Tomato & Mozzarella Crispy Chicken Skillet Recipe

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After a longer-than-intended hiatus that included the launching of a new business, a month-long travel stint, and several other beautiful life happenings, the Grain-Free Love kitchen is back in action! What better way to start off 2016 than with a recipe that includes the word “skillet”?

I can’t be the only one who’s transported by the utterance of the word “skillet” to a warm, toasty kitchen with a crackling fire, sizzling succulent foods, and fantasies of cast-iron deliciousness keeping me warm from a roaring blizzard outside. (Am I?)

That’s why I’ve been perfecting this chicken skillet recipe for months now. It started off innocently enough. I want chicken parm tonight, Marc said. Let’s go ahead and make it, I said. But then things went awry. It turned into a skillet fest.

After our first love affair with chicken pan-seared and then baked in a skillet, I started experimenting with ways to innovate our old stand-by and devoted friend, the Grain-Free Chicken Parmigiana recipe. And while that recipe is much-loved and remains forever on our dinner rotation, the creation of this Tomato & Mozzarella Crispy Chicken Skillet recipe has really turned it up a notch as far as chicken-y cheese-y dishes go, in our humble skillety opinions.

First off, instead of using breaded chicken breast, we’ve thrown caution to the wind and gone for the tastiest chicken part there is: the thigh. By using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, the flavor is bursting through in this dish, complete with extra crispy skin (think KFC chicken skin, expect without the parts that shave 2 years off your life), juicy meat, and mouth-watering taste. The addition of pan-seared diced prosciutto (or pancetta, if you prefer), spicy red pepper flakes, savory onions, fresh garlic and basil, and a handful of capers—well, I needn’t say more.

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Imagine all of this cooked down in a quick San Marzano tomato sauce and topped with bubbly Mozzarella cheese, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of what went down in our kitchen last night. Now make it go down in yours.

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Tomato & Mozzarella Crispy Chicken Skillet Recipe
 
Prep time
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 4 medium to large chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
  • ¼ cup diced prosciutto or pancetta
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 Tbs. capers
  • 1 28 oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded or fresh
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red pepper flakes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Generously salt and pepper the chicken thighs on all sides and let rest.
  3. In a cast-iron skillet or oven-safe sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  4. Add diced prosciutto, cooking until nicely browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove prosciutto from the pan and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Add chicken to the hot pan and cook for 15 minutes, about 7 minutes per side, until skin is crispy and the thighs have a nice golden-brown sear.
  7. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  8. Next, add the onion and garlic to the pan. Cook while stirring for about 2 minutes, or until onion begins to turn translucent.
  9. Add the capers and two large pinches of red pepper flakes to the pan. Fry for 3 minutes.
  10. Add tomatoes (with their juices) and 4 fresh basil leaves (roughly chopped) to the pan mixture.
  11. Let cook and stir until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Break up the tomatoes with your spatula as you stir.
  12. Return chicken to the pan of sauce and place the pan in the oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until chicken cooks through.
  13. Remove skillet from oven and change oven setting to broil.
  14. Add Mozzarella cheese, as desired, in generous pinches around the top of the dish and return to the oven until cheese is bubbly and golden but not burned, about 3 minutes.
  15. Garnish the dish with prosciutto and torn basil leaves, and enjoy!

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How’d you like this delectable grain-free chicken recipe? Let us know in the comments below!

Xo,
S

Extra Hot & Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings Recipe

IMG_7165It’s finally that time of year again: BBQ parties, roof deck dinners, and—soon enough—weekends lounging at the beach with our toes in the sand. In the spirit of this long-awaited seasonal rebirth, we’ve been testing out some brand new, party-ready recipes in the Grain-Free Love kitchen. And what spring or summer party is complete without a piping hot tray of crowd-pleasing, finger-lickin’ good buffalo wings?

Certainly not any party we would host. That’s why we gave this recipe multiple go-arounds before we settled on what we think is the best baked, flour-free buffalo wings recipe ever.

