Tuesday, February 15, 2011

White Cheddar, Wine & Roasted Garlic Pasta

With chicken. And broccoli. This was amazing. Amazingly easy, too. As long as you plan ahead and make the garlic paste, it's a cinch to whip together. I think it's also one of Scot's new favorites and may even have a spot on the "Top 10" list for him, but I'd have to double check on that. Essentially, it's a gourmet-ish mac n cheese with some chicken and broccoli thrown in, at least that's what I told my 2 year old. Nice enough to serve to guests but not labor intensive -- my kind of "guest" meal! Serve with a nice salad and some bread, put some candles on the table and justlikethat you're in your own little Italian restaurant. At least that's what we pretended last night. For about 5 minutes. Until the boys each wanted to sit in a lap and talk to Daddy. Serves 4

White Cheddar, Wine & Roasted Garlic Pasta8 oz. Penne
  • 2 T butter
  • ¼ cup roasted garlic paste (Wrap 2 heads of garlic (with the papery outer layer off and the top 1/4 cut off) in tin foil and bake for one hour at 350. Let cool and then squeeze roasted garlic goodness into a small bowl and smash with a fork.)
  • 1½ T flour
  • ¼ c white wine
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 1 c shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of broccoli, cut into florets and blanched until crisp-tender, OR, if you're in a hurry like me and don't have time to chop chop chop, one bag of frozen broccoli florets steamed
  • 1 boneless/skinless chicken breast (2 halves), grilled or pan fried and cut into bite size pieces
  • Grated Parmesan for the top (actually pictured!!!)
-- Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile...
--In a large saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat and add the garlic paste. Stir about a minute. Add the flour and stir some more.
--Add the liquids, stirring constantly, and let it come to a simmer for 2 or 3 minutes.
--Add the cheese and enjoy watching it melt before your eyes. Oh yes. Stir.
--Add in the chicken and broccoli and stir to coat.
--By now, your pasta should be done, so drain that and then add into the sauce as well.
--Dish 'er up and enjoy the delicate and yet intricate flavors!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup

I found this recipe via a friend on Facebook who made a few tweaks from the original which I then tweaked some more. That's the wonderful thing about soups, right? The tweakability. This is a quick and easy soup to throw together to spruce up the classic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup dinner. And if you were planning on opening a can of Campbell's Tomato and just adding some spices, you might as well open a can of crushed tomatoes, right? So go on now. Rummage through your pantry. I'm sure you have everything needed. Enjoy! Feeds 4-6

Roasted Tomato Soup
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 1/4 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 'canned' red pepper chopped
  • 1 t cumin
  • a dash or two of red pepper flakes
  • 4 c chicken or vegetable broth
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dry couscous(if you don't have a large container of couscous on hand, please note that a box of couscous will yield you three soups!)
  • Cilantro
  • Sour Cream
--Saute the onion, red pepper, and spices in Olive Oil until onion is transparent and spices are fragrant
-- Add broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Let boil 5 minutes.
-- Add couscous and reduce heat. Let cook for 8 minutes and then remove from heat.
-- Top with sour cream and cilantro!

** The original recipe called for a chile pepper in adobe sauce - something I didn't have on hand. But with a little research, I found that you can use either a red pepper or chopped chiles along with cumin and red pepper flakes to get (nearly) the exact same result.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

White Wine Artichoke Chicken

This was such an easy meal to make! It's light and tasty, healthy and pretty. What more could you want? I have to say that a year ago I would not have tried this recipe due to the presence of the mushrooms. In the last few months, though, I've been trying to get over my aversion -- and I have to admit, I loved this meal because of the mushrooms. Crazy, I know. But true. I served this over rice and with a hearty portion of rosemary green beans on the side. Yum-o-licious!

White Wine Artichoke Chicken
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 tsp. herbes de provence (or a combo of other dried herbs: basil, parsley, oregano, thyme)
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced baby Bella mushrooms (1 carton)
  • 1 (14 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained - I did more than this because I love artichokes so much
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • Grated Parmesan as garnish (not pictured, as usual)
-- Combine the flour and seasonings in a shallow dish and lightly coat chicken breasts
-- Transfer chicken breasts to a skillet with hot oil and pan fry them (8-10 minutes) until done
-- Meanwhile, slice mushrooms and drain artichokes.
-- When breasts are done, transfer to a plate and keep warm. As long as there is still a little oil left in the pan, dump the veggies right in. If not, add a little extra first.
-- Let veggies cook about 5 minutes until the mushrooms are all dark and little.
-- Mix the wine and broth together with 1 T of flour and pour in the skillet with the veggies. Stir and let thicken just a little - a couple minutes.
-- Transfer the chicken back into the skillet and coat with the sauce. Serve over rice with lots of sauce spooned on top! Oh yes, and don't forget the Parmesan!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Bread

Get your biggest mixing bowl out and a bag of flour and sugar and get ready to have your house smell a-ma-zing! I got this recipe from a friend and she did the loaves as mini-loaves, and if I had enough mini-loaf pans I would have done that, too. As it was, I only had 3 normal loaf pans and they did fine, but I think it would have been better if I had had 4 pans. Seriously, though, this bread is quick and easy to make, it requires a little elbow grease if you don't have a mixer, but it's totally worth it! YUM.

Pumpkin Apple Bread
  • 7 cups flour
  • 7 t baking soda
  • 2 t salt
  • 5 t cinnamon
  • 2 t nutmeg
  • 1 t cloves
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 cups oil
  • 8 eggs (beaten)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 can pumpkin (30 oz)
  • 1 can apple pie filling
--Mix it all together (wet first and then add dry) and pour into greased/floured loaf pans.
--Bake for 65 minutes at 350 (35 minutes for mini-loaves)

Orange Chicken Vegetable Soup

We love soups. I mean, we really love soups. Give us a hearty piece of bread and you wouldn't even know there had ever been anything in our bowls. Now that Evan is old enough to slurp up some soup, too, we pull out the bowls at least once a week. This soup is very subtle. It has hints of orange to compliment the vegetables and chicken. It's hearty enough to be a main dish and yet not creamy or heavy. It will be making a second appearance for sure.

Orange Chicken Vegetable Soup

1 Medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Clove Garlic, minced
4 Celery Stalks, sliced
3 Tbs. Vegetable Oil
2 ½ C. Chicken Broth
1 ½ C. Orange Juice
1 14 oz. Can Tomato Sauce (I used 2 8oz cans)
1 C. Water
1 4 oz. can Diced Green Chilies
1 Tbs. Chopped Cilantro
½ Bag Matchstick Carrots
2-3 Chicken Breasts

-- In a large pot sauté onion, garlic, celery, and carrots with oil until onions are translucent.
-- Add broth, orange juice, water, and tomato sauce, cilantro, and chilies and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add chicken here and let them cook in the amazing flavors.
-- Pull chicken out and shred (or cube) and add back to soup.

NOTE: Originally a "tortilla" soup with toppings like chips and cheese and sour cream, but we liked it better plain.