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Quick & Easy Shrimp Dinner!

Things have been pretty quiet around here (again). Whoops. Let’s not talk about that. Let’s talk about fast, easy dinners instead.

Thanks to Zaycon, I have a stockpile of shrimp in the freezer. And since shrimp thaws and cooks quickly, it’s perfect for nights when I really don’t have much of a game plan for dinner. (Which, if I’m being honest, are happening more often than I’d like to admit lately. I need to get back on the meal-planning wagon.) ¬†Anyway…

I found this recipe in an old issue of Everyday Food, and it met all of my criteria for the evening:

  1. Cooks in less than 30 minutes.
  2. Dirties minimal dishes.
  3. Uses everyday pantry items.

Win-win-win. Oh, and it tasted good! That should go without saying though. I’m not going to share something that doesn’t taste good. ūüėČ

Potatoes are one of my favorite things, but I would have never thought to pair them with shrimp (or curry powder) before. The potatoes get extra crispy, which is my favorite part, and the curry adds the right amount of spice and flavor. Since I don’t own a nonstick skillet, I used my cast iron skillet with no problems, which shouldn’t surprise anyone by now.

CrispyPotato&Shrimp

Shrimp with Scallions and Crispy Potatoes

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 baking potatoes, approximately 1 pound, scrubbed and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons curry powder
coarse salt and pepper

In a large skillet (nonstick or cast iron), heat two tablespoons of oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are browned and crispy, which should take about 12-15 minutes. Add the scallion whites to the pan and cook for one minute more. Scoop the scallion-potato mixture out of the pan and onto a plate. Set aside.

Add the remaining teaspoon of oil to the pan, and then add the shrimp and curry powder to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are cooked through, about two or three minutes. Slide the potato-scallion mixture back into the skillet and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and then top with the scallion greens. Serve immediately.

From Everyday Food, November 2008

Click here for a printable version.

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Posted by on April 15, 2017 in Main Dishes, Seafood

 

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Upgraded Hamburger Helper

I did not grow up eating Hamburger Helper, or Tuna Helper, or any of those “add a pound of meat and enjoy” type meals.¬†It just wasn’t something my mom bought. My dad did make his own version though, adding ground beef, onions and peas to mac and cheese. While I haven’t had that in a really long time, it was always a hit in our house growing up, and it’s easy to see why: cheese, pasta and meat, all in one pan.

Now that I’m responsible for making dinner every night, I can totally appreciate the convenience of a one-pot meal. Especially one that’s full of pasta and cheese. If I’m really on the ball with things, I can have all of the prep dishes (which are just a couple measuring cups / spoons, a cutting board, cheese grater and a knife) washed before dinner’s ready.

When I first saw this recipe, I thought it had a lot of potential. I mean, we love pasta, beef, cheese and Tex-Mex flavors. The sour cream and cream cheese worried Andy at first, but he was hooked after one bite, and now it’s one of our favorite comfort food dinners. Sometimes I take a page from my dad’s playbook and throw in frozen peas for a true, one-dish dinner. It’s also great with a side salad if peas in your Tex-Mex sounds weird to you. ūüėČ

creamytacomac
Creamy Taco Mac

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green (or red or yellow) pepper, diced
1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
3 cups beef broth
4 tablespoons taco seasoning (I always make my own.)
8 ounces small / short pasta
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into chunks
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
shredded cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro

Brown the ground beef in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the meat is close to being browned, add the onion and chopped pepper. Cook until the onion had turned translucent. Drain any extra fat off of the pan, if necessary.

Add the diced tomatoes, taco seasoning and beef broth to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then stir in the pasta. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender (about 7-10 minutes).

Add the cream cheese to the pot and stir until it has melted into the broth. Add the peas, if using. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sour cream. Stir until the sour cream is well-incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary.

