Linguine, with Garlicky Kale and White Beans

 

Linguine with Kale and White Beans

Linguine with Kale and White Beans

This dish gets its flavor from lots of garlic.  Ya gotta love garlic!!  It makes the most bitter greens taste divine.  As it cooks and becomes sweeter, so do the greens lose their bitterness, and become silky and tender.  Pasta, greens and beans—typically an Italian-style meal.  All you need to think you’d “died and gone to heaven” is some Parmesan cheese dusted over the top, some crusty, toasted bread and a glass of white wine.  SIGH!

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Extremely easy to make with only five ingredients, and taking only about 30 minutes to prepare, this is a dish to put on the table when you’re in a hurry, but you want your family to be well fed on a healthy meal.  I used fresh leaf kale in my preparation, but you could speed up the process by using packaged prechopped kale, found in the produce department of most supermarkets.  Other than the kale, you probably have everything else to prepare this dish already in your cupboard.

I like the fact that only 1/2 pound of pasta makes 4 generous servings, because of the addition of the healthy kale and beans.  Calories are low/serving (381);  and the whole nutritional profile of this dish is impressive:  Fat, 11.8 g;  Protein, 13 g;  Carb, 58 g;  Fiber, 5 g; Cholesterol, O g; Iron, 4 mg;  Sodium, 34 mg.;  Calcium, 121 mg.

LINGUINE WITH GARLICKY KALE AND WHITE BEANS

Yield:   Makes 4 servings of about 1 3/4 cups  (calories:  381)IMG_7334

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped kale (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 ( 15-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • grated Parmesan cheese at the table (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2.  Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.  When garlic begins to sizzle, add 1/2 cup water and the kale;  cover and cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender, stirring occasionally.

Cook the kale with garlic and a little water.

Cook the kale with garlic and a little water.

3.  Add beans, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Add beans and cook to warm through.

Add beans and cook to warm through.

Add drained pasta and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to pan;  toss to coat.  Add the remaining cooking liquid if needed to liquify further.  Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper over the pasta.  Serve immediately with grated Parmesan if desired.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light

 

 

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Braised Chicken with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Chicken Thighs with Honey Lemon Leeks

Some of the earliest vegetables to be harvested from the garden are those from the onion family.  Known as alliums, there’s more to these beauties than just the round white onions that we all know.  If you peel back the layers you’ll discover the delicate flavor of leeks, chives and young green onions.  Even the flowers taste good, and they make a lovely garnish on a platter when onions are in a starring role.

 

Leeks were in abundance at the farmer’s market this week;  big, fat ones with long white stalks.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

Big fat leeks, honey and lemon.

If they have been growing in particularly wet, muddy soil, they can be somewhat of a challenge to clean, requiring much rinsing to remove the grit.  However these were exceptionally clean, and I couldn’t wait to cook something with them.  Mr. D’s most favorite soup is potato-leek soup, and that is what I usually make (I probably will still make some), but I decided to give this recipe a trial run because it incorporates honey to help caramelize the leeks.

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Using chicken thighs with bone, allows you to cook this dish slowly so all the flavors blend.  Lemon partners well with the leeks, which cook twice.  They are first sautéed, then roasted to meld with the honey and lemon.  This is a dish that takes you by surprise at how “stinking” good it is;  nicely browned chicken, and tender roasted leeks nestled together.  Serve with a salad and some garlic bread, or rice and a green vegetable.  I think you will love this chicken dish.

BRAISED CHICKEN WITH HONEY-LEMON LEEKS

Yield:    serves 4

Ingredients:IMG_7318

  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 8  bone-in skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 3 large)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives (optional)

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.

2.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Massage lemon rind into chicken.

3.  Place chicken in pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.

Browning the chicken.

Browning the chicken.

4.  Add remaining 2 teaspoons oil to pan swirl to coat.  Add leek and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes or until leek begins too brown, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Remove pan from heat; stir in lemon juice and honey.

Sautéing the leeks.

Sautéing the leeks.

5.  Return chicken to pan.  Mound leeks on top of chicken thighs.  Bake at 400*F. for 20 – 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165*, and juices run clear.   Garnish with fresh parsley or chives, if desired.

