Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Easy Dinner Recipes for the Family

Easy Dinner Recipes: Seared Fish Tacos

At times the hustle of the day’s events makes preparing a family dinner challenging. Preparing a balanced meal of a protein, vegetables and healthy carbohydrates takes time, especially when you cook with a lot of plant-based foods. Are there any solutions for making dinner that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time slaving over a stove? Yes, there are. Listed below are links to easy dinner recipes found on my website for a quick and easy reference.

What is an easy dinner? A dinner recipe that requires little prep work and comes together in a reasonable amount of time. There are a couple of solutions to make dinner easier to put together. One short cut is, buy produce already chopped. Many grocery stores offer a wide selection of produce already chopped and ready for cooking. Each item may cost more, but if buying prepared vegetables is the difference between making dinner or not, it is worth the price. I do not usually buy cut up produce because these days I am mostly cooking for two. However, I cannot ignore how buying prepared vegetables saves a lot of time. It is my opinion, the value of cooking and eating a home cooked meal is significant, especially when compared to eating take out dinners.

Another time saver is make dinner in one pan. Sheet pan, or one pot dinners often require minimal prep, work and everything cooks on (or in) one pan. This also makes clean-up a lot easier as well.

All of these recipes easily come together with little prep work, or cooked in one pan or pot, or take a minimal amount of time to cook. Enjoy!

 

Easy dinner Recipe Post, Spanish inspired Mussels

Easy dinners: Shellfish

One of my favorite easy dinner recipe is my Spanish Inspired Mussels with Chorizo Sausage. The mussels are cooked in a broth of tomatoes, garlic, wine and Spanish chorizo sausage. The broth comes together in about 20 minutes and the mussels take 5 minutes to cook. I never served this meal to young children, but many adults love this. It is great for entertaining a small group of friends, because you can cook the sauce ahead of time then cook the mussels 5 minutes before you want to eat dinner. Serve with good crusty bread to soak up the juices and a tossed salad. For a vegetarian option, omit the chorizo sausage.

Sautéed Sesame Shrimp with Spinach is another supper easy dinner recipe. This recipe is an older one of mine, but the shrimp and spinach cook up quickly and with little effort. Serve with white or brown rice or your favorite grain.

 

Easy Dinner Recipes: Fish Tacos with Mango and Avocado salsa

Easy dinners: Fish

I honestly believe all my fish recipes on Lemon Thyme and Ginger are easy to make. By nature, fish does not require a lot of cooking time. They are an especially easy dinner to make when the fish is cooked in a pouch of parchment paper or aluminum foil. Rainbow Trout with Lemon and Dill and Oven Poached Salmon with Spinach Butter Sauce are both prepared en papilloteSole Stuffed with Herbs is similarly prepared, but it is not tightly sealed in a neat package.

Fish Tacos comes together easily when you buy the cabbage already sliced for coleslaw.

 

Easy Dinner Recipe: roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins.

Easy dinner: Chicken

Another favorite easy dinner are sheet pan meals. I particularity like to use chicken when I make a sheet pan dinner, either bone in or boneless work. The boned chicken will take longer to cook but the chicken does not dry out as much, especially with chicken breasts. If you want to go the boneless, skinless chicken route, use chicken thighs, breasts dry out too easily. Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins has minimal prep and is delicious paired with blanched broccoli, green beans or a salad. Oven baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel is another easy chicken dinner baked together on one sheet pan.

 

Easy Dinner recipes: Lamb chops

Easy Dinner: Meat

One of my favorite marinades for meat is the sherry marinade used in Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak. It also tastes great with pork tenderloin. Both types of meat benefit from a flavorful marinade. I like to marinate the flank steak over night, but if you want place the flank steak in the marinade first thing in the morning, it will taste just as delicious. If the current weather prohibits you from grilling, pan grill the flank steak on the stove top. You get more browning and caramelized flavor using a grill pan vs the broiler.

The easiest of all meats are lamb chops. They are delicious and quickly cook on a grill or stove-top within a matter of minutes. My recipe for Lamb chops: An early fall harvest dinner for two, describes how to cook lamb chops. In the winter, you can substitute the summer and fall vegetables in this recipe with any vegetable recipe on the blog like, Sweet and Spicy Herbed Carrots, or Green Beans with Roasted Onions.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Pasta with spicy brussels sprouts and sausage

Easy dinner: Pasta

The fastest and easiest cooked tomato sauce I know is Marcella Hazon’s, Tomato Sauce with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, rosemary and balsamic vinegar come together for a silky sauce perfect for penne or other tube-shaped pasta. It makes for a light supper, but a satiating one at that. It also tastes delicious over polenta. If you want a more substantial red sauce and pasta meal, make Pasta with Turkey Meat Sauce.

