Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I'm still here and am still cooking!! I never knew how busy things would get with a little one in the house (so much fun!!!). But we have still been doing a lot of cooking - I just haven't taken the time to experiment with new ideas or recipes. Every now and then I do, like on my dad's birthday back in October (yes, this is a post from October finally making it to my blog in December!).


Better than PF Changs - that is what we all said about these Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I always liked the wraps at PF Changs, until I made my own, that is. I went to PF Changs a week after making these, and I was not impressed! Their wraps are much saltier, and the chicken mixture has a heavy soy flavor. The wraps I made had more flavor depth and were much lighter and fresher.

I used this recipe from Wasabimom.com, a gluten-free cooking site. To see the original recipe with gluten-free substitutions, see the link above.

The Pouring Sauce
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c warm water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp hot water
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in 1/2 c warm water. Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ketchup, lemon juice, and sesame oil. Mix well and throw in fridge until ready to it. Before serving, combine the hot water, Dijon, and garlic - you can add this to the pouring sauce 1 spoonful at a time to taste.

The Stir Fry Sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
Mix in a small bowl and set aside.
Chicken Stir Fry Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes. I chopped mine even smaller than that.
  • 1 8-oz can water chestnuts, chopped into pieces the size of corn kernels
  • 1/2 c mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped (Basically I chopped my chicken, water chestnuts, mushrooms, and onion to pieces of the same size)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 large leaves iceberg or Napa cabbage
Cooking the Chicken Stir Fry:
  • Heat oils in a large saute pan or wok until glistening
  • Add the chicken and cook until mostly cooked, about 5 minutes (max.. mine took less time)
  • Turn the heat down to medium-high, add another tbsp oil, then add the onions, garlic, water chestnuts, mushrooms. Saute 1 minute then add the stir fry sauce.
  • Cook about 4 minutes and transfer to a serving dish.
  • Serve 1-2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in a piece of lettuce. Yum!
These wraps disappeared in a matter of minutes. My only suggestion for next time - make more!!!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Asian Orzo


I never would have thought to cook orzo pasta with Asian flavors and ingredients, but it totally worked! This is my new favorite orzo dish, and is a great side with Asian marinated meats, like the grilled marinated pork tenderloin I served this with. It's also a nice alternative to noodles or rice when you need a side for an Asian dinner.

Inspiration - this recipe from the Easy Gourmet Dinners web site. I changed up the cooking method and added a few ingredients so my variation is below.

Ingredients
  • 1 c dry orzo pasta
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a small pot
  • Add onion, saute 3-4 minutes or until soft.
  • Add orzo, toss to coat/toast for 1 minute
  • Mix the broth with the soy sauce, sesame oil, and brown sugar. Add the broth mixture to the pot, stir, bring to a simmer then lower heat and cover.
  • Cook on low heat, covered, for about 15 minutes or until done. The broth should just be absorbed as the pasta finishes cooking.
  • Stir to fluff and serve.

Great marinade for pork

No picture, just a quick post to share this amazing marinade.

I actually made it, not my master-of-marinades husband, although he was giving me suggestions while I was mixing. We marinated the pork tenderloin for 8 hours before Jon grilled it.

Mix all ingredients together and pour over the tenderloin in a ziploc bag. Note, amounts are approximate, and this was for 1 small tenderloin.

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce (I always use low sodium soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicken with Peppers, Onions, and Mushrooms


Quick and easy with a lot of flavor - that's the name of the game these days. Oh, and it helps if we can eat it with one hand while holding a baby in the other.
I threw this dish together because I had some mushrooms leftover. Amounts are approximate.

Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts sliced into strips
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 sm onion, sliced
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • White wine, about 3 tbsp
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • Salt, pepper, thyme, paprika
  • Olive oil

Directions

  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat
  • Season chicken with salt, pepper, a touch of thyme, and paprika. Add to pan and cook until just about cooked through, about 5-6 minutes.
  • Move chicken to sides of pan and add the onions, peppers, and mushrooms, Saute 2 minutes.
  • Deglaze pan with the white wine
  • Add chicken broth, adjust seasonings, and let come to a simmer. Lower heat and let it cook another few minutes to thicken. Serve over rice.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chicken Stuffed with Golden Onions and Fontina Cheese


This is another dish I made several weeks ago but am just now getting around to blogging. I do remember that it was delicious! I have a new love for Fontina cheese after eating this chicken. It is creamy, light, and slightly nutty, and worked well for stuffing chicken. A few nights later I used it to make a cream sauce for pasta - sweet, creamy, and smooth, not too salty.