 

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SOURCE:    Cooking Light

Check out these other recipes that also incorporate leeks:

Pappardelle with Salmon and Leeks

Brown Rice Pilaf

Mushroom, Leek and Cheese Frittata

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Nobody really needs an excuse to drink margaritas and eat enchiladas.  But if you did, Cinco de Mayo would be it.    The fifth of May is a holiday that celebrates Mexico’s defeat of French colonists who were trying to expand into Mexico.  It has its importance in Mexico, yes, but is widely celebrated here in the U.S. where drinking margaritas and eating Tex-Mex foods is the center of most activities.

Other popular Mexican foods include guacamole, tacos, tortillas,  burittos, and churros.  I enjoy eating any or all of them, but recipes for those can be found in abundance at many food-related sites, and often include (non)healthy doses of fat and calories.   I wanted to prepare an entree that would be healthy, colorful and speak Mexican, while keeping the fat in check.   So stuffed peppers it is, with a nod to Cinco de Mayo.   They are  muy Mexican and delicioso!!

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MEXICAN STUFFED PEPPERS

Yield:   Makes 4 servings:

Ingredients:IMG_7136

  • 4  (medium sized) bell peppers in assorted colors
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 package Spanish Rice mix, such as Rice-a-Roni
  • 2 cups Colby-Jack cheese, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup salsa, choose your level of “heat”
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  •  2 tablespoon minced cilantro, or parsley

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Clean and prepare the peppers.  Slice in half vertically, removing all ribs and seeds.  Set aside.  Note:  You may wish to leave the peppers whole for stuffing.  I like to cut mine in half so I get more stuffing–for me, it’s all about the stuffing and not so much the pepper.

Peppers halved and prepared for  stuffing.

Peppers halved and prepared for stuffing.

2.  Cook the beef:  In a large skillet heated to medium-high, crumble the beef and cook until no longer pink.  Near the end of its cooking time add the onions and sauté a bit longer till they soften.  Drain any drippings.

Browning the beef and onions.

Browning the beef and onions.

3.  Stir in the package of rice mix and its seasonings, 1  1/2 cup cheese, salsa and hot sauce.  (I added about 1/2 cup water, to be sure there was enough liquid to cook the rice.)

4.  Fill the pepper halves so the filling is slightly mounded at the top.  Place in a baking dish close together so they support each other.  Pour the 1/2 cup water around them.

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Cover with foil and bake until they are tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  If you like to use cooking bags, place the peppers in a bag and bake for about the same length of time.

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5.  When the peppers are tender, remove any covering, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and return to oven to melt cheese. Sprinkle with cilantro before serving.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

 

SOURCE:  majorly adapted from a recipe from Taste of Home

 

Pasta Primavera with Crab Meat

Pasta Primavera with Crab

Pasta Primavera with Crab

 

A walk through the produce section of the supermarket at this time of year makes me think of pasta primavera.  The word primavera means “first green” in Italian.  So pasta primavera is, technically, pasta with the first green vegetables of spring,  Many restaurants disregard this meaning, however, and include just about any vegetables they have on hand.  Personally, I’d rather not find corn, summer squash or sweet peppers in my primavera.  I also find that a sauce made with heavy cream and butter is much too thick and rich for what should be a light springtime meal.

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What is supposed to happen goes something like this:  the chef gets up at dawn to browse the farmer’s market, finds the most awesome display of spring vegetables, then goes back to his kitchen and prepares them in a light cream sauce on perfectly cooked pasta.  Unfortunately that chef probably lives nowhere near you.  But here’s the good news!  That chef can be you (and me).  Walking through the market and filling your basket with whatever catches your eye is fun.  You’ll be surprised  at how easy it is to find beautiful spring produce when you actually shop for it in the spring.

Making pasta primavera is quite easy, with the most time spent cutting up the vegetables.  They should all be cut in uniform size so they will cook in the same amount of time. I like to jullien cut my vegetables so they are the same shape as the pasta. Once that’s all done, cooking the veggies till they’re tender and making the sauce takes place while the pasta cooks.  Put it all together, and you will have a dish that is fresh, bright, and attractive to serve.  The version that I put together uses only 8-ounces of fettuccine, lots of vegetables, and some crab meat for added protein. Vegetarians can omit the crab meat.  This dish makes 6 generous servings, so the calorie and carbohydrate content  per serving is low.