This time of year Brussels sprouts are easily found at most grocery stores, Pasta Dinner with Spicy Brussels Sprouts and Sausage is a real crowd pleaser, especially for the meat lover in your family. For a vegetarian option substitute the sausage with chickpeas or cannellini beans.

 

Easy dinner recipe: Basil Zucchini Frittata

Easy dinner: Eggs

Often when we are in a hurry or low on food, we make a frittata. Basil and Zucchini Frittata is a great quick and easy dinner for the summer, but in the winter substitute the basil and zucchini with left over Brussels sprouts with pomegranate glaze. Or, make a pasta frittata with left over pasta with turkey meat sauce.

Omelets are another easy dinner choice. However, I prefer to make one omelet at a time as opposed to one big omelet, sliced into individual servings.

 

Easy dinner recipes: Silver Palate chocolate cake

Easy Dessert Recipes:

Swedish Apple Pie is so easy, someone who insists they cannot bake, will have success with this recipe.

Yogurt Panna Cotta is also easy to put together. You can make a spiced fruit sauce with any seasonal fruit.

If a cake is what you want, Silver Palate Chocolate Cake was my go to dessert for many years.

 

If you make any one of my recipes I would love to hear from you. You can share a photo on my Facebook page, or on your Instagram feed and tag me @lemonthymeandginger.

 

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Top Comfort Food Recipes

Supreme White Chicken Chili, comfort food Recipe

Unfortunately, a small accident left my left hand injured and slightly incapacitated. Fortunately, it is nothing more than a minor inconvenience. My index finger required stitches and it must remain immobile in a splint until the stitches are removed. In the end I should have full use of my hand without any issues other than an unsightly scar. Since I can’t chop or clean, one of the perks of my injury, I thought I would look back through my archives for inspiration. For today’s topic I choose comfort food. Maybe because it is so darn cold I seek the comfort of a hot stew, or steamy bowl of soup. Whatever the reason, I am really in the mood to cook and eat warm comfort food.

One of the first things I plan on cooking when I get the full use of my hands is a beef stew. Winter months call for beef stew. It is a time when I do not mind spending extra hours inside cooking a slow meal. These types of diners fill me with a great sense of satisfaction. I don’t mind the extra time because the process becomes a choreographed dance between, procedure, technique and instinct. When it is all done I feel like I accomplished something special and can’t wait to share the results. Whenever I taste the deep and rich stew flavors, I just melt into the braised masterpiece. Stews and chili’s have humble origins but they taste decadent to me.

Also included in this post is my very first recipe I posted on my blog, Lemon and Herb Roast Chicken. Roast chicken in one of my favorite foods. I updated some of the photos and changed the recipe card to my current recipe plugin so I hope everything is in working order.

Additionally, I included a few links to vegetarian/vegan comfort food entrées. It is my desire that my blog offers a variety of information and recipes for all diet preference. Everyone is always welcome at my table.

Comfort Food Entrées

Lemon Herb Roast Chicken

Beef with Horseradish Sauce

Supreme White Chicken Chili

Roast Lemon and Herb Chicken my very first recipe post on Lemon Thyme and Ginger

Swedish Meatballs

South Indian Style Vegetable Curry Recipe.

For Vegetarian Comfort Food Selections

Roasted Vegetable Coconut Curry

Kabocha Coconut Curry Soup  If you cannot find Kabocha squash, any winter squash will work, especially butternut or pumpkin or both.

Saffron Cauliflower Risotto

Toasted Farro with Mushrooms and Rosemary  – Add a hearty green like Swiss chard, kale or spinach and chick peas or any white bean for a complete vegetarian/vegan main course.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

What’s for Dessert?

Double Coconut Pie

Spiced Fig Yogurt Panna Cotta – If you cannot find fresh figs, substitute them with pears, quince

Chocolate Stout Cake This chocolate cake with white chocolate cream frosting and stout glaze is too good to only eat once a year around St Patrick’s Day.

 

Looking for more inspiration? Type an ingredient you wish to cook with in the search box. You will find it in the right side bar. For mobile devices, the search box is usually at the bottom of the home page.

Some Food Blogs I Enjoy

David Lebovitz A former pastry chef at Chez Panisse, and is now living in Paris writing books and developing recipes. He has well tested recipes with stories about living in Paris.

