Basic Recipes You Can Adjust To Your Own Taste

After taking a much needed break, the blog is back! I’ve been busy cooking, cleaning out closets and celebrating. I turned 40 and then had a restful Mother’s Day. I have so many great recipes and gluten-free finds to share from the past couple of weeks! Stay tuned!

I am continually thinking about how to put into words the kinds of recipes I like to make and then I had an epiphany while driving by myself in the car the other day. I turned on NPR (WGBH Boston, 89.7) and heard Christopher Kimball’s voice. It was Milk Street Kitchen Radio with Christopher Kimball (formerly of America’s Test Kitchen) and Sara Moulton (who has a show on PBS now but I used to religiously watch her cooking show on the Food Network, over 15 years ago). They took an interesting caller, asking about how to get his fiance to eat more of a variety of foods. He wanted to know any good cookbooks for kids, as he compared her palate to that of a child.

Mr. Kimball’s answer is exactly what mine would be, although much more eloquently said. He said that instead of trying to cook down to her taste level, to make what he calls “bridge recipes.” The light bulb went off in my head. That is exactly what I do! His example included finding a basic recipe for fried chicken and then change up the flavors, because most countries have their version of fried chicken (Japanese tempura, etc).

Here are some of my “bridge recipes” and some variations you can make to help expand your family’s palate or just change up your weekly menu.

My basic meatball recipe can be changed up by making Italian Stuffed MeatballsVietnamese flavored meatballsTex Mex flavored meatballs, Greek MeatballsSwedish Meatballs or even Meatloaf meatballs! Meatballs are a familiar shape for kids or even picky adults 🙂 By changing up the flavors you can expose them to new tastes.

There are a million ways to make roasted chicken. It is also something many people like and are familiar with, so it is another great vessel to make “bridge” recipes from. So instead of Herb Roasted Chicken try my  One pan Roasted Chicken with tomatoes and feta, Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs or Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken.

Another great way to create “bridge” recipes is to change up the sauces you use. Try these sauces to change up your grilled chicken, steak, fish or even veggies: Barbecue Sauce, Balsamic Honey Mustard Sauce or Tomatillo salsa (this post also has a basic quesadilla recipe which you can make many variations of! A great “bridge”recipe!).

Thank you Christopher Kimball for helping me articulate my style of cooking.  I make basic recipes and create “bridge” recipes from them by using different sauces or spices from a different culture. What is your favorite “bridge” recipe?  Check out Milk Street Radio to find out when it is on in your area or download the podcast! They are great!

One pot meals

My husband is always happy when I make a one pot meal. He is the one who does the dishes 🙂 A one pot meal can be anything from soup to chili to pot roast to pasta. Fewer dishes means less time in the kitchen and more time for the many other tasks you have to accomplish or maybe (gasp!) even give you 5 minutes to take some time for yourself.

One of the favorite one pot meals in my house is my Hot and Sour Soup.

It only takes about 20 minutes to prepare and is the recipe I chose to display when asked to be one of the featured blogs on Wayfair.com’s Stock, Soup and Multi-Pots page. Check it out!

If you don’t like hot and sour soup, try my French Onion, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato Coconut Curry, Potato Leek or Carrot Ginger soup. One pot can also make amazing chicken stock or healing chicken noodle soup

Another flavorful meal you can create in a snap, is my One Pan Roasted Chicken.

Serve it with some zoodles and you have a tasty spring-like meal!

Chili is a one pot meal that can either be made in your slow cooker or in one pot on the stove. My Crowd Pleasing Quinoa Pumpkin Chili can easily be made, simmering on the stove in 2 to 3 hours.

Quinoa risotto is a decadent and healthy one pot meal for dinner one night on its own or you can serve it with some leftover chicken or steak.

One pot meals are versatile and easy. Try one of my recipes above! Let me know how it turns out. Let me know if there are other recipes you want to see.

Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken

The best meals are delicious and easy to put together when you need to get dinner on the table fast. Sometimes that means doing some prep the day before or morning of. This is one of those great meals. It takes a little time to make the marinade, but that is the most effort you will need to exert.