Ladle into bowls and garnish each serving with cheese and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Barely adapted from Elly Says Opa, who adapted it from Delish

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes

 

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Mid-Week Winner

A few weeks ago, I was looking for some inspiration. I was in the mood for fall food, and I needed some fast, easy meals. I pulled¬†several issues of Everyday Food off the¬†shelf and started leafing through the pages. Nothing seemed to catch my attention until I hit page 44 of the September 2012 issue. (And this is why I hang on to my cooking magazines. If I’d recycled that one, we’d have missed dinner!)¬†At a glance, it looked like something that I could make without going to the grocery store.¬†The recipe also promised one-dish ease, something I am always down with. ūüôā

I swapped the sweet potatoes for carrots, since that’s what we had from our CSA. One orange vegetable is as good as another, right? I decided that no roast is complete without onions, and some fresh thyme seemed like the perfect complement to the fall flavors. And while the recipe called for a roasting pan, I saw no reason not to use my favorite skillet.

I was amazed at how incredibly easy this was to throw together. I made it the evening before we left for our most recent adventure (a backpacking trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore), and I had enough time to make dinner, make cookies for the trip AND pack my backpack. Win-win.

ci-pork-roast

Cast Iron Pork Roast with Apples, Onions and Carrots

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 2-1/2 lb. pork roast
3 Gala apples, quartered and cored
3 medium-large carrots, cut into 2-3″ chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 475¬į. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with two teaspoons of olive oil. Place the pork roast in the center of the pan, fat side up, and generously season it with salt and pepper.

Roast until the top of the pork is golden, about 15-20 minutes.

While the pork is roasting, toss the apples, carrots and onion together in a large bowl with the remaining two teaspoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Remove the pork from the oven and place the vegetables in the pan around the pork. Sprinkle the thyme on top of the vegetables and pork. Return the pan to the oven and roast until the vegetables are tender and the pork registers 140¬į, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

Let the pork rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board, and scoop the vegetables into a bowl. Place the pan on a burner over medium heat. Whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the drippings and cook for a couple of minutes. Slowly whisk the chicken stock into the roux and cook, whisking constantly, until the pan sauce has thickened.

Slice the pork roast, then return the meat and vegetables to the pan, coating them with the pan sauce. Serve immediately.

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, September 2012

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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Brought to you by Cook’s Illustrated

Andy was worried when he saw this recipe on the dinner menu. Not because he doesn’t like barbecued chicken (especially barbecued chicken with bacon!), but because it was a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. In his mind, that could only mean one thing: We were going to eat dinner at 8 p.m. I told him that it didn’t look too involved, and, by the way, there’s bacon in it, but he was still skeptical. When I told him that the side dishes were CI recipes too, he revised his original estimate. Forget eating at 8 p.m. Dinner wasn’t going to be ready until 10.

I suppose I can’t blame him too much for jumping to that conclusion, especially after my other CI experiences. I’m not completely unrealistic though. I stuck with easy side dishes – “Perfect Boiled Sweet Corn” and “Sauteed Swiss Chard.” And yes, true to form, dinner did take a little while, but it wasn’t ridiculous. We ate well before 10 p.m. Plus, I got to use my new food processor, so that was fun. ūüôā

The chicken cubes are tossed with salt while you make the sauce and prepare the bacon paste. Yes, I said bacon paste – raw bacon is whirled through the food processor and then mixed with sugar and paprika. The chicken chunks are coated with the paste before being threaded onto the skewers. They’re brushed with sauce and grilled to perfection. Using thighs instead of breasts helps keep the chicken moist, and the sauce is sweet and tangy, all at the same time. It’s a definite keeper here.

bbq-chicken-kabobs

We did have sweet corn with dinner too, but it didn’t last long enough for the picture.¬†

Barbecued Chicken Kabobs

For the sauce:
¬Ĺ cup ketchup
¬ľ cup light or mild molasses (I used whatever molasses was in my pantry, so it was a little darker than they recommended.)
2 tablespoons grated onion (I used the large holes on the side of my box grater.)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

For the chicken kabobs:
2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1″ cubes
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons sugar
2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens to a ketchup-like consistency and has reduced to about one cup. Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer about 1/2 cup to a small bowl to serve with the chicken. Reserve the remaining sauce for brushing on the skewers.

