Friday, May 27, 2011

Marmalade Curry Chicken

This is the first recipe I tried from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow (if you love your crock pot, it's a must read).  The sauce is so tasty - we devoured it!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves or thighs (I used breasts)
1 (18oz) jar orange marmalade (I used 1/2 regular and 1/2 sugar free)
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chicken broth

Put the chicken into the bottom of your slow cooker. In a mixing bowl, combine the marmalade with the dry spices and chicken broth.  Pour the sauce evenly over the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours, or on high for about 4 (you might want to flip the chicken towards the end if you choose to cook on high heat).  Serve over brown basmati rice.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This was one of the first meals I ever made for my husband. I found it in The Newlywed Cookbook by Robin Miller, and I couldn't believe how quick and easy it turned out to be. It's become a favorite in our household, even with our 4-year-old son. Recently, I replaced the canned pineapple with fresh pineapple I'd pureed in the food processor. Then, I added chunks of fresh pineapple at the end to warm them through before serving. I think it's great either way, but I'm going to try to use the fresh fruit from now on, if possible.

1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders, diced into 1 inch cubes
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple in juice (or an equivalent amount of fresh, pureed pineapple)
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/4 tsp black pepper
Fresh pineapple chunks, optional

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, and saute until golden brown on the outside and no longer pink on the inside, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the crushed or pureed pineapple, Hoisin sauce, apricot preserves, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Add the pineapple chunks, if desired, and stir gently to coat with the sauce and warm through. Serve over rice or noodles.

Bow Tie Pasta & Broccoli

I first saw Ina Garten make a similar version of this recipe on the Food Network. She was having a party for kids, and she claimed it was a great way to get them to eat their broccoli. She was right! Not only did my older son eat every bite of pasta and broccoli on his plate, so did my husband! It's a versatile recipe that can be served for lunch or dinner, hot or room temperature, and with a variety of pastas. It's great just as a vegetarian meal, or cooked and diced chicken breast can be added for protein (or for those of us who have major meat-eaters in our families). Recently, I just made the sauce (no broccoli or pine nuts) and poured it over penne pasta. With some hot chicken sausage cut into rounds and added at the end, it became a great meal that my entire family loved!

2 large heads of broccoli
1 lb bow tie (farfalle) pasta
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 lemon, zested
2-3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt (to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper (to taste)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts*
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add a handful of kosher salt. Cut off the stems of the broccoli, and chop the heads into individual florets. Add the broccoli florets to the salted, boiling water. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove the florets with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.
2. Add the bow tie pasta to the same salted, boiling water. Cook according to the package directions, around 11 minutes, or until al dente. Strain the bow ties, and add to the bowl with the broccoli.
3. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and butter. When the butter has melted, add the garlic and the lemon zest, and saute for 1 minute.
4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, and stir until the salt has dissolved. Pour the sauce over the bow tie pasta and broccoli. Toss well to coat everything. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt and pepper if desired. Garnish with the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese.

*To toast the pine nuts, place them in a dry saute pan over a low heat. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are slightly brown and fragrant, tossing them in the pan every so often to keep them from burning.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Butternut Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter

This were a little time consuming to make, but really delicious! My kids liked them too. :)

1 can (16 oz) butternut squash or pumpkin puree
1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar
pinch of ground nutmeg
1 tbsp grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
salt and black pepper to taste
48 wonton wrappers
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 tbsp butter
16 fresh sage leaves

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Mix the squash, vinegar, nutmeg, and parmesan; season with salt and pepper.

2. Working on a clean floured surface, lay down a single wonton wrapper and place a small spoonful of the squash mixture in the center, being careful not to overstuff. Paint the edges of the wrapper with egg whites, then top with another wonton wrapper. Press firmly around the edges with your fingers to secure the filling inside the ravioli. Repeat with the remaining wrappers to make 24 ravioli.

3. Salt the boiling water and turn down the heat to medium so that it's gently boiling. Carefully drop in the ravioli and cook for 3 minutes, then drain (it works best to do this in batches so they don't stick together).

4. In the meantime, heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat and add the butter and sage. Cook until the butter is lightly brown and begins to give off a nutty aroma (you don't want the butter to burn). Add the cooked ravioli to the pan, tossing gently to make sure they don't break. Divide among 4 plates and garnish with parmesan.

Recipe comes from Cook This, Not That

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken Marsala

This has become a family favorite dinner in our house. So easy to make and super delicious! (For those folks in Indiana - remember that you can't buy Marsala wine on Sundays!)

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to uniform 1/4" thickness
1 cup flour
salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
2 oz prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
8 oz cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced
3/4 cup Marsala wine
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup fresh parsley (or ~4 tsp dried)

1. Season the chicken with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Place the flour in a shallow bowl and add the chicken; coat evenly, shaking off any excess flour.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken (don't overcrowd the pan; cook in two batches if need be) for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown on the outside and cooked all the way through. Transfer to a serving platter and keep warm (I cover with foil).

3. Add additional oil to the pan if needed, then sauté the prosciutto for 1-2 minutes, until it starts to crisp up. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéing until well browned. Stir in the Marsala and broth, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has reduced to about 1/2 cup. Season with salt and pepper, add the parsley, and pour over the chicken.

Recipe from Cook This, Not That

Roasted Parmesan Asparagus

I love asparagus, and usually just saute it in a grill pan with some olive oil and kosher salt. This was a great recipe for a little variation.

