Monday, September 19, 2011

The Dish She Dissed

I thought Amelia was going to love this dish. It's pasta, peas, carrots, broccoli, and cheese. Things she loves! And, to top it off, it was pink. Now, what little girl could resist that ?! Apparently mine. And, I even tried twice. I put it in her lunch the next day thinking the only reason she said she didn't like it the night before was to hack me off ;) What I thought was going to be a winner with her, ended up being a fail. Oh stink.

Good thing was, I loved it. I froze all the leftovers in snack size ziplocks for those no time to cook moments for myself. I do that with a lot of the leftovers in this house. Usually pasta or soup dishes. I put them in the fridge the night before, heat it up in the am, and put them in a thermos for Amelia to take to school. Saves a lot of time and I know she is eating something healthy and yummy at school.

I'm still including the recipe for this dish because it is REALLY good! Even though sweat pea disagrees.....

1 box of your favorite shaped pasta ( I used oricheitte)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce
Kosher salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender ,about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are warmed through and the carrots are tender. Add the broccoli then stir in the cooked pasta. Add the marinara sauce and cheeses Stir until the mixture is incorporated and forms a sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Friday, September 16, 2011

My Love of Garlic

Well, I am back from Napa. And, wow, it did not disappoint! It's taken me a full week to feel back to normal. Whatever that is! This was the view from the house we stayed at.

No, I didn't want to leave. But I was VERY ready to see the most precious girl in the world. I missed her a ton. A TON!

She did not appreciate it that I had left her to go to CA. After all, that's where Justin Bieber lives, and she could not believe I would not take her with me so we could go knock on his door to say hello. I tried explaining to her that's not how it works. But, what do I know, I'm just the Mom ;)

I have been cooking like crazy, hence the lack of posts. New clients plus my old ones are keeping me very busy. Which is a blessing. A very busy blessing!

This post is devoted to garlic. Or, as some might say, my perfume. There is garlic is the main dish and side dishes. When you add garlic, something special happens. You can smell this something as soon as it touches heat.

Garlic Chicken (Ina Garten)

3 whole heads garlic, about 40 cloves - I promise it will not overpower your dish. The garlic becomes very sweet & mild
2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut into eighths
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons good olive oil
3 tablespoons Cognac, divided
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Separate the cloves of garlic and drop them into a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the garlic and peel. Set aside.

Dry the chicken with paper towels. Season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter and oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. In batches, saute the chicken in the fat, skin side down first, until nicely browned, about 3 to 5 minutes on each side. When a batch is done, transfer it to a plate and continue to saute all the chicken in batches. Remove the last chicken to the plate and add all of the garlic to the pot. Lower the heat and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, turning often, until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Cognac and the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices and sprinkle with the thyme leaves. Cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Cognac and the cream, and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste; it should be very flavorful because chicken tends to be bland. Pour the sauce and the garlic over the chicken and serve hot.

Roasted Root Vegetables

1 sweet potato; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 butternut squash; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 large carrots; peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
4 large shallots; peeled and left whole
10 garlic cloves; peeled; left whole
1 tablespoon Herbs de Provence
Kosher Salt & Pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425.

Place all the veggies, garlic, and shallots on a sheet pan. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, and Herbs de Provence. Mix together well with your hands. Cook for 25-35 minutes. After you take it out of the oven, check seasonings. I usually need to add a little more salt.

Pearl Cous Cous

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots; chopped
2 garlic cloves; minced
1 3/4 cup Chicken Stock
Splash of white wine
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup Craisins
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cous cous to pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the splash of wine. Cook until absorbed. Add the chicken stock and craisins. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the pine nuts.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Veggie Kind of Night

This post is for my BFF, Heather. Yes, you can be 30 something, and still have a BFF. And she has been that for the last 18 years :) While, I love some meat (grass fed & organic please), she would rather eat her veggies. This is a meal she would love. Trust me, no one will miss the meat in this meal. It is hearty, warm, and full of flavor. Delish.

Spinach Potato Cakes with Wild Mushroom Ragout

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cup assorted sliced wild mushrooms
2 large shallots; minced
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped green onions
4 garlic cloves; minced
2/3 cup mushroom broth
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper

Spinach Potato Cake:

1/2 cup chopped and blanched spinach
1 cup mashed potatoes
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup seasoned flour
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup olive oil, for frying


2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons chopped chives

For the ragout: In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, green onions and garlic and continue sauteeing for 1-2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the mushroom broth and wine to the Sauteed mixture and reduce by half. Finish with the butter and reseason.

For the potato cakes: In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, potatoes and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper. Portion the mixture into 2-ounce cakes. Dredge the cakes in the seasoned flour. Dip into the beaten egg, letting any excess drip off. Coat each cake completely with the seasoned bread crumbs.

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil. When the pan is smoking hot, add the cakes. Saute until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the cakes over and continue sauteeing until golden brown. Remove from pan and drain on a paper-lined plate.

Spoon the ragout in the center of the plate. Place the cakes in the center of the ragout. Garnish with chopped parsley, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and chives.

Stuffed Tomatoes

3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
3/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cut the tomatoes in half, horizontally. Use a small spoon to gently hollow out the inside of the tomatoes, discarding the seeds and reserving the pulp and being careful not to puncture the outer shell. Chop the reserved pulp and put in a medium bowl. Add the parsley, bread crumbs, cheese, and pepper and mix gently to combine. Place the tomato halves in a buttered casserole dish, and fill with the bread crumb mixture. Drizzle the top of the tomatoes with olive oil. Bake until the tops are browned, about 20 minutes.

Sweet-n-Spicy Carrots

1 pound carrots; peeled and cut on the bias into 2 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup apple cider (or apple juice)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
A fresh piece of rosemary
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
Kosher Salt & Pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat and add the carrots. Cook for 2 minutes, then drain in a colander and set aside.

In a medium-size pot combine all the remaining ingredients, except the rosemary, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Add the drained carrots and toss to combine. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes to incorporate flavors. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with rosemary and serve.