Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pappradelle Pasta with Kale Pesto - serves 4

My kids are on a pesto kick.  Lately, we've put pesto on pannini's, added to hummus, and have contemplated tossing with popcorn.  I've used up all the basil I grew last summer and have resorted to other measures.  Here lies the kale substitute.  I'm always trying to sneak in something that will benefit health wise so why not kale?  I'm putting it in just about everything lately and this is no different.  If I could have added it as a substitute for the Velvetta cheese in my previous Chicken Spaghetti recipe, I would have, but something tells me my husband may have noticed.  At any rate, I have substituted kale for basil and pecans for pine nuts.  I tossed this with pappradelle pasta and guess what?  The husband and kids lapped it up.  It wasn't until after it was all gone that I let out my secret that my husband responded with, "is there anything I can eat without kale in it?"  I said, "yes, the one bite of chicken spaghetti."

Ingredients

2 cups kale
3/4 cup pecans
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
Kosher salt and pepper

Place all ingredients, up to cheese, in Cuisenart or blender and pulse until chopped.  Drizzle in olive oil and lemon juice until consistency is like fine gravel. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss with your favorite pasta and serve warm.  Leftovers can be kept in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ode to My Husband by Giving Him One Bite of His Favorite Dish = serves 4 with leftovers



A friend of mine has a fabulous blog and more times than not, writes "zingers" that make you pause, think and then feel remorse.  Sometimes after I read them, such as most recently, I felt like Snoopy when the Red Baron shoots him down and he's all disgruntled for losing the attack.  And, just like Snoopy, I bounce back once I have a plan of action that I've actually pondered over and know it will work.  Here lies the reason for this post.  I love and actually adore my husband.  Truth be told, I do poke fun (and have a good time doing so) and give him a hard time.  I asked him if he had read my Valentines post and he responded with, "no, because you probably threw me under the bus."  Now, that's sad.  I grabbed my phone and began reading..... he did laugh and that's when my daughter replied with, "Dad, she didn't throw you under the bus, she ran over you with a big Carnival Cruise ship."  Ok, that's a little harsh.  Then, I read my friends post.  "....My husband needs to hear me honor him with my words in front of our kids and our friends and, dang it, even strangers. Even in my blog, I can be very self-deprecating — but I try to always honor my husband with my words. A million candlelit dinners and roaring fires won’t amount to much if I’ve got a razor-sharp tongue." Whew.  Kind of has a point.  So, with that, I just happened to get this dish as a request for a dinner party and thought it'd be a great way to apologize.  I mean really, a way to a man's heart (and his forgiveness) is through his stomach, right?  Even if he only had one bite.

Ingredients

1 whole organic chicken (I guess at this point it doesn't matter since this dish is LOADED with calories)
3 whole carrots, peeled
2 celery ribs
1 onion, quartered
6 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and pepper
1 pd spaghetti, cooked to package directions and set aside

Put all the above ingredients in a large stock pot, covering chicken with water, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.  (You will now have leftover chicken stock for future cooking that can be frozen!)  Remove all veggies and toss.  Remove chicken and let it cool enough to shred, discarding skin.  Set aside.  Skim any excess fat from broth.  Reserve 2 cups and save the rest.

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup flour

Whisk above until lightly browned (this is a roux), about 10 minutes.  Add;
28oz can diced tomatoes
1 pd bag of frozen green peas

Mix until reheated then add.... are you ready?
1 small box of Velvetta!  (I can't stomach the stuff, but I swear the men love it.  You can buy Whole Foods cheese dip that is half the calories and is better for you, if it can be, but Tim swears the fake stuff is much better)

Mix until melted then add your shredded chicken, incorporating within the sauce.  Once mixed and melted, add your cooked spaghetti, tossing to coat.  Then serve!  If your significant other isn't watching his weight, this will win you big brownie points and maybe a mani/pedi.  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Orzo Salad with Salmon, Edamame Relish & Peanuts - serves 4

This recipe started off as a dip/salsa.  What became of it is this salad.  As mentioned before, I love it when things can be thrown together on a whim and the final product is like the art you see in a museum and say to yourself,  "They got paid for that?  I could do that!"  Well, this dish is exactly that however I didn't get paid.  At least not yet.  A dear friend of mine, who has given me the permission to post this recipe, shared her culinary wit with me so that I could serve at a recent party.  The dip was a huge success, as it always is at every gathering it has been served.  With a Tupperware of leftovers, my mind began to wonder at the possibility of really turning it into something.... throwing a little orzo here, a few peanuts there, and a can of wild caught, pink salmon there. (Yes, canned. If you like tuna this is no different.)  Mix all this together and you have yourself a piece of art!  And that, my little Picasso's, is all there is to it.  Just like my friend dresses, it all comes together, somehow.

