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Saturday, December 30, 2017

One-Pot Penne with Sausage, Pumpkin, and Fennel

I got this from Food52 and was drawn to it because I had a can of pumpkin leftover from holiday baking. It's DELICIOUS and takes very little time to make.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small to medium fennel bulb, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 links of Italian sausage, casings removed
1 fresh sage leaf or 1/2 tsp dried sage
1/2 cup dry white wine (or 1/4 cup lemon juice + 1/4 cup water)
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
3 cups dried penne
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/4 chopped parsley if you have it

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium high and cook the carrot, fennel, onion and garlic until softened. Add the sausage and cook through, crumble it up as it cooks.

2. Add the sage and wine and deglaze the pan and reduce the wine by 1/2. Add the stock and penne and make sure the penne is in or under the stock. Bring to a low boil, cover, and cook for 7 mins.

3. Add the pumpkin and lemon juice, stir to combine. Cover and cook another 3 mins or until the pasta is cooked through. Add the Parmesan and stir well.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

I've tried dozens of Tikka Masala recipes and this one's my current favorite. It has just the right amount of creaminess and thickness and uses coconut milk instead of cream, which I prefer.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28 can of crushed or diced tomatoes
1/3 cup water
3 tbsp flour
1 tbsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp crushed red pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup coconut milk
Basmati rice, cilantro, plain yogurt for serving

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and add onion, ginger, and garlic to pan. Cook until starting to brown. Stir in tomato paste and tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

2. Combine flour and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture and spices to tomatoes. Stir well and bring to a boil.

3. Spray slow cooker pot with cooking spray and place thighs in cooker. Add tomato mixture.

4. Cook on low for 7-8 hrs. When ready to eat, turn heat to high and add coconut milk. Stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Turkey Meatballs and Orzo

This one recently got great reviews in our house. And it's quick and easy - I make the meatballs on the weekend and and throw it all together on a weeknight in a matter of minutes. This is from Food52.

2lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest from a large lemon, save juice
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb orzo
1 finely chopped shallot
Juice from one lemon
Salt & pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan
3 cups chopped greens, such as kale or spinach

1. To make the meatballs, mix the turkey through the Parmesan in a large bowl until well combined. Cook the meatballs any number of ways - bake on a lined sheet at 375 for 20 mins or so, broil for 10 mins turning so all sides browned, or in a pan on the stove top.

2. Cook the orzo in a pot of boiling water until tender. Drain and put in a bowl.

3. While orzo cooks, combine the shallots through the olive oil and heat in a saucepan or small skillet until shallots are soft. Pour over the orzo and mix together. Add the greens and the Parmesan.

*If you make the meatballs a few days before, reheat them, covered with a few tbsp of water in a large skillet on the stovetop. Once heated through, remove top and let water evaporate. Add the orzo/vinaigrette mixture, greens and cheese and heat through.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

One Pan Chicken and Buttery Orzo

These days I'm all about dinner that I can make in one pan. Paddy appreciates it more because he's the one who cleans up. This is from Bon Appetit and is super easy. A great use of Grandma's old cast iron pan, which she used for her famous roasts of all kinds :)

4-6 skin on chicken thighs (you could also use a couple of bone in breasts)
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 leek, chopped
8 oz orzo
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest

1. Preheat oven to 400. Pat dry chicken and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat 2 tbsp butter in a large cast iron pan or other oven safe skillet. Nestle chicken skin side down and cook until meat is opaque around the edges and skin is a deep golden brown (6-8 mins). Turn chicken skin side up and bake uncovered until cooked through 10-15 mins. Transfer to plate and keep warm.

3. Place fennel and leek in skillet, season with salt and pepper and cook until soft and golden. Add orzo and stir until darkened and smells toasty. Pour in wine and cook until evaporated. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth at a time and let it absorb like you're making risotto. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice, zest and remaining butter. Serve with chicken.

Mini Meatloaves Wrapped in Bacon

Yes - good as it sounds. These are super easy and sooooo good with mashed potatoes (and a salad or something so that you don't feel too bad about the rest of it). This is from Fine Cooking. You can use mini loaf pans (which I don't own) or ramekins. You could also use a muffin tin if you want to make them really really mini!