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The secret to these wings comes down to the three Bs: butter, basting, and baking. We all know that butter makes everything better, and it turns out that’s especially true for buffalo wings. Who knew?

To make these delectable, extra spicy, crispy baked wings, season some chicken wings generously with garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper before popping them in the oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, melt down some butter and mix it together with your favorite buffalo sauce (we love to use this scrumptious, gluten-free Moore’s Buffalo Wing Sauce). Once the chicken’s baking time is up, you’ll baste each wing individually in the butter-buffalo sauce before returning the wings to the oven for another 20 minutes.

And yep, you guessed it: Once the wings have baked for another 20 minutes, you’re going to baste them again. This time, you’ll use straight buffalo sauce to slather your wings with spicy goodness, before crisping them up for another 5 minutes in an extra hot oven.

The end result is a tray full of crispy, spicy wings. The butter crisps the skin to perfection, while the act of twice-bastings the wings infuses the chicken with that extra burst of buffalo flavor we all love so much. Enjoy! (And don’t forget the napkins…)

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Extra Hot & Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings Recipe
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 lbs. of chicken wings (about 25-30 wings)
  • ⅓ cup butter
  • 1½ cups buffalo sauce (we love this gluten-free Moore's Buffalo Wing Sauce)
  • Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Place chicken wings on the parchment paper, lining them up in rows. It's not a problem if they touch one another.
  4. Generously season the wings with salt, then garlic powder, and then with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. I like to give each wing a good couple of shakes of the cayenne pepper, but I'm just crazy like that.
  5. Flip the wings over and season again, just as you did before.
  6. Place wings in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. While wings bake, make your buffalo mixture. Melt ⅓ cup butter and mix it together in a large bowl with 1 cup of buffalo sauce. Set aside.
  8. Once wings have baked for 20 minutes, remove them from the oven, but keep the oven temperature at 425 degrees.
  9. Let the wings cool slightly for a few minutes. Then, using tongs, take each wing separately and dip it into the bowl of buffalo/butter mixture, coating the chicken thoroughly. Return coated wing to the baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken wings are coated in the sauce.
  10. Set aside the leftover buffalo sauce—you'll be using this later!
  11. Return chicken to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes at 425 degrees.
  12. After the 20 minutes is up, remove the trays of chicken from the oven. Take the remaining buffalo sauce and add another ½ cup of buffalo sauce to it. Repeat the process from before, taking the wings out with tongs and dipping them into the mixture.
  13. Return dipped wings to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes, until skin is crispy.
  14. Serve immediately with your favorite wing accompaniments, and enjoy!

How’d you like this baked buffalo wings recipe? Let us know!

Xo,
S

Maple Soy-Glazed Cod Recipe with Crispy Asian Vegetables

Soy-Glazed Cod

When Marc and I first met five years ago, I knew as much about cooking as I knew about physics. (That is, enough to earn me an extremely generous D in college.) As a result, Marc cooked for us constantly. He was somewhat of a one-trick pony whose one trick happened to be a gloriously delicious Asian stir-fry. Using whatever we had on hand, Marc could whip up the most tantalizing Japanese- and Chinese-inspired one-pan wonders every night of the week.

I was amazed. Other than the occasional sushi or pad Thai, the only Asian food I had ever tasted growing up was of the Jewish-neighborhood Chinese restaurant variety; I don’t think I had ever experienced a home-cooked Asian dinner in my life before meeting Marc. So I did what any sane person would do: I feigned disinterest in the kitchen so he would keep cooking me stir-fry after stir-fry after stir-fry.

Ginger

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and thus did the era of Marc’s stir-fry dinners. Here’s what happened: we stopped eating noodles and rice when we decided to go grain-free. And in our minds, there was simply no having an Asian stir-fry dinner without noodles or rice. What was the point? At the time, I’d rather have done a physics problem than find out. (Well, not really.)

Anyway, we did eventually find out what stir-fry without noodles and rice is like—that’s why you’re reading this post! It turned out to be better than anything we could’ve imagined five years ago.

