Greek Chicken Pizza

Anytime I can whip up a recipe using nothing but items I already have in the fridge, it’s a good thing. And if I can use up some leftover chicken (rotisserie, grilled, anything!), that’s a great thing! And the best part about this pizza – it’s so good that I make it sometimes even when I don’t have the ingredients already in the fridge.

Trader Joe’s is great for condiments and I regularly have their sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and balsamic glaze in my pantry. Throw in some chicken, a little mozzarella and feta and you have a tasty flat bread pizza that reminds me of a Greek restaurant.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
12 oz. pizza dough – see recipe
6 oz. cooked chicken, cut into bite sized cubes
3 tbsp. chopped artichoke hearts (3 small, chopped)
2 tbsp. sun dried tomatoes, chopped
4 oz. mozzarella
1 oz. feta
½ tsp. Greek oregano
Balsamic glaze

Optional Garnish:
Chopped basil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll pizza dough into approx. 12” round and place on stone. Top with shredded mozzarella, chicken, sun dried tomatoes, chopped artichokes, feta cheese and Greek oregano. Bake for 15 minutes, until mozzarella is golden and bubbly. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped basil and balsamic glaze (if using). Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Averaen Pinot Noir 2015

Instant Pot Carnitas

This dish made me a believer in the Instant Pot. Sure, I had heard all of the rave reviews, but I was still skeptical. Carnitas was the second dish I tried in my Instant Pot DUO 60, and I was amazed. The pork was fall-apart tender, juicy and flavorful, and they were equally delicious reheated on the second day. Not only are these the best carnitas I’ve ever had, but the entire prep time was 20 minutes. Once the Instant Pot is set on Manual, you can leave it alone for the entire cooking and pressure release.

 

Ingredients: (Serves 6)
3-4 lb. pork shoulder
Carnitas Spice Mixture (see recipe below)
2 tbsp. canola oil
⅓ cup orange juice
⅓ cup water
1 white onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, smashed

Carnitas Spice Mixture
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. paprika
½ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. chipotle powder

Cut pork shoulder into six equally sized chunks and evenly coat with spice mixture. Press sauté on Instant Pot. Once display reads “hot” add oil and brown pork on all sides, working in batches. Add pork, orange juice, water, onion and garlic to Instant Pot, close the lid and hit manual. Set timer to 45 mins. Release pressure naturally once timer stops. Shred pork in a large bowl and spoon liquids over shredded pork. Service with tortillas, pickled onions, chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Enjoy!

 

Wine Pairings:
Carlos Serres Rioja Reserva 2010
Solanera Vinas Viejas 2013

Grilled Lamb Chops with Yogurt Sauce

Once upon a time, eating lamb was something reserved for an evening out; rack of lamb in a swanky restaurant or lamb chops passed around for an appetizer by a white gloved waiter. With that kind of swagger, it can be pretty intimidating to try making them at home, but this recipe is a breeze. If you love lamb chops, give these a try. The garlic and lemon on the lamb are a perfect match for the creamy dill yogurt sauce, and sure to have you wondering why you aren’t eating more lamb at home.

Options for purchasing pre-cut lamb chops near my house are limited; they command a steep price tag at the local butcher or Whole Foods ($25-$30 per pound!), but Costco carries rack of lamb already frenched for around $10 per pound. Most come in a 7-8 bone rack, with the bones already trimmed, so it’s just a quick slice between each bone, and we are ready to go. I will certainly cut my own for that kind of savings. They are easy to cut; stand it on its end (with the bones pointing upwards) and cut between ribs using a single stroke. That’s all there is to it!

Ingredients (serves 4):

Yogurt sauce:
½ cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Honey Simple Syrup
1 tsp. dried dill
½ tsp. dried Greek oregano
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Lamb chops:
2 lbs. lamb chops
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges

At least one hour before starting to prep lamb chops, whisk together yogurt sauce and set aside in fridge for to let flavors marinate together.
Allow lamb chops to come to room temperature before grilling. In a small bowl, grate garlic into olive oil. Season lamb chops with salt and pepper on both sides, and rub garlic mixture all over chops. Preheat grill to 400 degrees.  Cook until desired temperature, 4-5 minutes per side for medium. Remove from heat and squeeze with a lemon wedge. Serve lamb chops with a big dollop of yogurt sauce spread on each plate. Enjoy!

Wine Pairings:
Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015
Montecillo Rioja Reserva 2010

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015

Il Tarocco Chianti Classico 2015
Italy – Chianti
13% ABV
$8.99
My Rating: 88 points
Trader Joe’s

Many of the bargains I find on wine at Trader Joe’s come from Italy. One of their Barbera D’Asti is my go to “pizza wine” at $5.99 but Il Tarocco Chianti Classico, with its bolder tannins and lingering finish is a better option for more substantial dishes. This wine has the classic tart cherry nose found in many Sangiovese based wines, but is a bit more rustic and would pair nicely with grilled meat or heavier pasta dishes. At $8.99, it’s one of the better Chiantis I’ve tried for under $10.

Deep ruby, tart and black cherry. Leather and spice with firm tannins.

Pair with: grilled lamb chops, grilled Italian sausage, lasagna

Recipe pairings:
Grilled Lamb Chops with Greek Yogurt Sauce

From the winemaker:
“Made from carefully selected Sangiovese (90%) and Canaiolo Nero (10%) grapes. This wine has an intense ruby color and aromas of ripe fruit. This is a well-balanced wine with a nice finish.
Aged in small oak French barrels for twelve months and six months in the bottle to acquire smoothness.
Serve at room temperature with roasted beef, pork or lamb dishes.”

Greek Pasta Salad

Summertime is for BBQs, and this Greek Pasta Salad should be on every picnic table. It’s a great make-ahead option, tastes great cold or at room temperature, and since it’s not loaded up with mayo, it’s even a bit on the lighter side. Cool fresh vegetables, tangy artichokes and a salty pop from the feta is sure to be a crowd pleasing side for your favorite grilled entrees.

 

 

Ingredients:

1 lb. pasta (ditalini, orzo or rotini)
16 artichoke hearts (approx. 200g), stems removed and chopped
3 tbsp. (approx. 50g) sundried tomatoes, chopped
½ cup red onion, minced
1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
Red wine vinaigrette (recipe below)
Chopped basil (optional garnish)

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
¾ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. Greek yogurt (plain or non-fat)
1 tsp. dill weed
2 tsp. Greek oregano
Salt and pepper*

Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions, drain and place in a bowl. Set in refrigerator to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together Red Wine Vinaigrette ingredients and pour over cooled pasta. Add chopped artichokes, sundried tomatoes, minced red onion, chopped cucumber and feta cheese. Gently toss to combine. Top with chopped basil and set in fridge for at least one hour. Toss again before serving and add salt and pepper, if necessary. Enjoy!

Note: taste pasta salad before adding additional salt. After cooking the pasta in salted water and adding the feta, it may be salty enough. Also, the sundried tomatoes and artichokes I use (both Trader Joe’s brand) are pre-marinated and add a little extra salt and olive oil to the pasta salad. If using a different brand, you might need to add a little salt and pepper or a drizzle of olive oil.