Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tortellini with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes (with Shrimp)

A while back I bought a club pack of cheese tortellini. That's two, 20-ounce packages of tortellini. The first dish I made was a total flop, so I really wanted something great for the other package. I did a few searches and nothing was jumping out at me. Apparently most people use tortellini in soup, which I didn't feel like making, or they just toss it with a simple sauce. I wanted a flavorful, complex sauce to balance the blandness of the tortellini (let's be honest, cheese tortellini aren't exciting on their own).


I finally stumbled on this AMAZING recipe for Tortellini with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes. Seriously, this was SO GOOD. Even Steve, who hates sun-dried tomatoes, loved this meal. I bulked it up with some cooked shrimp, but you could also use chicken or sausage, or leave out meat all together.

I can't wait to buy another club pack of tortellini so I can make this again!

Tortellini with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Modified from The Brown Eyed Baker

1 lb shrimp, chicken or Italian sausage (optional, see note)
20 oz cheese tortellini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese
7 ounces baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 (7-ounce) jar julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil

Boil the tortellini according to the package directions.

While the tortellini is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until a paste is formed. Whisk in the heavy cream, half-and-half and chicken broth. Season with a little salt and pepper, then add the Parmesan cheese. Simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, sun-dried tomatoes (fish them out with a fork. You want some of the oil in the sauce but not the whole jar's worth), and shrimp/chicken/sausage, if using. Once the spinach is wilted, add the cooked and drained tortellini and stir to coat the tortellini with the sauce. Serve immediately.

NOTE: If you want to bulk this up a bit, you can add cooked shrimp, chicken or Italian sausage. I used shrimp that I seasoned with salt and pepper then seared in a hot skillet with a little oil. Once the shrimp were cooked I cut them in half (or thirds if they were big) so they were bite-size. If you want to do chicken or sausage instead, cut them into bite-size pieces and cook in a skillet with a little oil (be sure to season the chicken with salt and pepper).
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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole

Do you ever make a recipe and just know that it's going to be something you make again and again and again? This Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole is one of those recipes. Not only was it delicious, it was one of the easiest meals I've ever made.

Chicken noodle soup casserole

The beauty of this recipe is two-fold:

1. Everything bakes together in a casserole dish so you don't even have to worry about food splatter on your stovetop.
2. It's hearty and comforting for those chilly nights.

To make this even easier, I used rotisserie chicken (I've been buying rotisserie chickens and freezing the meat in small portions for pizzas or recipes like this one) and prepped the celery, carrots, onion, thyme and garlic the night before. I made this for Halloween night since Steve and Katie like to have a quick meal before heading out for candy. I dumped everything in a huge bowl, mixed it all up, popped it in the oven to bake, steamed some green beans and called it dinner. So, so good.

The only issue was some of the pasta wasn't fully submerged in the broth so it didn't cook properly. I'm hoping that's easily solved by giving this a quick stir halfway through the cooking time. I can't wait to make it again!

Chicken Noodle Soup Casserole
As seen on The Seasoned Mom

2 cups diced, cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken works great)
2 celery stalks, diced
2 large/4 small carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 large onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
2 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
12 ounces uncooked rotini pasta (I used shells)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Spray a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl), stir together cooked chicken, celery, carrots, onion, thyme, garlic, uncooked pasta, chicken broth, and salt until well mixed. Pour into the baking dish and spread evenly.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 40 minutes, uncovering to stir halfway through to make sure all the pasta has a chance to cook.

Uncover and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Bake uncovered for 5-10 more minutes until the cheese is melted. Let cool for a few minutes before serving.
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Sunday, October 01, 2017

Indian Spiced Chicken Stew with Potatoes

My friend Lidia recently recommended this recipe for Indian Spiced Chicken Stew with Potatoes. I couldn't wait to make it, but not while it was still 85+ degrees. I'm one of those people who can only eat cold-weather food when it's cold. Soups/stews, chili, hearty baked pastas...all too heavy for me in the warmer months. As soon as the weather cooled off, though, this went right on the menu.

