Category Archives: Main Dishes

Zin-Zen Chicken

I don’t even want to tell you when I made this stir fry originally. It’s too embarrassing. But it is what it is, and even though time has gone by since this dish graced our table, its goodness hasn’t gone away. [Did that make any sense to anyone but me?] ANYWAYS…. Ben, especially, loves stir fry. I can’t say that it was my favorite dinner as a kid, but I’m starting to appreciate it more and more these days since it’s quick, healthy, and flavorful.

Zin Zen Chicken | thepajamachef.com

What makes this stir fry SO good is the combination of the orange-flavored rice with the gingery and garlicky chicken and vegetables. Ya know, the zin/zen thing. Rachael Ray was up to something with her recipe title, I do believe. :) Another good thing about this dish? It uses up some of that Chinese five spice powder that’s probably languishing in your cupboard. Please tell me I’m not alone in that. Mmmmkay, thanks. As always, enjoy! :)

one year ago: Guacamole Salsa
two years ago: Peanut Butter Pretzel Granola Bars
three years ago: Oreo Truffles

Zin-Zen Chicken [from Rachael Ray]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • zest and juice of 1 orange
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups chopped bell peppers [I used red, orange, and yellow]
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch grated gingerroot [or 1 teaspoon ground]
  • 1 red or yellow onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup Zinfandel wine or chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 scallions, sliced on the bias

Directions:

Combine rice, chicken broth, and orange zest in a medium pan. Set to high heat, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed.

In a separate large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute chicken, seasoned with black pepper, until golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Place bell peppers, garlic, ginger, and onion in the pan and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the veggies to the chicken, then melt butter in skillet. Whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds. Then add the wine/chicken broth, soy sauce, and five spice powder and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium low. Put the chicken and veggies back in the skillet and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.

After the rice is cooked, add scallions and orange juice and fluff with a fork. Serve the chicken and vegetables over the rice.

Time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 4-6 servings.
Note: For four, this amount of rice is perfect. For six, doubling it would be best.

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Grapefruit Arugula Salad

Once I tasted a bite of this awesome Grapefruit Arugula Salad, I knew I had to photograph and share it, even though it was late and I was making this salad when all the natural light had already bid Nashville farewell. [translation=indoor photography :(] My sister and brother-in-law were visiting, and this salad was the perfect accompaniment to our roasted chicken and vegetable dinner.

Grapefruit Arugula Salad | thepajamachef.com

I know there are a million variations of grapefruit arugula salad out there, and this is the first version I’ve ever had, so I can’t say it’s the best, but I can say it’s MY best. :) How’s that? Well, it’s just so much yumminess in one bowl! You’ve got your juicy citrus, your tangy feta, and your peppery arugula all dressed in a lemon vinaigrette dressing. Basically an explosion of flavors. I totally wish I had made bigger salads so don’t make the same mistake I did. This is one salad I know I’ll be coming back to time and time again. Enjoy, friends!

one year ago: Herb, Tomato, and Cheese Crackers
two years ago: Smoky Fried Chickpeas
three years ago: Pantry Pasta for Two

Grapefruit Arugula Salad
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 large grapefruit
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • lemon pepper
  • salt

Directions:

Using a sharp paring knife, section the grapefruit into segments. I tried to do this without a tutorial and it didn’t go so well, so check out this tutorial and your grapefruit will look better than mine. :)

Divide arugula between four bowls, then divide grapefruit between the bowls as well. Top with feta cheese.

Whisk together oil, lemon juice, and balsamic for the dressing. Add lemon pepper and salt to taste, then drizzle over salad immediately before eating.

Time: 5 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup

Updated March 30, 2014… so today, I was looking through some blog pics and realized I made a terrible error! The soup that had been pictured here was NOT this wonderful Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup, but rather a Minty Tomato Soup. Whoops! Somehow I mixed up my labels. Sorry about that! This soup is still delish no matter how it looks, but I wanted to come back and make it right with you. :) Forgive me? 

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup | thepajamachef.com

I hope you’re okay with another soup recipe this late in March! If you aren’t, look away. But be forewarned: you’ll miss some awesome soup. It was snowing in Nashville yesterday [not enough to stick, but still], so soup is entirely justified I think!

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup | thepajamachef.com

Earlier in the year, my mom texted me a picture of her dinner: a delightful orange-y colored soup. I asked for the recipe and received a text with a picture of the recipe, which I immediately made for lunch the next day. Yay for iPhones and technology! :) That soup is the one before your very eyes now… a creamy, flavorful, filling Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup. I’ve made plenty of black bean and pumpkin soups in my day–but never together, and never this good. The soup is a cinch to throw together and definitely gets better as it sits. With just a hint of spice and a bit of sweetness, this soup is unlike any I have ever tasted. Next time I make it I will be sure to stock up on sour cream, green onions, and pumpkin seeds because the [unpictured] toppings are the very best part! Enjoy!

one year ago: Roasted Chickpea, Carrot, & Radish Salad with Lemon-Dijon Dressing
two years ago: Cinnamon Curry Tuna Wraps
three years ago: Fruit and Nut Granola Bars

Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup [slightly adapted from a magazine via my mom]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 – 15 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil [STAR Fine Foods Grilling Cuisine Cooking Oil is what I used; extra virgin would also work]
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, deseeded [optional]
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups chicken [or vegetable] broth
  • 1 – 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons molasses or bourbon [optional]
  • sour cream, for topping
  • sliced green onions, for topping
  • pumpkin seeds, for topping

Directions:

In a food processor, combine black beans, tomatoes, and spinach. Process until smooth.

