Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and Chickpeas

I love a good one-pot meal and lately I've been really into curries. I think it's because we discovered coconut milk was safe for Baby Girl. Or maybe it's because we can't get enough of the buttered naan I serve alongside. Whatever the reason, I've been wanting to make my friend Chelsea's chicken curry recipe for a while now and I finally put it on the menu this week.

Chicken curry with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas

This is one of those meals that is so versatile you could add whatever veggies you like, or whatever is lurking in your crisper drawer. Don't like carrots? Leave them out. Have some cauliflower approaching it's birthday? Add it in. Vegetarian? Leave out the chicken or sub in some tofu and switch to vegetable broth. The sauce is what makes this so good, so use your imagination.

Chicken curry with potatoes, carrots and chickpeas

The sauce is the best part of any curry, in my humble opinion, so I opted not to thicken this. If you prefer a thicker curry, add some cornstarch during the final simmer.

Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and Chickpeas
Recipe from my friend Chelsea

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
salt and pepper
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
3 teaspoons yellow curry powder
2 cups chicken broth, divided
4-5 small gold potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
3 carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 can coconut milk
Optional: sriracha or hot sauce, to taste
Minced cilantro, for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet. Cook until browned but not cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the onion, garlic and ginger to the skillet. Season with a little salt and pepper, then cook until the onions are softened.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil and the curry powder. Let the curry powder toast for about one minute, then add the potatoes, carrots, and chick peas. Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth, then stir to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Cover and cook until the potatoes and carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the rest of the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan again. Bring to a boil and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the chicken and any accumulated juices, coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and sriracha (if using) to the pan. Simmer until the sauce has thickened slightly (it will continue to thicken as it sits).

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice topped with chopped fresh cilantro.
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Friday, November 13, 2015

Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni

Another meal prepared by SP for Sunday dinner with my parents. He loves cooking this time of year because he's really into long-simmering, hearty, comfort food. We're big fans of Lidia Bastianich, so he turned to one of her cookbooks when deciding what to make. He chose Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni because we had a rack of ribs in the freezer that needed to be used up, but when he read through the recipe he realized we'd need more ribs. D'oh. Oh well, we'll just have to make these again.

Pork rib ragu

He made this while Baby Girl and I were away for the weekend, so we didn't get to smell the delicious aroma throughout the house as it cooked. But the end result...man, oh man. The meat was so tender you could just lightly pull on the bone and it would slide right out. Delicious. Comforting. Hearty. Everything you want in a Fall/Winter meal.

SP had to make two adjustments to the recipe - we can't easily find San Marzano tomatoes so he just used two cans of crushed tomatoes. He also couldn't find pickled cherry peppers, so he used banana pepper rings. Both worked just fine.

Braised Pork Ribs with Rigatoni
As seen in Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen

One whole rack (about 4 pounds) pork spare ribs
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced (about 3 cups)
8 garlic cloves, peeled
6 pickled cherry peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered (can also use mild banana pepper rings)
Two 35-ounce cans plum tomatoes (San Marzano) with their liquid, seeded and crushed (or 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 to 3 cups hot water, or as needed
1 pound rigatoni
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

Cut the rack of spare ribs between the bones into single ribs (or ask your butcher to do this for you.) Season the rib pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy braising pan over medium heat. Add as many of the ribs as will fit without touching. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs, drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining ribs. Adjust the temperature throughout the browning, so the fat in the pan is sizzling, but the pieces of pork that stick to the pan don’t burn.

Pour off all but about 4 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the onions, garlic and cherry peppers and cook, stirring, until the onions are wilted and caramelized, about 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to a boil, scraping the pan to loosen the brown bits stuck to the bottom. Tuck the spare ribs into the tomato sauce, season lightly with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat to simmering and cook, turning the spare ribs in the sauce occasionally, until the ribs are fork-tender, about 2 hours. Ladle some of the hot water into the casserole from time to time as necessary to keep the ribs covered with liquid.

To serve: When the ribs are almost tender, cook pasta according to package directions.

Drain the pasta, return it to the pot and spoon in enough of the spare rib sauce to generously coat the pasta. Toss in the parsley and bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, tossing to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 2/3 cup grated cheese. Transfer the pasta to a warm platter or individual plates and top with the spare ribs. Spoon a little of the remaining sauce over the pasta and serve immediately, passing additional sauce and grated cheese separately.
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Monday, November 02, 2015

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach

I started this post more than a year ago. I feel terrible for not sharing the recipe sooner, especially for such a superficial reason. See, I didn't like the picture I took. Silly, right? I hope you can forgive me.

