Monday, March 28, 2011

Speedy Tagine-ish Chicken

I think unemployment, with its constant "no's" and "thanks, but no thanks" or "we'll call you's" is pretty much the pits. It's humbling, demoralizing, and I really think it's driven me to put meat back in my diet because I've up and gone meat crazy this week! First it was that sausage lasagna (still lickin' my lips) and now a Moroccan chicken dish. I also cooked some Thai with chicken that will be featured soon. Frankly, it's probably just a reaction to a year-long diet steeped in beans. My stomach was bound to rebel sooner or later when Matt brought up chickpeas for the millionth time.

Here is a very good (and super quick) Rachel Ray recipe called Quick Tagine-Style Chicken. Tagines are these clay pots used in traditional Moroccan cooking. They're gorgeous but heck, I'm a simple Pennsylvania girl so I used my skillet. The original recipe is printed below, and I made it to a T except I doubled all the spices and suggest you do too! What's a little chicken without some spicy intrigue? The recipe also calls for prunes and I was like, "What?! Do I look like an 80-year-old granny?!" so I opted for apricots. Next time I'm going to add a few veggies and perhaps a can of diced tomatoes. Simple and delish, with a savory sweet finish.

The recipe calls for prunes, but I chucked them and opted for apricots.

Definitely double the spices - you can never had too much cumin!

Quick Tagine-Style Chicken
recipe courtesy of Rachel Ray
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed beneath the flat of your knife with the heel of your hand, discard skins
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite-size pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grill seasoning blend (recommended: Montreal Seasoning by McCormick) or coarse salt and coarse pepper
  • 2 medium or 1 large yellow skinned onion, quartered and sliced
  • 10 pitted prunes, coarsely chopped
  • 1-ounce box or 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups good quality, low sodium chicken stock,

Spice blend:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika, eyeball it
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander, eyeball it
  • 1/2 teaspoon tumeric, eyeball it
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon, a couple pinches


  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, eyeball it
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped


Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, in a slow stream, and add smashed garlic. Season the chicken with seasoning blend. Scatter chicken around the pan in an even layer. Cook chicken pieces 2 minutes on each side to brown, then add the onions, prunes, raisins and stock. Mix spices n a small dish and scatter over the pot. Cover and reduce to moderate heat. Cook 7 or 8 minutes, remove the lid and stir.

To prepare the couscous, bring chicken stock to a boil. Add couscous, extra-virgin olive oil and scallions and remove the couscous from the stove immediately. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork.

Uncover chicken and cook another 2 to 3 minutes to thicken slightly. Adjust the seasoning, to taste, and serve chicken on a bed of couscous. Garnish with chopped cilantro and scallions.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna

I thought being unemployed would permit me to post all the time. I would go to coffee shops and out would come the laptop and the inspiration. I would tackle new recipes and keep a clean house and be all 50's housewife-like with a really cute circle skirt and kitten heels to boot. But no. Big belly laughs come out when I think of that now. Oh, Kathryn...

I didn't think it was possible, but I am lazier than ever. I still get up early and I have doctor appointments and apply to jobs and talk on the phone with potential employers, but in between I do the following, in order of time allotted to each activity: I sleep, I sleep some more, I take the dog out, I mock Oprah (jealousy probably has everything to do with it), I cook (so that's not so bad), and I eat ice cream and cereal. Between those big time wasters I get the mail and contemplate putting on different yoga pants than yesterday's yoga pants.

But this week I've made three (count them! 3!) new recipes which, as someone who doesn't know when the last time she washed her hair, is really kind of monumental. The first I am going to feature is a super easy and super cheesy lasagna with mushrooms and sausage. I needed a make-ahead meal for a friend visiting and this fit the bill. I generally don't make lasagna: obviously it's not healthy (this is coming from the girl who has been eating ice cream for breakfast), and for some reason I never find it completely filling. But paired with a salad and a crusty French loaf (because you can never have too many carbs!) it's outstanding. You cook the mushroom/onion mixture and sausage in a cup of red wine, and boy does it work wonders. This is one of the top rated recipes on and I have no doubts why. Salud!

Mmm...onions and mushrooms. The basis for everything great.

Layer two being applied...

At this point I refrigerated the sucker over night. The meal made for perfect timing (and belt loosening. Well, not really seeing as I only wear yoga pants these days.)

Quick Sausage and Mushroom Lasagna
recipe courtesy of Epicurious (originally printed in Bon Appetit in 2008)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 8-ounce packages sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausages, casings removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 4 2/3 cups marinara sauce (from two 26-ounce jars)
  • 1 9-ounce package no-cook lasagna noodles
  • 1 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 8-ounce bags Italian blend grated cheese (4 cups)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in heavy large pot over high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, and seasoning blend; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add sausage and sauté until brown and cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add wine; cook until almost all liquid evaporates, scraping up browned bits, about 2 minutes. Set aside.

Spread 2/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Place noodles (about 4) over sauce, forming 1 layer (noodles may overlap slightly). Spread 1 cup sauce over noodles. Top with 1/3 of ricotta, then 1 cup grated cheese. Spoon 1/3 of sausage mixture over. Repeat 2 more times with noodles, sauce, ricotta, grated cheese, and sausage mixture. Cover with 4 more noodles. Spoon remaining 1 cup sauce over; sprinkle remaining 1 cup grated cheese over. Cover with foil, tenting in center to prevent cheese from touching foil. Bake lasagna 45 minutes; remove foil. Bake until bubbling at edges and cheese is browned, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 15 minutes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Video: Dog Caring for Dog in Japan

Small pleasures escaped the days during my first week of unemployment. And then last Friday I learned of the earthquake in Japan, then tsunami, and now, of course the chilling news about the meltdown of Japan's nuclear power plants. When you're unemployed you watch a lot of television, and read a lot of news. I sift through these tidbits all day long in between applying to jobs, fixing lunch, and finally putting on different sweats (from the ones I sadly slept in) to take the dog for a walk. I've been watching what's happening in Japan with a sort of frozen half-belief, but it wasn't until today that I actually cried when viewing a clip of the devastation. And it was from The Today Show, no less! Not some venerated newscast! And about a dog! Jeez. I don't know what this says about me - or about other people who cried at the same clip - but there's something so innately vulnerable about animals and particularly dogs: they have no clue what is happening yet they nurture nonetheless. Their loyalty is startling. I talk to my dog, Penny, throughout the day and her ears always perk up at the sound of my voice. We cook together, get the mail together, greet our neighbors together, and together we wait for Matt to get home. She's my best friend.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm Out!

My sentiments, exactly.

Today is my last day at work.  Talk about the last day of purgatory!
Catch you on the flip (unemployed, still wearing my pajamas at 2 PM) side!