Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Lemon Chicken & Tomatoes

It's apparently pasta week in Apt. 3D! In all fairness, we hit up the discount produce section on Saturday, and scored 2 pints of cherry tomatoes for $1 that we needed to use sooner rather than later.  KK went off his original menu plan to accommodate the spontaneous purchase.

This recipe calls for the chicken to be marinated.  If time permits, I recommend you marinate overnight to really get the herb flavors infused into the chicken, otherwise leave the chicken in the marinade for at least 20 minutes before cooking it.

The only major change I made to the original recipe relates to the tomatoes.  The Goddess of Scrumptiousness version of the recipe calls for the tomatoes to be added during the last step, but I don't like raw tomatoes unless they're in Caprese salad.  Strange, I know.  By adding the tomatoes in the beginning,  they were sauteed perfectly.

Spaghetti in Garlic Gravy with Lemon Chicken & Tomatoes
Adapted from Goddess of Scrumptiousness
Serves 4-6
Time: 35 minutes

Marinade Ingredients
1 pound chicken, sliced into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Other Ingredients
1 lb spaghetti pasta
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, finely minced
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1/2 Tablespoon dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Marinade Directions
1. Add all the marinade ingredients into the chicken and marinate for at least 20 minutes, it it's best if you marinate overnight in the fridge.

1. Cook pasta al dente.

2. Meanwhile, saute the marinated chicken in extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat until cooked (about 4-5 minutes), then set aside.

3. After finishing the chicken, saute the butter over medium heat in the same pan.

4. Add garlic and tomatoes.  Stir frequently and saute until fragrant, about a minute.

5. Stir in the flour and cook for another minute.

6. Add chicken broth and simmer gravy until thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in basil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Add sauteed chicken, cooked spaghetti, and grated Parmesan into the gravy. Serve.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil

It was a slow weekend for cooking, but I'm getting back on track today.  We had leftovers from last week on both Friday and Sunday nights.  On Saturday,  we went out for dinner and a joint Budnick birthday party in the LES (that's the Lower East Side for those of you not familiar with NYC :) ).  To satisfy my craving for Mexican food, KK found an Open Table reservation at Fonda on Saturday night.  Per the Yelp reviews (which KK has also started writing - more on that another day), we ordered their famous guacamole and margaritas to start.  I ordered the vegetarian enchiladas because they had eggplant in them, and KK ordered the Pollo Norteno.  Both were delicious.  Now it sounds like I'm the Yelp reviewer! Because of our plans after dinner, KK was quite disappointed that we weren't able to take the leftovers home.

I worked late this evening, but really wanted to cook dinner.  Luckily, KK's menu plan had me trying this quick dish from Iowa Girl Eats.  Gnocchi and corn - what's not to love!? Not surprisingly, we had zero leftovers!

Crispy Gnocchi with Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil

Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
Serves 2
Time: 20 minutes

1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
16 oz. packaged gnocchi
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
1 small zucchini, chopped
3/4 cups frozen corn
1 small onion, chopped
salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup light cream
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add gnocchi then spread in one layer and saute undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Toss then saute for 3-4 more minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.

2. Heat butter in the same skillet then add zucchini, corn, and onion, and then season with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender, about 3-4 minutes

3. Add chopped garlic and basil, and saute for 30 more seconds.

4. Remove skillet from heat then add light cream and Parmesan cheese, and stir to combine. Add gnocchi, toss to combine. Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cheesy Tomato Soup

Pinterest success.  It would be next to impossible to go wrong with anything described as "pizza you can slurp."  KK and I made a trip to Hoboken's Antique Bakery for some sourdough rolls.  Unfortunately, they only had tiny sourdough rolls and loafs, so we opted for white bread rolls instead.  The bread bowls were very easy to make - just be sure to leave enough extra bread on the edges so you don't have to worry about leaks when you inevitably refill your bowl! I tried toasting the bread bowls in the toaster oven, but quickly reverted to the standard oven's broiler because things started to get a bit smokey.  If you have a broiler, stick with it, just keep an eye on things to avoid burning.