I found
this recipe on the Eating Well web site, and of course made a few changes. My version is below.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts; cut a pocket in each
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/3 c shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/4 c dry white wine
  • 1 c low-sodium chicken broth mixed with 1 tbsp flour or cornstarch
  • salt and pepper
  • Flour, egg, breadcrumbs (the original recipe did not call for breading the chicken, but I was in the mood for breaded chicken. The recipe would work either way.)

Directions

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onions and season with half of the thyme. Cook slowly until caramelized, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, mix with the Fontina cheese, and set aside.
  • Stuff each chicken breast with half of the onion/cheese mixture. If you are breading the chicken, season it with salt and pepper, dip in flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. If you aren't breading it, just season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in the pan used to cook the onions. Add the chicken and cook over medium high heat until done, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a dish and keep warm.
  • Add 0.5 tbsp oil to the pan; add shallots and cook 2 minutes.
  • Add wine and remaining thyme to the pan and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add broth/flour mixture (make sure it is thoroughly whisked and smooth first). Let reduce 2-3 minutes. Serve sauce over the chicken.


I really enjoyed this chicken dish. The Fontina cheese worked well with the caramelized onions, and the thyme in the sauce brought the right aroma to the dish. Jon suggested adding some bacon next time... we all know bacon makes everything better! I agree that it would work well with this chicken.




Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grilled Cauliflower


Nothing says summer like grilled veggies! And this summer we experimenting with grilling everything - it made life easy and we discovered that pretty much any veggies can be grilled. Well, except radishes... I read about grilled radishes in a magazine several months ago so I wanted to give it a shot. Big fail!

Cauliflower was one veggie that we loved on the grill. I made a foil packet, tossed the cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper and tossed it on the grill for about 8 minutes. It was tender, sweet, and slightly caramelized - just delicious!

Lemon-Honey Chicken

Is anybody out there? I know it's been a while, but I hope you are sticking with me! I promise there will be a lot of yummy things coming out of my kitchen again soon.

I can't believe our baby girl is 10 weeks old already - time is flying and life is crazy, but wonderful. Believe it or not, Jon and I have done a lot of cooking since becoming a family of three. Thank goodness for the grill - Jon has been marinating and grilling like crazy, and our meals have mostly consisted of grilled meats, grilled veggies, and easy sides, like baked potatoes, orzo, pasta, rice, or noodles. I have also been cooking meals that we love from my blog, so I haven't had anything new to write about here.

The biggest change in our kitchen is that we usually have to eat one at a time, or cut our food quickly so we can hold our baby girl. Why is it that she can be sound asleep, but as soon as she hears our plates hit the table, she's awake and screaming? And it doesn't matter if we eat at 6, 7, or 8, she knows when it is dinner time.

Ok, back to the food. I did make a few new meals over the summer, one of them being this Lemon-Honey Chicken. Actually, I made it a month ago, but am just now getting around to posting! I bookmarked the recipe a while back when I saw it
here on the blog Closet Cooking. I made a few changes, so my version is below.

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour for dredging
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 2 tbsp honey (I used 1 tbsp)
  • Added: 2 small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c chicken stock (I used about 3/4 c)

Directions

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper, coat with flour, shaking off excess
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan over high heat
  • Add the chicken and cook for 2 min per side, lower heat, and cook another few minutes per side until cooked through. Transfer chicken to a dish and keep warm.
  • Add 1 tbsp oil to the pan over medium high heat
  • Add ginger and garlic; saute until fragrant
  • Add the lemon zest, juice, honey, and stock. Bring to a simmer, reduce to thicken.
  • Serve sauce over the chicken (I made this a month ago so I can't remember exactly, but I am pretty sure I returned the chicken to the pan for the last 3-4 minutes of cooking).

