Chicken Stroganoff

There comes a moment in cooking when you realize you’re a cooking nerd. Ok, admittedly I pretty much already knew that. But making this meal last night, as I stood their whisking the warmed chicken stock into the butter and flour, I got excited. I got really excited. It was thickening perfectly. No lumps. It just all came together exactly how I wanted. After the week I had been having (and it was only Tuesday), this little task made me positively giddy. Of course, my family looked at me like I was loco for being so excited about something as mundane as a roux. What can I say? I happily concede to the fact that I’m a cooking nerd. 

Tonight, I’d like to share with you one of my favorite comfort foods. I hope it brings you as much joyfully nerdy moments as it does me.

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into thick slices or chunks
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
½ tsp paprika
¾cup flour (divided)
Canola oil (I used olive oil)
10 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced (save yourself some time and buy the ‘shrooms that are already sliced)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken stock, warmed (I use the low sodium)
Sour cream to taste (the recipe called for 3 Tbs, but that’s just not enough for me, I used at least 1/3 cup. Add as much as you would like)
Egg noodles (I use what I have on hand, this time it was penne)

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Add chicken pieces to a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika; add ¼ cup of flour and toss everything to coat well.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat and drizzle with 3-4 Tbs of your chosen oil. When the oil is hot, work in batches to sear the chicken until golden brown on all sides. As the chicken is browned, remove from pan and set aside. Don’t worry if it’s not quite cooked through, it will finish when added back to the sauce.

Once all chicken has been browned, add a touch more oil if needed and the mushrooms. Sauté until golden brown and somewhat caramelized. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to chicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add unsalted butter; once melted add shallots and garlic and sauté until aromatic. Sprinkle remaining ½ cup of flour, stirring it into the butter until a soft paste forms. Slowly add the chicken stock, whisking continually to avoid lumps and allow the sauce to thicken.

Add the chicken and mushrooms back to pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes, turn heat off and stir in sour cream. Serve mixed with cooked noodles.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Pinot Grigio
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 4-6

Total time: 45 minutes

*Derived from The Cozy Apron
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Chicken Stroganoff


Crispy Chicken Bites

You know how sometimes in life you just happen upon something and it turns out to be so amazing you are STILL talking about it?  Like the “Cowie” that I bought for my niece when she was two.  Cowie is a stuffed Precious Moments cow that I bought on the clearance table outside of a Hallmark store. I know I didn’t pay over $5 for him (if even that), and I had no idea the impact Cowie was going to have on Alyssa.  Lys immediately started carting Cowie everywhere with her.  I can’t tell you how many times my sister had to turn the car around because Lys had forgotten Cowie somewhere.  How Cowie was in Lys’s backpack through each and everyday as she navigated elementary and junior high school.  Well, Lys is now in high school.  I don’t think Cowie is still tucked away in her backpack, and I know that’s because my sister cannot repair Cowie anymore.  He’s too thread bear and been repaired too many times before.  So, Cowie rests at home now, waiting for the moment Lys will get home and hold him in her hand again. This recipe, admittedly somewhat less dramatic, is like that amazing purchase you make and can’t get over.  When I found this recipe, I read it, I rolled it around in my mind.  Thinking of ways to make it mine. This dinner was THE dinner of the week, if not the month!

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbs soy sauce (I always opt for low sodium)
2 Tbs barbecue sauce (check out Sweet Baby Ray’s Original)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water

For the Chicken:

1 lb boneless / skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 cup flour
3 eggs
1/2 cup panko
Oil for frying

Preparation:

To make the Sauce:

Add all sauce ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until sauce starts to thicken. Set aside until the chicken is done.

To make the Chicken:

Add flour to a gallon Ziploc bag.  In a small, shallow dish (I usually use a Tupperware type dish), whisk eggs together.  In a second gallon Ziploc bag, add the panko.  To bread chicken, first add several pieces to the flour.  Shake your money-maker for all it’s worth!  Then dip the chicken in whisked eggs.  Finally, add chicken to panko Ziploc bag and again, shake it.

