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Category Archives: Entrees

Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken Fried Rice

If you ever have leftover white rice that has been in the refrigerator, it can find a new home in fried rice.  This recipe can be cut down according to how much rice you have leftover.  You can always make it fresh as well, but just make sure you cook the rice and allow it to dry out overnight in the refrigerator before assembling to avoid mushy rice.

Yield: 16 Servings
Active Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 6 cups white rice, dry
  • 8 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Cook 6 cups white rice with 6 1/4 cups water in a rice cooker.  Transfer rice to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and place in refrigerator overnight to dry out.
  2. Dice chicken breasts into 1/2″ pieces.  Place in a Ziploc bag and add 6 Tbsp. soy sauce and 1 tsp. sesame oil.  Marinate for 30 minutes.  Toss chicken with 2 Tbsp. cornstarch.
  3. Heat peanut oil and sesame oil in wok at 375F.  Add chicken to wok until browned, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add carrots and stir-fry until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add peas, onions, and garlic .  Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Make a hole in the middle of the wok with a spatula and add eggs.  Allow to fry for a minute then scramble and mix in with the rest of the vegetables.
  7. Add cooked rice to wok and toss to coat with oil.
  8. Add 1/2 cup soy sauce stirring frequently until thoroughly cooked and heated through.
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in comfort, Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Roasted Squash with Wilted Spinach and Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Roasted Squash and Wilted Spinach Salad with Bacon-Shallot Vinaigrette

I don’t think I have ever eaten what would be considered a “healthy” salad in my life.  My thought process goes more like this, “Well I’m not eating a cheeseburger so therefore I am allowed to put whatever I want on my salad and not feel guilty about it!”  This recipe is no different.  This salad was created for enjoyment of all the fall colors and flavors.  The health factor takes a very distant third in terms of what I cared about when creating this recipe.

This is not a difficult recipe but it is a bit more time-consuming that what I would typically do for a weeknight.  If you roast the squash beforehand however, this recipe will come together in a flash.  There will probably be leftover squash but it makes a great side dish for the rest of the week.

Yield: 4-1st course servings or 2-dinner servings
Active Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 (2 pound) butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 (6oz) bag baby spinach
  • 1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. shallot, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 oz. soft goat cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towels and strain bacon grease.  Reserve bacon fat.
  3. Cut ends off of squash and cut in half.  Remove seeds.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel butternut squash to remove outer layer.  Cut squash into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Toss squash with 1 Tbsp. reserved bacon fat.  Spread squash on a cookie sheet in a single layer and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30-45 minutes until you can just pierce through with a fork.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with brown sugar.  Return to oven on a low broil until caramelized.  Remove squash from cookie sheet to a plate*.  Set aside.
  5. Return oven to 400F, and roast onion with 1 tsp. bacon grease for 15 minutes.
  6. To make the dressing, heat 2 Tbsp. bacon fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until softened.  Add the apple cider vinegar and apple cider to skillet and allow to reduce for 10-12 minutes until the mixture becomes thickened.  Once the dressing has thickened, whisk in the Dijon mustard and olive oil.  Season the dressing with salt and pepper to taste.  Immediately toss warm vinaigrette with spinach to wilt.
  7. Arrange spinach on plates and top with roasted squash, roasted red onions, and crumbled goat cheese.  Use a grind of fresh pepper to finish.

* Remove the squash from cookie sheet while still warm.  If you wait until it cools, like I did, the squash will stick to the cookie sheet and it will be hard to remove.  If this does happen, just place the cookie sheet back in the oven until warms and it should again become easy to remove.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Entrees, Fall, Salad, Uncategorized

 

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Cheesy Polenta (Grits)

Cheesy Polenta

Today we are back in South Dakota to visit an oldie but a goodie friend and my parents.  It is pheasant opener here so we are all decked out in orange.  Otis can’t wait to go find some birds and on a chilly Fall morning a hearty, stick to your bones bowl of grits is perfect to sustain us all day.  We’re hoping for roasted pheasant for dinner, but if no birds come our way, we will just have to have another bowl of these creamy cheesy grits and that would be just fine too.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups 2% milk, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 2 cups coarse ground cornmeal (not instant)
  • 2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 strips bacon, diced and cooked

Directions:

  1. Bring chicken broth, 2 1/2 cups milk, and salt to a boil.  Watch closely to make sure this doesn’t boil over.  I say this because that’s exactly what happened to me!
  2. Slowly whisk in grits.
  3. Reduce heat to low and continue to stir for about 20 minutes until thickened.
  4. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and stir to incorporate.
  5. Stir in cheese and butter.
  6. Stir in bacon.
 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 19, 2013 in comfort, Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Falafels with Tzatziki

Falafel

Sometimes I get a hankering for falafels and although it’s sometimes easier to go to my local Mediterranean restaurant and pick them up, they are honestly so much better homemade.  Unlike a lot of take-out places, these falafels are crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside with a lot of flavor to carry them on their own without being dried out.  The tzatziki adds a creaminess to bring the whole thing together for a fresh and quick dinner.

