Friday, December 30, 2011

Easy Lasagna


It's been a long holiday season.  During this time, you always want what you can't have the rest of the year.  And because I'm usually tired of cooking by this time, I try to find a really large dishes that will last at least 2 additional nights.  For me, this includes a nice saucy lasagna.
I can't say I know where this recipe came from.  My mom got this from a friend or co-worker,she passed it on to me, and I've always made it this way. To save time, I use jarred pasta sauce, but if you have an awesome tomato sauce recipe, by all means, use it.
I'm not sure how Italian this is, but it's still awesome.  Impress your friends with this dish or eat half and stick the rest in the freezer for another lazy night. Enjoy!

LASAGNA
serves: 10 to 12

1 pound ground beef, 80/20
1 pound ground pork or Italian sausage out of the casing
1 cup onions
2 cloves garlic2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
lasagna noodles (no boil work great)
4 - 5 cups tomato pasta sauce (about 1 1/2-24 ounce jars)
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
2 15 ounce containers Ricotta

In a large pan, brown meat. Once cooked, drain fat and set aside. In the same pan add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and sautee onions and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to wake them up. Add salt and pepper. Mix in the meat and let cook for 5 minutes. Set meat aside to cool.
Set large pot to boil, salt very generously,  and cook 12 to 16 lasagna sheets al'dente, about 1 minute less than package instructions. Set aside in a little cold water to prevent sticking.
In a bowl pour Ricotta and mix in 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning.
Begin assembly of lasagna in an 11inch x 15inch baking dish. Spread  the dish with enough sauce to lightly coat bottom to prevent pasta from sticking.
Begin layering: pasta noodles, about 4 or 5 with a little overlapping (cut to fit), spread 1/3 of Ricotta mix, spread 1 1/2 cups pasta sauce, sprinkle 1/3 of the meat mixture, and sprinkle 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese.
Layer 2 more times. The top layer will end up with 1 cup of mozzarella and 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano.
Cover lasagna with aluminum and put in oven set at 350°F for 30 minutes. Once bubbly, take aluminum off and let top brown for 10 to 15 minutes.
Take lasagna out of oven and let sauce settle before cutting.

Note: The no boil noodles are a different size from the normal noodle, so layer to fit baking dish and break them to make fit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Farfalle Pasta with Beet Vinaigrette and Parsley Pesto


Hello Folks! Sorry about my absence.  I have truly been enjoying my holiday time with my husband and son.  It's been great so far and New Years is still awaiting us.
Speaking of New Years, this recipe I have for you, will be the highlight of your New Years Eve dinner party.  I've been wanting to make it because of how beautiful it looks, but my hesitation was the actual beets.  Not a real fan.  Oh man, this tastes amazing!  This Farfalle Pasta with Beet Vinaigrette and Parsley Pesto sounds like a mouth-full, and to be honest, it is a delicious mouth-full.
I made a full batch because I thought I would have guests, but since that didn't work out, we still have leftovers.  I am so glad too, because I am still eating bowls of deliciousness. Even though it says to serve right away, it tastes great the day after or two days after. The Parm cheese is a must in this recipe too. Enjoy!

FARFALLE PASTA WITH BEET VINAIGRETTE AND PARSLEY PESTO
servings: 6 to 8

Parsley Pesto:
Kosher salt
2 cups fresh curly parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, green and white parts

Beet Vinaigrette:
5 medium beets, thoroughly scrubbed and quartered (reserve and finely slice beet greens, if attached)
2 cups water
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pasta:
1 pound farfalle pasta (or bowtie)
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

For the parsley pesto: Bring a medium pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the kosher salt until the water tastes like seawater and stir to blend. Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute, and then remove with a slotted spoon. Immediately plunge leaves into an ice bath and allow to cool, 3 to 5 minutes. Drain the leaves slightly and then put them in the blender with the sugar and olive oil. Blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add some water to facilitate blending. Taste for seasoning. Stir in the scallions and set aside in a bowl large enough to hold the pasta.

For the beet vinaigrette: Put the beet pieces in a medium saucepan and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Allow it to reduce until there is about 1/4 cup liquid. Add the remaining 1 cup of water and reduce again until you have only 1/4 cup left. Season to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

For the pasta: In a large pot, bring 6 quarts of water to a rolling boil. Add a generous amount of salt; the pasta water should taste like seawater. Add the pasta to the pot and stir so it doesn't stick to the bottom as it cooks. Cook the pasta until al dente (chewy but not hard or raw tasting) 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some pasta cooking liquid in case you need it later.