To prepare the chicken, place the chicken cubes in a large bowl and toss with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

While the chicken is chilling, prepare the bacon paste. Mix the sugar and paprika together in a small bowl and set aside. Place the bacon in the bowl of a food processor and process until the bacon becomes a smooth paste, about 30-45 seconds. Scrape the bowl down twice during the process. Mix the bacon paste into the sugar-spice mix. (This is my deviation from the recipe РI see that CI says to mix the bacon in with the chicken and then add the sugar-paprika mix. I think either would work.) 

Prior to threading the chicken on the skewers, preheat the grill to high for at least 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the fridge and pat the pieces dry with a paper towel. Add the bacon paste to the chicken and mix until all pieces are thoroughly coated. Thread the chicken onto skewers, rolling or folding pieces as necessary to keep them all in 1″ cubes.

To grill the chicken, turn one of the burners off (on a gas grill) and leave one on high. Place the skewers on the lit side of the grill. Grill the skewers, turning them one quarter turn every 2 1/2 minutes, until they are well-browned and slightly charred, moving the skewers to the cool side of the grill if flare-ups occur. Brush 1/4 cup of sauce on the top of the skewers, then flip and cook until the sauce is brown in spots, about 1 minute. Brush the second side of the skewers with the remaining 1/4 cup of sauce and flip again, cooking until the sauce is brown in spots, about another minute. The chicken should read 175¬į on an instant thermometer (if you used thighs; breasts will read 160¬į). Remove the skewers from the grill and allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Serve with reserved sauce.

From Cook’s Illustrated, May 2011

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2016 in Chicken, Main Dishes

 

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Cheese Pie? Yes Please.

Andy is pretty easy-going about 99% of things in life, so when he does have an opinion, I try to pay attention. It usually works out well too. That’s how we ended up with one of our favorite chicken dishes and our go-to Meatless Monday¬†meal. So when he commented on a delicious-looking “impossible” ham and cheese pie from Cook’s Country, I figured I’d should probably check it out. I saved the recipe before it became “subscriber only,” but that’s as far as it went. For months.

It’s not that I meant to ignore it, but other things kept popping up (such as EVERYTHING in this book). Plus, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that much¬†Gruy√®re. Swiss isn’t my favorite cheese, so I tend to be apprehensive about Gruy√®re. But I kept remembering how excited he seemed about it, and really, could something full of cheese and ham be bad? And the whole “impossible” pie concept intrigued me. Instead of lining the plate with a standard crust (which never goes well for me), you coat it with Parmesan cheese and wait for some scientific magic to create a crust while the pie bakes.Fun, right?

Of course, I took so long to  make it that Andy had completely forgotten about it by the time I served it for dinner. Whoops.

I’m glad I did make it though, because oh my goodness, it¬†was so good. Looking back, that probably shouldn’t surprise me, since it’s basically a pie full of cheese, but seriously. We could not stop raving about it. Or eating it. Andy declared it a five¬†after one bite. I wanted to keep the leftovers all to myself. In fact, giving Andy the last piece for lunch may be the most selfless thing I’ve done in our entire marriage. Kidding. Mostly. ūüėČ

I used a smoked¬†Gruy√®re, since that sounded better to me than regular¬†Gruy√®re, but that was the only change I made. It was really good with the ham, but I don’t think you could go wrong with bacon either. It took a little time in the oven, but it was easy to put together, so this is definitely going on the favorites list. And next time, I won’t wait almost a year to try something.

ImpossibleHam&CheesePie

Notice the giant salad in the background? That’s my attempt at balance. A giant plate of greens means I can eat cheese for dinner, right?

Impossible Ham & Cheese Pie 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus another tablespoon softened for the pan
3 tablespoons finely shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded smoked Gruyère cheese
4 ounces of ham, cubed
4 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Place the oven rack in its lowest position, and preheat the oven to 350¬į.

