Meal Planning: Basic Instant Pot Chicken and Roasted Vegetables

A little meal planning goes a long way. I try to plan our meals for the week the night before I go grocery shopping, so that I can make my list dependent on what I’m going to cook that week.

On weekends, I try to cook extra items to make our meal preparation for busy weeknights easier. I received an Instant Pot for Christmas. It is a great too for meal prepping.  Either I make dinner in the instant pot, while I make the meal for other nights on the stove or vice versa, make the meal for later in the week in the Instant Pot while I cook our dinner on the stove.

Here are a couple of easy recipes that will make multiple meals.

Basic Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot

Marinade:

Ingredients

About 3 pounds of chicken breasts

5 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 teaspoon of garlic paste or 1 clove of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 Tablespoon onion powder

½ cup of water

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together in a gallon freezer bag with the chicken breasts and marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Take out of marinade. Add into instant pot on steamer shelf with about a cup of water and set to pressure cook for 10 minutes. Allow natural release for 5 minutes and then manually release the remaining pressure.

Now you have cooked chicken breasts to be able to add to whatever you like for the week. Roasting some veggies while the chicken is cooking, will lessen your load during the week even more.

Roasted Veggies

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 Green pepper, sliced into sticks

1 Yellow pepper, sliced into sticks

1 zucchini, sliced into sticks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon of thyme

Directions

Toss veggies with olive oil and spices. Spread out on a sheet pan. Roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Here are some meal ideas with the chicken and veggies.

First Meal

This feeds 5-7 people

Greek Inspired Chicken Pasta

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of cooked chicken, cubed

Roasted tomatoes and zucchini

1 16 ounce box of pasta shells (small shells – I like Wegman’s gluten-free)

4 to 6 ounces of crumbled feta

Juice of ½ a lemon

Pasta water

Directions

Cook pasta according to instructions on package and save some of the pasta water. Pour the pasta in to a serving dish. Add chicken, tomatoes, zucchini and lemon juice and one ladle full of the pasta water. Mix. Add more pasta water if too dry. Stir in the feta and serve. Add fresh basil if you have some.

2nd meal – for one ( This was my lunch one day)

Baked Sweet Potato with chicken, roasted veggies and feta

Ingredients

1 Baked Sweet Potato

¼ cup of chicken, diced

A couple of roasted peppers

1 to 2 ounces of crumbled feta

Directions

Cut open baked sweet potato.  Add chicken, peppers and feta. Enjoy!

Baking the sweet potato in the oven is really my favorite way to cook it, but lack of time usually means that I make it in the microwave.

3rd meal feeds 4 to 5

Chicken Quesadillas

Ingredients

6 flour tortillas (my gluten free favorite is Joseph’s or Mission GF)

1 to 1 ½ cups of cooked chicken, chopped

Roasted green and yellow peppers

8 to 12 ounces of shredded cheddar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray sheet pan. Place cheese, chicken and peppers on one half of each tortilla. Fold other side over and cook about 6 to 8 minutes on each side.

If there are any chicken and veggies left, toss them into a salad with your favorite dressing.

What are your favorite meal planning recipes? Here are some of my other recipes that have great leftovers to help you out during the week! It is all about making our lives easier: What to do with leftover cod, Turkey Fried Rice  and Sweet Potato Two Ways.

 

Marinated Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken can be found on the dinner table in many American homes on any given night. It can be easy to get into a chicken rut, making it the same way each time. It is just as easy to change it up however – marinate it, stuff it, roast it, brine it, fry it or cook it in the Instant Pot.

This recipe was developed because I was craving spinach and artichoke dip and had some chicken breasts to use. I decided to channel some of my stress and pound the chicken breasts flat with a meat mallet (you can also use a rolling pin) and stuff it with a version of my spinach and artichoke dip.

After going through a phase of brining chicken for the last couple of years, I decided to change it up. This marinade made the chicken so flavorful! It was even better the next day! This recipe made enough for 2 dinners for a family of 5 and plus a couple of leftover lunches during the week.

