March 10, 2017

(Last Night's) Dinner: Tortellini Soup and Cheesy Biscuits

Pinterest can be such a black hole and a time suck. One can spend HOURS searching and pinning and creating boards... most never to be looked at again. I try every once in a while to go through my "Foodstuffs" board where I've pinned countless recipes and find a few to make. This was one of them, Looked good, easy and I usually have a thing of tortellini from Trader Joe's in my freezer. I used this recipe and it was fine. Truthfully, it was a little bland so next time I think I'd do a few things different, I like soups that have more complex flavors, What I did do different from the recipe is I blended the soup prior to adding the pasta and spinach, I despise tomato chunks, also I had Pesto Tortellini so I think if it had been cheese filled it also may have been a little better. All in all it was a decent soup.

For the biscuits I used a random mix I had for buttermilk biscuits, you could use Bisquick Mix or make them from scratch, they are all pretty easy, and then I added about cup of shredded sharp cheddar, some garlic salt, and Italian seasoning (basically whatever i had in my pantry) mixed them and baked them according to directions (450 for 8-10 mins) and then as soon as they came out of the oven I brushed them with some melted butter that I mixed with garlic powder, basically I re-created the biscuits you get at Red Lobster. I know they sell a mix now at the stores and it's not too bad, but they are easy to recreate without the "official" stuff. Maybe the whole meal would have also been better if it'd been soup weather outside, it was one of the warmest days of the year so far so it was probably better suited to fire up the grill than eat soup.

PS Follow me on Pinterest here annadria

March 8, 2017

Dinner: "Plan A" Tuscan Brick Chicken with Charred Lemons and Gorgonzola Gnocchi

So I finally pulled out the intended dinner from the other night. It was a pretty easy recipe from My homegirl Chrissy's book (seriously buy it, it's worth it). So it sounded a little intimidating and I may have bought a cast iron pan just so I could cook this and I happened to have some random bricks in my garage so I think thats what sealed it for me (Don't worry I washed the bricks and then triple wrapped them in foil). The recipe for the chicken is as follows:

John's Tuscan Brick Chicken with Charred Lemons (PS John Legend could make me chicken ANYDAY)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons very finely minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Grated zest of 2 lemons, plus 2 skin-on lemons, quartered
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters
2 tablespoons canola oil
Special equipment ? 2 bricks ($1 at Home Depot)

In a bowl, combine the olive oil, rosemary, sage, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, the pepper, and lemon zest. Pat the chicken dry and place it in a baking dish. Rub the herb mixture all over the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours. 
Double-wrap the bricks in a heavy-duty foil (this is your workout for the day). Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the canola oil, then add the chicken, skin-side down, and weight it down with the bricks. (If they don't all fit comfortably, use 2 pans, or cook in batches.) Cook, without moving the chicken, for 7 to 9 minutes, or until the underside is crisped and mahogany brown (don't lift it, which means be a more patient person than me). Remove the bricks, flip the chicken, weight it down with the bricks again, and continue to cook until the underside is browned and the meat is cooked through, 7 to 9 minutes. (If the skin on the first side seemed too dark, reduce the heat to medium. To check if the meat is done, pierce the thickest part with a knife; if the juices that come out have no pink, it's done)
Remove the chicken from the pan, add the quartered lemons, and sear until slightly charred and caramelized, about 2 minutes per side. Serve the chicken with more salt to taste and the charred lemons for squeezing.   

My Tips: I would def make this again.... but I would probably just use the thighs or even skin-on chicken breasts, Leg quarters are fine and all but I feel like they are more for show. Practically speaking I would have prob got the same amount of meat off a thigh than the boney combo. Also I don't like the idea of cutting the meat to check for doneness... if it's not and you put the brick back on it you are squeezing out all the juicy goodness... with dark meat it's not as bad as if it were a chicken breast... but why do it. Use a meat thermometer if you can.

yep I dug this out of the trash, just to take a pic
The gnocchi was kinda a cheat. Good old Trader Joes for the win. Honestly I saw Rachel Ray make gnocchi from scratch on her show the other day and the motivated part of me was like "Hey! I can do that" and then the realistic side kicked in and was like "hey! you have a bag of that in the freezer!" the Freezer won and I''m not mad at it. I did sprinkle a little fresh cracked pepper and fresh parsley over it cause I'm fancy like that. 