Butter a 9″ pie plate with the tablespoon of softened butter. Evenly coat the pie pan with the grated Parmesan cheese.

Combine the shredded Gruyère, ham and scallions in a large mixing bowl. Mix together and then evenly spread in the prepared pie pan.

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together in the now-empty mixing bowl. Whisk the eggs, half-and-half, melted butter, mustard and nutmeg into the flour mixture. When the batter is smooth, pour it over the cheese-ham-scallion mixture in the pie pan.

Bake until the pie is lightly golden brown and the filling is set, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Slice into wedges and serve warm.

From Cook’s Country

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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My Showstopper

So, this is it. My new, “impress the company” meal. The reason we don’t need to go out for fancy dinners. I mean, why should I pay someone to make dinner when things this good can¬†come out of my oven?

Because then someone else does the dishes? Oh, OK, fine. ūüėČ

Kitchen clean-up¬†aside, this is one of those dishes you want to have in your back pocket, just in case someone important is coming for dinner. Like the president. Or the boss. (Do people really invite their bosses over for dinner anymore? Or is that an only-in-the-50s-on-TV thing?) Or your favorite friends. (Let’s face it; those are the people that I REALLY want to impress.)

Like most rolled items, it’s visually stunning (although my picture isn’t the greatest), and with pancetta, garlic, rosemary and lemon, it’s off the charts, flavor-wise. The pan sauce (made with the lemon-infused olive oil and juice of a caramelized lemon) is so good, I could drink it by itself.

The first time I made this, it literally took me all afternoon. Granted, I also made lemon pudding cakes, salad and garlic mashed potatoes to serve WITH the roast, but still. We loved it, but I figured that I’d only make it once a year (at the most). Who wants to spend ALL DAY fussing with dinner? (OK, I do, but let’s be realistic here. I also have to go to work, clean the house and have a life. Ha.)¬†

When I realized that we were flying solo for Easter, I decided to give the roast another try. Andy was a little worried about us eating Easter dinner at 7 p.m., but I thought it might be possible to “pause” the recipe and chill the roast after rolling and tying the meat. That way, I could assemble the roast on Saturday, then put the roast in the oven Sunday before church and use the delayed start to ensure that it was ready when we came home.

And you know what? It worked! I was a little concerned that the overnight rest would make the roast too salty, or draw out too much moisture, but I didn’t notice any issues with the final result! It also didn’t take me nearly as long to make the roast the second time around,¬†so either making it over two days REALLY helps or I just had to get over the learning curve.

Now that I am over the curve, I will definitely make this more than once or twice a year, even if the president isn’t coming for dinner. ūüėČ

TuscanPorkRoast

Tuscan-Style Roast Pork with Garlic and Rosemary 

1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
2 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 2-1/2 lb. boneless center-cut pork loin roast, trimmed
kosher salt

Grate 1 teaspoon of zest from the lemon. Cut the lemon in half and set it aside.

In a large skillet (nonstick if you have it, but it’s not a deal-breaker if you don’t), combine the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the garlic is sizzling. This should take about 3 minutes. Add the rosemary and cook for about 30 seconds.

Remove the pan from heat. Set a fine mesh strainer over a small bowl and pour the olive oil mixture through the strainer. Press on the mixture with a spatula to extract as much oil as possible. Set the bowl and strainer aside and allow the mixture to cool. Use a paper towel to wipe out the skillet.

Process the pancetta in the food processor until it becomes a smooth paste, about 30 seconds. Add the cooled garlic / rosemary mixture and to the food processor and continue to process until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous, about another 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Next, double-butterfly the pork roast. Position the roast on a large cutting board with the fat side up. Insert a knife one-third of the way up from the bottom of the roast along the long side of the roast and cut horizontally. Stop cutting 1/2″ before the edge. Open up the flap. Keep the knife parallel to the cutting board and cut through the thicker portion of the roast, about 1/2″ from the bottom of the roast. Keep the knife level with the first cut and stop about 1/2″ before the edge. Open up the second flap. If the meat is uneven, cover it with plastic wrap and use a rolling pin (or meat pounder, if you have one of those) to even it out.

