Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes

Ok so I found a recipe on Dinner: A Love Story (the “Love Story”) site and it’s pretty simple and easy. A Greek style dish with sweet shrimp and tart tomatoes and lemon. But it triggered an idea – I have a book called The Olive and the Caper (the “Caper”) written by Susanna Hoffman, who wrote her book after over thirty years of extended stays in Greece and learning from local cooks, fishermen, bakers and housewives. Not only does she explore recipes and the food, but there is some great background on Greece, the food and culture. I do love this book!

On with my point now, I know. While reading the recipe I thought I should check the Caper, for I knew it was likely there would be something similar! Alas! I was right! Classic Shrimp and Tomatoes. Well the Caper recipe included dill – which I had none of, because I planned for the Love Story version. The Caper version called for wine and tomato paste. So I clashed the two and went on my way…

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I know some of you out there do not like capers (Kim!) but don’t run away just yet – use lemon juice instead to get the tanginess.

1lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon olive oil

1- 28oz can diced tomatoes, drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 /2 onion very finely diced

1 tablespoon capers and the juice (or lemon juice)

1/4 cup white wine

1 teaspoon dried oregano (neither recipe called for this, but it’s very Greek)

Kosher salt

2 cranks freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 400°

 In an oven safe skillet (no nonstick pans) sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil a few minutes until it becomes fragrant. Add wine and sauté for about a minute then add the drained tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and capers and cook for about 10 minutes.

Add the shrimp and get them down into the sauce. Cook about 3 minutes, stir and crumble feta on top of the sauce. Bake until the cheese has melted about three minutes.

Top with 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley. Serve with some crusty bread or over penne pasta.

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Takes very little time – this is a great weeknight dinner – I have added it to my regular dinner list.

January 29, 2011

January 31 – February 6

Now I know this month is going to fly by because we are getting ready to move. As much time as I think I have to prepare to move and pack it always creeps up on me. I have been tackling at least one room per weekend since we found out we were moving and getting ready to have a garage sale. This time I promised myself I would de-clutter, I have so much CRAP! How do we collect so much CRAP? Completely unnecessary so instead of lugging it all along with us to the new place we are getting rid of it – kicking it to the curb! So this month I am really going to be in need of some fast meals and be able to pull dinners out from the freezer. So I guess I better get on top of cooking a bunch on weekends while de-cluttering.

Last week I had to admit we didn’t follow much of the menu. There were a few things during the week that came up after work so we ate out twice and ate more left overs than I wanted.

Here is next week’s menu:

(Note: this Sunday (instead of spaghetti and meatballs) I am making a slow roasted pork shoulder from Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist column – which sadly is over after 13 years).

Mon.

Greek Shrimp Scampi w/rigatoni (Thank you Dinner: A Love Story)
(lunch: Meeting in the office)

Tues.

Roman Chicken (from freezer) – carried over from last week
(lunch: left over greek shrimp scampi)

Wed.

Sausage, onion, tomato hoagies w/green salad (This Week For Dinner)
(lunch: greek salad w/feta and kalamatas)

Thurs.

Asian Beef Bowl (recipe to follow, this is a great dish and easy to make, you will love it!)
(Lunch: Greek salad – w/feta, kalamata)

Fri.

Eat Out Night!
(Lunch: left over Asian Beef)

Sat.

To be announced –

Sun.

Roasted Chicken – redo (hopefully I don’t get another “bad” chicken).

January 27, 2011

Freezer Bread

The problem with bread in our house is that we barely get through half the loaf before it goes bad. So, instead of leaving bread in the pantry to mold (or in the fridge for the starches to crystalize and dry out the bread making it stale) I started to put my bread in the freezer.

When you need a piece of bread – pop it into the toaster and use it for sandwiches. Or pop it in the toaster just long enough to thaw the bread if you don’t like toasted bread.

Loaves of french or artisan breads thaw well in the microwave (be sure to use your defrost setting not the regular setting) 30 seconds at a time on the defrost setting.