To serve: Pour the pasta into the bowl with the parsley pesto. Add the beet vinaigrette and butter and toss to blend. Add the Parmesan and finely sliced beet greens, if using. Serve immediately. Alternatively, you can drizzle the red beet vinaigrette over the pasta for a different color effect.

From foodnetwork.com -  Farfalle Pasta with Beet Vinaigrette and Parsley Pesto: Alex Guarnaschelli

Thursday, December 22, 2011

More cookies (no eggs)



Christmas cookies are my favorite to make for the holidays, and here are more for you.  While talking about my cookie baking, I found out this person could never eat cookies because she's allergic to eggs, so I found some cookie recipes that did not have eggs in them. Come to find out Lime Meltaways, one of my must have cookies, is perfect, and last week I happen to see a recipe for shortbread on the show Sweet Dreams.
The shortbread also reminds me of Salvadoran cookies made from rice flour, and I will be making these more often. Not only are they easy, they are so tasty. Enjoy!

LIME MELTAWAYS
Makes about 3 dozen

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Put butter and 1/3 cup confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add lime zest and juice and vanilla, and mix until fluffy.
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, and salt in a bowl. Add to butter mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined.
Divide dough in half. Place each half on an 8-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper. Roll in parchment to form a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow log. Refrigerate logs until cold and firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove parchment from logs; cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Space rounds 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies until barely golden, about 13 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. While still warm, toss cookies with remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 2 weeks.
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BROWN SUGAR SHORTBREAD
Makes about 15 cut-out cookies and scraps
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch 
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 10 by 14 1/2-inch sheet pan (with sides) with parchment or waxed paper.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer), cream the butter until soft and smooth. Add the brown sugar and mix until incorporated.
In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and cornstarch. Add to the butter mixture and mix at low speed just until the ingredients are incorporated and the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead it 5 to 10 times, just to smooth the dough.
Reflour your work surface. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out to fit the sheet pan. To transfer to the sheet pan, roll the dough up onto the rolling pin, lift it up, and unroll into the pan. Using light strokes of the rolling pin, roll the dough evenly into the corners and edges of the pan, and roll out any bumps. (Or, press the rolled-out dough thoroughly into the pan with your fingers.) Prick the shortbread all over with a fork to prevent any buckling or shrinking.
Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the pan and knock it once against the oven rack, to ensure even cooking and a flat surface. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, until very lightly browned.
Immediately sprinkle the granulated sugar evenly over the surface. Let cool 10 minutes, then cut into 1 1/2 by 3-inch bars or used shaped cookie cutters. Let cool completely in the pan, then store in an airtight container.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Five Minute Fudge


My family is not huge on chocolate treats, so most of the time we do without.  My grandpa is the only one I really make chocolate treats for, and unfortunately, I leave it to the last minute, so fudge has been my go to "cookie" dessert since it takes a total of 10 minutes.  It's addictive and delicious.
This is a great gift if your strapped for cash and still looking for a gift.  Go to the dollar store, buy some tins, and tissue paper.  Then, get the ingredients to make this awesome, easy fudge.  You can not go wrong with this recipe.  This is also an awesome dessert to take to a party if you don't want to spend more than 5 bucks.  This will make enough to stuff 2 small tins, and you can be really creative by making a fudge wreath for the party. Everyone will be so impressed.  Enjoy!

FIVE MINUTE FUDGE

1 (12-ounce) bag semisweet chocolate morsels
9 ounces (3/4 of a 12-ounce bag) butterscotch morsels
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (8-ounce) can walnut halves (optional)
1/2 cup raisins or currants (optional)

Prepare loaf pan by greasing, placing plastic wrap inside pan and grease plastic wrap.
Place a heavy pot on the stove and preheat it over low heat. Add chips and milk and stir until chips are melted and milk combined.  Stir in vanilla and remove fudge from heat.  Add nuts and raisins and stir in immediately if desired.
Spoon fudge into loaf pan.  Fudge will set quickly.
To cut fudge into cubes, refrigerate for 30 minutes, take fudge out of loaf pan and cut into half inch pieces.
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Although I did not make a wreath this year, below are the instructions and a link for a video of Racheal Ray making it so you have an idea of what it should look like.