Marinated Roasted Teriyaki Chicken

Ingredients

2 to 3 pounds of chicken thighs

½ cup of vegetable oil

½ teaspoon sesame oil

½ cup of soy sauce

½ cup of rice vinegar

½ cup of honey

3 Tablespoons of brown sugar

1 Tablespoon of minced ginger

1 Tablespoon of onion powder

1 clove of garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

1 ½ cups of water

¾ cup Wegman’s Organic Teriyaki sauce (gluten and lactose free), plus more reserved for after cooking.

sesame seeds, optional

Directions

Mix together vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, brown sugar, ginger, onion powder, garlic, lime and water. Marinate chicken in mixture for 4 hours to overnight. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Discard marinade, rinse chicken and then pat dry. Spray roasting pan with non-stick spray. Pour 3/4 of a cup of teriyaki sauce into a shallow bowl. Coat each piece of chicken with sauce and plan in pan. Cover pan with foil and cook for 20 minutes. Uncover, turn heat up to 400 degrees and cook for another 25 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to ensure each piece of chicken is cooked through. If you want crispy skin on the chicken, place under broiler for 2 minutes.

Serve with rice and broccoli.

You never have enough chicken recipes in your repertoire!

Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Chicken again? Definitely! I have been making a version of this roasted chicken recipe for years. It is SO EASY. It only has 6 ingredients, including salt, pepper and olive oil! I make it to entertain with or just on a weeknight for my family.  This feeds my family of 5 with enough for leftovers! Bonus, if you keep scrolling, I have a great recipe to transform the leftovers.

Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs

Ingredients

About 3 pounds of chicken thighs (brined if you like)

¼ cup of lemon juice

3 Tablespoons of honey

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Dry off the chicken thighs. Whisk together lemon juice, honey and olive oil in a medium sized bowl. Coat chicken with mixture and place in a roasting pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes, rotate pan and then cook for 30 more minutes uncovered. (Reserve juices in roasting pan for leftover recipe below)

To keep it simple, I recently served this with a new favorite product from Wegman’s, 90 Second Steamables, Savory Long Grain and Wild Rice, which one of my 6 year olds made by himself (2 bags for our family) and microwave in a bag green beans, which the other 6 year old made. The clean plate club was full that night!

This also made an incredible leftover dish based on an old favorite from Bertucci’s, Chicken Broccoli and Rigatoni in Cream sauce. I used the juices from the roast chicken above with a dash of pepper and some milk for the sauce. Heat the juices and keep adding a little milk at a time, until it tastes the way you want it. Cut up the remaining chicken and a head of broccoli. Toss everything together with your favorite pasta and it is a delicious meal!

What ways to do you like to cook chicken? How do you use your leftovers? We learn from each other, so comment and let me know!

Here are some of my other favorite chicken recipes:

Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Chicken

One Pot Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce

Apricot Glazed Chicken Wings

Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Chicken

Roast chicken is a great, easy comfort food for these cold winter nights after shoveling, playing in the snow or running around all day. I decided change it up a little and try spatchcocked chicken. This was my 2nd attempt. The first attempt was not so successful. I cooked it on a bed of roasted veggies and after 70 minutes on 375, the inside was still raw! I ended up have to throw out the veggies and just saute the chicken. Second attempt I roasted flat on the roasting pan and upped the temperature to 400. Spatchcocking definitely doesn’t save time, but it did cook evenly.

Herb Roasted Spatchcocked Chicken

Ingredients

1 – 8 to 12 pound chicken, spatchcocked (here is a tutorial from Martha Stewart)

4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon of salt (leave out the salt if you brined the chicken)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in the bottom of your roasting pan. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and place chicken, breast side up on the roasting pan. Rub remaining olive oil on the chicken. If you still have the packet of chicken livers/heart and neck, take them out of the paper and place next to the chicken (trust me, even if you don’t like eating those parts, they make the gravy SOOOO good!). Spread the herbs, pepper and salt (if using) all over the chicken. Roast for 75 to 85 minutes, turning the pan once about 30 minutes in. Check with a meat thermometer to ensure it is cooked through (165 to 170 degrees and juices run clear). Place on serving platter and cover with foil while you make the gravy.

