Chili and Citrus-Roasted Broccoli

I have 3 cups of crushed red pepper in my pantry. We have had such amazing production the last few years from our pepper plants that I’ve not only made my own crushed red pepper, but I’ve also made my own chili oil (and I’ll show you that soon).

I will absolutely guaran-darn-tee you – once you do either yourself, you will never ever ever go back to the orange sawdust on the spice aisle again.

Ever.

Chili and Citrus-Roasted Broccoli

In addition to the crushed-red-peppering of everything, we also go through a lot of steam-in-bag broccoli. It’s quick, easy, and checks the “something green” box on the dinner menu. Because let’s be real: sometimes there’s just no reason to raise the bar on a busy weeknight veggie side. And considering I often also eat broccoli for breakfast (don’t judge), there’s no reason to raise the bar on a busy school-morning breakfast either.

But if you’ve got a few extra minutes, there are many, many things you can do to a head of broccoli that will beat the freezer bag. A simple roast with some oil, salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon is the easiest. And if you’ve got time for a simple roast, chances are you’ve got an extra 67 seconds to zest an orange and grab the chili oil from the pantry.

Chili and Citrus-Roasted Broccoli

These broccoli florets were coated with olive, sesame, chili oil, orange zest, and a squeeze of orange juice. The chili oil only lends mild heat to the broccoli so if you aren’t cooking for a 5-year-old like I do, then double the chili oil.

And now that the homemade veggie side is taken care of, feel free to balance things out and serve it along side a freezer bag stir-fry. That’s what I do :)

Chili and Citrus-Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli florets roasted with orange zest and chili oil.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head or 2-3 crowns of broccoli, cut into florets (you want a single layer to fill a large baking pan)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili oil (double it for more heat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Small orange, zested and then cut into wedges
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Place the broccoli on the baking pan.
  3. Drizzle the oils, garlic, and orange zest over top and then toss to evenly distribute everything - I use my hands and just roll things around until I'm happy.
  4. Season with a generous pinch of salt, several grinds of black pepper, and then squeeze half the orange wedges over top.
  5. Roast for 8-10 minutes, toss/flip, and then roast for another 5 minutes.
  6. Squeeze remaining orange wedges over top and enjoy.

Notes

Yields: 4-6 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 25 minutes

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Asparagus and Zucchini Noodle Carbonara

I got your green food right here.

And bonus, it’s coated in a sauce of parmesan, black pepper, and just a leeeettle bacon grease – just the way God intended fake pasta to be.

Asparagus and Zoodle Carbonara

If there’s one thing we take seriously around here, it’s margaritas. And if there’s a second thing, it’s carbonara in its many beautiful forms. No cream, no extras. Just parmesan, eggs, black pepper, and (in the case of real pasta) a splash of pasta water.

When we substitute zucchini, we first run the squash through a spiral vegetable cutter (I have a Spiralizer and I adore it) to make zucchini noddles. Zoodles! (I love that word even more than my 5 year old.) Then the zoodles get a quick high-heat stir-fry to soften and remove some of the excess water before proceeding with the standard carbonara recipe.

Asparagus and Zoodle Carbonara

What you get is a bowl full of vegetables in a deceptively not-overly-unhealthy sauce. Without a cup of cream or a bottle of green food coloring to be found.

But still, bacon.

Asparagus and Zoodle Carbonara

A healthier pasta carbonara made with zucchini noodles, bacon, and parmesan.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into ~1/4-inch squares
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into ~3-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan (~1.5 oz by weight) plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/4 lb zucchini, cut into spirals (I have this tool)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in saute pan over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until crispy.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a large bowl (big enough to mix everything together at the end) and leave behind as much of the bacon drippings as possible (you want ~1 Tbsp of oil in the pan).
  3. Grind a generous amount of black pepper into the pan and add the asparagus and a pinch of salt, cooking for ~5 minutes until fork-tender.
  4. In the bowl with the bacon, add the egg, yolk, and parmesan and whisk it all together.
  5. Add the asparagus to the bowl and mix well for ~10 seconds to melt the cheese and prevent the egg from scrambling from the heat of the vegetables.
  6. Return the pan to the heat and add the zoodles, cooking uncovered and stirring frequently for ~5 minutes (there should be no standing liquid in the pan).
  7. Scrape out the pan to get all of the black pepper and bacon goodness into the bowl with the asparagus mixture.
  8. Use a large fork and spoon to toss the zoodles and mix well. Serve immediately.
  9. Best on the day of cooking - the zucchini will release a little more liquid after sitting a while and will create a standing thin sauce as leftovers. It's still delicious, but messy.

Notes

Yields: 2 generous servings

Adapted from Zucchini Carbonara

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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Asparagus and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

So I cooked dinner. For like the 3rd time in a month. And I felt like it was kind of a big step.

And “I cooked” isn’t code for called to have Chinese/pizza delivered. Because that’s what “I cooked” has meant for the last month.

My dad passed away unexpectedly in February and, well, I lost all motivation to cook. And being the oldest and just the kind of person I am, I jumped in head-first to arrangements and decisions and cleaning and phone calls and to-do lists and everything in the world but being at home and cooking. Because in cooking, I have always found relaxation and peace and quiet.

And I wanted absolutely nothing to do with that. Because the sads come out when there is quiet.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

But when the lady behind the Subway counter nearly perfectly recalled all three sandwiches in my order, I thought, you know, it’s really not that hard to throw some sandwiches together at home. And “homemade Subway,” is now how Landry refers to sandwiches. [shrug]

And that coincided with you know, I’m kind of tired of crying and not wearing pants* and sweet Jesus would you look at my eyes!. (*Just kidding. Who needs pants.)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

Homemade sandwiches became the gateway dish to Zoodles and Cheese, became more zoodles (because seriously, I. freaking. love. my. Spiralizer), became Asparagus-Stuffed Chicken because asparagus at .98/lb? That’ll get a girl’s attention. And send her running straight to the cheese case for a log of garlic & herb goat cheese.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

So we look to find a new normal. One in which I tell Jason daily, “I can’t believe I’m not going to get to argue with my dad again.” Or get to give the life-long Oiler fan, who made sure his 10-yr old daughter knew more about football than most grown men, and hard time “What do you mean you want The Cowboys to win?!”

I hope he found his endless supply of chocolate pie and kolache in heaven – rumor has it that blood glucose levels don’t count up there.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken

Chicken breasts stuffed with Garlic & Herb goat cheese and fresh asparagus.

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 4 oz log Garlic & Herb goat cheese
  • 15 spears asparagus (thinner is better)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Pound the chicken breasts thin in a gallon zipper bag.
  3. Season the "bottom" side (the rougher side) with salt and pepper and then spread 1/4 of the goat cheese over the chicken.
  4. Top with 5 asparagus spears and roll up, placing seam-down on a plate, and seasoning the tops with salt and pepper. Repeat with the other 2 chicken breasts. (If you need to, use toothpicks to secure the chicken rolls.)
  5. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe pan (or prepare to transfer them to a baking dish after searing) and place the chicken in the pan seam-up.
  6. Sear for 3 minutes, flip, and then transfer the chicken to the oven to finish cooking, 25-30 minutes.
  7. Let chicken sit for ~10 minutes before slicing into rounds and serving with the remaining goat cheese crumbled over top.

Notes

Yields: 3 generous servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 45 minutes

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