Cheesy Tomato Soup
Adapted from Pepper.ph
Serves 2
Time: 30 minutes

2 large rolls for bread bowls
olive oil, for brushing
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons fresh basil, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese, grated
salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, and sage to taste

1. Cut top part off each bread bowl and scoop out inside bread to make a bowl. Brush with olive oil and toast in your oven's broiler for 3 minutes. Cool and set aside.

2. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat. Saute garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes until cooked, but not browned.

3. Add crushed tomatoes, chicken broth and bouillon cube. Stir in sugar, season with salt and pepper.  Increase heat to high, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes.  Add desired seasonings to taste.

4. Add in basil and mozzarella cheese, stir for 1 minute and turn off burner.

5. Scoop soup into bread bowl.  Sprinkle top with Parmesan and cheddar cheese.  Stir remaining cheese into the pot (you will be refilling your bread bowl!).

6. Broil bread bowls in the oven until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Edamame Fried Rice

How have I owned a wok for 6+ months and not used it?! This thing is quickly going to become my favorite piece of cookware.  Actually, I also used my mandolin for the first time this evening, and it's proving to be another great tool.  I didn't have shredded carrots on hand, but I figured chopped baby carrots would be a decent substitute   Just as I started chopping, I remembered my Dad mentioning how he used his mandolin to make french onion soup, so I decided to give it a try.  After nearly slicing off my thumb (only once, don't worry), I will most certainly start using the mandolin more often.  If you have any recipes requiring extensive use of either a wok, a mandolin, or both - send them my way! 

With leftover rice, this meal would've taken less than 20 minutes to pull together.  Think about cooking this dish on the same week you prepare another rice dish to cut your prep time in half.  I added chicken to make this more of an entree, and have also upped the onion, carrot, and edamame quantities.  For extra kick, I added a few healthy dashes of Sriracha.

Edamame Fried Rice
Adapted from Skinny Taste
Serves 4-6
Time: 45 minutes

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb protein, optional (chicken, tofu, etc.)
2 egg whites, scrambled
1 whole egg, scrambled 
cooking spray
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded or sliced carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cup ready-to-eat shelled edamame
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook rice, and prepare your protein.  Once finished, set aside and cover it with tinfoil to  retain heat. 

2. When the rice is 10 minutes from being done, whisk the eggs in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper.

3. In a hot wok, spray a little oil and cook the eggs. When cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

4. Heat the wok again on high heat. Add oil and cook onions, carrots and garlic for about 1 minute; stir frequently to avoid burning.  Add brown rice and stir for a few minutes to heat through.  Add cooked egg, protein, soy sauce and edamame, mixing well for about 3-4 minutes.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells

Happy President's Day! I hope those of you with a three-day weekend enjoyed the extra day off! To celebrate the long weekend, KK and I went on a brunch double date at Diablo Royale on Sunday.  The food was delicious and the drinks were, for better or worse, free flowing.  After brunch, we ended up at Barrow Street Ale House.  A round of Cafe Patron shots later, Ben promised to provide some guests posts for the blog.  Hopefully he lives up to his promise!  Since we were out all day and starving by the time we got home, I chose Tofu Pad Thai for a quick and easy dinner.

After a lazy morning and a productive afternoon of errands (and a new tablet!), KK decided I should try a recipe that was a bit more time consuming this evening.  Although it wasn't difficult to prepare, there was a lot of prep time (cooking two pastas!) and baking time (covered and uncovered!). 

It was delicious. Heavy, filling, probably not the most healthy, but delicious.  My picture doesn't do it justice, so definitely check out Noble Pig's post, too!

A few small changes: instead of using tiny shells, I used medium shells because I didn't have enough small ones in the pantry.  The concept of shell-stuffed shells still came though, but next time I'd try to use the small shells.  Finally, instead of using Gruyere cheese, I used Swiss cheese for a cheaper alternative.

