Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rice Noodles with Sesame-Ginger Flank Steak

New night, new cuisine! Some of our favorite meals out are Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisine. With another night of hockey on Saturday, we decided to dine in and make our own version. This was budget-friendly and not too unhealthy.

I used to subscribe to Cooking Light and have a lot of recipes that I saved, but never got around to making. Flipping through my binder of recipes, I came across this one for Rice Noodles with Sesame-Ginger Flank Steak. The flavors were delicious - fresh ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and toasted sesame seeds. We had a lot of the ingredients on hand, just had to pick up some veggies, rice noodles, and a fresh container of sesame seeds. We didn't have and sesame oil on hand, so I substituted with vegetable oil. You could easily substitute tofu for the steak to make it vegetarian.

We bought some salmon fresh rolls from the sushi counter at the grocery store. They came with a delicious peanut dipping sauce. The rolls have rice noodles, cabbage, mint, shredded carrot, and sushi salmon all wrapped in rice paper. You'll find these on the menu at most Thai and Vietnamese restaurants with either tofu or shrimp instead of the salmon.

This is definitely a keeper! It was great the next day for lunch. More photos in the album to the right.

Trofie with Vodka Sauce and Garlic Bread

Tonight's dinner was a repeat (bison burgers), so I am going to feature our weekend meals instead! Friday night we stopped at the store to get something quick and easy for dinner. The Boston University hockey game was on TV - so we needed something that could be eaten on the couch.

We picked up some fresh pasta and sauce from the grocery store and a mini-baguette to make garlic bread. The pasta took about 10 minutes to prepare, I threw in some frozen peas in the pot to cook at the same time. The sauce just needed a quick warm-up before getting tossed with the pasta.

The pasta was called Trofie - it was about 2 inches long and is thin, twisted pasta. The sauce was a vodka sauce - tomato, basil, parmesan, and a touch of cream.

I love garlic bread - ask anyone in my family and they will agree. Here is a quick and delicious way to make it at home.

Quick and Delicious Garlic Bread
1 fresh mini baguette
Appx. 2 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of butter
2-3 cloves of fresh garlic (depending on how garlicky you want the bread)
1 tbsp. basil (dried or fresh)

Turn your oven to broil
Cut baguette in half (like you are going to make a sandwich)
Place baguette, opened up, in the oven for about 5 minutes (until warm)

Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium heat
Add oil, butter, and garlic
Saute for about 5 minutes, until garlic is soft - but not brown
Stir in basil
Pour garlic butter into a small bowl

Take bread out of oven
Brush garlic butter generously on both sides of the bread

Pour a glass of wine, put the pasta in a bowl, and enjoy!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Pasta pot, skillet, spoons, brush, serving dishes and utensils

Chicken and Rice - With a Twist

I stopped eating chicken for about a year (well, almost 2) - probably because the frozen chicken breasts I was buying didn't have much flavor. I've started buying free-range fresh chicken from Whole Foods now chicken is back on the menu. Now the challenge is coming up with interesting ways to prepare it. This was a delicious meal - lots of flavor, not too much work required, and great for lunch the next day. I used veggies that were leftover from other meals, you can use whatever you have on hand (frozen or fresh).

Southwest Chicken and Yellow Rice with Vegetables

First, prepare yellow rice according to package directions. The type we buy takes about 25 minutes. While it is cooking, prepare the veggies and the chicken.

Second, prepare the vegetables.
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 portabella mushroom, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 tsp. Olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat (you will also cook the chicken in this skillet)
Add cut vegetables and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until they are soft
Remove from the skillet and put in a bowl, until the rice is done
When the rice is finished cooking, add vegetables and mix

Third, cook the chicken
1 1b. boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp. ground chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. dried cilantro (fresh if you have it)
1 tsp. garlic powder
Olive oil (about 1 tbsp.)

Heat olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat
Cut chicken into 1 inch pieces
Toss chicken pieces with the herbs and spices
Add to skillet and cook about 3-4 minutes per side

To Serve
Put a serving of rice and vegetable mix in a bowl or on a plate
Put half the chicken on top
Repeat for the second plate

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
1 pot for the rice, 1 large skillet, spoons, cutting board and knives, serving dishes

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wiener Schnitzel!

We usually go to the store and check out the weekly specials before we decide what will be on the menu. Tonight's inspiration was veal cutlets. They are quick cooking and can be made in a variety of ways. My grandmother makes delicious breaded veal cutlets (or chops) and serves them with spaghetti. This is my quick version - and I think it rivals any veal entree you can order at a restaurant! It was definitely more budget friendly.

The veal has a basic flour, egg, and breadcrumb coating. It's quickly pan-friend and just needs a little lemon for a kick. On the side I made a quick homemade tomato sauce to serve with spaghetti. I got the veal ready to go in the pan first, then started the pasta water and sauce at the same time. Once those were going, I started cooking the veal.

If you were feeling adventurous, you could turn this basic breaded cutlet into veal parmesan your favorite veal entree. Enjoy!

Breaded Veal Cutlets
Serves 2
2 veal cutlets
About 1/2 cup flour
1 egg + splash of water, beaten
About a 1/2 cup of italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil
Lemon wedges

Heat about 1 - 1.5 inches of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (about 6 on my stove)
Take out 3 shallow bowls and set up on counter next to the skillet
In the first bowl (farthest from the stove), put in flour
In the next bowl, put in the egg and water and lightly beat
In the bowl closest to the stove, put in the breadcrumbs
Take the veal cutlet, coat both sides in flour and shake off excess
Dip in the egg, coating both sides
Dip in the breadcrumbs, coating both sides
Repeat for the second veal chop
Put veal cutlets into the hot oil, and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side.
Remove and put on paper towels to drain excess oil
Serve with lemon wedges

Quick Tomato Sauce
1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
A few squirts of tomato paste (from a tube)
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
A few shakes of dried basil and dried parsley
About 1 tsp. of sugar
Salt and Pepper
1 tsp. olive oil

Heat a large skillet over medium heat
Add diced onion and minced garlic, cook until onions are softened, 5-8 minutes
Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper, and stir
Continue to cook over medium-low heat until the rest of the meal is ready (about 5-10 minutes)

Prep Time - 10 minutes
Cook Time - 10-15 minutes
2 large skillets, 1 pasta pot, 3 shallow bowls, spoons, cutting board and knives

Monday, March 16, 2009

Menu for the Week

Stay tuned this week for Italian night (veal cutlets), Indian night (chicken curry), and a few other recipes TBD. If you have something good planned, send it my way in the comments section.

I've heard that there quite a few folks checking out the blog. I hope you will become a follower and make comments when you try recipes (or make requests!).

I'll be back after dinner!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Eggs - The Perfect Dinner Food (and lunch, and breakfast....)

I love eggs. If there weren't a few health issues around eating eggs at every meal, I would do it! Now my dining companion thinks that eggs are best served at breakfast (and then, only in pancakes or french toast). So I have to think creatively about how I can sneak them in to the dinner rotation.

I stopped at the store a few different times last week and had a small amount of a variety of veggies left over. I decided that a frittata would be a great way to use up the veggies and have eggs for dinner. This is an easy 1 skillet meal and can go with salad, bread, potatoes, or whatever you'd like!

I made an 8 egg frittata, so that we would have leftovers. The next morning I microwaved a piece for a minute and put it on an everything bagel for a fantastic breakfast sandwich. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it....Sadly there are no pictures, I ate that at work.

