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Archive for Cooking

menu planning

We’ve been eating a lot of take out recently. A lot. A disturbing amount even. Little B eats well. He still gets real cooking. In an attempt to get back on track, I’m going to attempt menu planning again! Maybe I will occasionally get to take some pictures and post some food too! My love of Pinterest is helping this effort as well. I’m sure I’ll be making my own version of plenty of these dishes.

So here is what we have for this week:

Saturday Chicken Paprikash
Sunday Sunday Sauce Rigatoni
Monday Quinoa Salad
Tuesday Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Wednesday Leftovers
Thursday Celery Soup
Friday Leftovers
Saturday Tiffin with friends!

Today our grocery bill was ~$140. Chicken was on sale, so we got a lot. Most will go in the freezer. Since I’m hoping to avoid getting takeout 7 nights, I consider that breaking even. I’d much rather make the food. Most of the time.

::summer love:: Southwest Keen Wah Salad

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This past year has been the year of changes. Now that I have a deck, someday we’ll get deck furniture, and then I will have a place to eat outside. For now, I’ll drag a kitchen stool out there on the occasional evening, enjoy a margarita, and watch the sun go down. If I did have deck furniture, this is a perfect dish for a Summer dinner on the deck.

I’ve never really been one for pasta salads. Just in the past few years have I even been willing to try non-creamy looking ones. I’m not really sure why I still hesitate on them. Beyond burgers, I have always shied away from most picnic foods. Last year, I decided it was time to experiment with quinoa (pronounced keen wah) in the kitchen. The most appealing things I found turned out to be fancied up “pasta” salads. Go figure. But quinoa is a “super grain”, so I had to try it! My first quinoa salad scared everyone I served it to. No one had ever seen or heard of it before. But it was delicious. I never wrote down the recipe, but I know there was edamame, garlic, lemon, roasted red peppers and scallions involved (I took pictures). It looked like this:

I’m going to have to recreate it at some point this summer, because it was good. I just made way too much of it. It may have been about 2 gallons of Quinoa Edamame Salad… This one was a bit smaller, but not by much, and still seemed to last us forever. It can be served as a side on it’s own, or if you want it as a main course, add to the top of a bed of greens, and for a finishing touch, some slices of avocado on top do the trick quite nicely. Best part: we got to use some cilantro from our garden :)

What You Need
Step One

1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
Step Two
lime, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Agave syrup
1 tsp chili powder
salt & pepper
Step Three
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 med red onion, chopped (~1/2 cup)
handful of cilantro, chopped
Step Four
Salad Greens
Avocado

Always rinse your quinoa first! Then just like rice, combine the quinoa and water in a pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes, then take it off the heat and sit for 5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together all step two ingredients. In a large bowl, mix together all step three ingredients.  Add the cooled quinoa to the large bowl and mix in. Once combined, stir in your dressing.

Done!

Make your presentation fancy. Serve on top of a bed of greens. I would not recommend an herb salad! The extra cilantro can take the flavor balance overboard a bit.

The slices of avocado add exactly what this salad needs to round it out. Be careful with your portions, this can be quickly filling!

::spicy nights:: Chicken Paprikash

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I’m starting to get back in the kitchen finally. My first attempt at cooking resulted in PTB learning how to make Gumbo. My second official attempt was much more successful. The little man is settling down a little bit and I am learning to take shortcuts a little more.

I made Chicken Paprikash once before and my only complaint was that it was too incredibly hot (it has officially taken me 6 months to write this post). It was so spicy that I couldn’t eat any of the leftovers. Which made me so sad since it tasted so good. This time around, I had to make it faster and I learned to adjust the spice a bit to be more reasonable. And, sadly, you don’t get too many photos when I am rushing through making dinner.

What You Need
400F oven
Step One
1-1.5 lbs chicken, cut into 1″ chunks
salt & pepper
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Step Two
medium yellow onion, chopped
1 Tbsp double concentrate tomato paste
Step Three
1 cup chicken broth
Step Four
Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic
3 Tbsp Hungarian Paprika
1 Tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika (more if you want it spicy)
Step Five
8oz sour cream (room temp)
1lb egg noodles

I typically use chicken tenderloins to make this dish. When I trim my chicken breasts to freeze, I package the tenderloins in 1-2lb batches so that I can quickly make dishes that require any chopped up chicken.

