04/25/14

Tandoori Grilled Chicken Thighs

Tandoori Grilled Chicken Thighs

Okay, so a true “tandoori” dish would be cooked in a tandoor, a type of cylindrical clay oven, but can also be prepared on a traditional barbecue grill. The classic coloring is achieved by the turmeric powder and paprika, a sweet red pepper powder.

Tandoori Chicken is most popular (outside of India & Pakistan) in Nottingham and Birmingham, England along with Toronto, Canada.

I almost always choose thighs over chicken breasts for grilling. I think they contribute more flavor to the final dish, are less likely to dry out, make WAY better leftovers.

This recipe creates a deep rich spice crust on the chicken that marries beautifully with a more mellow element like rice or couscous.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Tandoori Chicken Thighs
4 lbs bnls chicken thighs, skin removed
4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped white onion
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped ginger
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne, opt.

Quarter thighs, toss with oil, then add spices and mix well. Refrigerate 4-8 hours.

Grill directly over high heat.

Serve with jasmine rice or couscous.

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists! Your free membership helps us teach valuable cooking skills to at-risk youth!

04/21/14

Old Fashioned Russet Potato Pie

Russet Potato Pie

This is a favorite from my childhood, and my father’s Southern roots, it was always part of our Thanksgiving meal plan.

If you’re making this dish after a holiday, like maybe Easter, and you have some leftover baked ham, sprinkle 1/2 cup of finely chopped ham between each layer, and use some sharp or extra sharp cheddar (Cabot Cheese makes favorite aged white cheddar) to turn this yummy side dish into an amazing entree!

Old Fashioned Russet Potato Pie
1 9″ pie crust
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cube of butter
1 cup heavy cream
Salt
Black Pepper
Granulated garlic
1/2 cup coarsely grated Gruyère or other white cheese
1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
2 cups chopped ham (optional)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F.

Combine cheeses and set aside.

Peel and slice potatoes as thinly as possible. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil and blanch the potatoes for 5-6 minutes. Drain, and place potatoes an ice-water bath to stop cooking. Drain and spread on paper towels. Pat dry.

Russet Potato PieArrange 1/3 of potato rounds, slightly overlapping, in concentric circles in the bottom of the pie crush; sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic, then 1/3 of the parsley and thyme, and 1/4 cup of cheese blend. Dot with teaspoons of butter, and pour 1/4 cup cream over all.

Repeat layering 2 more times with remaining potato, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic, cheese, and cream. Pour remaining cream over all, and top with remaining cheese.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

Bake gratin until golden on top and potatoes are very tender, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. If the pie crust becomes too brown, cover with edges with a ring of foil.

Let potato pie rest 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com



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04/21/14

Sweet & Spicy Post-Easter Ham Sandwich

Sweet and Spicy Ham Sandwich

I love Easter dinner…but I might love Easter leftovers even more!

Yesterday we slow-smoked a beauty of a ham in our Traeger, and finished it with an orange/maple glaze.

Sweet and Spicy Ham SandwichEven while we were enjoying the meal, all I was thinking was…”Man, this is going to make an awesome sandwich tomorrow!”

Turns out I was right. Sweet, hot, salty, and savory…this sandwich has it all.

Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar adds just the right amount of fire to wake up your taste-buds and balance the sweetness of the marmalade.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Ultimate Post-Easter Ham Sandwich
1 – 6″ baguette
4-6 oz leftover baked ham slices, warmed
2 oz Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar
2 Tbs. Orange Marmalade

Split and toast baguette under broiler (on high) until just lightly browned.

Sweet and Spicy Ham Sandwich

Place ham slices on bottom half of baguette, and spread ham with marmalade. Top the other half of the baguette with thin slices of cheese.

Sweet and Spicy Ham Sandwich

Place back under broiler until cheese has melted and marmalade is bubbly.

Sweet and Spicy Ham Sandwich

Remove the sandwich from the oven and spread the marmalade more evenly, if necessary.

Fold sandwich to close, and serve immediately.

04/17/14

Tips & Recipes for an Amazing Easter Dinner (and leftovers!)

It’s almost Easter!

Here are some of the best recipes, menus, and leftovers tips we’ve put together over the last few years…

Just click on the picture to view each post!

