Roasted Family Friendly Vegetables (Broccoli, Carrots, Red Potatoes) from TODAY SHOW!

For those who have asked, here’s the roasted vegetable recipe I made on the TODAY Show this morning! 

Kids love the sweetness of Roasted Broccoli, Carrots and Red Potatoes.

Kids love the sweetness of Roasted Broccoli, Carrots and Red Potatoes.

Roasted “Family-Friendly” Vegetables (Broccoli, Carrots and Red Potatoes)

 2 heads broccoli

5 large carrots, peeled and quartered

1.5 pounds red potatoes, quartered

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

I love roasted vegetables, especially wintery veggies like roots. But it can be a little time consuming to peel and cube, say, a parsnip—not to mention that offering parsnips to a two-year-old doesn’t always go over so well! So here’s a simple roasted vegetable recipe using veggies that are easy to cut up and will please eaters of all ages (my two-year old Jacob LOVES the broccoli!). Roasting is a great alternative to basic steamed vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the broccoli florets into bite-sized pieces. Place the broccoli, carrots, potatoes and garlic into a large bowl. Add oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix well. Place on a cookie sheet, taking care to tuck the garlic pieces underneath a few veggies so it doesn’t burn  (you also might need to spread the vegetables out over two cookie sheets for even roasting). Roast for 30-35 minutes or until desired doneness, stirring once. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, while the vegetables are still hot. 

Strawberry Arugula Salad, Balsamic Vinaigrette and Amy’s Frozen Dinners–Episode 2

Hello my name is Debra, and I serve my family frozen dinners. In Episode 2 you see how I jazz up two frozen entrees of Amy’s macaroni and cheese and lasagna by adding a bit of fresh grated cheese, and prepare a strawberry arugula salad and homemade balsamic vinaigrette to serve alongside them. First, let me share the ingredients for the salad and dressing, then I’ll talk more about the frozen dinners!

Arugula goes well with sweet fruits like strawberries.

Arugula goes well with sweet fruits like strawberries.

Strawberry Arugula Salad

(Serves 2)

4 large handfuls of pre-washed Arugula

2-3 large Strawberries, sliced

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shaved

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Toss.

Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette 

3 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

Combine ingredients in a mini Tupperware-type container that has a spill-proof lid. Shake vigorously to mix. Drizzle over salad.

I think what “makes” a dressing this simple is the quality of the balsamic; try to find one that’s rich, dark, viscous-y, and a touch sweet. You can also replace the balsamic with different styles of vinegar, or try lemon or lime juice instead for a refreshing flavor.

Now, lest you think frozen dinners are simply too much of a cheat in the semi-homemade vein, here are three reasons why I love frozen dinners, particularly the ones made by Amy’s Kitchen.

  1. They’re quick. This is the leading reason I choose frozen meals, in moderation. Having a stack of these in the freezer means a few nights a week, we don’t even have to think or plan what we’re having–and that’s very helpful (necessary, even) given our busy schedules. We just decide “Let’s do Amy’s” and go to the freezer well and pick whatever flavors we’re in the mood for. It’s simple, and clean-up is a breeze. 
  2. They’re portion-controlled. If I were to cook a pan of, say, lasagna, I would definitely eat more than the amount I’m supposed to eat (don’t we all?!). Let’s be honest: Over the course of a few days, I would probably polish off the WHOLE PAN eating it for lunch, dinner, and snacks (this might have happened to a certain bechamel lasagna we’ve made with each of my pregnancies). Seeing as that I like my jeans to fit, I sometimes prefer knowing an indulgent meal like lasagna or macaroni and cheese ends with a single serving. Buying individual frozen entrees, I know I’m eating a max of 380 or 420 calories, respectively.
  3. They’re tasty. Amy’s Kitchen Organic is one of my favorite brands of frozen meals (and other packaged foods). I like that they’re organic and have a good selection of low-sodium and ethnic flavors. Some of our favorite varieties include the low-sodium Vegetable Lasagna and Macaroni and Cheese seen in the show, Enchilada Meal, Cheese Tamale, Paneer Tikka, Palak Paneer, Mattar Paneer, Broccoli and Cheddar Bowl (this one’s gluten free). I also LOVE the eggplant parmesan by Trader Joe’s. On the average night, I don’t have time to cook any of these–unless we’re talking about heating an already cooked version in the oven.

P.S. I know it takes longer, but I do like to cook my frozen dinners in the oven. I think it tastes so much better than in the microwave!

Are you a frozen dinner fan? I’d love know your faves!

