weeknight gourmet

Meatless Monday: Creamy Brussels Sprouts Spaghetti

IMG_1784Here’s an easy weeknight vegetarian pasta.  The sauce cooks while the pasta is in the pot so it is super quick to put together.

As a shortcut, I bought a bag of shredded Brussels sprouts from Trader Joe’s.

The store was out of ricotta salata so I used shaved pecorino and parmesan.  Ricotta salta is pretty salty so if you are using a different cheese, I might add a bit more salt to the sauce.  Despite the cream (only 1/4 cup), the dish felt light and fresh.

If you wanted to add some additional flavor you might saute some pancetta before adding the Brussels sprouts to the pan.  Of course, it would not be a recipe for Meatless Monday then.

 

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Spaghetti
Real Simple

  • 3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 ounces ricotta salata, thinly sliced
Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions, reserving ¾ cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
Add the Brussels sprouts, cream, the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and toss to coat. (Add more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce.)
Serve topped with the ricotta salata.

Chili Eggs

Turkey chili has been a staple in our kitchen for years.  My go-to recipe can be prepared in only 30 minutes — though it is always better if made ahead.

Recently I’ve been using the leftover chili to make breakfast a bit more interesting.  I’ve done a scramble with the chili.  I heat up the chili in a frying pan and then add four or five eggs I’ve whisked together.  I might add some grated Monterey Jack just before the eggs are done.

This morning I was particularly inspired and decided to do poached eggs.  I put leftover chili on a toasted English muffin and then topped with a poached egg.  Delish!

IMG_1738

Chicken & Sausage Cacciatore

IMG_1732Here’s a quick cacciatore with chicken and sausages.  It was delicious and perfect for a cold, snowy night.

Despite the two pints of grape tomatoes, the tomato flavor was not dominant.  Some reviewers of the recipe mentioned adding tomato paste.  If you want more tomato flavor, try this.  But I really enjoyed the earthiness from the mushrooms and red wine.

The store was out of skin-on, bone-in thighs so I used skinless, boneless.  If you make this change, add the chicken and sausages back to the pot at the same time.

We mopped up the delicious sauce with some crusty bread.

Chicken & Sausage Cacciatore
Bon Appetit

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 large chicken thighs with skin and bones (about 1 1/3 pounds)
  • 3/4 pound fresh mild or hot Italian sausages
  • 3/4 pound large mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 12-ounce containers grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and sausages to skillet. Sauté until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken and sausages to bowl.

Add mushrooms to skillet. Sauté until brown, about 4 minutes; add to same bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet; add tomatoes, red wine, garlic, and rosemary. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until tomatoes soften, about 5 minutes. Using potato masher, lightly crush half of tomatoes. Return chicken to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered 5 minutes. Add remaining contents of bowl and simmer uncovered until chicken and sausages are cooked through, turning often, about 15 minutes longer.

Place chicken and sausages on platter. Cut sausages on diagonal into thick slices. Stir basil into sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken.

Cheesy Baked Shells & Broccoli

IMG_1626This is an easy homemade mac and cheese that will please kids and adults!  Tasty with the added benefit of a bit of broccoli in the dish.

I followed the recipe as written, using a mild cheddar.  The only addition was including a bit of parmesan to the cheddar sprinkled on top.

Charlotte gobbled it up!

Cheesy Baked Shells & Broccoli
Real Simple

  • 3/4 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated Cheddar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 16-ounce package frozen broccoli florets

Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Whisk in the milk and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add 1 ½ cups of the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the nutmeg, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Add the pasta and broccoli and toss to combine. Transfer to a broilerproof 8-inch square or a 1 ½-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle with the remaining ½ cup of cheese. Broil until golden, 3 to 4 minutes.

Chicken Braised with Red Wine Vinegar & Tomatoes

IMG_1618Who doesn’t love braised meat on a cold day!  But doesn’t braising take hours?  Here is a very tasty weeknight braised chicken dish.

The red wine vinegar and tomatoes create a delicious piquant sauce.  You’ll want plenty of bread to dip in the sauce.

Chicken Braised with Red Wine Vinegar & Tomatoes
Fine Cooking

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 4 even pieces
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/3 cup good-quality red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put the flour, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a 1-gallon plastic zip-top bag. Close and shake to combine. Add the chicken to the bag, zip it closed, and shake vigorously to coat with flour.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet(preferably cast iron) over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add half of the chicken in a single layer and cook, flipping once, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil to the pan and repeat with the remaining chicken.

Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds more. Stir in the tomatoes and bay leaf, raise the heat to high, and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar and boil vigorously until almost evaporated, about 30 seconds. Return the chicken and any accumulated juice to the pan, along with the chicken broth, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, stirring well to combine. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley, cover, and cook for 1 minute more.

Season to taste with salt. Remove the bay leaf and serve.

Crock Pot Black Bean Soup

blackbean copyI haven’t really been posting because some other things have been keeping me busy.  BUT I have been cooking.  This week I made this super easy and delicious black bean soup in my slow cooker.  I just had to post it because everyone — me, Tim, and 3.5 year old Charlotte — loved it and it is pretty rare to get a dish that is such a hit for all three of us.