Add oil to a large, nonstick frying pan. Heat to medium high. Cook chicken in batches for 6-8 minutes or until golden and crispy. Chicken should be cooked through.

To Assemble:

Add cooked chicken back to pan and pour sauce over, coating chicken thoroughly.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Chenin Blanc
Fume Blanc
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4 small portions. For lunch tomorrow, double the chicken and adjust everything else

Total time:  About an hour and half

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*Derived from Nora Rušev

Another Weeknight Pasta

I know, I can hear everyone now, “Another weeknight pasta?!  How many weeknight pastas does one needs?  Aren’t they really all the same??”  Like Sugar Skulls, I can never have to many weeknight pasta recipes.  Somehow, there is always a little twist.  And quite frankly, everyone has those, “Oh man, I don’t want to make dinner, nor do I know what to make for dinner” moments.  Weeknight pasta is the perfect solution and it’s simple!  I don’t like simple – said no one ever.

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked pasta (any small shape that you’d like, I used a mix of what I had on hand)
1 Tbs olive oil (such as my new fave, garlic extra virgin olive oil by Sciabica’s)
1 lb lean ground beef (I use 90%, but 80% is great, too.  Or sub with chicken)
1/2 onion, minced
2 tsp dried oregano (if you haven’t tried LiteHouse freeze-dried herbs, I urge you to.  Run, don’t walk, to your local market and check out all of the options they have)
1 tsp minced garlic (as always, pre-minced, such as Spice Island)
28 oz crushed tomatoes (I love Cento)
2 cups beef broth (helps boost that meaty flavor)
1 can (6 oz) tomato paste (yes, you finally get to use the WHOLE can!!)
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Preparation:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium high.  Add beef, onion, and garlic.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, broth, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and sugar.  Stir well.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 20 – 25 minutes.  Drain pasta and add back to the pot.  When sauce is done, slowly add sauce to pasta, stirring to mix thoroughly.  Top with pasta and serve with warm, crusty bread.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Total time:  About 40 minutes

Serves 6

Another Weeknight Pasta

Another Weeknight Pasta

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Creamy Leek and Mushroom Pasta

I have a very good friend who is vegetarian. I’m not. But because of this friend, I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian dishes. A lot of them make me think of her. This is one of those dishes. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil (one of my best, best friends Agbeko, gave me this amazing garlic olive oil.  I use it for everything now.  Check them out at SunshineinaBottle.com)
2 large leeks, white & light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed (I thought I had leeks, but I didn’t. To sub I diced a large yellow onion. Yes, it changes the flavor of the dish, was still awesome, though)
1 lb sliced mushrooms, I used cremini and sliced baby bellas (save yourself some time and buy pre-sliced)
3 cloves of garlic, minced (another time saver is to buy it in a huge jar, such as that by Spice Island)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth (for truly vegetarian, use vegetable broth)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional. I opted out)
12 oz Angel hair pasta
Parmesan for serving

Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks (or, as in my case, onions) and garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until softened, 6-7 minutes.

Stir in broth and cream. Allow mixture to simmer 5-7 minutes, until thickened. Stir in parmesan and parsley, stirring until cheese is melted. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Drain pasta and return to pot. Slowly add creamy mushroom mixture. Toss to coat. Serve immediately with additional parmesan, fresh ground pepper, and parsley.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño

Chardonnay
Pinot Noir
Rioja

Serves 8 large / 5-6 small

Prep time 10 mins / total time 30 minute

I have a very good friend who is vegetarian.  I'm not.  But because of this friend, I'm always on the lookout for vegetarian dishes.  A lot of them make me think of her.  This is one of those dishes. Creamy Leek and Mushroom Pasta *Derived from Kitchen Daily Ingredients: 2 Tbs olive oil 2 large leeks, white & light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed (I thought I had leeks, but I didn't.  To sub I diced a large yellow onion.  Yes, it changes the flavor of the dish, was still awesome, though) 1 lb sliced mushrooms, I used cremini and sliced baby bellas (save yourself some time and buy pre sliced) 3 cloves of garlic, minced (another time saver is to buy it in a huge jar, such as that by Spice Island) 1 cup low sodium chicken broth 1 cup heavy whipping cream 1/2 cup shredded parmesan  1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste 1/8 tsp pepper, or to taste 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional.  I opted out) 12 oz Angel hair pasta Parmesan for serving Directions: 1) Cook pasta according to package directions 2) Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add leeks (or, as in my case, onions) and garlic, sauté 2 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until softened, 6-7 minutes. 3) Stir in broth and cream.  Allow mixture to simmer 5-7 minutes, until thickened.  Stir in parmesan and parsley, stirring until cheese is melted.  Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Taste and adjust seasoning. 4) Drain pasta and return to pot.  Slowly add creamy mushroom mixture.  Toss to coat.  Serve immediately with additional parmesan, fresh ground pepper, and parsley. Enjoy! Serves 8 small portions / 5 large Prep time 10 mins / total time 30 minute

*Derived from Kitchen Daily

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

Before I started grilling I kind of thought it was really simple.  I mean, why else would that be most men’s sole form of cooking?  I’m learning, however, how wrong I was.  I’ll give you that burgers and dogs are simple, once you get used to the grill.  And that’s the key, getting used to your grill.  Like oven and stove tops, they are all pretty unique in how they heat.  Some can take forever, such as the case with my crappy stove top, while others heat like a stove top is supposed.  I’m finding this pretty much sums it up with grills, too.  Also, finding that perfect spot to grill where the outside doesn’t get charred while leaving the inside raw.  And timing, when to turn it, when to move it, etc.  I’ve found a whole new appreciation for those that grill, and grill well.  But don’t tell them or I’ll deny it.  🙂

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
4 chicken pieces, with bone & skin, about 10-12 oz each piece
1½ lb asparagus
Olive oil
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges (for garnish – optional)

Lemon Butter:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 Tbs finely chopped fresh Italian parsley (as a time saver sub Litehouse freeze-dried parsley)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice (which is super simple since you just zested one)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preparation:

In a small bowl mash the lemon butter ingredients, including ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, until thoroughly blended.  (This can be a bit challenging as the lemon juice and butter do no naturally combine well)

Carefully lift the skin of each piece of chicken, being careful to not puncture the skin.  Spread 1 tablespoon of lemon butter around under the skin.  Lay skin back in place.

Transfer remaining lemon butter to small saucepan and melt over medium heat.  Set aside

Prepare grill for direct and indirect heat over medium (350° to 450°F).

Remove and discard the tough bottom of each asparagus.  This is done easiest by taking one and bending it gently at the bottom until it snaps at its natural point, then line the rest up and cut them at about the same location.  Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Brush chicken with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill chicken, skin side up over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until nicely marked on the bottom, about 5 minutes.  Without turning the chicken, move it over to indirect medium heat, close the lid and continue cooking until the meat is opaque all the way to the bone, about 30 minutes.  About 5 minutes before the chicken is done, brush the tops with some of the melted lemon butter and then turn chicken over to skin side down.  Slide over to direct medium heat, close the lid, and continue cooking until the skin is brown, basting once more with the lemon butter.  Remove from the grill, cover, and let rest 3 – 5 minutes.

Grill asparagus over direct medium heat, with the lid closed, until crisp tender, 6 – 8 minutes.  Turn occasionally.  Arrange asparagus on serving platter and drizzle with remaining butter.  Serve chicken warm with asparagus and garnish with lemon wedges.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Albariño
Barbera
Chardonnay
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes / Grilling time:  43 minutes

Lemon-Butter Chicken with Asparagus

*Derived from Jamie Purviance

 


