Tag Archives: pasta

Rebounding with last-minute penne

So what happens when you walk into the kitchen with a half-baked plan? You end up baking something else altogether.  I was all set to whip together a quick green curry with chicken and eggplant, but I neglected to check the pantry beforehand. No coconut milk. Green curry was off the menu. But what to make? I was fixated on eating that eggplant.

Last minute penne with eggplant and more

The good news is it’s entirely possibly to start cooking at 5:45 and still produce a decent meal when you have a pressure cooker. With the clock ticking, the game plan went something like this:

— Start a pot of water on to boil; add whole grain penne

— chop up the eggplant, sprinkle with kosher salt (and pat dry about 5 minutes later); chop up half an onion, two cloves of garlic

— heat olive oil and a splash of red wine in the pressure cooker; add the eggplant, onions and garlic. Add a jar of puttanesca sauce. Top with the lid and cook for 12 minutes at low pressure.

— When time is up, add 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes and  2 T. capers to the sauce; mix in the drained penne and a cup of arugula.

— Put the pasta in a casserole; top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20  minutes.

— Listen to husband rave. 😉

It all worked just fine until son #1 returned home:

“Why did Mom put cheese sticks on the pasta?”

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Custard-filled cornbread – dinner or dessert?

When I first read the recipe for custard-filled cornbread in Molly Wizenberg’s book, A Homemade Life, I wondered why it lacked a warning label.  Two cups of whole milk, one cup of heavy cream, corn meal, flour, sugar. The fat warning zoomed straight to red on this one.

But oh, is it worth it. Molly discovered the recipe in Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.  You can find the recipe here. I was relieved to see that a square is only 213 calories; it tasted to be at least twice as much. Consider reducing the sugar by half if you’re serving it for dinner as I did.  But take Molly’s advice and replace that sweetness with a spoon of maple syrup.  The sweet gooey cake-like bread was the perfect side for the spicy main attraction on a weeknight: Louisiana Greens with Andouille Sausage, a recipe on the package of Trader Joe’s bagged greens of kale, mustard greens and chard.

We enjoyed more of the cornbread the following night with paprika-spiced pork chops and roasted cauliflower with red pepper and caper vinaigrette. Trader Joe’s came to the rescue again, allowing me to substitute the roasted red peppers in the original recipe with a few dollops of its Red Pepper spread.  I love this zesty mash of red peppers, garlic and eggplant on most anything that benefits from a kick just before serving: scrambled eggs; artichoke dip; chicken burgers.

With my husband out of town, I took advantage of short cuts on Wednesday (baked penne with marinara sauce and sausage) and skipped the kitchen altogether on Thursday with teriyaki take-out. No complaints from the guys on this plan!

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Filed under Cookbooks, Quick

Burgers in a pinch

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– Posted using MobyPicture.com

I’m a Costco skeptic. When people rave about the bargains, all I can think about is the horror of finding a parking space.  And then there’s the phenomena of entering with four items on the shopping list and leaving with an overflowing basket and a few more digits than desired on the sales receipt.

Costco came through in a pinch yesterday. I stopped by for coffee and ink.  Left with chicken thighs, bananas, a beach towel and some other things I didn’t expect.  Including AmyLu’s Chicken Burgers with Caramelized Onions and Gouda.

A quick dinner with something for everyone:

Chicken burgers on Orowheat Sandwich Thins, topped with Trader Joe’s red pepper spread; a side of mini farfalle pasta with Cibo Naturals pesto sauce; and arugula salad with pears, pecans and goat cheese. Yum!

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Smoked out but worth it

Recipe for setting off the smoke detector:  Bathe chicken breasts  in olive oil, roast in 500-degree oven. Doh!

You too can try this at home.  “New” Chicken Parmesan dipped in Parmesan instead of breadcrumbs, roasted for just 10 minutes and then topped with fresh mozzarella  (just after swinging a towel around the detector and opening the windows ).  The recipe’s roasted cherry tomatoes are a perfect topping for ditalini pasta (quickly mixed with oil and bit more Parmesan).  Add a salad and you’re done!

YouAteThat photo

Next time we'll swap the grill for the oven with "New" Chicken Parmesan

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Friday night flame-out

A pattern has been brewing for a while in the schema of meal-planning: Despite the best intentions I lack interest in cooking on most Friday nights. We rarely go out on Fridays, preferring to end a busy workweek with a relaxing evening at home.  But that tempo is reflected in the kitchen as well. The longer the week wears on, the less interested I am in standing at the stove.

YouAteThat photo

Scallops in Curry Sauce

As usual, we started off fairly strong on Monday with Scallops in Curry Sauce — actually rescheduled from the previous night’s plans (I’ve found Sunday nights are just as likely to burn out as Fridays.)  In this case, the scallops proved to be the highlight of the week.

