Monday, February 28, 2011

Easy and tasty shrimp stir fry

This stir-fry is super easy, and nice and tasty. I started with oil and garlic in the pan. I added sliced mushrooms and allowed them to saute while I diced other veggies. I diced carrots and celery and added them to the mushrooms. I added frozen peas (and carrots). While it cooked on high, I de-shelled some frozen shrimp.  Once I added them, I pushed them onto the pan with the veggies around them. I added some chopped up broccoli.
 
Meanwhile, I grabbed the Asian Toasted Sesame salad dressing from the fridge and added it, along with a few squirts of Sriracha.

Dinner was delicious! James said it was the best stir fry I made yet!



Sunday, February 27, 2011

Orange foods for the Oscars

In preparation for bidding on the Oscar's, I came up with an orange menu- Butternut Squash Soup, Bean Dip (melted cheese on top for the orange effect), and Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Since I have already posted the first two recipes, I HAVE to post the Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe because it was soooo good and soooo easy! 

This recipe was emailed to me from AllRecipes.com, but I served it with new Pretzel Chips:

Ingredients
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
3/4 cup pepper sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot®)
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 bag of pretzel chips

Directions
Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and pretzel chips.

The pretzel chips are KEY!

I put the soup in the large crockpot, and I put the Buffalo Chicken Dip in the small one that came for free with my mom got me for Christmas.  Believe me, the $35 I found the same online is WORTH it!




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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I have been craving Indian food. I honestly feel like I crave Indian and (American) Chinese food EVERYDAY.

So, I ventured onto foodandwine.com in search of a Chicken Tikka Masala recipe.  The key is to search for the Staff Favorites, and if you can find one, that is also Fast.  This recipe was a Staff Fav, but a make ahead. The hands on time is only 45 minutes, however, so I figured I'd give it a whirl. I have yet to go wrong with a staff fav!

This dish was AMAZING!!!!! I actually think it was better than the Indian take-out we had a couple of weeks ago! (JW doesn't remember the take-out to compare, certainly enjoyed eating this... 3 times!)

I wanted to eat this on Wednesday night, so Tuesday, after the WAC Toast to George, I marinaded the chicken. This marinade was great, and I will actually consider eating the chicken sometime only using the marinade and the broiling steps:

Ingredients

Masala Marinade

  • 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chicken

  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

    DAY TWO:
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I probably added a bit more... it was nice and warm!)
  • One 35-ounce can peeled tomatoes, finely chopped, juices reserved (I missed the finely chopped comment... I would just use diced tomatoes next time maybe.)
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream (I had half and half...)

Directions

  1. MAKE THE MASALA MARINADE: In a large glass or stainless steel bowl (I used a Pyrex 9x9), combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne and turmeric. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. PREPARE THE CHICKEN Using a sharp knife, make a few shallow slashes in each piece of chicken. Add the chicken to the marinade, turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

    DAY TWO:
  3. Preheat the broiler and position a rack about 8 inches from the heat. (This was my first time using a broiler! I never trusted all my old ovens at such a high heat, not to mention an open flame!) Remove the chicken from the marinade; scrape off as much of the marinade as possible. Spread the pieces on a baking sheet and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Broil the chicken, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes (I did 6 minutes on the first side, and 10 on the second side. 8 and 8 would be great). Transfer to a cutting board and cut it into 2-inch pieces.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small skillet (I used the LeCrueset so I can re-use it for the sauce later), heat 1 teaspoon of the oil. Add the almonds (I only had sliced almonds, and thought about leaving them out... but this was simple enough) and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the almonds to a plate and let cool completely. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until finely ground.
  5. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garam masala, chile powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes with their juices and the sugar and season with salt and pepper. 
  6. Cover partially and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. 
  7. Add the cream and ground almonds and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 10 minutes longer. 
  8. Stir in the chicken; simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, and serve.
During the simmering, we watched Antiques Roadshow from Monday. I also prepared some Jasmine rice (so good, maybe because I didn't buy store brand rice for once), and steamed broccoli.

So delicious! Like I said before, the chicken was so moist and flavorful out of the broiler, that I will definitely use this marinade again even without making the whole dish.  My broiler may become a new favorite!


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grandmom's Pasta Sauce

...it not meant to be made with ground turkey. It was missing some fat.... BUTTER!

My friend JD came over for dinner on Monday, to celebrate President's Day... and I had just gotten home from ShopRite.  I decided to make the pasta sauce from scratch again, as I was making it 6 times a week, and then stopped.

