Thursday, February 16, 2012

Farfalle with Artichokes and Kale

Need a quick dinner?  Here ya go.  Waiting for the pasta to boil takes longer than anything else. If you can get someone to clean the kitchen for you, you'll be sitting down to the Real Housewives in about 20 minutes!

Farfalle with Artichokes and Kale

1 can non-marinated artichoke hearts (drained, rinsed, and dried with paper towels)
2 cups fresh kale, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 cup white wine
olive oil
1 box farfalle pasta
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. 

Meanwhile, heat olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan over medium heat and add chopped garlic.  Cook for about a minute (don't let garlic burn), and add artichokes.  Raise heat to medium high, saute for 3 minutes, then add kale, red pepper flakes, and salt. Cook until kale is wilted, about 5 minutes, and then add wine to the pan.  Bring it to a boil and simmer until pasta is ready. 
Drain pasta, and add to the pan with the artichokes and kale.  Toss, then add parmesan cheese, salt if necessary, and serve with a little extra parmesan cheese.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Slow Cooker PInto Beans

I've told you about these beans before.  My kids LOVE them.  We all do, actually, but when I find something the kids really like that is healthy and delicious, I tend to cook it a lot.  We fix our beans up like we would chili: cheese, avocado, lime, cilantro, sometimes corn chips.  So good!  Note: these beans cook for a looong time. There is almost zero prep work, just plan ahead.

Slow Cooker Pinto Beans

1 pound of dried pinto beans
1 ham hock/bone (optional)
1/2 onion, as a chunk so you can remove it later
2 whole cloves of garlic
8 cups of water
8 beef bouillon cubes (you could also use beef broth if you have a thing against bouillon)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse the dry beans (check for rocks) in the morning the day before you want to eat them, cover with water, and let them soak throughout the day.  That night, rinse them again and put them in the crock pot with the remaining ingredients.  Make sure the water covers the beans by a couple of inches.  Cook on low all night and through the next day (about 20 hours).  Remove and discard the ham hock, onion and garlic.  Serve with shredded cheese, avocado, and a little fresh lime juice (sour cream, tomatoes, and green onions are all good on top, too).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

It may come as a surprise to you Southerners, but until a couple of years ago I had never eaten chicken and dumplings (or chickn n' dumplins, as they say).  Neither my mother nor my grandmother ever made the dish, and the chicken and dumplings they served in the school cafeteria were gooey squares of dough with gross looking hunks of dark brown "chicken", so I never really had any desire to try it. 

Then, a couple years ago, when we had a big ice storm, our friends came to stay with us because their power was out, and Jessica brought a big pot of the most delicious thing I had ever eaten: real, homemade chicken and dumplings.  I've been hooked ever since.

Her recipe is simple and perfect, but I had a bunch of homemade chicken stock in the freezer just waiting for a freezing day like today!  Here's the EASY version of her recipe.

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

4 cups homemade chicken stock
white meat from rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup Bisquick (apparently, every Southern women knows Bisquick makes the best dumplings)
2/3 cup milk

Bring chicken stock to a boil.  Meanwhile, mix Bisquick and milk to form a soft dough.  Drop by small pieces into boiling stock.  Cook for 10 minutes.  Add shredded chicken. Salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

I'm not calling this recipe Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic like the original recipe does because 1) I didn't count the garlic cloves exactly as I put them in, and 2) it's nothing like the traditional 40 cloves recipe.  But it's good. Really good.  The sauce I could drink from a cup.  The garlic gets almost sweet like roasted garlic during the cooking and the chicken just falls apart. 

We had it with smashed potatoes and Spicy Kale (recipe later this week) and even the kids cleaned their plates!

Slow Cooker Garlic Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
40 cloves peeled garlic (you can buy whole, peeled garlic in the produce section)
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon butter

Salt and pepper chicken and add it to the slow cooker.  Add the garlic, wine, and spices and cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

When you're ready to serve, remove the chicken and pour the juices from the pot through a sieve into a bowl, then press the garlic through the sieve to form a paste.  Cook the sauce over medium high heat until it thickens slightly, about 6-8 minutes.  Add 1 tablespoon butter to the sauce.   Serve over the chicken.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quinoa with Kale Pesto

I found a big bag of cut up, triple washed kale at my Walmart this week! This makes me excited because kale is sort of a pain to wash, you know? I couldn't wait to make this pesto (and a big batch of kale chips).  Delicious! And what a healthy, filling meal.  And because my kids HATED it (it *is* green after all), John and I have plenty for lunch tomorrow.
Quinoa with Kale Pesto
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/2 cup kale pesto (recipe below)
1 can artichoke hearts, rinsed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese for garnish
Bring water to a boil and add quinoa.  Reduce heat, cover and cook until water is absorbed, about 12 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat skillet to medium high, and add a teaspoon of olive oil.  Saute artichokes and sundried tomatoes with a little salt for about 5 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the wine and then cook until the quinoa is ready.  Add the mixture to the quinoa, add the pesto, and toss to combine.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Kale Pesto
(This recipe makes more than is needed for the quinoa.  You can add the leftover pesto to pasta or sandwiches.)
2 cups kale leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup walnuts
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor combine kale, Parmesan cheese, walnuts and garlic and blend until finely chopped.  While processor is running, stream in olive oil until desired consistency.  

