2 recipes to brighten up a post-holiday haze: Skillet lasagna, Greek chicken orzo bake (2024)

The days following Christmas and before New Year's Day can leave people in a "what day is it?" blur. But that doesn't mean dinner should be blah, even if it feels like a gray area.

Alex Snodgrass, cookbook author and creator of The Defined Dish, is well-known for her cleaned up comfort food recipes that utilize convenient, store-bought ingredients to get a great dinner on the table with minimal effort.

Her latest title, "Dinner Tonight," focuses on just that, while applying simple cooking techniques to better-for-you ingredients.

2 recipes to brighten up a post-holiday haze: Skillet lasagna, Greek chicken orzo bake (1)

Snodgrass joined "Good Morning America" on Tuesday in tandem with the cookbook launch to share two new recipes that will make even people who swear they can't cook look good in the kitchen.

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Greek-inspired Chicken and Orzo Bake

2 recipes to brighten up a post-holiday haze: Skillet lasagna, Greek chicken orzo bake (2)

Makes 4 servings

Total time: 45 minutes

"Boldly seasoned chicken, crisp asparagus, juicy tomatoes, and orzo come together for a healthy and delicious Greek-inspired dinner. The soft and pillowy orzo really soaks up all the delicious Mediterranean flavors and rounds out this simple, mouthwatering, one-skillet dinner."

Click here to shop the ingredients for the recipe online.

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallot (about 1 large shallot)

1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup dry white wine

3/4 cup orzo (sub gluten-free orzo for gluten-free)

14-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (omit for dairy-free)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

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Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano, the black pepper, paprika, cumin, and cayenne. Pat the chicken dry and season with the spice blend on both sides evenly.

In a large deep ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches if necessary, so as not to overcrowd the skillet, add the chicken in a single layer and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the browned chicken to a plate and set aside. The chicken does not have to be cooked through as it will finish in the oven.

Reduce the heat beneath the skillet to medium, add the garlic, shallot, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to soften and the asparagus turns bright green, about 4 minutes.

Pour in the wine and deglaze the skillet, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Cook, stirring, until the wine is reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add the orzo, artichoke hearts, broth, and remaining 1 teaspoon oregano and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then nestle the browned chicken into the skillet and sprinkle the olives over the entire skillet.

Transfer to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and crumble the feta (if using) over the chicken. Return to the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through and the orzo is tender, 10 to 12 more minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with the fresh parsley.

One-skillet Lasagna

2 recipes to brighten up a post-holiday haze: Skillet lasagna, Greek chicken orzo bake (6)

Makes 6 servings
Total time: 45 minutes

"I like to call this my lazy girl lasagna. While my Italian grandfather would gasp at the thought of this one-skillet wonder, I know if he were still alive, he'd take one bite and then quickly devour the entire pan. Inspired by my love for lasagna, one-pot meals, and the Lasagna Hamburger Helper, this recipe is the ultimate way to feed my hungry family with very little effort. Feel free to swap in regular marinara instead of the arrabbiata sauce if you are sensitive to heat; however, we don't find this dish spicy at all -- the arrabbiata just kicks the flavor up a notch!"

Click here to shop the recipe's ingredients online.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup small-diced yellow onion (about 1/2 small onion)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 pound ground beef (90/10)
1/2 pound bulk mild or spicy Italian sausage
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
24-ounce jar arrabbiata or marinara sauce
1/3 cup, plus 1/4 cup store-bought basil pesto or Lemon Basil Pesto (page 8)
Grated zest of half a lemon
6 ounces no-boil oven-ready lasagna noodles (sub gluten-free no-boil lasagna for gluten-free)
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
Fresh basil leaves, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and sausage. Continue to cook, breaking up the meat with the edge of a spoon, until it is browned and cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes.

Drain off the excess fat, then add the salt, pepper, arrabbiata sauce, 1/3 cup of the pesto, and the lemon zest and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low.

Carefully break up the lasagna noodles into 1- to 2-inch pieces and add them to the skillet. Don't worry if they get a little jagged and imperfect, it will still come together nicely. Gently fold the noodles into the sauce to ensure they are coated in the sauce, then use the back of a spatula to spread the contents of the skillet into an even layer.

Place the mozzarella slices evenly across the top of the skillet in a single layer, then dollop small spoonfuls of the remaining 1/4 cup pesto across the top. Carefully cover the skillet with aluminum foil, ensuring the foil does not touch the top of the lasagna.

Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue to bake, uncovered, until the cheese is golden, 10 to 12 more minutes.

Remove the lasagna from the oven and let cool, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes to allow the sauce to settle and thicken a bit more. Top with the basil and serve.

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