Archive | October, 2010

Chicken Pasta with Cashew “Cream” and Mushrooms

21 Oct

This dish is amazing because it has all of the decadent creaminess and bold flavor of a cream and butter-based cream sauce with absolutely none of the guilt.  It is a little bit time consuming, but it’s very difficult to make a mistake on.  I had made the version from Aggie’s Kitchen months ago and fell in love with it, but just got around to adding my own “twist” to the recipe this week.  I have a feeling variations of this dish are going to be a much more common occurrence in the kitchen, because this was so wonderfully delicious and healthy I could eat it all of the time.  It also makes for great leftovers!

Chicken Pasta with Cashew Cream and Mushrooms

Serves 2 (plus leftover)

Adapted from Aggie’s Kitchen (adapted from Cooking Light)

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt

1 tbs. garlic powder

1 tbs. olive oil

2 tbs. white wine vinegar

1/2 cup whole cashews

3/4 cup water

Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt

2 tsps. garlic powder

1 tbs. olive oil

1/2 red onion, sliced thinly

6 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 box linguine pasta, cooked according to package instructions

In a large sauté pan, toast cashews until golden brown, shaking often, roughly three to five minutes.  Add cashews to food processor and process until very finely chopped.  Add 1 tsp. garlic powder.  While processor is running, slowly add water.  Scrape down sides.  Pulse in one or two second bursts until cashew “cream” is smooth.  It may be necessary to scrape down the sides a few more times as you are doing this.

Add one tablespoon of olive oil to large sauté pan in which you toasted cashews and heat over medium heat.  Add onions and mushrooms.  Keep heat at medium and sauté onions and mushrooms, stirring very frequently, roughly 15-20 minutes until onions are lightly caramelized.

Meanwhile, season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add chicken breasts.  Sauté about seven minutes per side, until golden brown and mostly cooked through.  De-glaze pan with white wine vinegar and cover pan.  Reduce heat to low or medium low and cook another 10 minutes or so.  When cooked through, set aside and keep warm.

To the onions and mushrooms, add cashew “cream.”  Bring to a low boil.  If the texture seems too thick, add a few tablespoons of water and whisk thoroughly.  Add cooked pasta to pan and toss to coat with cashew “cream” and to evenly mix vegetables.  Mix in chopped parsley, reserving a bit for garnish.

Slice chicken breasts widthwise into 1/2″ thick slices.  Top bowls of pasta with chicken slices and a few pinches of chopped fresh parsley.

Falafal and Fattoush Sandwich with Yogurt Dressing

18 Oct

This dish was a combined effort for Zak and I.  He made the fattoush salad, I made the falafel and the yogurt dressing and assembled the sandwiches.  This meal was fresh and delicious and makes for great leftovers.  Each component of this mouthwatering, refreshing sandwich would be  fantastic on it’s own.  If you are looking for a healthy crowd pleaser, this recipe is the way to go.

Falafel and Fattoush Sandwich with Yogurt Dressing

Serves 4

Fattoush Salad:

Salad:

Adapted from foodnetwork.com

2 hearts of romaine lettuce, shredded

1 large cucumber, cut into a small dice

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small red pepper, diced

1/2 medium red onion, diced

1/2 cup black olives, chopped

Toss all ingredients well to combine.

Dressing:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs. white wine vinegar

1 tsp. tahini paste

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together and add to salad.  Note that this recipe produces a lot of fattoush, so plan for leftovers.

Falafel:

Adapted from realsimple.com

2 15 oz. cans chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid, and rinsed well

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs, divided

2 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

In a food processor, combine chickpeas and lemon juice.  While slowly adding roughly 1/4 cup of reserved chickpea liquid, process the chickpea mixture until smooth.  It may be necessary to scrape down the sides of your food processor a few times or add additional reserved liquid or water to achieve a nearly smooth texture.  The final result should not be watery.  It should be firm to the touch and easy to roll into ball form.  Transfer to a large bowl.

Add red onion, red pepper flakes, garlic, parsley, 1/2 cup bread crumbs and kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  Mix well.  Roll into 12 or so balls and then flatten to form patties.

Place remaining 1 cup of bread crumbs on a large dish.  In another large bowl, add beaten eggs.  Coat each patty in egg and then bread crumbs.

Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add patties, working in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown on each side (roughly 3-4 minutes per side).  Add more canola oil as necessary.  Drain on paper towels.