March 6, 2017

Dinner: "Plan B" Tilapia and Roasted Veggie Duo

Dinner was supposed to be something else.... well frozen chicken had other plans so I scrapped the "Plan A" and threw this together last minute. It's a pretty sad and bland looking meal but it was surprising tasty thanks to my little helpers. 

I cut the Broccoli and Cauliflower into florets and tossed them in a bowl with the EVOO, a little lemon pepper, garlic salt and crushed red pepper flakes and laid them out on a foil lined sheet pan sprayed with a little cooking spray for good measure. I scooted them to the sides to make room for the fish. The fish got much the same treatment coated with a little EVOO and light sprinkling of lemon pepper and then laid down the center of the tray.

The whole thing went in to a 425 preheated oven for about 10 mins till the fish was cooked and the veggies started to char. (I did turn the veggies after about 6 mins just to make sure they didn't get to toasted on one side). Easy Peasy and got the job done though I'm looking forward to "Plan A" later this week.

March 2, 2017

Dinner: Steak Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

So one of my favorite gifts this Christmas came from my bestie, Jen. It was a custom cookbook from Tasty. You know all those yummy Facebook videos that we all drool over... well apparently you can custom create a cookbook picking from their categories and recipes. (see it here) it's straight genius. She obviously knows me well and appreciates reaping the rewards of a new recipe. (I have leftovers if you need lunch tomorrow)

Tonight's recipe is brought to you by my personalized cookbook and my need to regroup after last nights carb over-load. I basically followed this recipe but used sliced beef chuck (pre-packaged but unseasoned for carne asada and cut it into more manageable sizes) I marinated the meat in a little bit of Soy Sauce, and garlic and let it sit while I prepped the veggies. Pro tip (okay okay i'm no pro... but I read it somewhere) instead of using the blade in the food processor if you have the grater attachment run it through that like you would grate cheese, you just get a better consistency so it doesn't turn to mush... and i use a little of the stem too. I know... crazy town over here. Anyway it was pretty straightforward, easy and dare I say tasty... (internal groan) and doesn't leave you with the take-out hangover from traditional Fried Rice and I'm guessing is just as good the next day.

March 1, 2017

Dinner: Lemon Garlic Shrimp Pasta with Roasted Asparagus

OK, so I figured if I was going to annoy everyone with my social media posts about dinner I might as well link to the recipes I'm using so that others can try them if they fill so inclined. So thus begins my blogger (again, pretty sure I've "begun" about a half dozen times.) I'll try and add the ones I've already made since I know some people have asked so check back!

Tonight's dinner was originally going to be just a quick Shrimp and Asparagus StirFry. Then I got to thinking that I should prob offer my poor husband (who is along for this dinner-cooking ride) some carbs. Viola pasta. and then I got to thinking how lemon, garlic and butter all pair so nicely together... and luckily the Internet agrees... I love Pinterest for many reasons but being able to basically search for recipe idea based solely off ingredients is amazing.  I browsed for a minute (literally while standing the cereal aisle of Winco) and decided on trying this one from a The recipe was easy to follow and I think it turned out great. (recipe note, I used parsley at the end cause I didn't have any basil)

For the  asparagus I cut the bottoms off, tossed with some EVOO (that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil for those that don't watch Rachel Ray on the daily) added some salt and pepper and threw in the oven at 425 degrees for maybe 10 mins (I didn't time it, basically once they turn bright green and start to smoke and char a little you know they are done) right after I took them out I sprinkled on some grated parm cheese and called it good.   

The whole meal came together very fast, helps that shrimp cooks in like 3 mins so really boiling the water for the pasta took the longest (seriously, my stove takes FOREVER!). So lets say the whole thing took 20 mins to put together, and the ingredients for the whole pot cost less than $20 (It prob made 4 generous portions, means I have leftovers, YAY!) I think that's win win... at a restaurant I would have probably waited longer (had over cooked shrimp) and paid close to $20 (or more) for the one plate...  man I'm rocking this whole cooking dinner thing!