I went minced)
  • 2 T olive oil (may need to increase to better blend depending on your basil)
  • 6 oz brie, cubed and rind removed
  • 2 T cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • dash sea salt
  • pinch pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 3 T apricot preserves (if you can find some at your farmers market, great)
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400 F. In a large glass pan, combine your potatoes, olive oil, sea salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon zest, and toss to coat and combine thoroughly. Roast for ten minutes, or until you’re ready to add the chicken to the pan. 

To make the stuffing, combine the basil, olive oil, egg, brie, garlic, and cream cheese in a blender, and blend until combined into a thick cheesy mixture. If you need to add more olive oil to make it blend better, do so!

If you have skin-on chicken breasts, pull up the skin and stuff 1-2 T of cheese mixture underneath. If you’re like me and got skinless breasts, all is not lost. What you do is take your knife, slice the breast in half diagonally, so you have two diamondish looking shapes, and then cut a pocket in the middle of the breast, but not all the way through, so you can stuff the chicken with the mixture (see pics three and four for what this looks like).

At this point, take the pan out of the oven and slide the potatoes around so that you can nestle the breasts in them in the pan (see pic 6). Sprinkle your sea salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper over the chicken breasts. Mix together your apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar and an additional T of olive oil, and then brush the resulting glaze over the chicken breasts (see pic 7). Put the pan back in the oven and roast for another 30 to 40 mins, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are golden (I went 35, and the final picture resulted).

(If the potatoes are cooking faster than the chicken, feel free to remove them early.) And then? Impress the fuck out of someone with this really delicious one pan meal. 

As we start to edge into summer here, my tastes start running a bit Mediterranean. Lately, I’ve been really into lemons and olives, and this recipe came up on a friend’s page. There was a really great sale on chicken thighs not too long after that, and so this happened. 🙂 

Cast iron skillets continue to be pretty awesome, especially since you can start something on the stovetop and then just pop it into the oven, like so. 

Braised Chicken Thighs with Garlic, Lemon, and Greek Olives
Lasts between 4-6 lunches, depending on how many thighs you have per serving

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lemon, sliced thin and seeds discarded
  • 2 T fresh oregano, plus more for garnish
  • 1 c mixed Greek olives
  • Juice of one lemon (if you can find it fresh squeezed, about .25 c)

Bring your chicken to room temperature about twenty minutes before you start cooking it, to remove the chill, and season on both sides with sea salt and pepper. Preheat your oven to 350 while you do this.

In a cast iron skillet, heat your olive oil over medium high heat.  Once heated, add the chicken skin side down, and sear for five to six minutes, until your chicken turns golden brown. Quickly flip the thighs, and add the cloves of garlic nestling them between the thighs. (Wow that sounded dirty.)  Cook two to three more minutes, until the garlic turns golden brown and gets fragrant. Set the chicken and garlic aside on another plate to rest. 

Immediately add your onions, lemon, and oregano, and season with a bit of sea salt and pepper. Cook for six to eight minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions start to wilt, and any brown bits from the chicken cooking start to come off the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat, and nestle the cooked thighs skin side up in the onion mixture. Pour the olives and garlic cloves over the chicken, followed by the lemon juice. Put the pan into the preheated oven, cooking between forty to fifty minutes (the final picture is after 45 minutes). 

Take your pan out of the oven, and then sprinkle some additional fresh oregano over the chicken for garnish, and enjoy!

This uses up the last of the diced pumpkin I had on hand, and let me tell you, it is a pretty spectacular dish. The original recipe has a LOT of additional bits and baubles, and some more obscure ingredients, so the version I cooked has some significant changes. If I ever find some of those ingredients, I’ll probably try again, but for now, the version I have is pretty damn good.

The one more obscure ingredient I will recommend getting is harissa – a local farmer’s market stand that specializes in peppers and spicy stuff had their own homemade version, so that was pretty easy to find for me. In case you don’t have something equivalent where you are, Smitten Kitchen has a harissa recipe that I will probably try out at some point; otherwise, try a Whole Foods or an online spice store. 

Pumpkin Chicken Tagine

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces (mine was probably closer to 2 lbs, I used chicken I had in the freezer, 2 large breasts)
  • 1 onion, diced (I used half of a large onion)
  • 1 T fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated 
  • .5 t ground tumeric
  • .5 t ground cinnamon
  • .5 t ground ginger
  • .5 t ground cloves
  • .5 t cayenne pepper
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 4 c pumpkin (about 2 lbs), diced
  • 2 c apples (about 3-4 apples, 1 lb), cored, peeled, and diced
  • 1 T harissa
  • 1 T honey
  • sea salt and pepper
  • (also recommended for the main recipe is .25 c dried cranberries, saffron threads and preserved lemon, I substituted a few squeezes of lemon juice for the lemon and forewent the cranberries and saffron EDIT: will probably add the cranberries back in next time I try this)
  • (additional optional items for garnish: .25 c toasted sliced almonds, 2 T chopped cilantro, .25 c yogurt, .25 c pomegranate seeds)

Heat your oil in a large pot over medium high heat.  Add the diced chicken, and brown lightly on all sides, and then remove and set aside. Add the diced onion and saute for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the tumeric, cinnamon, ground cloves and ginger, garlic, fresh ginger, and cayenne pepper, and saute until fragrant, about a minute. 

