Boursin & Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Thighs

I faced a rare conundrum the other day: an unopened pack of Boursin cheese that had been sitting pretty in my fridge for several days. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Boursin is this ridiculously delicious brand of creamy, flavor-packed French cheese that goes well with pretty much anything – eggs, crackers, you name it. It’s like goat cheese on crack. While brainstorming recipe ideas for using Boursin in a quick weeknight chicken dinner, I came across this Rachael Ray recipe that looked fabulous, but a bit too time-consuming.

Here’s my speedy version of her recipe, using three key ingredients: Boursin, ready-made pesto, and olive oil. THAT’S IT. Oh, and chicken thighs instead of breast, because they are so much more tender and better at soaking up that delicious garlic flavor 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4) 

12 chicken thighs
1/2 pack of Boursin Garlic & Herb cheese (~2.5 oz)
**the Rachael Ray recipe calls for a full pack, but IMHO half a pack is all you need since the cheese is so rich and flavorful!
3 tbsp pesto
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese to taste
10-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Recipe

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cheese and pesto until nice and creamy. Lay out the chicken thighs on a large baking tray and season with olive oil, and just a touch of salt & pepper. Add a teaspoon of the pesto cheese mixture to the center of the chicken thighs, and fold them over to enclose. Pour any leftover mixture over the thighs. You can then store this in the fridge for a few hours to marinate, or pop directly in the oven.

Bake the chicken thighs for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and add some parmesan cheese, and the cherry tomatoes. Pop back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until the thighs are done cooking. I like to broil them for a few minutes at the very end for a nice browned look!

That’s it! SO incredibly easy with virtually zero prep time, but so many complex flavors, thanks to the Boursin cheese. I’ve already made this twice (once for guests), and they’re a huge hit!

Tandoori Chicken Tacos

Here it is! My recipe for tandoori chicken tacos, which I guarantee is probably the easiest, no-fuss recipe you’ll find out there. My mother-in-law makes these all the time in the summer (with a more legit tandoori marinade) and they are so so scrumptious that I needed to figure out how to make a lazy girl version for myself. Enjoy, and leave a comment if you plan on trying these at home! You won’t regret it 🙂

Ingredients (serves 2)
*As with all cooking, I usually just eyeball/adjust these ingredients to taste, but here’s my best estimate for measurements

6 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 an onion, sliced into long pieces
6 flour tortillas
1 teaspoon Canola oil

For the marinade:
1 tablespoon plain or Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala
Red chilli powder to taste (I like mine spicy, so 1 teaspoon)
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Canola oil

For garnishing:
*Completely customizable, but here’s how I like mine!

2 avocados, sliced into long pieces
Greek yogurt
Montamore cheese (sweet, creamy, and tangy!)
Cholula Hot Sauce

Recipe

Mix the marinade ingredients into a large bowl. Fold in the chicken thighs, mix well, and let marinate for at least a few hours in the fridge (the longer, the better!). While the chicken marinates, you can prep the other ingredients so that your taco bar is ready to go as soon as the chicken is prepared.

Heat 1 teaspoon of Canola oil on a large saucepan on medium to high heat. Fry the onions until they’re slightly brown and caramelized, and set aside on a separate plate. In the same oil, fry the chicken thighs until brown on each side (this will take a few minutes), add any additional chilli powder (for a bolder look and taste), and then lower the heat and cover until the chicken is cooked fully. Once the chicken thighs are cooked, add in the caramelized onions and mix. You should have a nice creamy chicken mixture with not too much gravy. If your gravy appears thin, then cover and cook for longer.

To serve: Add a spoonful of the chicken mixture to your flour tortilla and garnish with a few avocado slices, a teaspoon of Greek yogurt, cheeeeese, and a generous helping of that amazing Cholula Hot Sauce. Ready, set, DEVOUR. And then repeat until your belly is full 🙂 The perfect weeknight dinner for your Taco Tuesdays!

Parisian Foodventures: My Top 5 Meals!

If you’ve been following me on the ‘gram, then you know that I just got back from an INCREDIBLE weeklong trip to Paris with my little family–yes, including the baby in tow! Most people thought we were absolutely bonkers to travel to Europe with a newborn who’s not even three months old, but it was so, so worth it. It was a LOT of work, but also tons and tons of fun. I’ll do another post on tips for traveling with an infant in Paris, so stay tuned 🙂

For this post though, I want to focus entirely on FOOD. We spent seven nights in Paris staying in the trendy Le Marais neighborhood, and it was so wonderful staying put in one place. Pre-baby, our international trips always consisted of multiple cities with jam-packed itineraries and daily restaurant reservations. This time around, traveling with a baby forced us to slooow down, space out our sight-seeing, and leave lots of room for spontaneous breaks at those darling French cafes people-watching for hours. Yes, it was as delightful as it sounds.

