Friday, March 18, 2011

Recipe Swap :: Pasta Primavera

This week's recipe swap's theme was a vegetarian dish.  I submitted our favorite, but unique macaroni and cheese recipe from Rachael Ray.  It  was a French Onion Mac 'N Cheese.  I have not made it again since starting this cooking blog, but I must put it on our list because it's just too good to not write about.

I received the recipe for Pasta Primavera from Christina who is the author of Tales of the Mad Men Kitchen.  She has a great cooking blog so I knew this was going to be a delicious recipe!

This was a huge hit in our house.  I made this for our "Tiff Tuesday" when my best friend comes over for dinner.  What a light, but delicious dish -  what a perfect Springtime dinner.  While we were eating, we were already thinking ahead to the next time I would make this dish and what other veggies we would add: broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, the possibilities are endless and just as yummy!  We didn't have any herbs de Provence on hand (I used it up and forgot I did) so I used a combo of dried basil, dried thyme, dried sage and then a touch of garlic powder.

Pasta Primavera
3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 medium zucchini or 1 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
2 yellow squash, cut into thin strips
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs or herbes de Provence
1 pound farfalle 
15 cherry tomatoes, halved 
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
On a large heavy baking sheet, toss all of the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper, and dried herbs to coat. Transfer half of the vegetable mixture to another heavy large baking sheet and arrange evenly over the baking sheets. Bake until the carrots are tender and the vegetables begin to brown, stirring after the first 10 minutes, about 20 minutes total.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
Toss the pasta with the vegetable mixtures in a large bowl to combine. Toss with the cherry tomatoes and enough reserved cooking liquid to moisten. Season the pasta with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Back in the saddle...

With the winter ending the way it started, snow, ice and just all around treacherous running conditions, I found it hard to run through our town since many of the residents are not terribly considerate of runner .  While I took a hiatus from running, I started doing the Biggest Loser on XBox Kinect.

So today, as good of a day as any, I decided to run.  Honestly, while I was walking during my warm-up, I thought, "I will just walk around the block and do a workout at home instead" and "I'm just not feeling this today."  Obviously these thoughts were just that, thoughts and I let myself overcome them and trudged forward.  Taio Cruz's Dynamite came on my IPod and I just had this immense desire to run.  2.5 miles later in just over 30 minutes, I would call my first day back a success.  And damn, it felt amazing!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Recipe Swap :: Spinach & Onion Risotto

Risotto.  One of my absolute favorite dishes and will order it out any chance I get.  Risotto is not one of those dishes that I can cook often, as I am usually entertaining a 2 yr. old & 7 month old at the same time as getting dinner on the table.

However, being a part of this recipe swap has given me the opportunity to overcome obstacles (with the chowder) and in this instance, make a dish I normally wouldn't or cook with foods I normally don't.  I like expanding my repertoire and we love trying new things.  This swap was a side dish.  However, we made this for our dinner tonight.  I provided the Buttermilk-Parmesan Mashed Tators this time since we enjoy those every time we have them.

When I got the email with my recipe, I had to chuckle because I received a recipe from Lauren.  She had my recipe last swap too!  What are the chances!

This recipe was very simple, with simple ingredients, but absolutely scrumptious!  The house still has a delicious fragrance of sauteed onions & garlic which has got to be one of my favorite "the kitchen is busy" smells!  My husband doesn't need leftovers for lunch tomorrow and I am thrilled because that means I don't have to share!

Next time we make this (oh, you can bet there will be a next time!), I am going to add cooked chicken sausage or shrimp.

Spinach & Onion Risotto

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves raw garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth, warmed
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter in the oil over medium heat and saute the onions and garlic. Add the rice; stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it is absorbed.

Add the chicken broth 1 ladle-full at a time, letting it fully absorb before adding more. This process takes about 17-25 minutes, depending on the day!

Halfway through, add the cheese.

Before the final ladle of broth, add the spinach.

Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Oven Fried Chicken Nuggies & Parmesan Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes

This recipe for Oven Fried Chicken Nuggets I got from my friend Lauren who has her own awesome cooking blog and who has been an inspiration to me in the kitchen.  I made these quite some time ago and they were a huge hit. I made these before my oldest daughter (now 2 1/2 yrs old) was eating table food so this time the true test was if she would eat them.  Well, the verdict is in and she cleared her plate.

The only modifications I made was that I used panko breadcrumbs & agave nectar instead of honey since that is what we had in the pantry.  

With these delicious chicken nuggets, I was hankering for some delicious mashed potatoes!  The recipe that I used was from Cooking Light.  The potatoes were moist and very tasty.  Rather than microwaving the potatoes (because our microwave is quite possibly the first microwave ever made), I boiled them and then continued with the recipe.  

Oven Fried Chicken Nuggets
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar -- I used balsamic
  • 1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs -- again, I used panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I used cooking spray)
  • 6 (4 to 6-ounce) fresh boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halves
Preheat oven to 375°F.In shallow bowl, whisk together agave and vinegar. Pour bread crumbs into separated bowl. Set bowls aside. Spread oil over foil-lined baking pan large enough to hold all chicken pieces in one layer. Roll chicken pieces in agave/vinegar mixture, then in bread crumbs; place in pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked thoroughly.

Buttermilk-Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 1/3  pounds  baking potatoes
  • 1/2  cup  fat-free milk
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1/3  cup  buttermilk
  • 1/4  cup  (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch pieces and place in pot with enough water to cover the top of the potatoes.  Boil until potatoes are tender.  Drain potatoes, return to pot and mash with a potato masher.  Set aside.

Combine milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until butter melts. Add milk mixture to potatoes; mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in buttermilk and remaining ingredients.

Layered Fiesta Casserole

This casserole has been in our recipe repertoire for quite a few years and never disappoints.  I honestly don't even know where this recipe came from.  But that doesn't matter now, does it?  Not since I decided to share it with you!  

We love mexican cuisine... we usually have at least one dinner a week that is in the cuisine and this is one of our favorites.  Normally we use ground turkey for our casseroles just to save on some fat/calories, but it certainly doesn't take away from flavor.

Layered Fiesta Casserole
1lb ground meat
1 onion, chopped
1 green and red pepper, chopped
1 jar salsa
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 pkg frozen corn
12 corn tortillas
1 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Brown meat with onions & peppers in a large skillet. Drain. Return to stove. Stir in salsa, tomatoes, & corn. Bring to a boil.

Spoon 1 cup of meat mixture into a 13x9 dish. Top with 6 tortillas, overlapping if necessary. Cover with 1/2 of the remaining mixture. Top with cheese. Add remaining 6 tortillas, cover with meat and top with cheese.

Bake 25-30 min. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

To accompany this dish, I made Skinnytaste's Cilantro Lime Rice which was the first time that we made it and it was really delicious.