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PASTA PRIMAVERA WITH CRAB MEAT

Yield:   Makes 6 generous servings    Recipe can be halved.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

    Have all the vegetables prepped before you start cooking.

    Have all the vegetables prepped before you start cooking.

  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 cup sliced asparagus
  • 1 cup spring peas
  • 1 cup carrots, jullienned
  • 1 medium zucchini, jullienned
  • 1 large spring onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 3/4 pound crab meat, or similar amount crab-flavored chunks
  • 1 cup half and half, or light cream
  • 8 ounces linguine or fettuccine, cooked according to package directions, drained and hot.
  • black pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sauté  vegetables 2 -3 minutes or until crisp tender.

 Sautéing the vegetables.


Sautéing the vegetables.

Add herbs and crab meat; sauté 1 – 2 minutes.

Add in the herbs and crabmeat.

Add in the herbs and crabmeat.

Add half and half, heat to boiling.Drain pasta, saving about 1/2 cup cooking liquid.  Add to skillet with vegetables and sauce.  Gently toss with pasta, adding some cooking liquid if necessary to loosen the sauce.

Adding in the sauce and pasta.

Adding in the sauce and pasta.

 

Toss all together in a large bowl and serve.

Toss all together in a large bowl and serve.

Transfer to a large serving bowl.  Season to taste with pepper.  Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

 

SOURCE:   A Carolyn Original

In the archives there is a former recipe for pasta primavera that I have worked with to come up with this new and improved recipe that I believe is lighter and healthier.

 

 

 

 

Glazed Corned Beef with Root Vegetables

Glazed Corned Beef with Root Vegetables

Glazed Corned Beef with Root Vegetables

Neither my husband nor I are the tinniest bit Irish, but we love this meal nevertheless.  I have never deviated from the way I first learned to cook it–that is, as a complete meal all cooked together in a large pot of liquid that first cooked the corned beef, then the vegetables that are added in the last hour.  Everything comes out well seasoned because they “borrow’ each other’s flavors and it all melds together.

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This year’s dinner was just a little different.  My piece of corned beef weighed about 3 pounds, and I started cooking it early, so it would be nice and tender.  When I added the vegetables, however, I removed the meat and placed it in a baking dish.  I made a glaze from brown sugar, orange zest, mustard and a pinch of cloves.  I spread that all over the meat and put it into the oven to bake while the vegetables continued to cook in the cooking liquid on the stovetop.  Since the meat was already tender, the baking time in the oven was simply to melt the glaze ingredients and seal the exterior of the meat.  Once sliced, each piece of corned beef got just a rim of the glaze around the outside of it.

The glaze gets all melty and brown in the oven.

The glaze gets all melty and brown in the oven.

I got idea to do this from a handwritten note I had jotted down and tucked away in my recipe box.  So I don’t know what the original source of it was.  I’m just a little sorry that I hadn’t done this sooner.  This new flavor, mild as it is, added a new dimension to the meat, and I think I will continue to do this in the future when I cook corned beef.

GLAZED CORNED BEEF WITIH ROOT VEGETABLES

Yield:   4 – 6 servingsIMG_6878

Ingredients:

  • 1 piece of corned beef, about 3 pounds
  • 4 potatoes, ( white or red-skinned), quartered
  • 4 – 6 carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 small head cabbage, trimmed and cut into wedges

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Procedure:

1.  Start cooking the corned beef.   I usually allow about 1 hour/ pound of meat;  so approximately 3 1/2 hours or more before your meal, put the meat into a large kettle along with any spices that were packaged with it.  Add cold water to cover the meat and turn the heat to medium.  Bring slowly to a boil, and once boiling, reduce the heat so the meat is just barely simmering.  Maintain this heat and check periodically to be sure the meat is not cooking too fast.

2.  In the last hour of cooking time, add all the vegetables to the kettle, and remove the meat to a shallow baking dish.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   In a small dish, mix together all the glaze ingredients.  With a knife or off-set spatula, spread this mixture all over the surface of the meat.  Put into the oven, and bake for about 1/2 hour.  Remove and let meat “rest” before slicing.  Serve with a mixture of the vegetables around it.