We made a few restaurant reservations ahead of time (a must for most Parisian restaurants!), and made sure to mention that we were with a newborn baby who would be in her carseat sleeping. Because she’s so young, we were able to get away with a few tasting menus, but still opted for more casual vs. stuffy/fancy restaurants. That’s more our style anyway! We had an amazing mix of meals during our stay in Paris – from modern French tasting menus, to delicious North African cuisine, to mouthwatering Italian food, and of course those fantastic pastries. I don’t think there was a single meal that I didn’t enjoy, but here are my top five FAVORITE meals that we enjoyed during our time in Paris.

*Disclaimer: There are obviously a zillion other restaurants in Paris, and we selected places that were convenient for us to visit with a newborn baby, but hopefully this is still helpful in your trip planning! Oh, and tip for eating out in Paris with a baby–make an early reservation (most places open at 7 or 7:30 pm) so that you can get in and out before it gets too busy. Some places might get cranky if you show up with a carseat + stroller (mostly because Parisian restaurants are tiny), but we were so pleasantly surprised with how friendly and accommodating each of the below places were. 

1. LA BOURSE ET LA VIE
http://www.labourselavie.com/en/  

My carnivorous hubby was obviously on the hunt for the best steak-frites in Paris, which is how we ended up at La Bourse et La Vie, a modern (and slightly Americanized) take on a traditional French bistro. With super minimalistic decor, and an uber-cool wait staff, we were in for a stellar meal. I’m so glad we found this place, because I’m still dreaming about that incredible rare steak au poivre with thick, crispy potatoes cooked to perfection. We split one steak, which was probably for the best, but I kiiiinda wish I devoured one on my own. So. good.

2. LES ENFANTS ROUGES
https://www.les-enfants-rouges.fr/ 

Les Enfants Rouges was probably THE most convenient restaurant we went to in Paris, because it was located right next to our Airbnb. It was also just an incredible meal. A tiny restaurant located in a side street of Le Marais with a Japanese chef, Les Enfants Rouges was exactly the type of modern inventive French food we were craving for our very first dinner in Paris. We opted for the six-course tasting menu, and our super sweet waitress who had just moved to Paris from Tokyo (and was juggling three different languages) happily described each of our dishes in English. French, with a touch of Asian influence. Our favorite dishes included a beautiful beef & mushroom dish and a mouthwatering molten chocolate dessert with pistachio ice cream.

3. COME A CASA
http://comeacasa7.tumblr.com/

It’s tough competition, but this might have been my favorite meal of all, just because the restaurant was SO ME. I live for tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurants that make you feel like you’re inside someone’s living room, and that’s exactly what Come a Casa is. It’s a tiny place in a very residential neighborhood owned by an Italian couple that changes the menu daily. Oh, and there’s only like three things on the menu. And everything is simple, fresh, and exquisitely delicious. We sat outside, drank lots of wine, and ate to our heart’s content. Big thanks to my friend Kat (a former Parisian) who recommended this very special place to us!

 

4. EAST MAMMA
https://www.bigmammagroup.com/fr/trattorias/east-mamma 

We were severely depressed on our last night in Paris and had no idea where to go. We wanted to go someplace casual, and I was craving another Italian meal because well, what’s new. I always want Italian. Kat had told me to visit one of the restaurants from the popular ‘Big Mamma’ restaurants so I mapped out whichever one was closest to our Airbnb. So that’s how we ended up waiting in line for East Mamma to open its doors at 7 pm on a Saturday night. Pretty much everyone in the line was speaking in French, which is how I knew we were in for an amazing meal. And boy, did it deliver. We were quickly seated outside, ordered the truffle pasta and a truffle pizza, and…died and went to heaven. To top it off, we polished off a pistachio creme brulee that might have been even better than a Pierre Herme macaron. And that’s saying a LOT.