Since I have been doing this, we haven’t wasted any bread in our house!

January 25, 2011

Asian Pork Noodle Soup

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So my kitchen organization and keeping items on hand in the freezer has really paid off! When, on Sunday, my chicken was unuseable, I had to readjust my weekly menu plan. Chicken Noodle Soup was on my list to use up the left over roasted chicken, so that had to be changed too. On Monday we ate the Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders. Tonight I pulled out some left over Roasted Pork Shoulder that was in the freezer.  When it comes to pork in soup, I just feel it should be with Asian flavors. So I decided to make it Asian Noodle Soup instead of Chicken Noodle Soup.

Some time ago I made an Asian pork soup soup, and regrettably I didn’t write the recipe down.  So I winged it tonight and took notes. This list of ingredients may sound long, but don’t get discouraged the soup comes together really fast! I would have liked to add cabbage to this soup too, so if you have it, shred some up and toss it in – it’s good!

2 carrots
2 stalks of celery
1/2 onion
1 clove garlic
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sriracha
8 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup Kikkoman Noodle Soup Base
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 cups cooked shredded pork shoulder
1 – package of ramen noodles
3 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Dice celery, onions, carrots, and garlic. Cook this mixture on medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Stir often so the onions and garlic don’t burn.

Stir in the sesame oil, Sriracha, broth, soup base, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil and let boil 5 minutes. Then add the noodles and cook 3 minutes or so.

Garnish with thinly sliced green onion and chopped cilantro.

January 25, 2011

Cornflake Crusted Chicken Tenders

So my dinner menu had to be changed a bit this week – the whole chicken I bought was no good. My garage fridge may have had something to do with it. So I am going to have to push out the chicken noodle soup to later in the week. For tonight I made the cornflake chicken strips (pictured below with garlic potato wedges).

Most often to get crispy chicken strips, they are fried and unhealthy, and while they are oh so good, they aren’t something you can eat all that often. And any you buy in the store, or even at restaurants,  are full of preservatives or pressed chicken – ick! But it is probably one of the things most kids opt for when out to dinner. I know chicken strips are one of my daughter’s favorites so I knew I wanted to make a good crunchy homemade version, full of flavor and not bland covered in flour that is not well seasoned.  Cornflakes are a great coating for chicken and keep crunchy when you bake them.   As with fried chicken season the coating generously with spices and salt and pepper, otherwise your coating will be bland.

1 pound of chicken breasts or tenders
1/3 c. parmesan
1 1/2 c. finely crushed plain cornflakes cereal (or ½ c. bread crumbs and ½ c. cornmeal)
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
salt and pepper
2 eggs
4T. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

Put the cornflakes in a plastic bag and press out all the air and seal the bag. Then toss the bag on the floor and step on it until the flakes are good and crushed (you can use a rolling pin or food processor too). Mix together the flakes, flour, onion and garlic powder and season generously with salt and pepper.

Mix butter and eggs. Slice chicken breasts into thin slices (or using tenders) and coat with the egg mixture then dip the chicken in the cornflake mixture.

Place the chicken on the baking sheet and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

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January 23, 2011

January 24 – 30

Throughout this week I have been taking note of great dinner ideas that have come my way – one I will use is the Sausage and peppers hoagie (got that from Dinner this Week).

Last week we followed the menu pretty good – didn’t get to the Cornflake Chicken Strips on Wednesday, which I am pretty bummed about – but I’ll save it for this week because those Potato Wedges are so, so good. As for lunch a few days were bumped by two working lunches – but that’s okay we had one of my favorite lunch places – which has fresh sandwiches, soups, salads and quiches. I love an Olympian Salad – with crunchy romaine, sweet and juicy  cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, salty kalamatas and pepperoncinis and tangy feta and topped with a balsamic vinaigrette – Perfect combination of YUM! I have incorporated my own version in my lunch menu this week.

Mon.

Chicken Noodle Soup (w/leftover roasted chicken from Sunday)

(lunch: turkey avocado blt) 

Tues.

