Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia {Squid Ink Shrimp Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Saffron Cream}

Squid ink pasta has a special place in my heart, and I have a hilarious picture from my bachelorette party years ago to prove it (pro-tip: don’t try squid ink when you’re all dolled up for a night out). It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I just love the rich texture and earthy/sea-infused flavor of squid ink pasta. It’s something I always order at restaurants if I see it on the menu, because I imagine it’s incredibly complicated to make at home. Until I walked in my local Trader Joe’s and found Casa Milo’s Squid Ink Spaghetti on the “new products” shelves, that is. I immediately snagged it and decided to pair it with shrimp and a creamy, garlicky, tomato basil saffron sauce. Sooo delicious and luxurious. The spaghetti was simple to prepare (just followed the directions and boiled for ten minutes till al dente) and had a lovely, subtle flavor to it. Not super overpowering, and perfect for squid ink virgins. RUN, don’t walk to your nearest Trader Joe’s to give this a try! Immediately ups the ante of any pasta dish and makes it tres gourmet 🙂 Perfect for hosting, date night, or just a regular weekend meal if you’re feeling fabulous.

Ingredients (serves 3-4) 

1/2 an onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and then minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Two tomatoes, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Salt & pepper, to taste
Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
Oregano or Italian spices, to taste
1 lb frozen shrimp, deveined
Pinch of saffron (optional, I had some lying around)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
12 oz (1 pack) Casa Milo Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia, cooked according to directions
1/2 cup pasta water
1/2 cup parmesan or parmigiano-reggiano

Recipe

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let brown slightly, then add the onions and then stir till soft and translucent. Add: the tomatoes, fresh basil, crushed red pepper flakes (a generous amount if you can handle some heat), lemon juice, salt & pepper, Italian spices. Stir and let this mixture simmer into a sauce on medium-high heat for several minutes. In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to direction and cook till al dente. Add shrimp to the tomato mixture and stir until fully cooked.

Lower the heat and stir in a pinch of saffron, heavy whipping cream, and pasta water fresh from the cooked spaghetti. Stir everything together and until the mixture has a nice yellow hue from the saffron. Add in more salt & pepper and spices as necessary. Simmer for a few more minutes until the sauce is thick and bubbly. Stir in the spaghetti and serve with freshly-grated parmesan/parmigiano-reggiano and fresh basil.

Guilt-Free Chicken Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce

I just got back from a wonderful trip to my parent’s house in Calgary, Alberta and feel so refreshed and energized for the fall! There’s a crispness in the air back home in Chicago that just makes me so excited for cooler temperatures and fall recipes. I used to SO not be a fall person (I grew up in deserts and the tropics and never had to wear a sweater), but now that I’m a legit Midwesterner, I really appreciate the beauty of seasons. And it’s much easier taking my baby out for walks now that it’s not ridiculously humid and in the high 90s. 🙂

ANYWAYS, I recently shared this pasta on my Insta Stories and decided it was too good not to share on the blog! I LOVE using sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil for pasta and chicken recipes. It’s such a good hack for easy-to-prepare sauces that immediately lends a ton of flavor to any dish. You can also check out my recipe for Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes in a Garlic Cream Sauce.

For this particular recipe, I used Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta, which makes this dish healthy, gluten-free, and guilt-free. The pasta is a new find for me; it’s so good and so filling that I seriously cannot believe it’s not real pasta! Love the texture too. Hope you enjoy the recipe, and leave a comment if you plan to try it! It’s GREAT for meal-planning for the week. Just skip the chicken if you want to go veggie 🙂

Ingredients (serves 4) 

1/2 an onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, grated or smashed
1 box of baby bellas, sliced
6 oz spinach
6 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
8.5 oz sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil (I used the Trader Joe’s brand)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup heavy cream
Trader Joe’s Organic Brown Rice & Quinoa Fusilli Pasta, cooked according to packet directions
1/2 cup pasta water
1 cup parmigiano reggiano
Oregano, red chili flakes, and s&p

Recipe

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and let brown slightly, then add the onions and stir till golden. Add the chicken thighs and fry each side for a few minutes until almost fully cooked. Then add the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil. Stir everything together until the chicken pieces are fully cooked and nicely coated with the sun-dried tomatoes and olive oil. Lower the heat and add heavy cream, pasta water, and salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for five minutes or so until the sauce is nice and thick. Finally, add the spinach, cooked pasta, 1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano, and seasonings (oregano and lots of red chili flakes for extra spice!). Serve with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and enjoy for dayzzz!

Spicy Basil Shrimp & Turkey Rice Bowls

Of late, cooking has been a very calming force in my life. The past several months have been personally full of change and immense transition–I had a baby (the biggest change of all), I made the difficult decision to take a break from a wonderful job to focus on my daughter, my husband and I moved to the suburbs to be closer to his new job, and we bought a townhouse that is currently in construction. I view all these changes as positive and happy developments, but they are changes nonetheless. And change can cause momentary havoc and feelings of unsettledness.