Yogurt Dressing:

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp. lemon zest

1 tsp. ground cumin

Whisk ingredients together.

Sandwich:

8 mini-pocket pitas

Cut mini-pocket pitas in half.  Place about a tablespoon of yogurt dressing in each pita pocket half and use a butter knife to spread evenly on both halves of pita pocket.  Add a heaping tablespoon of fattoush salad.  Cut one falafel patty in half and add 1 or 2 patty halves to each pita pocket.

Beef Short Ribs over Jarlsberg Mashed Potatoes

17 Oct

 

Have you noticed yet how much I love short ribs?  Probably.  It’s mostly because they are such a hands-off protein that is guaranteed to turn out well so long as you adhere to the old “low and slow” maxim of barbecue.  They can be served with excellent results over basically any starch and with a wide range of flavor profiles.  You may have guessed I am particularly partial to short ribs with tomatoes, which is reflected in this recipe.  Mostly, I included it because the mashed potatoes over which these short ribs were served were absolutely divine.  They were also incredibly simple and had a large punch of flavor without the addition of any milk or heavy cream.  This was a hearty meal.  You could also serve this as a simple stew by removing the beef meat from the rib bones and shredding, simmering in the cooking sauce, before serving atop mashed potatoes.  I thought it was lovely as is, however.

Beef Short Ribs over Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

Serves 2

Short Ribs:

5-6 beef short ribs

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup all-natural, whole wheat flour

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tsp. garlic powder

4 whole marinated garlic cloves, smashed with flat edge of knife

1 15 oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with juice

1 tbs. garlic-flavored hot sauce

1 tbs. canola oil

Season ribs on all sides with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  On a large plate, combine flour, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic powder.  Roll short ribs in flour mixture until evenly coated with a light layer of the flower mixture.

Heat canola oil in a large sauté pan.  Add ribs and sear until well-browned, roughly 2-3 minutes per side.  Remove to a small casserole dish.  Add garlic cloves, whole peeled tomatoes with juice and garlic hot sauce to casserole.  Cover and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 200º.

Add ribs and cook roughly 9 hours until meat is tender and falling from the bone.

Jarlsberg Mashed Potatoes:

5 medium Idaho potatoes, rinsed and mostly peeled, diced into 1/2″ cubes

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, shredded

1/4-3/4 cups water reserved from boiling potatoes

If you do not want any skins in your potatoes, peel them completely.  If you want a lot of skins, do not peel them.  Generally, I peel the fattest part of the center, leaving the tips of the potatoes encased in the peels.  This leads to a rustic flair for the mashed potatoes but leaves a mostly creamy texture.

Boil a large pot of salted water.  Add potatoes and boil for roughly 25 minutes until potatoes are fork tender.  Drain potatoes, reserving a cup or two of cooking water (you probably won’t use all of this, but just in case!).

Add potatoes, salt, pepper, and grated cheese to a food processor.  Pulse in 2-3 second bursts 10-15 times until potatoes are mostly disintegrated.  Scrape down sides.  Slowly add reserved cooking water, a few tablespoons at a time.  After each addition of water, pulse potatoes and scrape down sides, testing for texture.  Continue adding water and testing until desired consistency.  Test for taste and add salt or pepper as necessary.

Serve short ribs over the mashed potatoes with a healthy ladle full of the braising liquid.

Zucchini and Ginger Frittata

16 Oct

For some unknown reason, I have never made a frittata before.  After the quickness and ease of this delicious recipe, though, I will certainly be adding fritattas to my rotation.  In order to make things easier on myself, I sautéed the vegetables earlier in the day so I simply needed to add the eggs and place it in the oven about forty minutes before I wanted to serve dinner (we’re big fans of breakfast for dinner).  I upped the ginger in proportion to the original recipe.  It was very strong, which we enjoyed, but if you aren’t a fan of ginger you might want to scale it down a bit.

Zucchini and Ginger Frittata

Adapted from Saveur.com

Serves 2

2 tbs. canola oil

1 tbs. minced fresh ginger

2 tbs. minced garlic

1 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms

2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and cut into 1/4″ slices

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 tsp. ground turmeric

3 tbs. all-natural, whole wheat flour, divided

1/4 tsp. baking soda

4 eggs, beaten

1 tbs. chives

1 tsp. sriracha sauce, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 400º (save this until later if you do this in two steps like I did).