Ingredients


12 oz bag edamame, cooked
2 serrano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 c. chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. chopped cilantro
1 t grated lemon rind
4 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. olive oil
1 T. sherry or red wine vinegar
1 t salt
1/2 c. chopped red bell pepper
2 cups orzo pasta, cooked according to package directions
1/2 can of wild caught, pink salmon (available at Whole Foods)
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
Sea Salt and fresh ground pepper
Olive oil for drizzling

Place all ingredients (through red bell pepper) in a Cuisenart and pulse until well chopped.  (This will make enough for dip and for the salad.)  Add 1 cup of edamame mix to cooked orzo along with remaining ingredients.  Drizzle with olive oil and serve.  (Can be made ahead and refrigerated, just add peanuts before serving.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kabocha Squash Soup - serves 4

One of my favorite places in Texas is the Hill Country.  I love to bask in the laziness the country provides, the rolling hills, the amazing sunsets, the walks along the main drag in Fredrickburg, the vineyards and Navajo Grill.  This little jewel of a restaurant is worth the visit.  Located in Fredrickburg off the main highway, it has a Santa Fe feel, serving a great menu of fresh ingredients.  They have a fabulous outside bar with a fireplace, perfect for any setting.  The last time I was there, this past fall, we had the pleasure of eating this wonderful soup.  There have been some discrepancies on whether it was pumpkin or squash since we couldn't remember what the waiter had told us.  So, I decided to call last week and see if I could persuade them in giving me the recipe.  To my surprise, they did, thanks to Chef Josh.  I told him that I haven't stopped thinking of it since, and if he could give me the recipe, I definitely write about it in my blog.  I did tweak it just a bit and added the seeds of the squash, roasting them and adding them to the soup.  Josh uses Pepita seeds, which come from the great pumpkin. You can get these gems, called Kabocha squash, at Whole Foods.  I promise you, you'll love this soup as much as we did.


Ingredients
1 (4-lb) kabocha squash, cut into large chunks, seeds and membranes removed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1(14 oz) cans light coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
2 tsp coarse salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 red or green jalapeno chile, halved lengthwise, seeded, and slivered crosswise
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot with a steamer insert, steam the squash for 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Remove to a cutting board and cool.

Wipe the pot dry. Add the oil, place over medium-high heat, and heat the oil until hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon., for 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Add the cumin and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Scoop the cooled squash from the brittle skins and add it to the pot. Stir in the coconut milk.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Add the salt and pepper.

Reheat the soup over medium-low heat, stirring to prevent sticking, until steaming. Do not allow to boil. Stir in the lime juice, half of the chile, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt. Ladle into warmed bowls. Garnish with the remaining chile and roasted squash seeds (recipe below) and the remaining tablespoon of cilantro.

Roasting the seeds:
Take all the seeds from the squash and spread them on a lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and mix well.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, checking often to make sure they don't burn.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chicken Cacciatore with Creamy Polenta - serves at least 4


With Valentines' upon us, I write to you this recipe to wow your significant other.  I figured if I sent this tonight, you'd have time tomorrow to get everything and prepare this meal for a Valentine's treat.  Not to say that Valentines Day should even be celebrated.  I think of it a  Hallmark Holiday; a reason to send flowers, chocolate and a card when in my opinion, should be sent to a loved one when not told to do so.  After being with my husband for 18 years, the " I'm sending you flowers just because" days are only archaic memories.  Did I mention that my husband is also a landscaper?  Yes, he did at one time come home with flowers, but I can't remember the last time I had them delivered.  Even when I had a corporate job, all the other girls would get flowers on Valentines, and I, nada.  There's something to be said about having flowers delivered, put in the lobby so everyone can see and wonder who they're for and walking off with that "na-na, nee-boo-boo" grin as you gallantly show them off when you take them to your office.  THAT'S really what Valentines Day is all about, ladies and gentlemen.  It's so your significant other can have bragging rights.  So, if you decide to make this dish and place it in front of your Valentine, give them that same grin and seal it with a kiss. They'll just wish they had sent flowers.

