Thursday, May 20, 2010

...When You Know Who You Are

Last night's dinner was similar to something I've made before (Things Can Get a Little...), but it was even better! I think it's even more spicy when reheated.

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions
Meets Mexican Rice

1 lb Spicy Italian Sausage, bulk or links with casings removed
1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
1 can Rotell
1 tbsp Tomato Paste
2 cups Chicken Broth
1 packet Goya Sazon
1 cup medium grain Rice

Tear the sausage into small pieces, place in large skillet with cover or chef's pan, and cook until brown. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve. Add onion to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add peppers and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in Rotell and tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken broth and sazon and stir well. Stir in rice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 minutes without removing cover. Stir and cook 5 more minutes or until rice is ready.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Same Old Situation...

Monday night, I used up the last of a bulk pack of pork chops. I think it was 10 of them for $10, and I split them into pairs and froze them. These last two were over an inch thick, and I only had time to pan-sear them, so I was getting nervous that they were way too crunchy on the outside while waiting to get the centers cooked. They ended up being beautifully done and juicy! We hadn't had risotto in a while, and I try to force green beans on Dave at least once a month. He'll eat them, he just doesn't really like them.

Pan-Seared Pork Chops in Sweet Balsamic Glaze
Tomato-Red Onion Risotto
and Green Beans

2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tbsp Butter
1/2 Red Onion, diced
1 medium Tomato, cored and diced
1 cup Arborio rice
3 cups Chicken broth (I only use Swanson - 100% fat free, Low Sodium, No MSG)

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts. Add the onion and tomato, and stir together quickly. Allow to cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Place 1 cup chicken broth in a small pan and heat to simmer. Add rice to the vegetables and stir together, allowing to cook for one minute. Make sure the rice doesn't brown! Stir in one cup of broth and keep at low boil until most broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, place another 1 cup in small pan to simmer. Add the second cup of broth and stir, again keeping at low boil until most broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally. While this is happening, put last 1 cup broth in small pan to simmer. When ready, stir in final cup of broth. Allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until most liquid is absorbed. Risotto should be slightly firm, but creamy. Place in serving bowl and allow to stand 1 minute before serving.
Tip: Risotto retains a lot of heat. If it is finished before the rest of the meal, leave it covered in the serving bowl for 5 minutes or so, and it will still be piping hot when served.

2 tbsp Olive Oil
2 pork chops, trimmed

Salt & Pepper
1/4 Red Onion, small dice
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3 tbsp Brown Sugar

Heat olive oil in frying pan. Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with salt and pepper. Place pork chops in pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. (Mine took much longer because they were so thick.) Remove and keep warm. Add red onion to pan juices and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Carefully stir in vinegar and sugar, and cook for 3 more minutes, stirring constantly. Pour over pork chops and serve immediately.
Tip: I drizzled some of the balsamic glaze on the green beans, and my husband actually ate more than his usual three pieces!

To make the green beans, trim fresh beans, or buy bagged pre-washed and trimmed beans. Boil water in a large pot. Add beans and cook at boiling for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to keep them a nice bright green. Serve!
Tip: Put the green beans water on to boil first, then start the risotto. Put the beans in to cook when you start the balsamic glaze.

Mmmmm...leftovers for lunch!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

They're Good Fine People...

A few weeks ago, I reached a glorious milestone in every woman's life: I turned thirty. Though I don't really feel like my body or activities reflect my age, it is still not something that I was excited about. Dave planned a little family party at our house, complete with a make-your-own taco bar, and I made some yummy sangria. To my surprise, my aunts and uncles brought presents! I really wasn't expecting that. Anyway, one of the gifts was a card for Chef Central, so I bought myself a Dutch Oven. I've been wanting one for a while, but they are just so expensive. A Lodge enameled cast iron 6-quart dutch oven was on sale, and it was perfect for the beef stew I planned to make last night. With my parents in the Catskills, I actually had enough time to plan and execute a slow-cooked meal on a Saturday. Prepared stew meat had been on sale a few weeks prior, so it was already in my freezer.