Dr Deb Pots: Deborah is a Hudson Valley, psychiatrist, potter and food blogger. Her posts are infrequent, but I like her positive attitude, beautiful pottery, and very healthy meals on her website.

Vanilla and Bean Traci writes a food blog offering vegan and vegetarian recipes and lives in the Pacific Northwest.

The Lemon Apron  Jennifer is a Canadian food blogger with beautiful photographs and recipes

Cloudy Kitchen Erin writes an amazing blog for baking with beautiful photographs. She is originally from New Zealand, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Food 52, everything and anything you want to know about food and cooking. It has an extensive community as well as an online store to buy kitchen wares. New York City based.

If you make any of my recipes post a picture on Instagram and tag me @lemonthymeandginger, or share on my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing form you.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken recipe.

It is obvious, roast chicken is one of my favorite foods. To me it is pure comfort food at its best. The perfect roast chicken has tender and juicy meat with rich flavors that only roasting can bring. Unfortunately, when my children were young, having roast chicken for dinner was an event because it took so long to make. I wish I knew then what I know now. Those oven-stuffer birds of the 90’s would roast in half the time if I removed the backbone. This technique is also known as, spatchcock chicken. A whole chicken with its back bone removed and laid flat in a skillet or roasting pan.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken recipe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

In the 90’s, I knew about Chicken Under a Brick, but I did not transfer that information to my roast chicken recipes until later. From my years as a cook in a gourmet food store, I learned how to cut up a whole chicken into 8 pieces. I knew the process and was very confident using sharp knives and handling raw meats. For whatever reason, I did not cut up the chicken at home.  If I had, those 7 pounds plus oven-stuffer roasters would have made a more frequent appearance on my dinner table. The usual 2 1/2 hours roasting in the oven would decrease to 1 hour 15 minutes. It still takes time to roast a spatchcock chicken, but it is more reasonable. Better late than never.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

Prep a Spatchcock Chicken

Like traditional roast chicken, spatchcock chicken lends itself to an infinite variety of seasoning and types of cuisines. It is delicious plain marinated in buttermilk, salt and paprika, or seasoned with Middle Eastern flavors like Za’atar, fennel and preserved lemons. Take a culinary trip around the world with spatchcock chicken by simply adjusting the herbs and seasonings.

No matter what flavor profile you want, chicken tastes best when seasoned with salt, several hours before cooking. If I plan correctly, I will spatchcock and season a chicken with Kosher salt and keep it uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. I prepare the chicken during dinner cleanup so I don’t dirty a clean kitchen. Often, I am likely to forget about this step if I wait till the morning of. I admit there were times I forgot. If that happens, season the chicken with salt then leave it to rest at room temperature for an hour. Even that bit of time makes a difference in flavor and tenderness.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Reicpe.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

I never miss an opportunity to roast vegetables, especially potatoes, with chicken. After a long roast, the vegetables become luscious with pronounced flavor. For this recipe, this extra step is optional. If you roast the chicken in a skillet, roast the vegetables in a separate dish. It will be too crowded in the skillet, and the chicken will steam. Sheetpans are perfect pans for roasting chicken with vegetables.

What is for dessert? Try    Double Coconut Pie 

Chocolate Stout Cake

Swedish Apple Pie

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken reicpe.

Honey mustard spatchcock chicken is a family favorite and so easy to make. All you have to remember is use equal parts honey and mustard. Any additional amounts of herbs and spices is up to you and your taste buds. Personally, I love sage and chicken together and believe it adds earthy notes against the sharp mustard and sweet honey. Also, I like this sweet and savory sauce with some heat from chili peppers. My preference with spicy ingredients is their heat hangs in the background without drowning the other herbs and spices. Sometimes adding a small amount of chili pepper makes the other ingredients more pronounced. Play around with the different herbs and spices and see what you create.

This recipe is also delicious cooked over indirect heat on the grill.

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken Recipe.

 

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

4-6 servings

Serving Size: 6-8oz of chicken

Honey Mustard Spatchcock Chicken

Chicken roasts in half the time without its backbone. Removing it is easier than you think, when you have good kitchen scissors or a big chef knife. If you prefer, ask your butcher to spatchcock your chicken.

Dry brine the chicken overnight for a juicy and seasoned chicken. This step makes a big difference in the flavor of the chicken. If you can't do it, at least salt the chicken and let it rest on the counter an hour before you cook. It is better than not doing it at all.

