Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Lighter Sesame Chicken

Traditional Sesame Chicken calls for broccoli, but that is one of the vegetables that I really do not like. I don't know how long I'll manage to keep this blog up and running, but I can guarantee that you'll never see me cooking with broccoli! If you're able to tolerate it, Martha's original recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs of broccoli, steamed.  Instead, I used a mix of veggies that I had in stock - snow peas, green beans, red pepper, and carrots.  I topped the final product with some Sriracha sauce to give it some extra kick.  Enjoy!

Lighter Sesame Chicken
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

3/4 cup brown rice
1 1/2 lbs veggies (carrots, broccoli, snow peas, edamame, etc.)
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Tbsp vegetable oil
6 Tbsp honey
Tbsp sesame seeds
Tbsp soy sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1. Cook rice according to package instructions.

2. In a large nonstick skillet or wok, cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally until they've reached the desired tenderness, about 10 minutes.

3. While the vegetables are cooking, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch in a large bowl.  Add the chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

4.  Transfer cooked vegetables to a plate and cover with tin foil to keep warm.  In the same skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. If the skillet is large enough, cook all of the chicken until golden and opaque throughout, 6-8 minutes.  For smaller skillets, cook the chicken in two batches.

5. Make the sauce while the chicken cooks.  Combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic in a small bowl.

6. Return chicken to skillet, add the vegetables and sauce, and toss to coat.  Mix in the rice, or serve it on the side.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Poblano Cornbread Casserole

Apparently there's been an abandoned box of cornbread mix in the cabinets for months (probably longer) and KK finally found it.  He was determined to put the cornbread to good use, and found this hidden gem of a recipe that I bookmarked back in 2010.

Notes: This recipe called for an 11x7 dish - a very strange sized dish that I do not own.  According to this website, an 8x8 dish is a perfect substitute.  It worked perfectly! In an attempt to make this dish slightly healthier, I only sprinkled the top of the casserole with cheese instead of using the full 1/3 c. of cheese.  I'm sure it would've been even better with the full amount!

Poblano Cornbread Casserole

Adapted from A Pinch of This, A Dash of That
Serves 2-3
Time: 30-40 minutes


3 links of spicy chicken sausage, sliced
1 c salsa
14.5 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes or Rotel, drained
1 c corn, frozen thawed or canned and drained
3 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 small onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
6.5 oz pouch cornbread mix + ingredients on the box
1/3 c shredded cheddar cheese
Top with sour cream, green onions, or more salsa


1. Heat oven to 400°F.

2. In 12-inch skillet, cook sliced sausage onion,  green pepper, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked.  Drain any excess fat.  Stir in salsa, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, again stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated.

3. Meanwhile, make cornbread as directed on pouch, using milk.

4. Put sausage mixture in 8x8 casserole dish. Top with cornbread and spread until it covers dish evenly.

5. Bake 18 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese; bake 4 to 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and cornbread is deep golden brown.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Creamy Fettuccine With Corn and Arugula

Not much cooking for me over the weekend.  On Friday, two of my friends hosted a Spanish-themed wine night.  The homemade empanadas and Tortilla Espanola were highlights of the evening.  As were the Swedish (or Dutch?) wine charms :)

On Saturday, KK and I drove to Delaware with his parents  to visit his brother and sister-in-law.  They moved down to Delaware a year ago, and we hadn't seen the house since move-in day when there were boxes all over the house.  My sister-in-law has done an excellent job decorating the house - one day, KK and I will move into a house of our own and we'll surely "hire" her to decorate for us!  KK's mom made a super spicy lasagna for dinner.  There was too much food, so KK's brother and sister-in-law will have to enjoy the Pizza Spaghetti we brought for them another night.

Cooking notes: This meal came together very quickly.  I started on the sauce too soon, so make sure to wait until the pasta is cooking before starting with Step 2.  I only had 1 cup of arugula, but you should definitely use 2 like the original recipe calls for.  I used frozen corn, thawing it under warm water for a minute before cooking.  Since the recipe called for dry white wine, we paired this meal with The Wild - 2010 Chardonnay from the North Fork's Roanoke Vineyards.

Creamy Fettuccine With Corn and Arugula

Adapted from Real Simple
Serves 2
Total Time: 20 minutes

12 oz fettuccine (3⁄4 box)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 leeks (white and light green parts), cut into thin half-moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp kosher salt and black pepper, divided
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 1/2 c corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
1/2 c dry white wine
3/4 c. light cream
2 c baby arugula
1/4 c grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

2. Once the hot water boils, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Add the leeks, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 to 4 minutes.

4. Add the corn and wine. Simmer until the corn is tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream.

5. Add the pasta, season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss to combine.  Fold in the arugula, cheese, and crushed red pepper before serving.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pizza Spaghetti

This might be KK's most favorite meal.  Ever.  I used regular spaghetti the first time I made this, but found a box of Barilla cut spaghetti in the back of the pantry and gave it a try on the second go round... much better! I can't find it in any other brand, but the cut spaghetti makes this dish much easier to serve.  This evening, we enjoyed dinner with a bottle of 2007 Il Gioiello Zinfandel.
Pizza Spaghetti
Adapted from Fake Ginger
Total time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4

8 ounces cut spaghetti (or regular, but cut is WAY better!)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
24 ounce jar pasta sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
~30 slices of pepperoni
8 ounce package Italian blend shredded cheese

1, Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. Once pasta water boils, preheat oven to 350F.

3. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and onion; crumble sausage and continue to cook until sausage is no longer pink. Add garlic and saute until garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add pasta sauce and tomato paste; stir to combine. Add spaghetti. Slice half of pepperoni in half and add to pasta mixture. Stir in half of the cheese.

4. Pour pasta into a large baking dish. Top with the rest of the cheese and pepperoni.

5. Bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let cool slightly before serving.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oven Baked Risotto with Caprese Chicken

I love risotto, but whenever I see a recipe for it, I immediately picture myself standing in the kitchen, stirring and stirring and stirring.  Not so fast! This was my first attempt at this recipe, and I wouldn't change a thing!  It was a great weeknight dinner, and leftovers the next day were equally as good.

Oven Baked Risotto with Caprese Chicken
Adapted from Baked Bree
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves 2-3

2 Tablespoons butter
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice
1 chopped small onion
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb cooked chicken
1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Favorite Italian seasonings to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the butter in a 9×13 baking dish or a 2 quart baker. Bake the butter in the oven until it melts, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the Arborio rice and onions; season with salt and pepper.

3. Pour the chicken broth over and cover with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, combine the sliced tomatoes, olive oil,  balsamic. I also added dashes of oregano, garlic powder, and rosemary.  Gently toss in the mozzarella and basil. Set aside.

5. If you don't have cooked chicken on hand, now's the time to cook the chicken as desired   I had pre-chopped chicken, so I cooked it on a skillet over medium-high heat.

6. Take the rice out of the oven and fluff with a fork.Top the rice with chicken and the caprese mixture.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tofu Pad Thai

On Sunday afternoon, KK and I went to Hoboken's 1st Annual MutzFest with a couple of friends.  In short, it was pretty amazing.  We tasted mutz from five local delis - Fran's, Biancamano, Losurdo Brothers Bakery (a.k.a. Tony's), Vito's , and Lisa's - and voted on our favorites.  Within our group of 4, we had 2 votes for Fran's, 1 for Vito's, and 1 for Tony's.  Despite our personal opinions, Biancamano's won both the public and critics' choice awards.  All of the deli's had amazing spreads, complete with ham prosciutto sandwiches, caprese salads, bruschetta, and mozzarella dipped in a chocolate fountain.  Needless to say, we left full and most certainly plan to attend next year's event!
By the time KK and I were hungry for dinner, we wanted a simple, cheese-free dinner.  Tofu Pad Thai is quick and easy, and there are never any leftovers.  This meal also reminds me of the amazing Pad Thai KK and I found in Thailand at the Chiang Mai Night Market on our honeymoon in November!
Tofu Pad Thai
Adapted from Fake Ginger
Total time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

Sauce Ingredients
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice - bottled or fresh
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic (I used 1 tsp and add Sriracha during the meal)

Other Ingredients
6.5 ounces dried rice stick noodles
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed to remove liquid, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large eggs, beaten
chopped roasted peanuts, and lime wedges for serving

1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil. Drop in the rice stick noodles and toss very well with tongs to make sure they don’t stick together. Cook 2 – 3 minutes; make sure not to overcook otherwise the noodles will stick to one another.  Drain thoroughly.

2. While you wait for the water to boil - heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and allow to brown. Use a spatula to flip over the tofu so each side browns. Remove to plate; set aside.

3. Meanwhile, mix all of the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Once the noodles and tofu are finished, add a 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan. Pour in eggs and quickly cook as if you were making scrambled eggs.  Once cooked, add the noodles and tofu. Pour on sauce and toss to coat. Cook until hot through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle  roasted peanuts on top. Serve with lime wedges.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Corn, Pesto, and Tomato Pizza

Ok. So it's time for my first blog post.  According to my About Me entry, I go on about how KK menu plans, I cook, and then he cleans.  But this meal is so simple, that even KK can handle it with his novice cooking skills! If I recall, he even did the dishes!

We had a few beers in the fridge leftover from a summer trip to Harpoon Brewery - Ginger Wheat and Catamount Maple Wheat - so Saturday became pizza and beer night.  I hope you enjoy this meal - it's one of the Apt. 3D favorites!

Corn, Pesto, and Tomato Pizza
Adapted from Baked Bree
Time 40 minutes
Serves 2

1 pint grape tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pizza crust (we used whole wheat Boboli)
1/3 cup pesto
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon sugar
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced
3 Tablespoons fresh basil leaves (optional)

1.  Slice the tomatoes and place on a paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand for 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 450, leaving the pizza pan in the oven to warm up.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the corn, sugar, and Parmesan cheese.

4. Spread the pesto over the top of the pizza crust.  Cover the pesto with the corn mixture, tomatoes, and then the mozzarella cheese.  By adding the cheese last, it will melt and hold the corn and tomatoes in place.

5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust golden brown.  Top with basil leaves, if desired.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

About Me

As a newly married 20-something, I have some extra time on my hands – I find it hard to believe how much free time was spent planning my Indian/American wedding over the past year!  I love baking, wine, group exercise classes, and, of course my husband.  We’ll call him KK.  I’ve been collecting recipes from other blogs for the past few years, and KK now enjoys picking out meals for me to cook each week.  We’ve already worked out a good system – he plans, I cook, he cleans.  Given my love of cooking, KK’s encouraged me to start blogging about the recipes we attempt to recreate here in Apartment 3D… so here we go!
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