Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This is one of my go to weeknight meals because I usually have everything I need to make this already on hand. I usually serve this with roasted potatoes but since I'm trying to be more health conscious I decided to go with broccoli rabe and a baked sweet potato (sorry, no picture of the sweet potato). I used less than half the butter in the recipe and added a little more oil when the pan got dry. I know oil is still fattening but it's a better fat than butter, right? However, if I added all of the butter I would have had a nice sauce to dip bread in...sigh...I miss normal eating! One more thing, make it easy on yourself and use chicken cutlets if you have them and I'm sure you can have this done in 30 minutes.
This recipe can be found on the food network website or in Giada De Laurentiis' cookbook Everyday Italian.
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and then cut in half
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
All-purpose flour, for dredging
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup brined capers, rinsed
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.
2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove and transfer to plate. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
3. Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Check for seasoning. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove chicken to platter. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Last weekend I got together with the Dinner Divas and my good friend Catherine did the hosting this time. Her theme was Comfort Food and her dinner was fabulous. Broccoli and Cheddar Soup, a tasty salad with toasted pecans that had a touch of cinnamon and the star of the evening completely made from scratch Chicken Pot Pie. It was outstanding! My contribution to the dinner was the appetizer. I saw mac and cheese bites on a blog a few months back but of course I couldn't remember where I saw it. After doing a google search I found a recipe from Food and Wine Magazine for Mac and Cheese Bites. I was supposed to use mini muffin pans but I didn't have one so I use a regular muffin pan instead. The result was more like Mac and Cheese 2 or 3 Bites but the taste was great. The recipe only made 12. When I make this again in the future I will definitely purchase a mini muffin pan. I think that if the Bites were smaller I would have had an easier time getting them out of the tin.
The recipe is very straight forward and I didn't really need to make any changes. I added some Emmenthaler Cheese just because I had it on hand and I think the combination of the three cheeses was excellent. My friend Shane from bakespace suggested that I mix some panko breakcrumbs with the parmesan on top and that worked out nicely. Gave it a nice crunchy top. The only thing I would do differently next time is add a little more of the smoked paprika. I didn't taste it at all and it was fresh, I bought it that same day.
I apologize for not taking a picture of the finished product. I was in a bit of a rush because I wanted them to be hot when I served them but they needed to cool slightly before I removed them.
Here's a picture of what they looked like before they went in the oven. Sorry, that's the best I got!
Three-Cheese Mini Macs
TOTAL TIME: 45 MIN
SERVINGS: 48 mini macs
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for brushing
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
4 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 packed cup)
4 ounces deli-sliced American cheese, chopped
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, shaking off the excess water.
2. Brush four 12-cup, nonstick mini muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano; tap out the excess.
3. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour over moderate heat for 2 minutes.Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking, until boiling, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and American cheeses and whisk until melted. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolk and paprika. Fold in the macaroni.
4. Spoon slightly rounded tablespoons of the macaroni into the prepared muffin cups, packing them gently. Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmigiano on top.
5. Bake the mini macs in the upper and middle thirds of the oven for about 10 minutes, until golden and sizzling. Let cool for 5 min-utes. Using a small spoon, carefully loosen the mini macs, transfer to a platter and serve.
The recipe can be prepared through Step 4 and refrigerated overnight.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Eating more veggies is part of my new healthy food regimen (I refuse to call it a diet!) and sometimes when you are in a rush it's hard to do this. Pasta is always a go to weeknight meal for me and this is the perfect dish to make when you are short on time. You may be thinking that pasta is high in carbs, which it is BUT everything in moderation, I say. If I had to give up pasta I would be a very unhappy person. I can't even substitute it for whole wheat, it's just not the same. So if I have to use portion control to keep pasta in my diet and my life, that's what I will do!
I made about 3/4 of a pound of pasta so I could take this with me to work for lunch a few times. That's an improvement because I usually make a whole pound of pasta just for Steve and I. We don't eat it all but I definitely had more than one portion. Not this time! I used shells because they seem to "grow" as my mother would say and it makes a lot.
Pasta with Zucchini
2 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise and then sliced into half moons.
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 - 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1 - 8 oz can delmonte tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock (if you are vegetarian use vegetable stock)
A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp sugar, optional
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound medium shell pasta
1. Saute garlic in a large saute pan for about one minute or so on medium heat to infuse the oil, do not let the garlic brown.