Beef Stew

1 lb Boneless Beef Chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 tbsp Flour
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
2 large Carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of Garlic, minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 small can Peas, drained
1 cup dry Red Wine
1 cup Beef Broth
1/4 tsp Dried Orange Peel
1/4 tsp Ground Cloves
1/2 Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1/4 tsp Dried Bay Leaf
2 tbsp fresh Parsley for garnish

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in dutch oven. Dredge half of the beef through the flour, coating all sides, and shake off excess. Cook beef, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a bowl, and brown the other half of the beef. Reduce heat to medium, add onion and carrots, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in tomatoes, including any liquid, and add Peas. Add wine, broth and spices, stir well, bring to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Add beef, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 2-hours or so, until beef is very tender. Remove beef with slotted spoon, raise heat to high, and boil sauce for ten minutes. Stir beef back in, and ladle into bowls. Serve with bread or biscuits.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Put On Your White Sombrero...

I had a package of ground turkey that had been hanging out in my freezer for a little while, so we had Turkey Tacos for dinner last night. We always use the Soft Taco Dinner Kit from Old El Paso, but after last night, that may have to change.
Tacos are so easy! Brown the ground turkey, stir in 2/3 cup water and the seasoning packet, cook until the sauce thickens, and you're ready! Sometimes, I season the meat myself with cumin, paprika, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. We put out bowls of shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and taco sauce (also comes in the kit), and just put together our own tacos.

Unfortunately, it seems that Old El Paso recently changed their product. The tortillas were completely different from what we were used to; too thin and almost crispy, they wouldn't hold together! They didn't taste the same, and the seasoning seemed different as well. We've never been disappointed before, but we'll only give them one more try before changing to a different brand.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I'll Go Find the Welcome Mat...

Even though I had an 8:45 soccer game last night, I invited my friend John over to have dinner with Dave and me. The meal I had planned sounded so good that I just wanted to share it with someone else! There was a small amount of potatoes and chicken leftover, and it was just as yummy for lunch today.

Lemon Chicken with Roasted Red Potatoes
and Asparagus Parmesan

1.5 lbs Baby Red Potatoes, halved and quartered
2 tbsp Olive Oil (I use a decent Extra Virgin for pretty much everything. Love the taste!)
Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with olive oil to coat, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss again. Spread potatoes skin side up on baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and stir potatoes. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring again halfway through.
I layered the potatoes on a large platter, and then poured the chicken and lemon sauce over top.

4 tbsp Butter (I used 2 tbsp salted and 2 tbsp sweet)
1/2 cup Dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay that someone had gifted us a while back)
1/2 cup Chicken broth
1/2 tsp Dried Thyme
1 lb Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
2 tbsp Lemon juice

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large skillet. Add wine, broth, and thyme, and bring to a boil. Boil 2 minutes, reduce heat medium, add chicken, and cover. Cook chicken until white on all sides, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and keep warm. Add lemon juice and return to a boil. Boil 5-10 minutes, until sauce is reduced to approx 3/4 cup. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining butter in small amounts, stirring continuously. Add chicken and heat through.
Tip: Do not just pour the chicken back into the pan; use a slotted spoon. Some liquid will have accumulated in the bowl, and this will thin out your sauce.

12 Asparagus spears, ends snapped off
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
2 tbsp Shredded Parmesan (I used a shredded Parmesan & Romano blend...mmmm.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange spears on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Shake pan to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and shake pan again to distribute. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with cheese and bake another two minutes to melt.
Put the asparagus in the oven after you've removed the aluminum foil from the potatoes. Make sure the potatoes are on the bottom oven rack, and the asparagus is on the top. Remove the potatoes after the 20 minutes, and melt the cheese on the asparagus while you prepare the potato and chicken platter.