8 slices of bacon
1/2 chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1 egg
3 tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp Worcestershire
Salt and pepper
1 lb ground beef (pref. 85% lean) or meatloaf mix (beef, pork, veal)

1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Arrange bacon on sheet and bake until crisp along edges, about 10 mins. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

2. In a food processor, pulse onion and garlic. Add breadcrumbs, egg, ketchup, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Pulse a few times to blend. Transfer to a bowl, add the meat and mix until combined.

3. Spray your ramekins or pans with cooking spray. Cross two slices of bacon in each, across the bottom and up the sides. Let an excess hang over. Pack in the meatloaf and fold the bacon over the top.

4. Bake about half hour or until meat is 165. let cool and remove from pans. When finished top with equal parts ketchup and bbq sauce.

Summer Squash and Basil Pasta

Between Jack's later bedtimes these days and no nap weekends...not only do I have a huge pile of recipes to post but I have no time to cook. So 30 minutes or less here, people, that's the goal. I got this one out of Bon Appetit and it's a great summer pasta dish.

1/4 cup olive oil
6 thinly sliced garlic cloves
2 lbs summer squash and zucchini - quartered lengthwise and sliced
1 tsp crushed red pepper
12 oz pasta - papardelle or another wide noodle works well
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tbsp lemon
1/2 cup basil

1. Heat the olive oil over medium. Add the garlic and stir until lightly browned around the edges. Add the squash and season with salt and pepper. Cook and stir until squash breaks down and gets jammy, about 15 mins.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. When done, transfer to pan with squash, reserving pasta water. Add about 1/2 cup of pasta water and the cheese in stages until cheese is melted and incorporated and pasta is cooked.

3. Add the lemon juice and basil and serve with more cheese.

Chicken Shawarma Salad

Chicken shawarma is one of my favorite ways to eat chicken. It reminds me of hot, sunny afternoons in Greece and treats to myself when living in Mali. This recipe from Food and Wine skips the pita and goes for salad, which I actually prefer.

1/3 cup olive oil
6 tbsp lemon juice
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 lbs chicken thighs
2 red onions cut into 8 wedges

Head of romaine lettuce
Chopped tomato and cucumber
1 cup creme fraiche or plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup cilantro
3 scallions
2 tbsp finely chopped jalapenos - deveined and seeded

1. Whisk the oil through the spices in a bowl and pour into a large ziplock with the chicken and onion. Marinate overnight or at least one hour.

2. Preheat oven to 450 and bake chicken and onions on a foil lined baking sheet for 30-40 mins or until browned and chicken cooked through.

3. For the salad, whisk the creme fraiche/yogurt, olive oil, and lemon zest and juice and season with salt and pepper.

4. Serve the chicken sliced with lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Top with cilantro, scallions, and jalapeno and the craime fraiche/yogurt on the side.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Best Homemade Granola Bars

I have been searching for a homemade granola bar for a loooong time. None of them have been quite right. I tried these yesterday and these are the best yet - the perfect base with lots of options for mix-ins. This is from Food Network Magazine.

Base: Toss 3 cups rolled oats with 2 tbsp vegetable oil on a baking sheet and bake at 350 or until lightly toasted (about 20 mins). Let cool and transfer to a large bowl. Add 1 cup of base mix-ins (or combo of): nuts, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or coconut.

Goo: Combine 6 tbsp butter in a saucepan with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tsp salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The mixture will bubble and foam. Cook for 30 seconds and pour over oat base. Let cool slightly and add 1 cup of bar mix-ins (or combo of): dried fruit, chocolate chips, pretzels, cereal, etc.

Line a 9x13 baking dish with foil and spray with cooking spray. Pour the bar mixture into the dish and press firmly with a rubber spatula.

Let stand at room temp until completely cool and firm enough to slice (1-3 hrs). Lift out of the dish, cut into bars, wrap in wax paper.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Tortellini Chicken and Arugula Salad

10 minutes. That's what Cooking Light says and it's true. You don't count the time it takes to boil the water but 10 minutes!!! It takes less time to decide what to order on a take-out menu and punch in your credit card :)

1 package of frozen cheese tortellini
2 cups chicken breast (either leftover, pulled from a grocery rotisserie or whatever you've got in the fridge)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sugar
3 cups baby arugula
thinly sliced shallot (optional - I'm not a fan of raw onion but someone in my family eats them like apples)
1/4 cup Parmesan

1. Cook the tortellini. Drain, rinse with cold water.

2. Combine garlic, oil, lemon, sugar, salt and pepper and mix well (or use store bought salad dressing but you'll get a completely different meal).