Indian chicken stew

Since this takes upwards of 3 hours to cook, I decided to make it on Saturday for Sunday lunch with my parents. I figured the stew would only get better sitting overnight and I was right. This was INCREDIBLE. The subtle Indian spices, the creamy, cool sour cream, the aromatic rice and the buttery naan were just fantastic together. I doubled the recipe and we barely had enough for lunches the next day. So, so good.

Indian chicken stew

This is one dish I'll be making often now that winter is coming (sob!)

Indian Spiced Stew with Chicken and Potatoes
As seen on Seasons & Suppers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large skin-on/bone-in chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 - 3/4 teaspoon cayennne pepper (I left this out)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus a bit more thinning, if necessary)
3/4 cup tomato purée
1/2 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)
1/2 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into wedges
Chopped fresh cilantro/parsley/mint, for serving
Sour cream or plain yogurt, for serving
Basmati rice
Buttered naan

Heat vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper and place skin side down in to the pot. Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

To the same pot, add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown, about 8–10 minutes. Add tomato paste, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, coriander, salt, cayenne (if using) and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 4 minutes.

Add the chicken, broth, tomato purée, and cream to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is almost falling off the bone and liquid is slightly thickened, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove chicken to a plate and let cool before removing the skin and bones. Cut or pull chicken into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

Add the potatoes to the pot and cook, partially covered, until fork-tender, about 30-45 minutes. Stir the stew every so often to make sure the sauce hasn't thickened too much and potatoes aren't sticking to the bottom of the pot. If sauce is too thick, thin with a bit more chicken stock. When the potatoes are tender, add the chicken back to the pot and stir to combine.

Before serving, sprinkle with chopped cilantro, parsley or mint. To serve, spoon stew into a shallow bowl with basmati rice and/or naan on the side. Serve with a large dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

NOTE: This can (and should) be made ahead. Keep it refrigerated, for up to 3 days, in the Dutch oven you used to make it. Just re-heat over low heat when ready to serve, thinning with a bit of chicken broth, if necessary.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

{REVIEW} Wegmans Shopping via Instacart

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. Wegmans didn't compensate me for this review, or even know that I'm doing it. As home grocery delivery becomes the new "it" thing, I wanted to review this service since it's still relatively new compared to those that have been around for a while.

Wegmans has started rolling out delivery in certain areas via Instacart. Click here to check to see whether they're available in your area. Since this is a new service it isn't as widely available as other grocery delivery services. I was actually surprised it was available for me since the closest Wegmans is a good 30 minutes from my house. And, a friend who lives in the same town is not able to use the service yet despite being less than 5 miles away from me.

Getting started: First, you plug in your zip code to see whether the service is available where you live. Then they ask for your actual address to make sure delivery is available (see the note above about my friend). If delivery is available, you set up an account. You'll create a profile with your address, contact info., Shoppers Club Card and credit card for ordering.

Ordering: This took some getting used to, mainly because you have to be willing to hunt if the item you want in the size you want doesn't immediately appear when you search. Initially I thought I could only buy the cheddar cheese we like in a 2-lb brick. With a little searching I was able to find it in the usual 8-oz package. I'm sure now that I've done it once it won't be so difficult the next time.

Wegmans order

You can also create lists or add all the items from your last order to a new order.

Wegmans order

You can also leave comments/instructions on items. For produce I made specific requests on almost every item. I did the same for deli meat (I like it paper thin). You leave the note where it says "Add Note for Shopper":

Wegmans order

Price: There's a disclaimer that says prices are higher than in-store, but it was very negligible because my bill was on par with what we usually spend. I got free delivery on my first order (which is not nearly as nice as some other services that offer free delivery for up to 60 days) and $10 off with a coupon code. You can also link your Shoppers Club Card in your account to get their discounts automatically applied.

You can add a tip for your shopper before you pay. Note: they include a 10% service charge which you DO NOT need to accept. Just click "change" and waive that fee. That service charge is NOT the tip, which means it doesn't go to the shopper. We prefered to tip the shopper rather than give more money to Instacart, but that's up to each person to decide.