This ginger soy-glazed cod recipe I’m sharing with you is our favorite rendition. Part stir-fry, part elegant fish dinner, it’s like the supreme reincarnation of Marc’s stir-fry…4.0. It’s healthy, chock-full of Asian flavors and produce, and elevated to the point that we’d serve it to you if you came over for a fancy dinner party.

The key to this dish is quite simple: it’s fresh. Fresh fish, fresh scallions, fresh ginger, fresh baby bok choy, and fresh garlic make this an aromatic and clean-tasting explosion of flavor. Sweet, salty, umami, earthy, spicy—this dish has it all. Top it off with a glaze made of pure maple syrup and soy sauce, and there’s not much you can do but wonder: when can I make this again?!

Maple Soy-Glazed Cod Recipe with Crispy Shiitakes
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 cod fillets
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 small piece of fresh ginger, about 1 Tbs., peeled and minced
  • 2 baby bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, chopped and separated
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 4 Tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup Shiitake mushrooms
  • ½ can baby corn, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Garlic salt
  • Pepper
Instructions
  1. Season cod fillets generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the minced ginger, minced garlic, white parts of the scallions, soy sauce, and maple syrup. Stir and set aside.
  3. Place a large pan over medium-high heat. Add a couple of teaspoons of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add baby bok choy, searing for about 1 minute per side until slightly browned. Remove seared baby bok choy from pan and set aside.
  4. In the same pan, add another teaspoon of olive oil. Add Shiitakes to the pan and let them cook down for about 3 minutes, seasoning to taste with garlic salt and pepper. (A few light shakes of each should do.)
  5. Next, add baby corn to the Shiitakes, and pour about 1 Tbs. of maple-soy mixture into the pan. Turn heat down to medium-low, stirring occasionally.
  6. In another large pan, heat about 2 Tbs. of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add cod fillets to the pan.
  7. Cook the cod 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through.
  8. While cod cooks, add your baby bok choy to the hot pan with Shiitakes and baby corn. Turn heat up to medium and add a dash of the maple-soy glaze. Stir.
  9. Once cod is cooked through, add the remainder of the maple-soy glaze to the fish in the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more.
  10. Serve glazed fish over stir-fried veggies and top with green scallions. Enjoy!

Ginger-Soy Glaze

How’d you like this ginger soy-glazed cod recipe? Let us know!

Xo,
S

Perfect Grain-Free Chicken Parmigiana Recipe

parmesan

There comes a time in everyone’s life when only a plate of crispy, cheesy, sizzling hot chicken parmigiana will do. For me, that time comes pretty frequently. In fact, it came just yesterday, and I’m willing to bet it’ll be here again by tomorrow.

The trouble with these sudden-onset chicken parmigiana cravings is two-fold. First, chicken parmigiana isn’t normally a dish you can whip up on a whim, as it requires a hearty, typically homemade tomato sauce. And second, chicken parmigiana relies on perfectly crispy, breaded chicken to achieve its unparalleled yumminess—something that’s notoriously difficult to replicate without succumbing to the temptation of Italian breadcrumbs, which we don’t do in the Grain-Free Love kitchen. But yesterday, I solved both of these issues. Eliminated them completely. Bye bye, two-fold chicken parmigiana problem.

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Today, you’re going to do the same. And then you’re going to sit back, congratulate yourself on making a ridiculously good meal in a scandalously short amount of time, and tuck into a hearty meal of grain-free chicken parmigiana.

The grain-free “breading” mixture used in this recipe (half almond flour, half tapioca flour) makes for a golden-fried, crispy chicken bursting with spices like thyme, oregano, black pepper, and garlic. And instead of spending an hour making homemade tomato sauce, I’ve given you a quick, tasty way to doctor up your favorite jarred sauce with red wine, onions, garlic clove, and parmesan. And it all takes just 30 minutes.

Now go forth and conquer your chicken parmigiana cravings!

