Energizing eggplant Parm

I know at one point I had a recipe for chicken Parmesan. It’s how I learned to cook it, as it wasn’t a traditional family recipe I learned by osmosis. But anymore, I just wing it.

The recipe is easy enough to mostly remember, and I like it and its partner in crime, eggplant Parmesan, enough that I make it fairly regularly. So, somewhere along the way, I just stopped consulting whatever recipe it was I used, and it always turns out fine.

*All* of the ingredients for eggplant Parmesan.

Well, OK, I actually usually forget one ingredient, but it’s the ones that are served with the dish, i.e., pasta or pasta sauce. And, OK, one special time where I forgot mozzarella.

But a quick trip to the grocery store later and I’m back on track.

This time was no exception. I, of course, forgot pasta sauce, but it otherwise worked out well.

I was a little nervous because I usually saute the eggplant (or the chicken) before a short time in the oven to melt the cheese. This time, though, it was all sheet pan.

My experience in — holy cow! — more than six months of working with sheet pans, however, prepared me quite well for the endeavor. While it took a long time, it was more or less the amount of time I expected. And, yeah, it was pretty great.

Tastes great any way you slice it, and any way you serve it. Generally, pretty great.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced about ¼-inch thick
  • 1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • ½ c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 T. dried oregano
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Olive oil, preferably the spray kind
  • 1 c. mozzarella, shredded
  • Pasta sauce, such as marinara, to taste
  • Pasta or bread, for serving

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray or coat lightly with oil.

On a large plate, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and spices, and salt and pepper. Add a little water to the beaten eggs, and stir to combine in a small bowl. Set up a workstation so you can easily go from dipping the eggplant in the beaten eggs to coating them with the bread crumb mixture. Then, individually dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture, and then coat in the bread crumb mixture before placing on the sheet pan. Repeat until you’ve used up all the eggplant.

Spray or coat with more oil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through, until the eggplant is fully cooked through and the bread crumbs have browned. Add the sauce (we used about ½ a 24 oz container), and then top with the mozzarella. Bake for another 15 minutes until the mozzarella is melted and the sauce is warm.

Serve with pasta and some additional sauce, or serve on hoagie buns for a warm sandwich, and enjoy!

Bread, beans, and bangers make a mighty meal

It’s turning out that my brother’s Christmas present of Jamie Oliver’s “5 Ingredients” is the gift that keeps on giving. Not only have we found some great recipes in general but it’s always good for a sheet pan recipe when I’m short on time and inspiration.

This week’s meal, a savory pseudo bread pudding with beans and bangers, turned out to be just what I needed.

Sausage bake ingredients.

It may have been recommended for when the weather requires something hearty, but it has the side benefit of being relatively quick in the oven so it worked well in the heat. And let’s be honest, once the Midwest got warm, it got real warm and so the A/C has been going for weeks now.

Despite the 5 ingredients moniker, Oliver does supplement it with up to 5 pantry staples (the same 5, FWIW), and he suggests that the base ingredients can be added to. So, I tweaked his a bit.

First of all, our garden has been just full of green beans thanks to a freebie of provider beans from Seed Savers, so I figured I could throw them in and add some more veggies. And second of all, I couldn’t find rosemary focaccia for some reason, so I used olive and pepper varieties but still supplemented with rosemary because who doesn’t love rosemary.

Also, it calls for a British sausage that I can’t find and didn’t bother to try to replicate. Instead, I turned to my favorite meat-monger and bought another British sausage, bangers. I think any sausage will work; bangers certainly did. Oh, and British measurements are hard to get right without extra work, so I changed them to clip up everything.

Other than all those changes, I mostly followed the recipe and had a delicious dinner in no time. I’m bookmarking it for the winter when I’ll surely turn to it again.

Despite what you’ve heard, British food can be freakin’ fantastic.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 (15 oz.) cans great northern beans (or similar variety)
  • 2 (pint) containers of cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
  • 4 large bangers (8-12 sausages, or 12 chipolatas if you can find them), cut into bite-size pieces or slightly larger
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 small loaf (about 300 g.) focaccia, rosemary or whatever variety, torn or cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • Any garden veggies or herbs you want to add (optional)

Directions

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the tomatoes and garlic on a large rimmed sheet pan. Top with bread, and then pour the beans (with their juices) on top. Add a splash of water (I used the bean can to get a little more bean juice). Drizzle the oil and vinegar over the top of the mixture, and then dot with the sausage pieces.

Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and bubbling; let cool slightly and enjoy!

Polish dish is so good it’s easy to polish off

So, leading into the July 4th, I probably should have made something more appropriately festive for Independence Day.

But when I saw the most Polish of Polish recipes I was a) sad that I didn’t think to make it on the little-celebrated Casimir Pulaski Day and b) sure that I had to make it immediately. I mean, c’mon, it has kielbasa and pierogies. What more could I ask for? Oh yeah, it also has hot sauce.

The most Polish of dinners ingredients.

Almost better than all of that, you can basically throw it all together on a pan with some peppers, onions, oil and a couple of spices, and you have dinner in 30 minutes.

The only downside is my desire to find hippie, sustainable kielbasa meant we had to hit up more than one grocery store, but thankfully, Fresh Thyme once again came to the rescue. But of course, if you don’t care about that (even though you should, sorry not sorry), kielbasa does abound in grocery stores.

The recipe tells you to mix the ingredients in a bowl first. I was even too lazy to do that. In hindsight, it was a cramped fit on my sheet pan that made stirring the spices and olive oil more difficult on the pan, so it is probably preferred. However, if my sheet pan were bigger than its 15×13-ish proportions, it’d probably be fine, and honestly, stirring halfway through helped with the exception of one pretty spiced (and delicious) pierogi.

And two sheet pans or a bigger one would be nice to get all the pierogies touching the pan and therefore have a bit more crunch. But let’s be honest, pasta stuffed with cheese and potatoes is amazing no matter what.

OMG, that sausage is cooked to perfection, and look at those spices on the stuffed pasta. Noms.

Here’s the recipe that I found linked to off of Buzzfeed but comes from the Foodie with Family blog:

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (14 oz each) kielbasa
  • 2 onions, halved and cut into strips
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 24 frozen pierogies (2 packages)
  • 3 T. oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 T. chili powder
  • 2 t. hot sauce (I did not measure)
  • ½ t. garlic powder
  • ½ t. onion powder
  • Grainy mustard, for serving (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut kielbasa into 4-inch lengths and arrange on the outside of the sheet pan. Add the onions and bell peppers with 1 T. oil as well as a little salt and pepper (or do this in a big bowl), and try to keep on the outside to save direct pan space for the pierogies.

Add the pierogies to the pan with the remaining oil, and the spices, and hot sauce (or, again, do this in a big bowl and then add to the sheet pan).

Bake for 30 minutes, turning the pierogies and stirring the rest halfway through, and enjoy!

Meatballs offer reason to stay on hell site

I’m not saying anything profound when I acknowledge that social media, especially Twitter, when first introduced seemed like a great way to connect with people and now seems like a place to witness the worst of people and an endless scream of nonsense opinion.

So, now that I don’t need to check in on it for work I have been trying to avoid it in order to lower my blood pressure and increase my sanity. Of course, the news for the past 6 months (since I left media) has not always made that easy, and the *cough* president-created *cough* immigration crisis of the past couple weeks has been important enough to pay attention, no matter how awful.

But that doesn’t make it any easier day after day to click onto Twitter.com each day.

One tweet last week gave me hope, however. A reason to stay on it, besides being witness to the horrors that each day unfold.

Some wonderful human being posted out of the blue a delicious-looking, semi-healthy sheet pan recipe just as I was feeling like I was out of novel ideas and wanted to try something new.

Of course, because it’s a hell site that has introduced new people into my stream that I don’t even follow I now can’t find said wonderful human being. But thankfully Google still works well enough that I could find the Bon Appetit recipe for chicken meatballs with chickpeas and cherry tomatoes and get it made this week.

Chicken meatballs with chickpeas and tomatoes ingredients.

I feel faintly like an idiot because we checked three stores to get one of the main ingredients, harissa, which I’ve previously purchased online but was optimistic enough to assume I could find it in a college town. The fourth store had it. Thank you, Fresh Thyme!