Pan Gravy

Ingredients

Pan drippings from roasted chicken

3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 ½ cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

1 Tablespoon of spicy brown mustard

1 Tablespoon of corn starch

2 Tablespoons of butter

Directions

Place the roasting pan over two burners on medium-low. Add the vinegar, chicken stock, syrup and mustard to the pan drippings and whisk together.  Keep liver, heart and neck in the pan, while mixing these flavors together. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the liver, heart and neck and whisk in the corn starch and let it cook for 5 more minutes. Then add the butter. Pour through strainer before serving if you have lumps.

This is great with gnocchi mashed potatoes, or polenta. These green beans or peas would round out the meal!

I really enjoy sharing with you what I cook for my family. It is something that brings me a lot of joy. It makes me even happier to know that others are reading and enjoying the blog. Thanks to Mamapedia for profiling me this week!! Please let me know know if you want to see anything or have a family recipe that needs to be made gluten free.

Apricot Glazed Wings

I made these wings for dinner last week (waffles and wings, a spin on chicken and waffles) and I could not wait to share it! I let my kids lick their fingers and I may even have too 😉 Many of you are watching football or basketball games over the next couple of weeks. I like to watch. I don’t really understand football and much to my husband’s dismay, I don’t really want to try to understand it. I’m happy to create yummy treats for those who enjoy watching it. Try these for your next game day party! You will not have leftovers! Just remember, lots and lots of napkins 🙂

Apricot Glazed Wings

Ingredients

About 2 pounds of chicken wings

3 Tablespoons of apricot preserves

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, minced

1 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients, except the wings, together in a large bowl. Microwave for 10 seconds. Whisk the sauce together and pour about ½ of it into another large bowl. Toss wings with ½ of the mixture and place on a cooling rack that is over a baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes. Toss with the remaining sauce (that was kept in a separate bowl) and serve!

If you like buffalo wings follow the same recipe but melt a little butter into your favorite wing sauce (I discovered Wegman’s Buffalo Hot Sauce this week and it is delicious and gluten free!). Separate the sauce into 2 bowls. Toss the wings in one bowl and place on rack over baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes. Toss with remaining sauce and serve with some ranch dressing or blue cheese (just check that it is gluten-free!)

Put these out on a platter alongside a bowl of Doritos, pot of chili, fruit plate and a veggie platter or some meatballs. Later in the in the week, I’ll have my barbecue ribs recipe for you too! What is your favorite game day snack?

One Pan Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce

You can never have enough chicken recipes. Chicken is so versatile and often a crowd pleaser. This one pan roast chicken, okay 2 pans, if you count the other one to boil pasta 😉 is easy, delicious and made up of ingredients you probably already have on hand.

Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce

chicken-with-peas

 

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

4 chicken thighs

Salt and pepper  (unless chicken was brined, then leave this out)

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

½ teaspoon oregano

1-24 ounce can of crushed  tomatoes

1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

¾ cup of frozen peas

4 ounces of feta

Directions

In a heavy bottomed large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. If you did not brine the chicken thighs, salt and pepper them. Remove chicken and add onions, garlic and oregano to the skillet and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and the vinegar. Stir. Place the chicken back into the skillet and place into the oven for 12 minutes, covered.  Uncover and cook for another 25 minutes. Add peas and cook for another 10-12 minutes.  Serve over your favorite pasta or zoodles and crumble feta on top.

roast-chicken-with-tomato-sauce

This fed our family of 5 for dinner plus enough was left over for 3 lunches with the pasta. You can easily double this recipe to feed more or freeze for a quick meal another time.

TIP: If you are going to brine the chicken, here is my brine recipe, but you probably only need to make 1/4 of it since this recipe is for a turkey 🙂

During the holidays you need easy, one pot meals that are good enough to feed guests. Try this or one of these easy recipes:

3 Easy 10 Minute Meals

Super Easy Pasta Night

Stay tuned for the first holiday cookie recipe tomorrow!

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken noodle soup. It is one of those soups that can make everything better. Grandmother’s swear that it will heal any cold. My kids definitely buy into that  🙂 Whenever they are sick, and I never know when that is going to happen, they ask for my chicken noodle soup. They don’t know the joy of Cup o’Soup or Top Ramen because our house has to be gluten free. I haven’t really found an already made gluten-free brand that works, so I make this recipe at home and freeze it. Then when someone is sick, I can just pull it out of the freezer and instant comfort.

