Dinner

Garlic Rosemary Chicken

Ciao! Johnny here with one of my most simple recipes that will quickly become a weeknight staple in your home: Garlic Rosemary Chicken. This dish is great for any time of year really, but I think it is most perfect for Fall and Winter on weeknights when you need something quick, simple, and inexpensive. Woodsy and earthy rosemary, pungent garlic, and fresh lemon flavor this easy chicken dinner in a way that is warming and hearty but also light. I love serving this throughout the cooler seasons with roasted butternut and acorn squashes, Brussels Sprouts, and steamed green beans. Hope you enjoy this easy weeknight classic!

Note: You can easy double and triple the recipe to accommodate how many people you are cooking for. I am providing directions to serve 2 people as I normally cook for 2 these days and know that many of you do as well.

Garlic Rosemary Chicken

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts or thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F.

Place the chicken on a baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Top each piece with half the rosemary, half the garlic, and half the lemon zest. Using your hands, rub the ingredients all over the chicken making sure to get underneath the skin, stop when all looks well distributed. Drizzle with the lemon juice and actually place the lemon pieces you used for the juice near the chicken on the pan; it will help to perfume the dish and provide additional moisture.

Roast for 35-40 minutes until the chicken is golden brown. Serve with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

A few years ago, my best friend Kayleigh had me and a few of our other friends over for dinner during the Fall season. She was cooking up a storm in the kitchen with all sorts of ingredients: onions, apples, sausage, sage – all things I love. I asked, “What are you making?” Her response was very in character; nonchalantly she answered, “I’m not sure. Some sort of stuffed acorn squash. We’ll see what happens.” I laughed because this was very like her to just whip something up and go with the flow with confidence that all would be well; and all was well indeed! The Stuffed Acorn Squash turned out truly and utterly phenomenal and from that point on it became a traditional Fall and Winter dish between us and our families.

I have since made this dish many times throughout the Fall and Winter seasons because it is truly these seasons in one exquisite meal. The sweet squash is stuffed and balanced by spicy Italian chicken sausage, savory onions, tart green apple, fresh celery, woodsy sage, and pungent garlic; each component balancing and complimenting the other perfectly. A bit of bread crumbs provides a nice crunch to contrast the softness of the squash and sausage, and melted Havarti cheese seals and completes with a buttery finish. Honestly, this is one of my favorite meals to make during the cooler seasons. It is relatively simple to prepare, decently inexpensive, festive, comforting, and downright delicious. I truly hope you enjoy this recipe in your own home with loved ones.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 1 pound hot Italian chicken sausage, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large celery stick, chopped
  • 1 large granny smith apple, diced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 4 sage leaves, julienned
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 block Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425̊F.

Cut the acorn squash down the center length wise. With a spoon, remove the seeds and dig the cavity till it would be able to hold ¾ cup of water. Drizzle the insides with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with about ¼ teaspoon of salt and pepper each. Place on a greased baking sheet with the inside facing down. Drizzle the skin with an additional tablespoon of olive oil and season with an additional pinch of salt and pepper. Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes until the skin is easily pierced with a knife.

In the meantime, heat the remaining olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, and green apple. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes until tender. Add the sausage and break into small chunks using the back of a wooden spoon. Cook until the sausage is browned. Add the garlic, sage, and red pepper flakes. Add the wine and continue cooking until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs until well mixed. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Remove the acorn squash from the oven and flip over so that the cavity side facing up. Stuff each cavity with the mixture from the pan until filled and slightly doming over. Top completely with the cheese slices. Place back in the oven for 5-10 more minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbling, and browned.

Remove, allow to cool a few minutes, and serve – 1 half of a squash per person! This is best served with a simple green salad and some wine. Hope you enjoy!

Note: The images below are from when I cut the recipe in half to just serve 2, but the steps are the same.

What’s your favorite Fall/Winter dish to make at home?

Pasta di Janet

Growing up, my mom made my family quite a bit of pasta for dinner, being herself a 2nd generation Italian-American; and it was glorious. I remember being in high school, coming home starving from various practices and rehearsals, only to be fulfilled by a bowl of one of my mother’s pasta dishes. This particular dish, which I have deemed Pasta di Janet (Pasta of Janet- my mother), became a staple in our home because of its general healthy ingredient contents and for its ease and simplicity.

This quick and flavorful pasta combines hot (Chicken) Italian Sausage, sweet and juicy cherry tomatoes, green and earthy broccoli/broccolini, fresh herbs, and of course, parmesan cheese. I fell in love with this pasta and often requested it for the dinner table. I now make it quite often when I am looking for a go-to meal. Already a decently healthy meal, I have made my own tweaks to my mother’s classic pasta (like switching from regular Italian sausage to chicken Italian sausage) to create a dish that is equally as nourishing as it is indulgent. Serve with a nice green salad and red wine and you are in for an Italian delight!