Chicken stew with white beans

Winter is coming. And no, I don't mean that as a Game of Thrones reference. It may not be too bad now, but the cold and the dark are coming soon, along with snow and ice. This is my least favorite time of year. But this Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach is comfort in a bowl. I will probably make this once a month until April because it's just that good.


^^^ That's the picture I took a year ago and didn't like.

SP made this last night for Sunday dinner and doubled the recipe. We served it over rice with crusty buttered bread for dipping. The rice was the perfect accompaniment - I highly recommend serving it that way. The rice soaks up the sauce beautifully and, come on, rice and beans are a match made in heaven. Doubling the recipe worked well for 4 adults and 1 child. We all seriously loved it and, bonus, there were plenty of leftovers for lunch. I imagine this would freeze well if you wanted to portion out meals for later.

This is truly outstanding and I can't thank Elly enough.

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach
As seen on Elly Says Opa!

3 slices bacon, chopped
4 chicken thighs (bone-in, if you can find it, but boneless/skinless are fine)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
a couple dashes of crushed red pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon oregano
1 can cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper
Cooked rice and crusty bread, for serving

Cook the bacon in a Dutch oven until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Leave the fat in the pot.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, sear the chicken on both sides. Remove from the pot.

Add the onions to the pot and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and once the garlic becomes fragrant, stir in the tomato paste. Cook for 1 minute.

Add the wine to deglaze, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom and sides of the pot. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken broth, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Add the chicken back to the pot. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash about 1/3 of the can of beans with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon. You don't want a paste, but breaking up some of the beans will improve the texture of the final dish. After the chicken has simmered for 15 minutes, add the whole beans and the mashed beans into the pot. Cover and simmer for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Add the bacon and the spinach to the pot. Cook just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve over rice with some crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Roasted Tomato Soup

I'm not a soup person. Actually, I'm not a hot liquids person. I don't drink coffee or tea, I don't really like hot chocolate and I can take or leave soup. On second thought, I take that back. I like soup in small amounts, as a side dish or appetizer, but soup as a main dish doesn't do it for me. There are very few soup recipes I'll make more than once.

Roasted tomato soup

But this roasted tomato soup from my friend Cassie (who appears to have stopped blogging - what's up with that, Cassie?) is definitely going on the short list. Not only is it easy to make, it's delicious. The tomato flavor really shines and roasting the tomatoes gives them a wonderful depth of flavor. I served it with grilled cheese (duh) and salad and enjoyed every bite.

Roasted Tomato Soup
As seen on Cassie Craves, adapted from Tyler Florence

2 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart chicken stock
1/2 cup half and half

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wash the tomatoes, remove the cores and cut them in half (or into quarters if they're particularly large). Spread the tomatoes onto a baking sheet and drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all the tomatoes evenly, then roast for 30 minutes until caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Remove the tomato skins and discard. Set aside until ready to make the soup.

Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until onions are translucent and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the tomatoes, along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until liquid has reduced by a third. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. You can also use a regular blender or food processor to do this - just be careful not to overfill either since the soup will be hot. Over low heat, add the half and half. Cook for 5 minutes, then taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground black pepper, if necessary.
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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Guacamole

These turkey burgers were a happy accident. See, the plan had been to make my friend Jaida's Turkey Tikka Burgers. I've been thinking about them since she posted the recipe and I couldn't wait to try them. Unfortunately, both the curry paste and mango chutney available in our supermarket weren't safe for Baby Girl since they might contain nuts. Phooey.

Turkey burger with guacamole

Not to be deterred, I looked for a replacement recipe and remembered that I'd been wanting to try this recipe for Jalapeño Cheddar Chicken Burgers with Guacamole that a lot of my favorite bloggers made a couple of years ago. I happened to have everything but the jalapeno, which was fine because Baby Girl doesn't like spicy food.

These were absolutely outstanding. SP said, "this couldn't possibly be a turkey burger. Turkey burgers are dry and flavorless. This is incredible." And Baby Girl gave them two thumbs way up as she inhaled her dinner. I only had one pound of turkey and I graciously allowed SP to take the leftover patty to work today (grumble, grumble) but that just means I need to make them again soon.

Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Guacamole
Slightly modified from What's Gabby Cooking, seen on Annie's Eats

For the burgers:
1 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (or chicken)
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Juice of 1/2 small lemon
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for topping
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

To serve:
Burger buns

To make the burgers, combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix lightly until evenly combined. Form the mixture into 4-5 patties.