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells
Adapted from Noble Pig
Serves 4-6
Time: 1 hr 40 minutes

24 dried jumbo shell macaroni
8 oz. dried tiny shell macaroni
2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup light cream
1/8 teaspoon white pepper or pepper
1 24 oz. jar vodka sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Basil leaves & crushed red pepper for garnish

1. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer shells to a colander. Rinse with cold water; drain well and set aside. In same pan cook tiny shells according to package directions. Drain; set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine Gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, light cream and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Stir in tiny shells.

3. Preheat oven to 350F. 

4. Lightly cover the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish with pasta sauce. Spoon cheese-shell mixture into drained jumbo shells; place stuffed shells in prepared baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce.

5. Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 10 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with basil leaves and crushed red pepper.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thai-Style Chicken Flatbread

Yum. I haven't made this meal in over a year, but it was just as good as I remembered! In  fact, it was actually easier to make and assemble than I recalled.  Fake Ginger presents this as a snack, but I've doubled the quantities and turned it into dinner.  I used jarred sweet chili sauce, but have made it myself in the past.  I found a good recipe for it on About.com.  If you're making it from scratch, I recommend doubling the recipe so you have extra sauce for dipping!

Thai-Style Chicken Flatbread
Adapted from Fake Ginger
Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes

Peanut Sauce Ingredients
2 teaspoon cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons peanut butter
2/3 cup water

Other Ingredients
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
4 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 tablespoons olive oil
5 flatbreads (I used ~7in Whole Wheat Toufayan Bakeries brand)
1 cup peanut dipping sauce
1 1/2 c mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

1. Begin by making the peanut sauce.  Heat the oil in small saucepan over medium-low heat. When the oil is just starting to get hot, add the garlic and ginger and fry for 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the sweet chili sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and water.  Stir until smooth. Simmer until thickened. Let cool.

2. Combine the chicken with the soy sauce, honey, and cornstarch and let marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes.

3. While the chicken marinates, preheat the oven to 375F.

4. Heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat. When hot, add the chicken pieces and saute for 3-4 minutes, until cooked through. Stir frequently to avoid charred chicken!

5. Brush the olive oil all over the edges of the flatbreads. Spread the peanut dipping sauce on each flatbread. Top with the cooked chicken and then the mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven, top with roasted peanuts.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Happy Valentine's Day! I am not one for going out to dinner on Valentine's Day.  I'd rather skip the overpriced, prix fixe dinner, and instead opt for rain-check on the fancy date night...  perhaps to be redeemed this weekend instead.  :) Luckily, KK is a go-with-the-flow sort of guy, so he follows my lead and we usually opt to stay in for Valentine's Day.  This year, even as our first as a married couple, we stuck to the plan.  We opted for a repeat meal to guarantee a successful dinner.  We made these burgers on a gas grill with my Dad back in December.  This time, we used my cast iron grill pan since we don't have space for a grill -  backyards or balconies are rare in Hoboken.

We enjoyed the burgers with a side of sweet potato waffle fries, BirdsEye Tuscan vegetables with marinara sauce (there is no such thing as too much sauce!!!), and a bottle of 2007 V. Sattui Merlot.  It was, as expected, a perfect meal!

Chicken Parmesan Burgers
Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life
Serves 4

1lb. ground chicken
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup marinara sauce
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried basil
Mozzarella cheese
Hamburger buns
Butter spread or margarine
Garlic powder
Extra marinara sauce

1. Combine first nine ingredients (through dried basil) and mix well. Form into four patties, creating a slight dent in the center of the patty; refrigerate about 30 minutes.

