Saturday, February 20, 2021

Creamy Tuscan Chicken

This recipe is from Delish.com. Creamy Tuscan Chicken. Amazing flavors. The sauce was seasoned perfectly. You need bread to sop up the sauce. You do not want to waste it! Easy prep. I had all the mise en place so I was able to enjoy a cocktail while cooking dinner.

Ingredients-
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried oregano
3 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes halved
3 c. baby spinach
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan

Method-
In a skillet over medium heat, heat oil. 

Add chicken and season with salt, pepper, and oregano. 

Cook until golden and no longer pink, 8 minutes per side. 

Remove from skillet and set aside. 

In the same skillet over medium heat, melt butter. 

Add cherry tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. 

Cook until tomatoes are beginning to burst then add spinach and cook until spinach is beginning to wilt. 

Stir in heavy cream and parmesan and bring mixture to a simmer. 

Reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is slightly reduced, about 3 minutes. 

Return chicken to skillet and cook until heated through, for 5 to 7 minutes.


We had left over pasta from last night as a side.

Friday, February 19, 2021

First Friday of Lent. A TikTok Sensation!




So we begin the Friday night dinners during Lent. Not someone's favorite time of the year but I am determined to kick it up a notch this Lent with dinner ideas.

We started off with that TikTok Sensation - Baked Feta Pasta With Tomatoes.

Insert crowd cheers.

Have you seen this video? As soon as I saw it I knew it would be a hit in our house.

It is so damn easy. One baking dish and one pot. Gotta love an easy clean-up on a Friday night.

This recipe is very adaptable to anyone's taste.  I read that you can use goat cheese instead of Feta. And the pasta can be whatever you like. It was recommended something like a bowtie pasta but I opted for homemade fettuccini. 

We loved this. Both of us went back for seconds. The sauce was so delicious. It is a good idea to save some of the pasta water in case the pasta looks like it could use more sauce once it is added to the baking dish.

Click here for the original recipe.

This was my version of the recipe tailored for our tastes.

Ingredients-
12 oz. pasta of your choice
1/2 cup olive oil 
1 box cherry tomatoes (around 10 oz) 
1 block feta about 8 oz
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and pepper

Method-
Preheat oven to 400˚F. Then toss cherry tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a baking dish.


Stick a block of feta in the middle and add another glug of olive oil along with a few more cranks of fresh pepper.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the feta is brown and the tomatoes have burst. Then stir to mix.

Boil water for the pasta, remember to add salt!

Cook the pasta, saving some of the water in case there is not enough liquid in the sauce.

Chop the basil. 

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add red pepper flakes and stir.


Stir in the cooked pasta.

Garnish with basil.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Lent Begins. Air Fryer Fish Sticks


Ash Wednesday. No Meat. Enter the Air Fryer.
Fish Sticks. Easy enough to buy a box of Gordon's but Cod was actually on sale. Fish on sale during Lent!


This was easy to put together and 12 minutes to cook. The coating was light and crispy. Next time I may add some cayenne pepper to the flour.


The Tartar Sauce was made by Chris. We all have our specialties and his tartar sauce is much better than mine.

Air Fryer Fish Sticks

Ingredients-
2 large eggs
3 tbsp milk
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup all-purpose flour
10 oz. Cod, cut into sticks
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
pinch ground black pepper
Tartar Sauce for serving

Method-
Combine the eggs and milk in a bowl.

Pour the breadcrumbs into a pie plate, or some dish that has sides. 

Pour flour in a second pie plate.

Coat the fish sticks in olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Dip the fish sticks into the flour, then the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs.

Insert the Fry Tray into the basket of the air fryer.

Set the cooking temperature to 350˚F and cooking time to 3 minutes to preheat the air fryer.

Place the fish sticks in the basket. Insert the basket into the air fryer.

Set the cooking time to 12 minutes.

Flip the fish sticks halfway through the cooking time.

Serve with the tartar sauce.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day!

A year ago tonight was the last time Chris and I ate in a restaurant. It was Rocco's and I wish we could have been there tonight. 

For Valentine's Day, I did prep work. Lent starts on Wednesday and one of our go-to meals on Friday nights during Lent is Fettuccini Alfredo. And of course, we have to make it with homemade pasta.



I now have 2 packages of pasta in the freezer!

Next, I made Mac and Cheese Balls for the Air Fryer. I am ashamed to say that I have never made Mac and Cheese from scratch. You know like Krafts or Annies. What the hell is wrong with me. It is so freaking easy. All the years we have been eating processed mac and cheese. I will go stand in the corner.


