chicken teriyaki

We don’t have a heck of a lot of fast food in Seattle. Most folks around here snub their noses at McDonald’s, Burger King and Arby’s (all for good reason, although I admit I occasionally indulge in the King’s chicken sangwich from time to time when I’m traveling). If we do have a signature “fast food” though, it’s surely teriyaki. Teriyaki joints in the Big Rainy are almost as frequent as coffee shops. I’ve yet to find one that’s spectacular, but most are passable and can provide you with a quick, somewhat healthy lunch. It’s cheap, filling, and satisfying.

But as is the case with most takeout, you can make it better at home. In fact, you can make great chicken teriyaki, and it’s easier than you think.

Start with boneless, skinless chicken thighs. You’ll get the best flavor from the organic, free-range variety. Since this is a very simple dish, the quality of chicken you buy really matters. Grab your favorite teriyaki sauce (I like Yoshida’s Original Gourmet Sauce—stay far away from Kikkoman), and a few cloves of garlic.

Mince the garlic. I like my handy dandy garlic twist. All you do is stick the naked cloves in…

…give it a twirl and your garlic is perfectly minced. Plus, no smelly garlic hands.

Stir the garlic in with the teriyaki sauce.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken thighs, then place them in a large Ziploc bag. Pour in the teriyaki marinade. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24.

When you’re ready to eat, grill the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat. I always use thighs when I’m going to grill chicken—the higher fat content means they won’t dry out like breasts do.

Slice. Serve. Savor.

It’s your favorite takeout, but at home. With much more flavor. And probably cheaper. No need to visit that Teriyaki joint at the strip mall again.

-RDG

Chicken Teriyaki  printable yaki

The key to this simple dish is quality chicken and good teriyaki sauce. Buy organic, free-range chicken if you can. Serves 3-4 as a main course. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes       Marinating Time: at least 6 hours     Cook Time: 8 minutes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 3/4 c teriyaki sauce
1. Rinse the chicken thighs. Pat dry and place in a large Ziploc bag.
2. Mince the garlic. Stir into the teriyaki sauce. Pour sauce over chicken, seal, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or up to 24 hours.
3. Preheat grill to medium. Grill chicken thighs for 3-4 minutes per side, or until no longer pink in the center. Serve with rice and vegetables.

 

 

pasta salad with greek chicken and whipped feta

One evening while sailing the Mediterranean, a glass of ouzo in hand and the setting sun on our faces, we were asked an important question: what would you like for dinner? The boat’s chef Stavros was eager to please, making us anything from poached sea bass to Nutella with yogurt. We felt like something light and fresh but also traditionally Greek, since we could spy the coastline rich with olive trees not a mile away. Stavros nodded and disappeared back into the cabin, only to emerge 30 minutes later with two plates of pasta. Tender noodles were dressed with tomatoes, cucumber and olives, topped with the most heavenly grilled chicken I have ever smelled and a creamy feta sauce. We ate on the bow perched on a blanket, each bite washed down with a crisp white wine.

After dinner we dove into the water for a midnight swim. The moonlight bounced along each small wave and we bobbed along happily with full tummies, pleasantly drunk, our skin still warm from the sun.

And then I woke up. The baby was crying. I got tangled in a cloud of balloon strings on the way to the bathroom. Crap. It was a dream. Greece seemed maddeningly far away.

On the bright side, I had dream-invented a recipe. I had been reading this recipe from Saveur right before bed, and naturally my subconscious put my own twist on it. It also invented the perfect vacation that I won’t be able to take for several years, but at this point I’ll just have to settle for this pasta salad. This fresh, light pasta salad topped with juicy herbed chicken and a cool, creamy feta sauce.

 

To make it, you’ll first need to marinate some chicken thighs. Breasts work too, although I find chicken thighs with their fattier, darker meat grill better and stay more moist. For the marinade, grab some olive oil, oregano, lemon, garlic, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Use fresh herbs whenever possible.