Rustic Italian Braised Beef Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

I know, I was just going on and on about grilled steak and not wanting to give up summer.  Then what do I do?  Mix it up with a rich, hearty comfort food that would be perfect for winter.  I can’t explain it, I just goes with what speaks to me as I’m coming up with the weekly menu, then factor in time and schedules.  The beauty of this is that the braised ribs were done in a slow cooker. Believe me, I’m shocked too.  And, I was able to do the major prep work the night before. This is an incredible meal for sitting down with your family, and it would be equally appealing for guests.  I’m already planning my next dinner party!  (PS – Cheesy Polenta to follow in another post)  Update my friends – The short ribs reheated fabulously for lunch!  Polenta, not so much.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped onion
10 garlic cloves thinly sliced (I’m sorry, as a working mom. I just don’t have time for this.  I subbed minced garlic [by Spice Island] and no one ran from the table covering their mouths)
3 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp red pepper flakes (optional, especially if you have a 6 & 7-year-old that will act as if you are trying to perform some ancient ritualistic punishment)
1 (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
4 (10 oz) boneless beef short ribs (definitely go boneless.  The meat is fall off the bone, so the bones, well, just become a problem)
Salt and pepper to taste
Slivered fresh basil, to taste

Preparation:

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add onions, garlic, tomato paste, oil, oregano, and pepper flakes.  Stir until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatoes.  Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Add to slow cooker.  Cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 8-9 hours.  Less time?  5-6 hours on high is just as good.

Transfer short ribs to serving dish and tent with foil.  Strain sauce into fat separator, reserving  tomatoes, and let stand 5 minutes.  Add reserved tomatoes back to empty slow cooker and break into large chunks with a wooden spoon (I used a square face potato masher and it worked just fine!). Stir in defatted sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over short ribs and sprinkle with basil.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Bordeaux
Cabernet Sauvignon
Merlot
Sangiovese

Serves: 6
Active time: 10 minutes; Inactive time: 9 hours

Braised Short Ribs

*From America’s Test Kitchen – Slow Cooker Revolution

Lasagna with Zucchini

Lasagna is the quintessential comfort food.  And when you want comfort food, it doesn’t matter if it’s winter (the perfect weather for lasagna) or the start-up of summer.  Since I found this recipe in my June issue of Cooking Light, I felt it was the Food Gods way of telling me I need to make this.  Stat!  While midst of cooking, I realized it is the perfect remake of the perfect comfort food.  The zucchini and squash hold up well in place of Italian sausage or any other meat.  I found myself not even missing the meat.  Also, the sauce was not heavy, but so flavorful and rich.  The next day when I reheated for lunch, I did notice the zucchini and squash had a stronger flavor, but it still was very good and a meal that will make it to my rotation.  PS – This meal takes a LONG time to pull together, definitely keep for the weekend or when you have some additional time.

Ingredients:

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cups julienne-cut zucchini
2 cups julienne-cut yellow squash
1½ Tbs chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (this is where I cheated, b/c I always have to cheat.  I used pre-chopped garlic)
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup water from fresh mozzarella container
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2½ oz grated fresh Parmesan
1 (9 oz) package refrigerated fresh lasagna noodles (Our market did not carry this and I don’t care of the No Boil variety, that is until I found Delverde Ondine Instant Egg Lasagna.  Unlike our American brands, it did not take doughy or uncooked to me.  Certainly will use again and again!)
Cooking Spray

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add zucchini, squash, time, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes.  Stir in ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.  Remove zucchini mixture from pan and cool.

Combine remaining ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper, ricotta, mozzarella water, and mozzarella in food processor or blender.  Pulse until smooth.  Combine ½ cup ricotta mixture and ½ cup Parmesan.

Coat 8″ baking dish with cooking spray; arrange 2 noodles, trimming to fit if needed.  Top with half of zucchini mixture and half of ricotta mixture.  Repeat layers, ending with noodles.  Top with the rocotta-Parmesan mixture.  Cover dish with foil and back for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake additional 15 minutes.

Turn broiler to high.  Sprinkle lasagna with remaining 2 Tbs parmesan cheese.  Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 6
Hands-On time: 20 minutes; Total: 65 minutes

 Lasagna with Zucchini

 *Derived from Cooking Light