So, that ingredient might be harder to find but the wonders of the Internet mean it’s never truly inaccessible. I’d say it could be substituted but it really ties the whole thing together. I’m sure another spicy paste or even some sort of sauce would work, but it’d just not be the same.

Other than our runaround, though, the recipe was super simple, cooked quickly, and was quite simply as delicious as it looked when I first heard about it.

That’s a spicy (and tasty) meatball.

Here’s what I did, mostly sticking to the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 3-6 T. harissa paste (varies based on how spicy you want it/how spicy the harissa tastes, as it comes in mild and spicy varieties)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ c. panko
  • 8 oz. feta in brine, crumbled (this was also hard to find — thank you, Pammel Grocery — but I’m sure if necessary water could be substituted for brine)
  • ⅔ c. chopped parsley, divided (I didn’t measure, just used up the small bunch)
  • 6 T. olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz. ground chicken (if it comes in a 1 lb. package, that’s what the recipe calls for, but my hippie organic stuff is smaller, but I found I didn’t need to manipulate the recipe to make 12 oz. work just fine)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved if large
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees and place a rack in the top of the oven.

In a large bowl, mix together the egg, panko, ¼ c. feta brine (or water), half the crumbled feta, half the parsley, 2-4 T. harissa, and 2 T. olive oil until well blended. Add in the 2 of the garlic cloves, salt, and pepper.

Add the chicken and work with your hands until just mixed.

Spread tomatoes and chickpeas on a rimmed sheet pan. Add 2 T. olive oil, 1-2 T. harissa, and any additional salt and pepper.

Grease hands and roll out meatballs into about 16 golf-ball size, and place on the sheet pan between the chickpeas and tomatoes.

Bake meatballs until cooked about halfway, about 12 to 15 minutes. Increase the heat to broil, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes, rotating once if necessary, until the meatballs are cooked, the tomatoes lightly charred, and some chickpeas are semi-crisp. (If your broiler is on the bottom of the oven, then move your sheet pan there, but I was fortunate to just bump up the temp and leave the sheet pan.)

Meanwhile, mix together the remaining feta, parsley, and 2 T. olive oil in a small bowl. Add in the remaining garlic clove, and stir until all combined.

Once meatballs are done, let rest for a few minutes, and then sprinkle the feta mixture on top, and enjoy!

Sausage “sandwich” is a simple, tasty meal

One of the best cookbooks I got when I was first learning to cook was a collection of recipes from the sides of boxes, cans, etc. It wasn’t fancy, but that’s sort of the point of those types of recipes. Sure, it’s product-related, but it also is usually a quick, easy way of putting together something edible.

Aside from the best vanilla cream pie recipe (from Argo and Kingsford’s corn starch packaging), one of my favorite recipes from the book is a sausage and vegetable mix wrapped in puff pastry. And I knew from when I started this blog that it would be one of the recipes for my sheet pan year.

Sausage puff pastry ingredients.

There was just one problem. I couldn’t find it anywhere in the cookbook.

I scoured all relevant sections, and nothing.

I started to think it was one of those invented memories, like “Shazaam.”

So, I did what any totally normal and sane person would do; I went through the g-d damn book page by pain-staking page to find it. And buried near the end of the sandwich section of all flippin’ places, I found the recipe I remembered from before.

While I might like to complain about the delay, it actually worked out pretty well because we had a nice hot Italian sausage from the farmer’s market from Lucky George Farm that worked perfectly with the recipe. And if I’d made it sooner, I wouldn’t have used this excellent meat.

It was every bit as good — OK, a little better, because did I mention the awesome sausage?! — as I remembered, even if I forgot one ingredient (oops!).

So yummy and it looks pretty to boot.

Here’s what I did, with said forgotten ingredient included as optional:

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (Pepperidge Farm, if you wanted to know which box this originated from)
  • 1 lb. ground sausage
  • 1 small to medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (optional)
  • 1 ½ c. shredded Swiss cheese
  • 3 T. parsley, chopped
  • Flour, for rolling out pastry dough

Directions

Thaw the puff pastry at least 20 minutes, and up to overnight.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned (about 10 minutes), and then add the pepper and onion and cook until the vegetables are tender (another 5 minutes or so).

