Sunday, November 29, 2015

Hawaiian Chicken

Other than crab rangoon and some dim sum, I am not a particular fan of Chinese food.  I'm not sure if it's the MSG or what - I just don't like the way I feel after eating restaurant Chinese.  In a pinch - well, OK.  But I don't have it on my regular rotation unless it's something I make myself.  This is a slow cooker chicken dish I pair with rice, roasted broccoli and sauteed pea pods.  If I'm feeling extravagant, I'll throw some chopped cashews on, as well.

Hawaiian Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 (20 oz) can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped ( buy a bag of sliced frozen)
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
Juice of one lemon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place chicken in the bottom of a crock pot that has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Place pineapple rings and chopped bell pepper on top of the chicken.

In a small bowl whisk together, pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, ginger, corn starch, and salt and pepper until brown sugar and corn starch is dissolved.

Pour the pineapple juice mixture over the top of the chicken.

Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or on low for 4-6 hours.

Slice the chicken breasts and serve over rice.

This week's recipe detective:  

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu 2015

Thanksgiving Menu - a little off the beaten path...

Seafood Stuffed Shells 

Roasted Squash / Brussels Sprouts / Red Onion  

Dessert:  Pumpkin Parfait (sweetened & spiced pumpkin and yogurt, layered with granola)

Dice squash.
Prep and halve sprouts.
Dice red onion.

Drizzle with olive oil, some rosemary and sage and toss.
Begin roasting while prepping the seafood shells,
(Toss the veggies now and then to roast evenly.  About 25 minutes at 400° if you do them on their own.  Longer at 350° if you do them with the shells.)

Drizzle with balsamic reduction at serving time.  You can also sprinkle these with pomegranate seeds.

24 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
1 tablespoon finely chopped green pepper
1 tablespoon chopped red onion
1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup butter, divided
2 cans (6 ounces each) lump crabmeat, drained
1 package (5 ounces) frozen cooked salad shrimp, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plus 4 cups 2% milk, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons seafood seasoning, divided
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
1-1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, saute green pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon butter until tender; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine crab, shrimp, egg, mozzarella cheese, mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon seafood seasoning, pepper and green pepper mixture.
Preheat oven to 350°. Drain and rinse pasta; stuff each shell with 1 rounded tablespoon of seafood mixture. Place in a greased 13x9-in. baking dish.
In a small saucepan, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and coarsely ground pepper; gradually whisk in remaining milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
Pour over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with remaining seafood seasoning. Bake, uncovered, 30-35 minutes or until bubbly. Yield:8 servings.

Leftovers for a few meals!!   
And we'll do a turkey roast the next time there is more than one person eating here.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pasta Fagiole

I grew up in a pretty stereotypical post-war town,  close to NYC.  The 60s were just beginning to see some racial and religious integration.  A couple of moves later, I found myself in college and in a much more diverse atmosphere - it was an education!  I think the greatest part of my education there was exposure to different thoughts, ideas, and cultures.  And of course, being in a large city (Boston), meant exposure to all the different neighborhoods and various cuisines.  I guess I'm truly a peasant at heart, though, because what always pulls me in is good simple home-style cooking.  This recipe may not be grandma's hours-on-the-stove version, but it's good, simple, and number one - FAST!

Following is a slightly more labor-intensive one I've made that I really like.  An immersion blender is a life-saver on this one!

Fasta-Pasta Fagiole

"pasta faZHUL" or, as my friends from Southie called it "fazh"

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 large celery stalk, diced
1 small carrot, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh sage or 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon salt + more to taste
2 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
1/4 pound (about 1 cup) small pasta like shells, elbows, or ditalini
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup (8 ounces) tomato puree or crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Black pepper, for serving (optional)
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

note:  I like to throw some cooked, chopped spinach into this, too.  I do cook it separately and add it in a dollop when serving, topped by the parm.  (I just don't like the "color" when I cook the spinach in with the broth.  And I have a thing about large cooked leaves of anything.  It has to be CHOPPED!! - Being picky, I know!)

Procedure:Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion, celery, carrots. garlic, sage, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook for 10 minutes

Increase the heat to medium and add the broth

Bring to a simmer and stir in the pasta. 

Cover the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until the pasta is tender—timing will vary based on the type of pasta you're using. (Stir now and then so pasta doesn't stick to bottom of pan)

Stir in the cannellini beans,  tomatoes and parsley and cook for a few minutes more, just until the beans are warmed through.

Taste to add more salt if needed and black pepper if desired.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

The pasta will continue to absorb liquid so this soup is beast eaten fresh. You CAN cook the pasta separately if you'd like and then add it to each serving just before serving, also.

If you have a "gotta have meat in it" person in your house, some cooked Italian sausage, either crumbled or in slices, and added at the end would round this out.