2. Add zucchini to the pan and let lightly brown. Turn and cook the other side.
3. Add tomatoes, sauce and stock, stir. Season with salt and pepper and stir, add basil and combine. Cover the pan halfway. Let cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. While sauce is cooking, cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Add to pan with sauce and combine.
Top with grated cheese if you like.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
This is a recipe that my mom has been using for years! I've made it before but my mom still makes it the best! This is her photo that my brother took and sent to me. This is great to bring to a potluck, great for a holiday or put it individual portions and keep it for yourself!
Mom’s Rice Pudding
½ gallon milk
1 cup Carolina Rice
1 cup regular sugar
2 Tbsp Vanilla
1. Mix rice in a pot with milk and sugar, let it come to a boil. Let simmer for 1 hour or until rice cooks and thickens. Stir constantly.
2. When rice is almost ready, beat eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Add rice to egg mixture and fold it into the eggs quickly. Top with cinnamon and refrigerate.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
We went to a party on New Years Eve and I said I would bring a few appetizers. I was going to make those awesome risotto cakes again but I just did not have the time to make them. I decided to take some help from the supermarket and bought a package of puff pastry (which always comes in handy when you're in a fix) and a tube of pillsbury pizza dough. Forget that it's pizza dough because it doesn't taste anything like pizza dough, it has a lot of butter in it but it works well as a base for an appetizer.
So I made puff pastry pinwheels and a caramalized onion, mozzarella and kalamata olive flatbread. They both came out great and were a big hit! I used the recipe on the box of the puff pastry as a guide to making the pinwheels and just changed some things around. Here is the original recipe for what they call Spinach Cheese Swirls. Here is my recipe.
1 box of puff pastry (two sheets), defrosted
1 egg and 1 tbsp of water, beaten
6 oz of shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated romano cheese
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
1 10 oz box of frozen spinach, defrosted and drained well. (Squeeze all the water out of the spinach or it will make the pastry soggy.)
1. Saute onion and garlic in oil until onions are tender and translucent. Add spinach and stir to combine. Let cool.
2. Add cheeses to spinach mixture, taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.
3. Lay out one sheet of puff pastry on a flat surface that has been dusted with flour.
4. Spread half of the mixture onto the dough.
5. Roll puff pastry jelly roll style and slice into 1/2 inch slices. You may want to cut off the ends if they are uneven.
6. Lay slices out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and brush tops with egg wash.
7. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until golden.
Caramelized Onion, Mozzarella and Kalamata Flatbread
1 tube of Pillsbury refrigerated thin style pizza dough
1 large onion, sliced
1 package diced pancetta
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Approx 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced in half
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
5 leaves basil, torn.
1. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and arrange dough to fit into pan.
2. Saute pancetta in 1 tbsp olive oil until crispy. Remove and set aside.
3. Saute onions pancetta drippings and 1 more tablespoon of oil on low heat until they become very tender and sweet, about 15 minutes. Do not let them brown. Let cool.
4. Top dough with pancetta, onions, olives, mozzarella and basil.
5. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
If you make a Ham for the holidays or any day do not throw out the bone. Wrap it in plastic wrap and foil and put in the freezer for soup. I made this soup from the leftover Ham we had at Christmas. Be careful not to salt your soup until it is completely cooked and you taste it for seasoning. Some hams can be very salty. This was a spiral ham and salty enough.
Please pardon my pictures. I didn't notice the air bubbles from my stirring and every photo I took has bubbles in it. You know, now that I think of it, no matter what I do this isn't going to look that great. It is pea soup after all!
1 leftover meaty ham bone
1 bag split peas
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 small-medium potatoes, diced
6-8 quarts water
1-2 chicken bouillon cubes, optional
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Special Tool – Immersion (stick) Blender
Sauté onions, carrots and potatoes in extra virgin olive oil until onions are translucent. Add ham bone to pot with enough water to cover completely. Cover the pot. When water comes to a boil reduce heat to low and let simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally. Remove ham bone and place on a cutting board. Remove ham by pulling with a fork or cutting it with a knife. Using two forks shred ham and set aside. Be careful not to shred any of the fat. Meanwhile, continue to cook peas for another 15-20 minutes or until completely tender. Taste and add bouillon cubes if using. Using an immersion blender, blend until all peas and veggies are smooth. If soup seems thick add a little more water. Add shredded ham to pot and stir.