The prep time does not include the overnight brining time. Cook time depends on the size of your chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 4-5 lb (2 K) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt, depending on the weight of your chicken, about 1TB
  • 10 sage leaves - divided
  • 1/4 cup (63 g) Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup (82 g) honey
  • 1/8 - 1/4 tsp ground chili powder (or to taste)
    Optional roasted vegetables
  • 8 oz (385 g) small new potatoes cut in half or quartered
  • 4 / 6 oz (170 g) shallots, peeled and cut in quarters
  • 1/2 fennel bulb (216g) sliced in thin wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, cut in half lengthwise
  • 12 oz (358 g) grape tomatoes
  • 3 TB extra virgin olive oil - divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt- divided
  • 3 sprigs of thyme

Instructions

    How to spatchcock a chicken.
  1. 1- Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavity of the chicken. Rinse the inside and outside with cold running water. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
  2. 2- Place the chicken on a cutting board breast side down with the legs pointing towards you.
  3. The back bone runs through the middle of the back and is about 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches wide.
  4. 3- Grab hold of the "tail" end with one hand and cut along a side of the backbone toward the neck with good kitchen scissors. Repeat on the other side of the back bone.
  5. 4- If you do not have kitchen scissors, score the skin through to the meat with a sharp chef's knife along each side of the backbone. Turn the chicken upright onto its neck, and slice along the side of the backbone. Cut through the skin, meat and bones down to the neck. Lay the chicken down and open the chicken up like a book, and cut through the other side of the backbone.
  6. 5- Once the backbone is removed, turn the chicken over breast meat facing up, and press down on the sternum until you hear a pop and feel the breastbone release and lie flat.
  7. 6- Tuck the wing tips under the back of the neck, or trim them off so they do not burn.
  8. Save the backbone for chicken stock.
    Prep the chicken
  1. The night before, cut the back bone off the chicken.
  2. Generously, sprinkle Kosher salt all over the chicken on both sides. Slide a sage leaf under the skin and on top of the breast meat on each breast. Repeat for each thigh. Let the salted chicken rest for 30 minutes uncovered on the counter.
  3. Place the chicken in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight and up to 24 hours.
  4. One hour before you want to begin cooking take the chicken out of the refrigerator. Let the chicken come to room temperature.
    Putting it altogether
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (218°C)
  2. While the chicken is coming to room temperature, make the honey mustard sauce. In a small bowl, mix together the mustard, honey, ground chili powder, and 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt until combined.
  3. Rough chop, or snip with scissors, 4 sage leaves and add to the honey mustard. Taste and correct the seasonings.
  4. Once the chicken has come to room temperature, baste the chicken on both sides with the honey mustard. Get a good even coat over the whole bird .
  5. Place 4 sage leaves in the center of a low sided sheet pan, or 12-inch skillet,(30 cm) and place the chicken over the sage leaves.
  6. If adding the optional vegetables, put the potatoes, fennel shallots and garlic into a medium bowl. Stir in 2 TB extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt. Add the prepared vegetables in an even layer around the chicken on a sheet pan. Then scatter the thyme sprigs over the vegetables.
  7. Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile add the tomatoes in the same bowl you used for the vegetables, and stir in 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt. Later, scatter the tomatoes around the vegetables after 20 minutes of roasting.
  9. If you have honey mustard sauce left, baste the chicken with the remaining sauce. Use up all the honey mustard sauce.
  10. Rotate the pan left to right and front to back, and roast for 20 minutes more. Check the chicken and vegetables to see if they are done cooking. The chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh is at 165°F (74°C) and the breast meat is 170°F (77°C), and the juices run clear. There should be no cloudy, pink or blood color in the meat juices. Make sure you check the temperature of both breasts and thighs. The vegetables are done when they are tender in the middle when pierced with a fork.
  11. If the chicken is not done, continue to roast and check at 5 - 10-minute intervals depending on how much more the chicken needs to roast. Often the breast and thighs cook at different rates and one is done roasting before the other. If either part is done and you still have a way to go before the other portion of the chicken is done, cut off the done part and let it rest on a carving board.
  12. If the vegetables are finished roasting before the chicken, remove the vegetables and place in a serving dish or plate. You want the vegetables to be tender, but still maintain its shape. Keep the vegetables warm while the chicken is roasting.
  13. When the chicken is done, place it on a carving board and let it rest for 10 - 15 minutes before cutting it up.
  14. Cut into 8 pieces and place on a platter surrounded by the roasted vegetables. Serve family style.
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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potaotes and Raisins recipe.

