Monday, January 17, 2011

pork chops in fire-roasted tomato sauce with bacon pea polenta

I've never cooked with polenta before, nor did I have any clue what it was when I saw this recipe.  This calls for quick-cooking polenta, but we found a tube of it in the organic refrigerated section of the produce aisle (the last place I thought we'd find it.)  Then, we used a food processor and grated it to the consistency of rice and it worked perfectly!

credit: Rachael Ray's Big Orange Book

3 tbsp. EVOO
4 (1 in. thick) boneless pork chops
Salt & pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-in. pieces
4 strips of smoked bacon, chopped
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 (28 oz.) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas
1 cup polenta (quick cooking or see above)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

In large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tbsp. EVOO.  Season pork chops with salt & pepper and sear in the hot pan until golden brown, about 3 minutes on each side.  Remove pork chops from pan and place on plate and cover with foil.  Add garlic and scallions to the same pan the pork chops have been cooked in and cook until the scallions get tender, about 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining EVOO in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add bacon and cook until crispy, about 6 minutes.

When scallions are tender, add vinegar, brown sugar and tomatoes to pan.  Bring the sauce to a boil and return pork chops to pan for approximately 4 minutes.

When bacon is crispy, remove from pot with slotted spoon and set aside.  Pour off all but about 1 tbsp of the rendered fat, then add the chicken broth, milk and peas to the pot.  Bring everything to a boil and add polenta slowly, whisking constantly.  Let polenta thicken, about 3 - 4 minutes.  Season polenta with salt and pepper and stir in parmesan cheese and bacon.  Serve polenta alongside the chops and top with the tomato sauce.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

curry chicken salad

Long time no post. Also, long time no post something that I actually eat, as this is another recipe for my dear husband.  He loves it though, so figured I'd be nice and post it.  This recipe is extremely easy and you can pretty much add whatever you'd like to make it more personalized to your taste.

3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup seedless grapes (red or green), quartered
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 cup reduced fat mayo
Salt & pepper

In large pot, boil water.  Season chicken with salt & pepper and add to pot.  Boil for 20 - 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked all the way through.  Remove and place on plate to cool.  Meanwhile, in small skillet, toast walnuts on medium heat until fragrant.  Remove from heat as soon as you smell them or they will burn.

When chicken is cooled, cut into small cubes.  Add all ingredients into large bowl and combine.

Monday, December 13, 2010

jay's chili

I promised Jay I would post this recipe for him.  I am not a chili fan, and not sure I ever will be, so I cannot tell you for sure if this is actually good or not. But according to my husband, this chili kicks some chili butt, so you will have to take his word for it.

2 1/2 lbs. ground turkey (Jay used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving)
1 (14 oz.) cans low-sodium chicken broth
1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (30 oz.) can kidney beans
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1 large red onion, diced
1 cubano pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and cut in half (use more for added heat)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 (8 oz) package shredded cheddar cheese (to top with at end)

Brown turkey in saucepan on medium-high heat for about 4 minutes (skip this step if using leftover cooked turkey.)  Combine all ingredients (except cheese) in slow-cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.  Top with cheese and serve.

I neglected to take a photo of the finished product, but this looks much prettier anyway.  Jay said it turned out great and we were able to freeze a lot for leftovers, which means I can slack off on a few dinners coming up.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 29, 2010

shrimp stir-fry

I love stir-fry because it's so versatile.  Don't like shrimp?  Make it with chicken or beef.  Only have red peppers?  Use them instead of green.  Personally, I had a huge yellow onion left over from Thanksgiving so I ended up using that instead of green onions that are supposed to go in this recipe.  We've made stir-fry a lot, and usually just throw in some teriyaki to give it a "sauce", but that always ends up too watery.  This recipe calls for teriyaki, soy sauce, chicken broth and cornstarch to make the sauce and it turned out just right.  I recommend using low-sodium teriyaki and soy... otherwise it would be too salty.

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 tsp. ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/s tsp. black pepper
1 tbsp. crushed red pepper
2 tbsp. sesame oil
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced
4 green onions, sliced (or one large yellow onion)
4 tbsp. low-sodium teriyaki sauce
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 lb. snap peas
1/8 cup cornstarch
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. salt

Boil water, salted, and then add rice.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes.

In large bowl, combine shrimp, cayenne, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, and black pepper.  Set aside.

Heat sesame oil in wok.  Add bell peppers and onions and saute for 4 minutes.  Add teriyaki & soy sauces.  Add snap peas and saute until soft.   Add shrimp mixture and cook until they turn opaque.

Stir cornstarch into chicken broth and add to wok.  Cook until it comes to a boil, stirring frequently.  Serve over rice and sprinkle with crushed red pepper.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

french onion soup

What do soy sauce and apple butter have in common?  Before I would have thought absolutely nothing, but both of them together make this french onion soup rock!  My mother-in-law is cringing as she reads this, because when I mentioned this concoction to her last week she cried in an e-mail "no, no no!" and pleaded for me not to attempt this strange combination. But like a little kid, that made me want to try it even more, and I am so glad I did!  The combo of soy sauce and apple butter give this soup a silkiness that I have not found yet in other recipes.  I've tried french onion soup in the slow cooker several times before and even, gasp, added onion soup mix to it in the past (the soup ended up tasting like powder and had a way-too-strong onion taste and smell.)  Give this recipe a try, Arlene, I promise you will not be disappointed!