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Served with soda bread biscuits, and Irish Stout. It sure was good!!

Served with soda bread biscuits, and Irish Stout. It sure was good!!

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SOURCE:   Unknown

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

Orange-Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

Sweet sugary oranges and tangerines, bittersweet grapefruit, tangy lemons, zingy limes:  These juicy fragrant fruits are at their best at this time of year, just when you need their bright flavors the most.  They add so much to simple salads, roasted meats and dreamy desserts.

For those reasons and more I love to incorporate citrus fruits into my cooking.  In today’s recipe I will be using oranges to enhance the umami flavor of pork chops.  The orange is used in two forms, the juice supplies liquid and some sweetness for the sauce, while orange marmalade provides pectin to give the glaze a syrupy body and balances out the sweetness of the orange juice with a touch of bitterness that is very pleasant.  This is a new recipe that I was trying out, and found that it was quite simple to make and we both loved it.  I know I will be making this again soon while all this bright citrus is so plentiful.

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ORANGE-MUSTARD GLAZED PORK CHOPS

Yield:   Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:IMG_6191

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 2 Tbsp. orange marmalade
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 bone-in pork loin chops (1-inch thick)
  • 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Combine orange juice, marmalade, and mustard in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until syrupy.

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3.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Add to pan;  cook 5 minutes or until browned.  Turn pork over; add rosemary and onion to pan.  Pour juice mixture over pork; bake at 425*F for 10-15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140*.  Place rosemary and onion on a platter.  Return skillet to medium-high heat; cook about 4 minutes till liquid is syrupy.  Add pork to platter, drizzle with sauce.

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The colors of this dish were so attractive that I served it directly from the skillet it was cooked in.

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SOURCE:   COOKING LIGHT

Making Lasagna with No-Boil Noodles

Lasagna with No-boil Noodles

Lasagna with No-boil Noodles

This past weekend I made lasagna, not one pan, but three.  Making a pan of lasagna can take quite a bit of time especially when you make your own meat sauce, then cook the noodles, then layer it all in the pan, followed by baking it in the oven.  So if I’m going to spend the time making a pan of it, without much additional time spent on the task, I can make two or three.   I usually cook one for us, give one away to someone who may be having some difficulty preparing meals, and freeze one for a later date.

Making lasagnas

Making lasagnas

There are a couple of ways that I have found to shorten the time involved.  I usually make my meat sauce a day or two in advance.  That way the flavors have a good chance to blend together.  This time I used the Slow Cooked Ragu that I wrote about here, but the recipe for my regular meat sauce is given below.    The other way that I shorten up on the time involved is by using no-cook noodles.  Cooking lasagna noodles has got to be one of my least favorite chores.  In the pot they clump together, when drained they slither around and tear, and then afterwards you have to wash a large pot.  So life is so much easier with the no-cook kind.

All you have to do is open the box, layer the sheets of pasta with the sauce and cheese and stick the baking dish into the oven to bake.  Easy.  Once you try it you will not go back to boiling lasagna noodles.  Honest!  More and more people are latching on to this easy method.  There are several pasta companies that are now making these noodles.  Look for them with other pastas in your supermarket.

No-boil noodles, easy to handle, easy to use.

No-boil noodles, easy to handle, easy to use.

You may be asking how are they different and how do they work?  Both traditional and no-boil noodles are made from water and semolina, but the no-boilers are precooked in a water bath before being dried and packaged.  They are also rolled out much thinner than regular noodles, so that they rehydrate quickly.  The lasagna’s sauce and other ingredients contribute moisture they need to soften and expand.  When layering your ingredients it is most important to be sure all surfaces of the dry noodles are covered -to the edges- with sauce, thus preventing dry spots in the finished dish.  I usually add a little more sauce than the recipe calls for, just to be sure the noodles rehydrate fully.  Keep in mind, also, that some vegetables will contribute additional liquid, such as spinach, mushrooms and zucchini.  Until you are comfortable with the amount of liquid to use, it is best to take your cues from the recipe on the back of a box of no-boil noodles.

You will also need to follow package directions on how to position the pasta in your pan, alternating the directions that the pasta sheets are laying.  Sometimes there is an illustration on the back of the box.  And always coat the bottom of the baking dish with a small amount of sauce before placing the first layer of noodles in the dish.