Photo: Lauren Hunter

Shigley Spicy Chicken Tacos – From Episode 1

Chicken tacos are one of the “reinvention” recipes I briefly demo at the end of Episode 1. If you were come to dinner at my house on an average Saturday night, chances are we’re serving tacos!

This is a great meal for using up all the leftover chicken from, say a rotisserie or roasted chicken, when it’s a few days old and needs a little extra love. The Jamaican Jerk marinated chicken works well because it’s a similarly-spiced base, but we often just use up whatever cooked chicken is left in the fridge. Once you add the taco spices, it all blends together anyway. Generally speaking, we like our tacos spicy. As in, the regular conversation when we’re cooking tacos (Kev usually takes the lead on the meat) goes like this:

Shigley Spicy Chicken Tacos

Deb: “Babe, please don’t make it so spicy this time.”

Kev: “I won’t.”

Deb (tasting meat 20 min later): “Babe. Why did you make it so spicy?”

Kev: It’s not that spicy.

Deb (mouth on fire): “But it is! You promised! Were you watching the game while you cooked?!”

Kev: “Eh. It’s not spicy. Just put some sour cream on it.”

But in the end, I always enjoy the final product! And not to worry: we nailed down a not too too spicy version to share here.

Shigley Spicy Chicken Tacos

4 cups shredded or pulled chicken

1 medium jalepeno seeded and chopped

1 ½ teaspoons Chili powder (or 1 tablespoon for more spicy!)

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 ½ teaspoons cumin

Dash of smoked paprika

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

Heat oil over medium high heat. Add chicken and next four ingredients (jalepeno through paprika) and cook chicken & spices together, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes.

Add 4 cups water, or enough to completely cover the chicken by ¼ inch.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat a bit and cook over medium high heat until the water is almost boiled off, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Garnish with all your favorite taco veggies and condiments, such as chopped lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, diced onion, avocado and tomato, salsa and sour cream (which really helps cool off the meat!)

Extra tip: If you’re using hard taco shells, be sure to heat them up in the oven! It takes just a few minutes (3-5 min, depending on the brand; we’re partial to Bearitos) and I swear it makes such a huge difference in the flavor and taco night enjoyment.

Photo by Lauren Hunter

Shredded Rosemary Chicken Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette – From Episode 1

Easiest way to reinvent the roasted chicken we made in Episode 1? Throw it on a salad. A quick note about salads: I tend to like mine with fewer ingredients. I generally think less is more– in food and in life– and I find salads with too many flavor profiles to be less enjoyable. Second, it’s laziness! You know I do my best to eat a salad-type-thing each day, but it takes a long time to chop up those vegetables! I’m much more likely to make it happen if I’ve only got 3-4 to cut up, instead of say, 7-8.

Shredded Rosemary Chicken SaladShredded Rosemary Chicken Salad

(Serves 2-4)

1 ½ cups (eyeball it) Cooked and shredded Lemon Rosemary Chicken

1 box prewashed Spring Mix

1 large carrot, chopped

Red or Vidalia onion, sliced

Red pepper, julienned

Grape tomatoes, quartered

Crumbled Feta cheese

Combine ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and serve.

If you want to be a bit jazzier in terms of presentation, you can arrange the toppings in groups of like items on the bed of lettuce, like the “pie chart” style shown here.

Simplest Balsamic Vinaigrette Ever

3 Tablespoons Light Olive Oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Salt & Pepper to taste (optional)

Combine ingredients in a mini Tupperware-type container that has a lid. Shake vigorously to mix. Toss with salad. That’s it!

A couple notes: I actually prefer light oil to extra virgin for dressings because it’s a milder flavor and less heavy on the veggies. Also, this dressing is all about the balsamic. I’ve tried a zillion kinds and my favorite is the Barrel Aged kind by Wine Country Kitchens. I don’t love vinegary flavor, but this one is sweet and thick and has just the right amount of tang. It basically makes the dressing—and is well worth the $10 per bottle. If you don’t have that one available, look for one that has a rich, dark, caramel color and almost viscous-looking consistency (not too thin) at the grocery store.

Photo by Lauren Hunter

Easy Biryani with Green Beans and Hard Boiled Egg – From Episode 1

At the end of Episode 1, one of the roasted chicken “reinvention” recipes I mention is Biryani, but you know I don’t make this from scratch! I start with a frozen bag of Biryani, and add all kinds of fresh, colorful goodness. 

