Saturday, June 17, 2017

Chicken and Asparagus Alfredo with Sun-dried Tomatoes

Once the chicken is grilled, this dish takes about half hour or less to pull together. I have my husband grill the chicken while I make the rest of the dish. He cuts it up once it has rested and cooled, which means this meal can be on the table from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Serve with a fresh garden salad and you have a completely gourmet meal to eat during the week or serve to guests (and, of course, pass the wine!)

1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 tsp. Sunny Spain (Penzey's) OR
1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp each of dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 oz. cream cheese, cut into pieces
12 oz penne pasta,
1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2-3 inch pieces
Reserve 1 cup pasta water
1/3 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese or Parmesan cheese, grated (plus more for serving)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (not in oil)

Heat grill.
If not using Sunny Spain seasoning, mix together the black pepper, dried lemon peel, garlic powder and onion powder in a small bowl.  Cover chicken with olive oil and sprinkle seasoning (heavy) on both sides of the chicken. Grill chicken about 10-12 minutes or until cooked over medium high heat. Remove from grill and place on a plate to rest.

Cook pasta to al dente. During the last 2 minutes, add asparagus to boiling pasta. Before draining, remove 1 cup of pasta water and reserve for later. Drain pasta and asparagus and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook a minute. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. Slowly pour in the milk and half and half, whisking until flour is smooth. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly.

Once sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Add cream cheese and stir until it is completely incorporated into the sauce. Stir in Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Slowly add the pasta and asparagus, stirring until they are completely coated with the sauce. Add pasta water to pan to make it smooth and keep from being too thick. This could be up to 1 cup, although I used only about 3/4 of a cup, so add slowly and stir.

Cut chicken into strips. Place pasta mixture into a large serving dish, taking care to scrape all of the sauce over the pasta. Place cut chicken on top and top with additional Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Serve immediately.

NOTE: For added flavor, you can crumble 5-6 pieces of crispy bacon on top and about 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, cut into thin strips.

NOTE: You can substitute broccoli for the aspargus -- use about 3 cups of broccoli florets. You can also add mushrooms or substitute sun-dried tomatoes for mushrooms. Be sure to saute the mushrooms ahead of time.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Greek Pasta Salad with Grilled Chicken

16 oz Orecchiette pasta cooked al dente
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
1 small English cucumber, cut into half moons
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 cup Greek olives, cut in half
15.5 oz can chickpeas (Garbanzo beans), drained
2 cups (about 2 large handfuls) of greens, such as chopped romaine lettuce or spinach or a combination of both
8 oz. Feta cheese, crumbled

Greek-Style Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 glove garlic, pressed through garlic press or finely shopped
1 tsp. dried oregano (crumbled)
1 tsp salt
1/2-1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Mix well or shake in a jar to combine

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, marinaded in Italian or Greek Dressing (make another batch of the dressing listed above for this) for at least 4-6 hours, but not more than 24 hours

Right after cooking the pasta, rinse pasta with cold water to stop it from cooking. Drain well and place in a very large serving bowl (this recipe will feed about 8 people) add the olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. Refrigerate pasta to cool it completely.

Stir the next 9 ingredients into the pasta, mixing well. These amounts are very forgiving, so it's fine if the amounts are more or less than listed above.

Add the Greek-style dressing to the pasta salad and you can either refrigerate until ready to serve or proceed to grill the chicken,

Pound raw chicken until about 1 inch thick. Grill chicken on high about 10 minutes or until juices run clear, discarding the marinade.

Cut chicken into strips or cubes. Add chicken to the pasta salad or you can serve it on the side and let each person add the chicken to their own salad. You can also add the chicken to the salad and refrigerate until ready to serve if you prefer your chicken cold rather than warm.

Serve pasta salad as a main dish or it can be a side dish. This will feed 8 people a main course or 12-15 people as a side dish. If you want to make it for a main course, you can complete the meal with a fruit salad and a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade.

This salad makes great leftovers too!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Cheesy (no soup) Hash Brown Potato Casserole

2-3 Tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
12 oz chicken broth
1 cup milk
8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese (2 cups)
20 oz pkg Trader Joe's shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed
1/2 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp butter
1-2 cups Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large pot. Cook onion until soft. Add salt, pepper and Thyme and then slowly stir in the flour until fully incorporated. Add broth and bring to a boil and stir until mixture is thickened. Add milk and stir thoroughly. Remove from burner and stir in the cheese until cheese is melted. Add shredded potatoes and mix well. Then stir in the sour cream until incorporated.

