Tag Archives: dinner

Kitchen Adventures: Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

2 Apr

This simple recipe is great for the end of a busy week and can accommodate almost any ingredients you have around.  Sub couscous for quinoa, add in other veggies, or include other proteins if you have them handy.

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Quinoa and Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 lb shredded Brussels sprouts (I got them precut from Trader Joe’s – one bag will do it!)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice – about one lemon worth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • goat cheese (optional, for topping)
  1. Cook the quinoa – one cup of quinoa to 2-3 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15-20 minutes for liquid is absorbed.  Let rest for 3-5 minutes before serving.
  2. Add the oil, onion, Brussels sprouts, salt/pepper, and half the lemon juice to a frying pan over medium heat.  Stir frequently – when the sprouts get bright green, add more lemon juice and bell pepper.  Stir for about 7-10 minutes total, until sprouts are cooked but still crunchy.
  3. Add quinoa to the pan of veggies and mix well.  Serve hot or cold.  (I topped mine with goat cheese crumbles – SO GOOD!)

This made about four salad-sized servings – can’t wait to eat it for lunch later this week.

Enjoy!

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Kitchen Adventures: Stuffed artichokes

20 Feb

There is basically never a time when I don’t want a stuffed artichoke since my college roommate first introduced me to this delicacy. (Hi Jill!)  It’s not the fastest thing in the world to make, but it’s completely worth it, especially when you can start eating it before going out with your friends and finish the rest when you come home starving after a night of dancing… if you can stand to not eat it all in one sitting.

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Stuffed Artichokes

  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs (or plain bread crumbs with Italian seasoning added)
  • 2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic (I use jarred but this is about 1 1/2 cloves)
  • 2 small to medium artichokes
Stuffing in progress

Stuffing in progress

  1. Lightly toast bread crumbs in a frying pan – no oil needed.  Put water on to boil with a steaming basket big enough to hold your artichokes upright.
  2. Cut off the top 1/4 (or so) of the artichoke with a knife, and trim the stem except for the last 1/2 inch or so.  Fan out the remaining segments of the artichokes and cut off the spiky tips with scissors.  You should only need to cut off about the top 1/3 per section but you should make sure you get all the sharp bits even if it means losing a little more of the ‘choke.
  3. Mix everything else together and start stuffing!  Start at the outer pieces and put the bread crumbs as far down in each segment as you can.  If you separate the pieces as you go, you should be able to get a good amount in each section.  When you get near the middle, keep stuffing – that’s the best part!
  4. Stand up the artichokes in your steamer basket over boiling water, cover, and cook for 45-60 minutes depending on the size of your artichokes.  Add more water to the pot as needed.

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C’est tout!  Just peel off the segments and eat them from the base, and then attack the middle with the fork once you get past the rougher outer layers.

Did your college roomies ever share tasty treats from home?  What do you put inside your stuffed artichokes?

Kitchen Adventures: Crockpot style

15 Jan

Things I love: coming home to the smell of something cooking.
Things I hate: anything that could feasibly burn my house down.

I have a bit of a complicated relationship with the idea of crockpots.  I just don’t trust them.  I know that they work for tons of people, but I just can’t wrap my head around intentionally leaving something cooking in my kitchen when I’m so far away.  So in my quest to get over this, I decided to take on a classic crockpot recipe today – with a twist – while I was out and about in the neighborhood.

The results were confidence inspiring and actually amazingly delicious – more so than anything I’ve made this way before.  The recipe is modified from a “Crockpot: the original slow cooker” cookbook I nabbed for $5 outside of Borders once upon a time.

Other than the delicious taste, this recipe wins because it just involves chopping some things up (no braising the meat, etc.), cooks at one temp the whole time, and doesn’t require you to buy tons of things you’ll never use in another recipe.  It’s also adaptable to almost any veggie – you can just use this as a starting point.  Definitely recommend for anyone who’s looking to spice up the old classic this winter!