Heat 2 tbs. canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add ginger, onions and garlic.  Cook until soft and translucent.  Add mushrooms and sauté until slightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.  Add turmeric and zucchini and season with salt and pepper.  Cook until zucchini is tender, roughly 10-12 minutes.  Stir in 2 tbs. flour and baking soda.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs.  Add to zucchini mixture and stir well combine.  Spray your casserole dish liberally with non-stick cooking spray.  Coat the sides and bottom of the baking dish well with the extra tbs. of flour (use more if necessary).  This will form a light “crust” for your fritatta, so try to make it as uniform as possible and be sure it extends to at least where your zucchini-egg mixture will fall in the casserole dish.

Pour the zucchini-egg combination into your casserole dish and use a spoon to make sure it’s even.  Top with snipped chives.  Bake in oven, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes until eggs are set.

Serve with sriracha sauce.

Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers with Tomato Sauce

13 Oct

Spicy, smoky, creamy, and comforting, this was the perfect fall meal.  Because stuffing peppers is admittedly a bit tedious and time-consuming, I split the preparation for this dish into two days.  The first day I roasted the peppers, skinned them, prepared the filling, and stuffed them.  I then placed them in the freezer.  They remained there until the night before I wanted to serve this dish, when I removed them and placed them in the refrigerator to defrost.  Then, all I had to do was simmer the sauce for about half an hour and pop the whole shebang into the oven.

This dish was definitely worth a little bit of extra work.  It had the perfect amount of spice and was filling without feeling heavy.  I ate the leftovers for lunch today atop some polenta and it was equally delicious reheated.

Stuffed Hungarian Hot Peppers with Tomato Sauce

Roasted Peppers:

9 Hungarian hot peppers

Non-stick cooking spray

Kosher salt

Preheat broiler.  Cover a large baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Place peppers on baking sheet and spray well with non-stick cooking spray.  Season with kosher salt.  Place under broiler, turning once, for about 15-20 minutes until the outer skins and charred.

Remove from broiler and place immediately in a ziplock bag.  Allow the peppers to cool.  Once cooled, remove charred outer skins (these are great to save for homemade beef stock).  Remove the stem.  Cut a single slit down the center of the pepper (if you tore the pepper as you were removing the skins, simply use that “tear” as your starting point.  Don’t worry if there are a few extra rips and shreds, as long as the pepper isn’t totally decimated it’s probably still usable.  Set aside.

Filling:

1 Cajun-style andouille sausage, casing removed and crumbled

2 hot Italian sausages, casing removed and crumbled

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into fine dice

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. dried parsley

2 tbs. fresh chives, chopped

Combine all ingredients well.  Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.  Take a pepper and lay flat on cutting board.  Using your hands or a spoon, take about 2 tbs. of filling and place in center of the pepper.  Wrap the pepper around the filling.  If the pepper will not close, remove a bit of filling.  Carefully move the pepper and set it, seam side down, in the casserole dish.  Repeat.  It is preferable if the peppers are in one layer, but if you have to nestle them on top of one another, that is okay.

You should have about 1 1/2 cups of filling leftover.  If you have less or more than that, don’t worry.

Sauce:

1 1/2 cups left over filling (basically, whatever is left after you stuff your peppers – don’t worry if you don’t have this much)

1 tbs. olive oil

1/2 cup Burgundy wine

1 15 oz. can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes with juice

1 tsp. garlic powder

Freshly cracked black pepper

4 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4″ slices

Preheat oven to 350º.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the leftover filling and sauté, stirring frequently, roughly 10 minutes or until sausage is browned and cheese is melted.  Add burgundy wine to deglaze the pan.  Let simmer until only about 1/4 cup remains.  Add tomatoes and juice.  Using a spatula, mash up the tomatoes.  Season with freshly cracked pepper and garlic powder.  Reduce heat to low or medium-low and cover.  Simmer 20-30 minutes, until juices are reduced by about half.  If necessary, continue to mash up tomatoes occasionally.  If liquid is not reducing, remove cover and simmer additional 5-10 minutes.

Pour sauce over stuffed peppers.  Arrange slices of mozzarella cheese over top of sauce.  Cover casserole dish and bake one and a half hours until heated through and cheese is melted.

Other:

1 cup jasmine rice, cooked according to package instructions

1 tbs. chopped chives, for garnish

Serve peppers and sauce atop a cup of cooked jasmine rice.  Garnish with chopped chives.

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