Here is the recipe I used for the Mac and Cheese -

Ingredients-
1 (8 ounces) box elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour 

½ teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste

2 cups milk
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Method-
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour milk into butter-flour mixture while continuously stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add Cheddar cheese to the milk mixture and stir until cheese is melted 2 to 4 minutes.

Fold the macaroni into cheese sauce until coated.





Now for the Mac and Cheese Balls, this is what I did -

I chilled the Mac and Cheese in the fridge.

After it was chilled I used a tablespoon and shaped each tablespoon into balls.

I mixed 3 eggs with 3 tbsps of milk in a bowl.

In another bowl, I mixed 1 cup of panko bread crumbs with a tsp of salt and a tsp of paprika. 

Next, I placed each of the mac and cheese balls in the egg and milk mixture, coating the entire ball, then add to the panko mixture, then add to a lined parchment paper cookie sheet.

Place in the freezer and freeze for 30 minutes.

When it is time to bake, or air fry I will do that by setting the Air Fryer at 360 degrees. I will place the mac and cheese balls into the air fryer basket in a single layer, making sure they don’t touch. Air fry for 8-10 minutes until light and golden on the outside. Remove, serve, and enjoy.


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Shrimp Etouffee - International Cooking Club

This month the International Cooking Club was celebrating Mardi Gras by making Shrimp Etoufee.

Now, this is something I have never even considered making. I am a New Orleans Saints fan but the cooking from the region is foreign to me. Until now...

I liked this. A lot. Yes, I should have salted it more but there was that little bit of heat that came through from the cajun spices. Actually, the only ingredient that gave it a bit of spice was the cayenne pepper. Everything else was part of our usual seasonings.

It was fun to make something that was American but out of my comfort zone. I made Shrimp broth! And it tasted really good!


Making the golden roux was something I have not done before. I have always made a bechamel sauce so letting it get brown was different. 

I did cut the recipe in half. I did not use the garlic and I only used red pepper.

I knew that this would be good because the recipe was written by Molly O'Neill. I got to sit in one a writing lecture she gave at Foodstock back in May of 2012. I always looked forward to her articles in the NYTimes. She left us much too soon.


Shrimp Etouffee  By Molly O’Neill 

YIELD: Four servings 

TIME: 1 hour 10 minutes 


Ingredients-

½ teaspoon vegetable oil 

1 ½ pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined, shells reserved

1 ¼ cups white wine
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 
1 medium-size onion, peeled and chopped
1 green and 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, cored and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
teaspoon cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 1/2 teaspoons water

Method-

 Heat the oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp shells and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the wine and the water, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.


Heat 1/4 cup of shrimp broth in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add onion, peppers, and celery, lower the heat slightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring constantly and rapidly with a small spoon, add the flour. Continue stirring and cook the mixture until it turns a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining shrimp broth.


Stir the thyme, oregano, cayenne, and bay leaf into the vegetable mixture and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth mixture, bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, salt, and pepper and cook until just cooked through about 3 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste, remove the bay leaf and serve over white rice.




Saturday, February 6, 2021

You Can Make This Any Time!


As I was typing the title of this blog it sounded like we do not eat healthy foods. But we really do. The Air Fryer Mac and Cheese Balls are not an everyday occasion. Yet...



This recipe came with the Air Fryer. It puzzled me at first. It calls for 1 cup of leftover mac and cheese. Isn't that like leftover wine? Who has leftover mac and cheese? Our go-to
Mac and Cheese brand is Annie's. The one with the bunny on the box.


Mac & Cheese Balls

Ingredients-
1 cup leftover mac and cheese, refrigerated
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup plain breadcrumbs

Method-
Combine the macaroni and cheese and the cheddar cheese in a bowl.

Put the flour in a second bowl.

Combine the eggs and milk in a third bowl.

Put the bread crumbs in a fourth bowl.

Form the mac and cheese and cheddar cheese into small ball shapes. This was not as easy as it seemed. It took a few tries but with a little effort, they came together.

Roll the balls in the flour, and then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.

I put the Mac and Cheese balls on a tray and put them in the freezer for about 20 minutes to firm up.

Insert the Fry Tray into the basket. Insert the basket into the Fryer.

Set the cooking temp to 360˚ and the cooking time to 3 minutes. Let the air fryer preheat.

Place the mac and cheese balls in the basket.