If you have a food processor or blender these come together in a snap.  The main ingredient is garbanzo beans so they are very inexpensive to make, and I think are good reheated.  It makes for a much more interesting lunch than a peanut butter sandwich.

Servings: 8
Active Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients for Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded (use other half of cucumber as garnish for falafel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for Falafels:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + more for coating falafel
  • 2 tsp. cumin, fresh ground
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying (peanut, canola, corn)
  • 4 warm pita breads, cut in half
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Hot Sauce
Directions for Tzatziki:
  1. Grate cucumber and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl to catch liquid.  Allow to drain for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer strained cucumber to a bowl.  Stir in Greek yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours before using to allow flavors to meld.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Directions for Falafels:

  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, 3 Tbsp. flour, cumin, minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne in processor until combined. Add 3/4 cup onion, egg, and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, then roll in a bowl of flour.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot add four falafels at a time making sure to not overcrowd.  Turn after about 2 minutes to brown on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Serve falafels in pitas with tzatziki, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and hot sauce.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Beans, Entrees, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized

 

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Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Mac 1

Mac-n-Cheese is one of those things in life that so many of us have in common.  I come from a family of 6 and am the baby, baby, baby.  My sisters and brother are 12, 10, and 8 years older than me, so my siblings were very much a part of my upbringing.  I remember very clearly when my oldest sister Terry watched me I always requested Kraft mac-n-cheese.  That’s right, I had the “blue box blues.”  I loved it when she made it for me because she would add all the butter and milk that the recipe called for.  When my mom made it, I think she secretly added water and margarine.  Bleck!

As I have gotten older, I no longer crave the blue box, but my love of mac-n-cheese certainly has not faded.  These days I love a rich, creamy bechamel based cheese sauce, baked, with a crunchy panko topping.  I happened to get a block of bleu cheese for 99 cents at the grocery store this week and needed to use it, so decided to morph my usual cheesy mac into a buffalo chicken recipe.

I hope this recipe brings back as many homey and comforting memories for you as it did for me.  Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese

Yield: 8 Servings      Active Time: 30 minutes     Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breasts, poached or rotisserie
  • 3 cups medium shells
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce (preferably Valentina)
  • 1 large egg
  • 12 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar, coarsely shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
    For Topping:
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 cup bleu cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Poach enough chicken breasts to measure 2 cups shredded or use 2 cups rotisserie chicken.
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the shells 5 minutes.  You want them undercooked.  They will absorb the creamy cheese sauce in the oven and come out perfect.  Drain and set aside.  Do not rinse.
  4. In a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and stir constantly for five minutes.  Slowly stir in milk and cream.  Increase heat to medium and whisk to remove any clumps.
  5. Add onion, bay leaf, and hot sauce. Simmer for about ten minutes or until the sauce thickly covers the back of a wooden spoon.  Reduce heat to low and remove the bay leaf.
  6. Temper in the egg (instructions below).  This is an important step.  Don’t skip it!
  7. Stir in the cheese, salt, and pepper. Fold in the macaroni.
  8. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with bleu cheese.
  9. Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

Buffalo Chicken Mac-n-Cheese 3

How to Temper an Egg:
  1. Whisk egg in a bowl.
  2. Add a spoonful of sauce to egg while whisking.
  3. Continue adding a couple more spoonfuls while whisking.  Then add warmed egg mixture to sauce in skillet.
  • The purpose of tempering the egg is to slowly bring the egg to the temperature of the hot sauce.  If you add the egg directly to the sauce it will scramble and give you an awful curdled texture.
  • The egg, when tempered properly, will give a nice creamy texture to your finished dish.
 
6 Comments

Posted by on October 4, 2013 in comfort, Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Easy Baked Rigatoni

Baked Rigatoni

I generally spend one weekend day preparing food for the week ahead.  A pasta dish is always a winner for a few reasons.

  1. The ingredients are cheap.
  2. It reheats well making a perfect lunch for the remaining work days.
  3. It freezes well so can be assembled and thrown in the oven an hour before dinner.

These are all qualities that I love in a weeknight dinner.  Yes I have made homemade “gravy” plenty of times but, for all time-intensive purposes, jarred sauce is a great base start to a very pleasing weeknight dinner without taking all day to make.  Hence the name, “Easy Baked Rigatoni.”

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12oz rigatoni
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 log fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

Directions:

  1. Brown Italian sausage.  Drain and transfer to a heavy Dutch oven.
  2. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  3. Cook rigatoni until al dente in salted water.  Drain but do NOT rinse.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Add basil and rigatoni to sauce and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer to a freezer proof dish and top with mozzarella.
  7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling.  If freezing, cook covered with foil for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Italian Sausage Flatbread

Italian Sausage Flatbread
Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Homemade Flatbread
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 pound mild Italian sausage

Directions:

  1. Follow steps 1-5 for preparing homemade flatbread.
  2. Roll sausage into quarter-size meatballs and brown in a heavy skillet turning until thoroughly cooked.
  3. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the prepared dough in the skillet until the crust bubbles, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up.  Brush the flatbread generously with pizza sauce.  Add shredded cheese and top with Italian sausage.
  5. Place the flatbread back in the skillet over medium heat until cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.
 
