Saturday, March 9, 2019

Chicken and Fennel in Rosemary Wine Broth


I'll admit that when I picked this recipe and bought the ingredients, I wasn't super excited about it but it turned out way better than I had hoped for and I can't wait to make it again.  The flavors are delicious together and in my opinion, it's what a super light dinner should be - flavorful and satisfying.  I made rice for my kids but I put fresh arugula on the plate for my portion and spooned the hot chicken over the top which slightly wilted the arugula - the peppery flavor of the arugula went great with the sauteed onions and fennel in the recipe.  I also saved a little rosemary and chopped some fennel fronds for garnish when I plated the chicken.  Quick enough for a weeknight, but good enough that I'd serve it if I was having company over.

Chicken and Fennel in Rosemary Wine Broth (4 servings)

2 fennel bulbs
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 T flour (regular or gluten free)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
14 oz chicken broth
2 tsp. minced garlic
arugula, for serving
salt, pepper, olive oil

Slice just the bulb of the fennel into thin pieces.  You should have approximately 3 cups.  Chop the chicken breasts into small chunks.  Put chicken on a plate and sprinkle with 1 T of flour and rosemary and toss to coat.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes.  Chicken will not be fully cooked through at this point.  Transfer to a plate.

In the same skillet, heat 2 tsp olive oil.  Add fennel and onion and saute until lightly browned and almost tender, about 7 minutes.  Add wine and garlic.  Deglaze the pan and simmer until almost all of the wine has evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add the broth, increase heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 1 minute.  Add chicken and cook, stirring often, until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and garnish with additional chopped rosemary or chopped fennel fronds.  Serve over arugula.

1 c = 2 freestyle points

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Spaghetti Squash


Until a few years ago, I never made or ate spaghetti squash but recently, it's on regular rotation.  I haven't been eating a lot of pasta lately and I've found that spaghetti squash is a good pasta sauce delivery device.  Then, I found this spaghetti squash casserole recipe that was delicious.  I made it to go with instant pot chicken parmesan and the whole meal was amazing.  It's gluten free and vegetarian so will make a good addition to a meal as a side dish or would be a good main dish as well.  You could also add some cooked protein to this (sausage, chicken) when you toss it all together before baking.

Spaghetti Squash & Ricotta Casserole (6-8 side dish servings)

3 pound spaghetti squash (halved and seeded)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups grape tomatoes (halved)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 oz baby spinach
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt, pepper, olive oil

Bake spaghetti squash in the oven or cook it in the instant pot until tender and the squash can easily be scooped out with a fork.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion until golden and tender, 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and garlic; stir until tomatoes start to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add spinach, stir until it's wilted (about a minute), and remove from heat.

Scoop the spaghetti squash strands into the skillet and toss to coat.  Stir in ricotta, 1/4 cup of the mozzarella, 2 T of the Parmesan and the basil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Bake until bubbly around the edges and golden brown, 15-20 minutes.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Soup in the Instant Pot


I know that soup is a popular type of recipe in the instant pot, but so far this is the first one that I've made.  I was initially resisting the instruction to dump it all in and turn it on without sauteing the onions or browning the chicken, but I needed a quick meal on a busy evening so I followed the instructions - measured, dumped, and pressed the button.  Because I haven't made something with so much liquid before, I was worried that I pressed something wrong because it took a lot longer than normal to come up to pressure and start counting down the minutes.  I texted my sister about this and she told me it would be okay . . . and it was!

Bottom line:  Although the setting is for 13 minutes of pressure cooking, plan on 40 minutes total start to finish.  I don't think it would have been any better with additional steps of sauteing so go ahead and put all the ingredients in and start it up.

Recipe notes:  No instant pot?  I think the same results could be achieved with 4-6 hours in a slow cooker.  My kids added sour cream and all 3 ate it!  I wanted more spice which I achieved with the optional chopped jalepenos.  Chicken breasts would probably work just as well.

White Chicken Chili (non-dairy / Instant Pot)
serves 6
Original Recipe from A Pinch of Healthy

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
5 cups chicken broth or stock
2 cans white beans (like cannelini), drained and rinsed
1 can diced green chilis (mild)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
For serving:  chopped cilantro, chopped jalapenos, sour cream (all optional)

Add all the ingredients (except cilantro, jalapenos, and sour cream) to the instant pot.  Place the lid on and lock it.  Make sure the valve is seat to "sealing."  Use the manual setting to pressure cook for 13 minutes.  Do a quick release.  Remove the chicken thighs and shred them with two forks.  Return to the pot and serve immediately.  Serve the cilantro, jalapenos, and sour cream on the side.
4sp (0sp with chicken breasts)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Non-traditional holiday dessert

Thanksgiving 2018
This year, we didn't have a traditional family Thanksgiving and we celebrated Christmas early with only one of my siblings since my sisters weren't able to come home this year.  Just the 5 of us were in Palm Desert for Thanksgiving.  While we had a wonderful day and made some new family memories (including turducken which we will definitely repeat!), the kids were disappointed not to be with cousins and extended family.

Our dessert choices reflected our non-traditional year . . . no-one really wanted apple pie or pumpkin pie so I made this gingerbread pumpkin dessert and Big made a new recipe - a lemon lava cake.  Big loves lemon desserts, is really into baking lately, and came up with this idea.  We read several recipes online before determining that we didn't want one that was mostly white chocolate.  A lot of these take a chocolate lava cake and use white chocolate and lemon instead.  What we came up with turned out delicious . . . especially with some of our orange cranberry sauce from Thanksgiving dinner on top!  In the future, we thought of incorporating fresh blueberries or a blueberry sauce as well.