Cook at 360˚ for 5 minutes. Rotate the mac and cheese balls and cook for another 5 minutes.


I served them with a little of Rao's Marinara Sauce. 

Rave Reviews!! You can make this anytime. You can make it and freeze it!


And we did have a protein for dinner tonight too! I picked up a 1 1/2 pound spoon roast. I coated it with olive oil and a mixture of 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and a dash of cayenne pepper. Into a 450˚ oven for 15 minutes and then reduce heat to 255˚ for 45 minutes. The temp was between medium-rare and medium. Perfect for both of us.


Friday, February 5, 2021

Ralph's Stuffed Calamari


I believe the exact quote was "Damn this is good." I think because this is usually a Christmas Eve dish for us so tonight it was a nice treat. And it was damn delicious. My brother-in-law, Ralph made these yesterday. He and Lenore dropped them off today. I had a vacation day and it was nice not having to think about dinner. Well, I did spend a good part of the day waiting for this dinner.

I do not have the recipe yet. But when I do I will post it. Promise!



 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Sausage Frittata

Tonight I made Sausage Frittata for dinner. Not just a Sausage Frittata, but a Sausage Frittata sandwich on homemade bread. But not just Sausage Frittata sandwiches on homemade bread, but Sausage Frittata sandwiches on homemade bread with Air Fryer Potatoes.

I got the recipe for the Sausage Frittata from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy. It was simple to prepare. I chopped up sweet and hot sausages. Browned them in very little olive oil until they were cooked. I drained off the grease and added a tablespoon of butter to the saute pan. Returned the sausage to the pan and added the beaten eggs. I put the pan in the oven after the bottom had cooked. It was in a 375˚ oven for about 10 minutes.




The bread was the Jim Lahey 18 Hour No Knead recipe.

You need to plan ahead if you want to make this.

Mix together in a large bowl -
300 grams Bread Flour
100 grams Rye Flour
8 grams Table Salt
2 grams Dry Yeast


Next, add -
300 grams cool Water (55˚ to 60˚)

Stir using a wooden spoon until you have a wet sticky dough, about 30 seconds.
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. The dough should double in size and the surface will be dotted with bubbles.

Generously dust a work surface (a wooden or plastic cutting board is fine) with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece. Use lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.

This is where I differ from the "recipe". I shape the dough into a boule and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression. If it doesn't, let it rise for another 15 minutes.

Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered 4 1/2–5 1/2 quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it. Very carefully place the dough seam side up into the pot. (Use caution—the pot will be very hot.) Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt, 15 to 30 minutes more. Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to carefully lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. Don't slice or tear into it until it has cooled, which usually takes at least an hour.


And Air Fryer Potatoes!! Tossed cut potatoes in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano, and rosemary. Place in Air Fryer, spraying the grate first. 15 minutes at 400˚.

That is all there is to it.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Peppered Beef Shanks in Red Wine

The slow cooker was put to work today. The recipe is from thekitchn.com. No that is not a typo it is thekitchn.com. Anyway, the meal was amazing!!! I think one beef shank would have been plenty for both of us. And I made 1/2  a batch of polenta and of course, it was too much. But I am thinking Air Fryer Polenta Cubes... stay tuned. Click here for the Beef Shanks recipe.


It was the first time we have had Delicata Squash. You are supposed to be able to eat the skin which we did at first but old habits die hard. I coated the squash with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Then I put the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, easy cleanup, and roasted for 20 minutes at 400˚. I turned them over and let them roast for another 10 minutes.

And a quote to start the week -

"For those who love it, cooking is at once child's play and adult joy."
~ Craig Claiborne








Saturday, January 30, 2021

Meatloaf and Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks



I am always wanting to try different Meatloaf recipes but I still come back to my usual. This time I sauteed onion and celery and added it to the mix. The meats were beef, pork, and veal. The seasoning was salt, pepper, oregano, parmesan cheese, ketchup, horseradish, mustard, A-1, Worcestershire  Sauce, eggs, milk, and bread crumbs. Delicious!!







And we also had Air Fryer Zucchini Sticks!

The zucchini spears were tossed in a beaten egg and then coated with a mixture of breadcrumbs (Panko and plain), Parmesan Cheese, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, and Paprika. 

I popped the coated Zucchini sticks in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

I sprayed the top of them with spray Pam, also sprayed the rack before putting them on it.

Into the Air Flyer set at 400˚ for 10 minutes. I flipped them over and let them go for another 3 minutes.
Served them with a little sauce made of mayo, ketchup, lime juice, and pickle juice.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Hello Stress Cooking?



