Welcome to the Chic-Peas Kitchen!

We're two best friends, Kelly and Suanne, who love to cook! We have a passion for fresh food, complex flavors, and saving time. We'll share with you what's for dinner (really!) as well as how we made it and how we can make it better.

Jump in and learn with us!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Meatballs in Sauce

Whether with pasta, at the end of a cocktail fork, or in a sub sandwich, meatballs are fun additions to your cooking repertoire. While they require a good amount of preparation ahead of time, they stew well, hold their shape, travel easily, and are easy to scale for bigger or smaller groups. This weekend I chose to serve them as an appetizer, parked in my slow cooker and making the room fragrant and inviting.

2 cans crushed tomatoes
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
stems from oregano, parsley, thyme, sage (or a teaspoon of each if you're using dried)

  1. In a large pot, add two tablespoons of olive oil and heat over high. 
  2. Fry the onion until translucent
  3. Add the tomato paste and garlic. Fry until fragrant
  4. Add the carrot and celery and cook until softened.
  5. If using a slow cooker, transfer vegetable mix to the crock pot.
  6. Add the herbs and the crushed tomatoes.
  7. Cover and allow everything to be happy together.

60 1-inch diameter meatballs, served 10 people.

1.5 slices white bread
1/3 cup milk
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs
1 small onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley minced
1/4 cup basil, minced
1 teaspoon sage
1 teaspoon thyme
2 teaspoons oregano
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 mozzarella sticks, diced into ~1/4 inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Make panade: shred the bread into the milk. Let it soak for 20 minutes+ to get goopy and break down into small chunks. The panade is the glue that holds the meatball together. It gives the meatballs moisture and heft. I think it also makes the meatballs more mild, soft, and plyable
  2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, onion, garlic, herbs, ketchup and hoisin
  3. Squeeze the bread/milk panade so you remove excess milk. Crumble the panade into a thick pasteand mix into the meat bowl. Discard the extra milk.
  4. Get your hands in there - Mix around so all the bits are distributed evenly. Add half the salt and pepper, mix mix mix. If you see extra small white bits of panade, squish it some more.
  5. Feel the texture - is the mix sticky and plyable like play doh? That's good. Does it crumble apart (too dry or your onion/garlic is too big)? Add another egg or more ketchup. Does it drip (too wet)? Add some breadcrumbs or more meat.
  6. Take a dollop and send it to the frying pan with some hot oil. Make a little patty or ball and cook through. Taste test. Does it need more salt? More pepper? As cooked, is it too "tight" or "loose"? (Tight meaning add more egg/liquid, loose meaning add more bread or meat.)
  7. Adjust for any additional salt, pepper, herbs, and texture. Remember that the meatballs will be in sauce later, so consider the sweet tangy sauce in your taste test. Don't start rolling until you're happy!
  8. When you get to a mixture you like, start rolling the balls. I like to take a tablespoon of meat mix, make a patty in my hand, put a cheese cube in the middle, and seal the cheese with the meat. Roll into a ball and put it on a plate for now. 
  9. When you have enough to fill a frying pan, heat the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on high. Fry the meatballs, making sure to sear all the sides and so they're cooked through (or mostly through.) This step ensures the meatballs stay in their round little shapes when you transfer it to the sauce. 
  10. Transfer the meatballs (not the olive oil!) to the slow cooker/pasta pot. allow to stew together for at least an hour so the flavors mingle and so the sauce takes on the meaty flavor!
  11. If serving with pasta, prepare pasta to directions, until al dente. Transfer drained pasta to a saute pan. Add in a few ladles of the pasta sauce so the pasta and sauce can stick to each other. Plate and add additional sauce and meatballs on top. Top with parmesan.
  12. If serving as a sandwich, toast some bread, slice it down the center, and add your meatballs. Top with enough sauce to keep sandwich together. Add some mozzarella on top. Maybe some red chili flakes or basil too. 
  13. If serving as a side, plate meatballs with just a little bit of sauce. Add some festive toothpicks and garlic toast on the side.