I followed the recipe as written using veggie stock.  After 9 hours on low, I used my immersion blender to puree the soup a bit.  It really couldn’t have been easier!  The soup was dinner one night and lunch the next.

Crock Pot Black Bean Soup
Weelicious

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
  • 1 32 oz chicken broth or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup water

1. Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium heat and sauté onions for 4 minutes.

2. Add chopped garlic and sauté an additional minute.

3. Place the onion garlic mixture into the crock pot along with the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

5. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the ingredients to your desired texture (I like to get it so a few pieces of beans are still visible so the soup is thick and still has a bit of texture).

6. Top with a dollop of yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche.

7. Serve.

Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs

IMG_0760After making some less than stellar chicken thighs, I was on the quest for a better technique.  This recipe was easy and delicious!!

In addition to the salt and pepper, I added a touch of Italian seasoning.  But other than that, I followed the recipe exactly and the chicken was moist and the skin was crsipy. YUM!

 

 

Perfect Pan-Roasted Chicken Thighs
Bon Appetit

  • 6 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 475°F. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a 12″ cast-iron or heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until hot but not smoking. Nestle chicken in skillet, skin side down, and cook 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high; continue cooking skin side down, occasionally rearranging chicken thighs and rotating pan to evenly distribute heat, until fat renders and skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes.

Transfer skillet to oven and cook 13 more minutes. Flip chicken; continue cooking until skin crisps and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Fall Soups: Pasta, Kale, and White Bean Soup

Untitled copyHere is a delicious fall soup recipe I made last week.  It was super tasty — great smoky flavor from bacon and the parmesan, tomato, kale, and white beans are a great combo.

I made a couple of small modifications.  I didn’t have a parmesan rind so I omitted it. And instead of ditalini I used mini raviolis.  Also subbed fresh kale for frozen.

Charlotte and I both gobbled it up.

Pasta, Kale, and White Bean Soup
Food Network Magazine

3 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus 1 small piece rind
1 1/2 cups small pasta, such as ditalini (about 8 ounces)
1 15-ounce can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen chopped kale, thawed and squeezed dry

Put the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, garlic, tomato paste, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until the carrots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, 6 cups water and the parmesan rind. Increase the heat to high; cover and bring to a boil.

Add the pasta and beans and cook, uncovered, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add the kale. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove the parmesan rind, stir in half of the grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and top with the remaining cheese.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pasta-kale-and-white-bean-soup-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese

photo(1)I’ve made this wonderful and quick Bolognese from the Barefoot Contessa before.  But in an attempt to be lighter on carbs, served it over spaghetti squash on Monday night.

I love pasta and nothing will ever truly be a substitute but this was a pretty delicious meal!  Spaghetti squash is so easy to prepare and pairs wonderfully with a tomato-based sauce.   Will definitely be moving this into our fall / winter meal rotation.

 

Spaghetti Squash

  • 2 whole spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.Split the squashes in half and scrape out seeds. Line an oven tray with aluminum foil. Season the spaghetti squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place flesh side down and roast for 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle.When squash is cool enough to handle, using a large kitchen spoon scrape the strands of squash from the inside of the skin.
Weeknight Bolognese
Copyright, 2010 Barefoot Contessa, How Easy is That?

  • 2 TB good olive oil, plus extra to cook pasta
  • 1 pound lean ground sirloin
  • 4 tsp minced garlic (4 cloves)
  • 1 TB dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 ¼ cups dry red wine, divided
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 2 TB tomato paste
  • Kosher salt & black pepper
  • ¾ pound dried pasta, such as orecchiette or small shells (
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving

Heat 2 TB of olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook, crumbling the meat until the meat is no longer pink and has started to brown. Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 more minute. Pour 1 cup of the wine into the skillet and stir to scrape up any browned bits. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 TB salt, and 1 ½ tsp pepper, stirring until combined.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the directions on the box. Finish the sauce while the pasta cooks. Add the nutmeg, basil, cream, and the remaining ¼ cup wine to the sauce and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large serving bowl.

Add the sauce and ½ cup Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot with Parmesan on the side.

Serves 4-5.

Fish with Herbed Bread Crumbs & Green Beans

IMG_0503After the decadent meal of Orecchiette Carbonara with Charred Brussels Sprouts, I decided to make a lighter dinner last night.

For the fish, the recipe recommends tilapia or catfish filets.  You simply season the filets with salt and pepper and cook in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil.  Top the fish with some panko you toast in the oven.  The panko adds a nice crunch and a bit more flavor.

The steamed green beans are tossed with green olives, whole grain mustard, olive oil, and salt & pepper.  Great combination — especially for us with our olive-loving little girl.

Overall a healthy and delicious dinner that only took about 20 minutes to put together!

Fish with Herbed Bread Crumbs and Green Beans
Real Simple

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
  • 1/3 cup pitted green olives, halved
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 6-ounce skinless tilapia or catfish fillets
  • lemon wedges, for serving

Heat oven to 350° F. Toss the bread crumbs, butter, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, tossing once, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Let cool, then toss with the parsley.

Meanwhile, steam the green beans in 1 inch of water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes; drain. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the olives, mustard, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the tilapia with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, in 2 batches, until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Serve the tilapia sprinkled with the bread crumbs, with the green beans and lemon wedges on the side.