This dish was very fragrant, actually a bit too much for Jon's tastes (too much ginger and still too sweet, even with just 1 tbsp of the honey). I agree with him on the ginger, so next time I'll use less, but I did like the sweetness from the honey mixed with the brightness from the lemon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Easy Peach Cobbler


This summer has been crazy hot. I knew it would be a hot summer since I was pregnant and due at the end of July - figures, right? On July 7 it was around 100 degrees and humid and I was due in 3 weeks. I had a client meeting during the day, and was exhausted that night, but craving baked peaches. I had been thinking of my grandmom's amazing peach pie for days, but no way was I up for making a pie. I did have some peaches hanging around, so I decided to make an easy peach cobbler.

I'm nuts - 100 degrees, 9 months pregnant, and turning on my oven to bake?!? And that was after tearing apart my kitchen and cleaning like crazy. Little did I know that I was nesting - I went into labor just over 24 hours after taking that cobbler out of the oven. While in the hospital waiting to have our baby girl, all I could think of was that cobbler sitting in my fridge, so the next day I had Jon bring me a piece - SO much better than hospital food!

Easy peach cobbler - recipe from
allrecipes.com.

Ingredients

For the peaches:

  • 8 peaches, pitted and sliced. The recipe noted they should be peeled too - I didn't have the energy or patience for that and they were just fine!
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (I didn't have any and didn't miss it)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp cornstarch

For the crust:

  • 1 c flour
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 c boiling water
  • 3 tbsp white sugar mixed with 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • In a large bowl, combine the ingredients for the peaches. Toss to coat, then pour into a baking dish. Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine some of the ingredients for the crust: flour, sugars, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Finally, stir in the water until just combined.
  • Remove the peaches from the oven and drop spoonfulls of the crust mixture over the top. Sprinkle the entire cobbler with the sugar/cinnamon mixture and bake for 30 minutes until bubbly.
This recipe was quick and easy, especially for someone who doesn't like to bake. It completely satisfied my craving for peach pie, although nothing will ever be as good as my grandmom's! I'm looking forward to making this in the fall with apples - Jon will love that one.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be back soon....

I haven't been in the kitchen for the past week, but I have a good reason. Jon and I welcomed our baby girl to the world on Friday, July 9! She's amazing and we are so in love with her!

I have an easy peach cobbler, a chicken pasta dish, and a fabulous Mexican dip to blog, and I promise I'll get to it eventually. And I'm looking forward to getting back in the kitchen as soon as we are in more of a routine and not totally sleep deprived!

So stay tuned, there's much more to come!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

New blog design!






Sunday, June 20, 2010

South of the Border Pasta Salad


This pasta salad is the perfect addition to any barbecue or picnic menu. It is bright, zesty, and colorful, and just a little different than your traditional pasta salad. I threw this together based on my love of Mexican flavors and ingredients, and everyone loved it.


The Salad
Mix all ingredients, toss with just a touch of olive oil, and chill in the fridge until ready to dress (1 hour before serving).

  • 1 lb rotini, cooked and rinsed under cold water
  • Chopped bell peppers - I used 1 each of a green, red, and orange pepper
  • 2 tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 c frozen corn
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • For serving: bowl of shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Optional: cilantro for topping (I completely forgot to put this out!)

The Dressing

Mix all ingredients* and chill until ready to dress. Shake well before pouring onto pasta salad.

  • 3/4 c olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed

* Note, my amounts are approximate. The oil, lime juice, and garlic are exact amounts; others were added and adjusted as I mixed. I recommend you start adding ingredients slowly and taste as you go.

For another unique pasta salad, check out my antipasto pasta salad.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saucy Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry


I love to read recipes.. that's right, I read the ingredients, directions, and can usually tell what I think will work, how it will taste, and what changes I could make either to make it better or suit my tastes. That is until I stumbled across this recipe for
Saucy Broccoli and Tofu Stir Fry (original recipe from Martin Yan's China). And that's because one of the ingredients was ketchup. But the blog author assured me that ketchup in Chinese food worked so I gave it a shot.