Ingredients


 1 red onion, chopped
5 garlic cloves crushed
 1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms
 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
 14.5 ounces canned tomatoes, diced
 1/2 cup red wine
 1 cup organic chicken stock
 1/2 tsp  whole rosemary leaves
 2 tsp teaspoon whole oregano leaves
  salt and pepper
 1 whole organic chicken, cut up
 1/2 cup all purpose flour
 2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
1 bag frozen organic peas

Directions:
Preheat oven at 375.  Heat a Dutch oven  with olive oil  and saute onion, garlic and mushrooms until caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add wine and chicken stock and simmer and reduce for 15 minutes.  Add tomato, herbs, salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, heat a second pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Dredge chicken in flour and brown pieces until golden, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer to an ovenproof casserole dish and submerge chicken in sauce.  Cover and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and add peas, stirring within sauce.  Cover again and let sit for 5 minutes and serve over Creamy Polenta (recipe below).

Creamy Polenta

4 cups water
Salt to taste 
1 cup medium-grain yellow polenta
4 tablespoons butter 
1 cup 1/3 fat cream cheese

Heat water lightly seasoned with salt to a boil over high heat, about 5 minutes. Quickly whisk in the polenta until fully incorporated.  Lower the heat to a low simmer, add the butter and allow the polenta to cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.  Finish by stirring in the cream cheese and salt to taste.

If preparing in advance, cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave, about 5 minutes on high, just before serving. Stir vigorously after reheating to fluff.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Salmon with the Most Amazing Rice Dish Ever - serves 4 with leftover rice


I love it when I come up with a recipe that comes together so beautifully that I could eat the meal over and over and over again.  I didn't care if no one else at the dinner table didn't like it (that was my husband due to fact that it was overpoweringly too healthy, I'm sure.  Although he ate it all and told me it was good, I can always tell when he's lying.  But you have to love the guy who does especially when someone cooks for them); it was wonderful and all I could think about was sharing it.  I came up with the idea after remembering a trip to Austin and visiting a great little spa/restaurant called, Casa de Luz.  I highly recommend to anyone who's into healthy eating.  My sister took me there and with her newly learned food wisdom, I have taken some of her concoctions, ideas and wise thoughts to practice when it comes to cooking healthier.  This makes a terrific side dish or as I used it, an accompaniment to salmon.  If you make it and no one else eats the leftovers, call me.  It's that good.

Ingredients

1 cup quinoa
1 cup organic brown rice
1 cup yellow lentils
2 garlic cloves
3 tbs chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
4, 6oz salmon fillets, skin on (optional)
2 tbs Pataks's Curry Paste
Extra cilantro leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 400.  Cook quinoa, rice and lentils according to package directions. ( If buying in bulk, cook 1 cup of rice to 2 cups of water for 45 minutes, quinoa the same but for 20 minutes, and lentils for 35 minutes.)  Meanwhile, add garlic, cilantro, curry powder and olive oil into a mortar and pestle, grinding until almost a mash.
Once rice, quinoa and lentils are cooked, add together in large bowl and combine with cilantro mixture, tossing well.  (Add more olive oil if too dry.)  Cover to keep warm.

In a medium baking dish, add a little olive oil to cover bottom.  Add salmon and top with 1/2 tbs of curry paste to each fillet.
Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Add rice to plate, top with salmon and cilantro for garnish.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Red Beans and Rice - serves a crowd of trapped neighbors

I had the luxurious opportunity to get out of the house, finally, on Friday evening and Saturday evening.  One evening was spent with the kids, the other with a bunch of girlfriends.  It's pretty sad when you get picked up for a night out that the driver of the car can't get to the horn of the car fast enough because all women in the carpool were already out the door.  I think that had I not had to sit in snow, I would have been waiting on the curb I was so anxious to get away.  During our gathering, we all discussed what all we had been doing the past 5 days of being stuck in our homes.  Movie watching, cleaning closets, finding anything to do to pass the time.  One of those things was cooking.  I had one friend who baked until she was bleeding flour from her pores, one who put out two kitchen fires and the other who went through a series of magazines that had been set aside for quite sometime, cut out nearly every recipe within their pages and cooked them all.  God forbid should we have a earth shattering event, we can all go to her house for food, she has so much in storage now.  Amazing what women can accomplish when stuck at home.  We are compassionate comforters and food is one of the things that makes us show that love.  That, wine and being together.

Ingredients

1 pound of red beans, rinsed and sorted over
3tbs olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped poblano peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 Pinch cayenne
3 bay leaves 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp fresh thyme 
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups vegetable stock
4 cups cooked brown rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish

Directions

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add the onions, celery and poblanos. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and cook about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)
Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.