Place the ingredients in a small food processor or blender.

Whip it on up.

Rinse the chicken, place in a large freezer bag and coat with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours, preferably 24.

For the pasta and sauce you’ll need noodles (tube-shaped work best; I like mostaccioli), kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, sour cream, grape or cherry tomatoes, feta cheese, lemon, and cucumber.

To make the whipped feta sauce, toss the feta, sour cream, lemon juice, and olive oil in the food processor.

Blend until smooth.

Cook the pasta and let drain.

Chop up the tomatoes and cucumber into whatever shape and size you like.

Drain some olives…

…and give them a quick chop.

Drain some sun dried tomatoes, reserving the oil.

Run your knife through those as well.

Toss the pasta with the reserved sun dried tomato oil and throw in the veggies.

When you’re ready to eat, preheat your grill to medium.

Grill the chicken thighs for roughly 6-7 minutes per side, or until juices run clear and the middles are no longer pink.

The marinade makes this chicken impossibly moist—it reminds me of the chicken you’ll find in most shawarmas at Greek restaurants. It will give you serious garlic breath, but it’s worth it.

Serve the chicken atop a helping of pasta with a dollop of feta sauce on top.

I’m so pissed at my subconscious for taunting me with the sunny Mediterranean and then yanking it away, but thankful that it left me with the idea for this recipe.

Would it have killed you, brain, to leave me with Stavros as well? He was pretty easy on the eyes, and a fantastic chef to boot.

-RDG

Pasta Salad With Greek Chicken & Whipped Feta, inspired by this recipe from Saveur Click for the handy dandy printable

Serves 8 as a main course.

Inactive Prep Time: at least 8 hours for marinating chicken. Active Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes

For the chicken:

  • 2 small lemons or 1 large
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • several sprigs fresh oregano, or 1 tsp dried
  • several sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 tsp dried
  • several leaves fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 8-10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, rinsed

1) Juice lemons into small food processor. Add olive oil, garlic, oregano, thyme, basil, salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.

2) Place chicken in a large freezer bag. Pour in marinade. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.

For the whipped feta:

  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 c sour cream or plain yogurt
  • salt and pepper to taste

1) Place feta, olive oil and sour cream or yogurt in a small food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the pasta salad:

  • 1 lb tube-shaped pasta
  • 2 tbsp sun dried tomato oil (from jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 15-20 cherry tomatoes, cut in halves or quarters
  • 1/3 c chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 c chopped sun dried tomatoes

1) Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Toss with the sun dried tomato oil.

2) Toss pasta with the cucumber, tomatoes, olives and sun dried tomatoes. Top with one chicken thigh and a dollop of whipped feta. Serve.

tamale pie with bbq pulled pork

A few weeks B.C. (Before Charlie), my dear sister-in-law stocked our freezer. She handed over a tote bag full of homemade frozen meals as her baby gift to us. Among the foil-wrapped containers there was one labeled “Tamale Pie.” Curious, I stashed it in the freezer and waited for the busy day on which we would need to use it.

Weeks later, exhausted from being up with a baby all night and chasing a toddler around all day, I popped it in the oven for dinner. The smells of Mexican spices and sweet corn began wafting from the oven. Eating it was even better—spicy ground beef, peppers and onions were all topped off with a layer of light, crunchy cornbread. If this was tamale pie, I thought, I wanted more of it.

I set out to make a sort of “ultimate” version with pulled pork slathered in a spicy barbecue sauce. Barbecue and cornbread were made for each other. I’m a fan of Stubb’s, but homemade or another brand work just as well (and if you make your own barbecue sauce, send me a bottle? Please?).

Marinate a pork shoulder roast in the barbecue sauce, then cook in the Crock Pot. Shred the meat.

Next, you’ll need fire-roasted tomatoes, cornbread mix, peppers (orange, yellow, and poblano), a sweet onion, chili powder, cumin, and kosher salt. Oh, and one handsy toddler lurking in the background.