Marinated Spinach and Artichoke Stuffed Chicken Breast

Ingredients

3.5 to 4 pounds of chicken breast, flattened

Marinade:

1/3 cup olive oil

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon of salt

2 sprigs of rosemary

5 to 7 sprigs thyme

3 Tablespoons of honey

1 clove of garlic

Stuffing:

About 6 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed

4 ounces of cream cheese, softened

Juice of ½ a lemon

¼ onion, minced (about 2 Tablespoons)

1 – 6 ounce jar of artichokes, chopped

3 Tablespoons of chopped red pepper

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

Cooking Chicken and sauce:

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1 ½ cups chicken stock

Juice of ½ lemon

Splash of heavy cream

About 6 ounces of chopped tomatoes

1 – 8 ounce can of tomato sauce

Directions

Mix olive oil, lemon zest and juice, salt, rosemary, thyme, honey and garlic in a gallon freezer bag. Add chicken and allow to marinate for 2 to 24 hours. To make stuffing combine spinach, cream cheese, lemon juice, onion, artichokes, red peppers salt and pepper. Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Place about 2 to 3 Tablespoons of filling in each flattened chicken breast and roll up. Heat olive oil in large heavy bottomed sauté pan.  Sear the stuffed chicken on each side and then add chicken stock and lemon juice to the pan, cover and cook for 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Take out of the oven, remove chicken and finish sauce with tomatoes, tomato sauce and a splash of cream. Simmer sauce for about 5 minutes and return chicken to pan and serve over potatoes, zoodles or your favorite pasta.

What are your favorite chicken dishes? Here are some of my other favorites: One Pan Roast Chicken with Tomato Sauce, Spatchcocked Herb Roasted Chicken, Honey Lemon Roasted Chicken Thighs, Apricot Wings and Chicken Noodle Soup.

Make your own take-out! Turkey Fried Rice

Making your own take-out can be easy and delicious! My family loves fried rice. I know it is probably one of the least expensive items on the menu at your local take-out Chinese place, but I always seem to order more than I need or have to order more to reach a minimum amount for delivery. Making it at home uses up any leftovers we have on hand, it’s healthier and is finished faster than calling in the order.

Turkey Fried Rice

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

½ teaspoon sesame oil

1 egg, whisked

1 zucchini diced

1 small onion diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

¼ cup soy sauce (make sure it’s GF)

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon of ginger, minced or use a paste like this one from Gourmet Garden.

About 2 cups of cooked rice (I love Wegman’s 90 second Steamables!)

About 2 cups of shredded turkey

fresh cilantro, optional

Directions

Heat 1 Tablespoon of the vegetable oil and the sesame oil in sauté pan or wok and scramble egg. Take it out and set aside. Add last Tablespoon of vegetable oil and add zucchini, onion and garlic to the pan. Stir and cook for about 7 min, or until soft. Mix soy sauce, vinegar and ginger together in a bowl. Add rice to pan then pour on soy sauce mixture and stir. Add turkey and return egg to pan. Mix it all together and you have turkey fried rice!

TIP: You can substitute leftover pork roast or roast beef or chicken or shrimp or your favorite vegetables for the zucchini, or even solely vegetables or tofu to keep it vegetarian.

What are your favorite take-out dishes that you make at home? We love making Hot and Sour soup! What is your favorite way to use leftovers? We make fish sticks with leftover cod or chili with leftover pumpkin or squash or check out this post for more ideas! Leftovers do not need to be boring!

Easy, Fancy Hasselback Potatoes

Hasselback potatoes were very popular last year, so naturally I’m finally getting on the bandwagon. Easy side dishes that look fancy are always great for a holiday table, entertaining friends, potlucks or even to spice up an ordinary Wednesday night.

Cheesy Hasselback Potatoes

Ingredients

5 large potatoes, thinly sliced but not all the way through to the bottom.

1 clove of garlic, minced

4 Tablespoons of butter, melted

1 teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

5 springs of thyme, removed from stem or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

About 4 ounces of gouda, finely shredded (parmesan would also be good)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray small casserole dish or a cake pan with non-stick spray. Mix garlic, butter, salt, pepper and thyme in a cup. Place sliced potatoes in pan and then pour butter mixture over top, making sure it gets into each slice of potato. Top with shredded cheese and make sure some of it gets into each slice of potato. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes and uncovered for 25 minutes.

This can easily be made in advance and then reheated in the oven or under the broiler before serving.

I love dishes that look fancy, taste amazing and are super easy to make. This is definitely one of those dishes. What is your go to side dish? I also love making polenta or mashed potatoes and then add some green beans, acorn squash or even some decadent burrata with tomatoes and basil.