Happy Easter!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Lamb Easter Dinner

Garlic and Rosemary Leg of Lamb, Potato, Leek, and Asparagus Gratin, Strawberry Spinach Salad, and Petits Pots de Crème au Chocolat.

Easter Ham Dinner

Honey Baked Ham with Roasted New Potatoes & Green Beans

Reheating Turkeys and Hams

Reheating Turkeys and Hams

Leftover Easter Egg Recipes

Leftover Easter Egg Recipes

04/14/14

The Secret to Kitchen Success is…

Reading a recipe

…reading your recipes. Read Twice…then read twice more!

Professional chefs have a phrase they like to bandy around the kitchen. They call it the Six P’s:

“Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

Sorry, but we ARE talking about chefs, lol. You can shorten that to five p’s when working with kids. :)

Let me explain…

Some home chefs find a recipe they’d like to try, often one with a pretty picture, and assume that all they have to do is buy the listed ingredients and they’re ready to start cooking.

Honestly, I’ve done it many times myself.

This habit has probably led to more frustration and disappointment than any other single issue in the kitchen, and many a new home chef has thrown their hands up and said, “I’m just not a good cook!” when, in fact, what they’re not is a good planner.

Stumbling across a technique you’re not familiar with, say reducing a sauce, or deglazing a pan, and being forced to do a desperate Google search for a how-to video is NOT something you want to be dealing with while your sauce is bubbling away to a black mess in the pan!

When trying a new recipe, read it at least twice from beginning to end before you even go shopping, then read it again before you start doing any cooking.

Want to take the hassle out of meal planning? For super-simple, healthy and delicious dinner recipes, check out our FREE weekly meal plans and shopping lists! Your free membership helps us teach valuable cooking skills to at-risk youth !

Set up your mise en place*, organize the gear and utensils you’ll need, maybe even jot down a quick timeline (starting at the time you want to serve, and working backwards, step-by-step, to your start time).

By reading the recipe twice, in advance, you’ll know if there are any steps or techniques you’re not familiar with, and either be able to research those, or decide if you need to put this one back in the box until you have more time.

You’ll find out if you’re missing a piece of gear  (it takes a LOT longer to mince 4 cups of veggies with a chef’s knife than with that food processor that the recipe calls for – believe me, I know!) By reading it again before you start cooking, you’ll determine that you have all of the necessary ingredients BEFORE you reach for something that’s not there.

Plus, you’re a lot less likely to skip a step (yes, it happens a lot) which can be the ruin of even the simplest recipe.

All of that said…don’t be a slave to a recipe either, even one of ours.

Unless you have a good reason to copy, exactly, the way the original chef prepared it, give yourself permission to add or remove ingredients, switch up a sauce, make it hot & spicy (or not). In other words, feel free to experiment with your  cooking – just be sure that you’re making choices intentionally, not in a panic to fix something you missed.

Cooking isn’t hard to do. Like most things, there’s a learning curve, one you can climb at your own pace.

Cooking shouldn’t be a frustration, either.  In fact, your best cooks will often say, in the midst of a seemingly chaotic kitchen, than the preparation of food relaxes them, puts them into an almost zen state. Let’s face it, chopping a bag of carrots is a heck of a lot cheaper (and more interesting) than a hour-hour with a therapist!

So, enjoy the process, read and re-read, and remember…Prior Preparation…

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

*Mise en place: A term our meal plan subscribers have become very familiar with, it’s a standard professional kitchen phrase meaning, “Everything in Place”. It’s the process of organizing your ingredients (having spices ready, cutting veggies and herbs, prepping meat, so that everything is ready in advance to be used as the recipe calls for. Mise en place can be the difference between kitchen frustration, and being a happy, successful home chef.

Read more about mise en place, in our article, here.

http://i1.wp.com/hautemealz.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/mise-en-place.jpg?resize=499%2C352

 

04/9/14

Cell Phones & The Dinner Table

Our new SimplySmartDinnerPlans radio spot (if you haven’t heard it, listen here) ends with a funny comment about trying to get the family to put their cell phones away at the dinner table. This got me thinking…

Texting at tableNow, for the sake of honesty…I’m guilty of the occasional email peek myself, so no high-horses here! :)

But, at the same time, I’ve been to dinner at folk’s houses where four kids are plugged into cell phones, ipods, ipads, you name it, and never lift there eyes from the screen through the whole dinner.

