Chicken Paprikash

Since I’m half Hungarian, I’d like to pretend that I’ve been making this dish since birth. The truth is I’ve only been making it for a few years. While you can make it spicy with the addition of cayenne or hot paprika, I like the way the onions and paprika mellow into a slightly sweet and smoky dish. Some dishes don’t need to be spicy hot!

This version uses chicken on the bone (I generally use thighs because they are so good and relatively inexpensive), but you can substitute boneless meat. The volume of onions will seem huge, but they cook down pretty quickly. The longer the onions braise, the more they melt into the sauce.

If you’re making this for a party, transfer the browned meat and onions to a crockpot and cook on low for several hours. I prefer using cut-up boneless thighs if I’m making this for a party.

Chicken, Sausage, and Spinach Lasagna

It should be obvious by now that I love meals that result in lots of yummy leftovers. Lasagna fits that need perfectly. It’s such a flexible dish — there are so many ways to make it, it can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven later, and it’s a great dish for those nights when it’s your turn to host your book club.

Because my local grocery stores don’t carry gluten-free lasagna noodles, I bought a case from Amazon.com. The price was fantastic, and knowing I have the noodles handy opens up a wide range of of possibilities…including lasagna roll-ups and cupcakes! Once you have your favorite base recipe, it’s easy to try different serving ideas.

I know that most people think of red meat sauce and loads of cheese when they think lasagna (I know I do), but this recipe takes the dish in a whole different direction. You can continue with the Italian flavor profile, mix in a little Mexican or Southwest American, or go wild with Caribbean spices. Whatever tickles your palate.

Meatloaf with Ketchup-Vinegar Glaze

I grew up eating really bad meatloaf — it was dry and covered with ketchup. Yet I still loved the stuff. I love it even more now that I’m an adult because, as with many of the foods from my childhood, I’ve discovered and refined recipes that suit my more adventurous tastes. But I admit it: I still frequently use a variation on the traditional ketchup glaze.

Traditional meatloaves are made with a bread-and-milk panade. Unless you’re doing a lot of gluten-free baking, chances are you don’t have much GF bread to spare. Another option is gluten-free breadcrumbs, or…you can do as I do and use meaty, tasty mushrooms to your meatloaf. In addition to adding incredible flavor, mushrooms help keep your meatloaf moist and increases flavor.

This recipe includes basic seasonings. Use them as suggestions. Fresh herbs and different spices can change up the flavor in great ways. Like heat? Add some cayenne or fresh jalapeno. I sometimes add about a 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese to my meatloaf mixture. There is no one way to make a meatloaf.

One thing: while you can make your meatloaf in a loaf pan, I like this freeform style because it keeps the loaf from stewing in its juices.

[box type=”note” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Instead the ketchup glaze, serve with mushroom gravy.[/box]

Chicken Enchiladas

Easy, easy, easy weeknight dish. And versatile. There is no right way to make enchiladas…don’t want to roll your filling in your tortilla? Go ahead, make layers like lasagna. Change up the ingredients to suit yourself. It’s all good.

Since I make my own chicken stock, I often have leftover (bland) boiled chicken. This is a great dish for using up extra chicken, and the heat can be adjusted to suit your tastes. You can make this red or green — though, in all honesty, I prefer a green salsa. The tanginess of the tomatillo makes my tastebuds happy.

Also, I prefer salsa to pre-made enchilada sauce. For reasons that escape me, the sauces sold by my local store all contain wheat. Weird. Your mileage may vary.

Chicken with Dijon-Cream Sauce

Chicken — tasty, versatile, convenient — chicken is my fallback for many a weeknight dinner. It’s fast and easy, and there are so many ways to prepare chicken that I feel guilty when I fall back on traditional baked chicken breast with rice and veggies (don’t get me wrong: I love this combo, but it can get a bit monotonous).

I feel less guilty once grilling season rolls around because everything tastes better hot off the grill.

On the other hand, I’ve fallen in love with pan sauces. They are a terrific, easy way to pep up ordinary chicken. The mustardy, creamy sauce here brightens up any cut of chicken. Added bonus is it brings loads of flavor to accompanying rice or potatoes (or even GF bread or biscuits).

I’ve made this with a variety of cuts of chicken, but (typically!) prefer bone-in skin-on thighs for their flavor. You can substitute for what you prefer, adjusting cooking times accordingly. Also, regular smooth Dijon mustard works quite well here.

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