You can easily make this soup with store bought chicken stock, so go right ahead. I do it all the time. Especially when one kid after the other is sick and then I’m sick and my freezer supply has been depleted.

Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken-noodle-soup

Ingredients

6 ounces (1/2 box) of small pasta (I like the gluten-free Schar Bonta d’Italia anellini), cooked

5 cups of stock

¾ cups diced carrots

1 ½ cups cooked diced chicken

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

chicken-noodle-soup-ingredients

Directions

Heat through and serve or freeze (equals about 8 cups of soup).

In my fantasy world, I would always have homemade chicken stock in the freezer, but that is not reality.  That said, it is so deep in flavor! You have to try it at least once!

Homemade Chicken Stock

chicken-soup-prep

Ingredients

3 to 3 ½ pounds of drumsticks and/or chicken thighs

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

2 stems of fresh rosemary

1 cup of chopped celery

1 cup of chopped carrot

2 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 large onion chopped

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

2 Tablespoons of peppercorns

12 cups of water

chicken-stock-cooking

Directions

Pat chicken dry and rub the salt, pepper and thyme all over each piece. Chop the vegetables and garlic. Pour olive oil into a large soup pot. Brown chicken on all sides and remove from pot. Add chopped vegetables, garlic, rosemary stems and peppercorns into the pot and cook while stirring for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour 6 cups of the water into the pot and use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom until you get all the cooked bits off. Return the chicken to the pot and pour the rest of the water in. Stir. Let simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours until meat starts to fall off the bone. Remove chicken and set aside. Pour the  rest through a strainer lined with cheese cloth. Set aside of the carrots and celery to add to the chicken noodle soup if you are making some. Allow everything to cool. Either freeze or use stock for the soup. Shred the chicken and either freeze or use for soup or mix with bbq sauce for bbq chicken sandwiches.

You will not regret making this. Your family will love it and your house will smell amazing!

For the next month, every Friday I’ll be posting a new soup recipe for you and your family to enjoy! Everyday you will see something different holiday treats, meals for a crowd and easy dinners that no one will even know it is gluten free! Enter your email on the side in the subscribe box so that you won’t miss one! Happy Friday 🙂

 

Crowd Pleasing Chili

If you are having a crowd over for a big game or just hanging out with friends and family around the holidays and need a big satisfying meal, chili is always a great option. It is a blank canvas and does not require a lot of hands on work. It is also very easy to make gluten free, vegetarian or allergy friendly, which is great when you have a large crowd and don’t know what everyone’s food allergies or preferences are. I don’t think I have ever really made chili the same way twice, but I made this one recently to fuel up some friends before we enjoyed a long walk.

Quinoa Pumpkin Chili for a Crowd

Ingredients

1 to 2 pounds of your favorite beans or mixture of beans

½ of a large onion, diced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1-24 ounce can crushed tomatoes

About ½ a 15 ounce can of pumpkin

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 Tablespoons of chili powder

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

3 Tablespoons of cider vinegar

¾ cup of chicken stock (or vegetable or beef stock)

1 ½ Tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup of quinoa

Optional, add 1 to 2 cups of leftover roasted vegetables and/or turkey, chicken or beef

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into your slow cooker and stir. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or low 6-8 hours. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Serve with sour cream and sliced green onions.

This is yet another way to disguise Thanksgiving leftovers. To stretch the meal even further, you can serve it over mac-n-cheese, as I did for lunch the day after I made it.

quinoa-chili-for-a-crowd

When you are entertaining for the holidays, having easy meals that can stretch to feed a crowd are very useful. This is a healthy meal and a hearty meal that will give you the fuel to warm you up after hiking, skiing or keep you going during overtime of your favorite team’s game.

What are your favorite crowd pleasing meals? Stay tuned for an extra post this week with some gluten free holiday entertaining ideas and a recipe!

