Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Stroganoff-Style Spaghetti 'n' Meatballs

This is a true 30-Minute Meal. I had to work late, yada, yada, yada, you know the story. I needed to get something on the table, and fast. Luckily, I remembered this recipe that I saw in a Taste of Home magazine while at my parents. I pulled it up on the computer and had dinner in about 20 minutes. We keep meatballs, turkey and/or beef, in the freezer for times like this. Since the meatballs are pre-cooked, this dish takes as long as it takes for water to boil and spaghetti to cook.

This recipe is great just because we keep these ingredients in the pantry/freezer and it was seriously quick.

The boys really liked this. C requested it be on the "Make Forever" list. It was also a nice change from red sauce spaghetti.

This dish isn't the most photogenic. I will add, there was a nice green veggie on the plate but that got eaten before I remembered to take a picture of the plate.

Stroganoff-Style Spaghetti 'n' Meatballs Recipe

Adapted from Taste of Home

1/2 pound uncooked spaghetti

1 package (12 ounces) frozen fully cooked Italian meatballs
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used less)
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1/4 cup 2% milk
1teaspoon beef base
1/8 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the meatballs, onion and garlic in oil for 4-5 minutes or until meatballs are browned. Stir in the soup, milk, beef base and seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.

Gradually stir in sour cream; heat through (do not boil). Drain spaghetti. Serve immediately with meatballs and sauce over spaghetti.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Green beans and garlic

Green beans are one of my favorite vegetables. I love them pretty much any which way. These are one of those recipes that are SO simple yet impressive. They come together very quickly. If I am making them for company, I will have the ingredients measured out so it goes that much faster, down to the green beans already steamed. 

If you aren't a wine person, you could easily use chicken or vegetable broth instead. 

The boys are hit and miss with these. I think it is because of the wine. I need to take my own advice and just use broth. I don't always use the almonds either, but they really give a nice flavor and texture to the dish.

To toast almonds, I use the stove top method. I put them in a non-stick skillet over medium-heat, medium-high if I am not going to move a step away from the pan, and stir often until nicely browned. The nuts can go VERY quickly, so turn off the heat once they are browned to your liking. If you don't remove them from the pan immediately, they will cook some from the residual heat in the pan.

Garlicky Green Beans

1 lb fresh green beans -- cut into 3" pieces -- frozen works fine too
2 TBS butter
3 cloves garlic -- finely minced
1 tsp chicken bouillon granules (can crumble a cube)
1/4 cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Steam or boil green beans for 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender. 

In medium skillet over medium heat melt butter, add garlic, and saute for 2 minutes or until tender and fragant. 

Add green beans, stir well to coat with the butter/garlic mixture, sprinkle chicken bouillon over beans and stir to mix, then saute another 3 minutes to desired doneness. 

Turn heat up to medium high, then pour in the wine and let it sizzle and evaporate most of the alcohol. Lower heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and stir thoroughly. Top with toasted almonds. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Turkey Gyros

 I am note-writer on my recipes. In cookbooks, yes cookbooks, computer print-offs, and with sticky notes on recipe cards.  I like to have our rating, yes I rate recipes, but not always, if it was fast and easy, what we liked about it, and any changes. Whenever I see this recipe, I smile. What makes me smile is the note I made after C had them for the time. My note on the recipe says "C Devoured". Actually that was an understatement. He was probably around 18 mo or so and he just went crazy. I still smile thinking about it.

I got this recipe online a few years back. Ray and I always liked them. They are easy to make and the leftover meat freezes well. Now I purposely double the batch so there is plenty for the freezer, and we have a super easy dinner for later. I also got into the habit of making these for new moms. I give them a container of meat, a container of Cucumber Sauce, a package of pitas and sliced tomatoes. They can be eaten whenever.

It seems like a lot of ingredients, but really it is just ground turkey and onions with some seasonings added in. I make the Cucumber sauce first so the flavors have time to meld. I also taste before serving. Sometimes it needs a little extra sauce. Be sure to scrape all the seeds out of the cucumber as they can thin the sauce in a bad way. I use a spoon.

This meal can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.

We eat out Turkey Gyros with extra sauce.

Turkey Gyros 

1 pound  lean ground turkey
1/2  cup  onion
2 teaspoons  minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon  salt
1/2 teaspoon  dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon  dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon  black pepper
 4  pita breads - 7"
Cucumber Sauce 
1 cup  plain nonfat yogurt
1 cup  sour cream, light
1 medium  cucumber -- seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon  dried dill
1/2 teaspoon  salt
1 dash  black pepper

In bowl combine all Cucumber Sauce ingredients, stir.

Mix all turkey ingredients in non stick skillet and brown. 

Spoon hot meat mixture over pita and top with sauce

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lemon Chicken with Croutons

Doesn't that look delicious? It is seriously the best roasted chicken I have ever had. BEST EVER. The ingredients are so simple but when combined together, it is a chicken to be reckoned with. In a recent episode, Ina updated the recipe a bit and told the story of how women have gotten proposed to, after making this chicken for their boyfriends. I know 3 males who go crazy for it every time I make it.

I got this recipe from Ina Garten's cookbook Barefoot in Paris.

