Easy weeknight chili

IMG_6342Quick, Easy 5 Ingredient Turkey Chili for them, and a hearty salad for me. I’ve posted about this turkey chili before, it’s super quick and easy to make and my family loves it. Don’t miss the note at the beginning of the recipe about adding some oil to the pan if you’re using turkey (there’s a beef version too, which doesn’t require oil).

My salad was delish. Arugula with roasted sweet potatoes, toasted slivered almonds, goat cheese, fresh thyme and a creamy balsamic dressing.

 

You’re welcome

OliveMill_IMG_6339I’m going to do you a huge favor tonight and introduce you to Alain Ducasse’s Olive Mill Pasta  (or re-introduce you, if you read  this post last fall).

What makes this dish so special that you’ll want to thank me? Well, you cook the pasta like risotto. Instead of boiling it, you mix the dry pasta in with butter and oil that you’ve cooked an onion and some potatoes in, and then simmer it broth with other yummy ingredients. The pasta comes out perfectly al dente, saturated with flavor, and coated with an almost creamy, flavorful sauce.

The dish is relatively quick to make at 45 minutes start to finish, making it doable on a weeknight. It can pass as a one-dish meal, depending on what your veggie requirements are. And it’s vegetarian, if you make it like I did with vegetable Better Than Bouillon, or with vegetable broth (I recommend the former for taste and convenience).

The recipe calls for  strozzapreti pasta. I find that you can use any curly-ish or shaped (ie: not long like spaghetti) pasta as long as it has that extra-matte texture you find in artisanal pastas. Here’s an image, for reference.

Fingerling potatoes work great, but you can also use those really small yellow potatoes. The potatoes I used tonight were about 1″ in diameter. For the tomatoes, I always use sun dried.

Taste it as you’re adding broth towards the end to make sure that the pasta does’t get overcooked. Add enough broth so it’s not too dry nor soupy. That’s all you need to know.

Quesadillas and an impromptu guest

Quesadillas_IMG_6326I love having impromptu dinner guests. We always had friends popping in and crashing dinner when I was growing up. It’s a great way to share a meal without the fuss of having guests, and it breaks up the weeknight monotony so nicely.

Thank goodness for 5-year old Rose, who is much better at being social than her dad and I. When my cousin Kirst stopped by last night to drop off an iphone case and some lovely tulips, Rose said: “Should we invite her to stay for dinner?” Yes! Of course! Why didn’t I think of that?

Kirst joined us for these quesadillas, which I made with a mixture of black and red beans, cheddar instead of goat cheese, and a cooked leek instead of scallions. We also had simple guacamole with just avocado, lime, salt and cilantro, and salad.

Brownies

Brownies_IMG_6324Shane made steak frites tonight but overcooked both the steak and the fries. As he put it: “This dinner was nothing more than a good salad and something to fill a nutritional void.”

With a review like that, I’m guessing you don’t need more detail. Instead, I’ll give you the recipe for my sister Anna’s most delicious brownies, which we had for dessert. So easy, so delicious, you make the whole thing in one saucepan (baking pans excluded).

• Anna’s Best-Ever Brownies •
Adapted from Baker’s One Bowl Brownies

4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (Anna uses Baker’s)
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (Anna uses Hershey’s or Hershey’s dark)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup flour
1 cup mini-chips (must be mini)
chopped pecans (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9″ x 9,” or 10″ x 10″ baking pan with foil leaving some hanging over the edge of the pan, and grease foil. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat in a small (2 quart) saucepan, stirring frequently. When chocolate and butter are melted, add cocoa powder and stir to combine. Add sugar, then eggs and vanilla, then flour and salt, stirring to combine after each addition. Mix in mini chips and nuts (if using). Spread evenly in pan and bake for 35 minutes, do not over-bake. Let cool in pan, remove and cut into squares. Wonderful.

Food weekend in the country

Click on images for larger view and description.

Our Cape Family got together for a delightful and much-needed reunion up at the “Drews” farm in the country this weekend. When I’m away, I tend to drop the ball when it comes to taking pictures and posting, this weekend was no exception. Instead of individual dinner posts, I’m offering a selection of images and notes about food from our weekend.

Among the things I neglected to photograph were: Drew’s homemade hummus with parsley, tabouli made with quinoa, fresh from the oven lemon poppyseed scones, just-layed eggs, sea-breeze cocktails (the quintessential summer drink), André’s wonderful homemade granola, and my sister Anna’s mind-blowing brownies.

Everyone asked for the recipe for Joy The Baker’s Chewy Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies. They were absolutely perfect, a make-again recipe for sure, not only because they’re utterly delicious, but also because the recipe calls for melted butter. Melted butter! Do you know how easy this makes my life? No more waiting several hours for butter to get soft (I always keep mine in the freezer). No more planning ahead (not exactly my strong point). These cookies are a game-changer.

