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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe: Slow-Cooked Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Apricots

Posted by flsquared on January 25, 2010

This is a super yummy recipe that my mom picked up while staying with my Aunt in her convent (Yes, my aunt is a nun).  It’s perfect on a cool day and freezes well.  Oh, and P.S., I know it says “spiced” but it’s not spice-y at all.


Slow-Cooked Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Apricots


  • 6 chicken breasts or 12 thighs (can sub less meat + more beans)
  • 2 or 3, 16oz cans (or equivalent) garbanzo beans
  • 2 tbs oil
  • 2 med onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 ½ tsp hot paprika (can sub sweet paprika and ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
  • ½ tsp cardamom
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dried apricots, cut in bite-sized pieces (can sub prunes or raisins)
  • 1 cinnamon stick (can sub ½ tsp cinnamon)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup fresh minced cilantro (optional)
  • Juice of 1 lemon (~2 tbsp)
  • OPTIONAL:  1 can diced tomatoes, ¼ – ½ tsp ginger


Dry the chicken with paper towels, season with salt and pepper.  In large pressure cooker pot, heat the oil over medium/high heat.  Brown the chicken about 10 min and remove from pot. (remove any chicken grease).

Add 2 tsp oil to empty pot over medium heat.  Add onions, paprika, cardamom, salt and ginger.  Cook until onions soften (about 5 min).  Stir in garlic and cook ~15 sec.  Stir in 2 ¼ cups broth, apricots, and cinnamon.  Scrape up browned bits of chicken.  Bring to a simmer.  Add chicken.

Cover and bring to pressure, lower heat and cook for ~20 min.  (If not using pressure cooker, cook 3 hours).

Turn off heat and wait until pressure goes away (about 15-20 min).

Add garbanzos (and tomatoes) and cover.  Bring to pressure, lower heat and cook about 5-10 min.  Turn off heat and wait until pressure goes away. (If not using pressure cooker, cook 1 hour).

Remove chicken and discard cinnamon stick.  In ½ cup cold chicken broth, add ¼ flour.  Whisk until smooth.  Add to liquid in pot and stir.  Cover and cook about 15-30 min more or until thick.  Stir in cilantro and lemon juice.

Add chicken back to pot and heat up.

Tastes even better the next day!


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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe #5: Almost-Vegan Butternut Squash Soup (a footnote)

Posted by flsquared on November 14, 2009

I will add a link to this post, but I wanted to let you know that I made the soup again and it did not turn out so well. Since I had forgotten to take photos (and because it was so yummy), I decided to make another pot this week.

It was absolutely delicious.

But it wasn’t as “pretty”.

The first soup was orange and just looked like the inside of a pumpkin.  Absolutely beautiful.

This soup was brown like apple butter.

I racked my brain and realized my failure and then I realized–I forgot to add the lemon!  (and, worse yet, I forgot to add it into the recipe!!!)

Whenever you cut up apples, they oxidize and turn brown.  But a splash of lemon helps prevent this.  Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post that explains this phenomenon.

So lesson learned:  add a half lemon worth of juice into the pot along with the apples and you will have a beautiful soup!

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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe #5: Almost-Vegan Butternut Squash Soup

Posted by flsquared on October 26, 2009

First of all, let me explain the “Almost-Vegan” in the title.  I think that, as a life choice, being Vegan is terrific.  I will never choose to be one as I love my meat and dairy.  I also find cooking for Vegans a bit stressful (please don’t flame! I love you guys!) as I tend to improvise during my cooking and I freak out thinking that I will throw in the wrong ingredient and de-veganize the dish.

With this soup, for example, I did throw in (without thinking) about a cup of chicken broth.  So it’s obviously not vegan or even vegetarian anymore.  Normally, I would also finish it off with a dollop of plain yogurt on top.

Anyway, the soup turned out delish–so yummy and sweet that it could almost be a dessert.  Okay, not quite, but it was awesome!

The recipe was adapted from The Angelica Home Kitchen (it is called “Squash Potage”)

* 2 tbsp olive oil (I used extra virgin)
* 1 large onion, coursely chopped
* 1 tsp sea salt
* 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
* 2 tsp cinnamon (the recipe asks for a stick)
* I added in a tsp of nutmeg (the recipe also asks for fresh sage, but I didn’t have any on hand so I skipped it)
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 apples, chopped (the recipe asks for apple cider but I have a bunch of apples on hand)
* juice of 1/2 lemon
* large, already roasted butternut squash, probably about 4 or 5 lbs (recipe asks for a raw winter squash, chopped, but I already roasted mine)
* 2 or 3 chopped carrots
* 4 cups water or veggie stock (I used the chicken stock–oops!)


