Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

FullSizeRender (1)This past long weekend, I did absolutely nothing. I watched a few movies I’ve been meaning to see on Demand (Trainwreck and 99 homes – both very good!), napped a bunch and ran a few errands aka. returned things at Bloomingdales I did not need! Other than that, nothing very interesting happened and let me tell you, it felt really good. Sometimes I have to hold myself back into thinking I need to plan trips, attend events or commit to plans because the truth is, it’s really nice to just do nothing at all.

In order to start this week on a health kick, I tried this recipe and it was SO easy and delicious. All you need are the below ingredients, mix them together, put them in the oven for 30 minutes and you are all set. Here’s to hoping I start cooking just a bit more this year!

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Ingredients:

  • 8 (4 oz each) boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh black pepper, to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 10 medium asparagus, ends trimmed, cut in half
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 red onions, chopped in large chunks
  • 1/2 cup carrots, sliced in half long, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 5 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp dried oregano or thyme
  • 2 leaves fresh sage, chopped

PS. Have you seen my leg of lamb recipe? Check it out!

Marinating

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I am a carnivore. I eat a lot of meat (something I should probably cut down on). One thing I do love (hey, it’s the Greek in me) is a perfect leg of lamb. The way my mom cooks it and most importantly marinates it is perfect and so so good. Last weekend, I asked her to give me some pointers on how to properly marinate a leg of lamb so that is can be really juicy & yummy. We prepped the Greekster leg of lamb together, and here’s what I learned:

Ingredients to use:

  • 1 Leg of Lamb
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Oregano
  • 20 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 lemons
  • Olive Oil
  • White Wine
  • Butter

Instructions:

1. Cut small incisions into parts of the lamb and add a garlic clove (depending on incision size) a pinch of salt, pepper and fresh oregano. Keep repeating until entire lamb is fully marinated. This is so that the lamb absorbs all of the flavors.

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2. Freshly squeeze fresh lemon into a bowl

3. Add fresh lemon into already cut incisions and all over the lamb

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4. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a quarter cup of white wine on top of the lamb

5. Add a few dabs of butter on top of the lamb to finish marinating

 

PS. Here are a few more c’est moi natasha favorite Greek recipes – Fava Dip & Gemista!

Gemista (pronounced: Yemista)

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Since Sunday was Greek Easter, my mom and I cooked the entire weekend for a big, fun, family gathering. My cousins from France, very close friends, boyfriend, parents and brother all spent the day together and we had such a great time. A big part of Greekster is the food. The food is so unbelievable! My yiayia (grandmother) lives in Greece so it’s tough for the entire family to get together but I always love making her classic recipes.

One of my all time favorite dishes is Gemista (pronounced: Yemista) which is a Greek staple dish. It’s essentially vegetables stuffed with homemade rice and minced meat. Honestly, the recipe takes a good amount of time from the preparation to the finale, but hey all good things take time! Here, I wanted to share my very secret yiayia’s Gemista recipe – take a peak!

Ingredients:

  • 8 tomatoes
  • 4 green peppers
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 red onions finely chopped
  • 3/4 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 500gr of rice (uncle Ben)
  • Small bunch of chopped parsely
  • Small bunch of fresh mint choppped
  • Pomi tomato pure about 14oz
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Salt/pepper
  • Oregano
  • 250 gr ground beef

Instructions: 

  1. Slice off the top of the tomatoes; using a spoon remove the flesh of the tomatoes and keep it in a bowl. The flesh of the tomatoes will be used for the base of the tomato sauce for the Gemista.
  2. Slice off the top of the eggplants and remove the flesh, using a spoon. Cut the flesh of the eggplants in small cubes and set aside, as you will also use them later for the filling of the Gemista.
  3. Slice off the top of the peppers and remove the seeds and white parts from the inside. Place the empty vegetables on a large baking tray. Try to leave the vegetables as thin as possible, leaving just a little of the flesh, but be careful not to poke through the skin.
  4. Season the empty vegetables with a pinch of salt and sugar and add a little butter on the bottom of each one.
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  5. In a blender add the flesh of the tomatoes, 5-6 tbsps olive oil, the tomato pure, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine. Set aside.
  6. In a saucepan, add some olive oil and sautee the onions and garlic until translucent.
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  7. Add 250grams (8.8oz) of ground beef with the onions . 
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  8. Once the beef juices have been absorbed and the meat is done, add choppped parsley and min. Chop the zucchini flesh in small cubes, add in the saucepan and sauté for one more minute. At the end add the flesh of the eggplants (chopped)  until softened.
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  9. Add the rice and continue sautéing, until it becomes transculent.
  10. Pour in the Pomi tomato sauce and the tomotoe flesh sauce and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. As soon as the liquid has been absorbed, the stuffing is ready.  Note: the rice is not totally cooked, it will finish cooking in the oven when. Remove the pan from the stove.
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  11. Spoon the rice and minced meat filling inside the empty vegetables and pour some olive oil and if any tomatoes sauce over the vegetables and in the baking tray.
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  12. Cover the vegetables with their lids and add 2-3 glasses of water around the vegetables.
  13. Cover the Gemista with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180 degrees for 60-75 minutes. Halfway through cooking time, remove the aluminum foil and bake until nicely colored.