Cornflake crusted chicken strips w/potato wedges (didn’t get to this last week)

(lunch: left over chicken soup)

Wed.

Sausage, onion, tomato hoagies w/green salad

(lunch: left over chicken strips)

Thurs.

Roman Chicken and Basil garlic bread (both from the freezer)

(Greek salad – w/feta, kalamata)

Fri.

Eat Out

(Toasty turkey sandwich w/fruit)

Sat.

Leaving open –

Sun.

Spaghetti w/Meatballs

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January 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies (w/Browned Butter)

While watching the Famous Amos cookie story on Food Network (awhile back) it became apparent to me that you can use brown sugar in place of granulated sugar in cookies. There may have been more interesting useful tips but since it’s been months, and I didn’t write anything down, all I remember was the use of brown sugar. Since then I have been trying recipes substituting brown sugar for some or all of the granulated sugar. Brown sugar makes a softer cookie and adds a nutty, caramel flavor and that is what we all want out of a cookie – soft chewy and flavorful. Next time I will try this recipe with all brown sugar (just to see what happens). And, really, who doesn’t like brown sugar! My daughter calls it “chocolate sugar” and I thought that was just about right – I love brown sugar just about as much as I love chocolate! Any recipe with brown sugar in the title sells it to me. Speaking of, a friend of mine gave me her extra copy of The Breakfast Book, by Marion Cunningham and this is such a great book – so much inspiration for breakfast! Anyway, there is a Chewy Brown Sugar Muffins recipe in that book – they are on the “to make” list. I drool just thinking of “chewy brown sugar.” 

Also in this recipe, I used what is called Fiori di Sicilia in place of vanilla and the orange zest. Fiori di sicilia is a mixture of citrus and vanilla.  You can get fiori di sicilia from King Arthur flour or google it. Of course if you want classic chocolate chip cookies use only vanilla and the recipe won’t be affect except for flavor.

(adapted from Bon Appetit Desserts book, classic chocolate chip cookie recipe)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp grated orange zest (I used ½ teaspoon of fiori di sicilia)
2 large eggs
2 cups of milk chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375° F.

1. In a small bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

2. Beat butter, sugars and extract in large bowl until creamy.

3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. I use my small ice cream scoop and scoop dough onto an ungreased baking sheet.

6. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Cool on wire racks.

Brown Butter:

Brown butter seems to be a new trend for desserts; my recent Bon Appetit magazine has a browned butter brownie recipe.  I have been seeing brown butter in lots of recipes lately. Brown butter smells so good and tastes just as good. You know “color adds flavor” and that is definitely true with brown butter. I usually brown my butter and then fry my eggs in it – Mmmm. You can use it in sweet and savory dishes – pasta, eggs, meat, fish, cookies, brownies, cakes – and more!

Technique: Brown the butter until the butter is foamy and starts to brown. You will see little brown bits in the butter and it will smell so heavenly!  Cool in the freezer or fridge until the butter until it is the consistency of softened butter so you can cream it with the sugar.  (see Chow’s how to brown butter)

(sorry for the lack of photos – I didn’t actually intend on posting this recipe when I made it – don’t ask me why)

January 19, 2011

Pan Roasted Pork Saltimbocca

Thomas Keller’s book Ad Hoc at Home is a great book for home cooks who really want to go above and beyond cooking just to eat. You don’t find the complexity from Keller you would anticipate. I was impressed to see Keller is down to earth and not so engulfed in his executive chef status and he can relate to those of us at home. Basic techniques every chef – home or professional should know, are shared in the book. It’s a great book (seems that has been my thing lately – books! So here is a recipe using one of those “basics” Pan Roasting! And this a weeknight friendly meal.

Pan roasting uses two techniques – sautéing and roasting. This technique is good for cooking a thicker piece of meat in a shorter amount of time (sounds to me like a fantastic weeknight cooking method!).   Searing the meat seals in the moisture and finishing it off in the oven cooks the meat the rest of the way through, more evenly than pan frying would.