Warm the oil over medium heat, add the onions and stir for about 10 min.  Add ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and garlic for about 5 min.  Stir in apples, lemon juice, and carrots and the water/stock.  Bring to a boil.  At this point, I popped on the lid of the pressure cooker and let go until she hit full steam.  Then I turned off the heat and let it sit for about 10 min. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, I would cook about 40 min – 1 hour.  You would also want to add your raw squash at this point).

After the pressure was released, I threw in the cooked squash, cooked it for about 5 min, and pureed it using a handheld mixer.

Soup-er easy (ha-ha, sorry).  Enjoy!

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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe #4: Chili

Posted by flsquared on March 16, 2009

My college boyfriend used to make a fantastic chili several times a year.  Thank goodness I grabbed his recipe as a “parting gift”. 🙂

I did change it this time to add a few veggies.  It was awesome!  In fact, hubby even suggested that we add more veggies next time and use about half the meat.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

“Billfred’s”* Chili:


  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 oz beans (kidney, pinto) — next time I will add an extra 8 oz
  • 1 lb ground turkey — next time, 1/2 lb
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3-4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2-4 tbsp chili powder to taste
  • 1-2 tbsp cumin to taste
  • I also added 2 ribs of celery, 1 package of sliced baby bellas.
  • grated cheddar cheese and chopped red onion as topping
  • potatoes cut into bite sized pieces


  1. Brown meat, onion, garlic, celery, mushrooms.
  2. Stir in all except potatoes.  cook 1 hour + (the longer the better).  In a separate pot, boil the potatoes.
  3. Put it all together in bowl–potatoes, then chili, topped with cheddar cheese and red onion.



PS.  if you have leftover chili, it tastes even better the next day!

*not his real name

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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe #3: Homemade Pizza!

Posted by flsquared on March 13, 2009

Just about once a week, when I have a loooooong day with the kids, we get a pizza.  We’ve tried the supermarket pizzas, but they just aren’t the same.  It’s a little luxury that we’ve allowed ourselves, guilt free.

Since I’ve taken back over the grocery shopping, I have started going to the “Strip District” here in Pittsburgh which is comprised of about 10 blocks of small “mom and pop” grocery-type shops.  Love it!

Well, my first weekend there, I stepped into a teeny bread shop, but didn’t buy anything as the line was long and I needed to get back home.  I did grab a menu, and saw that they sold pizza dough.


Why not make our own pizza?

So for the first attempt, I purchased pizza crust at the supermarket next to our house, and dove into the veggies that we had at home:  baby ‘bellas, roma tomatoes, red onion and fresh parsley.  Topped with a little mozzarella, I popped it into the oven for 10 minutes and …


Soooo yummy!  Half the price of the take out and I’m sure much more healthy.  We’ll definitely be doing this again!

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Less is More: Citron Presse

Posted by flsquared on March 9, 2009

I’m not big on drinking water in the winter.  I prefer coffee, tea, milk, whatever.  

Living in Pittsburgh during the winter,where the air is cold and dry, and nursing a very hungry 4 month old has changed this practice.

This weekend, we went to “The Strip” and I picked up a bag of ten lemons for $2 (!!) to use in cooking and to make Citron Presses:


Eh? What’s a citron presse?

A couple of years ago, I skimmed through French Women Don’t Get Fat….for the recipes, of course.  (If you do read this book, get ready for some American bashing, which I did not appreciate and skipped over the best I could).  One of my discoveries was the “Citron Presse”:  hot water with a slice of lemon.

I know it sounds too simple to be earth shattering, but you have to try it!  It’s a great alternative to herbal tea or hot chocolate on a cold winter afternoon.  

Simply put a slice of lemon (or squeeze a wedge) into a cup and pour hot water on top of it.  I add a liitle honey as well.  Let it sit for about a minute, and you’re good to go.

As proof to how easy and yummy they are, check out the photo above.  I said I bought 10 lemons, right?