Prep Time: 45 -55 min

Cook Time: 60-75 min

Fava Dip

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On my way to work yesterday, I read on The Skimm (I am a HUGE fan of The Skimm and I highly recommend signing up) that a ton, 30K to be exact, Saba Classic Hummus containers could be contaminated with Listeria. No thank you Listeria, get outta my fridge.

As much as I love hummus, hummus is NOT Greek. I repeat, hummus is NOT Greek. Instead, Greek families like my family, eat a delicious spread made from split yellow peas called Fava. Fava is essentially hummus on steroids, no lie. It’s a really filling snack and it’s so good for you too.

So what’s a girl to do without hummus? Well, Fava. Here is a family recipe I whipped up this afternoon!

Ingredients:

  1. 500g yellow split peas (18 ounces)
  2. 3 red onions, roughly chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 1 lt warm water (3 and 1/3 cups)
  5. juice of 2 lemons
  6. 1/3 of a cup olive oil
  7. thyme
  8. salt and fresh pepper

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Instructions:

  1. Rinse the split peas with plenty of water.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat; add 2-3 tbsps olive oil, the chopped onions, garlic and some fresh thyme and sauté.
  3. As soon as the onions start to caramelise add the peas and blend. Pour in the warm water and the olive oil, turn the heat down to medium and season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer with the lid on for about 40-50 minutes, until the split peas are thick and mushy. While the split peas boil, some white foam will probably surface on the water. Remove the foam with a slotted spoon.
  5. When done, pour in the lemon juice and transfer the mixture in food processor. Mix, until the peas become smooth and creamy, like a puree.
  6. Serve the fava with a drizzle of olive oil, a tablespoon of diced onion and some capper or chopped parsley.

Throw that hummus out and make some Fava, Greek style!

The Sea

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{The Sea menus}

So… there’s something I need to tell you… and you may judge me just a bit for it. I am not a big sushi person. I know, I know NOT normal BUT I am open to eating sushi on occasion. Sushi outings were never a big part of my life until I started dating the boyfriend. He absolutely loves sushi and could eat it every single night if he had it his way.

To mix it up and to celebrate our last night in Boca, we decided to have South East Asian food. Just five minutes away, lay a restaurant called The Sea. It’s supposedly one of the best in town but we had to taste it in order to believe it. What initially sold me was that there was not only sushi but a variety of asian food – think, pad thai, dumplings, edamame etc.

We started off with Aji Tuna Pizza and oh my goodness I have never had anything like it! Topped with Aji Tuna, cilantro, avocado, wasabi mayo on a baked tortilla – this pie was was really amazing. It was light and crispy, a perfect meal to share with everyone. I’m a big mayo fan so the drizzled wasabi mayo was the ideal touch. The presentation was wonderful too – sprinkled onions and green herbs made the pizza that much better.