2. Grill over medium-high heat, 6-8 minutes on each side. Top cooked chicken burgers with mozzarella cheese.

3. Coat insides of hamburger buns with a little butter and a sprinkle of garlic powder and place on the grill 1-2 minutes (or in the toaster oven), until lightly toasted. Spread marinara sauce on toasted buns and top with cooked chicken burgers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spring Risotto

WARNING: This is not the best weeknight meal if you're hungry.  Or if you've had a long day.  Or if you have a frustrated husband who just spent nearly 30 minutes searching for a parking in the snowy streets of Hoboken. In the rain.

Oh well.  This is no easy Oven Baked Risotto that required almost zero stirring.  This heavenly risotto required a lot of stirring, but it was worth it! Monday night's dinner was packed with green veggies, and the cream cheese  made the dish smooth and creamy.  Despite my earlier griping, I would definitley make this again!

Spring Risotto
Adapted from According to Nina
Serves 2-4
Time: 45 minutes

1 lb asparagus, trimmed & cut into 3/4-in pieces
3 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 oz. fat-free cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Add asparagus, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain.  In the same dish, bring 2 cups water and chicken broth to a simmer in a saucepan.

2. Heat a separate large saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, and swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in rice, edamame, and salt; cook for 1 minute.

3. Stir in 1 cup broth mixture; cook for 4 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more (about 20 minutes total).

4. Stir  in asparagus, cream cheese, and pepper; cook 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese and thyme.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Panera's Cream Cheese Potato Soup

For some reason, It took me years to discover the discount produce section at A&P.  Are you all aware of it? It quickly became my favorite section of the grocery store, even though it's hidden in the back corner of the produce section.  It would make more sense to put it in the front of the section, before customers have already selected their fresh produce, but that's just my opinion! Now I always swing  by the discount produce to see what hit-or-miss surprises I may find.  It's been a bit bleak in terms of selection for the past few months, but we hit the jackpot last week - a pack of baked potatoes that looked to be just the right amount needed for this Panera knock off soup.  How could I forget to mention this... the pack of potatoes was just $1!

This soup is the perfect comfort food for lunch on a chilly Sunday afternoon!

Panera's Cream Cheese Potato Soup
Adapted from Food.com
Time: 1 hour
Serves 4

4 cups chicken broth
4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
1/4 cup minced onion
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1. Combine broth, potatoes, onion, and spices in a pot.  Boil on medium heat until potatoes are tender.

2. Smash a few of the potatoes to release their starch for thickening.

3. Reduce to low heat.

4.  Cut cream cheese into chunks, and add to the pot. Continue heating, stirring frequently, until cheese melts.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Indian Butter Chicken

Remember those dinner plans that were postponed last weekend? Well, they were postponed for the second time thanks to Winter Storm Nemo last night.  I guess we'll have to hope that the third time's a charm next week! Instead of our planned sushi night out, KK found Indian Butter Chicken in my list of recipes a few times, so we decided to give one of the versions a try.

For this recipe, if you don't have cardamom, substituting it for 1/2 cinnamon and 1/2 ground nutmeg will do the trick!

WARNING: This sauce splattered everywhere while I was making it! I covered my skillet with a lid, but my white shirt still fell victim to a few splatter stains.  Be very careful while you're cooking, but I'd also suggest wearing some junky clothes.  Nevertheless, this dinner was great! We enjoyed the snowy evening with this delicious Indian dish, a Homeland marathon, and a bottle of off-dry Riesling from one of my favorite vineyards - V. Sattui.

Indian Butter Chicken
Adapted from Good Life Eats
Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes

1 onion (1/2 lb.), peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup light cream (or half-and-half or heavy cream)
1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
salt & pepper
1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, uncooked

1. Cook rice according to package instructions. Chop/prepare the remaining ingredients.

2. In a large saute pan, combine onion, ginger, jalapeño  and oil.  Stir frequently over medium-high heat until onions are  lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cardamom, and coriander. Saute for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Combine onion mixture, tomato paste, chicken broth in a blender or food processor.  Whirl until very smooth.