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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe #2: Red Beans With Cabbage

Posted by flsquared on March 8, 2009

This recipe is adapted (by me again!) from the Fagor Pressure Cooker recipe book. Oscar and I really enjoyed it, although it did take a while to prepare. The book says that you can substitute chick peas or white beans for the red beans–I’m definitely going to try that!

We made this a couple of weeks ago in the pressure cooker.  Adjust the recipe for your needs, similar to the last recipe I posted.

I was a bit unsure about this recipe, as it was very different to any way I had tried red beans, but I loved it!  (next time I will take a picture, I promise) Added bonus:  it froze very well.  I just froze the bean part and cooked the cabbage fresh.  To change it up one evening, I added rice and bits of leftover chicken and it was fantastic!


(bean portion):

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion and 1 medium onion, cut in half
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 lb dried red beans (or garbanzos, or white beans)
  • 2-3 carrots, cut in half
  • 1 leek, chopped (white part only)
  • 4-5 pieces of bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces

(cabbage portion):

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, coarsely chopped


  1. Soak beans in water overnight.  (See tip from previous recipe about soaking beans in hot water.)
  2. Heat oil in pressure cooker and saute onion and garlic until it is clear.  Add paprika.  Remove mixture from cooker and set aside.
  3. Combine the beans in the cooker with remaining veggies and bacon.  Cover with water, close lid and bring to pressure.  Cook for about 15 minutes and release pressure.  Remove lid and add the sauted onion and garlic and bring to pressure, cooking this time for about 20 min.  Either release pressure or just turn off the stove and let it slowly release itself.
  4. While doing #3, heat oil in skillet and add onion and garlic, sauteing until clear.  Add cabbage and fry for about 10 min (until it is “wilted” as you like it).
  5. Lay a bed of cabbage on a plate/bowl, with the beans on top.  You can also do as I did and mix in some rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Enjoy!

       Yield:  about 4 servings

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Meat as a Side Dish Recipe#1: White Bean Soup

Posted by flsquared on March 4, 2009

This recipe is adapted (by me) from a White Bean Soup Puree that I clipped from a newspaper (probably the AJC) ages ago but never tried.  It’s really easy to make, with minimal prep time (although you do have to remember to soak the beans overnight).  

Although we love purees, we gobbled this soup up before we got around to puree-ing it!  We’ll definitely make this again, and when we do, I’ll add a photo.


  • 3-4 cups dried white beans
  • 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (or Extra Virgin, whatever you have around)
  • 3-4 slices of bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1-2 chopped leeks (white part only–save the green for stock)
  • 2-4 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped celery ribs
  • 8 minced garlic cloves
  • enough chicken broth (I used homemade) to cover beans and veggies in pot–about 8-10 cups
  • 1 tbsp thyme and rosemary (fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand)
  • 1 cup whole milk (can use heavy cream, but I never have that.  I used Victor’s milk instead 🙂 )
  • pinch of salt, pepper to taste


1.  Soak the beans overnight.  The white beans soak up a ton of water, so be sure to cover them with a few inches of water before heading to bed.

Here’s a hint from my mother-in-law when soaking beans.  This was my big ah-ha! moment as to why her beans were always so soft and yummy and mine failed to open.  SOAK BEANS IN THE HOTTEST WATER YOU CAN GET!  Now, I know that they say not to use hot tap water for cooking, so what I do is nuke some Brita water for a few minutes and use that.  It has made a huge difference!

2.  In a pressure cooker (or in a stock pot, crock pot, whatever you have) add olive oil.

3.  Add bacon and cook until it renders it’s fat.

4.  Add onion, garlic and the rest of the veggies and saute until tender (about 15-20 min)

5.  Drain beans and add to veggies.  Add chicken broth and spices.

6.  Here’s where it will differ depending on what type of cooking pot you use:

  • I love love love my pressure cooker.  If you have one, at this point you will just cover and cook on high until you the little tab comes up showing that the pressure is high.  Turn heat down low, but high enough to keep the pressure high for about 15-20 min.  Then turn off heat and either release pressure or do as I do and let it slowly cool down and release the pressure itself.  
  • On stovetop, the recipe says to bring to a boil and cook on medium heat for about 2 hours (until beans are tender).
  • If you have a crockpot I would put the mixture on low and cook overnight.  However, you may have to experiment as it’s been a while since I’ve used one.  (anyone have any ideas?)

7.  Either use an immersion blender, food processor, etc. to puree (if desired).

8.  Enjoy!

Yield:  about 8-10 servings

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