It may sound trivial and silly, but being able to focus some of my energy on exploring new recipes and taking care of and feeding my family grounds me and gives me a sense of purpose during this period of transition. I’m no gourmet chef (not even close), but I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and I really love having more time to be able to think about the food I’m putting in our mouths. It’s a luxury I didn’t really have before, and I’m so grateful to have it now.

Our Friday nights in the city after a busy work week always used to be about ordering in greasy food and pigging out in front of the TV with Netflix. Now, I’m way more inclined to cook dinner even on a Friday night. Part of that might be because we’re in the suburbs and have fewer DoorDash/UberEats/Postmates options, but I also just feel so much better when we eat a good meal at home. And I don’t have to compromise on my cravings! This past Friday, I had some leftover shrimp, ground turkey, and tons of basil that I threw together for an Asian-inspired meal. Sometimes, these spontaneous dinners don’t quite work out, but the end result was surprisingly delicious and more importantly, SO quick and easy to make. Thirty minutes max. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve ordered Thai or Chinese takeout on a Friday night and just felt bloated, sick, and disgusting after devouring way too much food. Cooking at home give me the chance to enjoy the cuisines I LOVE in a much healthier way.

Anyways, not sure what the point of my little introduction to today’s recipe was–guess I just wanted to acknowledge the role that food & cooking currently play in my life 🙂 Hope you enjoy today’s quick and delicious recipe!

Ingredients (serves 2-3) 

1 lb ground turkey
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined (you can also make this recipe with just 1 lb shrimp and nix the turkey – the sweetness of shrimp pairs perfectly with all the garlic and basil!)
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp soy sauce (just 2 if you’re cooking with just shrimp)
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp Canola oil
Red chilli flakes, to taste
6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
Handful of fresh basil leaves (with the stems removed)

Recipe

Combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, and honey in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of Canola oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the garlic and ginger paste to the pan and let heat for a few minutes. Once golden, add in the shrimp and pour half the soy glaze mixture over the shrimp. Stir well so that the shrimp is fully coated in the glaze and garlic ginger paste. Once the shrimp is fully cooked and slightly charred (a few minutes on each side), remove and set aside.

In the same pan (there should still be some of the leftover garlic, ginger, and soy glaze), add the remaining Canola oil. Add the ground turkey. Pour the remaining soy glaze mixture and mix well together. Continue stirring and frying the ground turkey for several minutes until fully cooked. Add the cooked shrimp back into the pan and stir everything together. Add red chilli flakes and additional soy sauce, depending on your taste. Remove from heat and immediately add the fresh basil leaves and stir until wilted.

Serve with brown rice and you’re all set! Enjoy your Spicy Basil Shrimp & Turkey Rice Bowl 🙂

PS. If you follow me on Instagram (@mrsgcg), you can view this recipe in my Story Highlights!

Better-Than-Takeout Chicken Fried Noodles

For the longest time, I would throw every single Asian cooking sauce from my pantry into stir-fry dishes and hope for the best. For some bizarre reason, I thought that the more different flavors I added (teriyaki, black bean, sriracha, soy sauce–you name it), the more delicious the stir fry would be. Of course, I would always be disappointed by the taste, wondering what was missing from my very random soup of sauces.

I finally just decided to do my research (duh!) into what makes stir fry so delicious, and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple the sauce needs to be. The key is a little bit of sugar, and to make sure your pan/wok is super hot before throwing in all your ingredients. This particular recipe I tested recently from RecipeTin Eats is absolutely fantastic, and easy to customize depending on what you have in your pantry. I whipped up a lazy girl version of it on a random Friday night that I was craving Asian takeout, and it COMPLETELY hit the spot. Taste-wise it was better than takeout, and no bloating or guilt 🙂

Enjoy! I tried the noodles with shrimp as well, but personally preferred the taste with chicken thighs.

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

6 chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces (can easily be swapped out with shrimp)
1 tbsp Canola oil
Noodles of your choice, prepared according to instructions (*The type of noodles you pick makes a big difference to the taste of this dish–my personal favorite is Blue Dragon’s egg noodles. Three rounds of this is perfect for two very hungry adults)
Veggies of your choice–for my lazy, minimal prep version of this, I opted for 3/4 a bag of Broccoli Coleslaw, which includes shredded broccoli, cabbage, and carrots
1 shallot, cut into long pieces
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
1/4 cup of water

The Sauce

1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tbsp oyster sauce
1.5 tbsp chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
Pepper

Recipe

Stir together all the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl. Marinate the chicken thigh pieces with 1 tbsp of the stir fry sauce for at least 10 minutes.

Heat Canola oil in a large frying pan or wok. Once it’s on high heat, fry the garlic pieces until it begins to brown. Throw in the chicken and stir for a few minutes until partially cooked. Add the veggies/broccoli slaw/shallots and mix together until the chicken is fully cooked. Make sure the veggies are still a bit crispy and not too soggy. Add the noodles, the remaining stir fry sauce, and water. Stir the mixture with the noodles, remove from heat, and serve immediately.

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!

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.