4. Pour mixture back into pan, add light cream and crushed bay leaves, and bring to a gentle boil over high heat (mixture is inclined to spatter).

5. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until reduced to 3 cups, about 10 minutes.

6. While the sauce is simmering, season chicken with salt & pepper.  Add 1 tablespoon butter and the chicken to another skillet over high heat.  Stir until chicken is no longer pink on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 3 to 4 minutes. Cut remaining 3 tablespoons butter into chunks and stir into sauce until melted.

7. Spoon chicken and sauce onto rice. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Tortilla Pie

Oh Martha - Thank you for giving me the opportunity to break in my springform pan.  Finally! I've had it for over a year, but haven't had the opportunity to make anything in it... probably because I'm not really a cheesecake fan.  If you don't have a springform pan, you can use an 8-inch pie or cake pan instead.  The original recipe called for beef, but I quickly substituted that with ground turkey.  I think I'll try making this veggie-friendly by adding more spinach, chopped tomatoes, a red or greed pepper, and black beans next time.

I worked from home today because we're under a blizzard warning, and I was tempted to have Tortilla Pie leftovers for lunch.  Instead, I settled with some soup, leaving the leftovers for both KK and I to enjoy tomorrow for lunch.  They're calling for up to a foot of snow, but I wonder how much snow we'll actually end up with...

Tortilla Pie
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 4
Time: 45 minutes

4 flour tortillas (10-inch)
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for pan
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Salt and  pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces frozen corn kernels
3 packed cups loose baby spinach (about 5 oz.)
1 1/3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
Sour cream, optional
Salsa, optional

1. Using a paring knife, trim tortillas to fit a 9-inch springform pan (use the removable bottom of the pan as a guide). Assemble pan with the bottom upside down; lightly oil bottom and sides. Set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium. Add onion, cumin, and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper. Cook until onion has softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste.

4. Raise heat to medium-high; add turkey and garlic. Cook, breaking up meat with a spoon until no longer pink, 4 to 6 minutes.  Tear spinach into pieces.  Add corn and spinach; stir until spinach has wilted, about 4 minutes.

5. Place one tortilla in the prepared pan. Spreading evenly, top with 1 1/2 packed cups turkey mixture, then 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat with two more layers. Top with last tortilla, and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheese.

6. Bake pie until top is lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Run knife around edge of pan; remove sides. Using two wide metal spatulas, lift pie from bottom of pan, and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into wedges. If desired, serve with cilantro and sour cream.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce

Here's another recipe that I tried for the first time this week.  It was incredibly simply, and I would almost argue that it took less than 25 minutes to pull together.  I'm all for serving a box of pasta with marinara sauce for dinner, but admittedly feel somewhat guilty about it because carbs coated in tomato sauce doesn't equate to much nutritional value.  The simple act of adding asparagus to the dish made me feel muuuuch better about it! 

Baby Pasta Shells with Asparagus and Marinara Sauce
Adapted from Skinny Taste
Serves 2
Time: 25 minutes
8 oz baby pasta shells
1 bunch thin asparagus, tough ends removed
2 cups marinara sauce
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesean cheese
salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste

1. Boil about 4 inches of water in a large saucepan, when boiling add asparagus and cook about 2 to 3 minutes, or until tender crisp. Drain and chop into small bite sized pieces

2.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente.

3. While pasta is cooking, in the same pan as you cooked the asparagus, heat 2 cups marinara sauce.

4. Drain pasta and RESERVE a cup of the pasta water.  Combine pasta, marinara, asparagus, grated cheese, salt and pepper.  Toss to coat. 