Preheat an outdoor grill and oil the grates. Or, you can cook these on a grill pan or non-stick skillet indoors. Coat whichever pan you're using with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Cook the patties 3-4 minutes per side, flipping once. A few minutes before the burgers are finished cooking, top with shredded cheddar cheese. Remove the burgers to a plate and let rest a few minutes before serving.

Place one burger on each bottom bun. Put guacamole and/or salsa on the top bun, or on the burger directly, and serve.

*Here's how I made the guacamole for this recipe:

2 ripe avocados
Juice from the other half of the lemon used in the burgers
Minced cilantro
Salt and pepper
A few spoonfuls of prepared salsa

Cut each avocado in half and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the avocado and toss to coat. Add as much cilantro as you like then season with salt and pepper. Add some salsa and stir to combine. Taste and season as needed.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Shrimp

We all love risotto. I see it as a blank slate, the perfect starting point for whatever combination of flavors you happen to want that day. I recently saw a recipe for Sweet Corn Risotto on Iowa Girl Eats and figured I better make it ASAP before corn season is over.

Shrimp and corn risotto

I've been on a shrimp kick lately, made possible by a sale on frozen shrimp at Acme. I love Ina Garten's method for roasting shrimp - it's so easy and flavorful. I threw in half a bag of baby spinach once the risotto was done for a little color and extra veggies and dinner was served.

Shrimp and corn risotto

This was wonderful with fresh corn, but I imagine I'll make this again multiple times this winter with frozen corn and it will be just fine. Don't let the fact that corn season is over deter you from trying this recipe.

Sweet Corn Risotto with Roasted Shrimp
Risotto from Iowa Girl Eats, roasted shrimp from Ina Garten

2 large leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced in half then into thin half moons
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups corn kernels (from 3 ears, you can also use frozen corn)
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large shallot or 1/2 small onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-lb shrimp (at least 21-25 or 26-30 count, you can go larger if you want)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 bag of baby spinach (3-4oz), roughly chopped

Important note: You need to soak the leeks before you start cooking. After the leeks have been cut as directed above, place them in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes. Swish them around a few times, making sure to separate all the pieces. Leeks are VERY sandy and you don't want grit in your risotto. After they've been soaking for 30 minutes, drain in a colander and rinse with fresh water.

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan then turn heat down to low to keep warm.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat then add corn, leeks, and garlic, season with salt and pepper. Saute until leeks are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl then set aside.

Melt remaining tablespoon butter in 1 tablespoon olive oil in the skillet then add the shallots and saute until starting to turn tender, 2 minutes. Add rice then stir for one minute. Add wine then stir until nearly absorbed by the rice. Add two ladlefuls of chicken broth then stir until nearly absorbed before adding another two ladlefuls. Repeat until the rice is creamy and al dente, 25-30 minutes. Be sure to taste the risotto when you're nearing the end of the chicken broth, in case you need more.

While the risotto is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and devein the shrimp. Place them on a sheet pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat, then spread them in an even layer. Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, just until pink and firm and cooked through.

Remove the risotto from the heat then stir in the Parmesan cheese, corn and leek mixture, and the spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve topped with the roasted shrimp.

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Chicken Piccata with Lemony Noodles

My family loves a good chicken and pasta dish so this recipe for Chicken Piccata with Lemony Noodles was right up our alley. Simple yet bold flavors from the lemon juice and the capers really make the dish.

Chicken piccata

I rarely make a full pound of pasta anymore and it didn't sound like there would be enough sauce, but I went ahead and made the whole box (actually, since I buy Dreamfields pasta, it was 13.25-oz) and there was too much pasta and not enough sauce. I increased the liquid below and decreased the pasta to 8 ounces. I think that will be a better ratio since hot pasta is like a sponge and soaks up all the liquid.

Chicken piccata

And one more photo because Baby Girl loves it when I photograph our plates together.

Chicken Piccata with Lemony Noodles
As seen on So Tasty, So Yummy

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup half and half, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon drained capers
8 ounces spaghetti, angel hair or linguine

Slice each chicken breast in half lengthwise. In a food storage bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add the chicken, seal the bag, and toss to coat.

Heat the butter and oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the broth, wine and lemon juice, whisk and scrape the bottom of the skillet. Cook until the sauce is reduced by half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low, stir in the cream and capers.

While the chicken and sauce are cooking, cook and drain the pasta. Toss the drained noodles with the sauce. Serve with slices of the chicken on top.
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