Tag Archives: whats for dinner

Soup, It’s What The Doctor Called For

21 Oct

I haven’t been feeling very well in the past couple days (ahem Jessica who got me sick at work), so it was the perfect time to have Soup Week. Since I plan to make soup all week (different & new varieties) I dubbed it Soup Week to make it exciting – like Shark Week! lol. Are you excited yet? I am! Although my husband likes soups, I love them and I tend to want to make soup (homemade, of course) for dinner often. I had already decided before I was under the weather that I wanted to have Soup Week so I found three new recipes for soups that I have never made before, Pasta Fagioli, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Chicken Enchilada Soup, and I plan to also make one of my favorite soups that I haven’t made in a while: Lasagna Soup. Is your mouth watering yet?? Mine certainly is.

I decided to start with the Fagioli and of course had to riff on the recipe that I found on the Frugal Living Now blog. This was exactly what I needed to make me feel so much better and was much less calories than a traditional ‘comfort food’ i.e. mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. It was light yet filling and very tasty! It was so easy to make, the most intensive thing I had to do was literally collect all the ingredients. You could probably let it simmer for only 30 minutes if pressed for time and I bet it would be just as wonderful.

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Meaty Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients:
1 medium onion
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots chopped
1 can white beans, great northern, or kidney- drained & rinsed (I used white beans)
1 can petite diced tomatoes and juice
32 oz chicken stock
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
Fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

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Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onions and sauté about 2 minutes. Add ground beef, break up meat with a spoon, brown meat thoroughly. Add carrots, rinsed beans, tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste and stir to combine. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaf. Reduce soup to simmer and cook for 1 hour. Check flavoring and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add elbow macaroni and cook for an additional ten minutes. Add parsley and Parmesan and serve.
Makes 6 servings.

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I loved how fragrant my kitchen was with robust herbs and garlic. The second my husband came home from work the very first words were “something smells so good!”.

This soup is super simple to make and fantastic, I hope you love it! Now I am definitely looking forward to the rest of Soup Week and trying all these new recipes!

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Lasagna Stuffed Zucchini Boats

1 Oct

I learned today that it is Vegetarian Awareness Month, so it felt fitting that I make a vegetarian meal for dinner. Not to mention the calorie laden meal I prepared yesterday that I needed to counteract. I do what I can to try and balance out my meals, even if it’s from one day to another by having light soup or salad or vegetarian meals if I am going to be having heavy carb-filled meals during the day or week.
I have made different kinds stuffed zucchini boats and each time they are light yet filling and mighty delicious. I got the idea for the lasagna stuffed zucchini boats from recipes I’ve seen where you replace lasagna pasta with zucchini slices, I felt like this captured that spirit but was less messy and quicker to make.

Lasagna Stuffed Zucchini Boats
Servings: 4
4 large zucchinis
3/4 cup ricotta
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 egg
1-1.5 cups tomato based pasta sauce (I used my ‘everything’ veggie pasta sauce)
1 cup shredded mozzarella

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Slice ends off washed zucchini, cut zucchini in half lengthwise. Carefully scrape out insides of zucchini but leave enough of a wall to keep stuffing inside (see picture below). Place zucchini in a baking dish. In a medium bowl mix ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, and garlic until well blended. Spread ricotta mixture in boats then cover with tomato sauce, cover baking dish with foil. Bake for 20 minutes, then cover boats with mozzarella, recover, and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

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I decided to serve mine with roasted Brussels sprouts which were a great side dish for this, but you could use orzo, pasta, garlic bread, etc.

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This meal had a great Italian flare but less calories than a traditional lasagna. There are so many great recipes that you can use out there for stuffed zucchini boats that incorporate all kinds of flavors and can give you your own ideas of how to make your own creation – like I did with this one!

Savory Braised Beef Short Ribs

23 Sep

It’s been an interesting day… we’ll leave it at that. Interesting days require something extra ordinary for dinner, again what I call- cooking therapy. Tonight it’s braising therapy… I’m willing to wait a little longer to eat tonight if it means delicious braised beef short ribs, and I bet you would too!

