March 28, 2011

Grilled Cheese with Pesto

I saw this recipe here at eat your veggies, peas. It looked so similar to my favorite sandwich ever- Cafe Zupas' Grilled Cheese- that I knew I had to try it. My picture just doesn't do it justice:

The girl who posted this recipe said she's had it for lunch every day for a week. I think I might have the same problem, because I'm pretty sure it's gonna be made again today. It's soooo good!

sourdough bread
mozzarella cheese
Brianna's blush wine vinaigrette

Butter the bread on the outsides. Brush 1-2 tsp vinaigrette on the inside of one piece of bread. On the other, spread pesto and top with shredded mozzarella. Press together and cook on panini press or George Foreman (that worked great for us).

March 27, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie Crumble

I know I've posted a chicken pot pie recently, and Carrie made some changes and posted a new form of it as well. And then Mel from Mel's Kitchen Cafe went ahead and posted this similar recipe that I knew I would be trying.

It was awesome. It was also time-consuming. Just warning ya.

Also, it did not re-heat well. So the next time you need a big 9x13 pan full of food and have family or friends over, this would be great to ensure it all gets eaten up. (Again, assuming you have about 2 hours to prepare it that day.) Or if you're taking dinner in to someone, you could split the recipe into two 8x8 dishes.

The best part of this recipe is the cheesy crumble/biscuit topping. I fell in love with it. I think it would also be a great topping over a cheesy veggie soup or creamy chicken noodle soup. Lots of possibilities there.

I made two changes: First, I added potatoes. About three small potatoes, peeled and cubed. Second, I cooked my chicken in the oven on low for a few hours and used fresh chicken broth in the recipe. I have a hard time adding the same chicken broth I've just cooked the chicken in to a recipe. Totally grosses me out.

Here you go. Don't say I didn't warn you about all the steps to this one:

Chicken and Sauce:
1 ½ pounds chicken (about three medium-size chicken breasts)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion , chopped fine (about 1 cup)
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced (about 1 cup)
2-3 stalks celery, chopped (about ½ cup)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
½ cup flour
1 cup milk
3/4 cup frozen peas

Crumble Topping:

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup heavy cream

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken and broth in a large Dutch oven or pot and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the chicken until it is just done (don’t overcook or it will dry out) – about 10-12 minutes. Alternately, if you are planning in advance, you can place the chicken and broth in a slow cooker and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 hours. Transfer the cooked chicken to a medium bowl. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer into a liquid measuring cup and reserve. Return the pot to the stovetop (no need to wash if you used it to cook the chicken).

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle the chilled butter pieces over the top of the flour. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Add the cream and stir until just combined. Crumble the mixture into irregularly shaped pieces onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the crumble topping until fragrant and starting to brown, about 15 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside.

For the filling, heat the olive oil in the now-empty pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 5 minutes. While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken into small bite-size pieces. Transfer the cooked vegetables to the bowl with the chicken; set aside.

Over medium heat melt the butter in the empty pot. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the reserved chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer and stir occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the bottom. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat and stir the chicken, vegetables and peas into the sauce.

Pour the mixture into a 9×13 pan. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the filling. Place the 9X13-inch pan on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees until the topping is well browned, about 15-20 minutes. Let the casserole stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Lemon Cream Pasta

This is my go-to recipe for dinner. I've made this a bunch of times lately, and it's safe to say it's my kids' favorite dinner. Besides the broccoli, but one of these days they'll eat it.

I played around with a couple recipes and came up with this. You can add chicken to this if you're on top of things- but I'm not usually and thus it's meat-free a lot.

12 oz. penne
4 1/4 cups water
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (I use granules+water)
1-2 cups broccoli florets (depending on how much broccoli you want)
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (from the can- I tried grating it fresh once and it actually ruined this dish)
Juice of one lemon (or more to taste)

In a large pot, add the pasta, 3 cups of the water, and the broth. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is very thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, 12 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If using frozen broccoli, add it at this step.)

Add the broccoli and the remaining 1 1/4 cups water. Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is almost tender, 2-3 minutes.

Uncover and return the heat to medium-high. Stir in the cream, parmesan, (and the chicken if you added it) and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and everything is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with grated parmesan.

March 17, 2011

San Francisco Chops (Crockpot)

Another hit from Mel's Kitchen Cafe! Super easy, super yummy. Because it cooks all day in the crockpot, the meat is so tender and flavorful, which was refreshing for pork chops. We loved it!

I followed the recipe exactly, but would change a few things slightly next time. She says you absolutely cannot omit the red pepper flakes, so I didn't. However, next time I would put about half that amount in. I was fine, but my kids said it was too hot. I might also reduce the soy sauce and add more water to make up for it. It was just too kicky for my kids.

This serves 4 barely! You might want to double for a bigger family.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water

Hot Cooked Rice, for serving

In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is simmering and hot. Season the pork chops on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the pork chops for 1-2 minutes on each side in the hot oil until golden. Transfer the chops to the slow cooker. Add the garlic to the drippings in the skillet and stir constantly over medium heat until the garlic is aromatic and golden (but not burned or it will turn bitter!). Stir in the soy sauce, broth, brown sugar and red pepper flakes; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour over chops.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours until the meat is tender. If using bone-in pork chops, fish out the bones from the slow cooker. Remove the chops from the slow cooker to a shallow pan or plate – they will most likely be falling apart in tenderness at this point. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the sauce in the slow cooker. Return the chops to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker heat to high and cook for 30 minutes to an hour longer, until the sauce is slightly thickened. If you want a super duper thick sauce, once you remove the chops from the slow cooker, pour the sauce into a pan and place it over medium heat on the stove. Add the cornstarch slurry and bring the sauce to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes until the sauce is thick. Add the pork and heat through.

Serve the tender chops over rice and garnish with green onions, if desired.

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