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I loved the vibe of the restaurant. Wooden chairs, wooden tables and romantic decor with very cool light fixtures surrounded the entire scene. The windows were all open to let in the warm Florida breeze and blue curtains draped down the sides to make it more of a comfortable feel. 
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Just like the Aji Tuna Pizza, the sushi presentation was very impressive. We ordered Salmon Avocado Rolls (pictures to the left) and Tuna Tataki rolls (pictures to the right). The rice was perfectly salted and just the right amount of sticky which made it really enjoyable.  The seared tuna and the salmon were really fresh and smooth too. Overall, the dish was gone in two seconds… and I had more than half of it!
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The Thai Spring Pork Dumplings were mmhmm good. I am a big dumplings fan so I tend to always add some sort of meat to the meal order. The steamed pork dumplings were served with a sweet soy reduction which was really yummy.
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And the best for last – the Berry Berry Sake Martini. I have never had a martini with sake so this was new to me but oh so delicious! It didn’t have that strong gin after taste which paired nicely with the asian food. The menu had an extensive list of martini’s, but the berry berry seemed perfect for me because the blackberries and blueberries seeped straight to the bottom of the glass. 
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Restaurants and food experiences can really make a trip. This particular trip was filled with amazing food, unforgettable experiences and wonderful company to top it all off. If you ever make it down to Boca, make sure to make your way to The Sea, it’s truly worth it.

And the Oscar Goes To…

Tonight is OSCAR night! If you had a chance to read my Grammy Awards post, then you know I am a big fan of watching award shows and eating treats all at the same time. Tonight, I am sitting back and snacking/cocktailing with a few friends while we watch all of the beautiful red carpet fashion as well as the actual ceremony of course.

I have seen a handful of movies that are nominated but I know I will need to put many more on my must see list after tonight’s show. Take a look at the snacks & bites my friends and I put together for the big night! And of course we are going to have Petee’s Pie for dessert too……..oscars

{Image Via}

We started with Mama K’s Artichoke Dip which was excellent…

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (14oz) can progressing artichoke heart .. Or other brand
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 clove chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 round  bread to set it in

Directions:

  1. Drain artichoke and squeeze all the juice out
  2. Put all ingredients except lemon juice in a bowl and mix with hand mixer or blender
  3. Add lemon juice on top
  4. Cut open the bread and pull inside our the bread out in order to make a bowl dip
  5. Pour mixture into hole
  6. Bake 350 degrees for 20 mn or less until top slightly browned
  7. Serve with crackers

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We also snacked on Paula Deen’s Crab Dip which was absolutely delicious as an app.
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After the watching all of the fashion walk down the red carpet, we dined on my friend Alisen’s unbelievable turkey burgers with brie, cranberries and fresh rosemary.
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We sipped on cocktails throughout the night (orange/peach/mango juice with champagne and a drop of St. Germaine) and tallied up our oscar ballot predictions (winner get’s a bottle of champagne)! And voila – how to have a great Oscar’s Night!

Mini – Boulettes En Sauce

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Whenever I go home for a weekend, my mom & I love to pop open some champagne, read through recipes from her extensive cookbook collection, and pick out a meal that we can really enjoy making together. We always make sure to choose a meal that will satisfy our moods at that moment in time. It’s our “thing” to cook together & I would’t have it any other way.

Mini-Boulettes aka. meatballs have always been my go to comfort food and when prepared with the right sauce and sides (we chose rice & carrots), it is oh so yum. We picked out this recipe from an older french cookbook and it was pretty perfect for our family night in. Paired with a nice glass of red wine, the Mini-Boulettes En Sauce were truly the best.

Meat Ingredients:

  • ½ cube of vegetable bouillon
  • 75 grams of breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoons of Maizena
  • 1 egg
  • 1 chopped small onion
  • Salt/ Pepper
  • 400 grams of minced meat
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pinch of oregano

 Preparation for the meat:

  1. Dissolve the vegetable bouillon in 50 ml of hot water. Mix flour and bread crumbs separately. Add the bouillon to the flour mixture and let it rest for ten minutes. Incorporate the chopped onion, egg, salt & pepper. Add minced meat and mix it all together with your hands.
  2. Make mini rounded boulettes with your hands and fry on pan with butter.
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    Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 1 grated carrot
  • 1 chopped turnip
  • 1 chopped celery stick
  • 50 ml of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of tomatoe paste

Preparation for the sauce:

  1. Boil 300 ML of water and add the bouillon cube. Once the cube is melted in the water, add all of the chopped vegetables. Cook for 15 minutes. Pour mixture in a blender and puree the mixture. Put the puree in a pan. Separately mix the heavy cream and the flour in a bowl. Add the heavy cream mixture to the puree mixture. If the sauce is too thick, you may add some bouillon water or a little bit of plain water. Add tomato paste.
  2. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.
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    Once everything is ready, nicely plate it, sprinkle some parsley atop,  and you’re all set!