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil on medium. Add onions and jalapeno [if using] and cook until soft. Add garlic and cumin and cook for another minute, until fragrant. Then stir in broth, pumpkin, vinegar, and pepper. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in molasses if using, then serve with sour cream, green onions, and pumpkin seeds as desired.

Time: 35 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 8 servings [about 2 quarts]

Tasty Mexican Lentils

These lentils have no business being this good. No business at all. I mean, lentils aren’t exactly exciting food, now are they? Well, I think these lentils are. I seriously can’t get enough of them. I can’t remember where I saw this recipe linked originally, but I am so glad I did because they have become a new family favorite. Healthy, versatile, good, simple, delicious.

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

These lentils definitely support their “tasty” title. They are smooth and flavorful, a perfect vegetarian Mexican meal. You can make burritos or tacos or burrito bowls or nachos with them, or eat them by the spoonful. [Oh wait--that might just be what I do!] They’re a little reminiscent of pinto beans [maybe refried beans] texture-wise, but flavor-wise they are absolutely incredible!

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

In the recipe below, I suggest using red lentils. Brown or green lentils can certainly use used instead, but the cooking time may be different. Red lentils are just my fave–according to The Kitchn they are sweet and nutty. They also cook super fast, making these lentils a great weeknight dinner. I hope you give ‘em a try soon! P.S. Don’t skip the avocado or guac as a topping–avocado + lentils=looove!

Tasty Mexican Lentils | thepajamachef.com

Oh–before I forget! Ben loved this dinner too. He was a bit skeptical [tacos without meat?!?!] but was soon won over. I bet he’d even eat them on his birthday…which just so happens to be today! Yup, that’s right. He’s a St. Paddy’s Day baby. :) Cake recipe coming soooooon. It was so good. :) Happy Birthday to my love!

one year ago: Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream
two years ago: Alice’s Vanilla Tea-Infused Granola
three years ago: Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup

Tasty Mexican Lentils [from allrecipes.com]
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2/3 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning
  • 1 2/3 cup chicken broth [or vegetable broth]
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • tortillas or rice, for serving
  • lettuce, tomato, guacamole, avocado, sour cream, cheese, etc. for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils and taco seasoning and cook for one minute.

Pour chicken broth into lentil mixture, then bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmering until lentils are tender [about 12-15 minutes].

Stir in salsa and heat uncovered, mashing slightly, until thickened [about 3-5 minutes].

Serve lentils in tortillas or over rice with desired toppings.

Time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.

Linked up with: Tuesday Talent Show.

Mystery Dish: Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas

This month for Mystery Dish, Christine from I Dig Pinterest and I Did it Too was the head honcho. She gave us the following ingredients to work with: fresh mushrooms, pork, spinach, cream cheese, pineapple, butterscotch chips, macadamia nuts, Sriracha, Ritz crackers, and tortillas. When I first saw the list, I had dreams of a fabulous dessert. But things just didn’t work out due to family and work things… so dinner it was! But shhhh! Don’t tell these enchiladas they were a second choice because they’d be oh so sad. They were SO tasty and SO spicy and SO worth it.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

The two ingredients I used from Christine’s list were spinach and tortillas. I thought about also using Sriracha in the spicy enchilada sauce, but after a quick test taste, I realized there was no way I’d be able to handle the heat if I added that. :) So two ingredients it was! Obviously tortillas are an essential part of enchiladas–but spinach? Sounds a little weird. But I’m never one to shy away from adding veggies where they are unexpected. The combination of chicken, spinach, and corn made for a delightful enchilada filling, and when we had a little leftover, I saved it for quesadillas later in the week. Also an excellent choice for this filling! If a super spicy sauce isn’t your thing, feel free to buy some or try my [old old old] recipe for a classic enchilada sauce.

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas | thepajamachef.com

We loved how flavorful, fast, and unique these enchiladas were, and I bet you will too! Be sure to check out some of the other creations made by my Mystery Dish pals. :)

one year ago: Italian Sausage and Red Rice
two years ago: Sausage, Apple, and Egg Casserole
three years ago: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 cup tomato juice or water
  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 6 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
  • 2 handful spinach, torn
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese [pepperjack or a Mexican blend would also be good]

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, combine tomato paste, tomato juice, onion, green pepper, garlic, chipotle peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Process until smooth. Spread 1/3 of the enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.

In a bowl, stir together chicken, spinach, corn, and salsa. Divide mixture between the tortillas, then place seam side down in the baking dish. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and the cheese.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Time: 45 minutes [15 minutes active].

Yield: 4 servings.

February Mystery Dish Collage
1. Grilled Pineapple with Nutella and Macadamia Nuts by Joyful Healthy Eats
2. Hummingbird Cake by Baking a Moment
3. Three-Cheese Spinach Squares by The Well Floured Kitchen
4. Easy Pesto Pita Bread Pizzas by Yummy Healthy Easy
5. Minty Pea Prosciutto Toast by Chez CateyLou
6. Pina Colada Cheesecake by Blahnik Baker
7. Chocolate Banana Cheesecake Chimichangas by Culinary Couture
8. Pork with Pineapple Fried Rice by I Want Crazy
9. Tropical Green Smoothie by The Dessert Chronicles
10. Spicy Chicken, Spinach and Corn Enchiladas by The Pajama Chef
11. Pineapple Drop Cookies by I Dig Pinterest