Perfect Grain-Free Chicken Parmigiana Recipe
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • ¼ cup tapioca flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine (any bottle you have on hand will do the trick)
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (we highly recommend using this 4-cheese sauce by Rao's)
  • 1 medium or half a large onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. dried parlsey
  • 1 cup shredded or shaved Parmesan & Romano mixture
  • Generous pinches of: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Lay chicken breasts out on a large cutting board. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Using a hammer or a rolling pin, pound out chicken until very thin, less than ¼-inch thick.
  2. On a large plate or shallow bowl, combine tapioca flour, almond flour, and pinches of salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder. Stir together throughly with a spoon.
  3. Next, dredge each chicken breast in the flour mixture, making sure each chicken is thoroughly coated. You might need to use your hands to pat the mixture down into the skin of the chicken. Don't be shy! You can wash your hands as soon as you're done. ;)
  4. Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add olive oil and butter.
  5. Once oil and butter have melted, add both chicken breasts to your hot pan.
  6. Fry each chicken breast until crisp and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes per side. Be careful when flipping the chicken, because the "breading" can be prone to peeling off. Use a non-stick spatula and employ quick, sure movements to flip each breast. If chicken starts to burn or oil begins to smoke, turn the heat down to medium-high.
  7. Set browned chicken aside on a plate, and place it inside a turned-off oven or microwave to retain some heat while you move on to the next steps.
  8. Add your chopped onions and minced garlic to the same pan where you cooked the chicken. Don't clean the pan first! You want all the leftover buttery goodness that comes from frying chicken to flavor the onion and garlic. Stir onion and garlic with a wooden spoon for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
  9. Add red wine to onions and let reduce for about 2 minutes.
  10. Next, add 2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce. Let cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add a large pinch of Parmesan & Romano mixture (about 1 Tbs.) to your sauce and stir.
  12. Place cooked chicken on top of sauce. Sprinkle tops of the chicken generously with cheese mixture, covering each chicken breast.
  13. Place the lid on the pan and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and chicken is cooked through.
  14. Serve immediately, plating chicken on top of sauce and garnishing with dried parsley. Serve with extra cheese on the side. Mangia!

Grain-Free Chicken Parm

How was this grain-free chicken parmigiana recipe? Let us know!

Xo,
S

Pistachio-Encrusted Lamb Chops Recipe with Spicy Mint Yogurt

Pistachio-Encrusted Pork ChopsWhen it comes to meat, lamb is like my soul mate. What else do you expect from a Greek girl? I come from a long line of expert spit-roasters, whose front yards doubled as lamb-roasting arenas for every conceivable occasion.

While I suspect that working a lamb on a roasting spit might come naturally to me—just like singing probably comes easily to Blue Ivy—I have absolutely no interest in finding out. Instead, I’ve always been content to let the restaurants (or my mother) do the lamb-cooking themselves. I just do the eating.

To tell the truth, I’d never even ventured to buy lamb at the supermarket before this week. While there were many times that I’d almost do it, I’d always end up being too afraid of failing to cook it well: What if I couldn’t even cook the very meat that my ancestors had mastered for generations?

Well, as you’ve probably inferred from the very existence of this post, I needn’t have worried. And neither should you, if you happen to be scared of cooking lamb for any reason at all. This recipe for pistachio-encrusted lamb turned out to be, hands-down, the best meal we ever made. Opa!

Paleo Breadcrumbs

First off, the pistachio crust is an explosion of crispy, crunchy spice. The pistachio base makes for an incredible breadcrumb substitute that can be used on fish, chicken, pork, and beef, in addition to lamb.

In this case, it creates a nutty, earthy exterior to the perfectly seared and roasted lamb. By seasoning the lamb, letting it rest, searing it, and then roasting it, the meat is tenderized and imbued with an incredible amount of flavor for such a short span of time.

The mint yogurt offers a great balance of cool and spicy flavors to complement the lamb chops. It only takes a few minutes to make this delicious combination of spices, cucumber, mint, and yogurt, but it’s going to stay on my meal rotation for a long, long time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go tell my mother that I’ve finally found my inner Greek cook.