In addition to the above, you will need:
Candied cherries, red and green, for garnish

Make the fudge according to directions above. Save the empty condensed milk can and wrap in plastic wrap and grease.
Place can in the middle of an 8-inch greased cake pan and quickly spoon fudge.  Recenter can if it drifts.
The fudge will set up almost immediately.  Garnish can only be added in the first minute or 2 once the fudge is in the pan, so work quickly.  Decorate your wreath with "holly" made from cut candied red and green cherries.  A wreath left plain can be garnished with a pretty fabric bow when serving.  Chill covered in the refrigerator and slice fudge very thin when ready to serve, a little goes a long way.

Recipe from Rachael Ray: Five-Minute Fudge Wreath Recipe

Friday, December 16, 2011

Holiday Turkey and Pan con Pavo


As I've mentioned, my mom's side of the family is from El Salvador, and although they weren't able to bring much, they brought there oh so yummy recipes.  My absolute favorite, and something I look forward to ever year, is the Christmas Turkey.  Once in the US, my family adapted to the customs of Thanksgiving dinner, so it became a Thanksgiving and Christmas Turkey.
Our turkey is the best turkey I have ever eaten, and we have introduced it to so many other people that end up loving it. If you're thinking of making a Turkey for Christmas, here's the best turkey recipe ever.  Along with the best pan con pavo for the day after.
Truly enjoy; especially the olives!

SALVADORAN HOLIDAY TURKEY
servings:  about 8

15 pound turkey, thawed and cavity cleaned
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
salt and pepper
1/2 cup sesame seeds
2 tablespoons whole pepper corns
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
2 dry chiles, like ancho
5 garlic cloves
1-3 tablespoons powdered achote*
1 medium yellow onion, rough chop
1 bell green pepper, rough chop
4-6 Roma tomatoes, rough chop
1/2 cup water
salt
1 jar green olives
1 naranja agria, juiced (bitter orange; naval orange is good substitute)
1 cup red dry wine

Night before preparation:
Set thawed turkey in roasting pan. Spread butter all over turkey and salt and pepper generously.
In a skillet on medium heat, toast sesame seeds, pepper corns, and pumpkin seeds. Once browned, set aside. Then, toast chiles and garlic and set aside once fragrant.
In 2 batches add onion, green bell pepper, tomatoes, spices, garlic and chile in a blender. Puree and add water to loosen as needed.
In a large bowl mix the puree, olives, orange juice and dry wine. Add 1/2-1 teaspoon salt to taste. Pour mixture on to turkey and into the cavity of turkey. Cover and refrigerate over night.

The day of:
Take turkey out of the refrigerator an hour before placing into the oven.
Set oven at 425 degrees F. Once oven reaches temperature, place uncovered turkey in oven and let turkey brown for 30 minutes.
Lower temperature to 350 degrees and baste the turkey at this time and cover with aluminum foil. Roast for an additional 1 1/2 hrs, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Take turkey out and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
A lot of juice (gravy) is left in the pan.  This is taken out of the pan and the fat is skimmed.

NOTES:
Mixture of spices can be found at your local Latin food market.
*If only whole achote is found, in a small pan over medium heat, add 1/4 cup oil and 1 tablespoon achote. Let simmer until bright red and add to puree. If no achote is found, use Goya Sazon
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Excuse the lack of ingredients, I forgot to take pictures of the first two I ate and barely remember once almost everything was gone.




PAN CON PAVO

turkey from the night before, reheated
gravy from the night before, reheated
lettuce
tomatoes, sliced
cucumbers, peeled and sliced
water crest
French or Italian bread rolls
curtido (optional)

Toast bread in oven.  Slice bread in half and place lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, water crest, curtido, and turkey.  Spoon gravy over turkey.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Clam Chowder


So, I don't think we'll be seeing anything above 45 degrees for a while.  All I can think about now is staying warm, and keeping our insides warm with food.  Soups are always great, and chowders are even better and delicious. One of our favorites, is clam chowder, and once you see how easy it is, it'll be yours too.
Although we have made this chowder exactly how Emeril made it, we have learned to make it a little more budget friendly by sometimes using milk and a little more flour instead of heavy cream, I use canned clams instead of fresh, and there are times I use herbs I already have like sage or oregano instead of thyme. Even though it looks like a lot, most of the ingredients used are those that you'd have in your fridge or pantry.
This chowder can be chunky or more smooth. I usually leave it the way it is because Honey likes it, and it's easier to put my portion into the food processor to have it smooth with a little texture, the way I like it.
This goes great with a crusty baguette you can get fresh for $2.00 at the bakery of your grocery store. Enjoy!