2T Canola oil  (Canola oil has a higher smoking point than veggie oil and olive oil and flavor is mild)
Thick cut pork chops

For each Chop (1 chop per person):
1 slice of prosciutto, 1 sage leaf and a 1 inch slice of Fontina cheese 1/4 of an inch thick, or a larger thinly sliced piece.

Sauce– 2 chops double for 4 chops 
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1T flour
1tsp white wine vinegar
pat of butter

(You can make a balsamic vinegar sauce instead, omit the cream and white wine and just use the pan drippings, and balsamic vinegar, butter, salt and pepper – simmer the chops in the sauce – pictured below).

Set out pork chops and salt and pepper on both sides. Let sit for 30 minutes before cooking while heating the oven to 350°.

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Slice a 1 inch slit in the fat side of the chop. Keeping the opening only about an inch, use a small sharp knife to cut a pocket inside the chop, big enough to hold the stuffing.

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Roll up cheese and sage in the prosciutto and stuff the rolls into the pocket.

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Heat the canola oil in a sauté pan (oven safe no nonstick or plastic parts) over medium high heat until the oil is good and hot. Sear the chops on all sides about 3-4 minutes each side until you have some nice sear action on your chops.

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Finish the chops off in the oven for 10-15 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 170° (well) 165°(medium well).

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Remove the chops from the sauté pan and cover with foil. Add the wine to the sauté pan and reduce. Add cream, vinegar, salt and pepper. Finish off with a pat of butter. Place the chops over noodles or rice with roasted asparagus, drizzle sauce over chops and asparagus and finish off with some coarse sea salt.

If that doesn’t make your mouth water, I’m not sure what will…

January 19, 2011

Apple Goat Cheese Salad

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This is one of my favorites – I use it all the time for a dinner side salad.

1/2 apple
1/2 head of romaine lettuce
cucumber
tomato
1/4 cup goat cheese

Clean, dry then chop lettuce. Slice cucumbers into half-moons. Slice tomatoes into strips and apples into matchsticks. Sprinkle goat cheese. When ready to serve, toss the salad and dressing.

Vinaigrette

(I don’t measure the ingredients so these are estimates)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

Whisk vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Drizzle in the olive oil until the dressing emulsifies.

January 16, 2011

January 17-23 Menu

Sunday breakfast: doughnut muffins by King Arthur Flour – very good!

Doughnut Muffins

Okay this is the first of my weekly meal plans. As mentioned a few posts ago one of my goals this year is to become more organized and create a Menu and since I am sharing all aspects of my 2011 goals, here is the next part of it. My hope is that over this year I will end up with a collection of Go-To recipes that are easy enough for weeknight dinners, and some freezer friendly recipes ready prepared for quick use during the week.

For years now I have been planning my dinners by week, I will attempt planning my lunches too.  A few weeks ago I found a blog called This Week for Dinner where people share their weekly dinner menus – great site you should visit it if you want inspiration for ideas!

Monday

– Pan Roasted Pork Saltimbocca w/butter and herb orzo and green salad.

(Lunch: Egg Salad Sandwich, sliced apples & edamame)

Tuesday

-Make your own flatbread pizzas (flatbread dough made Sunday then frozen)

(Lunch: left overs)

Wednesday

-Cornflake Chicken Strips w/potato wedges and steamed broccoli

(Lunch: w/a friend -Thai food)

Thursday

– Ham ‘n Beans (from the freezer)

(Lunch: Turkey BLT w/avocado spread)

Friday

– Eat Out! (Tacos – my daughter loves tacos)

(Lunch: Toasted Turkey sandwich w/sliced apples)

Saturday

Roman Chicken (Freeze leftovers for next week)

Sunday

Roasted whole chicken and mushrooms (my favorite staple food) w/garlic and parmesan mashed yukon golds. (I am going to Roast my chicken this week with Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking – Style)

I warn you I am spontaneous and if I find a good recipe during the week that warrants cooking on the weekend I may change up my weekend plan.