 

 

 

A summery meal for the February blues

SummeryFeb_IMG_6193The last few winters have been so mild that I forgot what it was like to have the February blues. It’s awful.

This mood, this time of year, reminds me of when I first met my husband, Shane. It was February then, too. I was hanging out with Shane and a friend, and the friend said: “We were so depressed today, that we actually ate at Burger King.” I’ve been pretty depressed before, but I have never set foot in a Burger King. Shane and friend were in a seriously bad way.

I’m not about to head out to Burger King, or anything drastic, but I am getting awfully jealous of my friends who are posting Floridian vacation photos on Facebook. I found myself reading old blog posts from July and August this afternoon, and decided to make a dish from one of the most delicious, summeriest, beachy-haired, salt-licked, sun-kissed, succulent, evenings of summer: fish (Flounder, tonight) cooked the Adriatic Way.

With it we had an equally summery salad of Boston lettuce with cubanelle peppers, fresh basil leaves, and Rita’s Dressing. The quinoa, though quite tasty (recipe below), wasn’t very summery, I guess I just couldn’t keep up the facade. One of Shane’s margaritas might have helped.

• Quinoa with Mushrooms & Sage •
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cup quinoa, I like the organic kind that comes pre-washed
1 1/2 cups hot water
1 teaspoon vegetable Better Than Bouillon
2 tablespoons butter
1 package crimini mushrooms, trimmed and quartered
10 fresh sage leaves, finely slivered
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a small (2qt) saucepan over medium heat, add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat, add the mushrooms and sage and cook until done, about 10 minutes, set aside. When the onions are done, add the quinoa, stir to coat with oil and then add the water and Better Than Bouillon and stir. Simmer until the quinoa is translucent and cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, add more water if necessary. Add mushrooms and sage with any pan juices, to quinoa, stir to combine, taste for seasoning, and serve.

“The only thing I want for dinner is brussels sprouts”

OnlyBrussells_IMG_6182“The only thing I want for dinner is brussels sprouts” I couldn’t believe my ears when my five-year-old, picky-eater uttered these words today.

I immediately went to the store to buy every brussels sprout they had in stock. (It helped that we were already parked outside a grocery store.) At the same time, in my mind, I got down on my hands and knees and thanked god for Heidi of 101 Cookbooks, and her simple and delicious recipe, that made my daughter a convert. I also wondered what I’d done to deserve this. And then I contemplated whether five years of offering healthy, homemade meals might finally be paying off.

Only time will tell. We also had buffala mozzarella with olive oil and bread (she skipped the bread, naturally).

Pity the carnivores… but for the gigantic pile of prosciutto

PityTheCarn_IMG_6177Sometimes you just have to disregard your family’s dietary idiosyncrasies, and cook whatever you’re able to. Tonight was one of those nights. We didn’t have much to make dinner with, despite having spent $380 at Costco over the weekend, and Rose was being a pill about going out to the store. Screw them, I thought to myself, I’m going to make a blatantly healthful vegetarian meal they’re going to have to suck it up for a change. Yeah!

Alas, I love my family too much to be that cruel to them. I gave them a huge pile of week-old prosciutto as a concession.

The meal was an odd mix, and I wouldn’t serve the two main dishes together again, but I liked all the pieces very much. 101 Cookbooks’ Lemony Chickpea Stir-fry was good, even without the kale and tofu. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the baked tofu with miso came out. So much so, that the recipe is below.

• Baked Tofu with Miso Dressing and Peas •
1 package extra firm tofu
vegetable or canola oil
1 cup thawed frozen peas
2 tablespoons white or yellow miso*
1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1/4 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

The tofu is from this recipe, and paraphrased here. Wrap the tofu in 4-5 paper towels and press between two plates weighted down with cans or books, for 30 minutes. Replace towels and repeat for another 30 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and brush with vegetable or canola oil. Cut tofu into 1″ cubes and roll on oiled parchment to coat on all sides. Distribute tofu cubes evenly, on tray, with space between each cube, and bake for about 40 minutes, flipping halfway through. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

For the sauce, combine miso, sugar and rice vinegar. Whisk in oil until emulsified and then stir in fresh ginger. 

Combine cooled tofu, miso sauce and peas and serve.

*I used red miso tonight but I think this dish would be prettier and have a more mellow flavor with white, or yellow miso.

Better miso glazed salmon

BetterMisoSalmon_IMG_6157You might recall that my last foray into miso glazed salmon was, well, a disaster. Or close enough to it. The version below is much better. You could probably broil or grill the salmon instead of baking it.

We also had the same brussells sprouts as last night, roasted cubanelle peppers, and rice.

• Salmon with Miso Butter Glaze •
2 pieces salmon about 1″ thick with skin on one side
olive oil
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 tablespoon hot water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon miso paste

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place salmon skin side down in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled. Combine butter, hot water, brown sugar and miso into a thick sauce. Coat the top of  each piece of salmon with the miso mixture. Bake at 400 degrees until cooked through, 10-15 minutes.