Remove from heat (pour out fat if there’s a lot but my meat was as lean as you’d want sausage), and add the tomato, if using, cheese, and parsley. Set aside.

Meanwhile, unfold and roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it reaches approximately 14 inches by 10 inches. Transfer the puff pastry to the lined sheet pan (I do this by rolling up the dough around my rolling pin and then unspooling).

Spread the sausage mixture along the 14 inch side, near the edge. Roll up along the long side, like you’re making a jelly roll (this is what the ingredients in the book say too!).

Pinch the dough together to seal and then curve into an oval or horseshoe shape. Cut the dough about halfway through every 1 ½ inches.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden, and enjoy!

Make friends happy with mini meatloaves

My friend David loves meatloaf, so I knew as soon as I saw a sheet pan meatloaf recipe that I would be making it this year and sharing with him on one of our regular gaming days.

This past week seemed as good a time as any, as we were in the midst of an epic battle that required comfort food. Plus, I like meatloaf too.

Sheet pan meatloaf ingredients.

The recipe technically comes from a random blog I came across — Strawberry Blondie Kitchen — but I just made my regular meatloaf recipe and divided it as she suggests and also paired it with the recommended potatoes and green beans.

So, like a lot of sheet pan recipes, particularly the dinners, this recipe can be adapted to preferences. I’m sharing my meatloaf recipe but if you have a favorite, feel free to make it to your tastes. Don’t like potatoes or green beans? Feel free to alter with something else.

It’s been fun to have these recipes be so adaptable, and that was especially the case this week.

As the recipe calls for dividing the meatloaf into 8 patties, it was easy enough to make it to particular tastes. One friend hates onions, so I separated one pattie before adding the grated onions. One friend didn’t want spice — I used Sriracha in place of ketchup — so his pattie just had cheese.

With little effort, I could make everyone happy and share my yummy meatloaf recipe.

*drool* meatloaf *drool*

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 medium onion, diced or grated
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. ground mustard
  • 1 t. dried parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • Sriracha, to taste (or ketchup)
  • 8 slices of sharp cheddar
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil for coating
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • 12 to 16 oz. potatoes, cut into quarters or eighths depending on size
  • 8 oz. green beans, trimmed

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly coat with oil.

In a large bowl, mix together the beef, milk, bread crumbs, onion, Worcestershire sauce, spices and herbs, and egg. I just use my hands to mash it all together, which also helps determine if more bread crumbs might be necessary.

Divide the meat mixture into 8 even amounts and then shape into patties. Place on one half of the baking sheet, and squirt on a bit of Sriracha and then top with the cheese slices.

On the other end, place the potatoes and green beans, and drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the meatloaves are fully cooked and enjoy!

Perfect timing for first sheet pan chicken

After my blog post a couple weeks ago where I roasted asparagus (with tilapia), a good friend reached out to me to rave about roasting vegetables.

During our back and forth, she mentioned that one of her newly discovered favorites was roasted radishes. The idea intrigued me, as did her description of their taste as “so sweet and caramely.”

I made a mental note to try it at some vague point in the future, but I admit I didn’t immediately go out and seek a recipe or even just put radishes on my grocery list. And yet, just a few days later I was scrolling Twitter when I found a sheet pan recipe from Epicurious that included roasted potatoes, and yes, radishes.

Sheet pan paprika chicken with roast vegetables ingredients.

Even better, it combined them with a roast chicken and my list of sheet pan roast chicken recipes has been growing, and I hadn’t yet made one. And, if that all wasn’t enough, the food was flavored with a simple sauce that was mostly paprika, garlic, and mayonnaise.

I decided right then it’d be my next blog post.

It was perhaps a bit ambitious to make it on a weeknight, but I was determined. And if I’m honest, it still wasn’t that bad. It would have been better if the timing listed in the recipe was enough to be safe that the chicken was cooked through instead of an additional 10 to 15 minutes. But otherwise, there was a lot of down time between steps, enough that I could do dishes, even.

And the end result couldn’t have tasted better. The chicken was perfect; the potatoes sufficiently roasted; and the radishes — wow, they just burst with flavor and juices. It was an amazing combination, made better by the addition of a simple salsa verde that used up the radish greens.