5. SEMILLA
https://www.semillaparis.com/en 

Semilla is one of those trendy Parisian restaurants that just oozes French sophistication. The local patrons there are impeccably dressed, and the waitresses are just-friendly-enough to still be cool. When we asked for the tasting menu, they warned us that our baby might not last the two and a half hours (…their polite way of saying, please eat quickly) but I’m glad we insisted on it anyway. And our little one thankfully slept through the entire dinner! I loved my meal here–it felt more clean and refined than the modern French cuisine at Les Enfants Rouges, but perhaps with a little less heart. I’d still recommend Semilla for the overall ambience and really, really good food. The sole fish with tons and tons of butter was DIVINE.

Baby’s First Vacation: Portland, ME & Boston

Will time. please. SLOW. down?! I cannot believe that my baby girl is almost three months and that I only have two more weeks of maternity leave left. Cue tears now. I know it sounds cliched, but the past two and a half months have been the most challenging, yet gratifying and beautiful moments of my life. Time is SO relative – when I think about how long I’ve been away from work, my job feels like a distant memory, but when I think about how much time I’ve spent with the little one, it feels like a mere second. There are so many little projects I hoped to accomplish during maternity leave – baby photo books, finally getting my wedding albums together, blogging about motherhood…but of course none of it happened in the midst of all the newborn baby tantrums, diaper changes, and cuddle time.

One thing that my husband and I did prioritize during this time was travel! Everyone told us that the younger the baby, the easier it is to take them on a plane so we made sure to squeeze in at least two vacations during my maternity leave. We spent a week up in New England, road tripping from Boston up to Portland, Maine, and I’m shocked by how easy it was traveling with our baby! She was a little over two months at the time, so she slept like a champ. Slept through flights, car rides, and even fancy dinners. We’re headed to Europe this weekend (!), so will have to revert back with how that longer international journey goes…

Anyways, I wanted to share some of the delicious meals that we enjoyed in Portland. I was super excited to check out this little town by the water because of its reputation as a foodie paradise. It was the perfect little getaway from Boston for three days. Even though it was still fairly cold in mid-April, we had a great time bundling up the baby and walking through the little cobblestoned streets and enjoying some really fantastic food. The weather probably worked in our favor, because it wasn’t as crowded and touristy as I imagine it is during the summer months. The best part about our stay was that all these great restaurants were concentrated within just a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel (Portland Harbor Hotel) in the Old Port District. Made our lives so much easier with the little one!

Fore Street
http://www.forestreet.biz/

Maine is known for its farm-to-table restaurants, and Fore Street is the very original one that put Portland on the culinary map. I loved the ambience at this super rustic and romantic restaurant with a wood-burning oven in an open kitchen. So cozy! And the meal did not disappoint…a tagliatelle with fresh pesto appetizer, a cold seafood platter, fried shad roe (not pictured, but actually a Bengali delicacy as well!), and some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Everything was very simply, but elegantly prepared with the freshest of ingredients. YUM!

Eventide Oyster Co.
http://www.eventideoysterco.com/

Literally everyone we spoke to said we HAD to visit Eventide Oyster Co. for the best lobster roll of their lives. And they were right. This was hands down our favorite meal of the trip! Since Eventide doesn’t take reservations, we were lucky to snag a communal table right away since it was off-season and on a weekday. We ordered their famous brown butter lobster roll (unique because it’s on a bao instead of a traditional roll), a fried oyster bun (just as good as the lobster roll!), chowder, and oysters on oysters on oysters. Amazing.

Js Oyster
http://jsoysterportland.com/menu/

Js is the type of place you’d see featured on Anthony Bourdain – grungy & dark with friendly locals with strong accents chatting up the dinner patrons. This wasn’t my favorite meal, but we did enjoy our lobster dinner with steamed clams, which is something neither of us had tried before! And the view by the water was beautiful.

Duckfat
http://duckfat.com/ 

Duckfat is another lunch spot that came highly recommended to us from literally everyone we inquired. It was nice to take a break from seafood on our last day in Portland before driving back to Boston. Duckfat’s a tiny little sandwich shop that’s known for their Belgian-style fries fried in duck fat. The fries, with truffle ketchup and Thai chili mayo, were INCREDIBLE and I could’ve had an entire meal of just those fries. We DEVOURED them, which is why I forgot to get a picture. Oops. For sandwiches, we split the Overnight Duck Confit and House Smoked Brisket. Heavy, but delicious. A great way to end the trip!

A New Chapter!

Looking back at my blog, I can’t believe that my last post was nearly a year ago. SO much has happened since then, and I’ve been furiously documenting every second of the past very eventful 9+ months through pretty much every medium except for this blog. I started a new corporate job last June, leaving the agency world behind after six years, but more importantly–I gave BIRTH to a healthy, beautiful baby girl on February 15, 2018! Our lives are forever changed and we could not be more excited to welcome our little Nainika Rani Gupta with endless cuddles and kisses into the world and our little family.

