With the holidays behind me and some school and zoom school/work back in session, I am back to regular weeknight dinners which still require thought, preparation, and of course some creativity. The criteria must be somewhat quick and easy, definitely familiar ingredients, budget friendly, inclusive of some new recipe testing, and pleasing to all. This is virtually impossible, at least the pleasing to all, but I vary the menus enough that everyone is happy most nights :)

This is what’s been trending in my home and being added to my regular repertoire.

Easy Savory Braised Chicken

 

Photo by Food and Wine

Serves 6

This has wonderful flavor and a juicy texture. It's so simple, just braise in liquid and broil. Don’t be weary of these bold flavors, they actually mellow while cooking and create a nice caramelized chicken with lots of pan juices. Serve with brown or white rice to soak up all those seasonings.

  • 1 can (14 ounce) coconut milk
  • ½ cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)
  • ½ cup white vinegar
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off horizontally
  • 3 lbs. Chicken pieces, bone-in, skin-on
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven, whisk coconut milk, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, curry powder, red pepper, and garlic. Nestle chicken in liquid, turning to coat. Bring mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour.

Preheat broiler.

Remove chicken from liquid and place on a sheet pan. Drizzle with honey and a little kosher salt and pepper. Broil for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. While chicken is broiling, bring cooking liquid back to a boil in the Dutch oven, and boil down to reduce the sauce a little.

Serve chicken warm with pan juices.

Bring It Inside BBQ Chicken

Serves 6

I’m not ready to close up the BBQ but the rain has sometimes got me on the grill pan already. This homemade BBQ sauce and grilling inside, keeps those summer flavors going all fall and winter. Recipe is modified from an original in Bon Appetit.

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 6 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons sriracha or other hot sauce
  • Vegetable oil (for grill)
  • 1 3½–4-lb. whole chicken, cut into 6–8 pieces, any bone-in pieces
  • Kosher salt

Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium until hot. Cook garlic, turning occasionally, until golden brown all over, 4–5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot, until paste darkens, 3–4 minutes. Add maple syrup, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and sriracha. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to let flavors meld, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Transfer about half of barbecue sauce to a heatproof bowl; reserve for serving.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Grease well. Season chicken generously with salt. Grill until browned on all sides(you can use a traditional outdoor gas or charcoal grill too). Cover grill pan with a little foil, turning chicken every 5 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°, 18–25 minutes depending on size. Baste chicken with barbecue sauce while cooking.

Transfer chicken to a platter. Serve with reserved sauce alongside.

Do Ahead: Barbecue sauce can be made 2 weeks ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and chill.

Melted Cabbage with Shallots and Garlic

 

Photo by Bon Appetit, photo includes Tofutti sour cream and parsley that I have omitted from the recipe

Serves 6

I’ve been making all sorts of versions of Melted Cabbage, I think originally inspired by Adeena Sussman of Sababa fame. I like this one because it includes tomato paste, cumin, shallots and lots of garlic. You can add additional whole cloves if you like. The cabbage becomes soft enough to cut with a fork but super flavorful.

  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 3 shallots
  • 1½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage(about 2 lb. total)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 350°G. Mix tomato paste, garlic, shallots, coriander, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.

Cut cabbage in half through the core. Cut each half through the core into 4 wedges or slice into cabbage steaks.

Heat ¼ cup oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Working in batches if needed, add cabbage to the pan cut side down and season with salt. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer cabbage to a plate.

Pour remaining ¼ cup oil into the skillet. Add spiced tomato paste and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to slightly darken, 2–3 minutes. Pour in about ½- ¾ cup water and season with a little kosher salt, and bring to a simmer. Nestle cabbage wedges back into skillet (they should have shrunk while browning; a bit of overlap is okay). Transfer cabbage to the oven and bake, uncovered and turning wedges halfway through, until very tender, liquid is mostly evaporated, and cabbage is caramelized around the edges, 40–50 minutes.

Serve warm with pan juices.

Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispie Treats

 

Serves 10

Fruity Pebbles pancakes, French Toast, and all sorts of other crazy concoctions are showing up on restaurant menus. I’m not sure how I missed this trend and pretty sure I’m not going to try most of them, but these are really kinda fun, bright and tasty. They are definitely an adult and kid friendly item that makes for fun retro conversation and throwback fun. Don’t press on them too hard while putting them in the pan, because the lightness is important and makes an airy nice texture.

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted margarine
  • 1 bag (10 ounce) mini marshmallows, separated
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine kosher salt (if using table salt, use 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups Rice Krispie cereal
  • 4 cups Fruity Pebbles

Line a 9×9 pan with parchment paper with an overhang for easy removal. Spray parchment paper with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven, preferably nonstick (if you own one) melt the margarine over low heat. Once completely melted, add in ALL BUT 2 and 1/2 cups of the marshmallows. Stir constantly, keeping the heat on low, until the marshmallows are completely melted.

As soon as the marshmallows are just melted, remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract. Then add the rice krispie cereal and fruity pebbles very gently. Stir in the reserved 2 and 1/2 cups marshmallows until just combined.

Pour the mixture into a lined and prepared pan. Lightly grease your hands with cooking spray and gently (do not press hard/compact or you'll get hard bars) press the bars into the pan.

Cool, cut and serve.