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. ūüôā

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 ūüôā

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 ūüôā 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 ūüôā

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

Looking Back on Summer – Recipes & Reflections

And here I am, six months later. I can’t believe I’ve taken that long of a hiatus from my blog, but I guess that’s what happens when a summer of epic proportions rolls by. I blame a combination of weddings (nine total this year!), a crazy upswing in work travel (I think I clocked in a total of four trips to NYC within the summer), and the most incredible¬†belated two-week honeymoon to Italy & Greece with my husband. This summer was¬†awesome¬†and exhilarating, but I’m looking forward to time sloooowing down a bit with the change of seasons. I still can’t believe we only have a month and a half left in 2016, but I’m determined to slow things down with what we have left. And catch up on my blog, of course. I have a zillion ideas circling in my head for posts–Italy travel guides, ideas for fall/winter dinner parties, slow cooking recipes–so it’s time to hibernate a bit and get writing again. Always fun to get my creative juices flowing after a long break.

I could do a million different blog posts on my summer alone, but I wanted to start off with sharing a few recipes I tried from other bloggers/websites these past few months. If you follow me on Instagram, then you know I love sharing ‘grams of my food with quick descriptions of the recipes.¬†Some of my favorite tries¬†from summer and fall:

snapseed

Post Italy, linguine carbonara has become a dangerous staple in our household. We love how easy it is to prepare, and we’re obsessed with the smoky delicious taste of pancetta/guanciale combined with pecorino. There are many different recipes of linguine carbonara out there and we sometimes improvise, but this¬†The New York Times recipe is pretty fool-proof. Perfect for dinner parties with a side of shrimp scampi or Florentine steak.¬†

img_1442

I am obsessed with Indo-Chinese cuisine, an amazing combination of spicy Indian food and classic Chinese dishes. My husband isn’t the biggest fan of Asian food, but likes it when I make it (or so he says…), so I’ve been experimenting more with Asian dishes at home. The chili chicken pictured here is my absolute favorite, and the schezhwan¬†noodles ain’t so bad either. Thanks to Indu Gets Cooking for both these awesome recipes! Her blog is fabulous for Indian/Indo-Chinese recipes.¬†

img_0229

For a brief period this summer, I was obsessed with zucchini noodles for EVERY meal. I should probably get back on that train, instead of the current pasta obsession that I’m on. I absolutely love this Williams Sonoma recipe for Chicken Meatballs with Spicy Tomato Sauce¬†over a bed of zucchini noodles. It’s super healthy, since the meatballs are baked and include spinach leaves, and the spicy sauce gives it the extra kick I always need. Must try this one!

d3740bab-4661-40cf-913e-7f583390dae0

Chicken thighs, pesto, goat cheese, garlic deliciousness. What’s not to love? Italian food is one of my faves, and so is this Baked Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives and Goat Cheese¬†recipe from this lovely little blog called Italian Food Forever. It’s ridiculously simple to put together, and perfect with a side of salad or pasta. Really can’t get enough of that goat cheese and pesto combination!¬†

That’s all I got for today, but I’d love to hear from YOU guys about what recipes you’ve been loving lately. My husband and I have been cooking together more lately, and we’re dying to try more slow cooking recipes for lazy Sundays. xo, GCG.

Creamy No-Cream Cauliflower Soup

I know, I know. I’m completely failing at posting regularly on my blog, but I promise you it’s all for good reason. Life has been a whirlwind lately with tons of travel and a busy work schedule, but I’m looking forward to things slowing down a bit for the summer. We’ve had a taste of some amazing weather here in Chicago, and I’m getting so amped for outdoor music festivals, day drinking,¬†international¬†travel (fingers crossed), barbecues, and experimenting with some lighter summer flavors in the kitchen. It’s gonna be a gooood, good summer. I can just feel it!