2 lbs. beef bones (found in the freezer section --- ask the butcher if you can't find them)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 large vidalia onions, about 4 lbs. Halved and cut into 1/4" slices
1 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
5 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup apple butter (found in the jelly aisle)
3/4 cup dry sherry (not cooking sherry --- the real stuff)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
Salt and pepper
1 loaf French bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices
2 1/2 cups Gruyere and/or Swiss cheese, shredded

Arrange beef bones on a paper towel-lined plate.  Microwave 8-10 minutes until well browned.  Meanwhile, set slow cooker to high, add butter, and cover.  When butter is melted, add onions, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper, brown sugar and thyme.  In a small bowl, stir together flour, apple butter, sherry and soy sauce until smooth.  Pour over onions and toss to coat.  Tuck beef bones under onions and around the edges of the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high for 8 - 10 hours until onions are softened and deep golden brown.

This is what it looked like after 8 hours.  The liquid should be nice and thick.

In medium saucepan, heat broths until boiling.  Remove beef bones from slow cooker and discard.  Stir broth into slow cooker and season with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Arrange bread on baking sheet and bake 5 - 8 minutes, until edges are golden brown.  Divide cheese evenly among the bread, and broil on high until bubbly, about 3 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with 2 bread/cheese croutons each.

I had a lot of extra swiss/gruyere cheese left so after I placed the bread on top I then covered it again with cheese and stuck it under the broiler once more for about 2 minutes until the cheese started to brown.

So in the end, soy sauce and apple butter truly do go together!  We couldn't taste either of them, but again, their main purpose was to create a silky-smooth texture.  This one is definitely a keeper!

Monday, November 8, 2010

tomato mac and cheese

I love cheese.  All kinds of cheeses.  Fresh mozzarella, brie, feta, gruy√®re, whatever I can get my hands on.  This recipe brings it back to the simple mac and cheese days where a good slice of cheddar (or shred in this case) is all you need.

1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 (28 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes (Hunts is preferred)
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups half-and-half
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In medium pot, bring 4 quarts of water to boil over high heat and stir in one tablespoon of salt.  Place macaroni in pot and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.  When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot.  Pour in tomatoes (with juices) and cook over medium heat until most of the liquid is absorbed.  Stir occasionally.

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until it begins to foam.  Stir in flour and cayenne pepper and cook until golden, about one minute.  At this point it will be a flaky, dough-like consistency.  Whisk in half-and-half and broth until smooth.  Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses, one teaspoon salt and one teaspoon of pepper until cheeses melt.  Mix in macaroni / tomato mixture and stir to combine.

Scrape mixture into large casserole dish and bake until top begins to brown, about 15 minutes.  Let it rest about 10 minutes before serving, or else it will be soupy.

Seriously, this mac and cheese rocked!  Cayenne pepper gave the dish a great flavor, and the tomatoes were sweet and offered a nice texture.  Thanks again to Cook's Country Magazine for bringing the real thing back into my life.

One warning though.... I didn't realize how much this was going to make!  After looking back I realize the recipe was for 8 - 10 people, and since it's just me this week I am left with 5 tupperware containers full of the stuff.  I'm going to attempt to freeze what's left, but next time will cut the recipe in half.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

sriracha chicken

This recipe was taken from my favorite website:  I discovered this food blog when I was on weight watchers (which I have failed miserably), however this food blog has so many great recipes that I continue to refer back to it.  Every recipe that we have made so far has been a hit, and this one in particular we have made 3 times - once with drumsticks, once with chicken breast cut into cubes, and this time with chicken thighs.  The main ingredient is Sriracha hot sauce, which can be found in the ethnic food aisle at your grocery store, near the Asian items.  You can't miss it... it is a large red plastic bottle with a drawing of a large rooster on it.

1 lb. chicken (drumsticks, breast cut into cubes, or thighs.)  I used thighs this time.
Spray olive oil
1 cup water
1 tbsp. Sriracha hot sace
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 tsp. agave nectar (or sugar)
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. ginger, grated
2 tbsp. chopped scallions
1 tsp. sesame seeds

Spray olive oil in heavy large saucepan and heat to high.  Brown chicken for 3 minutes on each side.  Add in water, balsamic, soy sauce, agave nectar (or sugar), garlic, ginger, and sriracha hot sauce.  Cook on high until liquid comes to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove cover and bring heat to high and reduce sauce for about 10 minutes until it becomes a thick glaze.  Stir often and be careful not to burn the sauce as it will seem as if it's taking forever to thicken and then all of a sudden it will get thick FAST.  Turn chicken every minute or so.  Transfer chicken to plate an cover with glaze.  Top with scallions and sesame seeds.  Serve.

I served the chicken on top of a bed of jasmine rice and steamed broccoli and it was super delish!  I did forget to sprinkle it with sesame seeds before I took the pic, but make sure you don't forget them completely... they help balance out the heat in the sriracha hot sauce.  Next time we will try this with chicken wings.... can't wait!