Easy Biryani with Green Beans and Hard Boiled EggsEasy Biryani with Green Beans and Hard Boiled Egg

(Serves 2-4)

 1 cup (eyeball it) Cooked and shredded chicken

1 bag frozen Trader Joe’s brand Biryani

1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

1 ½  tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

2 hard boiled eggs

Indian spice blend, such as Masala Biryani (available in specialty food stores)

Hot chili sauce, such as Sriracha sauce

The Jamaican Jerk chicken leftovers work great for this dish because they have similar spicy curry flavors—but you can use any flavor of chicken (or beef or lamb, for that matter). We’re using green beans because we had some leftover, but you can use any veggies you have—bonus if it has a nice, bold color that complements the biryani.

Place a tablespoon of Indian spice blend in a small bowl. Peel hard boiled eggs and roll them in the spice to coat, just like you would an Easter Egg. Cut eggs into quarters; sprinkle a bit more spice blend on top. Set aside.

Heat 1 ½ teaspoons oil in a skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add chicken and green beans, sauté about two minutes (green beans will still be very crisp). Move green beans and chicken to one side of pan. Add remaining oil to the other side of the pan, then the bag of frozen Biryani. Cook biryani by itself for 30 seconds to thaw then mix together with green beans and chicken and continue cooking until almost heated through, stirring occasionally. Stir in eggs, and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and reduce heat a bit. Simmer until eggs are heated, about 3 minutes. Serve with Sriracha sauce. Delish!

Photo by Lauren Hunter

Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk Roasted Chicken – Episode 1

On many Sunday nights at our house, we like to prepare roasted chicken because it’s tasty and comforting—and also provides great leftovers for countless meals during the week.

But we don’t do a whole chicken for a few reasons—one, we’re more of a breast-meat family and too much of the bird would go to waste and two, doing individual split bone-in breasts gives you more variety in terms of flavor options. When you’re roasting, they can all go into the oven (or on the grill) at the same time, so it’s pretty efficient to cook multiple flavors at once. Portion wise, we’ll each eat about half our breast at dinner and save the rest for leftovers. For a family of four, you’ll probably want to make 6-8 individual, large breasts (about 4-5 pounds).

Here are the recipes for the two different varieties you see in Episode 1, Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk.

Lemon Rosemary and Jamaican Jerk Roasted ChickenLemon Rosemary Chicken

For each, individual split bone-in breast you will need:

3 ¼-inch wide strips of lemon peel

1 small clove garlic, minced

2 sprigs fresh Rosemary

Kosher Salt & Pepper

1 ½ teaspoons Olive Oil (eyeball it)

The key to getting the juicy, flavorful meat is putting all the yummy seasonings underneath the skin. So, first things first, gently loosen the skin from the breast by inserting your fingers and gently pushing between the skin and meat. (As you see in the show, yeah, dealing with the raw chicken is not my favorite activity, and I usually let my husband Kevin take the lead on this duty!)

Next, arrange the garlic, lemon peel and rosemary on the meat, underneath the skin. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and rub in 1 teaspoon of the olive oil – again, all of this happens underneath the skin. Rub remaining olive oil on top of skin. Place breasts in a Ziploc bag to marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

To roast:  Usually we like to roast the chicken on the grill, using a convection or “indirect” method. But, you can also roast them in the regular oven, of course!

Preheat to 450 degrees. Arrange chicken breasts in a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, until the skin is sizzling golden brown, then reduce temp to 400 and roast until the meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Note: if your kitchen gets too smoky, lower your temperature a bit, and lengthen cook time accordingly.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

1 bone-in split chicken breast

¼ cup store-bought Jamaican Jerk marinade

For each, individual bone-in breast, you’ll need about ¼ cup of a store-bought jerk marinade. We like The Shizzle Sauce, Voodoo Hot variety (it’s super spicy!).

Place the chicken breast in a Ziploc or plastic bag. Add marinade and squish it all around, making sure to rub the marinade underneath the loosened skin, onto the meat directly. Place meat in the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Quick tip: if you have the time, let the marinated meat stand at room temperature before roasting for 15-20 min; ice-cold chicken doesn’t brown quite as nicely.

Roast chicken at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 400 and bake until the meat is cooked through, about 30 minutes. Add a little extra jerk sauce on top before serving. Delish! Note: You can also do this same method with all kinds of store-bought marinades. We often roast a third flavor of Teriyaki Chicken. Our favorite marinades are by Soy Vay or Trader Joe’s Trader Ming’s Soyaki. These can both be a bit sweet so I’ll add a splash of plain soy sauce to the mix to make it more savory.

I like to serve the chicken with rice and roasted or steamed vegetables on the first day. Then, as you see in the show, we reinvent shredded or sliced chicken for a number of other recipes including:

  1. Shredded Rosemary Chicken Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
  2. Easy Biryani with Green Beans and Hard Boiled Eggs
  3. Shigley Spicy Chicken Tacos


Photo by Lauren Hunter