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Archive for January, 2009

adapted from Epicurious.com, SELF, November 2002

Nope, this is not pasta! I love spaghetti squash and this was a really easy, healthy week night dinner. You can add pretty much any vegetable to the mix, but we just happened to have all of the ingredients in our kitchen (that never happens!). The sauce is really great by itself and would definitely work with regular ‘ol pasta too.


Ingredients
1 spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 lb)
Vegetable-oil cooking spray
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
1 can (28 oz) diced plum tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Lay squash on sheet, flesh side down. Bake for about 45 minutes or until you can easily pierce shell with fork. In the meantime, saute the garlic and onion in oil over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Lower heat if sauce begins to boil. Remove squash from oven. Scrape with a fork to pull strands from shell. Transfer to plates and spoon sauce over squash. Top with fresh grated parm.

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Kale Chips

I know, I know, these sound crazy. But trust me they are AWESOME. I bought a huge bunch of kale for the Minestrone soup last week. I had a lot left over and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I saw these on Kath Eats Real Food, a blog I currently love to read, and was intrigued… I figured they were simple enough that if it didn’t work out, no big deal. Well Tony and I were both pleasantly surprised. Although you can’t tell from the pictures, the kale goes from a bouncy leafy green to a crisp chip in a matter of 15 minutes! They are crunchy and salty and a delicious side dish. Who would have thought?!?….

Ingredients
1 bunch Kale
2 tsp olive oil
Kosher salt
Parmesan Cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheet with tin foil. Tear kale leaves off stems and tear into bite size pieces. Spread kale onto cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with grated parm. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are brown and kale is crispy. Enjoy!

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Perfect Roast Chicken

adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, The Food Network

I have to give Tony full credit for this meal! He really really wanted to make a whole roasted chicken- veggies, roasting pan and all. I think he originally got the idea in his head after we watched an episode of the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. Normally we don’t sit around watching the Food Network together (ok, sometimes) but we just got our new Flat Screen TV and wow! Forget sports and movies, the Food Network looks amazing in HD! We were mesmerized (and then quite hungry)! So we decided to go for it last Sunday night. I helped prep the veggies but the bird was all Tony!

It was a really great dinner that supplied us with 2 nights of leftovers plus lunch! The actual recipe is so simple to prepare- it just takes a long time to roast in the oven. So just make sure you’re not starving when you start to prepare because you won’t be eating for another 2 hours or so! Our only critique was that the chicken itself seemed a little bland. Tony thinks next time we (he) should periodically baste the chicken to make it more flavorful and juicy.

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh thyme, plus 20 sprigs
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 large yellow onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb of fennel, tops removed, and cut into wedges
  • 4 red potatoes, cut into wedges
  • Olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, fennel and potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, 20 sprigs of thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.


Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

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Mushroom Bourguignon

Wow. This was AMAZING. The traditional French dish is Beef Bourguignon, so needless to say I have never had it. But I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen made with mushrooms and as my mouth watered over the pictures I knew I had to make it. It’s a vegetarian’s dream come true- a traditional meat dish translated into veggie-friendly without losing any of the delicious stewy flavor. Most people don’t even bother to try, but even my husband, the carnivore, enjoyed this recipe immensely (although I think he will definitely have it with beef next time he sees it on a menu!). It has been sooo cold here and this is the perfect stew for a cold winter night!

 

Ingredients
(Serves 4)

 

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobella mushrooms, sliced thick (I also threw in some cremini)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine (I used cabernet)
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup frozen pearl onions
Egg noodles, for serving

Directions

Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium heavy on high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.

Lower heat to medium and add another tablespoon of olive oil. Add carrots, onions, thyme, salt and black pepper and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute. Add the wine, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat up to high and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the mushrooms back into the pan with any juices that have collected. Add broth, tomato paste and thyme.

 

Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more. Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. Serve over egg noodles and enjoy!

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Minestrone

This is definitely my favorite soup to make in the winter. It’s the ultimate warm-you-up-on-a-cold-night soup. I’ve made it a number of times, originally following Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe from her Family Dinners cookbook to the letter. However, after a few times, I’ve since added my own variations (mostly for time saving purposes). I don’t think I’ve ever made it the same way twice. That being said, it is my go-to soup for a cold winter night when I have the time to invest in all the chopping and simmering. Definitely worth the effort, but probably best made as a Sunday night dinner. And that means you get to eat leftovers for lunch all week!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound swiss chard (I used kale), coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
1 14.5 oz. can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary and/or thyme leaves
6 cups chicken stock
1 piece of parmesan cheese rind (as Giada says, never throw away a parmesan cheese rind! We always stash ours in the freezer for this very reason)
Salt and Pepper

 

Directions

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add garlic, onions and carrots. Saute until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add swiss chard (or kale), zucchini and potato and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, beans and chopped herbs and simmer about 10 minutes, until greens are wilted and tomatoes break down. Add broth and parmesan rind and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add grated parm to each bowl and serve with warm crusty bread.

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Meyer Lemon Risotto

Over the holidays, Tony’s cousin Fred gave us a bag of Meyer Lemons straight from his backyard in Florida. We used a few of the lemons with a salmon dish my Mom made over Christmas. When we got home, I debated over the best way to use the rest of them and finally decided to make lemon risotto. I was tempted to bake something, like a Meyer Lemon pound cake, but after all of the baking I did over the Christmas season I needed a break! This risotto turned out great and you could really taste the lemon flavor. Thanks Fred!


Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion (finely chopped)
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups low sodium chicken broth (two 14.5 oz. cans)
4 oz. fontina cheese (grated)
2 tsp. lemon zest (finely grated)
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup fresh sage (coarsely chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste


Directions

In a medium pot over medium heat, bring the stock to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a large pot melt the butter and oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for about one minute. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the wine is absorbed. Next, using a measuring cup, add about a half cup of the hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding stock, a half cup at a time, stirring constantly, until the stock is absorbed. Continue until all of the stock is added and the rice is creamy and tender, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat. Immediately add the fontina cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and sage. Stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and set aside for a couple of minutes. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake

Gourmet, October 2008

In my search for the perfect gingerbread recipe this holiday season I came across this recipe from Gourmet. I think we have a winner! It dries out pretty quick, so after a day or two it tastes best warmed in the microwave for a few seconds (and really, when isn’t a cake better warmed?). I enjoy my gingerbread with a cup of coffee in the morning sitting by the fire… but it’s also great for dessert topped with whipped cream.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
3 large eggs
1/4 cup grated peeled ginger (or substitute powdered ginger)
1 Bosc pear

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, knocking out excess. Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Melt butter with water. Beat together brown sugar and molasses with an electric mixer until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Add butter mixture and ginger, beating just until smooth. Pour into cake pan. Peel pear and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Scatter over batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly.

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