We moved into Tuesday with a homemade carrot ginger soup and ravioli with bacon and chard. I’ve been hankering for the carrot soup ever since our trip to NYC, but my homemade version from one of the Seattle Junior League cookbooks just didn’t come close to my fabulous snack in the Village.  The search goes on.

Wednesday’s barbeque ribs in the pressure cooker prompted one of my frequent warnings about becoming a vegetarian. “You always say that,” my husband noted.  It’s true, my body keeps talking to me.  On Mother’s Day we stopped by Whole Foods to pick up a picnic lunch. The options seem endless. The guys picked up sushi, turkey sandwiches, chicken noodle salad.  I went for the tempeh, kale and chickpea salad — a subconscious response to an overload of carbs and meat the day before. I rally on meat for the kids at home because they’re not ready for the tofu-and-beans route anytime soon. It’s no surprise, for instance, that bacon was a major appeal in Thursday’s Spaghetti Carbonara.

So what to do about the Friday flame-out factor? We’ve resolved that Fridays will be subject to the whims of the week. Sometimes it’s a time to cook together, be creative, and enjoy the easy pace of a late dinner at home.

Other times I’ll be reaching for the phone.

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Filed under pressure cooker, Seafood

The art of the compliment

It’s music to a mom’s ears when the teen son peeks into the pot and exclaims, “I love that stuff! The bacon, the peas!” Tonight’s compliment was a long time coming since I’ve veered away from any effort to make kid-friendly meals of late.

Son #1 was speaking of Spaghetti Carbonara. It was a last minute inspiration – at 6:10pm to be exact — when I realized that the tempeh stirfry I had planned would not go over particularly well tonight.  Good decision. Instead I quickly sauteed bacon and shallots, added the cooked pasta, scrambled in the eggs, tossed in parmesan cheese, peas and cream.  Easy. It’s an old favorite that I spotted when leafing through the latest issue of Relish.

On the side was a salad of romaine, grated carrots, tomatoes and avocado with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  I have always felt like such a slouch when buying simple vinaigrettes at the store. No more! Ever since I bought a nifty salad shaker , I’ve been more committed to salad dressings made from scratch. Another simple way to make a big difference.

Inspired by compliments before we even sat down to dinner,  I seized the opportunity to share a few thoughts with the boys, thanks to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal about how to give and receive compliments.  Specifics make a difference.  “I like the fresh avocados and tomatoes with the romaine,” my husband noted. (Did I detect a smirk?) “Why do we need to know this stuff?” Son #2 wondered. Because manners matter, I reminded him.  And manners are more likely to keep me from going on strike in the kitchen.  That much, they know 😉

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Mac ‘n mess, thanks to Madonna

A scapegoat comes in handy when dinner flops. Tonight I had a couple – Madonna and a conniving character named Sue Sylvester.

http://www.fox.com/watch/glee

Glee's homage to Madonna = dinner disaster

I had decided to catch up on “Glee” while making dinner. The whole episode was devoted to Madonna songs – much to this material girl’s delight – and the highlight was a highly-styled black and white video of the evil Sue doing “Vogue.” It was a  major distraction that turned my effort at homemade macaroni and cheese with ham into a curdled mess.  “Is this soup?” Son #1 asked innocently.

I confess, I should have read the directions more carefully.  A reviewer mentioned stirring the cream sauce constantly to avoid curdles. It’s hard to do that and keep a beat. And I was reading the recipe on my iPhone — my first effort to use the Epicurious app. Another excuse. Waah! Diligent and focused cooks could give the recipe a spin.  I, however, will return to Annie’s boxes next time.

This week hasn’t been a stellar experience in the kitchen.  Last night I was crashing on a deadline so my husband wrestled together hot dogs and beans. God love him! Monday night’s highlight was round two on a yummy salad found on Epicurious:  Roasted Red Peppers and Cauliflower with Caper Vinaigrette.  However, the online recipe is missing the first couple of steps. A kind reviewer retrieved her print copy of Gourmet and provided the missing info, but it’s buried deep in the reviews. The recipe is worth the effort to patch together the steps so here are the missing details:

Preheat broiler. Quarter bell peppers lengthwise and discard stems, seeds, and ribs. Broil peppers, skin sides up, on a broiler pan about 2 incehse from heat until skins are blistered, 8 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, roast whole peppers on their sides on racks of gas burners on high, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 5 to 8 minutes.) Transfer to a bowl and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. While peppers stand, preheat oven to 450 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Peel peppers and cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 or 3 strips.  (see rest of recipe here)

The cauliflower was a nice side to pan-grilled Aidell’s Chicken Sausages with Roasted Garlic and Gruyere.  We added an iceberg salad with grapefruit, avocado, blue cheese and pecans plus baked potatoes. At least the week started off decently!

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