Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Spaghetti with Sauteed Chicken & Grape Tomatoes

Need a new way to dress up your spaghetti noodles? This delicious chicken dinner is easy enough for weeknights and has vibrant flavors and beautiful splashes of color! Simple ingredients like tomatoes, chicken, basil and garlic make this a healthy, fresh choice (pssst...it's also under 400 calories!).

Spaghetti with Sauteed Chicken & Grape Tomatoes
from Skinnytaste
serves 4

2 chicken breast halves, cut into 1 in. pieces
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
salt and pepper
1-2 tsp olive oil
8 oz. spaghetti
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
6 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
4 tsp olive oil
4 TB chopped fresh basil
Grated cheese, for topping, if desired

Bring a large pot of water to boil. 
Meanwhile, season chicken generously with salt, pepper, oregano & dried basil. Heat a large skillet on med-high heat. Add 1-2 tsp olive oil. Add chicken. Saute 3-4 min. or until no longer pink. Remove and set aside.
When water begins to boil, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Reserve about 1/2 cup cooking water before draining.
While pasta cooks, add remaining olive oil to skillet on med-high heat. Add garlic and saute until golden brown (do not burn!). Add tomatoes and salt & pepper to taste and reduce heat to med-low. Saute 4-5 min. 
When pasta is drained, add it to the tomatoes and toss well. If pasta seems to dry, add some of the reserved pasta water.
Add fresh basil and chicken and toss well. Serve topped with grated cheese if desired.

Monday, April 29, 2013

What's Cooking?

I just realized I haven't posted a menu since December! Oops! Our shopping schedule has been a little off, and my blogging has, unfortunately, been a bit irregular as well. My menu posting is changing a bit anyhow- at least for now. We're trying an experiment for a few months of shopping locally every two weeks instead of in Spokane once a month. It may save us a bit on gas and it will certainly be more convenient. However, we're not sure yet if it will cost more or not. That's the experiment! So for now at least, my menu will be for two weeks, instead of a whole month. Here goes, and happy cooking to you all!

Week 1 (Apr. 30-May 4)


Kielbasa & White Bean Stew
Gone to my sister's graduation!

Week 2 (May 7-11)

Moose Roast in the Crock-pot with Risotto


Honey Mustard Chicken
Breakfast Enchiladas

Monday, April 22, 2013

Quiche with Ham & Kale

I truly love just about anything that come wrapped in a flaky pie crust, but quiche is a weakness.

Of course it helps that I absolutely adore eggs. And cheese. And crust. Did I mention crust?

My idea of a perfect brunch would be a piping hot, flaky-crusted quiche with a colorful array of fresh fruit. I don't make quiche often because it's not super healthy, but once in awhile it's fun to splurge, especially when you have leftover ham and kale, not to mention a bit of Gruyere cheese!

So that's exactly what I did. I followed a recipe for a basic quiche, using my mom's pie crust recipe, then tossed in my cubed leftover Easter ham, some sautéed kale and the mellow cheese.

It was fantastic! The kale retained a bit of it's texture, while the ham and cheese lent a delicious saltiness to the rich egg custard. Oh, and as always, mom's pie crust turned out to be the best part!

Tip: I used my tart pan instead of a pie plate because it's so pretty and easy for serving, but that left me with a bit of extra dough and filling. I simply used the extra to make a small quiche in one of my 14 oz. ramekins! It was great for leftovers!

Quiche with Ham & Kale
adapted from Real Simple
serves 4-6

1 9 in. pie crust (your favorite or mine)
1 TB olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped
salt and pepper
4 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
2 cups chopped kale
1 cup cooked ham, cubed

Heat oven to 375. Fit the crust into a 9 in. pie plate (or tart pan- deep dish would work well). Place on a baking sheet (in case it spills over!).
Heat oil in a large skillet over med-low heat. Add the onions and a 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until soft, about 5 min. Add kale and saute several additional minutes or until kale is slightly wilted.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half and nutmeg. Stir in cheese and ham, followed by the onion/kale mixture.
Pour the egg mixture into the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, 35-45 min. Let sit for 5 min before serving.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Orange Shortbread {Sunshine Cookies}

You know those days when you're feeling a little blue and the sky has been gray for so long, then all of the sudden, the clouds part and you're bathed in glorious sunshine pouring through your kitchen window or your car window? 

Suddenly the world looks a little brighter (maybe literally, right?), the rays warm your skin and it's as if Someone sprinkled you with a little dose of happiness. 

Could you take that feeling, that experience, and put it in a cookie? 

Why yes. Yes, you can.

Allow me to introduce you to what I've dubbed "Sunshine Cookies"- delectable, buttery shortbread infused with edible sunshine (also known as orange zest) and rolled in sparkles (also known as sugar).

These cookies are perfect for spring or summer gatherings or even on a dreary winter day when you're simply in need of some pseudo-sunshine to perk you up!