Uh oh.

And she’s got it.

Saute the onion and poblano pepper in a bit of oil until tender.

Add the bell peppers and spices, saute a bit more…

…and finish with the tomatoes. Check the spices and make sure everything is to your liking.

Assemble the cornbread (my favorite $0.53 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix requires milk and eggs, but yours may be different).

To the cornbread batter, add corn (frozen or canned is fine) and sharp cheddar cheese (or your favorite variety—pepperjack would be great as well).

Stir together the pork with the pepper/onion mixture and spread into the bottom of two 9″ pie plates or one 9×13″ rectangular baking pan.

Top with the cornbread mixture…

…and bake until golden.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. A frosty margarita on the side is also mandatory.

This has become one of my new, go-to comfort meals. There is something soothing about these classic flavors, and since the recipe makes a large batch you can enjoy this meal for several dinners or stash half in your freezer for a hectic day. Kisses to my sis-in-law Becky for introducing me to this crazy wonderful dish (and for stocking our freezer!). Make this for yourself or for some lucky parents-to-be soon.

-RDG

Tamale Pie with BBQ Pulled Pork Click here for printable version

If you’re using another brand of cornbread mix, omit the eggs and milk and follow the directions on the package. Makes 1 rectangular 9×13″ pie or 2 round 9″ pies.

Inactive Prep Time: 12-24 hours for marinating pork, 7-8 hours for cooking pork.

Active Prep Time: 25 minutes.

Bake Time: 25-30 minutes.

  • 3 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 c barbecue sauce, divided
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c milk
  • 2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 c corn kernels (frozen or canned is fine)
  • sour cream for serving

1. Rinse pork roast and pat dry. Place in a large Ziploc bag and cover with 1/2c of the barbecue sauce. Refrigerate 12-24 hours.

2. Transfer pork roast with marinade into bowl of slow cooker. Cover and cook on low 7-8 hours. Remove pork, shred, and stir in remaining 1/2 c barbecue sauce. Set aside.

3. Dice sweet onion. Seed and dice poblano pepper and bell peppers.

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and poblano pepper and saute 3-4 minutes, until onion begins to become translucent. Add bell peppers, salt, chili powder and cumin. Saute 5 minutes more. Add fire roasted tomatoes and continue to saute 5 minutes more or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and stir in shredded pork. Check seasoning.

5. Preheat oven to 400F. Combine corn muffin mix, eggs, milk, cheese and corn in a large bowl and mix to combine. Grease one 9×13″ baking dish or two 9″ pie plates. Spread the pork mixture into the bottom of the pan and spread the cornbread mixture evenly on top*. Bake for 25-30 minutes (may take slightly longer in large rectangular pan) until cornbread is cooked through and slightly golden on top. Serve topped with sour cream.

*NOTE: Can be covered and frozen unbaked. Bake from frozen at 400F for 45 min-1 hr or until cornbread is done.

 

give food

It must be baby season. They’re popping out everywhere, and I’m no exception. If you’ve recently had someone in your life bring home a tiny bundle, a meal is the absolute best gift you can drop off (call or text first so you don’t interrupt parent’s precious sleep). Forget the cute newborn outfit (they have a million of them), the balloons and the flowers. Those parents are hungry and have no time to cook. Here are a few ideas for what to make.

Ragu Bolognese. This sauce recipe makes a huge batch, so freeze half for yourself and gift the rest with a box of pasta, a loaf of garlic bread and a salad.

Sweet Pepper Chowder with Parsnips. If you freeze this creamy, sweet chowder in individual portions, it’s super easy to heat up for a quick lunch or dinner.

Meatloaf with Apple Cider Ketchup. Make one for yourself and one for your friends. Freezes well.

Creamy Corn Chowder with Bacon. Creamy, comforting, filling.

Slow-Cooked Meat Sauce. Like the ragu, this recipe makes a large batch, perfect for freezing.

