Date Night at Home

Date Night at Home

If you would have asked me a year ago what my favorite thing to do was, I would have instantly answered, “going out to dinner!” I love trying new restaurants and cuisines, but lately, I prefer cooking at home. I’m not sure whether its because of COVID or our new puppy, but I love being at home so our date nights have transitioned from going to our favorite restaurants to cooking at home as a family.

Tonight our menu was inspired by The Defined Dish’s Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken. Alex warned us in her stories last night that getting boneless chicken breasts with the skin on might be a challenge, but the butchers at Central Market were happy to help me this morning, they were even excited to know what I was making!

When you’re at your local grocery store or meat market, just ask the butcher for boneless chicken breasts with skin. It’s not really common, but if you ask nicely, they’ll be happy to help.

When I saw Alex posting about this meal last night, I just knew we had to make it. Last year, my husband and I spent some time in the French countryside and ever since, I have such a new appreciation for chicken. The recipe Alex shared was inspired by the Cajun Chicken entree at Le Bilbouquet…one of my all time favorite restaurants. I’ve never had this dish in the restaurant, but I definitely will next time I go!

I paired our dinner tonight with a medium-bodied French red wine. I think the seasoning on the chicken paired so well with this wine!

For our date night, we started off with a little cheese board when Will got home from work. I kept it pretty simple, but used my favorite ingredients. Central Market makes my FAVORITE crackers, the rosemary crostini crackers…they are a game changer so I started out with those, selected a basil pesto goat cheese and a blue cheese, peppered salami and holiday grapes to round out my board. I like to drizzle local honey over my blue cheese because I think it gives it a really nice balance.

A little cheese board for our appetizer

For our salad, I made a version of a childhood favorite. I diced an apple, crumbled some goat cheese, added a dash of salt and pepper and mixed it with butter lettuce and a spring mix. I drizzled Garlic Expressions over it.

For our main entree, I served the pan-roasted chicken with oven frites and my mixed salad.

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken with Oven Frites

by Alex Snodgrass – The Defined Dish

Pan Roasted Blackened Chicken

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 lbs boneless, skin-on chicken breasts about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 tablespoon avacado oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine substitute chicken broth plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon arrowroot starch
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or whole 30 use ghee
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Oven Frites

  • 1 1/4 pounds russet potatoes or 2 large potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS 

Pan-Roasted Blackened Cajun Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • in a small bowl, combine the salt,pepper, thyme, cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, and oregano. Set aside.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry and season the skin side with half the spice mixture.
  • in a medium oven-safe skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat until just starting to smoke. Carefully lay out the chicken breasts into the hot skillet skin side down. Cook without moving until the skin is deep golden brown and very crisp, about 6 minutes. While cooking season the second side of the chicken with the remaining spice mixture. Carefully flip the chicken breasts and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until cooked through, or when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 150 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and set aside, reserving the pan juices in the skillet.
  • In a medium bowl, combine the wine, chicken broth, and arrowroot and whisk until the arrowroot dissolves. Set aside.
  • Pour off all but about 1 teaspoon of the fat from the skillet and place the pan over high heat. Add the garlic along with the wine mixture, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook, stirring until the sauce is reduces by two -thirds, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add butter and the lemon and allow the butter to just melt. Stir to combine. Taste the pan sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Slice the chicken breasts and serve on individual plates. Spoon plenty of pan sauce over the slice chicken and serve with the oven frites.

Oven Frites

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Scrub the potatoes well, then cut them lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide fries.
  • Place the fries in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
  • Spread the fries across the prepared baking sheet in a single layer (you may need two baking sheets to ensure they are in a single layer and have plenty of room to crisp up).
  • Bake in the oven until potatoes are golden brown all over and crisp, about 30 minutes (and no, you do not need to toss during the cooking time at all).

This dinner was amazing!! My husband and I both loved it and were pretty impressed with just how good it was. The chicken was full of flavor and moist, the oven frites were excellent ( I roasted mine for about 45 minutes because I like them extra crispy) and we loved the salad!