Cut the chicken into 1″ pieces, pat dry and salt and pepper. In a large oven-proof skillet or a dutch oven, heat the oil over a medium high heat until smoking. Add the chicken, cooking until browned on all sides. Remove form the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

If necessary, add a bit more oil to the pan and add the onions cooking 5-7 minutes until they begin to brown. Once they are browning, stir in tomato paste and cook for approx. 1 minute.

Using the chicken broth, deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom. Add step four ingredients and bring to a simmer.

Add the chicken (and any juices accumulated in the bowl) back to the pan and transfer the entire thing to the hot oven. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. When your timer has about 5 minutes left, start your egg noodles.

Once you remove the pan from the oven, allow it to sit for about 3 minutes, then stir in the sour cream. Serve hot over the egg noodles.

Mmmm…now that I have typed this up I want to make it again  :)

::too easy:: Pasta with Spinach + Beans

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There might not be anything better right now than a meal that is fast, cheap, and delicious. I would say healthy for the most part, but I decided to modify the original version of this dish and used butter instead of olive oil.

Moving to the far, far away suburbs means a much longer commute for PTB. It also means that instead of walking home from the train, I am going to pick him up. This has probably hurt our dinners more than I want to admit. Our longer dinners mean we have sometimes pushed eating to past 10pm. That just isn’t going to work. Especially when I am falling asleep by 10:30…

What You Need
Step One
6 oz fusilli pasta
Step Two
8 cups coarsely chopped spinach (approx 4-5oz)
3 Tbsp butter
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup Asiago cheese (approx 2oz)
15oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (any white beans will do, I used Navy Beans)
salt
Step Three
Fresh Ground  Pepper

Really, this recipe could not be any easier. While your pasta is cooking, get together the rest of your ingredients. I tossed them all into one big bowl to have ready.

Since my bowl wasn’t quite big enough, once the pasta is cooked and drained, combine with all step two ingredients in the pot. The leftover heat from the pan will help melt the butter and wilt the spinach as well.

Serve topped with fresh ground pepper.

Serves: 4   Cost: >$2/serving

::spicy nights:: Chana Masala

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In an attempt to cleanse myself of the cookie madness I have been involved in the past few weeks, a recent trip to the grocery store resulted in a TON of fruits and veggies, and supplies for vegetarian dinners. It is no joke that I went through more than one 5lb bag of flour, an entire 5lb bad of sugar, 32oz of molasses, and who knows how many pounds of butter in the past month. And while you would think, most of those cookies were eaten by others… they simply weren’t. I would make far too many and end up eating all the remaining goodies. Thank goodness for pregnancy. It has made a decent excuse.

But now I need to get back on track! Since we moved out of the city we don’t have the easy access to our favorite Indian restaurant, Tiffin, anymore. While this gives us good reason to go visit our friends and Chuffin (NBC’s Chuck and Tiffin nights) buddies Dave & Karyn, it also gives me a good reason to expand on my Indian recipe collection here on the site.

The other part of the grocery trip that the holidays inspired was saving a bit of money, so a few extra vegetarian meals seemed like a good plan. So we started with Chana Masala. I just ordered this the last time we got Tiffin, and my how they are different. Their version is smoky and stewy and very homey. This version inspired from a Food.com recipe was fiery and kicked your butt a bit. Nothing like clearing the sinuses on a snowy day. :) I cannot wait to have it as leftovers. Curry is one of those things that just keeps getting better.

What You Need
Step One

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
2 medium onions, minced
~1 Tbsp ginger (about 1.5″ piece), minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
Step Two
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Step Three
15oz can whole tomatoes, chopped small
Step Four
2/3 cup water
2-15oz  cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Step Five
1 lemon, juiced

In a large skillet or saute pan heat oil over medium heat. Add all step one ingredients and cook about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium low and stir in all the spices. Allow to cook for a minute or two.

Stir in tomatoes, returning to medium heat and using the juices to scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the pan.

Add step four ingredients, and reduce heat to medium low, simmering uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and serve over hot rice.

Serves: 4-6   Cost: >$2/serving (for 4 servings, all organic ingredients!)