Beef stew

Asian Beef Stew – Crockpot Style

  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 1/2 pounds round steak, cut up – I got mine pre-cut into stew meat sized chunks at the deli
  • 1 head of celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced – make your slices pretty thin, my carrots still had some crunch to them!
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced (really, can use as little as 1 cup or as much as you want)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup beef broth (look for low sodium and low fat versions)
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce - the one weird ingredient!
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Combine onion, beef, celery, carrots, and mushrooms in a large crockpot (the book recommends the 5-quart version, as though you have multiple sizes just filling your cupboards).
  2. Combine orange juice, beef broth, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, and curry powder in a small bowl – whisk together until cornstarch is dissolved.
  3. Pour into crockpot and give it a good stir – cover and cook on high for 5 hours or until the beef is tender.  When the beef is almost done (go ahead, peek!), stir in a cup of frozen peas and cook for a final 20 minutes or so.

Serve over rice, share, freeze, and enjoy!

This is definitely going in my list of easy favorites.  It has a great warmth to it, between the spiciness of the sauce and the curry.  The beef was so tender and tasty – I’m really looking forward to eating this all week.  Seriously!

What’s your favorite crockpot creation?  Had any major flops you learned along the way?

Kitchen Adventures: Potato pancakes!

7 Dec

Making potato pancakes in the food processor my mother got me at the Republican yardsale (see dated visual below) while listening to Christmas music = multicultural win.

These pancakes made for a delicious and pretty healthy dinner because they were baked instead of pan fried – few opportunities for them to soak in grease!  Make these for a week of lunches, for a party, to freeze, or in advance of a family brunch – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce = dinner of champions

Potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce = dinner of champions

Recipe modified slightly from this WW recipe.

Thyme and Scallion Potato Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), peeled and grated/shredded in a food processor
  • 2 small onions, chopped into thin slices
  • 8 scallions, chopped (just the white and some of the green)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 glove garlic, chopped or sliced (just to add some kick!)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • cooking spray
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Chop/ process the potatoes and onions – press together either between paper towels or within paper towels in a strainer to remove some of the water.
  3. Combine all ingredients (other than spray) in a large bowl and toss – don’t do what I did and mix things first, just do it all together!  And feel free to use your hands – it’s the best way to make sure every piece of potato is coated.
  4. Scoop out 1/4 cup (or so) chunks of mixture and place on a cooking sheet lined with parchment paper.   Don’t worry too much about size but make sure all your pancakes are the same thickness so they cook at the same rate.  Spray the exposed sides with a mini-spritz of cooking spray and place in the oven.
  5. Cook for 7-10 minutes (until the potatoes become translucent for the most part) and then remove from the oven to flip over and spray the other side lightly before returning to the oven for another 7-10 minutes.  (The original recipe said these would take 30 minutes to cook but mine were definitely less than 20 each).  Bake until well browned – remove and serve immediately or heated up later.
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Potato pancakes right before being popped in the oven

These are so good, I had to pack them up just so I would stop eating them.  Assuming that you make about 30 total, a serving is about 3 or 4, and they have about 1 PointPlus each.  In other words, they’re part of – or all of! – a tasty dinner… and lunch… and breakfast… and life!  These are definitely going to become a staple in our apartment, even after the holidays.

Other tips:

  • The Silpat mat did not come through for me this time – skip the mat and go straight for parchment paper to get a nice crisp and better texture overall.
  • Weigh your potatoes at the store – I was shocked at how big each potato actually weighed, since I never really cook with them.
  • Not into potatoes?  Got something else around?  I bet these would be similarly delicious with zucchini, some sweet potatoes, curry, etc. – just start from the basic recipe and you can’t really go wrong.
  • Don’t grate by hand, if possible – but if you’re short on time/equipment, you can supposedly buy pre-shredded frozen potatoes at most grocery stores.
My almond-colored, TWO-speed, "made in America (buy American!)" food processor, circa 1987 and courtesy of the local Republican yard sale.

My almond-colored, TWO-speed, “made in America (buy American!)” food processor, circa 1987 and courtesy of the local Republican yard sale.

The other secret win of this recipe is in the machine itself – I have a really bad habit of planning whole dishes without knowing for sure if my appliance is going to work at all/fit the quantity of food I’m making.  Case in point: my Republican blender is NOT as successful an appliance as this one and my beaters are not equipped to handle double batches of tahini bread.  But the fact that this food processor even was able to power up, and then worked exactly as I wanted it to, is a major victory.  Thanks, Mom!