5. As needed, add reserved pasta water to loosen the sauce (about 1/4 c).  Serve and top with crushed red pepper and more grated cheese if desired.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Copy Cat Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burgers

I've never had a real hamburger.  That's right - you read that correctly. I'm quite the picky eater and I'm just not a huge fan of red meat.  I recently started to expand my horizon by trying a few pork and fish dishes, but I much prefer plain old chicken.  When we were down at my Dad's house for Christmas, KK convinced me to add a Chicken Parm burger to the menu and I found them surprisingly delicious.  Since that was such a hit, we decided it was time to experiment with other burgers.  This Chili Lime Chicken burger comes from one of my all time favorite blogs - Iowa Girl Eats.  Her recipes never disappoint, her workouts are always tough, and her photography is fantastic.  This recipe lived up to my expectations from IGE.  I made only minor modifications to her recipe - I used refrigerated lime juice (because I didn't have a lime), and I added salsa for some extra oomph! Enjoy!

P.S. Check back soon for the aforementioned Chicken Parm burgers!

Copy Cat Trader Joe’s Chili Lime Chicken Burgers
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats
Time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Burger Ingredients
1lb ground chicken
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp lime juice
4 slices pepper jack cheese, optional
4 buns, toasted
Salsa, optional (but a must according to KK!)

Guacamole Ingredients
1 avocado
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper
a few dashes of chili powder

1. Combine chicken,  onions, bell pepper, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and lime juice in a large bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined, then form into 4 patties and spray each side generously with non-stick spray.

2. Heat a large grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Grill burgers for 3-4 minutes a side, or until cooked all the way through.  If desired, place a slice of cheese on top of each burger, then cover with a large pot lid, and allow to melt for about a minute.  Remove burgers to a plate, tent with foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.  Place each burger on a toasted bun, then top with guacamole and salsa.

3. For the guacamole: Mash all ingredients together with a potato masher or fork.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl Snacks!

KK and I decided to have a few friends over to watch the Super Bowl last night.  KK is an avid Steelers fan, so he was rooting against the Ravens.  As a Redskins fan myself, I  had little interest in either team - I was in it more for the food, friends, and commercials.  I'm sure I'll be made fun of for saying this, but the Psy Gangnam Style Pistachios commercial was my favorite - probably KK and I performed our own rendition of the Gangnam Style dance at our wedding reception :)

Along with the treats I cooked up below, we had the standard party fare with veggies, chips and dip, humus, etc.  Our our guests also brought over some delicious homemade snacks: Buffalo Chicken Dip, cheese cake, and oatmeal/cranberry/white chocolate cookies... Yum!

What did you think of the halftime show? Did Beyonce and Destiny's Child really blow the stadium's power?

Cocoa Rice Krispies Football Treats
Adapted from Cooking on the Side
Makes 20 footballs

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz.) regular or miniature marshmallows
1/2 cup peanut butter
6 cups chocolate flavored crisped rice cereal (such as Cocoa Rice Krispies®)
White decorating gel

1. In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter until melted.

2. Add cereal. Stir until well coated.

3. Cool slightly. Using buttered hands shape mixture into twenty 2-3 inch footballs. Decorate with frosting. Best if served the same day.

Superbowl Crock Pot Queso Dip
Adapted from Crunchy Frugalista

32 oz. block of Velveeta Cheese®
2 10-oz. cans of Rotel® or diced tomatoes with chilis1 pound ground turkey
Tortilla chips

1. Cut Velveeta  into small cubes, and place in crock pot

2. Drain cans of tomatoes and add to cheese

3. Brown 1 pound of ground turkey. Add to crockpot

4. Turn crockpot on low, stirring every 5-10 minutes until well melted and blended.  Keep on low to keep it warm!


Pepperoni Pizza Monkey Bread
Adapted from Barbara Bakes

24 Frozen Dinner Rolls, thawed but still cold*
48 slices of pepperoni
8 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed in to 48 pieces
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
5 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pizza sauce, for dipping

1. Cut rolls in half and flatten each piece. With each dough piece, form a ball around one slice of pepperoni and one cube of mozzarella.