Not-So-Fasta Pasta Fagiole

Ingredients:2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 medium ribs celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (14.5 ounce) cans cannellini beans or chickpeas (or combination), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dried lentils, rinsed (preferably French green lentils, but any green or brown lentils are fine)
1 cup diced or chopped canned tomatoes, with their juices
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
3/4 cup dried pasta, such as elbow macaroni or ditalini (whole wheat is fine)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. 

Add the pancetta and cook about 5 minutes.  (melting the fat out) Stir occasionally.

Add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until the onions become translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. 

Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring constantly so the garlic doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

Add the wine and cook until it has nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. 

Add the broth, salt, pepper, beans, lentils, diced tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 15-30 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 cup of the bean mixture to a heat-safe dish and blend until smooth.

Add the dried pasta to the pot and stir.  Cook until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, anywhere from 8-12 minutes depending on the type of pasta you used. 

Discard the bay leaves.

Stir the reserved puréed bean mixture into the soup and cook briefly until soup is heated through.

Remove the soup from heat and stir in the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Add more broth is the soup is too thick. Season with S/P. 

Ladle the soup into bowls. Drizzle each portion with a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with more cheese, if desired.

The pasta and lentils will continue to absorb liquid so this soup is beast eaten fresh. You CAN cook the pasta separately if you'd like and then add it to each serving just before serving, also.

This week's recipe detective was Kate Richardson:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Orecchiette and Sausage

This is a great meal for keeping the kitchen cleaned up - it only takes one pan!!!  I always like to add just a bit more broth so it's more like soup.  Great with slices of garlic bread and a nice white wine!! If you can't find orechiette (little ears), any small pasta, like shells, will do.

Orecchiette Pasta and Sausage

olive oil
1 onion sliced
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
6-7 cup chicken broth, as needed
3 c orecchiete pasta
1 cup chopped arugula (or spinach or combination)
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese


Saute onion, S/P and red pepper 5-7 minutes until onion is golden.  Throw in the garlic for the last minute of sauteing.

Stir in the sausage (remove from casings if you bought links) and saute, stirring until the sausage is broken up and browned - about 7 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 c chicken broth to mixture and scrape up the bits that have stuck to the pan.  Add the pasta and cook, adding more broth as needed, until the pasta is cooked through and most of the broth is absorbed - takes about 12-15 minutes.

Stir the arugula/spinach in and stir until the leaves wilt.  Ladle the pasta into bowls to serve and top with a good sprinkling of the Parm.

This week's recipe detective was GSDMom!



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Chicken Paprikash

So simple!!!!  I think this was the first official "recipe" I made when I began actually cooking dinner for my family.  I love almost anything with a sauce and love it even more if it has sour cream!!  LOVE sour cream!!!   This makes a simple, but elegant meal with lots of flavor.    Reheat leftovers, if you have any,  gently - partial power in the microwave, so you don't separate the sauce into a curdled mess.

Chicken Paprikash

about 3 lbs chicken pieces (or about 2 pounds boneless thighs)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 large Anaheim or green pepper, chopped (you can leave the pepper out if your don't like it - you            can also use red peppers instead)
2 heaping T paprika (Sweet Hungarian)
1/2 c dry white wine
1 1/2 c crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons flour – all-purpose

parsley (optional garnish)

Use paper towels to dry the chicken. 

Sprinkle the chicken with S/P

Melt the butter in a large pan and brown the chicken about 6 minutes on one side and then again on the other.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the chopped onion and pepper. Cover the pan and let the veggies "steam" for a few minutes, then remove the cover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to get a golden brown color (this takes a bit of time for the sugars in the veggies to caramelize - but you WANT to spend the time - adds an entire layer of flavor)

Add the paprika and cook, stirring constantly for about 30 seconds (heating spices releases the oils ins them).

Add the wine, tomatoes, and chicken stock, and more salt, if desired, and then return the chicken pieces along with any juices from the plate

Bring to a boil, cover and turn down the heat to simmer. Let the chicken simmer for 30 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, prepare any side vegetables and some cooked noodles - keep them warm when they're done. (Paprikash is really awesome with spaetzle - little dumplings - but learning to cook those is another story.  Some like this over mashed, but I have to go with the noodles!  Any kind of pasta will do - but find one that has some kind of texture to it to catch up all that wonderful sauce!)

Combine the flour into the sour cream and stir until there are no lumps.

When the chicken is done, turn the heat off and stir a small ladleful of the broth into the cream and stir. Keep adding one small ladleful as a time, bringing the temperature of the cream up to the temp of the broth (If you add sour cream directly to hot liquid you will get a curdled mess.) Once the sour cream is quite warm, pour all of it into the pot and stir to combine. DO NOT LET THE SAUCE BOIL - AGAIN, IT WILL CURDLE. Turn the heat back on to low and cook gently, stirring until the sauce has thickened.  Serve over noodles.

Crack a little black pepper over the top and garnish with parsley, if desired.

This week's recipe detective was: