Baked Chicken with Honey and Soy

This recipe combines my three favorite things. It’s fast, it’s cheap and it’s delicious. And easy. I know that’s four but I don’t have time for semantics. I’m in a rush here! (I’m not really, but one of the best things about this recipe is that, other than mixing the sauce ingredients together and throwing in the chicken, there’s really not much else to do. That’s why it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner). Bung it in the oven, throw on some rice and by the time you’ve opened a bottle of wine and cycled through your Netflix options, dinner is ready.

It’s pretty much the bastard child of our two most popular recipes, Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Garlic, and Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze.

Baked Chicken with Honey and Soy

 

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa VerdeI’ve always envied people that were really into watching sports. I would love to care about something (other than nerdy television shows and movie villains) enough to paint my face, don a kooky costume and brave the cold, just to prove my commitment and loyalty. To feel the agony of defeat in the hopes of, one day, just maybe, getting to experience the glory of ultimate victory.

But nope. Just don’t give a toss. Matt either (with the exception of the occasional World Cup match, of course).

This is Matt and me watching the news when the sports headlines come on.

SPORTSCASTER [Very excited]: AND THE STEELERS SCORED ON AMAZING SEVENTEEN AND FIFTY-SIX YARD PASSES LESS THAN SIX MINUTES APART IN THE FOURTH QUARTER! UNBELIEVABLE!!!!!

MATT [Pops a chip in his mouth]: Basketball?

EMILY [Rolls eyes]: Hockey, duh.

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Roasted Beet Salad with Hazelnuts and Goat CheeseWe all know there are vegetables that many, many people despise. (A brussels sprout looks around the room nervously and begins to back away. Soon to be followed by a turnip. And then a beet. The beet grabs a stick of celery from a nearby Bloody Mary as it exits.) But the thing is, I’m pretty sure that most people just think they hate these vegetables. And the aversion they experience is not because these maligned veggies are actually gross*, but because they’ve most likely had them prepared incorrectly.

*Except for celery which actually is gross and no amount of jiggery pokery will change that.

Take brussels sprouts, for example (always at the very top of the “hated vegetable” list). Many people boil them until they are a thoroughly revolting shade of gray and the texture of a moldy sponge. They also think that a little pat of butter will camouflage the criminally sulfurous smell. Then they wonder why there is a child-shaped hole in the wall and little Timmy has run off to join the circus. BUT, take those same sprouts, coat them well in olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in a very hot oven and they’ll come out as crisp as french fries and just as addictive. And little Timmy can stay in school and become a doctor, or a film editor or some other, equally respectable occupation.

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Chicken Baked with Creamy Mushroom SauceIf you’re anything like me, you start the week with grand plans (and a long list) of all the things you’re going to get accomplished. Paint the porch. Just in time for Halloween! Work on the novel. Duh, I’ll just wake up an hour earlier! Train the dog to stop losing her mind every time the UPS truck is within a seven block radius. Easy as cake! Oooooh, maybe I’ll make a cake.

Then inevitably, usually by about Thursday, I realize that not only have I managed to fail in getting those things done, but I also didn’t use that chard I bought and the dog is now convinced that the clean laundry basket is her new bed because the un-folded clothes have been in there so long.

Arya in her laundry basket

Arya in her laundry basket

That’s about when remember that even when I’m too busy to care whether my socks match, I can still make something really satisfying for dinner. It doesn’t have to be a big production (especially if you’re not stopping every five minutes to take pictures).

Chicken Baked with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

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Toasted Orzo with SageLooking for an easy, healthy, quick side dish? We here at Nerds with Knives central casting have just the guy for you. This orzo is so good that we’ve made it two nights in a row. And you know what? I’m probably going to make it again tonight and I’m not ashamed to say it! Well, slightly ashamed but that’s mostly because I’ve stripped our one sage plant bare solely due to my obsession with this dish. It has a very similar texture and flavor to risotto but only takes 15 minutes to make. How cool is that?

Toasted Orzo with Sage

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Corn, Scallion and Cheddar StrataWe had only lived in Beacon for about six minutes before Matt decided he wanted to build a coop and raise chickens. Being a born and raised New York City girl (whose idea of the “country” was the slightly less organized part of Central Park), I thought he was nuts. Well, I know he’s nuts but I that’s pretty much why I married him. I still thought raising chickens would be … unwise for two people who had lived the rural life for all of a millisecond. [Matt says: Speak for yourself, city girl, you know where I grew up, every set of directions included the step, "Turn left at the first cow, and if you reach the second cow, you've gone too far"]

Now I can admit it. I was wrong. Not only have the chickens been awesome, they’re also the easiest of our animals to take care of and they contribute to the household by laying delicious, fresh eggs. In fact, they lay so many damn eggs that using them up is actually the most difficult part of keeping them. [Matt is holding a shovel and a large bag of chicken poo and shaking his head sadly for some reason.]

Nerd alert: I’ve come to realize that chickens are hilarious so let’s have a chicken caption contest. Write in the comments what you think each chicken is thinking.

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Simple and Delicious Fried RiceI might have mentioned that we’ve had a lot of company this summer. Like, a lot. And while we both love entertaining and cooking for a crowd (seriously, we’re so, so nerdy about it), it can be quite draining. So now that summer’s over and we’re back on our own, all we seem to be craving are the simplest, easiest, quickest things we can come up with. I mean quick like a sliced tomato sprinkled with Maldon salt and topped with a basil leaf. Or a slice of bread topped with mango chutney and melted cheddar. That kind of quick.

Though for some unfathomable reason, Matt frowns on my I’m-too-tired-to-even-care dinner, which is frozen peas eaten directly out of the bag. See, it’s genius because they defrost as you chew them. Oddly enough, Matt made that same exact face when he caught me in the… act.

Anyway, for those of you who I haven’t traumatized, I’m going to tell you something shocking. Are you ready? If you have some cold, leftover rice in your fridge, you are seconds away from a delicious, healthy dinner. That’s right. Seconds. Okay, minutes, but making fried rice is still crazy quick.

And once you know the method, this homemade version will be so much better than the greasy, soggy kind that you get free with your Chinese take-out.

Simple and Delicious Fried Rice

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Puy Lentils with SpinachI’ve never been what you would call a lentil “fan”. I mean, they’re fine and everything as far as legumes/pulses go but I certainly don’t wake up thinking about a lentil dish I absolutely can’t wait to make. Until now.

There are a few … I don’t even want to say ‘tricks’ because it’s not like there’s any fanciness or magic going on here. It’s just that there are a couple of ingredients that elevate this humble dish and turn it truly delicious. In fact, it’s so simple that I’m afraid you’re going to roll your eyes and wonder if I’ve finally gone off my rocker. It’s not the huge bunch of baby spinach that gets stirred in or the swirl of Crème fraîche that it’s topped with.

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Roasted Peaches with Honey and ThymeThis recipe is one of those surprises that happens when you find yourself with an abundance of an ingredient (in this case, peaches) and you decide to just wing it, making something up on the spot and it turns out even better than you imagined.

It’s crazy simple but it went so well along with the Crispy Spiced Duck Legs with Thyme, that I wanted to tell you how I did it.

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