I'm glad I did - this was a thick and flavorful sauce that coated the tofu and broccoli nicely, ensuring I got a nice taste of sauce with every bite.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tbsp oil for cooking
  • 1 block firm tofu, pressed and cut into blocks
  • 2-3 cups broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c ketchup
  • 1/4 c Chinese rice wine
  • 1/4 c chicken broth (I used vegetable broth, and about 1/2 c)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1-2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (depends on how much heat you want)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • Squirt of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, more to taste

Directions

  • Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat
  • Add tofu and cook until browned to your liking; I cooked it for about 10 minutes.
  • While the tofu is cooking, mix the ingredients for the sauce - Mix the broth and soy sauce; add the cornstarch and mix until dissolved. Add the ketchup, rice wine, chili garlic sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Whisk, and adjust any ingredients.
  • Add the broccoli to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes; it will cook more once you add the sauce. Remove everything from the pan.
  • Turn up the heat to high and add 1 tbsp oil. Add the garlic and saute just a few seconds, making sure it doesn't burn.
  • Add the sauce mixture, and allow it to reduce/come to a simmer to thicken which will only take a few minutes.
  • Return the tofu and broccoli to the pan and toss everything to coat and heat through.

I served this over rice, and it made enough to have dinner, lunch the next day, and then a mid-afternoon snack.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Crispy Chicken Fingers

Last week I defrosted 1 chicken breast for myself, but had no idea what to do with it. I was tired, so something quick and easy was a must. I decided to slice the breast and bread the pieces for chicken fingers. A salad and oven baked fries and my meal was complete!

Crispiness is a must when making chicken fingers. I achieve it by doing a few things. First, repeat the process of dipping the chicken in flour then egg twice. Second, I use a mixture of panko bread crumbs and regular bread crumbs. Finally, I spray the chicken with just a touch of cooking spray and turn on the broiler at the end of the cooking time.

These chicken fingers were the crispiest, most delicious I have made. I dipped them in a bit of ranch dressing when eating htem; honey mustard, a creamy garlic dip, or a homemade barbecue sauce would work well, too.



Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, sliced into strips and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
  • First bowl: Flour - about 3 tbsp
  • Second bowl: 2 eggs mixed with some light cream
  • Third bowl: Bread crumbs mixed with panko. I seasoned the bread crumb mixture with a pinch of thyme, a few shakes each of onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, and dried parsley. I also added about a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese.

Directions

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees; put foil on a cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray.
  • Dredge each strip of chicken in flour, dip in egg, repeat. Transfer to bowl of breading and toss around until fully coated. Place on the cookie sheet.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes, or until fully cooked, flipping once. Turn on the broiler for 2 minutes at the end.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Grilled Brussels Sprouts

Jon and I love Brussels sprouts so when I saw this recipe for grilled Brussels sprouts on Cara's blog, I had to try them.

Ingredients
Like Cara, I just eyeballed the amounts -

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • About 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Good squirt of Dijon mustard
  • 2 shakes paprika
  • Touch of salt and pepper
  • You will also need 3-4 skewers; metal ones work best

Directions

  • Wash Brussels sprouts, trim off the ends and remove any outer leaves that are falling off.
  • Put them in a pot of water and bring to a boil for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove them from the water and toss with the oil, garlic, paprika, mustard, salt, and pepper
  • Once they are cool enough to handle, put them on the skewers with all sprouts facing the same way.
  • Grill for 10 minutes, 5 minutes per side.

Jon took this picture once they were skewered before taking them out to the grill.

Cooking...


We loved the flavor on these from the garlic and dijon, and the smokieness from the grill was nice too. They were a touch underdone, so next time I'd boil them an extra minute or two. The biggest surprise about them was that our dog ate one that I dropped, and was stalking me for more after that! Who knew.



Garlic-Lemon-Dill Grilled Chicken


There is nothing easier than cooking on the grill. I guess I can say that because Jon does all of the grilling... But he's so good at it, so why would I interfere?

Over the weekend we decided to grill chicken and wanted light and fresh flavors for the marinade. I took my inspiration from
this recipe for Garlic-Lemon Chicken Kabobs on the blog Loves to Eat. Instead of just garlic and lemon, we decided to add dill, fresh from my container garden of herbs. What a perfect addition! Some sort of yogurt dipping sauce would have been perfect with them... next time!