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Lasagna seems to be everyone’s favorite comfort food.  We just never seem to grow tired of pasta noodles baked with a hearty meat sauce that includes ground beef and sausage, plus lots of ricotta cheese, mozzarella and Parmesan.  When it comes out of the oven with the tomato sauce bubbling up around the edges, and the cheese melted all over the top, we can hardly wait  to dig in.  I usually keep it simple and serve a salad and some good crunchy bread with this meal, and no dessert!

The recipe that I use goes back to the way my mother prepared it.  I have tweaked it over the years, mostly with the seasonings that I put in, but basically it’s still hers.  Mr. D. loves this dish whenever I make it.

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BAKED LASAGNA  (With No-cook Noodles)

Yield:   10 – 12 servings

Ingredients:

For the meat sauce:

  • 3/4 – 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1  (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1  (15-0z) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup waterIMG_0118
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  •  1/4 tsp. black pepper

For Lasagna:

  • 12 lasagna noodles
  • 16 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3-4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3/4  cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1.  In a large sauce pot, cook sausage, ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until well browned.  Drain off any accumulated fat.  Stir in crushed tomatoes, sauce and water.  Stir in sugar, basil, oregano, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  Simmer, covered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  This can be made a day or two in advance to allow flavors to blend well.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, eggs, basil, oregano, and parsley.

3.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly grease or spray a 13″x 9″ baking dish or lasagna pan.  Spread about 3/4 cup sauce in the bottom of the pan.  Place 3 pieces uncooked pasta (crosswise) over the sauce.  Pieces should not overlap or touch sides of the pan since they will expand when baked.

4.  Spread about 1/3 of ricotta mixture evenly over the noodles.  Cover this with 3/4  cup meat sauce spreading evenly and covering the pasta completely, sprinkle with 1 cup mozzarella cheese.

5.  Repeat steps 3 & 4 two more times, alternating the direction the pieces of pasta are laying each time.  Top with remaining 3 pieces of pasta.  Spread the remaining meat sauce completely over the top layer; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

6.  Cover with foil.  Bake 35 minutes; remove the foil and bake 10 – 15 minutes longer or until hot and bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

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Extra pieces can be tightly wrapped and refrigerated, to be rewarmed at a later time in the oven or microwave.

A leftover piece rewarms with a little extra sauce.

A leftover piece rewarms with a little extra sauce.

To Make Ahead:  Prepare as directed above but do not bake.  Cover with plastic wrap, then foil.  Refrigerate up to 48 hours or freeze for up to 2 months.  When ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap, replace foil.   Bake cold lasagna at 350*F for about 40 minutes, and a frozen lasagna for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, removing foil during the last 10 minutes of baking.

SOURCE:  Family recipe

Shrimp Tacos with Corn and Avocado Salsa

Shrimp tacos with corn and avocado salsa.

Shrimp tacos with corn and avocado salsa.

Continuing with my meal solutions for an extremely busy week,  this is another meal that goes together quickly, can be made in parts, and supplies a lot of good quality nutrients —–

Tacos made with shrimp and a tasty corn and avocado salsa make a light and easy meal.  The shrimp are sautéed with garlic, cumin and coriander, and the salsa, made with corn, chopped tomato, red onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, avocado and lime, provides the perfect combination of flavors to compliment the shrimp.  Fresh corn is preferred, but frozen corn will work in a pinch.  You can also make your own taco corn tortillas, as described in the recipe notes, or use “store bought” ones.

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SHRIMP TACOS WITH CORN AND AVOCADO SALSA

Yield:   Makes 8 tacos,  ( 4 – 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removedIMG_5212
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (optional)
  • 8 taco shells  ( or 6-inch corn tortillas–see notes, below)
  • 1/2 cup queso fresco, or finely shredded Monterey Jack cheese

For the Salsa:

  • 2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed, about 1 cup
  • 1 large, ripe tomato, seeded and chopped,  about 1/2 cup
  • 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

1.  Place the shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander and Old Bay Seasoning.  Set aside.

2.  Combine the corn, tomato, red onion, jalapeño, lime juice and cilantro.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then add the avocado, taste and season again.  Set aside.   This can be made in advance and refrigerated until meal time.