What’s your favorite kind of holiday food?

 

Kitchen Adventures: Autumn in a nutshell

5 Oct

An acorn squash shell, to be exact.

My obsession with simply-cooked acorn squash has me buying them in multiples every time I go to the store.  Settling down to one for dinner (or as part of dinner) is the perfect way to end a blustery fall day.

All it takes is a small acorn squash, goat cheese, and brown sugar.  Start by cutting the squash in half, and scooping out the seeds and the pulp with a spoon.  Then put both halves of the squash cut-side down in a small microwave-safe casserole dish (mine is about 10″ across) with 1/2 inch or so of water in the bottom.  The goal is to give the squash enough water to steam, but not so much that it will take a long time to get hot.

Cook on high for 5 minutes, then poke the outside of the squash to see if it’s soft.  My small squash tonight took 15 minutes to cook fully, but it’s a good idea to check every 5 minutes and then just add more time to the clock if it needs more.  The inside should be bright orange-yellow and the outside should be tender when poked for it to be done to my standards.

Remove from the dish, top with goat cheese, salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  And voila – you’ve got dinner!  This is also really good reheated the next day, but I’ve only made it that far once and have succumbed to eating the whole thing every other time.  If it’s all you eat for dinner, you might be hungry later – this dish is only worth 3 PointsPlus (aka super healthy).

What’s your favorite fall food?

Kitchen Adventures: Tahini Orange Squash and Tofu

10 Feb

Tahini and I have a thing going.  Once I open a jar, all I can think about is how I can mix it into whatever dish I’m preparing.  Eggs, pasta, spinach – you name it, I’ve tried to incorporate tahini into it.  I even have more than one muffin recipe that calls for it (weekend project!).

Cooking in progress!

Last night, I took that obsession to a new level when I ripped this 101 Cookbooks recipe for Miso Sesame Winter Squash apart so I could incorporate my favorite ingredient of the moment and keep from spending more than an hour in the kitchen.  The result was delicious (but I bet the original would be too, if I had any desire to buy molasses and if Boston was able to get more than four kinds of squash in February).


Tahini Orange Squash and Tofu

  • 2 pounds butternut squash (about 1 – I bought two halves already peeled and sliced at the grocery store!) halved, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 8 oz firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces (optional)
Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil – used it all in the sauce
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon tahini
  • juice from one orange (about 1/2 cup)
  • juice from half a lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 5 tablespoons water

Tofu and sauce

  1. Cut the tofu into large slices (4 pieces or so total) and press between cutting boards lined with paper towels (I usually throw a heavy pot on top for some pressure).  Let sit while you continue prepping.
  2. Slice the squash into small pieces and set it to steam above a pot of water – mine took about 20-30 minutes (our timer is broken, sorry!) until you can easily cut it with a fork.
  3. While that’s cooking, whisk together the sauce in a medium sized bowl.  Cut up the tofu into smaller chunks and add to the bowl as well, letting marinade for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Saute an onion in a large frying pan/wok with a little sesame oil.  (This was not part of the original recipe, but it worked really well to soak up the sauce, so I’m sticking with it!)
  5. When the onion is a bit translucent, add the tofu to the pan and cook on high, letting the sauce start to boil down. *If you want to put some quick rice, couscous, or quinoa on to cook, this is the time to do it!*
  6. After about 5 minutes, add the squash to the pan as well and cook together for another 5 minutes or so.  The tofu won’t have a crust or anything like that, but when it’s warm and you can’t stand the amazing smells anymore, it’s ready to eat!
Phew!  By the time I took this recipe and turned the entire thing on its head (sauce concept, type of squash, cooking technique), it was an hour later, but it was still super delicious and totally worth it.  The orange really came through in a surprising and tasty way.  This made enough that I had two servings last night, put two away for lunch, and packed another one away in the freezer for some later date.
What’s your latest cooking adventure, real or hoped for?

Dinner is served!

Victory over adulthood

27 Nov

I did it!

With the help of Katie and Nate and encouragement from Mom, I cooked my first chicken!