New England Clam Chowder

Fall is a time for new beginnings and a breath of fresh air. The cool, crisp air finally seems to have reached Massachusetts. I love making soup any time of year, but there is something about fall in New England that makes me crave clam chowder. This is a family favorite.

The key to making this recipe is preparing all the ingredients and cookware before you start. Organization really helps when you make any recipe and the bonus is that you can pretend you have your own cooking show…or wait, that’s just me 😉. Preparation also is key to getting kids in the kitchen. If they are not old enough to chop, they can add ingredients and stir. Be their sous chef for the day and do the chopping before you try to involve them.

Gluten- Free New England Clam Chowder

Ingredients

About 4 pounds of large Quahog or Cherrystone clams, cleaned

Water

7 sprigs of fresh thyme

6 slices of bacon, diced

2 Tablespoons of butter

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 cups of liquid/stock (usually about 3 cups of cooking liquid from the clams and make up the rest with seafood stock).

5 medium sized butter potatoes, peeled and diced

5 sprigs of thyme

¼ teaspoon of black pepper

Pinch of white pepper

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of ½ a lemon

Directions

Add clams to a soup pot over medium high heat and pour in enough water to cover the clams. Place thyme sprigs in water and put the lid on the pot. Bring to a low boil and cook about 10 minutes until all the clams open. Drain and save cooking liquid. Set clams aside to cool, rinse out pot. Place pot back on the stove and add bacon, onion, garlic. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Add cooking liquid, potatoes, thyme, black pepper and white pepper. Simmer for about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Mash potatoes to thicken the soup. Add the heavy cream and lemon juice. Stir, simmer for about 5 minutes and serve!

I haven’t yet found an oyster cracker that is gluten free, so I serve this with gluten-free Schar Table Crackers, Glutino Premium Rounds or with a gluten-free corn bread.

 

What is your family’s favorite soup? Follow this link for my favorites from 2016.

Haddock on the Grill

Even on cool slightly rainy nights the grill calls to me. It means less clean up and usually faster cooking. Seafood is great to cook on the grill, especially because then the house does not smell like fish! We are very lucky that we have a friend who loves to fish but doesn’t like seafood, so we get pounds of his fresh catch to freeze and pull out when we need it.

Grilled Haddock

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

½ teaspoon of salt

6 to 8 basil leaves, torn

About 3 pounds of Haddock fillets

About ½ pound of Campari tomatoes, diced

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ teaspoon of salt

6 to 8 basil leaves

Juice of ½ a lemon

about 4 ounces of fresh feta cheese, optional

Directions

Preheat the grill. Take 2 large pieces of foil and cross them. Drizzle olive oil, salt and basil leaves on the foil. Place haddock fillets on top. Add tomatoes, remaining olive oil, salt and basil leaves, then squeeze the lemon juice over the fish. Close up the foil and fold into a packet.  Add another piece of foil if needed to make sure the fish is completely enclosed. Place on direct heat on the grill. After 10 minutes, move to indirect heat. Close grill and continue to cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Take off the grill and serve! Sprinkle fish with feta if you like.

I have about 8 pounds of haddock left, so I’m sure there will be more recipes in the future! Any good ideas? What is your favorite way to cook haddock?

Here are some of my other seafood ideas and recipes:

What to do with leftover cod

Sheet Pan Shrimp

Poached Salmon

Shepherd’s Pie, easy meal for the freezer or a for a friend

Spring is in full swing! Some days here in New England are 90 degrees and others barely reach 60. Having delicious comfort food meals in the freezer for you, your guests or to bring for a friend in need is very helpful. Shepherd’s Pie is one of my favorites. I love it. It is one of the few ways I can get my kids to eat mashed potatoes! They eat many things and eat potatoes in most other forms, but for some reason mashed potatoes are in their mind, a form of torture that I save only for them 😉

Shepherd’s Pie is great to bring to new parents who need a meal or a friend who has just moved or had surgery. It is great to bring to a potluck or serve at a graduation celebration. It is naturally gluten free by using cornstarch instead of flour to thicken the meat sauce. No one will miss the gluten.

Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon olive oil

3 pounds of ground meat (beef, pork or turkey…I often use a mixture of beef and pork)

1 white onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

2 sprigs thyme

1 cup of beef stock

2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons of cornstarch

5 russet potatoes, diced

1 teaspoon of salt

2/3 cup of milk

2 Tablespoons cream cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

1/8 teaspoon of paprika

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brown meat in large high rimmed, oven safe sauté pan.  Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and thyme. Stir occasionally and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. In a small bowl mix stock, vinegar and cornstarch. Pour into meat mixture. Combine and cook on medium to low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. Add potatoes and salt to stock pot and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and allow to cook for about 20 minutes. When potatoes are soft, drain and add milk and cream cheese, then mash together. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

Spoon mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and smooth out with spatula. Top with a sprinkle of paprika and place in the oven for 25 to 35 minutes. Serve!

If you plan to freeze or gift the shepherd’s pie, first pour the meat mixture into a foil casserole dish and then smooth potatoes over the top before cooking.

For a fancy twist, you can make baked potatoes and scoop out the insides, make mashed potatoes with the insides and then spoon the meat mixture into the skins. Simply cover with mashed potatoes and bake. Twice baked shepherds pie..mmmm!

What is your favorite meal to freeze? What is your favorite meal you have received in a time of need? Here are some other freezer meals or meals to bring a friend:

Gluten-Free Stuffed Shells

Meatballs

Meatloaf

Spinach and Artichoke Mac-n-cheese

Sweet Potato Enchiladas

 

 

 

 

Gluten-free Stuffed Shells for a Party

Graduations, end of school year parties and summer holidays are all upon us. It can be a challenge to host a celebration at your house if you have celiac disease or have a family member with it. It doesn’t have to be! Here are some of my ideas for hosting a large gathering that is completely gluten free and no one will even miss the gluten!!

A tray of stuffed shells are a great way to feed a crowd. I was so excited when browsing at my local Italian specialties store (Alfredo’s) and I found an entire end cap filled with different shapes of imported Italian gluten-free pasta. I bought a 1 pound bag of shells, which made 2 large casserole dishes of stuffed shells. Others have found this pasta at Marshalls, TJ Max or Homegoods. The recipe below is for half of the bag. I made the other half with about 8 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained instead of zucchini and froze it for another time.

Gluten-free stuffed shells

Ingredients

2 small zucchini, shredded

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

About 24 ounces of ricotta cheese

4 to 5 ounces of cream cheese

8 ounces of mozzarella cheese, shredded

About 40 ounces of canned tomato sauce (I like to use part diced and part sauce)

½ teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, torn

¼ cup shredded cheddar

½ pound of shells (I used ½ a pound of imported Italian GF shells from La Fabbrica Della Pasta)

Directions

Cook pasta according to package. Set aside to cool. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sauté zucchini with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder, about 7 minutes. Set aside to cool. In a bowl mix the ricotta, cream cheese and 4 ounces of the mozzarella. In another bowl mix tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil leaves. Mix cooked zucchini with the cheese mixture. Pour a layer of tomato sauce in bottom of casserole dish. Then fill each shell with 2-3 Tablespoons of the cheese mixture and place in dish.

Cover with the rest of the sauce, rest of the mozzarella and the cheddar. Cook covered with foil for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 to 30. Serve or Freeze.

You can serve this with your favorite grilled hot dogs, chicken or ribs and a salad. Cut up a watermelon, put out a large bowl of Pirate’s Booty, Skinny Pop and Cape Cod Chips, serve Hoodsie’s so you don’t have to scoop any ice cream or have popsicles (Outshine or Wegman’s brand are gluten free) and you are all set for a gluten-free party! What is your favorite party food?

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!

Sheet Pan Shrimp

All over the internet you see sheet pan dinners. They are the new one pot meal.  I have three sheet pans and they are well loved. I use them to cook wings, meatballs, shrimp, salmon, roast vegetables and not to mention all the cookies we make on them.

I usually make sure I have a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer so that I can throw together a quick and easy meal. This is one of the simplest and tastiest recipes you can make.

Sheet Pan Shrimp

Ingredients

1 pound cooked frozen shrimp, defrosted

Juice of 1 lime

½ teaspoon of salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon of agave

½ cup of diced red onion

1 to 2 diced sweet peppers (or broccoli)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl mix lime, salt, pepper and agave. Toss shrimp in the lime mixture and let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Combine onion and vegetables on sheet pan with vegetable oil, salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and add the cooked shrimp. Roast for another 10 minutes and serve over rice or polenta or inside a tortilla.

You can easily make this recipe solely with vegetables so it is easy to make this vegetarian, vegan and its already gluten free! It is such a versatile recipe! Let me know what you like to make on your sheet pans.