Note:  If your corn is very fresh and tender,  you can use the kernels raw.  If not, place them in a shallow dish, cover and microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high.  If using frozen corn, be sure to thaw and blot away any excess moisture with a paper towel before adding to the salsa.

3.  Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the shrimp and sauté until pink and opaque, about 2 minutes.

To serve, spoon a portion of the corn salsa into the bottom of each taco shell.  Top with shrimp and a sprinkling of cheese.

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How to Make Your Own Taco Shells

Preheat the oven to 375*F.  Lightly brush or spray both sides of the 6-inch tortillas with vegetable oil.  Turn a 12 cup muffin pan upside down, fold the tortillas in half and position them between the muffin cups to support the sides in a taco shape.  Bake until crisp, 8 – 10 minutes.

SOURCE:   MyGourmetConnection.com

French Onion Steaks

French onion Salisbury steak.

French onion Salisbury steak.

Years ago, when real steaks were out of the question because of their cost, Salisbury steak was a classic dish made with ground beef, and “fancied” up with a flavorful gravy and given an impressive name.   This was, of course, before my memory, but  my parents talked about  Salisbury Steak dinners, frozen and packaged as TV dinners.    I don’t know if these dinners even still exist,  perhaps not—they were awful, I hear.  Please don’t tell Swanson I said so!  : – )

Anyway, I came across this recipe in a rather old issue of Cook’s Illustrated that pairs the classic Salisbury Steak with another classic, French Onion Soup, giving that old recipe a new spin.  It even includes a crouton and melted cheese.

Dredging the lightly seasoned steak burgers in flour enhances browning and also gives body to the onion sauce.  Stove-top braising keeps the ground-beef patties moist and tender.  Sweet onions, like Vidalia give a milder flavor to the French onion sauce.  For a bolder taste, use yellow onions which are available year round.  If you are not an onion fan, I think this dish will win you over.

FRENCH ONION SALISBURY STEAK

SERVINGS:   Makes 4 steaks

For the steaks:

  • 1  1/4 lb. ground chuck  ( 80 – 85% lean)

    French onion Salisbury steak.

    French onion Salisbury steak.

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. minced scallions
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp, black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

For the sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Cups sliced onions  ( 2 large onions)
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • Cheese Toasts ( recipe below)
  • minced fresh parsley for garnish
  • Shredded Parmesan

1.  Combine ground beef, 1/4 cup parsley, scallions, salt and pepper.  Divide into four even portions and shape each into  3/4 – 1 – inch thick oval patties.

Form beef into 4 oval-shaped patties.

Form beef into 4 oval-shaped patties.

2.  Place 2 Tbsp. four in a shallow dish; dredge each patty in flour.  Remove and save 1 tsp. flour.

Dredge each patty in flour.

Dredge each patty in flour.

3.  Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add patties and sauté 3 minutes on each side, or until browned.  Remove from pan and keep warm.

Brown well on each side.

Brown well on each side.

Set aside while you make the onion sauce.

Set aside while you make the onion sauce.

4.  Add onions and sugar to pan;  saute 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and tomato paste;  saute until paste begins to brown, 1 minute.  Sprinkle mixture with reserved flour; cook 1 minute.  Stir in broth, wine, salt and thyme.

Saute onions, garlic, tomato paste and thyme.

Saute onions, garlic, tomato paste and thyme.

5.  Return meat to pan, bring sauce to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes.

Return beef patties to the pan and continue cooking in the sauce.

Return beef patties to the pan and continue cooking in the sauce.

Serve steaks on Cheese Toasts with onion sauce ladled over.  Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.

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CHEESE TOASTS

  • 4 slices  Italian baguette, cut diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices 
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • pinch of paprika
  • 1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 400*F.  Lightly spray a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.  Place bread slices on baking sheet.

Combine butter, garlic, and paprika; spread on one side of each slice of bread.  Combine cheeses and sprinkle evenly over butter.

Top each bread slice with seasoned butter and cheeses.

Top each bread slice with seasoned butter and cheeses.

Bake until bread is crisp and cheese is melted, 10 – 15 minutes.

Cheese toasts.  Make extra to eat out of hand along with the meal.

Cheese toasts. Make extra to eat out of hand along with the meal.

French onion Salisbury Steak, served with spinach and strawberry salad.

French onion Salisbury Steak, served with spinach and strawberry salad.

SOURCE:   Cooks Illustrated

Chicken Roulade

Chicken Roulade served over fettuccine.

Chicken Roulade served over fettuccine.

I would hazard a guess that chicken in some form is on your table at least once a week, ( with the exception of non-meat eaters).  I know its on our menu on a regular basis;  so with that amount of frequency I am always on the lookout for a new way to cook it.  I’m not a person who is satisfied with the same old, same old.  Variety is the spice of my life.  Therefore when I came across this recipe which first of all was described as “quick and easy”, but secondly called for a filling rolled up in a boneless chicken breast I was immediately interested.

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Roulade  is a French term for a thin cut of meat that is stuffed, rolled, then browned before being roasted or braised.  In this case the stuffing consists of a garlic and herb spreadable cheese and some prosciutto. rolled up inside a thinly pounded boneless chicken breast.  The chicken is browned, then braised in a light wine sauce and served over fettuccine.  Let’s face it sometimes white meat chicken can be pretty bland, but the flavors in the filling here were a nice contrast to the chicken;  a little salty,  a little smoky, and a little cheesy.  All in all I think this chicken dish is one you would be proud to serve to guests.

While the recipe was not as quick and easy as the recipe would lead you to expect, it certainly was not hard, nor lengthy to prepare.  Start by pounding the chicken breasts well between two sheets of plastic wrap,  then spread each one with the mixture of herbed cheese and chopped prosciutto.  Roll up and tie in a couple places with kitchen twine to keep them rolled while you brown them, then add a little wine to braise/cook them to completion.  While this is going on, boil a pot of water and cook the fettuccine.  Make a salad to go with it and your meal is complete.  I would serve this to guests because when plated it is quite impressive, and besides that it tastes really good!

Please note that in my version I used Laughing Cow garlic and herb wedges, because I couldn’t find a spreadable cheese like the one called for.  My filling was more crumbly than spreadable but it worked out well all the same, and kind of melted together as it cooked.

CHICKEN ROULADE WITH HERBED CHEESE AND PROSCIUTTO

SERVINGS      4

INGREDIENTS

An herb and garlic cheese and prosciutto make the filling.

An herb and garlic cheese and prosciutto make the filling.

  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves  (I only had three.) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons spreadable light garlic and herb cheese ( such as Alouette Light)
  • 2 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 8 ounces uncooked fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leat parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons EVOO, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons water

1.  Place each chicken breast half between  2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound each piece to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet.  Sprinkle both sides of chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Pound chicken out to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Pound chicken out to about 1/4 inch thickness.

2.  Combine cheese and prosciutto in a small bowl.  Spread  1  1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture over each breast half.

Spread a small amount of filling on each chicken breast.

Spread a small amount of filling on each chicken breast.

Roll up chicken, jelly-roll fashion, starting with narrow end.  Secure chicken rolls in several places with twine.  Set aside.

Rolled, tied and ready for browning.

Rolled, tied and ready for browning.

3.  Meanwhile start a pot of salted water to boiling and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well Place pasta in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with parsley and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil;  toss gently to coat.  Cover and keep warm.

4.  Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Place  chicken in pan, and cook 6 minutes, browning on all sides.

Brown well before adding wine and water.

Brown well before adding wine and water.

Add wine and water.  Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 6 minutes more or until chicken is done.  Remove chicken from pan, and let stand 2 minutes.  Remove twine, and cut each roulade crosswise into 5 equal pieces.

5.  To serve:  place about 1 cup pasta mixture on each of 4 plates; top each with 5 pieces roulade.  Serve immediately.

Plate and serve with a green salad.

Plated and served with a green salad.

I felt that this meal needed some sort of green vegetable to complete it, so I made a spinach salad to go along with it.

Since I made this whole recipe for only 2 of us, we had chicken left over which I placed on top of a mixed garden salad for lunch the next day.  A delicious lunch and great way to use up the chicken.

SOURCE:    Cooks Illustrated