Saturday, January 29, 2011

Oven Chicken Risotto

Finally, a risotto recipe that doesn't involve constant stirring! You literally just pop it in the oven and it comes out surprisingly creamy. In addition to being easy to make, however, the real advantage of this recipe is its adaptability. Essentially, after you've created the delicious risotto base, you could stir in any combination of meat, vegetables, and herbs you like. As written, the recipe calls for chicken and a Caprese-style combination of tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. It's very good, but I'd like to try some new combos. Any suggestions?

Oven Chicken Risotto*

2 tbsp. butter
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup uncooked Arborio rice (short-grain)
1/2 small onion, diced
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups chopped deli-roasted chicken
1 (8 oz.) package fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil

1. Preheat oven to 400. Place butter in a 13x9-inch baking dish; bake 5 minutes or until melted. Stir in broth and next three ingredients.
2. Bake, covered, at 400 for 35 minutes. Remove from oven. Fluff rice with a fork.
3. Stir in chicken, mozzarella, and tomatoes; sprinkle with shredded basil. Serve immediately.

*Southern Living 2010 Annual Recipes, p. 59.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash over Couscous

I'm going to be honest...until this week, I had no idea what "Tagine" meant. Thanks to Wikipedia, though, I now know that Tagine refers to the pot in which this tasty Moroccan meal is cooked. A Tagine was originally made of clay, but nowadays, it's more like a shallow Dutch oven.

No matter what pot you use, however, this fragrant meal is easy to make and delicious. In fact, Myles wanted me to tell everybody that Beef Tagine is "off the map." (It's his new catchphrase).

So here's the recipe...

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash*

2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (1 lb.) beef shoulder roast or petite tender roast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 shallots, quartered (we just used a couple of onions)
1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 lb.)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
cooked couscous

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add beef; toss well to coat.
2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef and shallots; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.
3. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
4. Stir in broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes.
5. Add squash; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender.
6. Serve over couscous and sprinkle with cilantro.

* Cooking Light (January/February 2011), p. 80.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pasta with Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips

Myles loves parsnips and I love kale, so I was excited to try out this recent Cooking Light recipe. Now, in what I assume will be a typical feature of this blog, I have to admit that a few mishaps occurred along the way. First, we apparently forgot to buy penne at the grocery store. Then, Ruby spit up all over my shirt while the parsnips sauteed (welcome to parenthood). Fortunately, I found a box of macaroni and a clean t-shirt, and the meal turned out great.

I'd definitely recommend giving this dish a try. I've rarely smelled something as wonderful as caramelized onions, white wine, garlic, and thyme simmering together in a pan. The entree is also packed with things that are good for you. In fact, even though this meal is delicious, it's also so healthy that I'm going to assume I actually lost weight while eating it. (Side note: some nutritional information found in this blog may be not be grounded in reality).

Overall, the dish was superior to a lot of the veggie pasta recipes that I've tried, which can sometimes be a little bland. We even have a ton of leftovers, so you could probably cut the recipe in half if you're only cooking for two people. I, however, am looking forward to eating the meal again at lunch tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it!

Pasta with Kale, Caramelized Onions, and Parsnips*

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups (1/3 inch) diagonally cut parsnip, peeled (about 1 lb.)
2 1/2 cups sliced onion
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (I used a little extra).
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
8 cups trimmed chopped kale
3/4 cup organic vegetable broth
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shaved or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano (or plain Parmesan) cheese, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat (I used my wok, so that all of the kale would fit). Add parsnip to pan; cook 12 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring occasionally. Place in a large bowl; keep warm.
  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook until tender and golden brown, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in thyme and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.
  5. Stir in kale and broth; cook, covered, 5 minutes or until kale is tender. Uncover; cook 4 minutes or until kale is very tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta over a bowl, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid.
  7. Add drained pasta to kale mixture. Stir in parsnips, 1/2 cup reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup cheese, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper; cook for 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Add remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid if needed to moisten. Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese.
* Cooking Light, October 2010, p. 198-199.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Dried Cranberries

I found this recipe in last month's Cooking Light where Mark Bittman updates our ideas about fried rice. If you have leftover rice in your fridge, this is a good way to use it. It was a very tasty and quick meal (you can make the whole thing in 26 minutes). Also, it provides a great excuse to buy a bottle of wine, use a little bit for cooking, and drink the rest. At times, the recipe calls for letting the rice brown in the pan without stirring it. If you're like me, you will find it almost impossible to leave anything in a wok unstirred for more than 30 seconds. But do it! Bittman definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to the texture of food. Plus, the downtime is a perfect opportunity to pour yourself a glass of wine.

I'm basically copying the recipe as it appeared in Cooking Light (see below), but here are a few ideas for next time...
  • Dried cranberries are great. Next time, though, I'd rehydrate the cranberries in white wine first, so there would be little, juicy "taste explosions" in this dish. To rehydrate, all you need to do is put the cranberries in the wine for about an hour.
  • For vegetarians or those trying to eat less meat (a great idea), I think chickpeas would work equally well in this recipe.
  • It's always a good idea to eat more vegetables, so I might throw a little broccoli in next time. The leeks really decrease in volume after you cook them, so some extra vegetable bulk might be nice.
Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Dried Cranberries

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups cooked, chilled long-grain brown rice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh sage (I'd suggest using a little more)
1/4 cup dry white wine (again, a little extra never hurt, especially if your leftover rice is a little dry)
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan, and saute for 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  2. Add leek, a little black pepper, and salt to the pan; saute for 4 minutes or until leek is tender and golden. Add leek mixture to chicken.
  3. Add about 1 tbsp. olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add rice, stirring well to coat rice with oil; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Stir rice mixture; cook again without stirring, 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
  4. Stir in chicken mixture, cranberries, and sage. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes or until mixture is dry, stirring constantly.
*We had leftovers, so I'd say this could serve 4 people or 3 three particularly hungry people.
*I had some extra leeks, so I threw them in with scrambled eggs and cheese the next morning. I'd never had leeks with eggs but it was delicious.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Year of Yummy

The older I get, the more I love to cook. For the past couple of years, I've made an effort to try at least one new recipe a week. It's been really fun! I'm always on the lookout for new dishes to try, so this year I've decided to share the recipes I find and like with whoever is interested. In general, they'll be relatively healthy, easy to make, and inexpensive. You'll notice a heavy debt to magazines like Cooking Light and Southern Living and folks like Mark Bittman and Rick Bayless. No need to reinvent the wheel, right? From time to time, I'll also blog about other delicious things like restaurants and beverages. Hope you enjoy it!