Savory Braised Beef Short Ribs
Braised short ribs
1/4 cup all purpose flour
Kosher salt n ground black pepper
1.5-2 lb short ribs, boneless
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 carrots, peeled cut into large chunks
1 onion cut into large chunks
3 stalks celery cut into large chunks
2 cups beef broth
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup red wine (I used merlot)
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 cup V8 juice
1 bay leaf
1 pinch crushed red pepper

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat large pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. In a medium bowl combine flour with salt and pepper and toss short ribs to coat, shake to dust off excess flour. Transfer ribs to the pan to brown on all sides (about 5 minutes).

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Layer vegetable on bottom of a large heavy bottom pot/Dutch oven, arrange browned short ribs. Add remaining ingredients and an extra couple dashes of ground black pepper and salt.

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Cover and transfer to oven, cook for 1 hour and then reduce heat to 365 and cook until fork tender for about another hour and a half to two hours.

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Once out of the oven remove meat and vegetables from liquid and place on a platter, reduce liquid over medium high heat for approximately 10 minutes (may need to add some gravy flour to help thicken). Serve gravy over meat and vegetables. I served mine with buttered egg noodles.

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I am in love with this recipe, I could seriously drink this sauce, it’s that good! I think it’s going on my list of favorites.

My braising adventure also left me with plenty of time to browse my old holiday magazines.

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And… since it’s been an ‘interesting day’ I finished it off with sharing a happy little chocolate bundt cake from Corner Bakery with my hubby. Corner Bakery is currently participating in No Kid Hungry‘s fundraising campaign too, so double points for them!

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Summer Chicken & Veggie Pasta

23 Sep

I have been trying to be better about buying more ingredients and scratch cooking more days a week then eating out- a very bad habit that my husband and I used to fall into regularly in our last home. We lived around a lot more restaurants and there was this magical app called Grub Hub which we could order food from restaurants via our phones, it became too convenient. When we moved I had a bigger kitchen, more time (due to a commute cut in half), and less access to not only restaurants that deliver- but also just the plethora of options for dining out. So when I go to the grocery store and have load up my cart with more vegetables and fresh foods than packaged items I feel pretty good.

What I do need to get better at doing is going through my pantry and fridge, making a list of those things I need, AND planning meals for the week before heading to the grocery store. I got one request from my husband while we were in the store and that was my Summer Chicken and Veggie Pasta. This is an easy pasta that can be made quickly and ingredients can be interchanged easily for whatever you like. I used chicken breast that my husband grills with broccoli, carrots, onion, zucchini, green beans, and peas (which I forgot to add). I typically marinate my chicken breast with Italian dressing for about 20-30 minutes before grilling it, however I ran out of dressing so I made a simple mix of 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic, dash of salt, dash of pepper, 1 crushed clove of garlic which I placed in a Tupperware with chicken and the lid on and shook to combine. The marinating helps to add subtle flavor to the chicken and makes it very tender and juicy. I let the chicken breast rest for about 5 minutes before slicing it for the pasta.

Summer Chicken & Veggie Pasta: serving size 2

Ingredients:
1 grilled marinated chicken breast sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small head broccoli trimmed up and chopped
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1 zucchini quartered and chopped
1/2 yellow onion chopped
handful of green beans trimmed
1 clove garlic crushed
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white wine
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
Pinch crushed red pepper
2 servings cooked pasta (rotini, penne, rigatoni, etc)

Directions:
Heat a medium to large pan to medium heat and add olive oil till warmed, add the broccoli, carrots, onions, and green beans to the pan, saute for about 5 minutes over medium heat (reduce if onions begin to brown). Add salt, black and crushed red pepper. Add garlic and zucchini and saute until tender. When pasta is finishing up add wine and butter to the vegetables and heat through. Once pasta is drained drizzle lightly with olive oil (about 1 tablespoon). Serve vegetables over pasta and add the sliced chicken to the top.

If using frozen peas add approximately 4-5 minutes before the end of cooking so they are heated through.

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This is a great light dish if you are looking for something with a nice fresh taste with simple ingredients and especially if you don’t have much time. It’s one my of my husband’s favorite dinners.

