A favorite quick-and-easy dinner

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a cooking post, so I wanted to share recipes for one of Nick’s and my favorite and simplest meals: spatchcock cilantro lime roasted chicken, baked sweet potatoes with a scallion yogurt sauce, and a basic tomato and cucumber side salad with a lemon-olive oil dressing. 

I wrote last year about how we plan and prepare our meals, and shared that while we love to cook and usually make full course dinners throughout the week, we strive for simple, healthy and easy meals to help cut down on our time in the kitchen, and this is one of those!

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I have to note in advance, that this meal is very simple to prepare and doesn’t require an elaborate ingredient list, but it does take about 45 minutes of prep and oven cooking time – it’s totally worth it though since it looks like it comes straight from a restaurant’s kitchen.

So let’s get started with the spatchcock chicken. Have you prepared poultry this way? It’s a technique that I’d definitely recommend since it cuts roasting time almost in half, which helps it retain much more of its natural juices. The process is pretty simple: use a sharp knife or sheers to remove the backbone of the chicken and press it flat. It sounds complicated, but this quick video shows just how easy it is. (Last year my sister-in-law even cooked her turkey this way with great results)!

Spatchcock cilantro lime chicken (from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook, a great cookbook gifted to me by my father-in-law). 

Ingredients: 

  • Whole chicken (about 3-4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 2 gloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 TB coconut oil*
  • 1-2 TB chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper

*The coconut oil is key here, the flavor infuses into the chicken and really makes the dish. Thankfully, a jar isn’t too expensive and is available at most groceries (coconut oil also has many other cooking and beauty uses!). 

Instructions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare the spatchcock chicken, season with salt and pepper, and place into a gallon-sized plastic bag. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, garlic, salt and coriander. Melt the coconut oil in another dish in the microwave for a few seconds. Slowly whisk the coconut oil into the lime juice mixture and immediately pour over the chicken in the bag. Close the plastic bag and smooth the mixture over the entire chicken. Set aside for 15 minutes or longer. (These steps could be prepared the evening before if you are having guests).

Chickenbag

Now get started on the yams. 

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Scallion Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients
  • 2-4 yams
  • 8 oz. container Greek yogurt
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar
  • 2 scallions

Instructions: Wash the yams and cut in half lengthwise. Place the yams on a sheet of aluminum foil, coat with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange cut side down and add 2 TB of water around the yams. Cover with a top sheet of aluminum foil and roll to tightly seal the edges. 

Sweetpotatoes

It’s time to put the chicken in the oven!  Transfer the chicken from the plastic bag into a roasting pan (and any juices) and set the timer for 15 minutes. 

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the scallion yogurt sauce (right in the yogurt container!). Start by removing the lid from the yogurt and seasoning with salt and pepper. Thinly slice the scallions (the white bottoms and green tops) and add to the yogurt. Add the tablespoon of red wine vinegar and stir. 

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After the chicken has cooked for 15 minutes add the sweet potato packet along with the chicken in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. 

While the chicken and potatoes are cooking, get started on the salad. Nick and I love this salad, which is tangy and light and very flavorful for being so simple. It’s actually a popular Indian salad, which matches perfectly with the spicy dishes we love to prepare, but goes with pretty much anything. 

Simple Salad with Lemon and Olive Oil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 2-4 cups of romaine or iceberg lettuce, chopped
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1-2 diced roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 diced cucumber
  • 1-2 TB chopped cilantro (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • Drizzle of olive oil 

Chop and combine the first six ingredients of the salad. Right before serving add the lemon juice and olive oil and toss to coat (the lemon juice will wilt the salad, so hold off adding until just before serving). 

Salad

The chicken and sweet potatoes should be done by now. Remove from the oven and garnish the chicken with the cilantro and the potatoes with the yogurt sauce. Plate and serve!

Finalmeal

*Note that Nick and I always prepare chicken without the skin, but if you left it on, the bird would be a beautiful roasted color!

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The sweet potatoes and chicken reheat so well (and are often even better the second time around), so this is a great meal for two nights. Enjoy!
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Hoppy, hoppy Easter

I’ve always enjoyed celebrating holidays, and really, any excuse to eat jelly beans and color eggs continues to appeal to the child in me. Aside from Easter’s traditional meaning, the holiday also makes me feel excited because it often arrives with Spring in tow.

Easter is early this year and thankfully, it brought the spring weather with it. Despite our big blizzard in January, overall D.C. had a pretty mild winter, so spring is in full swing and many of the flowers and plants around the city are blooming, including the cherry blossom trees, which are very close to peak bloom.

To celebrate the arrival of Spring and the Easter holiday, I wanted to share our dinner menu below. You can check out our previous Easter dinner menus here and here.