Ingredients
  • 3 trimmed chicken breasts
  • 3 cloves of garlic, put through the microplane
  • 1/4 c light olive oil
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • Zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 3 sprigs of dill, roughly chopped
  • A few turns of freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

  • Cut chicken into kabob sized pieces and put in a bowl
  • Mix all other ingredients and pour over the chicken. Marinate for 2 hours.
  • Put chicken onto skewers and grill; Jon starts with high heat and then cooks them at medium for about 15 minutes.

Here they are right off the grill -


We both really loved this chicken - the dill and lemon work so well together, and are the perfect combination for a light and fresh summer dish.

I served the chicken with grilled Brussels sprouts and
potato salad.







Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cinnamon Bun Muffins


I was going through my Google reader a few weeks ago and saw this post for Cinnamon Roll Muffins on the blog Cara's Creature Comforts. I said the name of the recipe out loud, and Jon stopped what he was doing, looked at me, and desperately pleaded, "make them now!!" He asked me to read off the ingredients while he went through the pantry to see what we had, and within 5 minutes he was out the door with a list on his way to buy the rest of the ingredients. Maybe he was having some sympathy cravings? I don't know what it was, but the man wanted the muffins! When he got back from the store, we made them together.

I'm not a baker, and don't own a rolling pin... so Jon improvised with a wine bottle. It did the trick!


Ingredients

  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 3-3.5 c flour

Filling Ingredients (these are 1.5 times the original recipe based on Cara's recommendation, and I probably used even more than the amounts below as I didn't measure this part, but went on how it looked)

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Icing Ingredients

  • 1 c powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp milk or cream (I used heavy cream)
  • Optional: splash of vanilla (I added it and liked the flavor it gave)

Directions

  • Measure the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and egg into a mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk, then the flour; stir until thoroughly combined into a dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a 12x24 inch rectangle and spread with the butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
  • Roll the dough into a log beginning with the wide side. Stretch slightly. Cut into two-inch pieces and put these pieces into greased muffin tins or cupcake liners.
  • Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Allow the muffins to cool for 5 minutes and then remove from the muffin tins.
  • Drizzle with icing; reheat in microwave for 10 seconds if needed.



While these muffins weren't the real thing - cinnamon buns - they definitely satisfied the craving!!


The next morning I reheated one for breakfast - just 10-15 seconds on reheat in the microwave was all it took. YUM!!






Saturday, May 22, 2010

Polenta with Gorgonzola and Sage



Polenta is so easy to make. I have had a tube of premade polenta in my fridge for a while (hmm, that long shelf life kind of worries me...) and I have been ignoring it because I'd rather make the real thing. Like this one that I made last time - Roasted Garlic Polenta.
Last week I picked up a pre-made crabcake for myself (I know, I know, but hey, I'm almost 8 months pregnant and felt like something easy and surprisingly, it was really good!!). I decided to make sauteed spinach and polenta as sides. For the polenta, I added the flavors of fresh sage and gorgonzola cheese.
Ingredients
  • 3/4 c stoneground yellow cornmeal
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • Approximately 1/2 c crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • If needed, salt and pepper to taste
Directions
  • Bring liquid to a boil
  • Add sage, then slowly start to whisk in the cornmeal. Continue to whisk until it thickens but is creamy, and pulls away from the sides of your pot - about 12 minutes.
  • Add cheese and continue to whisk
  • Season with salt and pepper if needed (I only used freshly ground black pepper, about 2-3 turns of the pepper mill)

The gorgonzola and sage couldn't have been better together. And look how creamy this is - yum!!!



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Pasta in a Creamy Leek and Tomato Sauce


One of my favorite things about cooking is when I just make things up as I go along. I love when I have ingredients to use up and don't know where I'm going with them, but end up with something deliciously satisfying.

Last week I had a craving for pasta, and had some leeks and tomatoes as well as some light cream that needed to be used up. I pulled together a very simple but flavorful dish - pasta in a creamy leek and tomato sauce. I was so happy with it that I'd definitely make it again.