Pasta di Janet

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound farfalle pasta
  • 1 pound hot Chicken Italian sausage, removed from casings
  • 2 small heads broccoli or 1 large package Italian broccolini
  • 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Heat a large pan or skillet or medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add the sausage and break into small chunks with the back of a wooden spoon. Once the sausage is broken up, add the pasta to the water and allow to cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

Cook sausage until browned, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the tomatoes and garlic to the sausage. Cook 2-3 minutes until tomatoes soften. Meanwhile, add the broccoli or broccolini to the pasta water. Boil 2 minutes. Using a straining spoon, transfer the broccoli to the pan with the sausage and tomatoes. Stir to combine and season the mix with a pinch of salt and pepper each and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to low and allow to continue cooking until pasta is done.

Drain the pasta, add to the pan on top of the veggies and sausage. Add the cheese and half the parsley. Toss till pasta is coated and all is well mixed. Serve into pasta bowls. Top with additional parmesan cheese and herbs and serve.

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

Quinoa has really made it big these days; and I am ALL about it! Quinoa is often described as a grain, but it is technically the seed of a grain. As a seed, it packs a ton of protein, making this a great choice for a carb/starch side in place of the usual rice, pasta, and potatoes. I am often asked how to prepare quinoa; and I always tell people that it is kind of absurdly easy.

Here is the basic formula for cooking quinoa:

  • 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water
  • Bring to a boil over high heat in a small sauce pan, then reduce heat to low and cover
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes
  • Fluff with a fork and Done!

Now, that you know how to cook quinoa through, you can basically do ANYTHING with it. Still, you might want a starter recipe; this Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens recipe is for you! It makes the perfect side to almost anything. Hope you enjoy!

Lemon Herb Quinoa with Greens

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: absurdly easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup spinach, kale, or power greens mix, roughly chopped.

Directions:

Place the quinoa, water, and salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water and the quinoa has puffed, 15-20 minutes. Fluff with fork.

While the quinoa cooks, mix the lemon zest, juice, olive oil, pepper, and crushed garlic in a small bowl.

Once you’ve fluffed the quinoa, add the basil, parsley, and chopped greens. Mix until the greens are wilted. Add the lemon and oil mixture into the bowl and toss. Season with additional pepper and serve.

Tell me, how do you make your quinoa?

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

I love salmon, it really is one of the greatest fishes; it’s incredibly healthy, it’s decently affordable, and it’s freaking delicious. One thing I love about salmon is that it can be ABSURDLY EASY to make. Take my Balsamic Glazed Salmon. Minimal prep, no active cooking, and only a few minutes until it is s ready for you to plate and eat. I am always getting questions about how to make salmon; this is the best way to start! Hope you enjoy!

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: ridiculously easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless salmon slab
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s Balsamic Glaze or similar product

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 ̊F.

Spray or oil a 9×13 inch baking dish. Place the salmon in the baking dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Spread the crushed garlic all over the salmon. Drizzle with olive oil. Drizzle the balsamic glaze all over, and with a pastry brush, spread the glaze until even and the salmon is covered.

Bake for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon. Cut into fillets and serve.

Summer Spaghetti

I write this on June 21, 2015, the Summer Solstice. It is a glorious warm and sunny day in Huntington Beach, CA that seems to foreshadow a luminous summer season ahead. As we dive into this summer, my foodie mind begins to think of foods that I should be making and eating to truly be able to taste this special season.

When I think of summer and food, I think of bright citrus flavors, fresh green herbs, seasonal vegetables like zucchini and summer squashes and plump cherry tomatoes, and succulent and lean seafood. And seeing as this particular day is a Sunday, I also think of pasta as it is traditional in my Italian-American family to have more Italian style dishes for traditional Sunday Supper. And so, today I combine all these flavors in one in my Summer Spaghetti.

This dish is very easy to make, requiring little effort, and is actually on the lighter side for a pasta dish which is perfect for summertime. Having this for dinner makes me feel like I am back in Italy on the Amalfi coast overlooking the blue Mediterranean while enjoying a delicious meal. I hope you can imagine the same as you enjoy this dish!

Summer Spaghetti

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 1b shrimp (figure 4-5 shrimp per person), deveined and removed of their tails
  • 1 zucchini squash cut into ½ rounds, then cut in half
  • 1 summer squash cut into ½ rounds, then cut in half
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup lemon juice
  • ½ cup fresh chopped basil
  • ½ cup fresh chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until veggies are tender.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, about 8-9 minutes. (PROTIP: Throw a spaghetti noodle at the wall, if it sticks to the wall, it’s done!)

Place the shrimp in a small baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the garlic, the red pepper flakes, and a ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast for 5 minutes until shrimp are pinkish orange.

In a large pasta bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, juice, remaining olive oil, ½ the basil and parsley, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, and ½ the parmesan cheese until well combined.

Drain the spaghetti and place in the bowl with the lemon mix. Add the additional parmesan and toss to coat. As you toss, the cheese will melt and toss the noodles! Add the veggies, shrimp, and remaining herbs. Toss until well mixed.

Garnish with additional parmesan cheese and herbs if desired. Enjoy!

 

 

Summer Spaghetti