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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