What are y’all doing for your date nights this week?! Leave me a comment and let me know!!

XO,

Brit

Brit’s Pantry Staples

Brit’s Pantry Staples

Are you one of the one in five Americans who prefer cooking at home? Even before the coronavirus pandemic caused thousands of restaurants to close and forced people around the world to stay home, a survey published in February of 2020, found that a large portion of Americans prefer cooking at home to have more control over their budget and their health.

I began cooking regularly after I moved to Houston. Although going out to dinner has always been one of my favorite things, something about the portion sizes and type of food I was eating caused me to gain 15 pounds in a two month period. After I started cooking for myself, the weight I had gained began to drop off naturally. As someone who baked a lot growing up, but never cooked much, I had a lot to learn. One of the biggest things to think about when you begin your cooking journey is to have a fully-stocked pantry.

My pantry must-haves!

When I think of my pantry, I think of it in four different categories–spices, baking, starches and sauces.

Spices: The spices you use can make or break a dish. Outside of salt and pepper, paprika is my most used spice. The items I have listed below are my go-to spices.

Salt, Pepper, Paprika, Oregano, Cayenne Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes

Baking: I definitely have the baking bug. From brownies and blondies to chocolate cakes and scones, I love baking! It relaxes me and makes me feel so accomplished when the sweet treats I bake turn out well. Because I do bake on a regular basis, I always need to have lots of flour and sugar on hand. Outside of my baking, many of these ingredients are also needed for the savory cooking I do so I always make sure I have these items around.

Flour, Panko Bread Crumbs, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Corn Starch, Vanilla, Chocolate Chips, PB2

Starches: It’s always important to have starches stocked in your pantry. I probably use rice most often…maybe two to three times a week so I always have lots of rice in my pantry. I also keep Annie’s Mac and Cheese because my husband loves it and regular pasta on hand to complete dishes.

Rice, Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Chick Peas, Black Beans

Sauces: When I think of sauces, I’m really thinking of the ingredients I need to make sauces. These ingredients can be used for making so many different sauces and are required in many of the recipes I make.

Tomato Paste, Local Honey, Coconut Aminos, Rotel, Crystal Hot Sauce, Hatch Diced Chiles, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Rice Vinegar, Fish Sauce, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil , Vegetable Oil, Anchovy Paste, Beef Stock, Chicken Broth

Not mentioned in my list: my aprons! I love cooking in my aprons. Many of them were gifts or something I bought on a trip so these aprons always bring back fun memories for me and keep my clothes clean when the oil in the kitchen is flying!

What are your pantry must-haves? Let me know what you think of my list and happy cooking!

XO,

Brit

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Easy Red Coconut Curry

Even though we are in quarantine and I am home all of the time, I still feel like my weekdays are crazy busy! Because of that, I love cooking healthy, one-pot meals throughout the week. Tonight I’m making my favorite red coconut curry recipe from Averie Cooks.

Thai food has always been one of my favorite cuisines and after living in Houston, Texas, for the better part of a decade, I got pretty spoiled when it came to getting the best Thai food or really any kind of food just down the street. My husband and I recently moved to Austin in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic so we know a little bit about the food scene here, but definitely not as well as we knew our favorites in Houston. Today I was craving curry, so I decided to make this delicious recipe instead of ordering-in.

All the ingredients you will need for the coconut curry recipe.

I’ve made this recipe about 10 times and I’ve decided the only red curry paste I like to use for it is the Exotic Thai Red Curry Paste. I’ve tried a few other brands and it really makes or breaks this dish if you don’t get a good paste.

The creator of this recipe, Averie Cooks, claims this fresh, nutrient-rich recipe is only 141 calories per serving. I serve my curry over rice so of course that number will go up. One cup of rice is generally 160 calories so you will be at 300 calories for one serving of this dish, which is amazing!

Not only is this dish healthy, but it is SO easy to make, you can make it all in one pan and it only takes about 20 minutes, which means you’ll have an easy clean up too!

Let me know what you think and if you try this recipe out!

XO,

Brit