Chicken & Chickpea Stew

I love chickpeas, soups and pretty much anything spicy...so seeing that this dish has all three going on it's really no surprise that it's one of my favorite winter dishes. It's one of those rustic dishes that kind of tastes like home, no matter where you're from.  Super simple ingredients, relatively easy preparation and delicious. One thing to note though...I would consider this more of a soup than a stew because the broth is thin, but since it's served over bread I've stuck with calling it stew.

The original recipe, shown below, is from the Bon Appétit February 2012 issue and I've pretty much been making it consistently since then. Usually when I share recipes here I like to share my own adaptions that I think make them even better, but to be honest this one is so good in it's original form that it's pretty much identical to what you'll find here on the Bon Appétit website.

Two changes I do usually make though;  I double the recipe below since it only makes about 4 servings and I roast my own peppers instead of buying pre-roasted peppers. Roasting your own peppers is so easy, cheap and makes your house smell so good that I strongly recommend it. As long as you have a gas stove you can follow my tutorial for how to do it included in this recipe...and then I promise, you'll never pay a premium for roasted red peppers again!

Lemony Chicken Orzo Soup with Spring Peas

I know, I know...soup often isn't top of mind as we head into the warmer Spring and Summer months but this soup is so refreshing because of the fresh lemon that it really works all year long.  The original Bon Appétit recipe doesn't call for the addition of Spring peas but I think they brighten up the dish even more. I also made a few other small tweaks, so my adapted version is below:

Slow Cooker Chicken & Mixed Mushroom Casserole

I couldn't find this recipe from my favorite slow cooker cookbook anywhere on the Internet, and while I usually just find one that's similar enough to share I didn't want to risk it with this one.  I've had too many bad casseroles in my life (sorry Mom, but you have to admit they were always bland, sticky, mushy, high calorie/fat messes!), but the reason I wanted to try this one is because of the relatively unique mix of ingredients and seasonings that made me confident it would be delicious and healthy. Adapted from the cookbook "Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever"   Serves 6-8
Chicken & Biscuit Pot Pie

This is a new, somewhat healthier spin on a classic comfort food that we just made for the first time this week, and it is delicious! It's from one of my favorite cookbooks, Almost Meatless: Recipes that are Better for your Health & the Planet, which is focused on finding ways to have a lower-meat diet.  So while there's certainly chicken in this it's not as much as you would find in your traditional Chicken Pot Pie.  And instead of using a super buttery crust there's a whole wheat biscuit topping that is just fabulous...especially with the scallions mixed in. This dish is almost a hybrid between chicken pot pie and chicken and dumplings, and for a potato-hater like Christian the swap of potatoes for parsnips is perfect.  Classic comfort with a bit less guilt...just how I like it!

The recipe below makes enough for 6-8 servings...I tend to cook it right in the dutch oven that the stew is made in for easier clean-up, but if you were having a dinner party or wanted to portion the meal out for the week the single serving approach is nice as well.  The only changes I make to the recipe is to increase the quantity of vegetables a bit (although a lot of parsnips will make it kind of sweet, which means you'll need more salt to counteract) and ensure that the texture of the sauce is about right before adding the biscuit topping.  Typically this means sprinkling a few extra handfuls of flour into the sauce and letting it thicken and then adding the biscuit topping.  Mushrooms might be a nice addition as well. So no major changes, just a few tweaks.
Chickpea Obsession…

We have recently become obsessed with chickpeas.  I'm not sure exactly when or why it happened, but somehow I keep finding recipes with chickpeas on my weekly menus.  Not only are these chickpea dishes making their way on my menus like some sneaky guest you don't remember inviting, but they're becoming the star of the party!  Week after week these seemingly simple dishes have blown both Christian and I away, becoming our favorite dinner of the week.  You know, the kind where you're excitedly awaiting the leftovers.  Don't get me wrong...we've always liked chickpeas, but all of a sudden we love chickpeas!

Since they've been such a welcome part of our dinners lately I thought I'd share a few of our favorite dishes that feature chickpeas. The name of each dish is linked to the recipe so you can make them yourself.  Besides all having chickpeas, the other commonality that these dishes have is that they are all super simple as well.  What could be better than simple and delicious?!  Oh....healthy.  Yup, these dinners fit that bill as well!
Coriander Chicken Tostadas

This is one of those recipes that has been hiding in my binder for a while....over a year to be exact.  So when I stumbled upon it recently we added it to a menu and boy are we glad that we did!  Christian actually made it since I was running late but he says it was pretty darn easy for how gourmet and delicious it turned out.  We did decide to cheat slightly though...we used canned low-fat refried beans instead of making them ourselves, but it worked out just fine for us!

The recipe can be found here, on the Epicurious/Bon Appétit website from January, 2011.  Perfect for this time of year since fennel is in season!

Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Our Pat's are in the SuperBowl this weekend, so we need some yummy treats to sustain us through all of our shouting at the T.V. screen!  Enter one of my guilty pleasures when working from home...having The Martha Stewart Show on in the background.  I was lucky enough to have it on recently when Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow of The Meatball Shop were on with this recipe for Mini Spicy Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.  Now to be clear, I LOVE buffalo chicken wings.  Love them. But, I almost never eat them since they're not exactly healthy...which is why I love these, now I can get that buffalo chicken wing experience I love more often!  They're certainly a healthier take on buffalo chicken wings but still just as delicious and easier to eat.  Don't get me wrong...they still have butter in the sauce and you want a good blue cheese dressing to dip them in but it's certainly an improvement! And most importantly, boy are they tasty!  These will likely be my go to spicy buffalo dish for a while, which makes Christian happy since he loves them as well!
Weekly Menu: August 21-27, 2011
 
Sunday: Eggplant Putannesca Stacks with Roasted Balsamic Seasonal Veggies
Monday: Disappearing Zucchini Orzo with Shrimp & Salad
Tuesday: Leftovers: Eggplant Putannesca
Wednesday: Leftovers: Orzo
Thursday: In San Diego
Friday: In San Diego
Saturday: In San Diego
The menu is a bit bare bones for those of you using it this week since we're heading down to San Diego to see our good friends Nancy & Adam and our little sister Katrin.  But fear not! There are 8 months of archived menus to dig back through for other ideas for the weekend if you're interested.

Both of the dishes we are making this week are old-time favorites of ours...the first one from our Almost Meatless cookbook (this is the cover recipe) and the second one actually comes from the book Animal Vegetable Miracle...which if you haven't read yet you definitely should!  It's an incredibly inspiring book and it has lots of good recipes throughout...we add grilled shrimp to this one to add a bit of protein, but otherwise it's fantastic.    
Grilled Chicken & Veggie Skewers in the Park

The weather has been so incredible in San Francisco lately that we’ve decided to do something simple yet indulgent for our Sunday dinner this week.

Simple in terms of the fact that it is all store-bought.  Indulgent in terms of it being leisurely, fun and involving a bottle of Champagne while watching the sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge.  Lovely.
Phanang Curry

This is one of our favorite types of curry...the addition of peanuts to red curry paste makes it a bit more rich. As with most curries any meat works well with this, but we like chicken or pork...and this is a pretty spicy one, but feel free to dial it back.

The recipe is adapted from the one we received at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School in Chiang Mai, Thailand