Ingredients


Note - I didn't measure anything, so my amounts are estimated.

  • 1/2 pound pasta; I used Rotini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only; halved lengthwise then sliced (and cleaned thoroughly!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 vine ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tbsp dry white wine
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 c light cream
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil; cook pasta, drain, set aside
  • In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan
  • Add leeks and saute over medium heat until softened, about 8-10 minutes
  • Add garlic and saute 2-3 minutes
  • Add tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, and thyme
  • Add wine and stir until absorbed.
  • Continue to cook veggies another 3-4 minutes
  • Add cream and bring to a simmer, stirring often
  • Add Parmesan cheese, stir.
  • Add pasta, toss. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.

Asparagus in a Gorgonzola Sauce

As a kid, I would eat all of my veggies and salad, and would hide pieces of meat under the edges of my plate thinking it would look like I ate them. What kid would rather eat broccoli and green beans over meatballs and chicken? Me! On top of that, I married a guy who loves veggies. He eats all of them and even loves Brussels sprouts. Lucky me!!

So needless to say veggies are a big part of all of our meals and I'm always looking for new ways to prepare them.

Last year I starred a recipe for
Asparagus in Gorgonzola Sauce that I saw on the blog Closet Cooking. Cheese and veggies? Yes, please. I made it last week along with grilled chicken and roasted potatoes, but the asparagus was definitely the star of the meal.

The sauce starts out by sauteing leeks until soft. Even more veggies!

Ingredients (I increased the amounts of some of the ingredients; my version is below)
  • 1 pound of asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, cleaned, halved lengthwise, and sliced
  • 2 sage leaves, minced
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 2 oz gorgonzola, crumbled
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 3 tbsp breadcrumbs

Directions

  • Bring a pan of water to a boil. Add asparagus, remove after 2 minutes and run under cold water. Place asparagus in a baking dish in a single layer.
  • Heat olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
  • Add leeks and cook until softened, about 10 minutes, adding the sage halfway through.
  • Add the cream and gorgonzola; bring to a simmer and cook until it begins to thicken, about 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Season with just a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Pour the cream over the asparagus.
  • Top with breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  • Place under the broiler until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes.
This sauce was SO delicious. Gorgonzola is a cheese I just tried a few years ago and I love how wonderfully creamy and rich it is. Doesn't this look delicious?
The crumb and cheese topping was a great way to add some crunchy texture and extra flavor. This sauce would be delicious on chicken or potatoes, too.


Sugar Snap Peas with Sprouts


Sugar snap peas - they are the fat ones. I always confuse them with snow peas, the flat ones. Last week I made sugar snap peas with sprouts, ginger, and garlic.

I found the recipe in the blog
Pink Parsley. I starred it a while back to make along with the fish in the recipe. We did make the fish but were not fans - it may have been the sweet chili sauce I used. It tasted metallic or chemical-like. But the sugar snap peas were delicious.

The recipe called for fresh ginger, something I have only started to eat and cook with over the past few years. When a recipe calls for grated ginger, I love putting it through the microplane - you end up with a liquidy or pasty version of the ingredient, and it mixes into sauces, marinades, and glazes very easily.




Below is my adaptation of the sugar snap pea recipe, originally for a sugar snap pea salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil (feel free to use more if you love this flavor)
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb sugar snap peas
  • Handful of bean sprouts
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  • Heat olive and sesame oils in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat
  • Add ginger and garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes
  • Add sugar snap peas and stir, cooking until crisp tender, about 3-4 minutes
  • Add sprouts and saute another 2-3 minutes


I love how the sugar snap peas stayed nice and crisp - this is one veggie you definitely don't want to serve mushy (not that any veggies are good when they are mushy and overcooked). We both enjoyed this one!




Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Roasted Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

On Cinco de Mayo, I went out for Mexican for lunch - my favorite kind of lunch! I wanted to cook something Mexican for dinner, but since I had just enjoyed enchiladas, rice, beans, and nachos at lunch, I decided to go with Mexican inspired, instead.

Jon marinated pork chops in a tequila/chili marinade that he whipped up and then grilled them. I found potato inspiration in
this recipe for Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes.