If reheating this soup you may want to add some chicken stock or water because it thickens up quite a bit.
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
I can't help but laugh at myself whenever I attempt to make a stir fry. It's never right. The sauce is always too salty, not enough balanace of salty and sweet so Steve and I end up drowning it in soy sauce. Not this time. I finally found a stir fry recipe that works for me! I followed the recipe exactly, although I am not sure how many chicken breasts a pound would be. I only used two since I buy mine frozen in portions and Steve and I only eat one breast each. The recipe does say it serves four so maybe one more chicken breast and yes it would be perfectly portioned for four. I had rice left over an some chicken and veggies but it's mostly rice.
I would only make two changes next time. The recipe calls for cooking the rice in chicken broth. I did that but after putting the delicious sauce over it I realize that it was unnecessary, plain white rice with scallions added would be just perfect. The second change would be the scallions. I would add less of the white part of the scallion since they are raw and was a little strong for my taste. The green part seems to be milder so I would use all the green and some of the white so the scallion flavor isn't as strong.
That's it. This was absolutely the best homemade stir fry I have ever had. Not only does it taste great but the vibrant colors make it so visually appealing.
This recipe can be found in Rachael Ray's Magazine "Everyday with Rachael Ray" or on her website www.rachaelraymag.com .
Devilish Sesame Chicken with Green Beans and Scallion Rice
From Every Day with Rachael Ray
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound green beans
1 pound chicken breast, chicken cutlets or chicken tenders, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tamari (dark soy sauce)
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1. In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the rice; toast, stirring, for a minute or two. Add 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, lower the heat, cover and simmer until tender, about 17 minutes.
2. In a medium skillet, bring enough water to reach a depth of 1 inch to a boil, salt it, add the green beans and cook for 2 minutes; drain and rinse with cold water.
3. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 2 turns of the pan, over high heat until rippling. Add the chicken and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until just softened, 3 minutes. Add the green beans and cook, tossing, for 1 minute.
4. In a bowl, mix together the tamari, honey, hot sauce, mustard and remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth. Pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables; toss. Drizzle the sesame oil over the chickenal.
5. Stir the scallions into the rice and fluff with a fork. Serve the chicken over the rice and top with the sesame seeds and pepper. Cover to keep warm.
Monday, January 5, 2009
This recipe was given to me by my friend Gina. I believe the recipe originally came from Giada De Laurentiis but Gina adapted it to suit her taste...and it certainly suits mine! This dish was my contribution to Christmas Day dinner with Steve's family. The ravioli came from Costco believe it or not. I figured I would give them a shot since I don't have an Italian specialty store near my house. The ravioli were not frozen (but can be) and were filled with spinach, ricotta, mozzarella and asiago cheese. It was like a party in my mouth! If we didn't have so much more food coming I would have had seconds.
The next person I must give credit to is Steve's Uncle Salvatore. He is a professional photographer and took some beautiful pictures of the table and the ravioli. I'm so thankful that he did that because I forgot all about it! Please visit salvatore's website www.salvatorecorso.net to see some more of his work. Thanks for sending me the pictures Salvatore!
Spinach Ravioli in Bechamel Sauce
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 cups warm whole milk
1 package of diced Pancetta
1 package of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
1 bunch of scallions, separate white and green parts
3 dozen spinach ravioli (cook according to package)
Sauté pancetta in a non-stick pan until golden brown. Add the white parts of the scallions and sauté until tender, remove and set aside. Sauté mushrooms in pancetta drippings. Add salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms to pancetta and scallions and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour and whisk until the butter and flour are well combined. Gradually pour in the warm milk, whisking constantly as it thickens. You want the béchamel to be smooth and thick. Do not allow the béchamel to boil. (Have patience. This takes some time but it is the right amount of flour. Adding more will only risk making the sauce lumpy.)
Add salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg. Stir. Adjust seasonings to your taste.
Add the pancetta mixture to the béchamel sauce and stir.
Serve over ravioli and garnish with the green parts of the scallions.
Try not to lick the plate...or do. :-)
Yields: 8 - 10 servings ( or more, depending on the course...and your appetite!)
All photos by Salvatore Corso.