 

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Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread

Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread
Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

My husband and I had Spring fever today and decided that we had to get outside for fear of going stir crazy.  So we decided a long walk with Otis, our dog, was in high order.  The fact that it was only about 40 degrees didn’t deter us.  Instead we got out our long johns, gloves, and scarves and were on our way through the woods!

We came across a lost dog so she joined us for our walk until we were able to find her owner.  It’s a happy day when a little girl finds her lost puppy!  After Otis’ new girlfriend left us, he occupied his mind with all of the squirrels running through the park and he too was a happy boy.

On our walk back I was starving and all I wanted to do was fire up the grill to continue our “pretend Spring day.”  I’ve been wanting to make flatbread on the grill for awhile so I thought this would be a great opportunity, but by the time we got back from our walk it was raining so I had to change plans last-minute.

My husband loves pizza with classic red sauce, but I’m more of a fan of white pizza.  I especially love salty prosciutto and peppery arugula with a garlic crust.  The Fontina adds a creaminess to the pizza that really takes it to the next level.

Someday, if it ever warms up in MN, I will add grill instructions to this recipe.  For now, a cast iron skillet and oven inside makes one perfectly tasty flatbread!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Homemade Flatbread
  • 1 head garlic
  • 5 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups shredded Fontina cheese
  • 4 thin slices prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup baby arugula
  • coarse ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Follow steps 1-5 for preparing homemade flatbread.
  2. Preheat oven to 400F.  Roast a head of garlic by cutting off 1/4 inch off top of cloves.  Drizzle garlic with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap in tin foil.  Roast for 40 minutes.  Remove garlic cloves from bulb and mix with extra-virgin olive oil until a thin paste forms.
  3. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the prepared dough in the skillet until the crust bubbles, about 1 minute.
  4. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up.  Brush the flatbread generously with roasted garlic/olive oil mixture.  Add shredded cheese and top with prosciutto.
  5. Place the flatbread back in the skillet over medium until cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.
  6. Remove from heat, sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, and top with arugula.

Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread 2

 
 

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Homemade Flatbread

Homemade Flatbread

Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 10 minutes     Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Make ahead: Dough can be refrigerated 2-3 days

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup warm water (110-115F)
  • 1 (1/4oz) packet active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

Activated Yeast
Directions
:

  1. Pour warm water (110-115F) into a small bowl and stir in the yeast and sugar until dissolved.  Allow the mixture to stand for 5 minutes until a layer of foam develops on the surface like this:

    If this doesn’t happen, it’s best to start over as the yeast has not been activated.  This can happen for a number of reasons.  The temperature of the water could be too cold which will not activate the yeast.  If it’s too hot, the yeast will be killed, and sometimes the yeast can be old.  It’s best to store yeast in the refrigerator for this reason.

  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast water and 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Mix well.
  3. Lightly flour a clean working surface and form the dough into a ball. Turn the dough out onto the working surface and knead until it becomes smooth and elastic.  Only add more flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to the working surface.
  4. Place the dough back into the mixing bowl. Rub remaining teaspoon of extra-virgin olive oil over the dough to keep it moist while rising. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, about 75˚F for 2 hours, or until it doubles in size.
  5. If you would like to make individual flatbreads, cut the dough in half.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface working it into a circular crust about 5 inches in diameter for 2 flatbreads, or 10 inches in diameter for one flatbread.
  6. Wipe the inside of a heavy skillet with a paper towel moistened with olive oil. Preheat the pan over high heat for 5 minutes until smoking. Place the rolled out dough in the skillet. The crust will bubble within 1 minute.  Reduce heat to medium.
  7. Turn the flatbread onto a working surface, grilled side up, add toppings, and return to skillet.  Flatbread is done when cheese is melted and bottom has formed a brown crust.

Recipes:

 

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Pancetta Carbonara

Pancetta Carbonara
Yield: 2 Servings     Prep Time: 15 minutes     Active Time: 10 minutes

If you’ve never had a classic Roman carbonara before, be ready for a new obsession.  The pasta used is typically spaghetti or bucatini, but I had some ziti I had to use up so that’s what is pictured above.  The egg yolks in the recipe act as a thickener instead of a flour-based roux making the sauce silky and rich without being heavy.

This is one of those dishes that is quick and easy enough to be a weeknight meal, but it’s also elegant enough to serve for guests.  I love the versatility of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 6 ounces pasta (bucatini, spaghetti, fettuccine)
  • 1 cup half-n-half
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped

Directions:

  1. Fry pancetta in heavy skillet over medium heat until browned.  Transfer to paper towel.  Set aside.
  2. Whisk together half-n-half, egg yolks, and parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat and cook according to package instructions until al dente.  Strain pasta in colander, reserving 1/4 cup of boiling water.
  4. Immediately toss hot pasta with egg yolk mixture until cheese is melted and mixture coats pasta.  Add bacon to pasta and thin with reserved boiling water if necessary.
  5. Garnish pasta with chopped green onions and freshly ground black pepper.

Pancetta Carbonara (2)

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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