This time of year, I always find myself craving more veggies. My husband and I have been trying to incorporate one meatless meal at least once a week, and it actually hasn’t been that difficult to do.¬†Veggie soups are perfect for helping us accomplish this goal – they’re easy to make, quite filling, and last for at least three days. I’m a lazy cook, so this is a big win in my book ūüôā Last week, I made a modified/healthier¬†version of Food Network’s Cauliflower Soup and absolutely loved it. The best part about my recipe is that it was¬†super creamy and sweet, with NO cream at all. Enjoy!

082F387E-B320-49A6-BCE0-45AE3E42C59F

Ingredients (serves 4) 

1/2 stick butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 cauliflower head, cored and cut into small florets
2 tbsp fresh parsley
4 cups chicken broth/stock
6 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
Salt, to taste
Black pepper
Paprika, to taste
1 cup greek yoghurt

Recipe (*modified from the Food Network) 

Melt 1/4 stick of butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, then add the carrots and cook until they begin to brown. Add the cauliflower florets, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. The cauliflower should be very soft at this point. Add the parsley and chicken broth and let simmer for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, make a white sauce in a small saucepan. Melt the remaining 1/4 stick butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the milk and whisk to combine until the flour is no longer lumpy. Pour the white sauce into the pot. Add salt, pepper, and paprika to taste and allow the soup to simmer for another 20 to 30 minutes. When serving, place some greek yogurt at the bottom of the serving bowl, add the soup, and stir slowly. Creamy and delicious, with ZERO cream involved!

*Note that the Food Network recipe suggests that you can use an immersion blender to puree for a smoother, thicker soup. This is a great option, but I sort¬†of liked feeling the cauliflower’s texture. And like I said, I’m a lazy cook, so love the added benefit of only cleaning one pot!

Chicken & Mushrooms in a Light White Wine Sauce

Hi everyone, and Happy St. Patty’s Day! I seriously can’t believe we’re already at March with weather consistently in the mid-50s in Chicago. I mean, doesn’t it feel like Christmas was just yesterday? I’m so sorry with how terrible I’ve been at keeping up with my blog, but my February was a complete blur. My husband was away in DC for a mandatory course, my mom was visiting me (which means I barely cooked all month and was spoiled by her Indian food), work was absolutely crazy, and I spent a whirlwind weekend in NYC for my golden birthday. February just flew by, but I’m feeling good about March. I’m boycotting St. Patty’s Day (no day drinking or¬†green river for me!) and focusing on resetting and getting some much-needed zen back into my life. On the blog front, this means that I’m back with tons of new blog posts and recipe ideas that I can’t wait to share with you!

Today, I’m sharing with you one of my easiest go-to chicken recipes that’s perfect for a weeknight dinner but elegant enough for guests.¬†Feel free to¬†customize the ingredients a bit – want something richer? Go ahead and add more white wine and heavy cream. Want something lighter? Sub the heavy cream with a splash of milk and it’s just as delicious. Enjoy!

IMG_9776

Ingredients (serves 4) 

6 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, or 1 shallot, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
White wine, to taste
Splash of heavy cream or milk

Recipe

Marinate the chicken thighs in salt and pepper, to taste. Melt the butter on a large saucepan on high heat. Once heated, fry the onions and garlic till the mixture becomes slightly translucent. Add the chicken thighs, fry on each side for a few minutes till they begin to brown. Add the mushrooms and a splash of white wine (I usually add a little less than 1/2 cup) and fry the mixture together. Lower the heat slightly and add heavy cream or milk. Stir the mixture together, add more salt and pepper to taste, cover and let the chicken cook fully. Garnish with thyme leaves and serve with salad or over a bed of pasta. C’est fini!

 

Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes in a Garlic Cream Sauce

‘Tis the season for turkey, but I have to admit, I’m always going to favor chicken over turkey. I didn’t grow up celebrating Thanksgiving, but after my family migrated to Canada, we always chose roasting a chicken over trying to handle a big bird.¬†Chicken is just so much more juicy and flavorful! Anyone else with me?!

Anyways, today’s recipe is one of my favorite chicken dishes that would make an excellent non-traditional side for a¬†Turkey Day meal. Or an entree for after¬†Thanksgiving, when you’re sick of all the leftover turkey and craving something new.