Sprinkle 1 teaspoon kosher salt over each side of the roast, pressing it into the meat so that it adheres. Spread the inside of the roast with the pancetta paste, stopping about 1/4″ from the edges of the roast. Start on a short side of the roast and roll it up, keeping the fat on the outside of the roast. Tie with twine at 1″ intervals.

Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking spray. Place the roast, fat side up, on the wire rack and set in the refrigerator for one hour. (This is where I left it overnight, and we couldn’t tell the difference.)¬†

Place the oven rack in the middle position and preheat the oven to 275¬į. Remove the roast from the refrigerator and cook until the meat registers 135¬į, somewhere between 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the roast from the oven, tent with foil and let it rest for 20 minutes .

While the roast is resting, heat 1 teaspoon of the reserved olive oil over high heat until just smoking. Add the reserved lemon halves cut-side down and cook until softened and cut surfaces are browned, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the lemons to a small plate.

Remove the foil from the roast and pat dry with a paper towel. Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved oil in the now-empty skillet over high heat until the oil starts smoking. Brown the roast on the top (fat side) and on the sides of the roast, about 4-6 minutes. Do not brown the bottom of the roast.

Take the roast out of the pan and place it on a cutting board. Remove the twine and slice the roast into 1/4″ thick slices. Place the slices on a serving platter.

Take the lemon halves and squeeze them over a fine mesh strainer set over a small bowl. Press on all of the solids with a spatula, making sure to extract all of the pulp. Whisk 2 tablespoons of the reserved olive oil into the lemon juice. Pour the vinaigrette into a serving dish and serve alongside the roast.

From Cook’s Illustrated, January / February 2016

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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Main Dishes

 

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Crock Pot Success!

If there was a popularity contest among kitchen appliances, I really doubt the crock pot would win. It’s not pretty, like the stand mixer. It doesn’t chop/slice/dice/mince/blend everything like the food processor. It doesn’t clean up after you like the dishwasher.

In fact, the crock pot would probably be the last one picked, usually through no fault of its own. I mean, there are a lot of not-so-good crock pot recipes out there. You know the type: You put ingredients in the crock pot before work and leave, thinking that you’ll be rewarded with a delicious meal at the end of the day, only to come home to an overcooked, tasteless pile of mush. Disappointing and wasteful. (Also disappointing: Crock pot recipes that only cook for 2-4 hours. I’m gone from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. How on earth is that supposed to help me?)

This recipe, though, is not one of those disappointments, at least for me. It’s easy to put together (a must when you have to assemble it at 6:30 in the morning), and it tastes good 10 hours later. I always add potatoes, since they’re my favorite part of the traditional “pot roast.”¬†When I remember, I add some minced garlic as well, since you can’t go wrong with garlic. ūüôā

PotRoast

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Carrots and Onions

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoon water
8 medium carrots, peeled (or well-scrubbed) and cut into 3″ pieces
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ pieces
2 medium onions, each cut into 8 wedges
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 3-lb. beef Chuck roast
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper

In a large (5-6 quart) crock pot, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Add the vegetables to the crock pot and season with salt and pepper.

Place the roast on top of the vegetables. Spread the minced garlic on top of the roast, then sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Drizzle Worcestershire sauce on top of the meat.

Cover and cook on low for 10 hours. (Martha says you can cook it on high for 6 hours, but I’ve never tried it. Like I said, I’m gone all day.) Transfer the roast and vegetables to a serving platter. If desired, strain the pan juices through a fine mesh strainer and serve alongside the meat and vegetables. (I take the lazy easy way out and simply drizzle a few spoonfuls of the pan juices over my plate before digging in.)

Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine, October 2008

Click here for a printable version.

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in Beef, Main Dishes, Uncategorized

 

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