economical meals

Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs

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Chicken thighs are the unsung heroes of economical, healthy cooking, and this simple citrus marinade makes them really shine. I come back to it again and again.

This dish is fairly quick, flavorful, and versatile. I’ve used this recipe with both bone-in and boneless varieties, although bone-in hold up a bit better — especially if you decide you’d rather grill outdoors than broil, which works well too!

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A few tips for marinading: you want both an acid (citrus) and an oil. Use a glass container or plastic bag, not metal, and keep the meat in the refrigerator. With chicken, don’t marinade longer than 2 hours.

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The chicken and reserved sauce are fantastic served over roasted spaghetti squash or pasta and  a large helping of broccoli, or try it with a bed of your favorite greens. Next time, try a double batch of the marinade and use it for grilled or roasted vegetables.

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Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs

From Bon Appetit

Makes 4 servings (2 thighs per person)

1 bunch scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only
1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and tender stems only
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
1 tsp finely grated orange zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 chicken thighs, preferably bone-in, skin-on (about 2 pounds)

If you like raw scallions, finely chop them and set aside 1/4 cup.

Place all ingredients except chicken into a food processor or blender and pulse until a coarse purée forms. Set aside 1/4 cup marinade; place remaining marinade in a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill at least 20 minutes, but no more than 2 hours.

Preheat broiler. Line a broiler-proof baking sheet with foil. Remove chicken from marinade and place skin side down on baking sheet; discard marinade. Broil chicken until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn; continue to broil until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 12–15 minutes longer.

Serve chicken with reserved marinade and scallions, if desired.

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Sausage, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

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It’s Daylight Savings Time (or is it the end of Daylight Savings Time? I can never keep them straight), and that means it will be dark before I even leave work. And when that happens, I lose interest in cooking at night. Just give me some takeout (or worse yet, junk food) and a glass of wine, and I’ll curl up on the couch with the cat and fall asleep. And then I have no leftovers for lunch the next day. Rinse and repeat…

There are worse problems, but this cycle isn’t great for my wallet or my health. I try to nip it in the bud by cooking more on the weekends and stocking up for the week. I love soup and salad at lunch, which leave me feeling full but not heavy. This one is economical, and easily adaptable to your tastes and preferences. Omit the Half & Half to make it dairy-free, or try substituting chicken for the smoked sausage.

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Sausage, Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

Serves 4

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup wild rice (or wild & long grain rice blend)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
8 oz. sliced cremini or white mushrooms
8 oz. reduced-fat smoked sausage, cut into bite-sized medallions
1/2 cup Half & Half
Freshly ground pepper and salt

In a medium saucepan, combine broth and rice. Cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and celery and cook 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and mushrooms. Cooking, stirring occasionally, until sausage is browned and vegetables are semi-tender. Add rice and its broth to the sausage and vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, until rice has “bloomed.”

Add Half & Half and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuna Pasta Salad with Lemon Dressing

I may or may not have eaten one too many brownies and had one too many glasses of wine yesterday while celebrating America’s birthday. That’s what happens when you’re surrounded by good friends and good food.

Today, I was looking for a light meal with minimal cooking and prep. I came across this recipe and happened to have the ingredients (I’m not a big tomato fan and left them out).

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High-protein and lower-carb, this salaf is great for getting back on track after over-indulging. The lemon dressing adds a light, refreshing kick. If you have it, throw in some fresh dill.

Tuna Pasta Salad with Lemon Dressing

Adapted from Koko Likes
Serves 4 as a main course

4 oz. uncooked pasta
6 3/4 oz. package solid white albacore tuna in water (or a large can, drained)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 clove minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half, if desired
2 cups (or more) tightly packed baby spinach
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan

Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse and drain under cold water. In a small bowl, break tuna into rough chunks, drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil and toss gently.

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice, remaining oil, garlic, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper.Add pasta, beans, tomatoes and spinach to bowl; toss well to combine. Add tuna and toss gently. Taste; season as desired. Divide among 4 shallow bowls and top each serving with 1 teaspoon Parmesan. (RHRW Note: if not serving immediately, reserve spinach until ready to serve)