Other than the ingredients, all you need to make a delicious and easy dinner is one knife to chop, one bowl to mix and one sheet pan to roast. No special equipment required, except an oven. What you do need is time to mix, marinate and bake. Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins has it all. A flavor packed one-pan meal with warming spices and fruity-sweetness enveloping tender chicken meat and potatoes.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins reicpe.

 

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins recipe.

For this recipe, as well as salt I added a ground curry spice blend for the main seasoning. My recipe for roasted chicken curry is not traditional Indian cuisine, or any curry meal from Asia. It is an American rift inspired by Indian flavors, and ease of preparation. I love curry, but there are so many types and each one is as unique as the cook making it. Every country, region, city and cook has its own variation of spices for curries. As I learn more about curries and the cuisines that developed them, I plan to make my own curry spice blends. Until that time, I’ll take a shortcut and use store-bought ground curry to satisfy my hankering for curry flavors.

Chicken for a cook, is like a blank canvas for an artist. It is the foundation from which all added flavor will enhance. Because chicken has a mild taste and texture, it benefits from adding seasoning and then letting the flavors steep into the meat before cooking.  Of course, if pressed for time, you will still have a decent tasting curry chicken dinner if you must skip the marinating step. However, taking the extra time to marinate will make a big difference in the over-all depth of flavor.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins recipe.

More one pan dinner recipes:

Mediterranean Style Chicken Dinner

Oven Baked Chicken with Shallots and Fennel

Spanish Style Mussels with Chorizo

I realize not all children like the spiciness of curry powder. Some curry blends have a lot of pepper and chilies in them. If you can find a ground curry blend that is on the sweet side it might change your family’s opinion of curry. I found a Massale curry blend from Spice and Tease in New York City. It is similar to a Garam Massala but not as hot and peppery as other curry blends.  For more information, here is an article explaining the differences of the two spice blends.

Roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins recipe.

Roasted curry chicken with potaotes and raisins recipe.

I love making meals where I can mix together the flavors I love and cook them together on one pan in the oven and forget about it. No standing or stirring over a hot stove. Just place in the oven and bake. This easy recipe, of roasted curry chicken with potatoes and raisins is so simple it is hard to make a chicken dinner any other way. The raisins may seem out-of-place, but the sweetness compliments and softens any heat in the curry spices. Add, additional vegetables, like cauliflower or broccoli, for a more well-rounded dinner.

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: American

4-6 servings

Roasted Curry Chicken with Potatoes and Raisins

An easy sheet pan dinner the whole family will enjoy. Prep and marinate the chicken in the morning, and bake in the evening for a hassle-free dinner. Some curry spice blends are sweet, and some are spicy depending on how much pepper and chilies are blended in. Find a curry blend that suits you and your family for that perfect flavor balance. The sweetness of the raisins and yogurt sauce will cut any pronounced spicy heat of your curry.

Add cauliflower or broccoli flowerettes for a well-rounded dinner.

Ingredients

    Curry Chicken with Potatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1-inch (2.5 cm) piece of fresh ginger*, grated
  • 3 TB (35 g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TB curry spice blend, not a spicy curry blend
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Zest from one lemon and juice- divided
  • 1 TB chopped fresh tarragon (can use dried tarragon if fresh is not available, but only 1 teaspoon)
  • 6 chicken thighs, either bone-in and skin on, or boneless
  • 1 lb (450g) fingerling potatoes, or other small wax potato like red potatoes or Yukon Gold
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced in half moons no more than 1/4 inch (6mm)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) raisins
  • Optional: Half a head of cauliflower cut into flowerettes. Reduce the potatoes to 1/2 to 2/3 lbs (225 g - 300 g).
    Yogurt Sauce
  • 4 oz ( 125 g) plain yogurt
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2-inch (1.3 cm) piece of fresh ginger*, grated