This was the first time for the ground turkey. Next time, I'll stick to the ground beef variations, but here is the recipe again:

2 cloves of garlic
1 diced onion
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lb of ground beef
5 diced tomatoes, about 2 1/2 cups (could also use canned)
1 can of tomato paste
5 drops of Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon of sugar, basil, and oregano
2 bay leaves
S&P


Saute the garlic and onion in the oil for about 8 minutes. Add the ground meat.  If using real meat, drain off some of the fat, and keep it on reserve if you need to add more.  Brown the meat. Add the tomatoes and spices, and let simmer for 30 minutes.


I also made asparagus. JD said she had the best asparagus ever that weekend, so dang.... these gotta be good. I trimmed the ends, and added them to a saute pan. I drizzled olive oil over the top, and then added two pats of butter and 3 cloves of garlic (I like garlic... mmm, and butter). I then squeezed half a lemon over the top, and sauteed with the lid on for just a few minutes. I use a glass lid, so I can tell when the asparagus get bright and green they are done. (A little yellow, and they are over cooked.) Sprinkle with S&P.


SO, dinner was served... the meat sauce needed salt. Actually, as I said, it needed fat, but it definitely was missing a bit of flavor having gone with the turkey. Ah well, we cook and learn. JD, however, did say that the asparagus were good. She even might have mentioned that they were better than the asparagus deemed the best ever. Check that out.

We joked that my single lady friend would be put on a meal plan, like in a college dining hall. Either bringing wine to cover her meal, or even possibly a flat rate :) Looking forward to seeing you for dinner Sunday, JD!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cookie brownie bars


Made them again, but added 1/4 c cocoa powder to make them chocolatey....even more so.
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Pork Souvlaki

It seems like all my posts are brown food... one day, I'll post something more colorful!

I made Pork Souvlaki last night after our recent V-day dinner at Zorba's, a local Greek BYO that JW looooves. I was searching on Food & Wine's website the other day, and cam across this recipe that I had made some time ago.  Knew it was a hit, and was ready to go again! Plus, I knew I was running to Whole Foods, and figured good meat was on the table tonight.

Last time I made this I made it with lamb shoulder. But, with pork shoulder running boneless at $3.99/lb at WF, I figured I had to do pork, like the recipe.

20 minutes to marinade:
Slice the pork shoulder in 3" by 1/2" strips. Slice an onion in long strips. Put in a bowl with 1/4 c olive oil, 3 T lemon juice, 2 T fresh oregano (I used 1 T dried), garlic, and salt and pepper.

Add it to a hot grill pan or griddle, and cook for 10 minutes or until done.

I served with pita, tzatziki and hummus that I bought... I've made the latter 2 before but didn't like my tzatziki and didn't feel like making the hummus.

This is a good one though!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Best chicken: Sage and Rosemary chicken

This is what I should have made for the WAC dinner. Well, besides the fact that it's ALL BROWN... I should have made this chicken.

This recipe is a great chicken dish I've been making since 2003 when I was working at The UPS Store and a customer left messed up photocopies of a Food and Wine magazine. I took one of the scrap copies- and have been making variations of this recipe ever since.

However, today's version seemed a bit easier than the original, which somehow I've even moved away from the pork!

4 chicken breasts
1/2 c flour
salt and pepper
1/2 t sage
1/2 t rosemary

1/2 c white wine
1/2 c Parmesan cheese

Ok- those measurements are of course made up- but I liked the 1/2.

Take the chicken and wash it out of the package. Mix the flour and spices together on a plate. Dredge the chicken in the flour, covering all sides.

Heat a pan with a little bit of oil. Add the chicken to the pan.  Brown on one side, and then flip. Once the second side is brown and mostly cooked thoroughly, add the white wine to the pan, and sprinkle cheese on the chicken.  Finish cooking while sauce reduces.

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Easy dinner night

I know that sometimes a home cooked meal can be overwhelming, so this is a good shortcut to keep on hand: Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo sauce. It has 60 calories per serving, although I end up eating at least 2 servings- it still isn't bad!

So, I slice up some chicken breast and through it in a pan. I cook it throw, and add some chopped broccoli to "steam" on top of the chicken in the last minutes. Meanwhile, I boil salted water and pasta.  Once the broccoli and chicken are mostly cooked, I add the jar of sauce (and empty it with a swig of milk).

Then I serve the sauce over the noodles. Last time I made it, I thought- ohh- angel hair- that'll be nice. Wrong. I always do that with angel hair. It absorbs TOO much of the sauce. Stick with linguine.