Lemon Pesto Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower Rice

Hello Lovely,

While I wouldn’t consider myself “domesticated”, I have to admit I was super excited to make my first dinner for my boyfriend from scratch. I found the recipe on Publix Apron a month ago and saved it just for this occasion. I have previously made him blueberry muffins and brownies but they were Betty Crocker. I’m currently in North Carolina with him for 2 weeks on Easter Break. We went grocery shopping together for the first time and it was surprisingly relaxing.

I thought we would’ve bucked heads because I picked up a bunch of healthy stuff. Earlier that day we went to the Durham Farmer’s Market where I picked up mint, parsley, arugula and a rosemary plant. So when we went for the rest of the groceries I picked up things like cauliflower rice, quinoa and other veggies. And there were ZERO complaints! Once I got what I needed I was super excited about making Sunday Dinner the next day. Where I’m from we’re big on “Sunday Dinner” so I thought this would be perfect for it.

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I was so excited when I was marinating the chicken that I mixed up the recipe. I didn’t do anything the original recipe said to do. Apparently I was supposed to shred the chicken, that didn’t happen. Secondly the marinade was for the sweet potatoes and I put it on the chicken. I was supposed to use cooked, pre-shredded chicken and I used chicken thighs. I was supposed to use tomato pesto, I bought regular pesto. And the chicken was supposed to bake at 425 F, but I’m obsessed with the tenderness I get from slow cookers. I also left out the peas and decided not to have a yoghurt sauce because the chicken was already coated. I HAVE NO REGRETS! So the recipe I’m sharing today is what I did. If you want to see the original recipe, check it out here.

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Harissa Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Yogurt Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint,

  • finely chopped and divided

  • 1 lemon, for juice

  • 1 1/2 pounds Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs

  • 2 tablespoons Pesto

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon honey

  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 2 tablespoons ground red pepper

  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin, divided

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups sweet potato chunks (or 2 sweet potatoes cut into chunks)

  • 1 (12-oz) bag frozen riced cauliflower

Steps

  1. Chop mint. Squeeze lemon for juice (2 tablespoons). Combine pesto, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, paprika, 1 tablespoon red pepper, 1 tablespoon mint, 2 teaspoons cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss chicken in the mixture then cover and refrigerate overnight.

  2. The next day place the chicken in a slow cooker and cook on high for 1.5 hours. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the sweet potato chunks in a bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon red pepper, and Italian seasoning. Toss until evenly coated then place in a baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes or until tender.

  3. Remove potatoes from oven; cook riced cauliflower following package instructions. Serve chicken with roasted sweet potatoes and riced cauliflower.

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The verdict? My boyfriend loved it. He had never had riced cauliflower before but he enjoyed it and he had never had sweet potato in chunks the way I did it, but it blew his mind. He loved how tender the chicken was so I’m super relieved that my first dinner for him went well. Drop a comment under this post if you would try this yourself or if there’s something about it you just don’t like and don’t forget to hit the like button.

Apricot Ginger-Glazed Pork

Hello lovely,

I found this recipe from Publix last summer. But because Publix is prejudice and doesn’t allow anyone outside of the US to simply view the recipes, I had to have a friend copy and paste the recipe in an email for me. There is something about a glazed pork chop that sounds so irresistible. The reason it took me so long to try this recipe is because I couldn’t find apricot preserves in the food store locally. I didn’t think I would have any trouble finding it, but I did. So when I went away in February and found apricot preserves in Try Tuesday, I knew it was finally time to try this recipe.

We always use so even though the recipe calls for tenderloin, it came out just fine. So use whichever cut of pork you fancy. And the best part? This doesn’t require much work at all! Simply season and marinate overnight, before layering the apricot preserve over each cut, then pop them in the oven. I love quick and easy meals that turn out fantastic.  It tasted as great as ordering it from a restaurant. The sweetness from the apricots is perfectly balanced out with the seasonings. This meal was definitely a win for my family so I can’t wait to make it again! 

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Apricot Ginger-Glazed Pork

Ingredients

1 lime, for juice
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
4 tablespoons all purpose seasoning
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup apricot (or peach) preserves
1 cup water
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

Steps

  1. Squeeze lime for juice (1 tablespoon); peel and grate ginger. Cut pork into 4 equal pieces; sprinkle with seasoning (wash hands). Chill overnight

  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove pork from refrigerator. Glaze each piece with a generous amount of the preserves. Pour water around the pork chops before covering with foil then place into oven.

  3. Bake for one hour. Chop cilantro; sprinkle over pork. Serve with sauce on the side.

Serve with your favourite side: wild rice, couscous, mashed potatoes or rice pilaf just to name a few.

Serve with your favourite side: wild rice, couscous, mashed potatoes or rice pilaf just to name a few.

As always if you try this recipe, share a photo and tag me on social media using #lifebyolivia!

Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Breasts

Hello Lovely,

Lately I’ve been struggling to write my posts. It’s not that I have nothing to talk about or don’t have the time to work on it, I just really don’t know what to say. I have so many posts that I’ve been rescheduling just because I don’t know how to start it off. But I’m going to start by saying why I made this recipe.