Pistachio-Encrusted Lamb Chops with Spicy Mint Yogurt
 
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Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For chops:
  • 6 small lamb chops
  • ½ cup pistachios, shelled
  • ½ Tbs. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. Creole seasoning (We use this mixture by Emeril Lagasse. It's worth making a batch and keeping it in your pantry. It's delicious and well-balanced!) If you don't have time to whip up this seasoning mix, then you can just use the following instead: ¼ tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. thyme, and a pinch of dried oregano.
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil
  • For yogurt:
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (We like to use Chobani 0% fat.)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • ½ an English cucumber, chopped
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of sugar (We like to use Truvia instead.)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients for the spicy mint yogurt. Set aside.
  3. Combine pistachios and spices for lamb chops in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Set aside.
  4. Season lamb chops generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cooking. (This is a great time to have a glass of wine or send off your final e-mail of the night!)
  5. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with olive oil.
  6. Once oil is hot, add the lamb chops. Take care not to crowd them. If you need to, cook the lamb chops in batches of 3 to prevent overcrowding.
  7. Sear each lamb chop for about 2 minutes on each side.
  8. Transfer seared chops to a baking sheet. Let cool for 2 minutes.
  9. Next, coat your lamb chops with the pistachio mixture. Hold each lamb chop by the bone end, rolling each side of the lamb chop in the mixture until thoroughly coated. Then place coated lamb chops back on the baking sheet.
  10. Roast chops in the oven for 5 minutes. The tops of the chops should be a light golden-brown, and the inside should be a beautiful dark pink medium-rare.
  11. Serve chops with the spicy mint yogurt, and enjoy!

Lamb Chop Recipe

How’d you like these lamb chops with spicy mint yogurt? Shoot us a message to let us know, and be sure to rate this recipe on your way out! Happy cooking!

Xo,
S

 

 

Grain-Free Pizza Recipe with a Crunchy, Crispy Crust

Grain-Free Pizza Recipe

You could say that this is the recipe that started it all. About a year and a half ago, Marc and I were struggling with a familiar craving: We wanted pizza for dinner. And we wanted it bad. The problem was that we couldn’t justify eating a pizza, since we both always felt so sick after splurging on our favorite food.

Now, this was back before we had become regular grain-free cooks, and we were only just starting to realize what amazing grain substitutes there were out there. We didn’t even know how to begin to create a grain-free pizza at home.

But that night, the stars aligned. We jumped into the research, hit the market, and got to work on our first-ever Grain-Free Pizza Flatbread with a Crunchy, Crispy Crust.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Paleo Pizza RecipeThis pizza crust is—hands down—the best grain-free crust we’ve ever encountered. Frankly, we like it way better than regular pizza crust. The dough takes on a heavenly texture from the mixture of tapioca flour, coconut flour, and eggs.

By the time it comes out of the oven, the crust is golden-brown, crispy, crunchy, and so sturdy that you can hold up slices of the pizza with one hand without having it flop over—that’s quite a feat for a grain-free pizza!

We like to top our pizza with fire-roasted tomatoes, pepperoni, yellow pepper, onion, mushrooms, and fresh basil leaves. Feel free to get creative and make it your own!