Instructions

    Chicken Curry
  1. Peel each clove then slice in half. If the green germ is there, remove it. If you have a fine microplane grater, grate the garlic cloves. Or, scatter a pinch of salt over a pile of roughly minced garlic cloves then mash the garlic with the side of your chef's knife. Move the blade from side to side pressing down with the blade until the garlic forms a paste. Add the garlic paste to a medium mixing bowl large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables.
  2. Mince or grate the ginger root and add to the bowl with the garlic.
  3. Add the olive oil, curry powder, lemon zest, Kosher salt, a couple of rounds of fresh ground black pepper, tarragon, and juice from half a lemon. Mix until just incorporated.
  4. Add the chicken, potatoes, onion slices and raisins (cauliflower if using). Using your clean hands mix the chicken and vegetables until the marinade evenly coats all the pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
  5. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you want to cook dinner and bring up to room temperature. The chicken can rest up to one hour on the counter before cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 400°F (204°C) twenty minutes before you are ready to cook.
  6. Spread the chicken and vegetables evenly across a low sided sheet pan. The sheet pan should be just big enough for the chicken and potatoes to fit comfortably without overcrowding. Too big of a pan and the juices will dry up. Too small of a pan and the ingredients will steam.
  7. Place the sheet pan in the oven middle rack.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, then using a thin spatula, turn the potatoes around. Bake for another 20 minutes. Check the chicken and potatoes to see if they are done. The chicken is done when an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 165°F - 170°F (74°C - 77°C) and the juices run clear. The potatoes are done when they are tender when pierced with a fork.
  9. If either ingredient needs more cooking time, remove the chicken or potatoes and place on a plate cover and keep warm. Continue to cook until the vegetables or chicken is done.
  10. While the chicken is baking make the yogurt sauce. Mix together the yogurt, grated ginger, Kosher salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Cover and set aside until the chicken is done. Just before serving, garnish with fresh herbs and lemon zest.
  11. Serve curry chicken and vegetables with the yogurt sauce on the side.

Notes

*Do not substitute the fresh ginger with powdered ginger. The curry spice blend might already have powdered ginger in its mix. The minced ginger adds a fresh ginger flavor.

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© 2017, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Late Summer and Fall

Just because the days are getting shorter doesn’t mean we need to hunker down and stay inside. This time of year, the nights are cooler but the sun is still warm and shining. Even with the cooler temperatures, one can still feel the warmth of the sun on their back and soak in all the rays. Sit back on a picnic blanket with friends and family and close your eyes to the sun and relax. A late summer/early fall picnic is a wonderful way to enjoy the season. Gathered here is a collection of easy picnic food ideas and recipes to inspire you for your next outing.

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Picnic food and your spread do not need to be a Martha Stewart event. In addition to serving fresh and delicious food, great picnic food should be easy to transport, have minimal prep work, and keep its freshness over time. You can make it as fancy as you want, but eating outside is a relaxing casual affair, so the food prep should be easy and relaxed too.

In my childhood, the standard picnic food was sandwiches or hot dogs cooked over an open fire. There is a reason these items are still popular. Sandwiches are perfect picnic food. You can make them gourmet, or PB and J, and they do not require plates or utensils to eat them. Wrap them up in parchment or wax paper, then later the paper performs double duty as the “plate”. You can eat half, then cover them up in the wrapping it came in. Then run off for a game of Frisbee.

I included a recipe for grilled chicken sandwiches made on focaccia, with smoked mozzarella, avocado, arugula and basil mayonnaise. Use your favorite bread, but make sure it will last for a couple of hours without getting soaked or smashed.  Smushed sandwiches are never fun to eat so pack your sandwiches carefully.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas and recipes

Grilled chicken sandwiches with smoked mozzarella, avocado, arugula and basil mayonnaise.

What is it about the fresh air that causes people to want to snack on salty food? I don’t know, all I know is I am right there with everyone else chomping down on chips when I play outside, go to the beach or hike. Nibbles or snacks are always great picnic food, but you don’t have to go crazy and buy out the store. I recommend, one item for an appetizer, and one salty crunchy snack, like chips. It is easy to go overboard with the snacks, but they are not the only food items at the picnic. No one will return home hungry.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas and recipes

Muhammara and Artichoke Tapenade

A terrific picnic appetizer is tapenade. Pictured in my picnic photographs is artichoke tapenade, a recipe I made from My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz. The recipe I used from this book is a little different from the recipe on his website, but it is still delicious and easy to make.

Another great spread or dip is muhammara, roasted red pepper dip. Muhammara is one of my favorite vegetable spreads. Both spreads are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. Serve either with crusty bread, pita chips, or cut vegetables.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas with recipes

Fruit salad with watermelon, nectarines, herbs, and a spicy lemon honey dressing.

I believe every picnic should include some fruit. Ripe fruit is great picnic food because most fruit is naturally designed for individual servings. Fruit provides a bright and fresh taste to counterpoint the rich sandwiches and salty snacks. It is very refreshing. I am craving watermelon now so I included it for this blog post, but any fruit will suffice. You can either slice the watermelon, cut it up into chunks for easy picking, or make a fruit salad.