3. Toss the tortellini, arugula and chicken and drizzle with dressing.

Sweet Potato and Mushroom Risotto

We're all things sweet potatoes these days. I don't think I had a sweet potato until I was like 35 yrs old. I didn't have a black bean until I was catch my drift. We grow up on certain things and not others (did you ever hear the This American Life story about the woman who had chicken every night for dinner until she went to college and realized that not everyone else had chicken every night for dinner...??). Paddy wonders why we can't have 'real potatoes' but whatever - Jack eats sweet potatoes and I love them too. So if I can kill two birds with one stone, let's do it.

2 roasted sweet potatoes, peeled and pureed
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cups sliced shiitakes
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp chopped sage
5 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 cups Arborio rice
5 cups chicken (or veggie) broth, warm
salt and pepper
1/4 cup marscarpone or cream cheese
1/4 Parmesan

1. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high. Add mushrooms, onion, sage and garlic.

2. Add rice and cook a couple of mins, stirring. Stir in 1 cup of sweet potato, 2 cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Simmer until liquid has almost been absorbed. Add more stock and simmer again, until almost absorbed. Continue until all stock used and rice is tender.

3. Remove from heat, add the rest of the potato and cheese and mix until incorporated.

Sauteed Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Ok, so this doesn't sound that great, I know. But I've been trying to minimize effort in the kitchen, which means that many nights I throw bone in chicken breasts into the oven before putting Jack to bed and then seeing what I can pair with them after he's asleep to make it seem like it's not exactly what we had the night before. This was very good - adapted from Fine Cooking. We were pleasantly surprised. You can substitute the greens - the recipe called for chard but I used kale. Whatever you got...

3/4 cup raisins (preferably golden but don't go out of your way!)
1 bunch of kale, Swiss chard...some kind of hearty green, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of parsley if you have it
1/2 cup pine nuts, roasted on the stove top for 10 minutes or until brown
2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
Small handful of Parmesan

1. Soak the raisins in boiling water until plump. Drain.

2. Heat oil in a large saute pan, add the onion and soften. Add the garlic. Add the greens. Toss until tender, 5-10 mins.

3. Remove from heat, add the raisins, parsley, lemon, cheese, and salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce

Has anyone noticed that these meals are getting easier and faster to make? That's the goal these days folks - somehow eat a delicious meal on a weeknight before 9pm. I'm aiming for a half hour or less these days so keep an eye out. This is from Fine Cooking magazine - it took about 10 minutes plus a few  more to bake. Also - this is the Italian version of pretty much the same thing I posted a couple of months ago...oops!

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1 onion diced
28oz can crushed tomatoes
3-4 eggs
1/2 chunk of fresh mozzarella, sliced
Handful of basil, thinly sliced
You can add some sausage to this if you're looking for meat!

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Mash half of the chickpeas in a bowl with a fork.

3. Over medium heat in a large skillet, cook the onions until translucent. Add garlic, tomatoes, and mashed chickpeas. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

4. Add the rest of the chickpeas and make depressions in the tomato sauce for each of the eggs. Crack eggs into the holes and place the mozzarella around it. Put in the oven to bake for 8-9 minutes - don't over do it! Remove from the oven when done and sprinkle with basil.

Chicken and Waffles

I didn't even know about chicken and waffles until a few years ago...I'm a New Englander. What a shame...the northeast needs to get its act together. I'll always order it if it's on the menu because I can't be bothered with frying chicken at home. But this recipe from Cooking Light is a healthier and easier version...and takes about five minutes (plus 10 mins baking time) with almost no cleanup. And the combo of the maple syrup, soy, and sriracha/sambal is amazing.

1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp Sriracha or sambal oelek
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 flour
1 egg
1 cup cornflakes, crushed
1/4 cup panko
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 paprika
1 package of chicken cutlets
4 Belgian waffles
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup green onions

1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a rack on top of a large baking sheet.

2. Combine first three ingredients in a bowl.

3. Put the flour, salt, paprika in a bowl, beat the egg in another, and combine the panko and cornflakes in another.

4. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, then egg, then panko/cornflake mixture. Place on rack and drizzle with melted butter. Bake for 10 minutes.

5. Toast the waffles and serve with chicken and onions on top and drizzled with syrup.