I can say I’ll be returning to roast radishes, and this recipe, again.

So many good flavors combined. Nom noms.

Here’s what I did, tweaking the recipe a bit:

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken
  • ½ c. mayonnaise,
  • 1 T. paprika (smoked if possible),
  • 4 cloves garlic, divided
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. golden potatoes, cut into fourths or eighths
  • 2 bunches radishes, halved, reserving greens
  • 1 bunch cilantro, with tender stems
  • 1 bunch parsley, with tender stems
  • ⅔ c. olive oil
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Directions

Place oven rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, paprika, half the garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Once mixed, move  2 to 3 T. of the mix into a large bowl (it will ultimately be mixed with the vegetables so bigger bowls are better).

Pat the inside and outside of the chicken dry. Place on a large sheet pan with rimmed edges. Coat the mayonnaise mix from the small bowl under the skin of the chicken and outside it, including on legs. Tie together the legs with kitchen twine.

Bake the chicken for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables. Toss the potatoes and radishes with the reserved mayonnaise mixture in the large bowl.

After 25 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees, and remove the chicken from oven. In a single layer, add the potatoes and radishes to the pan around the chicken.

Continue to bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a blender, mix together the parsley, cilantro, radish leaves, olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice, the remaining garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. Blend until coarsely chopped.

Once chicken is cooked through, transfer it to a cutting board and let cool for 15 minutes before carving. Serve the chicken with the roasted vegetables and salsa verde, and enjoy!

The recipe that convinced me to cook with tofu

I discovered the joys of tofu as a college student trying Thai food for the very first time. But I could never really figure out how to cook the tofu so that it came out like the wonderful pad see-ew or Pad Thai I got at restaurants. If I’m honest, I still haven’t mastered it.

So, instead, I’ve found an alternative way to make tofu that tastes amazing, has a million uses, and yes, even works in noodle dishes. That’s right; it’s baked tofu.

Baked tofu ingredients.

The thing is frying tofu just right is very difficult, but baked tofu is about impossible to mess up.

Plus, it comes pre-flavored with the saltiness of soy sauce and the spiciness of sambal oelek. Oh, and there’s wine. And that, combined with time, is about all it takes to transform the flavorless, spongy soy protein into something that is good enough to eat by itself.

I couldn’t even tell you where I initially found the recipe, but I know the blog post similarly raved about the ease. And frankly, I think I added the sambal oelek. I just know that I make it often enough, and it’s easy enough that this is the first time I’ve written it down.

My favorite uses for it are for spring rolls, stir fry (but keep it separate, otherwise it absorbs the liquid), and simple vegetable wraps. But options are endless as long as you have the delightful base.

I used these little guys to make *both* spring rolls and stir fry this week. Yum!

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 1 (18 oz.) container tofu (extra firm is preferred but firm will work in a pinch)
  • ¼ c. soy sauce
  • ¼ c. white wine (or water, or cooking sherry)
  • 1 heaping T. sambal oelek (usually found in the Asian section, or Sriracha will work in a pinch)
  • 1 T. sesame oil (optional)
  • Canola oil

Directions

Open and drain the tofu. Then, press it to drain more of the liquid for at least an hour. I’ve worked out a system where I use the sheet pan as the catch for the excess liquid, then place an upside-down rounded plate on top of the sheet pan, put the tofu on the plate, and then use a heavy lid like for a Dutch oven or another plate with a weight on top to press the tofu. (This can also be done a day in advance, and store the drained tofu in a Tupperware.)

Once the tofu is strained, cut it into 15 to 20 long slices. Again, I use the overturned plate to do my cutting so I don’t dirty more dishes.

Heat the oven to 325.

Then, mix together the soy sauce, wine, sambal oelek and sesame oil, if using.

Rinse and dry the sheet pan, and then coat it with canola oil. Place the slices of tofu on the sheet pan in a single layer. Brush on about half of the soy sauce mixture, and let sit for 5 minutes so the tofu absorbs most of the flavorful liquid, Turn over the slices carefully, and brush the remaining sauce on the other side. Let it absorb into the tofu for another 5 minutes. It’s OK if not all the liquid absorbs.