If we like the service we'll pay $149/year for unlimited delivery. This works out to less than $3/week, which is less than we'd spend on gas to get to the closest Wegmans. So that's a no-brainer right there.

Choosing a delivery time: They offer same-day delivery, sometimes within the hour, depending on availability. When I placed my order there were multiple one-hour time slots available. However, I assume weekends are their busy times so if you want Saturday delivery, I'd suggest ordering well in advance. They also charge a higher delivery fee (assuming you don't purchase their one-year plan) for busy times. I placed my order on Wednesday for Friday delivery. That way I had plenty of time to modify my order, if necessary. I always forget at least one thing, and I ended up adding three things to my order between Wednesday and Friday.
The app: I signed up for texts alerts if there were any changes to my order (i.e. something was out of stock). The app is very easy to use. I actually used it a few times before shopping began to add items I'd forgotten to include during my initial order. You can do that up until shopping begins.

Shopping: As Nicole, my shopper, was doing her thing I'd get texts alerts if an item had to be replaced. This happened 5 times for various things and only once did I request a refund vs. going with the alternative. When you get the text about the swap, you go into the app and either approve the substitution, look for other options or request a refund. Easy peasy.


Delivery: I got another text, and an estimated arrival time, once Nicole was on her way to my house. She arrived about 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Packaging: All the items are in the same disposable plastic bags you'd get if you were shopping yourself, which is nice. We reuse those bags, or they can be recycled. I do wish there was some way to give them our reusable bags, or pay a bit extra to use theirs.

Wegmans order

Quality: We did have some minor issues. I asked for large onions and the ones in the bag are what I received (the onions we normally buy are on the left for size comparison). I guess I need to be very specific next time. We also ended up with a half gallon of milk when I ordered a quart, but that's not a huge deal. The red grapes were not the healthiest looking grapes I've ever seen, but they'll do. Otherwise, everything was pretty much what Steve would have chosen if he'd been the one doing the shopping.

Wegmans order

Verdict: All in all we were thrilled to have someone else spend the time doing the shopping and deliver the items straight to our house. Two thumbs WAY up.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Curry Rice with Shrimp and Peas

I'm a big believer in meal planning. I started back in 2005 when we were saving for our first house. We had a weekly food budget of $50 (!!) and actually brought a calculator to the supermarket, wrote down prices as we shopped, added up the total before we went to the register and put items back if we went over our budget. We also stopped eating out altogether.

I quickly realized that the only way to make this method work was to decide ahead of time what we'd be eating for the week and use those recipes to make our shopping list. I can honestly say I have no clue what we did for dinner from 2002 (when we started living together) to 2005 (when I started meal planning). How did we decide what to eat? How did we grocery shop? It's a total mystery.

Even though some weeks I have zero inspiration and every recipe in my massive collection sounds meh, I will never give up meal planning. Not only does it save money, we waste less. At the end of the week our fridge is mostly empty. That's such a source of pride for me, being able to use everything we buy. And I also love knowing ahead of time what we'll be eating on any given day. It takes all the guesswork and stress out of dinnertime. Sure, there are times when a recipe flops and we order pizza, or life gets in the way and we have to switch days around, but I'd say 95% of the time it works.

So what does that have to do with this recipe. Since my friend Nicole posted this recipe for Spiced Chicken and Rice I've looked at it countless times as I'm sifting through my recipes for inspiration for the coming week. I actually had it as a tentative plan a number of times but it always got pushed back for some reason. This week we had a bunch of meals involving chicken in our plans, so Steve suggested I swap the chicken for shrimp. What can I say, the man is brilliant.

Curry shrimp and rice

I had to modify the recipe a smidge to keep the shrimp from overcooking, but the flavor profile is the same. Steve and I had chopped cashews on top but I obviously left those off Katie's serving. We absolutely loved the subtle spiciness from the curry powder, the crunch of the cashews, the vibrant notes of lemon and cilantro and the perfectly-cooked shrimp. Next time I'll up the amount of rice since this didn't yield much in the way of leftovers.

