linguine with almond pesto

Experimenting in the kitchen: almond, tomatillo, and spinach pesto

Pesto is one of my all time favorite sauces for pasta (I’ve made an avocado one before) and I knew it’s what I wanted to use last night when I got the request for chicken and linguine.

Since I got off of work at 9 p.m., at first I was going to just stop by Target and pick up one of the pre-made sauces that they sell (bad, I know). As I was sitting on the bus home, I was thinking of what I had in the kitchen, and that’s when I had the idea of making a pesto out of almonds and spinach.

What’s great about pesto sauces is that you can pretty much mix and match any ingredients you want while sticking to the basics: leafy green/ herb, nuts, olive oil, garlic, and cheese. Of course, you can get even more creative and started using roasted tomatoes etc.

linguine with almond pesto
The result of my experiment: Linguine and corn with almond pesto.

And I’m very glad I decided to do that because I ended up creating a sauce that tasted amazing – seriously, I wouldn’t be sharing it with you otherwise.

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Chicken and Israeli couscous

Moroccan-inspired chicken

A trip to Morocco wouldn’t be complete without some chicken. I found this recipe over on Epicurious and since I was missing some of the listed ingredients, I adapted the recipe to make Moroccan-inspired chicken.

I chose to serve this with a side of couscous, but when I was at the store I wasn’t able to find the traditional type of couscous (which I ended up finding after I made this dish), so I decided to use Israeli couscous instead. This version of couscous can’t be confused with the type served in Morocco, as the grains of Israeli couscous are much larger and it is simmered in water or broth and not steamed.

Chicken and Israeli couscous
Moroccan-inspired chicken with Israeli couscous.

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spaghetti and lamb/ turkey meatballs

Lamb and turkey meatballs with zucchini cream sauce

The best thing to do with delicious recipes that you made a lot of is turning them into something entirely different. I find that you still capture the essence of the first dish, but create something entirely new in the process.

That’s exactly how it was with my zucchini and corn with cream experiment (yes, experiment since it was the first time I made it). There was a lot of it leftover, and so I thought what better to do with it than to puree it and make it into a meatball sauce served over spaghetti?

spaghetti and lamb/ turkey meatballs
Meatballs in a zucchini and corn cream sauce.

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chicken roll dinner

Feta and spinach stuffed chicken

The other day, I came home and was trying to figure out how to make the dinner I had planned. On my four-day meal plan (I can only do serious cooking Thursday through Sunday because of my job), I had jotted down chicken and potatoes. But, I had yet to decide exactly how to make the chicken and potatoes.

chicken roll dinner
Feta and spinach stuffed chicken with hash browns and broccoli.

In my fridge I also had spinach and feta (unfortunately no onions were in the kitchen) available. So, I decided that I would try something I had never made before and after some research, decided on feta and spinach stuffed chicken with a side of hash browns. For the chicken, I adapted from this recipe. Continue reading “Feta and spinach stuffed chicken”

bluefish zucchini cream dinner

Zucchini and corn with cream

Technically, we’re in Morocco this month for a new adventure, but the flavors of Mexico are still calling (maybe because they’re flavors I can relate to easily and am familiar with and also because I still have the cook book).

About two weeks ago, I actually sat down to plan four days of meals. This was the first time I ever did this and I have to say I love it; if not only because I didn’t have to answer the “What are we eatin’?” question for a few days in a row (now that is a wonderful feeling).

bluefish zucchini cream dinner
I do believe I added quinoa to this dish, but the zucchini and corn with cream is hiding it.

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chicken dinner

Chicken skewers with quinoa, rainbow chard and fennel

Originally, I set out to make June all about Morocco. As with the best laid plans that has not yet happened, and I’ve even had to renew the cookbook I got from the library.

But, today that changes as I share with you the first recipes from New Moroccan by Lahlou Mourad. What I love about this thick, heavy cookbook is that it’s not just about the recipes, but the author tells stories from his childhood in Morocco, how dishes are prepared traditionally, and how he has adapted them to modern times.

chicken dinner
Skewered chicken served with sauteed rainbow chard and fennel, and quinoa.

I decided to start with recipes that seemed fairly easy. The chicken is perfect for summer because it’s great for the grill, but if you have to cook it in your kitchen (like me), the broiler works just as well. And the sauteed rainbow chard and fennel on top of quinoa makes for a deliciously healthy meal. This is actually the first time I’ve cooked any of the latter. Continue reading “Chicken skewers with quinoa, rainbow chard and fennel”

Baked empanadas

Red peanut chicken empanadas (or what should have been tamales)

As the month of May is coming to a close, one of the final Mexican dishes I wanted to make was tamales. Tamales are one of the staples of Mexican cooking and one of the dishes I immediately think of when I think of Mexican food.

They remind of a year my mom and I had Christmas dinner over a friend’s (who’s also named Nicole) house and tamales were served with a variety of fillings. They are made from a corn flour dough and filled with anything you wish: pork, chicken, beef, vegetables, then wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves and steamed until done. The most important part of making this dish is getting the right corn flour/ meal – yes there are different kinds for making different dishes. And it just so happened I bought the kind to make arepas and not tamales. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to fix it, so I decided to move on to plan B.

Earlier that same day, I decided to prepare empanada dough (which needs to chill in the fridge for at least and hour), so a dinner of tamales turned into a dinner of empanadas with a side of homemade tortilla chips and chunky guacamole.

Baked empanadas
Baked empanadas.

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