Well, what’s the point of having a “family dinner” if every one is hiding in their own little digital world?

To quote one friend, commenting on this subject: “Talking, texting, or listening to your ipod during a family dinner is just rude. When having a meal, one is supposed to enjoy/cherish the other party’s company. Engage them in a conversation, laugh about things or just sit, eat and drink while appreciating each others presence.

“Appreciating each others presence”…I like that.

No, I love that.

Of course, as the chief cook and foodie of my family, I also enjoy seeing some respect and appreciation for the food I’ve cooked and served (and so should show the same respect and appreciation when my spouse cooks) as well.

Frankly, if you’re going to just grab a spoon and hork it down while “lol”ing with your “bff”, uncaring of what you’re putting in your mouth, I think I’d rather just slop something into a bowl and let you eat it off the floor, as that’s the behavior I expect from the dog.

Actually, that’s not fair – our dog is always clearly appreciative of her food. :) Sorry…that was the chef in me expressing moral outrage, lol.

Finally, from those foremost authorities on good manners, at Emily Post.com:

“If your meal is just about nourishment and you are by yourself in the kitchen, text away. No problem! But if you’re having dinner with friends and family, be with them.”

The dinner table is, or should be, that place where as a family we reunite from our various daily adventures to re-connect, to share, to ask and answer, to seek and give help, and to grow closer as a family. It is where we, as a tribe, commune and break bread with one another, affirming the importance of each member to the whole, where we love, and laugh, and make memories.

Texting3So, here’s what I’m thinking…

While this really isn’t that big of a deal at my house (yet), I do have a six-year-old daughter who is watching and learning, and it’s probably never too early to start setting a good example. I think I’m going to put a basket on our dinner table, and anyone who brings a cell-phone, tablet, etc., to the table, has to put it in the basket.

First one to take their phone out of the basket, before dinner is over, has to do the dishes!

Yes, that includes myself.

So, remember…

Texting2

 

Your thoughts?

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

 

04/7/14

Leftovers French Bread Pizza

Chicken Artichoke French Bread Pizza

This was one of my Dad’s favorite things to make us, with whatever bits and pieces he had saved in the restaurant kitchen that day.

Sometimes breakfast, sometimes dinner, but never the same recipe twice!

Today: Rotisserie chicken, Alfredo sauce, fried shallots, smoked bacon, and artichoke hearts (plus a little fresh Italian parsley). Recipe below…

The great thing about this recipe is that if you can some leftover meat and/or veggies, and a little cheese, all you need to do is stop for a loaf of French Bread on the way home, maybe pick up a bottle of your favorite red or white sauce (or better, of course, make your own), and in about 10 minutes, you can have a hot delish entree ready. Add a bag of your favorite salad, and you’ve got dinner!

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Chicken, Artichoke & Bacon French Bread Pizza
1 loaf of fresh French bread, halved.
2 cups shredded Italian blend cheeses.
1 cup Alfredo sauce.
2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper2
2-3 cups Rotisserie chicken, chopped.
1 cup fried shallots (2 lg shallots, sliced).
4 slices smoked bacon, diced.
7 oz artichoke heart, drained and chopped.
Handful of Italian parsley, chopped (opt.)

Preheat your broiler on high.

Fry shallot rings in oil over medium-high heat until golden.

Combine chopped chicken, bacon, artichoke hearts, and fried shallots. Mix well and set aside.

Cut the French bread in half across the middle, then each half lengthwise. Toast under broiler until golden brown.

French Bread Pizza

Trim the “top” slices so they’ll sit flat in the pan. Spread a couple of tablespoons of sauce on each slice and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cheese and black pepper.

French Bread Pizza

Broil under high heat until cheese has melted, remove from oven and top with chicken & artichoke mixture, then with remaining cheese.

French Bread Pizza

Place pizza back under the broiler until the top layer of cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.

By the way, if you’re enjoying our recipes, please subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week, no charge!

Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster kids through our MY KITCHEN Outreach Program!



Chicken Artichoke French Bread Pizza

What would you put on YOUR French bread pizza?

-Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com