I love roasting peppers and the smoky flavor they bring to dishes. Jalapenos are spicy, but roasting them brings out a deeper heat, not the on the surface, tongue burning heat you get from raw jalapenos. To roast them, I simply placed them on the grates on my gas stove top. I flipped them around a few times until all sides were black and charred. Then I covered them for 10 minutes before gently removing the skins.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 2 jalapenos, roasted, peeled, seeded, chopped, then mixed with 1/4 c light cream and a few dashes salt to puree
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 pt light (or heavy) cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Chopped chives
Directions
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Wash potatoes, halve them, and put in a pot of lightly salted water. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain.
  • In the meantime, transfer the jalapeno/cream/salt mixture to a blender and puree. I used my handheld immersion blender with one of the cup attachments since it was such a small amount.
  • Add jalapeno puree, butter, salt, and cream to potatoes. Whip until creamy using a handheld mixer; adjust salt as needed, add more cream and butter if you want to get them lighter/creamier. Note, I normally use my hand masher, but wanted light whipped potatoes for this dish.
  • Mix in the sour cream and transfer to a baking dish.
  • Top with the shredded cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has completely melted into the potatoes.
  • Top with chives and serve.
I wish you could taste these potatoes through your computer screen! The jalapeno added the best flavor - not overpowering, but deep and smoky with just a touch of heat. We both had seconds, and I have to admit that I finished the potatoes over the next 2 days... leftovers were great!









Friday, April 30, 2010

Sesame Udon Noodles with Peppers and Garlic



I always pick up different sizes and shapes of Asian noodles when I'm in a market that sells them. They are easy to toss with different sauces/oils/veggies for a quick side dish, so I love keeping noodles in the pantry.

A few weeks ago I picked up a package of Udon noodles -


Jon was making grilled beef kabobs (using
this recipe) and grilled veggies, so I made a quick sesame udon dish.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of Udon noodles
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Optional: sliced peppers

Directions

  • Cook noodles in boiling water; these noodles only took about 8 minutes to cook.
  • In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan or wok
  • Add garlic; if using, add peppers. Cook 3-4 minutes
  • Add sesame oil and soy sauce and stir until heated
  • Add noodles and toss to coat





Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera


Did you ever have one of those nights where you just can't figure out what you feel like cooking? Or you and your partner, spouse, family members, roommates, whatever, can't agree on chicken or beef or fish or something else? It's nights like these when I turn to a simple pasta and veggie dish, and if Jon wants, he can cook up some shrimp.

A while back I had seen
Giada's recipe for pasta primavera, a recipe a bit different from how I usually make it. Roasting veggies and then tossing with pasta and cheese? Sounds like a perfect "I don't know what I feel like cooking tonight" dinner. Below is what I did using Giada's recipe as inspiration.

Ingredients

  • Chopped veggies: I used 1 squash, 1 zucchini, 1 red onion, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 orange pepper, 1/2 green pepper, 1 carrot, and a handful of grape tomatoes.
  • 1/2 pound farfalle, or whatever shape of pasta you like
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning (mixed herbs)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss all of the veggies, except the tomatoes, with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once, and throwing the tomatoes in for the last 3-4 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta. Drain, reserving 1 c of the liquid, and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • Toss pasta with the roasted veggies and cheese. Slowly pour in the liquid, stirring. I used about half of it. Season with salt and pepper.

I normally saute my veggies and make just a touch of a tomato cream sauce when making a pasta primavera. I still love cooking it that way, but this recipe was a nice, fresh change, and it couldn't be any easier.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flounder with Garlic and Dill

This is a quick and easy flounder recipe that Jon created last weekend.

He took 3 flounder filets and put them in a baking dish. He drizzled them with olive oil, then sprinkled on some dried dill. Then he crushed about 1 clove of garlic over each. He let them sit in the fridge for an hour before baking on 375 for 12 minutes. When they were done, he garnished them with fresh chives.

Once again, I ate the entire piece of fish which is not something I normally do! I loved the flavors, and flounder has a great consistency if you aren't a fish lover - flaky, but not too soft and not too meaty.