1 bunch asparagus, about 1 1/2 pounds
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp grated parmesan
 salt and black pepper to taste
juice of 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Hold an asparagus spear at both ends and bend the bottom until the tough, woody section snaps (it will naturally snap off where the tough part of the vegetable ends and the tender part begins). Using that spear as a guide, use a knife to remove the bottoms of the rest of the bunch.

2. Place the asparagus in a baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the parmesan, and season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until just tender, 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the asparagus.

Recipe from Cook This, Not That

Brussels and Bacon

We had roasted brussels sprouts for dinner one night, then a week later my oldest requested them again. I saw this recipe in a cookbook I had and decided to try them. What's not good with bacon, right? ;) It did not disappoint!

4 strips of bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, cut in half
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sliced almonds

1. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. Discard all but 1 tbsp of the rendered bacon fat.

2. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, brussels sprouts, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Sauté until the sprouts are lightly browned on the outside and tender - but still firm - throughout, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the almonds and sauté for another minute or two. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe comes from Cook This, Not That

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon & Pea Sauce

This is another recipe from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution" that I adapted a bit for my family. I bought sour cream instead of heavy cream, and it seemed to work fine. The recipe is very kid-friendly, and using mini pasta, like shells or bow ties, makes it a lot of fun. My 4-year-old loved it, and so did my husband and I. It also makes a lot of leftovers!

10 slices smoked bacon
Small bunch of mint
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 pound mini pasta, such as mini shells or mini bow ties
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
2 cups frozen peas
2 tbsp heavy cream or sour cream
1 lemon
6 ounces Parmesan cheese

1. Finely slice the bacon. Pick the mint leaves and discard the stalks. Finely grate the parmesan cheese.

2. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions.

3. Heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter. Add the bacon to the pan, sprinkle a little pepper over it, and saute it until golden and crisp. Meanwhile, finely chop the mint leaves.

4. As soon as the bacon is done, stir in the frozen peas. After a minute or so, add the heavy cream (or sour cream) and chopped mint. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the saute pan, and toss everything well.

5. Halve the lemon, and squeeze the juice over the pasta. Remove the pan from the heat, and salt and pepper to your taste. The sauce should be creamy and silky. If it's too thick, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out. Add the Parmesan cheese, and toss everything to coat well.

Pan-Fried Glazed Pork Chops

This is a recipe I adapted from Jamie Oliver's "Jamie's Food Revolution" cookbook. I doubled the recipe to serve four and omitted the fresh sage leaves. It was so super simple, and the pork chops fried up quickly! My whole family loved them glazed in apricot preserves. They were so yummy!

4 boneless pork chops, medium thickness
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Optional: 1 lemon
Options for glaze: applesauce, mango chutney, apricot jam or preserves, maple syrup, or honey

1. Using a sharp knife, trim the fat off the edges of the pork chops, saving the fat for rendering. Baste both sides of the chops with olive oil and sprinkle well with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large saute pan on high heat. Add the fat from the chops to the pan, and fry until golden and crackling. Remove it from the pan.

3. Add the chops to the hot pan, and fry for 4-5 minutes on each side, turning about every minute.

4. Spoon a large tablespoon of your glazing ingredient of choice on each chop. Keep turning the chops in the glaze so they get nicely coated. Continue to cook them until they become golden in color and the glaze thickens. Remove the chops to a plate and allow them to rest for minute, squeezing a little lemon juice over them to balance out the sweetness.

Roasted Root Vegetables

I credit Ina Garten ("The Barefoot Contessa" from the Food Network) with the inspiration for this recipe. She makes roasting vegetables so easy. I also used a tip from my "Better Homes & Gardens" cookbook by adding balsamic vinegar and dried oregano to the veggies before roasting them. Any seasonal root vegetables would work, including sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, and even golden beets, which are wonderful sliced super thin and roasted until crisp like chips! I sort of made this recipe up, so the ingredients and amounts are to your taste. Either increase the oven temperature or lengthen the cooking time for thicker veggies, like potatoes. My 4-year-old really liked the carrots, while my husband and I loved all of the veggies. We took the leftovers to a get together the next evening as a side for lasagna and received rave reviews from everyone who ate the dish!

3 large carrots, peeled
2-3 large parsnips, peeled
2 fennel bulbs, fronds and outer layers removed (save the fronds for garnish)
1-2 heads of garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano (dried basil or dried rosemary would also work well)
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Chop the carrots and parsnips into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes. Slice the fennel bulbs in half and then, into quarters. Cut off the tops of the heads of garlic, exposing the cloves, but still keeping them tightly together.

2. Place the carrots, parsnips, and fennel on a cookie sheet. Liberally drizzle about 2 tbsp of the olive oil over the vegetables. Then, sprinkle the oregano, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper all over. With your hands, toss everything well.

3. Drizzle about 1 tbsp of the olive oil over the top of the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic heads in aluminum foil, and place on the cookie sheet with the other vegetables. Roast everything together for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables become brown around the edges, stirring them occasionally to keep them from sticking to the pan. They'll still have a slight crunch, so roast them longer if you like your veggies soft.

4. Allow the vegetables to cool slightly. Take the garlic out of the foil, and squeeze the individual cloves out by compressing the heads from the sides. Chop the saved fennel fronds finely and sprinkle on top of everything for garnish.