Signature cocktail

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Appetizers

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  • An easy and tasty starter of goat cheese, pesto and sun dried tomato served with garlic crostini (from one of my cookbooks; recipe is below)

Main course

  • Maple mustard glazed pork loin with roasted fennel and apple. (We dined on traditional ham last year so we wanted something different this year; you can’t go wrong with a glazed pork loin.)

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  • Classic lemon bars (there is a bowl of lemons ready for Nick-the-baker to squeeze fresh)
Just as no holiday celebration is complete without a signature cocktail, neither is one without place cards. I rolled napkins around craft eggs to create these super simple and cute bunny ears napkin place holders.

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Recipe for the Goat Cheese, Sun-Dried Tomato, and Pesto Torta:

  • Line a small ramekin withe plastic wrap.
  • Combine 4 ounces goat cheese and 1 package of cream cheese (at room temperature).
  • Take 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and combine with 3/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (finely chopped) and 3 TB tomato paste.
  • Press half of the goat cheese-cream cheese into the ramekin. Cover with 2/3 cup pesto, then the cheese-tomato mixture. Top with the remaining cheese mixture.
  • Cover and chill for several hours. Serve with toasted baguette slices that have been drizzled with olive oil and rubbed with a head of garlic.

I hope our menu provides some inspiration for a lovely Easter holiday. Enjoy!

Hoppy Easter and Spring to You!

One of my favorite parts of preparing for a holiday is developing the menu. Since I shared our Easter/Spring menu last year, I thought I’d share our planned dishes for the holiday again this year.

For most holidays, Nick and I typically eat appetizers around lunchtime and then spend the afternoon   enjoying ourselves, relaxing or playing games. We usually wait to eat our traditional meal until dinnertime, since my holiday menus always include a signature cocktail 🙂

Beverages

  • I like a light, fresh cocktail for spring, so this Easter my signature cocktail is the Cherry beer margarita.

Appetizers

Main course

  • In recent years we’ve dined on pork loin, lamb chops and prime rib, so to mix it up once again, for our main course this year we’ll be having a traditional Sweet and smokey Spanish style ham.

Sides

  • Nick and I love fennel, so this citrus, fennel and avocado salad sounded light and fresh.
  • We always love to have a small side of soup, which is usually asparagus soup or roasted tomato, so this year we’ll change it up and make Carrot leek soup.
  • I have a couple of leftover small new potatoes, so I plan to make these simple Baked new potatoes.
  • Deviled eggs (no recipe, just toss egg yolks with a teaspoon of mayo and a dash of mustard powder).

Nick and I dyed our eggs earlier this evening, so they are ready to be prepared Sunday morning!

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Dessert

  • Poundcake strawberry shortcake. Nick (our in-house baker prepared pound cake tonight), which we’ll slice and top with macerated strawberries and creme.

I also made some simple bird nest name cards with some natural Easter basket grass and faux eggs, which I wrote our names on with a gold Sharpie pen.

Namecards

We have a few more preparations to make, but I’m excited to celebrate the Easter holiday and the coming of Spring. Wishing you all a blessed and Happy Easter!

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Easter (Spring) Menu

The Easter holiday always makes it feel like spring has officially arrived. Thankfully after an usually cold winter, spring is fully in bloom here in D.C. – the plants and trees have blossomed and the grass is green!

Since I’ve shared our holiday menus a few times in the past, I thought I’d share the recipes we selected for our Easter dinner, and if you don’t celebrate the holiday, hopefully these dishes would still make a great-tasting meal for another spring occasion.

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Signature cocktail:

  • Pink jelly bean cocktail (pictured above – the recipe is 1 oz. vanilla vodka, 3 oz. ginger ale, and 1 tsp. maraschino cherry juice or grenadine syrup)

Appetizer:

Main course:

Sides:

Dessert:

While this sounds like a lot of food for two people, I always make appropriately sized portions, often halving or thirding recipes (although we never mind the leftovers and food rarely goes to waste at our house).

Nick and I also have an egg-dying tradition, which we always do early so we can use the colored hardboiled eggs for the deviled eggs recipe (Nick is a fan, so they are always on our Easter menu).

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I also started decorating our table and pulling out our china, which belonged to my mother and always gets used for holiday dinners – we spend most of our holidays away from our families, so it’s nice to feel like we have a piece of them with us.

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I always like to use name cards for our holiday dinners, and so I made these simple cards with bright yellow ribbon and dot stickers, which I thought looked a little bit like jelly beans. I also picked up these cute egg candles for a few dollars at the store.

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So the table is nearly ready, and a few of the recipes are already underway (my baker Nick has already made the carrot cake cupcakes). Wishing you all a Happy Easter!

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