Mexican Lasagna. Layers of fluffy tortilla, beans, cheese, seasoned ground turkey, and sauteed tomatoes and onions. Gift with a side of sour cream.

Gemelli with Turkey-Spinach Meatballs. The pasta is actually cooked in the tomato sauce, lending extra rich flavor. The turkey meatballs have spinach for an extra kick of veggies.

Vietnamese Beef Stew (Bo Kho). Make sure your recipient is okay with spice if you plan on making this chili-laden stew. It’s sweet, smoky and spicy at the same time.

Buffalo Chicken Mac n Cheese. Need I say more?

And finally, Double Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies. Because after dinner there’s always room for dessert.

Give the gift of food. The new parents in your life will thank you! And for more inspiration, be sure to check out my recipe index right here.

-RDG

beef with broccoli

On the rare night when we order Chinese takeout, we all want something different. Dave craves something spicy, green onion pancakes, and salt & pepper chicken. Lucy requests fried rice. And I prefer beef with broccoli, beef with broccoli, and beef with broccoli. Sadly, it’s a dish that’s hard for most restaurants to get right. The beef sometimes tastes “beefy” (not fresh), the broccoli is overcooked, and the sauce can be soupy.

Lucky for me though, it’s dang easy to make at home. It’s a quick, tasty weeknight meal with no takeout cartons necessary. And the secret to getting the beef fork-tender requires only a few ingredients you probably already have in your pantry.

Start with a few dry ingredients in a large bowl: baking soda, a little bit of sugar, and some cornstarch.

Whisk in some soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil.

Slice your steak against the grain into thin strips. I like flank steak for this dish, but tri-tip or pretty much any cut would work just fine.

Toss the meat with the marinade, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. This easy marinade is all that it takes to get that crazy-tender beef, even with less expensive cuts.

Next, when you’re ready for dinner, make the sauce. It’s an easy blend of soy, brown sugar, minced garlic, a bit of flour, and cooking sherry (the sherry is optional; I think it rounds out the flavors nicely but if you don’t have any, no need to take a special trip to the grocery). Stir until the flour and sugar dissolve.

In a large saute pan or wok, heat some vegetable oil on high. When the oil is thoroughly heated (it will begin to shimmer), toss in the broccoli and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring often. Don’t walk away! You’ll risk burning your veggies. Transfer to a plate or a heatproof bowl.

In the same pan, saute the beef with half of the sauce mixture for 3-4 minutes (keep stirring often!) or until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

Add the broccoli and dump in the rest of the sauce. Saute for one more minute. Remove from heat.

Serve over rice. Swoon. Eat. Repeat.

I adore the thickness of the sauce. It coats every morsel with that salty, garlicky flavor. Just a little bit seeps onto the rice. Perfection.

Oh, broccoli. You are my favorite vegetable. And unlike that Chinese takeout joint, I didn’t overcook you into broccoli-shaped mush.

And beef. I could write a song about you. It would sound something like a fusion of Styx and Bad Company, with a little Earth, Wind & Fire thrown in for funk.

Don’t worry, world. I’ll spare you that one.

-RDG

Beef with Broccoli     Printable PDF

This easy version of the Chinese takeout classic requires only a short marinade to make the beef fork-tender. Serve over white or brown rice. Serves 4.

Prep Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour for marinade Cook Time: 8 minutes

First, marinate the meat:

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced into thin strips

1. Whisk together the baking soda, sugar, cornstarch, soy sauce, water, and vegetable oil in a large bowl. Toss the steak with the marinade to coat. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour, then proceed below.

  • 1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce (Do NOT use regular. The final product will be way too salty)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp sherry
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 heads broccoli, crowns only

1. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour and sherry until smooth. Set aside.

2. In a large wok or saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add broccoli and saute 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer broccoli to a plate.

3. Reduce heat to medium-high. Carefully add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Add the marinated meat and half of the sauce mixture and saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Stir in the broccoli and remaining sauce. Saute 1 minute more. Serve.