For this article, I decided to make a fruit salad made with watermelon, nectarines, mint, basil, with a honey lemon and chili pepper vinaigrette. I love herbs with fruit and adding the bit of hot pepper brings out the sweetness in the fruit. Included in the post is the recipe for this fruit salad. Making a fruit salad requires having serving utensils and plates, or you can bring additional beverage cups to use. Then all you need are utensils.

Dessert should be simple and there are many options. One option is a light unfrosted loaf or single layer cake like gluten-free Nifty cake. This cake is made with oat flour and has a slightly nutty flavor. It is a light sponge cake that everyone will enjoy. For ease of transporting it, make it a single layer cake, (and without the whipped cream frosting as pictured in the recipe), and serve with the watermelon fruit salad.

Kitchen Sink Oatmeal Cookies reicpe

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Another dessert option is cookies. Children young and old love cookies and they travel well. Kitchen sink oatmeal cookies are perfect for picnics. They are loaded with rolled oats, raisins, butterscotch chips, and chocolate chips. They can stand up to the heat of the day without melting and falling apart. Also pictured is, Ginger Molasses Cookies from Flour by Joanne Chang. Joanne is the owner of Flour Bakery in Boston. I love molasses cookies and wanted to test her recipe. In the link from the Boston Globe, her recipe is the second cookie recipe on the first page.

If you plan on bringing beer or wine, also include a non-alcoholic beverage like lemon-cucumber water or strawberry lemonade. Picnics are a time to drink responsibly, so keep your beer and wine on the low alcohol level.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Summer and Fall and recipes

Helpful Tips for Prep and Picnic Food :

If you are picnicking with friends, divide and conquer the food preparation. I have found people really like to participate and help.

Tapenade or Muhammara can be prepared the night before your picnic. You can also prepare the chicken and dessert the night before. This leaves making the sandwiches,  fruit salad,  and packing for the morning of. 

Along with your choice of beverage, bring water for drinking and cleaning scrapes or sticky hands. Also paper towels come in handy if something spills. They are light weight  and easy to stuff into a pocket.

Pack everything in a couple of insulated tote bags with ice packs. Keep your load light in case you need to hike to your picnic spot. Also bring a blanket to sit on. 

Don’t forget the trash bag. A lot of places are carry-in / carry-out parks, and often it is hard to find a trash can when you need one.

Bring a First-Aid Kit, especially if you are traveling with children. At a minimum bring Band-Aids and an antiseptic lotion. They are easy to carry in your wallet or zip-lock bag to store in your picnic basket.

Bee stings are common at picnics. The general advice is to get the stinger out quickly and apply ice, (or cool pack). Read the link for more bee sting information.

If you are serving alcoholic beverages, please drink responsibly.

Easy picnic food ideas and recipes.

Easy Picnic Food Ideas for Summer and Fall- Grilled Chicken Sandwiches and Watermelon and Nectarine Fruit Salad

Category: Lunch Picnic

Cuisine: American

4 servings

Grilled chicken sandwiches with smoked mozzarella, avocado and basil mayonnaise Is perfect picnic food for an afternoon outing. Also included is a recipe for a fruit salad made with watermelon, nectarines, fresh herbs with spicy honey lemon dressing. In the notes is my recipe for the basil mayonnaise and a pesto. Feel free to use your favorite basil pesto recipe or follow mine, just omit the grated cheese and pinenuts. It may look like a long list, but there are several food items here for you to make and enjoy.

Depending on how large your bread slices are will determine the amount of chicken, mozzarella and avocado you need to cover your bread slice. I made my sandwiches with focaccia about 4 x 4 inches in size.

The prep time varies for each food item. The grilled chicken takes about 20 minutes to cook not counting the overnight marinating and cooling. The sandwiches take about 10 minutes once everything is cooked and prepped. The fruit salad takes about 15 - 20 minutes to make.

For the tapenade and muhammara recipes, and dessert recipes - click on recipe links in blog post.

Enjoy your picnic.