So while my focus has changed for a bit from whipping up recipes to surviving the newborn parenting life, I plan to get back to blogging very, very soon. I hope you’ll forgive my irregular and erratic posts, but I started this blog as a fun, creative outlet and never wanted it to feel like a chore. So follow along in my journey (or not) as I navigate my new norm while remaining true to my passion for food, cooking, and travel. And perhaps some new baby-related interests along the way 🙂 If you have any post suggestions, or topics you’d love to see me discuss here, leave a comment!

Quick & Easy Salmon Zoodle Bowls

I’ve been on a health kick recently, but with all my recent travels and the start of wedding season, it’s been tough to stick to a steady routine and diet. So many decadent distractions everywhere! That’s why I love super simple recipes that are easy to whip up in the kitchen, but still good for you. Salmon is my go-to protein for weeknight dinners, and I’ve recently been pairing it with a little bit of pesto, garlic, tomatoes and zucchini noodles. So light, refreshing, and packed with a ton of flavor.

Here’s my recipe for Salmon Zoodle Bowls – everything you dreamed of for those busy weeknights. What are some of your tips and tricks for eating healthy with a busy schedule? I’d love to hear from you!

When you’re off your blogging game and Instagram Story is the best picture you have…

Ingredients (serves 2) 

1.5 tbsp olive oil
4 zucchinis – washed, peeled and spiralized into noodles
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cloves of garlic, diced
2 small salmon fillets, cut into three pieces each and marinaded in a little bit of olive oil, s&p and the diced garlic
1/2 a tomato, diced
2-3 tsp of pesto, depending on your taste
Grated parmesan cheese

Recipe

First, prep your zoodles. Lightly fry the spiralized zucchini noodles in 1 tbsp olive oil and garnish with salt & pepper and any other spices to your liking. I usually add some onion powder and parsley flakes, but you can also add red chilli flakes for an added kick. This should only take a few minutes – avoid frying for too long, or the zoodles will become mushy and let out moisture. Keep em’ crispy! Once this is done, arrange the zoodles in a bowl.

Next up, take your salmon pieces (already marinaded in olive oil, s&p and garlic) and lightly pan-fry them for a few minutes on each side in half a tbsp of olive oil. As you’re frying them, drop in the diced tomatoes and add pesto over the salmon pieces. Stir this mixture so that the pesto combines with the tomatoes and coats the salmon. Cover until the salmon pieces are completely cooked (this should taken around 5-10 minutes longer depending how thick the salmon pieces are).

Spoon the salmon, pesto and tomato mixture over your zoodles. Garnish with fresh parmesan cheese, freshly cracked pepper and a little more pesto if you please. Enjoy! Guilt-free and delicious.

Southeast Asian Adventures II: Angkor Wat

If you haven’t read part I of my Southeast Asian adventures post, make sure to check it out here first.

Part II: 

Our whole trip to Southeast Asia was such a surreal and incredible adventure, I’m still not over it. My only regret is not spending more time in Cambodia, which in a mere 24 hours, completely stole (and broke) our hearts. There is so much to say about the strength and grit of the Cambodians, and I’d really love to spend a longer time learning more about this beautiful and resilient country. While things in the United States were sort of unraveling while we were away, being in Cambodia gave us a lot of perspective and taught us so much about acceptance, diversity, and generosity of heart.

Even though we weren’t in Cambodia for long, I’m so very glad that we got to spend a day at the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor, beginning at sunrise. Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, with Hindu and Buddhist influences. The various temples in the complex have been damaged and deteriorated over the years, but you can still get a sense of the incredible art and architecture. Some parts of the temple have literally been taken over by trees and plant overgrowth, and somehow this intersection of nature & religion just makes Angkor Wat even more magical. Here are just a few of my favorite pictures.

Angkor Wat at sunrise. Even though we didn’t get the clearest sunrise, there was something so spiritual about marching into the complex along with hundreds of other tourists vying for the best sunrise spot. We weren’t alone by any means, but I’ve never felt so serene and at peace.

 

Tales of daily life on temple walls


The Bayon temple, with morning light shining on the spectacular faces of past kings, was my absolute favorite. Unbelievably beautiful. 

The Tomb Raider temples! Nature crawling its way through temple ruins. 

Thank you, Cambodia. We’ll be back!