The chicken is simply stuffed with a couple of lemons, after having the inside cavity salted and peppered. Then it is a rub with butter or olive oil, and more salt and pepper. You place it on top of a bed of sliced onions tossed with olive oil. Don't go too crazy with the olive oil but don't skimp either. Then the chicken is ready to roast.

The first time I tried it, I thought it was weird to have the chicken served over the croutons, but oh my! When you get the pan juices,onions and chicken on top - WOW! I use the bread that I make for sandwiches. It is a firm loaf and holds up well for this.
Outside of using olive oil for the butter for coating the skin of the chicken before roasting, I follow this recipe to a "T". It has turned out perfect and delicious every time. This recipe would be great for anyone who is afraid of roasting a whole chicken. You will not be disappointed.

Lemon Chicken with Croutons
Barefoot Contessa- Ina Garten

1 (4 to 5-pound) roasting chicken
1 large yellow onion, sliced
Good olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons, quartered
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
6 cups (3/4-inch) bread cubes (1 baguette or round boule)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Take the giblets out of the chicken and wash it inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers. Toss the onion with a little olive oil in a small roasting pan. Place the chicken on top and sprinkle the inside of the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the lemons inside the chicken. Pat the outside of the chicken dry with paper towels, brush it with the melted butter, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.

Roast for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Cover with foil and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. (The onions may burn, but the flavor is good.)

Meanwhile, heat a large saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Lower the heat to medium-low and saute the bread cubes, tossing frequently, until nicely browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place the croutons on a serving platter. Slice the chicken and place it, plus all the pan juices, over the croutons. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cream of Carrot Soup

Let me start out right now with an apology. I did not intend to go this long without a blog post. But, I am a working mother, so sometimes life gets in the way.

This is one of my family's all time favorite soup recipes. This soup is so good, that H requests it, a lot. We first tried the soup almost 4 years ago, when my sweet H was born. A neighbor gave us a pot of this as part of dinner she made us. We usually have all the ingredients in the refrigerator/ pantry, which is a plus.

This comes together in under an hour. It goes even faster when you use baby carrots and don't have to peel! I will sometimes throw in an extra handful of carrots just because. It doesn't throw anything off. You could also make this vegetarian and use vegetable broth. I prefer chicken broth because I think it has more flavor. I use milk, lately 2%, but you can go all out and use cream. I like to eat more than one bowl, and would feel WAY too guilty doing that, but you can.

I have a stick, or immersion blender, and use that vs. pouring it in batches into the blender. If you do pour by the batch into the blender, be very careful and don't fill the jar of the blender too full. That is an accident waiting to happen.

This makes a very large batch of soup. We usually have enough for everyone to have at least a bowl, remember I have two, and a large container for the freezer, and another container in the refrigerator. 

The soup freezes very well.

Cream of Carrot Soup

4  tablespoons  butter
2 onions -- chopped
12 carrots -- peeled and sliced (6 cups)
3  stalks  celery ribs -- chopped  (not too many or will taste bitter)
5 medium  potatoes -- peeled and diced
10  cups  chicken broth
1 cup  whole milk -- or cream
salt and pepper -- to taste

Melt butter in large pot; add onion, carrots, and celery; then cook uncovered 10-15 min, stirring ocassionally. Add potatoes and stir until coated. Stir in broth and cook, partially covered, until potatoes are tender (about 20 min). Puree in blender in as many increments as necessary, with blender cautiously vented. Empty pureed portions into another large pot. When all pureed, stir in cream, add salt and pepper to taste, and reheat if necessary without boiling.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Alton Brown's #10

Everyone has their favorite recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies. Me, I have recipes I like for certain reasons. Yes, I have a couple that I go-to most often, but I can't say that I have the *one*.  My friend Julie says her chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best.   Now, I have not seen the recipe or tried a cookie (let me give the caveat right now that Julie is an excellent cookie baker. Every cookie I have had of hers, is excellent), but I know if it is cakey, I won't think it is the best. I like a chewy, chocolate chip cookie. I like it soft, not crunchy when I bite into it.  

Most often, I go back and forth between this cookie, Alton Brown's #10 and Alton Brown's The Chewy.  While the cookies are similar, they are a little different too. In the directions for this cookie, there is no chilling time. I always add chilling time.  Then again, I usually chill the cookie dough before baking regardless.  I have friends who chill the dough 48-72 hours before baking, after making these cookies from Jacques Torres that was published in the New York Times. I have made them, and they were very good, but when I get a craving for chocolate chip cookies, I don't want to wait 2 or 3 days. 

Back to the cookies at hand. These are rich, chewy, chocolatey. Alton Brown's #10 uses ingredients everyone has in their pantry. This recipe is from his  book I'm Just Here for More Food: Food x Mixing + Heat = Baking. This recipe uses the muffin method, so you combine the dry, add them to the mixed wet, then stir in your add-ins. The cookies come together quickly. 

I also take my cookies out on the earlier side so I can ensure they are chewy.

Chocolate Chip Cookie #10 from 
I'm Just Here for More Food - Alton Brown
Mix and set aside:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Now mix together the wet ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled 
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Now add the dry to the wet and mix gently with a wooden spoon. Do not over mix!!  While there is still some flour showing, add 2 cups chocolate chips and mix the rest of the way.
Bake 10-11 minutes or until golden at 375ยบ.