CLAM CHOWDER
serving: 4-6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large chopped carrot
2 dry bay leaves
1 teaspoon dry thyme
1/2 cup flour
6 medium potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups heavy cream (you can use regular milk too)
4 cans minced or chopped clams, seperate liquid from clams
2 cups water
salt and pepper

In a large pot, over medium-high, add oil, onions, celery, carrots, bay leaf, and thyme.  Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Cook until onions are transparent.  Add flour and let cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the potatoes, clam juice and water.  Bring liquid up to a boil and let simmer.  Simmer the mixture until the potatoes are fork tender, about 12 minutes.  Add the cream and bring up to simmer.  Add the clams and simmer for 2 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Adapted from Fall River Clam Chowder Recipe: Emeril Lagasse

Friday, December 9, 2011

Green Beans and Cranberries


This is the time of year when you are invited to so may Christmas parties or you're throwing one yourself.  Why not make things a little easier?  When planning a dinner menu, I always pick one or two items that will take little to no effort.
With my family, it's usually the same green bean recipe everyone loves.  My mom gave me these easy green beans, and I'm not quite sure where she got this from, but it's awesome.  And good ol' homemade cranberry sauce is so easy that I had to throw it in.
 Enjoy!

GREEN BEAN ALMONDINE
servings: 8 - 10

2 lbs green beans, washed and snapped
4 - 6 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 - 1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
salt and pepper

Cover green beans with water in a large pot, add garlic, and set to boil.  Let green beans cook until tender and bright green, about 15 minutes after boiling begins.
Pour green beans into ice cold water to stop cooking process and keep bright green. Once green beans are completely cooled, drain water and dry green beans.
Remove garlic and place green beans in a bowl. Add as little or as much olive oil, poppy seeds, and almonds. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss. Serve at room temperature.

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CRANBERRY SAUCE
servings: about 8

1 bag cranberries
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinamon
1 pinch salt

In a pot add all ingredients, let boil for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries have softened. Place in bowl and let cool in refrigerator.
If smooth is preferred, blend until smooth. Pass through a strainer and cool in refrigerator.

Adapted from Ocean Spray Cranberry bag

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cookies Part 1


It's the holidays, and Christmas always gets me in the cookie baking mood.  I will apologize to my family in advance because I know that they love when I bake cookies, and they're a little too far to enjoy.
There are three cookies I must always make, and each year I choose a new one.  Since I have tons of time this year, I'll probably end up with a lot more, and Honey will probably gain 5 pounds eating them.
When I began baking cookies, I learned way back when the Martha Stewart Show was on ABC. I loved all the treats she made for the holiday and her rapping ideas. I recommend her site, marthastewart.com,  for great cookie ideas. My first cookie recipe definitely is a keeper and the most accepted, Thumbprint Cookie. The second are my friend's favorite, Chocolate Chip; they have sour cream which make them a little more doughy and chewy, which I love (Honey doesn't so much, but he'll still eat them).


THUMBPRINT COOKIES
makes 2 dozen

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons sugar, separated
1 large egg, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1/2 cup jam, or preserves (blackberry is my favorite)
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and 1/2 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla; beat well. Whisk together flour and salt, and add to mixture, beating on low until combined.
In a small food processor, combine almonds with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, and process until almonds are finely ground. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg white. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Dip in egg white, then in almond-and-sugar mixture. Place balls on parchment-lined baking sheet. Make a deep indentation in the center of each ball with your finger or bottom of a thick wooden spoon.
Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and press down the centers again. Fill the center of each cookie with about 1 teaspoon of jam. Rotate sheets, and bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes more. Remove from oven, and place on a wire rack to cool.
 
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CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
makes 2 dozen
 
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sour cream
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk-chocolate chips
 
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda. Beat butter and sugars with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with sour cream, and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Cover, and freeze for 10 minutes.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment, spacing about 2 inches apart. Flatten slightly. Bake until centers are set and cookies are pale golden brown, 12 to 14 minutes.
 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cuban Sandwich


The best part about having leftovers stashed in the freezer is the possibility of reliving the great dinner made before and it tasting just as good or sometimes even better.  After making the pernil, we had to put a lot of it back in the fridge and freezer.  And leftover pernil always means Cuban Sandwiches. They are an easy and satisfying sandwich that, to me, tastes great for breakfast lunch or dinner.
When I make Cubans, it reminds me of my childhood, and the times we would go to this Cuban restaurant in the not-so-nice part of Houston. I would always order a Cuban and my dad would get the Ropa Vieja.  I love to remember the happy times.
Enjoy this great classic!

CUBAN SANDWICH

1 loaf French or Italian bread
1/2 - 1 pound leftover pernil
1/2 pound Swiss cheese
1/2 pound deli sliced ham
1 jar sliced pickles
yellow mustard

In a large pan, reheat pork.
On a cutting board, lay bread. Slice horizontal and open. Spread mustard on both faces of bread slices. Layer pickles, cheese, ham, and pernil. Be as generous as you'd like with each layer. Close sandwich.
Set large flat iron griddle or iron pan over medium heat. Depending on size of griddle/pan sandwich can be sliced in half or left as one. Lay sandwich on hot griddle/pan and lay foil-covered bricks or large skillet over sandwich to flatten. Once bread is crisp and cheese is melted, slice to serve.

This is the perfect sandwich to use a panini press for.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie


It's cold outside, and there are so many different soups and stews I think of and chicken pot pie is made for this kind of weather.  I love eating chicken pot pie, but because it takes time I only make it on the weekend.  I made this when the temperature first dipped into the 50s, but now that it's going into the 20s and 30s, I really need to make it. Since the stove and oven are on, it also helps take off of the heating bill.
After making something so delicious, the best part is eating it. Enjoy!

CHICKEN POT PIE
servings: 6 

chicken stock: 
1 whole chicken, 3 pounds
1 gallon cool water
2 carrots, cut in 2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch pieces
1 onion, halved
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
2 turnips, halved
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf

pot pie:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and black pepper
3 carrots, cut in 1/2-inch circles
1 bag frozen or fresh pearl onions or 1 onion, chopped
1 box frozen peas
Leaves from 4 fresh parsley sprigs
1 roll Pillsbury crescent dough

Put the chicken in a large stockpot and cover with 1 gallon of cool water. Add the vegetables and herbs and bring the pot up to a boil over medium-high heat. Skim well; then simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, skimming frequently as the oil rises to the surface. What we're doing here is not only cooking the chicken but also creating the base sauce for the pot pie. Remove the chicken to a platter to cool. Continue to cook down the chicken broth for another 15 minutes to condense the flavor; you should have about 8 cups when you're finished. Using a colander, strain the chicken broth into another pot and discard the solids. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred the meat and discard the skin and bones.
Wipe out the stockpot and put it back on the stovetop over medium heat. Melt the butter and then whisk in the flour to form a paste. This is a roux, which will act as a thickener. Now, gradually pour in 8 cups of the chicken broth, whisking the entire time to prevent lumps. Whisk and simmer for 10 minutes to cook out the starchy taste of the flour and thicken the broth; it should look like cream of chicken soup. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the shredded chicken, carrots, pearl onions, peas, and parsley. Stir to combine and turn off the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Unroll the crescent dough and separate triangles. Carefully lay the dough on the soup in a pinwheel shape. Bake until top is golden brown, for 20-30 minutes.

Adapted from Chicken Pot Pie: Tyler Florence

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cauliflower and Parmesan Pasta


One of my favorite shows is The Chew, and since I have nothing else to do midday, I don't really miss an episode.  They have a segment called "5 in 5" where they make one meal with 5 ingredients in 5 minutes, and usually it's super affordable. (5 min after you boil the water for the pasta.)
This pasta dinner is healthy, filling and oh so tasty.  It's my new go to pasta dish; I've traded the regular ol' spaghetti for this delicious delight. This dish is supposed to be a veggie dish, but I had some leftover Italian sausage and just added it in.  You'll love it!

CAULIFLOWER AND PARMESAN PASTA
servings: 4

1 box whole wheat angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 links or 1/2 pound Italian sausage (optional)
3 garlic cloves (optional)
1 jar capers with water
1/2 cauliflower head, cut into small pieces
1/2 - 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil to cook the pasta. When boiling, add the pasta.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the sausage. Break up into small pieces and let brown. Once cooked set aside. Add oil and cauliflower to hot pan. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, and capers and stir.
When pasta is al dente, reserve a cup of pasta water. Strain the remaining water and add to cauliflower. Return meat back into pan.  Mix together and add pasta water a little at a time to loosen pasta and create sauce. Add Parmesan, pepper and, if needed, salt.

Adapted from Michael Symon's Angel Hair with Cauliflower and Parmesan

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pasta and Bean Soup


It's the time of year when we enjoy eat all kinds of Holiday treats but don't like the extra it brings to the hips. So why not eat something light in between those Holiday parties? Here's a nice, filling recipe that I absolutely love and helps warm the soul at the same time. One serving is only 133 calories, so you can enjoy that piece of pie afterward and not feel so guilty. Enjoy!

PASTA BEAN SOUP
servings: 8

1 chicken or vegetable flavor bouillon cube plus 8 cups water
6 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1/8-1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2-3 cups cooked white beans like cannellini or navy (if canned, drain and rinse)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup medium whole wheat pasta shells, orecchiette or rotini
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and strained
6 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Combine bouillon cube, water, garlic, Italian seasoning and crushed red pepper in a large pot; bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes to intensify flavor. Meanwhile, mash 1 cup beans in a small bowl.
Scoop garlic cloves from the broth with a slotted spoon. Add mashed and whole beans to the broth, along with tomatoes; return to a simmer. Stir in pasta, cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in spinach, cover and cook just until spinach is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each serving with a drizzle of oil, if desired, and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

Adapted from Pasta & Bean Soup at Eating Well

NOTE: chicken broth or vegetable stock can be used instead of the bouillon cube and water.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pernil



So, if you haven't gotten your Thanksgiving Turkey and put it to defrost, it may be a little late.  I have an idea, though....make a Pernil or Pork Butt (not a ham, but actually the shoulder of the pig).  If you really want pork, but can't afford the pricey ham this is the way to go.  At home I'd get one for 60 cents/pound, and here they happen to have it for a week at my favorite discount grocery store at $1.50 a pound.  I snatched it up even though it wasn't in my normal grocery budget.  Now, this week when the budget is really tough with Thanksgiving around the corner, with a 10 pound pork butt, I managed to get 3 meals from it (maybe it'll be 4 by the weekend).
Pork is almost a staple in our household and it definitely was while growing up.  I have to say, Puertoricans know how to roast pork.  I will never forget the trip I took to Puerto Rico, and the day we had in the mountains where they had a whole pig roasting on a giant pit.  Then my dad and his best friend trying to recreate that in the backyard for our birthday.  Now, I remember those days when I make my Pernil.  Of course, a lot of spices and flavors go to making this pig awesome, but there are 3 things that make it easy and cheap, adobo, sazón, and mojo (pronounced moe-hoe, not what was stolen from Austin Powers).  I happen to buy the Goya brand, and that's really the only brand available in this area, but there are others out there to use.
Enjoy this roast during the holidays!

PERNIL
servings: about 12

1 10 lb pork butt
2 envelopes sazón
adobo (seasoning salt)
1/2 a bottle of mojo
10 garlic cloves (optional)

Set pork butt in a roasting dish.  With a knife, make slits throughout the pork.  Pour the mojo over the pork; season generously with the adobo and sazón.  Rub all ingredients into the pork. Put garlic cloves into slits.  Let pork marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Once ready to roast, take pork out and let pork come up in temperature for 30 minutes.
Set oven to 425°F.  Put pork in oven uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, until top is crisp.
Turn heat down to 350°F.  Cover with foil and let pork continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 145°F, 22-26 minutes per pound (10 lbs = 3 1/2 to 4 hrs total).

NOTES:
Pork can also be smoked until internal temperature reaches 145°F.
If bone-in, make sure to take temperature on all sides of bone. Because bone can be at awkward angel, one side may cook faster than the other (this happened to us; not good when meat is still bloody).