Grain-Free Flatbread Pizza with a Crunchy, Crispy Crust
 
Prep time
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Serves: 2 to 3
Ingredients
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1½ cups tapioca flour
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups canned fire-roasted tomatoes, pureed and then strained through a mesh colander
  • 2½ cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • Toppings of choice. We like to use:
  • ¼ cup pepperoni slices
  • ¼ cup sliced yellow pepper
  • ¼ cup sliced onions
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine water, coconut oil, and salt. Bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Once mixture is boiling, turn off the heat and quickly add garlic powder and tapioca flour to the saucepan. Stir together with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. At this point, the dough will feel a bit gummy and won't look like regular pizza dough; that's perfectly normal!
  5. Set saucepan away from heat and let the dough mixture cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Once the mixture is cool enough to handle, add eggs. Stir with wooden spoon to combine, using hands to knead the egg into the mixture, if needed.
  7. Add coconut flour to the mixture, kneading the dough for about 4 minutes, until it begins to feel more like regular dough.
  8. Knead dough into a large, smooth ball and place it on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  9. Using a rolling pin (and hopefully an extra pair of helping hands!) roll out the dough until it spans your entire baking sheet. This dough can be spread extremely thin; in fact, the thinner, the better. Don't worry about any small holes or transparency in the dough. It will actually be crispier that way.
  10. Bake dough for 35 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown and dough is slightly crisp to the touch.
  11. While dough bakes, take all vegetable toppings (except for fresh basil leaves, if using) and toss them in olive oil, seasoning to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.
  12. Remove dough from oven and spread fire-roasted tomato puree over the dough, all the way up to the edge of the crust.
  13. Top tomato sauce with cheese and other toppings.
  14. Return pizza to oven and broil on high for 10 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure toppings don't burn.
  15. Remove pizza from oven and garnish immediately with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!

Grain-Free Pizza

Foodie tip: If you’re cooking for one, just cut this recipe in half! It makes the perfect individual serving…and might leave you with one or two slices left over for lunch the next day.

Let us know how you enjoyed this grain-free pizza! We’d love to hear what toppings you chose for your first at-home, grain-free pizza creation.

Xo,
S

Spinach & Almond Pesto Chicken Roulade Recipe

Chicken Roulade Recipe

My love affair with pesto didn’t come easily. For years, I avoided any dish that included the stuff. I’d even scrape it off of sandwiches, request pesto-free pastas, and eat around it if it ever made it onto my plate. A few years ago, something changed. I don’t know what it was that changed, but I think we can all agree that it was for the best.

Because pesto is freaking awesome, scientifically speaking.

Now I feel like someone who was formerly forced to live in a Hunger Games-esque arena where pesto was strictly banned for reasons I couldn’t quite understand, and the ban has been suddenly lifted. Hallelujahs! echo across the sky and the sun spills down. I have absolutely no self-control whatsoever. I want pesto. And I want it all the time. On everything.

Pesto Chicken RecipeDuring one of my many pesto-crazed cooking episodes this week, I was almost brought to tears when I realized that we were all out of basil and pinenuts, my two pesto-best-friends. Panic set in, of course. But then I slowly remembered that pesto is a technique, not a basil-specific food—although we see it most often with basil, since it tastes so delish.

Pesto simply refers to the method of grinding up into a paste. So I grabbed some fresh spinach leaves and sliced almonds that we had on hand. And I got to work. This Spinach & Almond Pesto Chicken Roulade was the result. And it’s a keeper.

The pesto is packed with nutty, fresh flavor, and the saltiness of the Parmesan makes it so scrumptious that I want to eat it by the spoonful. But instead, I exercise a modicum of rare pesto-self-control and spread it over thinly-pounded chicken breasts, roll them up in fancy roulades, and crisp them up to a savory golden-brown.

The result is an impressive-looking dish that looks way more complicated that it actually is. The simple pan sauce really kicks it up a notch too, adding a buttery, lemony, white wine jus to the equation. Ok, now I’m drooling. Time to go make some more…