Ingredients

    Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
    Grilled Chicken - Prepare the day before
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (1.5 lbs / 750 g)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Lemon zest from half a lemon
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of half a lemon
    Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
  • 8 slices of good quality bread
  • About 1/2 cup (125 ml) basil mayo
  • Grilled chicken sliced thin across the grain
  • About 4 oz (125 g) of Smoked Mozzarella, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1-2 avocados cut into thin slices
  • Arugula
    Basil Mayonnaise
  • 1-part mayonnaise
  • 1-part basil sauce*
    Watermelon, Nectarine and Basil Salad with Spicy Lemon Honey Dressing
  • 1/4 (3 lbs / 1 k 406 g) Seedless watermelon, cut into big bite size chunks
  • 3 ripe nectarines, each sliced into 12 wedges
  • Small handful of Fresh Mint leaves
  • Small handful of Fresh Basil leaves
  • About 2 TB fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp ground chili pepper

Instructions

    Grilled Chicken
  1. The day/night before pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness, then season both sides of the breasts with the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, dried oregano, and lemon zest. Place the seasoned chicken on a plate or container and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. There should be a light and even coating of seasoning over the chicken breast, but not too heavy. Use your judgement about how much seasoning you want.
  2. Bring the chicken out of the refrigerator and add the juice of half a lemon. Mix to coat the chicken. Allow the chicken to rest on the counter 30 minutes before you want to grill it, to come to room temperature.
  3. Prepare your grill and proceed as you like, or use a grill pan on the stove top. Turn the heat up to medium-high.
  4. When the grill or grill pan is hot, add the chicken breasts skin side down on a diagonal in the pan or on the grill. Cook for three minutes, then adjust the chicken breasts to the opposite diagonal position and grill for another 3 minutes. Turn the chicken breasts over and grill on the other side following the same procedure as before. After 12 minutes of cooking, If the chicken is not done move the breasts to an indirect heat source on your grill and cook until done. If using a grill pan, turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until done, about 5 minutes more depending on how big the chicken breasts are. The chicken breasts are done when the juices run clear after being pierced with a fork. Internal temperature is 170°F ( 77°C). Remove from the pan or grill and rest the chicken for 10 -15 minutes. Cool before making sandwiches.
    Assemble the Sandwiches
  1. Smear a good coating of the basil mayonnaise (see recipe in notes) on both pieces of bread. Evenly cover one piece of bread with chicken slices, then add one slice of smoked mozzarella, or enough to cover the chicken if your bread slices are large. Layer the sliced avocado over the mozzarella. Add a small handful of arugula to the top and cover with the top piece of bread. If your sandwiches are large, cut in half and wrap in parchment paper or wax paper. Refrigerate until ready to eat or go on your picnic. Pack the sandwiches in an insulated bag with a cold pack or ice to keep cool and fresh for your picnic.
    Watermelon Nectarine and Basil Fruit Salad
  1. Mix the fresh lemon juice, honey, and ground chili powder in a small bowl. Keep stirring until the honey is completely dissolved. Taste and add a small pinch of Kosher salt. Set aside.
  2. Add the prepared watermelon and nectarines to a mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Tear or snip the leaves of the basil and mint over the fruit and mix together. Add the honey lemon dressing and stir. Taste and add more herbs if needed. Place in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and keep in an insulated bag with cold pack, or refrigerator. The fruit salad is the last thing to make for your picnic, because fruit releases a lot of juice after it is sliced and with a dressing.

Notes

To make the basil mayonnaise, I use a 1 - 1 ratio of mayonnaise to basil sauce. The basil sauce is essentially basil pesto without the cheese and pine nuts. Use your favorite pesto recipe without the grated cheese and pinenuts and mix together 3-4 TB of mayonnaise and 3-4 TB basil sauce until combined.

My general basil pesto recipe is 2 cups (500 ml) of basil leaves, 1 cup (250 ml) arugula or spinach, 1 garlic clove - minced, 1 TB lemon juice, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and 1/3 (75 ml) to 1/2 cup (125 ml) extra virgin olive oil. In a food processor, process the basil, arugula, garlic, lemon juice, and salt until the basil and arugula are finely minced and combined. Use a thin rubber spatula to scrape everything off the sides of the bowl. With the motor running slowly add in the extra virgin olive oil. You might not use the whole amount. I do not want it too oily or runny so I stop adding the olive oil when I reach a smooth and slightly thick consistency. I do this because I store the pesto in a container with a layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto.

If you want traditional pesto, add 1/2 cup grated roman cheese and 1/4 cup pinenuts before you add the olive oil, and process until smooth. Then add the olive oil. Pesto is best used the same day it is made, but will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days. Use can freeze pesto without the nuts and cheese, for up to 3 months. Pour a layer of olive oil over the pesto before freezing.

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Where is your favorite place to picnic? Please share in the comment section below.

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