Spray a 9x11 inch glass pan with nonstick spray. Pour the potatoes into the pan and bake about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, melt butter and stir in panko breadcrumbs. Add crumbs to the top of the potatoes and continue baking until crumbs are browned and potatoes are bubbling (about 15 minutes). You might need to increase oven temperature to 425 degrees. Check to make sure potatoes are tender. Allow potatoes to rest about 10 minutes and serve warm.

This dish goes well with ham. You can also reheat the potatoes adding leftover ham to make a delicious second meal.

These potatoes are very forgiving. You can add more shredded potatoes--up to 28 oz and they will still be moist. Just make sure you have enough sauce to keep them moist!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Poppyseed Dressing

This is a tangy sweet dressing. I use it for a spinach-strawberry salad, but it is great with any fruit salad.

1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1.3 oz granulated sugar
1/4 c. grapeseed oil
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 Tbsp poppyseeds

Mix together the vinegar, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and sugar until well mixed. combine the two oils together and mix. Slowly whisk the oil into the vinegar-sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in poppy seeds and chill until ready to serve.

You can use all olive oil or all grapeseed oil.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Quick and Easy Queso Dip

2 Tbsp butter
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
2 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (90,000 SHU is best)
1 cup half and half (or milk -- but half and half is better)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese*, shredded

Melt butter in a pan and saute' pepper. Whisk in flour, salt and cayenne pepper until incorporated. Stir in half and half and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add cheese and stir well to melt.

Serve warm -- will thicken as it cools. Delicious as a dip or over a burrito. Delicious as a dip for breadsticks or pizza crust.

*Can use any shredded cheese.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Chicken Chop Salad

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 c. bottled Italian dressing
2 heads romaine, chopped
1 red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch squares
1 English cucumber, cut into slices, then quartered
16 grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/3 cup black olives, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
5-6 slices provolone cheese, cut into small squares
1/2 c sliced pepperoni, cut in half
4 pepperoncinis, sliced

1 lemon, zested
8 Tbsp lemon juice (from zested lemon)
 (note, if you don't have enough lemon juice, make up the difference with red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp fresh oregano)
1/3 c. Extra Virgin olive oil

Marinade chicken breasts in Italian dressing at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill chicken until done. Then slice or chop into bite-sized pieces. Place into a bowl.

While chicken is marinading, combine all the other ingredients in a large salad bowl as shown in photo above.

Make dressing by combining all the ingredients together except olive oil. Whisk oil into the rest of the ingredients, until well combined.

Pour the dressing over the salad and mix well. Serve salad with chicken on top.

I also made Italian bread croutons by toasting Italian bread, topped with olive oil, Italian spice and a pinch of salt on top. Toast until crunchy, but not too brown. You can serve the bread on the side or cut up and add to the salad.

This makes 5 generous dinner salads. It is light and delicious.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Quick and Easy Rojo Pozole

This recipe came about because of a leftover boneless pork loin I had cooked in the crock pot for pork BBQ sandwiches. If you don't have cooked pork, you can use chicken or beef (cooked), but the pork really made this dish very tasty.

2-4 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 large garlic cloves, pressed (or finely minced)
1 large poblano pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp flour
1-2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
6 oz tomato paste
2 cups water
4 cups homemade chicken stock (or low sodium broth)
4 cups cooked boneless pork (see note above)
3 can golden hominy, drained
2 4-oz cans green chilies
Juice of one lime

lime wedges
avocado, chopped
sour cream
corn tortillas

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic cloves and poblano pepper. Cook until soft. Add flour and additional olive oil to make a thick paste. Add seasoning (salt, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper). Continue stirring mixture until brown (may burn slightly, but don't worry). Add tomato paste and combine well. Add water and scrape up bits on the bottom of the pan. Mixture should thicken and make a very red "gravy" that looks a lot like a dark enchilada sauce. Adjust seasoning (make it spicy or add more salt at this point).

Add chicken stock, pork, hominy and green chilies. Stir well and bring to boil. Turn down heat and simmer. Add juice of one lime and continue simmering. Stir periodically so it doesn't burn. You can serve it at any time, but you can also let it simmer for up to a half hour or more. It will thicken up as you simmer it. If you want it thinner, add more stock or water.

Serve pozole  in a large bowl with desired toppings, but make sure you add more lime juice and cilantro to give it a fresh flavor. You can also top with shredded cabbage or lettuce, fresh radishes for additional "crunch."

This is not authentic, but it tastes wonderful. Serve with additional hot sauce. I recommend you also serve this with cheese quesadillas as pictured below


Makes 6-8 large servings.