Green Herb Chicken

Green sauce/chimichurri:
1 serrano chile (or 2 jalapeno)
1 cup chopped cilantro
5 cloves garlic
4 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Four chicken quarters

  1. Rough chop all green sauce ingredients, then blend until a chunky sauce 
  2. Prep four chicken hind quarters (leg and thigh), removing excess fat, guts, the butt, and anything you won't eat. Try to separate the skin from the meat to form little pockets
  3. Apply a teaspoon and a half to each chicken pocket, between skin and meat and smush it to distribute. Its okay if it leaks a little
  4. On the outside skin and bottom (with no skin), rub some additional salt, garlic powder, and oregano
  5. Heat a large skillet, cast iron, or your favorite heavy saute pan. Add two teaspoons vegetable (or other neutral oil) and wait until the pan and oil are nice and hot.
  6. Preheat oven to 425 and prep a roasting pan with a rack
  7. In the skillet, sear the chicken on both sides until skin starts to crisp (will take about 10 minutes)
  8. When chicken no longer sticks to pan and skin is a lovely crisp brown, remove chicken to the roasting pan (you can keep the saute pan and cook vegetables in it if there isn't too much oil!)
  9. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until a thermometer reads 155 degrees F
  10. Allow chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before plating and serving
Any leftover green sauce also would serve as a chimichurri, topping a seared steak or cold chicken breast. Also use to season precooked roasted vegetables or chickpeas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pork Chops with Summer Peach Salsa

Perry and I just went through a prodigious pork phase (say that three times fast!) because we were testing out pork chop recipes. This version is lighter than the other two recipes because it requires the least amount of seasoning and adds a fruity salsa on top to carry the flavor punch.

This salsa is summery, using ripe peach, tomato, crisp red pepper, and green jalapeno. You could also add cilantro, mint, or red onion if you so desire. The salsa would also pair nicely with grilled chicken breasts or a spinach salad.

Pork Chops with Summer Peach Salsa
Serves 2

2 bone in pork chops
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder

1 peach
1 tsp sugar
1 tomato
1/2 red pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
6 leaves basil
1/4 lemon (juice and zest)

  1. In a shallow dish, mix the soy sauce, garlic powder, and chili powder. Add the pork chops, coating both sides in the mix. Allow pork chops to rest in marinade for about 30 min.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet and rack.
  3. Cook chops for 15 minutes, flip, and then another 15 minutes, adjusting for the fat content and thickness of the chops.
  4. Check that chops are cooked through, with no trace of pink. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  5. Dice the peach, tomato, red pepper into 1 cm cubes. Mince the jalapeno (with or without seeds and ribs, your choice. I do without.) Chiffonade the basil leaves.
  6. Combine vegetables with the sugar and lemon juice and zest. Allow to sit in the fridge until chops are cooked and rested.
  7. Plate pork chops, top with several tablespoons of salsa, and enjoy!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Green California Hummus

A friend introduced me to "California hummus" at a local restaurant called Pita Grill, which is a small NYC chain with California Mediterranean flavors. The California hummus is so good, I haven't bothered to check out the rest of the menu. I'm hooked on it. And I decided the only way to cure myself was to try making it on my own!

California hummus is green, herby, but also has that warm nourishment that comes from chickpeas. It doesn't feel as heavy as a typical hummus, but it still carries its weight as a tasty dip at your next event, or mixed with chicken salad. Nom nom!

California Hummus
Serves 4 as a side dish

1 16 oz can chickpeas (garbanzos)
2/3 cup chopped cilantro (stems okay)
1/3 cup chopped parsley (stems okay)
1 jalapeno, chopped (seeds optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and spices.
  3. Using a hand blender or food processor, add half the olive oil and pulse to blend. continue adding olive oil as needed to get the desired consistency.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Serve with carrot chips, celery, pita chips, over grilled chicken, with falafel, wrapped in an omelette...
  6. Optional add ins can include red pepper, spinach, cheeses - go crazy.

July 4th Menu - Summer Indoor Birthday!

Summer picnics are a lot of fun - but they're also prone to finicky weather, bugs, noise, humidity, and not enough ice, ever. I wanted to combine a way to celebrate our country, summers, and birthdays all together - but indoors. After all, a hurricane was coming and I happen to love air conditioning and fully functional bathrooms.