Recipe notes:  You can make your own lemon curd, or buy it.  We used the Trader Joe's one.  These amounts are little funky because I was converting from metric weights.



Lemon Lava Cakes (makes 6)
from Seasons and Suppers blog

7 T unsalted butter, softened (plus more for greasing the ramekins)
5 T white sugar (plus 1 T for dusting the ramekins)
2 eggs
2 T whole milk
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 cup + 1 T all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter six ramekins and coat them with white sugar.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.  Lightly beat the eggs and gradually add them to the bowl, beating all the time.  Add the milk and lemon zest.  Add the flour and incorporate well.

Fill each ramekin about 1/3 full of the batter.  Using a spoon, make a little well in the middle by pushing the batter away from the middle to the sides.  Place about 1 T of the lemon curd in the well you made, then cover the curd with more batter until the ramekin is 2/3 - 3/4 full. Repeat with remaining ramekins and place filled ramekins on a baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden and the cakes spring back when touched.  When you remove them from the oven, immediately run a knife around the edges of the ramekins before turning them out on to plates.  Serve right away.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

I meant to go backwards and post about our fall . . . along with some good recipes I've made . . . but sometimes going back is too hard.  So onward to the "most wonderful time of the year"!  I'm getting ready to bake this week and wanted to share this one from the Julienne cookbook that I really enjoyed last Christmas.  Before the recipe, here are some of our holiday antics (so far).

Christmas themed "Escape Game" -we made it!

Last year's preschool craft, measured to last year's height

Tree lighting fancy dinner with just our little

Christmas Carol performance - dressed to go onstage!

Decorating the tree

Sister love by the Christmas tree

Secrets with Santa


Journey to Bethlehem

Cooking with our friends from Hawaii who came to visit!



Peppermint Shortbread Cookies (makes 3-4 dozen)
From “Celebrating with Julienne”

3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T (packed) golden brown sugar
1 extra large egg
1.5 tsp peppermint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/8 tsp. salt
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao or more), chopped

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg, peppermint extract, and vanilla.  Add the flour and salt and mix until a soft dough forms.  Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a 1.5 inch diameter log about 4 inches long.  It works best to roll it on plastic wrap.  Then, wrap hte log with plastic and enclose completely.  Repeat with the remaining dough, forming 3 logs total. 

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm.Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Cut the logs crosswise into slices approximately 1/4 inch thick.  Arrange dough rounds on baking sheets and bake until light brown around the edges, about 5 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and dip half of each cookie in the melted chocolate.  Let the chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Pineapple Cole Slaw


This summer my husband made lots of delicious ribs and it was a great way to feed a crowd when we had friends over.  I usually just make a big salad and have some fruit to go with it but one day I was inspired to make a new coleslaw as a side dish.  I like non-mayonaise based coleslaws and this one has a little creaminess from the greek yogurt but fits my criteria of "no mayo!"  The sugar is optional - if your pineapple is super sweet, you probably won't need it or miss it.  If you like a little kick, add the diced jalapeño.

Pineapple Coleslaw (makes 6 cups)

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (nonfat is ok)
1 T white wine vinegar
1 T rice wine vinegar
3 T pineapple juice (from canned pineapple or fresh)
juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 cups pineapple bits (diced fresh or from a can, drained)
5 cups shredded green cabbage
salt and pepper to taste
jalapeno, diced (optional)
1 T raw sugar (optional)

Whisk together yogurt, vinegars, pineapple juice, lime juice, salt and pepper, jalapeño and sugar (if using) until well-blended.  Toss with the onions, pineapple, and cabbage.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  Mix in the cilantro before serving.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Cooking Class: Part II


When the girls wanted to make lasagna as part of the cooking class, I decided we would learn two things:  how to make a marinara sauce (instead of using a jar) and how to layer a lasagna.  That way, they could use those two skills to make different kinds of pasta and to make variations on a traditional lasagna.  We made two pans at once so there was lots of hands on layering for everybody.  Here's a link to the lasagna on this blog which we used as a base recipe, just with a homemade sauce:  Lasagna


The second lesson in "sauce" was the homemade salsa.  I'll do a pico de gallo or black bean salsa sometimes, but a smooth basic salsa is something I basically never do.  Living in an urban area with Trader Joe's and Sprouts within a mile of me, I have lots of great salsa on hand all the time.  It was good to make a batch and realize how easy and satisfying it is to make your own.  We sliced corn tortillas with a pizza slicer and baked them to make our own chips too!  My husband split the batch of salsa in half and since we didn't have a jalapeño, he sautéed some red pepper flakes in olive oil until crispy and added that mixture to his half to make a spicy salsa.  Yum!

Both of these recipes were chosen for being "kid-friendly" in terms of the cooking method and the taste.  When you're building sauces around canned tomatoes, I think the quality of the canned tomatoes matters.  I spent a little more and bought a little higher quality than I might for other types of recipes.  Let me know what your kids are cooking!

Basic Marinara Sauce (makes about 3 cups)

1 T olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can tomatoes (I used whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1 T dried Italian seasoning (can substitute fresh herbs)

In a large pot, saute the onion in the olive oil until the onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and saute about one minute more.  Add the tomatoes and crush them with your hands or against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon as you add them.  Add the seasonings and stir.

Bring to a boil over medium high heat, reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaf.

Easy Blender Salsa (makes about 4 cups)

1 (15oz) can fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles (with liquid)
1 (15oz) can petite diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1.5 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 lime, juiced
1/3 cup chopped fresh tomatoes

Add all ingredients to a blender (works best if you do it in the order they're listed).  If you have a food processor, that would work as well.

Pulse to combine then blend on medium speed, gradually increasing until high speed until texture is nearly smooth.

Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator.