Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Pasta with Roasted Spring Vegetables and Marinated Mozzarella


Ever since being inspired by Mel to roast vegetables, it's about the only way I prepare them anymore....so much more flavor.  And with my new air fryer, it only takes minutes (and doesn't heat up the kitchen, very important that we're stepping into summer temperatures).  

So when I across this recipe, I wanted to try it for because of all the roasted vegetables (which you can certainly change to what you like or what's in season.  But also because it calls for roasted radishes.  I had never heard of roasting radishes, but all of a sudden I'm seeing them posted in several places.  I love using ingredients in different ways and my friend and I ran across some beautiful radishes last weekend at the opening of our farmer's market.

And I had never noticed marinated mozzarella balls but had just spotted a tub of them at Wal-Mart.  The marinade is really good, but you can certainly just use cubed fresh mozzarella or the mozzarella pearls with some extra-virgin olive oil and some of the herbed olive oil.

A NOTE:  This recipe makes a lot.  I halved it but could have easily quartered it for just 1 or 2 servings.  Again, use the recipe as a guideline, but use vegetables that you prefer or are in season.  Also, click on the recipe source link below for much more information and step-by-step instructions and photos.

PASTA with ROASTED SPRING VEGETABLES and MARINATED MOZZARELLA (serves 6-8)

4 cups broccoli florets (about 2 heads)
1 red onion, chopped into 1" cubes
1 bunch radishes, trimmed then cut into wedges (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed then cut into 2" lengths (about 2 cups)
EVOO
garlic salt and pepper
12 oz medium-cut pasta, like rotini
2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (more for me)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives (more for me)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
8 oz marinated mini mozzarella cheese balls, sliced in half + 1/4 cup of the marinating oil (see note)


Preheat oven to 425F then line two large baking sheets with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Divide broccoli, red onion, and radishes between baking sheets then drizzle with olive oil, season with garlic salt and pepper, then toss with hands to coat.  Roast for 10 minutes.  In the meantime, add the snap peas and asparagus and to a bowl and then toss with olive oil, garlic salt and pepper.  Divide the asparagus and snap peas between the baking sheets then stir with a spatula and roast for an additional 5-10 minutes, or until all vegetables are crisp tender (do not overcook!)

Once vegetables go back into the oven the second time, add pasta to boiling water then cook until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return to the pot.  Add mozzarella cheese marinating oil, Parmesan, the roasted vegetables, fresh basil, and fresh chives then stir to combine.  Add mozzarella cheese then stir to combine.  Taste then add more salt, pepper, and/or reserved pasta cooking water until desired taste and consistency is reached, and then serve.

NOTES:
*  Use whatever vegetables you like in this dish, just make sure they total 10-12 cups of chopped vegetables.
*  This recipe feeds a crowd but can be easily halved or quartered.
*  If you only find regular mini mozzarella cheese balls, that fine!  Just use regular or herbed EVOO to dress the cooked pasta.
*  This does keep well for a couple of days, so you'll have a nice snack or ready-to-take lunch.  It's also a great Meatless Monday (or any day) meal.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2016/04/20/pasta-roasted-spring-vegetables-marinated-mozzarella/

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Doubletree Hotel Copycat Chocolate Chip Cookies


I ran across this recipe a week or two ago and tucked it aside.  I have a friend who likes chocolate chip cookies and I thought this might be a tiny bit different than the traditional Tollhouse cookies.  And they are.  From adding ground oatmeal to the batter to using mini chocolate chips in lieu of the regular sized chips, it really does make a difference.

See the recipe source link below for lots more info and photos.

DOUBLETREE HOTEL COPYCAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Her recipe makes 3 dozen....I didn't have a #40 cookie scoop so I weighed mine at 26 grams which made 4 1/2 dozen cookies)

1/2 cup (1.75 oz) old-fashioned oats
2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 salt
1/4 ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temp
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) light brown sugar
3/4 cup (5.5 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 large eggs
12 oz mini chocolate chips
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans, optional

In a food processor or blender, pulse oats until finely blended.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and pulse a few times until well blended.

In a large mixing bowl using a handheld mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, vanilla, and lemon juice and mix until creamy and light in color, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the dry ingredients and mix until it starts to come together but there are still a lot of dry spots.  Add the chocolate chips (and pecans, if using) and mix until just combined and no dry streaks remain.

Portion the dough into 1 1/2 Tbsp (or so) size mounds (she used a #40 cookie scoop) lining them up on a parchment paper-lined and baking sheet and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to two days.  

Preheat oven to 350F.  Place the dough a few inches apart on the baking sheets.    Bake for 11-12 minutes (mine took about 14-15 minutes), until the edges are set but the cookies are still soft in the center.  Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source:  http://www.melskitchencafe.com/doubletree-hotel-copycat-chocolate-chip-cookies/

Friday, April 29, 2016

Chicken Enchilada Pasta


OK, you need to put this on your menu this week!  This dish is so good!  

Creamy pasta with Tex-Mex flavors.  Meal-in-one.  Easy peasy.  Really....this will easily win a spot on your frequent dinner rotation.

CHICKEN ENCHILADA PASTA (3-4 servings)

1 cup cooked chicken
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3/4 cup (about 1/2 medium) onion
1/2 red pepperm duced
1/2 can (2 oz) diced green chiles
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1/3 cup red enchilada sauce (I used mild)
1/2 can large black olives, cut in half, or about 1/3 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sour cream (I used reduced-fat)
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese
5-8 oz penne pasta (I use less for a "saucier" pasta)
diced tomatoes, optional
green onions, optional
tortilla chips, optional
chopped parsley or cilantro, optional

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta until tender.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet and add the onion.  Cook 2-3 minutes until onion is translucent.  Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, until pepper is barely tender.  Add the cooked chicken, green chiles, spices, enchilada sauces, and olives.

Let the sauce simmer for about 8-10 minutes.  Add the sour cream and cheese and heat through, until the cheese is melted (but don't boil).

Pour the sauce over the hot pasta.  Garnish with extra sour cream, cheese, diced tomatoes, green onions, tortilla chips, and/or parsley if desired.

Recipe Source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/chicken-enchilada-pasta/

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tilapia Parmesan


Talk about being bad about thinking outside the box.  I never would have thought of this dish and what a shame!  It's absolutely delicious!

Fish with marinara, mozzarella, fresh basil over pasta.  I served it with a Caprese Salad for the perfect, complete meal.

TILAPIA PARMESAN (4 servings)

2 Tbsp coconut oil or EVOO
4 mild white fish fillets (tilapia, swai, etc), about 4 oz each
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 cup AP flour
1/4 cup +2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup marinara sauce (or your favorite pasta sauce)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
4 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
cooked pasta (I used angel hair)

In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, flour, 1/4 cup Parmesan, S&P, and garlic powder.  In a separate bowl, beat the 2 eggs.

Dip the fish into the eggs and then into the bread crumb mixture, pressing down to make sure both sides are coated well.  Set aside breaded fillets on a plate.

Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.

Once oil is hot, place all of the fish into the skillet at once.  Cook on each side 3-5 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of marinara sauce on top of the cooked fish and top with mozzarella and remaining 2 Tbsp of Parmesan cheese.

Remove from heat and cover with a lid to melt the cheese.  Serve atop cooked pasta (if using) topped with chopped basil.

Recipe Source:  http://normalcooking.com/2016/03/31/tilapia-parmigiana/

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Honey Chicken and Broccoli Stir-Fry


Don't you just love it when you happen to have everything on hand for a quick, delicious dinner?   This is about as easy as it gets.  And it's a meal-in-one.  No need to come up with side dishes.

You can easily adjust the honey and soy sauce amounts to suit your tastes.  I think I'll add a bit more of each next time to ramp up the salty/sweetness of this dish.  The original recipe calls for peanuts, but cashews would be great also.

HONEY CHICKEN and BROCCOLI STIR-FRY (6 servings)

1 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs
1 tsp salt
black pepper
4 Tbsp cornstarch
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/3 honey, more or less to taste
3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce, more or less to taste
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 Tbsp EVOO
4 cups broccoli florets
1 yellow or sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cups cooked long-grain white (or brown) rice
1/2 cup cashews or dry-roasted salted peanuts, optional

Cut chicken into 1" pieces and toss in a medium bowl with salt, pepper, and cornstarch.

In a small bowl, stir together broth, honey, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high.  Cook chicken until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes.  Add vegetables and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are soft, 3-4 minutes.

Add broth mixture to pan.  Toss well; bring to a boil over high heat.  Cook 1 minute to thicken sauce.  Serve with cooked rice and top with nuts, if using.

Recipe Source:  Relish Magazine, April 2016, p. 14

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Oklahoma City 21 Years Later


The Oklahoma City Bombing: A Look Back

It is so hard for me to believe that just 21 years ago today I stood on the 21st floor of the First National Building in downtown Oklahoma City and watched the east side of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building blow out.  And then wait for eight agonizing days before the body of my sweet brother, Paul, was recovered.

If you are ever near Oklahoma City, I hope you'll stop at the beautifully developed memorial so many worked on to never let anyone forget this awful event and to always remember all those we lost and all those who helped us.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Pasta Rustico with Turkey Sausage


When I first saw this recipe it looked quintessentially autumn-ish.  But I had every ingredient on hand and decided to try it.  With the fresh peppers and spinach and Italian turkey sausage,  it's a light alternative to heavy, red meat based sauces.  It's a perfect one-dish meal weeknight meal.

PASTA RUSTICO with TURKEY SAUSAGE (4 servings)

8 oz pound regular or whole wheat penne pasta
1/2 Tbsp EVOO
1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, sliced
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 tsp freshly minced garlic
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 1/2 oz fresh spinach leaves
S&P
grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly-salted water to a boil.  Add pasta and cook 8-10 minutes, just until al-dente.  Save 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage and cook until evenly browned and cooked throughout.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add onion, peppers, garlic, and Italian seasoning to the empty pan and cook until onions are translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Return sausage to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes, just until fully reheated throughout.  Add spinach, S&P, and reserved pasta water to the pan and immediately remove from heat.  Stir until  all is combined.

Serve the sausage mixture smothered over pasta and topped with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Source:  "Choose This!" by Chris Freytag, 2011, p. 112