I found this recipe months ago, and saved it on Pinterest. This past Sunday my friends had a birthday celebration dinner for everyone born in February. I found out after grocery shopping my friend had told everyone it was a brunch. So since I already had two trays of chicken breasts (only because I couldn’t find thighs, which I prefer to cook) I decided to go ahead with the recipe. Now the original recipe calls for baking. I don’t like to bake chicken breasts because they always dry out and the meat is already thick and tough. I prefer to use my slow cooker because it really softens the meat. I split the two trays with one pack in the slow cooker and the other in the oven, since they all couldn’t fit in the slow cooker. I estimated about 4 hours needed, but I really only needed about 2.5 and ended up accidentally overcooking it so it resembled pulled pork. But trust me, it was soft and tender.

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Everyone at the “brunch” enjoyed all of the food especially my secret weapon that I whipped up as a surprise (I’ll share that recipe later). I’ve been enjoying pieces of this chicken over a salad and today I’m having it again with some whole wheat pasta for lunch. So let’s get into this recipe shall we?

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Slow Cooker Orange Chicken Breasts

INGREDIENTS

  1. 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

    1. 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only

    2. 2 garlic cloves, chopped

    3. 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

    4. 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

    5. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice

    6. 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

    7. 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce

    8. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

    9. 1 tablespoon kosher salt

    10. 2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs

PREPARATION

  1. Set aside 1/4 cup sliced scallions. Pulse cilantro, garlic, citrus zests, citrus juices, soy sauce, oil, salt, and remaining scallions in a food processor or blender until a coarse puree forms. Set aside 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill at least 2 hours, but for optimum flavour marinate overnight in the fridge.

  2. Set the slow cooker to high and put the chicken and marinade in. Cook for about 2.5-3 hours carefully turning the chicken every half hour. Serve chicken with reserved marinade and scallions.

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Slow Cooker Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Hello lovely,

Welcome to what was supposed to be the first recipe of the year! I kept pushing this back because of time and forgetfulness, but we’re finally here! I honestly couldn't wait to use my new slow cooker. I looked through Pinterest for the perfect recipe (because, duh, I don't know how to cook in one yet). I don't know why I put so much pressure on picking the perfect recipe just because it would be the first. What I really needed was convenient and cost effective. So when I found this recipe on Kitchen, I knew this would be the one to tackle. It even came with helpful tips on choosing the right part of the chicken and how long the recipe keeps in the fridge.

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Go Thighs for the Slow Cooker

Chicken thighs are the right choice for this take on takeout because their meaty flavor isn't overshadowed by the rich teriyaki sauce and they are more forgiving than chicken breasts, consistently remaining juicy after a couple of hours in the slow cooker. That said, if you've only got chicken breasts on hand, you can substitute them with no change in prep or cook time.

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Slow Cooker Honey Teriyaki Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 cup tamari or soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger

  • 1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

For serving: Cooked rice, red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, sliced scallions

Instructions

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Scatter the onion and garlic over the top. Whisk the soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, pepper, and ginger together in a small bowl and pour over the chicken.

Cover and cook on the LOW setting for 2 to 3 hours or on the HIGH setting for 1 to 2 hours. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece registers 165°F.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Pour the sauce into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until reduced by half, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Once the sauce has reduced, whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce and cook until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.

Return the chicken to the slow cooker and pour in enough sauce to coat the chicken. Reserve any remaining sauce for leftovers. Serve over cooked rice and garnish with red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and scallions.

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Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftover chicken and sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Make ahead: The chicken and sauce can be made 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container. Warm in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave before serving.

BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

Hello Lovely,

Let me start this post by saying, I really hate making stuffed shells. They are by far one of the most tedious recipes I can think of. Having to cradle al dente pasta shells, while stuffing them without tearing them is just not my idea of fun. That’s why there’s only one other stuffed shell recipe on this blog. I made this recipe about two weeks ago during the week for lunch. The original calls for sausage, but I had more bacon and wanted to quickly use it before it went bad in the fridge. This recipe has a lot of steps so I would recommend saving it for a Sunday dinner.

Despite the hassle, it’s very delicious and filling. Other than the carbs in the pasta, it’s still a relatively healthy dish that is sure to give everyone perfect Autumn feelings.

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BUTTERNUT SQUASH & BACON STUFFED SHELLS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

  • 1 onion, sliced

  • ¾ cup milk

  • ¾ cup vegetable broth

  • 1 pound bacon

  • 2 cups spinach

  • 3 cloves garlic

  • 1 pound jumbo shells, cooked al dente

  • 15 ounces ricotta

  • 1 egg

  • ¼ cup parmesan, shredded

  • Additional parmesan, shredded

  • Olive oil

  • Salt & pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Arrange onion and butternut squash in an even layer on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Roast for 40 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, cook bacon over medium heat. When bacon is mostly browned, add spinach and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and remove from heat.

  4. Place roasted butternut squash and onion in a food processor.

  5. Pulse until a smooth puree forms. Allow to cool. Stir in milk and vegetable broth. Pour butternut squash sauce into base of a 9x13 baking dish.

  6. In a large mixing bowl, stir together ricotta, parmesan, and egg. Add bacon and spinach into ricotta and stir until evenly distributed.

  7. Fill cooked pasta shells with 3-4 tablespoons of filling. Arrange shells in butternut squash sauce in the 9x13 baking dish.

  8. Bake for 30 minutes covered with aluminum foil followed by 15 minutes uncovered. Top with additional parmesan.