Valentine's Day Brownies

Here's an easy way to turn something ordinary into something special for your kids: cut brownies into heart shapes! You could use a brownie mix if you are so inclined, but I made homemade ones with this quick recipe.  I made half the recipe in a mini heart shaped cupcake pan, and the other half in an eight inch square pan and just cut out small hearts. 

Quick Homemade Brownies

1 stick butter
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Heat oven to 325.  Melt butter with unsweetened chocolate in a saucepan over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then stir until well combined.  Stir in flour and salt until just combined.  Pour batter into greased and floured 8 inch square baking pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes.  Or use mini heart shaped cupcake pan and bake for about 25 minutes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Soy Ginger Salmon

To quote my husband, "this is the best salmon I've ever had." Maybe he was just throwing out compliments, but think I kind of agree.  The ginger gives it a crunchy and spicy (not hot) crust.  Adding the Sriracha really kicked it up a notch (remember Emeril? I loved watching him way back when.).  Add as much as you can take!

Soy-Ginger Salmon
(serves 2)

2 salmon fillets

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (grate with a microplane to get it really fine)
zest of one lime
1/4 cup soy sauce
juice of half a lime
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

lime juice

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and add salmon.  Marinate for 10 minutes, no longer.  Heat nonstick pan to high and cook for on one side for 5 minutes, or until it's really brown.  Lower heat and cook on the other side for 6-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.  You can cover the pan with some foil to speed up the cooking after you flip it.  To plate, squeeze the juice of the other half of the lime over the top, drizzle some Sriracha, and sprinkle on some chopped cilantro.  Serve with Cilantro Lime Rice and edamame.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Truffled Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce

It's Sunday night. I'm feeling under the weather.  I've got no milk, bread, cheese, meat, fruit, lettuce, vegetables, pasta, or even crackers. EMPTY refrigerator and almost empty pantry. But I've got eggs! And I've got marinara sauce. I've got the white truffle salt John gave me for Christmas (I'm putting it on everything these days). And a few pieces of bacon for the side.  Problem solved. And I'm going to the store first thing in the morning!

Truffled Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce 

12 eggs
1/2 cup prepared marinara sauce
white truffle salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 400.  Spray 6 ramekins with nonstick spray.  Add about a tablespoon of prepared marinara sauce to the bottom of each ramekin.  Crack two eggs into each ramekin. Sprinkle white truffle salt over each ramekin and a little pepper.
Bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until the eggs are as firm as you like them: less time for runny yolks, more time for firm yolks. Remember that shallow ramekins will cook faster than deeper ones and that they will continue to cook as they cool.   Note: you can easily remove the eggs from the ramekins to serve them to kids; the ramekins are too hot for them to touch.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

French Onion Soup Redux

I love having dinners in the freezer ready to go for an easy dinner.  I don't really make huge portions for the purpose of freezing, but when I make a soup or something that has enough left over for another meal, I like to freeze it.  French Onion Soup, yes, please.

Here's the original recipe I used.  Tonight, I just thawed it out, added some bread and cheese, and threw it under the broiler for a minute. I was freezing after taking the kids to the park (I thought 50 degrees sounded warmer than it actually was) and this soup is so hot, it was perfect!

French Onion Soup (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (4 or 5 onions)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
french bread
swiss cheese, grated

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; now would be a good time to touch up your eye makeup that you cried off during the onion chopping process!

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes.
****At this point, I instead transferred the soup to a crock pot and cooked it for a few hours on low.

To serve: cut french bread to fit broiler-safe bowls.  Broil bread on high for less than a minute, until browned on one side.  Put browned side down on top of each soup bowl and top with grated cheese (as much as you want).  Put bowls on a cookie sheet and broil soups until bubbly and golden.

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding

I made these adorable banana puddings when we had friends over for dinner last night.  Making individual portions is such a good way to serve banana pudding!

I haven't had banana pudding in YEARS, which is strange considering I live in the south.  I guess I usually skip it because I don't care for the easy-peasy version with banana flavored jello and cool whip. 

Anyhow, this Old Fashioned Banana Pudding (no Jello involved) is perfectly Southern with meringue on top, but fresh whipped cream (not cool whip) will work in a pinch.  

Old Fashioned Banana Pudding (adapted from The Southern Living Cookbook, copyright 1987)

3 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
dash of salt
3 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 12 oz package vanilla wafers
5-6 bananas

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Beat the egg yolks; combine egg yolks and milk, mixing well.   Stir into dry ingredients; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened.  Remove from heat and add vanilla. 

Crush some of the vanilla wafers and layer in the bottom of ramekins. Add some banana slices, then top with custard.  Line sides with whole vanilla wafers. 

Top with meringue, whipped cream, or leave it plain. I actually used the real whipped cream that comes in the can.  It's a good alternative if you're in a hurry.