I wanted an easy picky menu - something that guests could enjoy eating off a plate, but with one utensil. It had to be something they could pick up and eat over and over, going back for seconds or thirds as desired. Dishes should be happy at room temperature and made in advance. The ingredients also needed to be affordable - we were expecting 20-30 people over several hours!!

Here's what we served:
Pulled Pork Tacos (Pork Tinga)
Herbed Ricotta Pasta Salad
Green Bean Almondine with Sesame Ginger Dressing
California Hummus
Salsa and Chips
Homemade Ginger Ale
Cold Chai

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Winter Entertaining Menus

Feeding large groups is always an endeavor. To usher in the new year, Perry and I decided to go big - we would host two back to back parties. Different groups of friends. December 31 and January 1. And like the overachiever I am, dinner would be homemade, tasty, and hearty.

December 31 was our old church friends, a ladies "cookie party", which was really an excuse for me to bake like it was going out of style (new year's resolutions, anyone?). We had eight ladies and one husband at the table.

Soft Pumpkin Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Crinkles (vegan)
Soft Ginger Cookies (made small, not giant)
Sausage and Pea Tomato Cream Pasta
Sautéed Broccoli

In day two of the entertaining extraordinaire, we serve seven guests a hearty winter meal, rich on flavor, but low on kitchen time. This meal does require a good amount of advance planning and prep, but its totally worth it. Then you can spend more time being with people important to you!

Miso chicken wings
Seaweed, mushroom, and tofu soup
Slow Cooker Asian Short Ribs - which I would TOTALLY make again
Garlic string beans
White rice
Cookies and ice cream

Sausage and Pea Pasta in Tomato Cream

Feeding large groups is always an endeavor. To usher in the new year, Perry and I decided to go big - we would host two back to back parties. Different groups of friends. December 31 and January 1. And like the overachiever I am, dinner would be homemade, balanced, and hearty.

December 31 was our old church friends, a ladies "cookie party", which was really an excuse for me to bake like it was going out of style (new year's resolutions, anyone?). The number of diners was flexible, so I needed a dish that could be made quickly to accommodate more or less people. Pasta is always a great option here - add more or less pasta to accommodate the group, it cooks quickly, and can be eaten with a gazillion sauces and toppings. This version relies on Italian sausage for the flavor punch. It's flavorful, but you don't need a lot, tastes rich, and mediates me having to salt my own dish. I served the pasta with a side of blanched broccoli and everyone ate until satisfied! (But keep in mind that we also had four different types of cookies around, which will be separate posts!)

Sausage and Pea Pasta in Tomato Cream
Serves 8

6 italian sausage links, squeezed out of casing
2 medium onions, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 pound of elbow macaroni
12 oz of frozen peas
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 pint heavy cream
cornstarch for thickening

  1. Heat a nonstick tall pan or a pot. If you are using a pot that may stick, add olive oil.
  2. Brown the sausage, breaking apart the meat into small bite sized pieces. Cook until there is no more pink, then drain any excess oil.
  3. Simultaneously, heat a pot of salted water and prepare the macaroni as directed, until al dente. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta water. Drain pasta and set aside.
  4. Reduce the pot to medium high. Add the onions to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove the suc.
  5. When the onions are browned, lower the heat to medium and add the garlic, tomato paste, bay leaf, and oregano, frying together for a few minutes.
  6. Add the peas and stir to incorporate. If the pan is getting too dry, add a half cup of the hot pasta water to the pan.
  7. Add the mushrooms and cook through.
  8. A few minutes before serving, add the heavy cream. Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  9. Make a cornstarch slurry with two tablespoons cornstarch and four tablespoons pasta water. stir until thick yet runny. Pour two teaspoons into the pan at a time, vigorously stirring in the cornstarch before it cooks. Repeat in different parts of the pan until the sauce has desired thickness.
  10. Add the cooked pasta to the pan, stirring to incorporate flavors and allowing the sauce to stick to the pasta.
  11. Serve! Actually tastes better the day after if you have leftovers.