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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Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Raise your hand if you're mourning the end of summer. I know I am. I love everything about summer - the warmth, the sun setting later, the pool, the beach, kids playing in the backyard before bed. I'm not one of those people who looks forward to fall with its cooler temps, sweaters and boots. Give me t-shirts and flip flops any day.

But, alas, summer is winding down. The good news is, this is the time when Jersey tomatoes are still at their best and there's no better way to showcase them than in caprese salad. I'm not usually one to mess with perfection. Caprese, with its creamy fresh mozzarella and red ripe tomatoes sprinkled with basil is my idea of a perfect summer meal. I love to eat it plain or tossed with pasta.

Caprese with warm bacon dressing

Then I saw this recipe for Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing. I was skeptical at first. Bacon on caprese? With red wine vinegar? Admittedly, I'm not a fan of balsamic on caprese, so I was hesitant to try this. But I'm so glad I did. We had this with my parents for Labor Day dinner and we were fighting over it. The crispy bacon is the perfect contrast to the mozzarella and tomatoes and the warm dressing, with just the right amount of tang from the red wine vinegar, is addictive.

Caprese Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing
As seen on Fake Ginger, adapted from Southern Living

2 1/2 pound beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, finely minced
6 thick bacon slices, chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella on a serving platter. Sprinkle with the minced basil.

Saute the bacon pieces in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat to a small bowl. Let stand for 1 minute, then whisk in the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add the bacon pieces to the dressing and stir to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the salad right before serving.
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Friday, September 04, 2015

Recipe Redo: Texas BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

I've been making these Texas BBQ Chicken Quesadillas for years but I've never blogged them properly, with an actual recipe and a decent photo. I made them for dinner tonight and figured now was as good a time as any, seeing as some Facebook friends were asking for the recipe.

BBQ chicken quesadillas

Use your favorite BBQ sauce for the chicken. We like Dinosaur sauce.

Texas BBQ Chicken Quesadillas
As seen on Allrecipes

2 tablespoons oil
2 onions, sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon honey
2-3 chicken breasts, diced
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
cooking spray
4 10-inch (burrito size) flour tortilla
shredded Mexican cheese

Preheat the oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to caramelize, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Turn the heat down if the onions are browning too quickly. You want them to be soft and deeply brown. Mix in the honey and stir to combine. Remove the onions to a bowl and set aside.

Put the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan and add the chicken. Cook over medium high heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in the BBQ sauce to evenly coat the chicken.

Coat a griddle pan or large, flat skillet with cooking spray and add one of the tortillas. Heat over medium heat until hot, then add one of the tortillas. Cook until the tortilla is lightly browned on both sides. Remove the tortilla to a cutting board and repeat with the other 4 tortillas.

While the other tortillas are cooking, start assembling the quesadillas. Lay one tortilla flat and add some shredded cheese to one half. Top with a quarter of the onions and a quarter of the chicken. Add some more cheese, then fold the tortilla in half. Place on the prepared baking sheet. As the other tortillas brown, assemble in the same way.

Once all the quesadillas have been assembled, put the baking sheet in the oven for about 10-15 minutes to melt the cheese.
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lemon Parsley Turkey Meatballs in Curry Sauce over Coconut Rice

I've become obsessed with meatballs.

Turkey meatballs coconut rice

My friend, Jaida, posted this recipe for Lemon Parsley Turkey Meatballs with Lemon Coconut Curry Sauce and Lemon-Coconut Rice (sorry, Jaida, I had to shorten the name) last month and I couldn't wait to make them. She came up with this one all on her own, which is pretty amazing if you ask me.

We're also obsessed with coconut rice in this house and these delicious, light meatballs in a drinkably good curry sauce were the perfect thing to serve on top. I decided to make a few changes to Jaida's original recipe to suit our tastes and it did not disappoint. I'm already plotting when I can make it again.

Lemon Parsley Turkey Meatballs in Curry Sauce over Coconut Rice
Slightly modified from Sweet Beginnings

Lemon-Parsley Turkey Meatballs
1 lb ground turkey
Zest and juice of 2 medium-large lemons
1/4 cup parsley leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon olive oil

Coconut Rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup long-grain rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water

Curry Sauce
1 can, plus what's left in the can used for the rice, coconut milk
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients, except the olive oil. Gently mix with your hands until well combined. Take about 2 tablespoons of the meat at a time and form into balls. Place each meatball on a plate and repeat with all the meat. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and swirl around to coat the bottom of the pan. Once hot, add the meatballs so that they are not touching. Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, until all sides are browned. Reduce the heat to medium.

While the meatballs are cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add the rice and stir to coat each grain evenly. Toast the rice for a few minutes, until you start to see brown spots. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit while you finish the meatballs and sauce.

Put all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring occasionally, while the meatballs cook. Once the meatballs have been browned, carefully pour the sauce over the meatballs. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

Serve the meatballs and sauce over the rice.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grilled Ciabatta Bread Salad

My friend Mary Ellen made this Grilled Ciabatta Bread Salad for us twice before I finally got off my butt and made it myself. It's one of SP's favorite salads so he's been bugging me to make it.

Grilled bread salad

We have a charcoal grill, which makes it harder to control the heat of the fire. My bread got pretty blackened so I had to cut some sections off (I really dislike overly charred food), but that was no big deal. This made a TON of salad, way more than the three of us could eat, so next time I'll cut the recipe in half or just make it when we have company.

Grilled Ciabatta Bread Salad
As seen on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 cup good olive oil, divided
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1 6-oz bag baby spinach
2 tomatoes, chopped
blue cheese or feta crumbles, to taste

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Salt, pepper and oregano, to taste

Place onions, cilantro and 1/2 cup olive oil in a large bowl and toss together. Let marinate in the fridge while you grill the bread.

Slice the bread into two long halves. Spray or brush with cooking spray/olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill until charred on both sides.

Let the bread rest until it's cool enough to handle, then chop into 1 inch pieces. Add bread cubes to the onion and cilantro mixture, along with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. Chill at least 30 minutes.

Before serving, add the tomatoes, spinach and cheese. Toss with the balsamic (start slowly and add to taste), salt, pepper and oregano to taste. Serve immediately
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Monday, July 06, 2015

Fried Rice

One of T's contributions to our Asian dinner was Fried Rice. But in true form, she managed to be busy when it was time to cook the rice so the task fell to me. I pick on her about this all the time, her knack for finding something else to do when I'm in her kitchen so she's off the hook for cooking. I actually don't mind - I love cooking in her kitchen. There's so much room!

Asian night
(all photos by T. Casey)

Anyway, let's talk about this fried rice. T did all the prep the day before (a must when making fried rice - the rice needs to be pre-cooked and cold) so all I had to do was throw it all together in her huge cast-iron skillet.

Asian night

This was outstanding. So fresh and flavorful. T doubled the recipe for our dinner and it was enough to feed 6 adults, 2 kids plus two of T's adult kids who scrounged the kitchen for leftovers after we'd eaten.

Fried Rice
As seen on Gimme Some Oven

3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 eggs, beaten
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
4 cups cooked and chilled short-grain white rice
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Heat 1/2 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Add the beaten egg, and cook until scrambled, stirring occasionally. Remove egg to a separate plate.

Add an additional 1 tablespoon butter to the pan and heat until melted. Add carrots, onion, peas and garlic, and season with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes or until the onion and carrots are soft.

Increase heat to high, add in the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and stir until melted. Immediately add the rice, green onions, soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir until combined. Continue stirring for an additional 3 minutes to fry the rice. Then add in the eggs and stir to combine. Add the sesame oil, stir to combine, and remove from heat.

Serve warm.

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