Spinach & Almond Pesto Chicken Roulade
 
Prep time
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Total time
 
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • For roulade and pesto:
  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2½ Tbs. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • For pan sauce:
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine, like Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Lay chicken breasts on a large cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin or meat pounder, pound each breast until very thin -- less than ¼-inch thick.
  3. Next, season each piece of chicken generously on both sides with salt and pepper.
  4. In a food processor, combine spinach, almonds, cheese, garlic clove, olive oil, and salt. Pulse until relatively smooth. Taste and season more, if needed.
  5. Using a small spatula or spoon, scoop pesto onto the chicken breasts, spreading the mixture in a thin layer to completely cover each breast.
  6. Now it's time to roll up the chicken. Roll each chicken breast lengthwise, tightly, until it's completely closed up. Take care to keep as much pesto inside as possible. Now you have your roulades made! How fancy of you.
  7. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cover pan surface with about 1 Tbs. olive oil.
  8. Once oil is hot but not smoking, add the roulades to the pan. Sear until lightly golden-brown on each side of the roulade, about 8 minutes total. Chicken will be seared on the outside but still uncooked within.
  9. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and add seared roulades to the sheet. Place in the 450-degree oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  10. While roulades bake, return to the sauté pan to make your pan sauce. Over medium-high heat, add the white wine, lemon juice, minced garlic, butter, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce reduce for about 5 minutes.
  11. Remove cooked roulades from the oven. Plate them and spoon pan sauce generously over the top. To serve, garnish plates with lemon wedges and sprinkle the dish with shaved Parmesan. Enjoy!

Spinach Pesto Recipe

Let me know how this pesto-roulade turned out for you! I always love to hear about your cooking adventures. Be sure to leave a comment and rate this recipe using the star system below. Happy pesto-obsessing!

Xo,
S

Fall-off-the-Bone Beer-Braised Short Ribs Recipe

Short Rib RecipeThis post is essentially one deep, floor-grazing bow at the throne of Smitten Kitchen, as I kiss the ground that Deb Perelman walks on. Perelman’s amazing cookbook introduced me to this flawless short rib recipe, and gave me the courage to try to make a dish that had always intimidated me. Not anymore! So even if you’ve never braised anything in your life—or you’re not quite sure what braising even is—give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed, and everyone at your table will be impressed, guaranteed.

Braised Short Rib RecipeI highly recommend pairing this recipe with a side of Creamy Horseradish Cauliflower & Parsnip Puree. It’s the perfect consistency for absorbing that delicious braising liquid, and adds great texture diversity to the meal—just like creamy mashed potatoes would. Mmm. That said, you should feel free to make any of your favorite side dishes to accompany these ribs; they go well with virtually anything.

I’d also like to state, for the record, that my Dad said these short ribs were “better than any restaurant short ribs I’ve ever had.” Just trust me when I tell you that I’ve never heard him say something like that before. These ribs are just so good, they make dads say the darndest things…and mean them.

Fall-off-the-Bone Short Ribs
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 5 lbs. bone-in short ribs, separated between each bone
  • Kosher salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bottles dark beer, such as black lager
  • Beef stock
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Season short ribs generously with salt and pepper on each meaty side. Don't be shy!
  3. Place a large, deep pan or Dutch oven over high heat. Add olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan.
  4. Let the oil heat up for about a minute, and then begin placing short ribs in the pan.
  5. Working in batches so that short ribs don't get over-crowded, sear the meat on each side until golden-brown. After each batch finishes, set seared short ribs aside on a plate.
  6. Once you have a golden-brown sear on all short ribs and set them aside, turn the heat down to medium.
  7. Pour off all but one tablespoon of the oil and fat in the pan. Then add the chopped red onion to the pan.
  8. Season red onion with salt and pepper and sauté for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until onion is tender and slightly browned.
  9. Add smashed garlic cloves and sauté for another 3 minutes.
  10. Add tomato paste and sauté for another minute or two, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and beer.
  12. Next, add the short ribs to the pan.
  13. Add just enough beef stock to cover the short ribs.
  14. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil, and then place cover on top.
  15. Bake for 3 hours, until short ribs are tender and flake apart easily with a fork.
  16. Remove from oven and rest for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  17. Remove short ribs from braising liquid and spread out on a baking pan. Place pan in the oven to keep short ribs warm and brown them some more while you prepare the sauce.
  18. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and simmer it over high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
  19. To serve, place parsnip puree (see recipe below) on plate, top with short ribs, and then ladle with sauce.

Short RibsNow that you’ve got the most amazing short rib recipe under your belt, don’t forget to click on over to that ultimate short rib companion dish: Creamy Horseradish Cauliflower & Parsnip Puree. Yum and yum.

Xo,
S