I usually spray with a little more oil because I’m paranoid it’ll stick.

Bake the tofu for 15 minutes, take out of the oven, and *carefully* flip over the slices. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until nice and browned and the liquid absorbed. Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

Mom recipes combine to make for delicious sheet pan dinner

So sue me, my first fish recipe comes too late for Lent. But I think this tilapia and asparagus dinner is delicious any time of year.

The recipes come from my mom, and as far as I know she doesn’t necessarily make them together; they just happen to combine the same flavor base that make them work well together. They also just happen to combine some of the best flavors out there — garlic, cayenne, butter, and olive oil. That’s right, two kinds of fat. Yummy!

Tilapia and asparagus sheet pan ingredients.

Mom gave me the tilapia recipe when I was first starting out to cook. Frozen tilapia isn’t overly expensive, it keeps, and this makes for an easy meal when you’re just starting to learn to cook. The asparagus recipe is a long time favorite, as it combines the above flavors with a good deep roasting that makes them impossible to resist. If I ever have any extra asparagus lying around, which is rare, this is how I make ‘em. So, it seemed obvious to combine them into one simple and healthy-ish meal.

Just add some stove-top grain dish, and you’ve got a full meal that tastes great.

So much yummy goodness.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 4 fillets tilapia (fresh is best but costly)
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 4 T. butter, divided
  • 4 T. olive oil, divided
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced, divided (I was lazy and used the jarred stuff but whatever works)
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt, optional (I used salted butter so skipped it, but you may want to add more or definitely add some if you use unsalted butter)

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove woody ends of asparagus, and spread out over about half the sheet pan. Top with half the olive oil, half the butter, and half the garlic. Sprinkle with cayenne if desired. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet pan. On the other half of the sheet pan, dot half the remaining butter and half the remaining olive oil on the sheet pan. Add the tilapia fillets on top. Top with the remaining butter and olive oil, and the garlic; sprinkle generously with cayenne pepper, to taste. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the tilapia is cooked through.

Serve over a grain, spooning on the garlic, butter, oil mix as desired, and enjoy!

Racing the clock against brown rice

My health has been shite for the past month, and so I’ve been relying more heavily on fast and easy recipes, and also relatively healthy.

So, I was so pleased to come across a food blogger — Chelsea’s Messy Apron — who had a sheet pan recipe that met all of my qualifications. My only qualm was it didn’t leave enough leftovers for someone as ill and lazy as me, but that was more easily remedied than my chronic ailment.

It was so easy that I decided to have some fun — at least fun for me — by racing to see whether I could get the recipe ready in less time than it would take to make the brown rice I would serve with my chicken and vegetable meal.

Sheet pan balsamic chicken ingredients.

Alas, I did not, but the delays were my own. Mostly, my damn desire to double the recipe meant the chicken crowded the sheet pan and cooked more slowly. The side benefit was the veggies had a nice crisp to them.

Still, the recipe was a treat and one I’ll return to again.

The best part was the ease at which flavor was added. Balsamic vinegar and Italian dressing combined to form a marinade, coating and dipping sauce that worked wonderfully. Another benefit is that any veggie combination would work, so it works to clip up what’s in the fridge.

Next time, maybe though, I’ll spread it onto two sheet pans so I can beat the brown rice.

Quick, healthy, and most importantly, tasty. What’s not to love?

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into strips, or chicken tenders
  • 1 c. Italian dressing
  • ⅔ c. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 (12 oz.) packages broccoli florets
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ lb. baby carrots, halved
  • ½ t. basil
  • ½ t. oregano
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a large, sided sheet pan (or sheet pans).

Mix together the balsamic vinegar and dressing. Pour a third of the mixture into a Ziploc bag with the chicken and marinate for at least 30 minutes or up to 6 hours. Split the remaining mixture into two bowls.

Place veggies on the sheet pan, and mix in the herbs, spices, and salt and pepper, as well as 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes while the chicken marinates.

When chicken is ready, move veggies to the side and place the strips in the center of the sheet pan. Brush a third of the marinade onto the chicken (and vegetables), and bake for another 15 minutes or so until the chicken is cooked through.

Serve the meal with the remaining marinade/sauce and serve over rice or another grain, if desired. Enjoy!