Comfort Food- Roasted Chicken and Nana’s Stuffing

12 Sep

During my kitchen therapy weekend, I needed comfort and found it in the form of baking and cooking nutritious and delicious food for me and my family, reading a good book, and snuggling on the couch with my kitty mama (the sassy lady herself- miss Colbie).

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If someone were to ask me what I think the ultimate comfort food is I would probably say 9 times of of 10, roasted chicken. Add my Nana’s stuffing to that and you have meal that can’t be beat! I started making roasted chickens after receiving my first Barefoot Contessa cookbook which featured the most amazing chicken recipe that I have ever tried. It is the very best! It is one of those things that you can count on being amazing every time and you don’t have to question it.

For the brilliant Mrs. Garten’s Roasted Chicken recipe please click here.

I like to make it with carrots, celery, sweet or yukon gold potatoes, and sweet yellow onions. This time I decided to cook bone in chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken so that it would be done a little quicker and make a little less food since it was only for my husband and I.

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My Nana’s stuffing is something I grew up eating and loving. It’s so simple and so delicious! I converted my husbands non-stuffing eating family to stuffing lovers with this recipe. It’s great for holidays or anytime you want a comforting meal.

Nana’s Stuffing
1 cup celery finely chopped
1/2 cup yellow or sweet onion chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
8 cups 1 inch cubed bread (sourdough or Italian bread)
3/4-1 cup chicken broth

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Heat butter in sauce pan over medium heat, sauté celery and onion until translucent. Add poultry seasoning, salt & pepper. Put bread cubes in a large bowl, pour butter mixture over it & combine. Add broth to mixture and combine till moistened. Spray or butter a dish to avoid sticking and place the bread mixture in, dab butter on top. Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes or until golden brown.
*For holidays you may want to double the recipe.

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It’s so delish! I hope you love it as much as we do!

Chicken Enchilada Cassarole

11 Sep

I had an opportunity recently to be completely alone in my house which almost never happens. I decided on getting a jump start on dinner while checking out my bestie’s wedding photos that just got posted online.

I wanted a variation on my normal veggie enchilada stack so I decided to try a green sauce and only had one chicken breast so I made due with what I had and it turned out delicious!

Chicken & Green Chili Enchilada Cassarole
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 chicken breast
1 19 oz can of medium green chili enchilada sauce (I used Las Palmas brand)
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 yellow onion
1 zucchini quartered and chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese
White corn tortillas

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat oil in a medium size pan, add chicken breast and cover with enchilada sauce. Cook chicken through and remove from pan to slice or shred. Add vegetables to pan and sauté until cooked through. Add about 1/4 cup more enchilada sauce. In a separate baking dish spread a couple tablespoons over the bottom of the dish, layer one or two tortillas, sprinkle cheese to layer, add chicken and vegetable mixture, more tortillas, repeat, when at the top of the dish cover with additional sauce and top with more cheese. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes, remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Garnish with avocado, tomatoes, onion, sour cream, etc.
I also served mine with Amy’s Organic Refried Bkack Beans which I was trying for the first time and totally loved. Spanish rice or tortilla chips would be great as well.

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I was so excited to check out the beautiful photos by the talented Michele Beckwith, they were a wonderful reminder of an amazing and special day!
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Grilled Cheese Goodness: let’s kick it up a notch- as they say

23 May

grilled cheese

Foodie files: best grilled cheese ever I make this vegetable soup that I love love love- super delish- but that’s for another post. But my favorite accompaniment to my homemade veggie soup is grilled cheese. Normally I opt for just kraft singles on the whole wheat bread that we keep on hand (since that’s what I always had when I was growing up), not bad but nothing to write home about. So last night I thought I want to make these sandwiches a little more ‘gourmet’. I went to Trader Joes and got a loaf of sourdough swiped a little butter on the outside sides, melted a slice of extra sharp white cheddar and smokey Gouda and a few thin slices of granny smith apple and crisped it to golden perfection. Ooey gooey and perfectly crunchy- best I have ever had.