2. In a small bowl combine melted butter, cheese, parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper.

3. Lightly coat each dough ball with cheese mixture and place into a bundt pan coated with non-stick spray.

4. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until almost to the top of the pan (about 45 minutes). Remove plastic wrap and bake at 350°F 30 – 35 minutes. Cover with foil if the top is getting too brown.

5. Remove from oven and invert on to an oven safe serving tray, remove bundt pan. If the top of the monkey bread seems a bit undercooked, put the serving tray back into the oven for another 5 minutes to crisp things up a bit.

6. Serve with pizza sauce for dipping.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tortellini With Spinach, Peas, and Brown Butter

Our dinner plans this evening were canceled at the last minute, so I needed something quick and easy to cook before heading out to a friend's birthday party in Hoboken.  Real Simple is my favorite magazine - it's actually the only one I subscribe too.  I have a stack of recipes that I've torn from the magazine, but I rarely end up making them because I get most of my recipe ideas from other blogs that I read.  Somehow I managed to squeeze this one into the rotation!

Make sure to watch  the butter closely as it cooks: in about 3 minutes, it will begin to brown and smell nutty once the foam has subsided... but wait a smidge too long, the butter will spell burned and you've gone too far!

I was unable to find a one-pound bag of frozen spinach at the store, so I only uses 13 ounces. Because of the reduced pasta quantity, plus the fact that KK and I like healthy portions for dinner, this meal only served two tonight!

Tortellini With Spinach, Peas, and Brown Butter
Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 2
Time: 20 minutes

1 lb fresh or frozen tortellini
1 c frozen peas
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 small bunch flat-leaf spinach, thick stems removed (about 6 cups)
1  medium beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
1tsp finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan, for garnish
Crushed red pepper, for garnish

1. Cook the tortellini according to the package directions, adding the peas during the last minute of cooking.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the spinach and tomato and cook, tossing occasionally, until the spinach is wilted and the tomato begins to soften, 4 to 5 minutes more.

3. Add the tortellini, peas, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper to the skillet and toss to combine. Top with grated Parmesan and crushed red pepper.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Garlic Parmesan Pretzel Crisp Chicken... with a twist!

Garlic Parmesan Pretzel Crisp chicken was on our menu about a month ago, and it was delicious.  The leftovers are not as crispy, but are still quite tasty.  Since I last made this meal, I've been scoping out the Pretzel Crisps display at the grocery store, looking for new flavors.  Last week I found Jalapeno Jack and Chipotle Cheddar.  Both sounded good, but I ultimately decided to give this recipe a try with the Jalapeno Jack.  The results were the same - delicious!

To keep the meal as garlicky as last time - I served the chicken with Herb & Butter Rice-a-Roni and Birds Eye Steamfresh Lightly Sauced Italian Green Beans with Garlic Parmesan Sauce.  I also used Alouette Garlic & Herb Crème de Brie for the cheese sauce. Have I mentioned that I love garlic?

Garlic Parmesan Pretzel Crisp Chicken
Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

2 (8-10-oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1/3 cup skim milk
1 1/4 cups pretzel crumbs from Garlic Parmesan Pretzel Crisps
vegetable oil
2 Tbsp butter
Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup soft garlic and herb cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 225F.

2. Butterfly each chicken breast, making a total of 4 thin chicken breasts.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. In a shallow bowl, lightly whisk together the egg and milk. Place the Pretzel Crisp crumbs in another shallow bowl.

4. Cover the bottom of a heavy skillet in oil and heat over medium heat.

5. Take each chicken piece and dip it in the egg mixture. Dip the chicken in the pretzel crumbs, using your hands to press the crumbs into the chicken if needed.

6. Transfer the chicken to the hot pan and cook until the meat is cooked through, turning once, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken to a sheet pan covered in aluminum foil (easy cleanup!) and place in the oven to keep warm.

7. Next, melt the butter in the same skillet. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken. Stir in the cheese, then season with salt and pepper.

8. Plate your chicken and sides, then top things off with the cheese sauce.
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