Add in all of your other ingredients (the pumpkin, apples, chicken, honey, harissa, salt and pepper, and chicken stock), give it a thorough stir so it all combines, and let it come to a boil, before reducing to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer for about twenty minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. 

And then, enjoy your fantastic spicy fall stew, ideally with some couscous on the side!

This is another one of the first dishes I learned to make living on my own, and it’s always been a staple for when I’m looking for something relatively simple, cheap, and spicy.  Realistically, the most expensive part of this will be the chicken, but if you can find chicken for relatively cheap and freeze it until you need it, I highly recommend going that route.  I will give you the given amount of spices for this recipe, but know that the version I cook now is a lot more approximate in its amounts, but the proportions are relatively the same.  🙂 

Butter Chicken
Lasts 5 to 6 lunches as a main

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, chopped into small (1 inchish) cubes)
  • 8 oz greek yogurt (you will realistically not find an 8 oz container, get 2 5.5 oz containers, and if you can’t find plain yogurt, look for honey or vanilla)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t curry powder
  • 1 t coriander
  • 2 t cumin
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 2 t cinnamon
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 T honey
  • appx 2 t cardamom (original recipe recommends 4 cardamom pods, I’ve only ever had the ground stuff on hand)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 c heavy whipping cream

Combine your yogurt, garlic and spices that start with c (except for cardamom) so that you have a uniform spiced yogurt, and then stir in your chopped chicken until it’s coated.  Put in a container and let sit in the fridge as little as 30 minutes (up to overnight; I will typically go overnight, for maximum flavor). 

In a pot, melt your butter over medium heat, and as soon as it’s melted, add your honey, cardamom, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes, stirring until combined and bringing to a light boil before simmering for 20 mins, until thickened and dark red (see pic 3).  Then, stir in your whipping cream and yogurt marinated chicken, until combined into an orangeish sort of sauce  (see pic 4). Continue to simmer for another 20 minutes, until your chicken is cooked all the way through, and then season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy with some naan, or, if you’re like me, after assembling a night stand with a friend and while watching Hannibal!

After a week of it being what I can only refer to as negative fuckass degrees, it’s finally above zero, and accordingly, warm enough for me to be able to attempt to venture from my bedroom to the kitchen to cook again!  And this is a fantastic way to warm up, and a cheap, hearty meal.  

If you buy the components at this at the right time, this can be a very cheap meal – the chicken was bought from the meat counter of one of the grocery stores on sale and put in the freezer until it was needed, and the pillow packs of pepperoni went on sale for significantly cheaper this week.  Go for fresh mozzarella on this, it’s absolutely worth it.  

Also, this can be a little on the messy side, especially if you don’t have the kitchen space (like I don’t).  I’ll be giving you tips in the recipe to make this a little bit less so.  The recipe is a bit approximate, and is pretty much up to your best judgement in most cases.

Pepperoni Stuffed Chicken
Makes 2x however many chicken breasts you have

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts (try to go for thick ones if you can; I got mine from a meat counter)
  • 1 pre-sliced ball of mozzarella (6 to 8 oz)
  • 1 package pepperoni
  • 2 large eggs
  • flour
  • panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • vegetable oil

Take your chicken breasts and clean them (I just had them in a ziplock bag from thawing, so I filled the bag with cold water to clean it). Cut them in half diagonally, so you have two diamondish shapes (see pic 1).  Then, cut a pocket into your chicken, right in the middle of the breast, but not all the way through.  Pic 2 is the best illustration I could get of what your pocket should look like when you’re done cutting it; not all the way through the meat (at least a few cm left on the meat on all three sides), but deep enough to keep the fillings in.

Then, set up a station similar to that for tonkatsuone bowl of flour, one bowl of beaten egg, and one of panko.  Have your pepperoni and mozzarella slices on hand nearby.  Coat the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the egg, and then dunk it in the panko.  Once the chicken has been coated in the panko, open the pocket and stuff a slice of the mozzarella and a few slices of the pepperoni in the center (see pic 3 for an example). 

While you coat your first few chicken breasts, take a frying pan and coat it in vegetable oil, bringing the heat to medium high.  Add the breasts to the heated oil, and fry on each side until the crumbs are golden brown on each side, usually three to five minutes each side (see pic 4 for a good example of the breasts in progress). 

Once your breasts are golden brown, they need to go into a pan, as you’ll be baking them. If you’re like me, you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen, especially as you’re using the dunking stations.  What I did to save space was to put the pan I was gonna bake the chicken in in the oven, and just transfer the chicken breasts, once golden brown, into the pan (see pic 6.  The oven was then heated to 350 (325 because mine runs hot) once the last two pieces were in the pan, and by the time the last pieces were finished and in the pan, the oven was ready to go.

Once your stuffed chicken breasts are in the oven, bake them for 25 minutes to finish cooking them all the way through.

And then, enjoy the cheesy pepperoni stuffed breasts!  (Hehe. Breasts.)