IMG_8453

I first discovered this recipe on Damn Delicious, and simplified it even further for the lazy (or time pressed!) cook. My version is¬†really really ridiculously simple, but impressive enough for guests and still¬†damn¬†delicious. Trust me, you won’t be able to stop licking your plate. My husband doesn’t even like sun-dried tomatoes, but he loves everything about this chicken and always asks for it.

Keep reading for the recipe!

IMG_8456

Ingredients (serves 2-4)

6 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 an onion (or 1/2 small onion), chopped
6 cloves of garlic, diced
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, chopped
Parsley flakes, to taste
1.5 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper, to taste
Red chili flakes, to taste
Thyme leaves, for garnishing

Recipe

Marinate the chicken in salt and pepper, to taste. Melt the butter on a large saucepan on high heat. Once heated, fry the onions and garlic till the mixture becomes slightly translucent. Add the chicken thighs, fry on each side for a few minutes until they begin to brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and allow the thighs to fry a little longer in the olive oil. Lower the heat to medium and add the chicken broth, cream, and parsley flakes. Stir everything together and add more salt if necessary. Cover until the chicken is fully cooked, then garnish with thyme leaves.

Best served with pasta, or just a side salad and some garlic bread to soak up all that delicious gravy. Yum!

Let me know if you guys try out the recipe and don’t forget to subscribe by email (to the right) so you can get immediate updates. You can also like me on Facebook. Happy almost Turkey week!

Bengali Salmon Curry (Macher Jhol)

Every family has that one meal that reminds them of home. It’s usually simple and uncomplicated, the meal that you remember eating on a weeknight after a long day of school and homework. For me, that dish is bhaat, daal, and macher jhol. Rice, lentils, and fish curry.

My family hails from West Bengal in India and we’re obsessed with fish. Growing up, we moved from the United Arab Emirates, to France, to Indonesia, to Texas and Bombay, but fish was always a staple with our dinner. The best part about living in different countries is that we would get to try different types of local fish (pomphret, carp, Indonesian gurami,¬†Bengali hilsa), but always cooked as a simple macher jhol with Bengali spices.¬†The ultimate comfort food that made our home feel like home, no matter where in the world we were.

I miss my mom’s fish curry every day. My recipe will¬†never¬†be as good as hers, but at least it satisfies my cravings for a little taste of home on cold Chicago nights.¬†I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

IMG_8174

Pieces of salmon, cut in squares, marinaded in turmeric and salt 

IMG_8177

Kalo jeere (black cumin) Рthe most important spice for Bengali cuisine! 

IMG_8180

Salmon simmering in the light curry of onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes and turmeric

Ingredients (serves 2) 

1 salmon fillet, cut in 4-5 squares
1/4 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
1/4 tsp ginger paste
Salt, to taste
2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
1/2 tsp kalo jeere (black cumin)
1/2 tomato, diced (can be substituted with 1/2 tsp tomato ketchup or paste)
Oil

Recipe 

Marinade the salmon pieces in 1 and a half tsp of haldi and season generously with salt.

Heat oil on a non-stick pan – use your best judgment, but I usually add a little extra than I normally would. A little bit of extra oil makes curries more delicious! Once the oil is heated, pour the kalo jeere and let fry for 15 seconds. Add in the onions, garlic, and ginger and fry this mixture together for a minute or till the onions are slightly brown. Add in salt, tomatoes (or ketchup) and the remaining haldi. Stir for a minute on low to medium heat.

Increase the heat to high and gently drop in the salmon pieces. Fry the salmon on each side for a minute. Pour half a cup of water into the mixture and let the salmon simmer in this mixture for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and cover the mixture to let the salmon continue cooking until ready to serve. Do not overcook! The salmon will cook very quickly, especially if they’re cut into small squares, so just keep an eye on the fish and remove from heat so that they’re as soft and succulent as possible.

Serve with a plate of hot rice and make sure to mix it with the curry to enjoy the true flavor of ‘macher jhol’.