Quick and Easy Frittata
Adapted from a recipe in The Farmstead Egg Cookbook

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped broccoli
8 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a 10 inch skillet (medium-low heat)
Add onions and mushrooms and saute until soft
Add broccoli and continue to cook for about 5 minutes
Take the veggies out of the skillet and set aside in a bowl

In another bowl, whisk eggs, 3 tbsp. of Parmesan, parsley, salt and pepper

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in the skillet
Pour in eggs, then distribute the veggies on the top
Cover, and cook over medium-low heat about 15 minutes until the top is almost set

Take off the heat, cover with a dinner plate and flip the frittata onto the the plate
Slide it back into the pan (bottom side up)
Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan on the top
Cook a few minutes until done

Cut into wedges and serve!

To reheat - microwave for 45-60 seconds.

Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 20-25 minutes
1 large skillet, spatula, 2 bowls, 1 plate, whisk, cutting board and knives

Quick Chick Dinner

Sometimes it's good to get help from the store! These panko-sundried tomato crusted boneless skinless chicken breasts were the same price as the regular ones. So I took the help! A quick fry in the skillet and dinner is ready!

Instead of our standard rice or cous cous side dish, I cooked up a quick pasta and veggie accompaniment. I boiled some egg noodles, sauteed green beans and baby bella mushrooms in olive oil, and tossed it all together. A light and healthy side dish! A note on portions - we split the chicken in the picture into two portions. It made a better picture all in one piece!

Spanish Beef and Yellow Rice

I've been cooking a lot - but have been delinquent in getting the pictures and recipes online. Here is one of last week's creations. We eat ground beef a lot and were looking for something other than a burger or meatloaf. A quick check of the fridge (and a look at a few recipes) inspired this Spanish style beef. I served it over yellow rice with a little guacamole on the side. Muy bueno!

This is a pretty easy recipe and can be adjusted for the veggies and ingredients you have in the fridge. I threw in garlic, yellow onions, red pepper, and fresh parsley. The recipes I looked at all called for tomato sauce, which I did not have. I used a can of diced tomatoes and a couple of squirts of tomato paste instead. I think the sauce might have made it too soupy. The yellow rice was lovingly prepared by Goya, I just followed the instructions on the box.

Here's how I did it - more pictures are in the photo album.

Spanish Style Beef (served with rice)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 - 1/4 lb. Ground sirloin (or ground beef)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt added
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (from a tube)
About 1-2 tsp. each Chili Powder and Cumin (to taste)
Handful of chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat
Add the ground beef and brown for 3-4 minutes, crumbling the beef as it cooks
Add onions, pepper, and garlic and continue to cook until beef is just brown
Drain any excess fat, if necessary
Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, spices, and parsley
Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the rice is ready.

I served it over a Goya Yellow rice - a nice rich flavor. You could use any type of rice and it would be delicious.

Leftover meat would be a good filling for stuffed peppers (top with cheese and stick under the broiler), tacos, or burritos. I'm always looking for ways to cook once and use for a few meals! Enjoy!

Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 10-15 minutes (meat); 25 minutes (rice)
1 large skillet, spoon for stirring, cutting board and knives

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Oscar Night Festivities

With a 4+ hour night of Oscar watching (including red carpet coverage), you need more than just a one dish meal to make it through. My dining partner was sleeping, so I could eat it all myself! I started with a Cucumber Cooler (recipe below) while I prepared the meal. Next - a little mixed greens salad to feel healthy. On the side was a deconstructed bruschetta with toasted baguette, mixed olives, peppadew peppers, and brie cheese. After about an hour, a little more nourishment with a baked yukon gold potato with a little brie cheese and chopped sundried tomatoes. Perfect for grazing - no labor intesive cooking - and quite satisfying! See more pictures in the album to the right.

Good Cook Doris' Cucumber Cooler
About a 1 inch piece of english seedless cucumber, chopped into small pieces
Vodka (your choice on the amount)
Lime flavored sparkling water
Sugar (just a splash)
Slice of cucumber for garnish

Muddle the cucumbers in the bottom of a glass with sugar
Fill with ice
Add vodka
Fill glass with sparkling water
Garnish with cucumber and enjoy! (I didn't use enough ice in mine - see below)


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