Here are some past crowd pleasing or tailgating recipes and ideas for using leftovers (Always the same disclaimer that they are from before our family started eating gluten free so make adaptations as needed or ask me how I do it! mammascooking@gmail.com

Fall Football and Tailgating

Lessons Learned from Thanksgiving and Cooking in the Aftermath

Pre and Post Thanksgiving Ideas with a Potluck Recipe thrown in

Happy Thanksgiving

Taco Tuesday – Step outside the Taco Shell (Gluten free!)

Getting Ready for the Holidays

Turkey time, a visit to a butcher shop and italian sausage mac-n-cheese (I think I’ll make this mac-n-cheese GF tonight!)

Thank you to Mamapedia for highlighting Mamma’s Cooking 3 Easy 10 Minute Meals on Mamapedia Voices on Friday!

Breakfast for Dinner

An easy way to get dinner on the table during the week or at the end of any busy day is to have breakfast for dinner. We have breakfast for dinner at least once a week in our house. Depending on how busy we are, it can be anything: eggs, pancakes, frozen waffles, toast, quiche, frittatas or just cereal and fruit. Breakfast for dinner can be a fun way to get a meal on the table quickly. With activities, sports and back-to-school nights on top of work, homework and just trying to spend time with your kids, for many cooking is the last thing you want to do when you all walk in the door.  Hopefully these recipes will help take some stress off of you.
Easy Hard Boiled Eggs in the Oven  (adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/232024/hard-boiled-eggs-in-the-oven/)
Ingredients
12 eggs
Ice cubes in a large bowl with cold water
Directions
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Put one egg into each muffin cup of a muffin tin
Bake in eggs in oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove and put the eggs into the ice bath for 5-10 minutes.
Peel and serve or refrigerate.

TIP: I make this for dinner one night and then have the eggs on hand for the next few days for a quick breakfast or a burst of protein to add to lunches or snacks.
Serve the eggs with yogurt or fruit or whatever you have on hand and you have a dinner on the table in about 30 minutes without much effort.
Now this next recipe is a little more involved, so if cooking relaxes you and you have some more time one night, try this oven baked “fried” chicken, served with cornbread waffles and peas. Take some help from the store and use your favorite cornbread mix. I like to use Wegman’s Gluten-Free Honey Cornbread mixture and add an extra egg and cook it in the waffle maker. For the peas, I put about 3 to 4 handfuls in a cereal bowl with a Tablespoon or two or water, salt and pepper, then microwave for 3 minutes with a small plate covering the bowl.
Oven Baked “Fried” Chicken


Ingredients
1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chicken tenders
3 cups of buttermilk (or 3 cups of milk + 2 Tablespoons of cider vinegar)
1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons of melted butter
2 cups of panko bread crumbs (use gluten-free if you are making it GF)
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 Tablespoons of cornstarch
Directions
Mix milk and cider vinegar or use buttermilk and soak the chicken for 15 to 30 minutes while you prepare the cornbread mixture. Remove from milk and pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Melt butter. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the panko, chili powder, black pepper and cornstarch.  Dip each piece of chicken into the butter and then the panko mixture and place on top of a baking rack inside a cookie sheet (that way the chicken will crisp all around).  Bake for 15 minutes and then turn the pan in the oven to ensure even cooking. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until the internal temperature reaches about 180 degrees.
Optional:  Brine the chicken the day before if you have time or need to stretch the life of the chicken in the fridge for a day. Life happens and you can’t cook what you planned one night, so put the chicken in brine and make it the next night. This is my typical brine recipe that can easily be halved or doubled depending on the size of the poultry or amount of pork you want to brine. (Make sure poultry or meat does not smell rotten or is past due date when you put it in the brine)
Brine
Ingredients
½ cup black peppercorns
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
6 small sage leaves, torn (or rosemary or thyme)
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup of salt
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons onion powder
1 Tablespoon cumin powder
12 cups of water

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for a couple of minutes and then allow to cool before you place the chicken or pork in the brine.

My kids look forward to breakfast for dinner and especially love when they can make it themselves. It is a good opportunity to get your kids in the kitchen and make you dinner! My 6 year olds can make yogurt parfaits for us or a bowl of cereal. My 8 year old makes the mixture or batter for scrambled eggs, frittatas or pancakes and then cooks it with our supervision.  Whether you want to make a quick and easy dinner or have something easy for your kids to try making, breakfast is always popular.