Orange Shortbread
makes about 3 1/2 dozen

3/4 lb. (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 2 large oranges
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup sugar mixed with the zest of 1 additional orange (for rolling)

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter and sugar until just combined. Add vanilla and orange zest. 
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until dough starts to come together (it will be very crumbly). Finish mixing with your hands if necessary.
Dump onto surface dusted lightly with flour and roll the dough into 2 logs about 2 in. in diameter. On a large plate or cookie sheet, sprinkle the combined 1/2 cup of sugar and zest of 1 orange. Roll each log in the sugar mixture and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 min.
Preheat oven to 350. Slice each log into 1/4 in. slices. Bake on parchment paper or silpat lined baking sheets for 12-15 min.- unti the edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Store, tightly covered, at room temp.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Simple Sesame Chicken

You know how some recipes look absolutely amazing, but sadly involve about a billion and one steps, chopping up 23 ingredients and using a separate cooking technique you probably have to go to culinary school to understand for each one? Not to mention the 15 gadgets you can't afford, let alone know what they are or what they do.

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating slightly, but you know what I mean.

Well, this? This is not that.

This is really and truly quite simple, involves only about 5 steps, requires chopping only 1 ingredient and involves methods I'm pretty sure you've heard of ("whisk," "toss," "cook," and "bake," anyone?). Oh yes, and the only gadget you need is an oven safe skillet (but really, if you don't have one of those, just transfer the chicken to a baking pan for the oven and you're good).

So, no excuses for you! Make this chicken!!

Really, we were so impressed with the flavor of such a simple dish- it really could outdo anything at Panda Express and even give P.F. Chang's a run for its money! The chicken is tender and flavorful, having that perfect sticky "crust" on the outside which of course is the perfect vehicle for toasted sesame seeds. The first time I made it, I served the chicken with some steamed asparagus mixed in, over hot cooked white rice. The second time I served it over some stir fried noodles and veggies.

If you want to do the noodles, here's what I did: I chopped some cabbage (about 1/3 of a head), a carrot, a stalk of celery and 1/2 an onion. I had some leftover spaghetti, so that's what I used for the noodles (you can use some kind of fancy oriental noodle if you like). I stir-fried the veggies in some olive oil and sesame oil till they were crisp tender, then added some noodles and a mixture of 1 TB soy sauce, 1 TB brown sugar and 1 TB vinegar and stir-fried until the noodles were hot. They were delicious!!

Oh, and a "pro tip"? If you don't have the sesame oil, go buy some! I didn't have any the first time, but the second time I did and it made a huge flavor difference! Definitely worth purchasing!!

Simple Sesame Chicken
slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is
serves about 4

2 lbs. chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 TB flour

2 TB toasted sesame oil
1 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 TB low sodium soy sauce
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB white vinegar
1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
2-3 TB toasted sesame seeds

To toast sesame seeds: preheat oven to 350. Spread seeds on an ungreased baking sheet. Toast in oven 10-15 min., watching carefully so that they don't burn. Remove when seeds are fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400.
In a bowl, whisk together chicken stock, brown sugar, 1 TB sesame oil, garlic powder, soy sauce and  vinegar. Set aside.
Heat a large oven proof skillet over med-high heat. Put flour, salt and pepper in large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken pieces and shake until evenly coated. Add olive oil and 1 TB sesame oil to skillet and once hot, add chicken pieces in a single layer. Cook until seared and golden on one side (about 2-3 min.); flip and cook until golden again. Pour sauce mixture over chicken and toss to coat. Turn off heat and place skillet in oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Serve over hot cooked rice or noodles with your choice of veggies.

Friday, April 5, 2013

{Slow Cooker} Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta & Kale

Once again, I've come to the time of year where I can't decide if it's still soup weather or not.

Some days lately it's been up in or near the 70's with sunshine streaming in the windows, inviting me to unpack my summer box of clothes. But other days, like today, the gray returns and the chill creeps back in like an unwanted guest who has overstayed their welcome.The warm sunny days make me eager to dust off the grill and make big crisp salads, but when the rain and fog roll back in I still cling to my warm, comforting, hearty soups.

This soup is so delicious that even if it's warm where you are, you might not want to wait for fall!

It is full of hearty things like sausage, beans, pasta, and of course, veggies! The sausage adds a bit of zip and the kale gives it a vibrant freshness.


Sausage and Bean Soup with Pasta & Kale
adapted from The Italian Dish
serves about 6

1 cup dried cannellini beans, soaked (or 1 15 oz. can, drained)
1 lb. ground sausage (turkey or pork)
1/2 med. onion, diced
1 med. carrot, diced
1 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
6-8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1 cup ditalini pasta (or any small pasta)
a few handfuls of chopped kale
grated Parmesan cheese (for topping)

In a large skillet, brown the sausage; remove from pan and drain off the fat. Do not wipe clean. Add onion, carrot and olive oil and saute 2-3 min. or until softened. Add garlic and saute about a minute more.
Combine sausage, sauteed vegetables, tomatoes, chicken broth, thyme, bay leaf and salt and pepper in crock pot. Cook 6-8 hrs. on low setting.
15-20 min. before serving, add pasta; stir. Cook on high until pasta is almost tender, about 10 min. Add kale and stir, cooking for several minutes or until wilted.
Serve topped with grated Parmesan.
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