It was easy to make, in theory – take out the bag inside, rub with olive oil and spices (that you should prepare beforehand so you don’t have to touch anything after you start dealing with the chicken), cook at 375 degrees for 15- 20 minutes per pound until the inside is 190 degrees (a conservative estimate, since some websites say 165).  But in reality, the mess and the hassle of chopping up a full chicken – as well as the actual uncertainty about when it would be done – made it not entirely worthwhile. I’ll probably go back to tofu and salmon for my dinner staples.

Still, I’m glad I got to have this hilarious cooking adventure with my awesome friends, I got to cross this off my life list, and I am one step closer to eventually being able to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family someday!

Plus, it went great with this holiday favorite, which I’ll tell you all about later this week:

 

Fuel for any time, any pantry

10 Feb

Pros about this dish:

  • It arrived in my inbox one morning and I easily and cheaply could make it for dinner the same day.
  • It’s healthy and adaptable to whatever you have around.
  • You can whip it together in 15 minutes once you’ve chopped and gathered all the ingredients.
  • It makes me feel smarter than Cameron Diaz.

According to Self magazine, this is her favorite dish, a breakfast classic she makes before surfing.  But the serving sizes in the original recipe don’t really make sense, and neither do the directions.  (Once you cook chicken and veggies in oil, there’s no way there’s enough liquid left to make a roux.)  Also, some of the comments on the blog warned about there being too much broth in the recipe, so I only added about a tablespoon and suggest skipping it all together.  Here is my twist on this recipe, which I just had seconds of because it was so good.  I might actually eat it for breakfast, too!

Cameron Diaz’s Garlicky Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cups broccoli or some other green veggie
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (or combine these two and use garlic salt)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (one boil-in-bag packet will do the trick)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 3 eggs (1 or 2 whole, the others just the whites)
  • 5-8 large basil leaves

This is a recipe that cooks quickly, so you’ll want to get everything ready at once.  Otherwise, you’ll be like me, turning the stove off halfway through so you can get out more ingredients.

  1. Cook the brown rice.
  2. Sprinkle chicken and veggie with salt, garlic powder, and pepper.
  3. Add chicken and broccoli to a skillet with some oil, and cook until chicken is lightly browned and your vegetable is wilted.
  4. Add flour and cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
  5. Add rice, garlic, and lemon zest to the pan.  Cook 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add eggs and mix well until the egg is integrated and well cooked.
  7. Add lemon juice and basil (or other spices, if you so wish).  Cook until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is slightly brown and crispy.

And that’s that!  I really like the idea of this dish, like a healthy version of fried rice.  I’d like to try it with some cheese mixed in and maybe some peppers next time.

Kitchen Adventures: Indulgent Italian

17 Jan

I am not a big fan of Italian food because I’m not crazy about tomato sauce, so risotto stands out as a shining beacon of pasta goodness.  I often order this at restaurants (heck, last Restaurant Week I had two courses of risotto at Locke Ober) but have never made it myself.

Until now!

I spent my Sunday night whipping up an inaugural batch of risotto in my new bright red cast iron pot, and the result was spot on.  It really tried my patience since I generally turn up the heat and get my food cooked asap, but taking my time to stir and simmer was more fun than I expected.

This recipe, which I got in my email a few months ago served as the basis of my risotto, but then I changed absolutely everything since I a) already had asparagus a few days ago and b) I don’t eat shrimp.  Also, c) I love any and every excuse to eat goat cheese.

This dish is great with a simple salmon on the side.  Before you start making the pasta, marinade salmon (1/4 lb per person) with lemon juice and dill.  About 13-15 mins before the risostto is done, pop in the oven at 375 degrees and cook until flaky.

Rich and Creamy Risotto with Squash

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (can be made from bullion cubes and water)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion (Vidalia or other) chopped
  • 1 cup Arborio rice [look for this on sale - it can be quite expensive in the grocery store but I got 5 cups worth for $2.99 at Ocean State Job Lot!]
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 medium yellow squash, sliced thin
  • 1 cup Portobello mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp goat cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped dill [you  bought it, might as well use it!]
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • dash of black pepper

Let’s get cookin’!

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