Curry Rice with Shrimp and Peas
Modified from PreventionRD

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lbs shrimp, peeled, deveined, cut into bite-sized pieces
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 quart low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup cilantro, minced
1/2 cup cashews, coarsely chopped

In a large, deep skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the diced shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook until just pink. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon.

Add the ginger and curry powder to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth and scrape all the ginger and curry from the bottom, incorporating well. Bring to a boil.

Add the rice, lemon juice and zest to the skillet. Return to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and mix in the peas and reserved shrimp. Cover and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Sprinkle with the cilantro and cashews and serve hot.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Zucchini Corn Pizza

I'm mourning summer as we enter the second half of August and begin the slow slide into fall and winter. This was a pretty lackluster summer weather-wise. More cool, rainy days than warm, sunny ones. Less pool time than I'd like. This seems to happen every few years, unfortunately.

One good thing to come out of the cooler weather was this Zucchini Corn Pizza. Holy guacamole. A local pizza joint serves a similar pie - roasted zucchini, roasted sweet corn, poblano sour cream, hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper, olive oil, mozzarella - that we love so I wanted to try making it at home.

Zucchini corn pizza

Even Katie, who's not the biggest zucchini fan, loved this. If you've got a bumper crop of zucchini in your garden this is a great way to use up at least one.

Zucchini Corn Pizza
As seen on Damn Delicious

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup corn kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 ball pizza dough
8-oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
fresh chives, snipped
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.

Melt oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the zucchini, corn and Italian seasoning. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini are tender, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Lay a piece of parchment paper the size of the pizza stone on a work surface. Dust lightly with flour and roll out the pizza dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle. Top with the mozzarella and zucchini mixture. Add dollops of ricotta and spread them out a bit.

Transfer the pizza on the parchment paper to the pizza stone. Bake for 10-15 minutes, checking often to make sure the cheese is melting and browning. Remove the pizza from the oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve garnished with chives and red pepper flakes, if desired.
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Monday, August 07, 2017

Cheesy Tomato Biscuit Casserole

I don't know about you but I get in such a rut with side dishes. Most of the time it's because I'm feeling uninspired or lazy and the same old same old is easy to throw together. I'm happy to report that I branched out this weekend and now I have a new, amazing side dish to add to my repertoire. And, bonus, it reheats well (if you have any leftovers that is).

Cheesy tomato biscuit casserole

My friend Amy posted this Cheesy Tomato Biscuit Casserole months ago, but I've been waiting until the height of tomato season to make it. While you can get tomatoes year-round, the ones we're enjoying right now are insane. I don't know if it's just a good year for tomatoes or what, but damn. I feel like I need to eat. all. the. tomatoes. every. day. So, so good.

As I was typing up this post I realized I forgot the onion in the original recipe. Oops! Since we thought it was amazing without it - and, bonus, if you skip that step you have one less pan to clean - I'm leaving it out. I also opted to add fresh chopped basil once this came out of the oven, mainly because my basil plant is out of control right now and because tomatoes and basil are so good together. Totally your call. Also, use way more tomato than you think you need. Tomatoes have a lot of water in them so they'll shrink as they cook.

Hurry up and make this simple and delicious side dish now. You won't be sorry!

Cheesy Tomato Biscuit Casserole
Slightly modified from BellyFull

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 container (16 ounce) Pillsbury Grands Buttermilk Biscuits
4 tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9x13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside.

Press the biscuits into the casserole dish, pinching the seams together so they cover the bottom of the pan and pushing the dough slightly up the sides. The dough will be thin.

Arrange the tomato slices on top of the biscuits, overlapping to fit as many slices as you can. Spread the cheese mixture over the top then sprinkle with a little paprika.

Bake for 25-27 minutes until the dough is cooked through and the cheese mixture is browning and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes, then top with chopped basil and cut into slices.

To reheat leftovers: Preheat a toaster oven to 350 degrees. Spray some foil with non-stick cooking spray and place a slice of the casserole on top. Heat in the toaster oven, being careful not to burn the edges of the crust, for about 5-10 minutes depending on your toaster.
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