I will start off by saying I know I am the only person who feels this way.
 I follow recipes all the time. 
I have no problem with following other people's instructions. 
I have no idea why but Hello Fresh stresses me out. 
I mean seriously. 
I get annoyed with the little packets of spices and the packets of sauces with no ingredients listed on the outside of the packet. 
Even reading the directions. 
It just stresses me out. 
It is really ridiculous. 
At first, I thought it was because I was doing these meals after working all day. 
But I made one of these dishes on Sunday night. 
Same reaction.

I work with 2 people who are crazy about the meals.
I wish I was too but I am not.
The results have been good.
But in all honesty, we were not crazy about the chicken and lemon pasta but that is just our taste.

When I called to cancel my subscription the customer service could not have been nicer.
They even said that they had heard other people say it was just not a good fit for them.

Maybe I am not the only one?

Sorry Hello Fresh... 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Slow Cooker Ribs and Air Fryer Onion Rings


This is my favorite dinner so far this year. It was easy and WOW delicious. I did a zoom baking class today so I wanted something easy. Click here to learn more about the baking class. Cue the Slow Cooker. Ribs. Our usual recipe with our usual BBQ Sauce, Stubbs. But this time I used the Hickory Bourbon Sauce. The taste was over the top delicious. I heard the word, "Wow" more than once from the other side of the table. Air Fryer Onion Rings have been on the must-try list since the Air Fryer entered the kitchen. One medium-sized sweet onion was just enough for the two of us. I only used 1/2 of the onion, the rest went into the freezer to be used for chicken stock. The recipe was from StaySnatched.com.

The Slow Cooker Rib Recipe-

I made a rub of onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. I removed the membrane for the underside of the ribs. I brushed both sides of the ribs with BBQ Sauce. 8 hours in the slow cooker. I removed the ribs from the Slow Cooker and placed them on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet (easy clean up is so important). I brushed the ribs with more sauce. They went under the broiler set on low for almost 5 minutes. They were tender and the BBQ sauce was caramelized.

Home Made Air Fryer Onion Rings-

1 Vidalia, or sweet onion (peeled)
1 1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs 
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup of milk with 1 tsp. lemon juice)
1 egg (beaten)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
salt and pepper to taste 
cooking oil spray

The Dipping Sauce! (I made 1/2 this recipe and there was more than enough)
1/3 cup mayo
1 1/2 -2 tablespoons ketchup I use unsweetened and 2 tablespoons
1-2 tablespoons horseradish If you are a fan of horseradish, you may enjoy 2 tablespoons. Start with 1 taste, repeatedly, and adjust as necessary.
1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
Method-
Spray the air fryer basket with cooking oil.
Cut the stems off both sides of the onion. Cut the onion into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Onions are very wobbly. Try to stabilize the onion before you slice.
Add the flour to a bowl large enough to dredge the onions. Season the flour with smoked paprika, salt, and pepper to taste.
Add the buttermilk and egg to the seasoned flour. Beat and stir to combine.
Add the panko breadcrumbs to a separate bowl large enough to dredge the onions.
Dredge the sliced onions in the flour buttermilk mixture and then the panko breadcrumbs. 
Place the onion rings on a plate. After breading the onions, freeze the onion rings for at least 15 minutes. This is highly recommended. It helps keep the breading intact.
Place the onions in the air fryer. Do not stack them. Cook in batches if needed.
Spray with cooking oil.
Cook for 10-12 minutes at 360 degrees. I did not need them flip. Check-in on yours to determine both sides are golden brown and crisp. Flip if necessary.

Fort the Dipping Sauce
Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dinner Basics: Winter Nights Comfort Food

Monday. Chicken Pot Pie.

Pate Brise
Ingredients -
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch granulated sugar

5-1/2 Tbsp (2/3 stick) sweet butter, chilled

3 Tbsp vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Method -
Sift the flour, salt, and sugar together into a bowl; add butter and shortening and cut them into dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture is like a coarse meal.

Sprinkle on and blend in enough of the ice water to make a workable dough, mixing water in lightly with a fork.

Turn dough out onto your work surface and, using the heel of your hand, smear the dough away from you, about 1/4 cup at a time. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


Chicken Pot Pie from RealSimple.com
Ingredients-
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, diced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups 1 percent milk
1 10-ounce package frozen peas
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Method -
Heat oven to 400° F.
Cook the chicken in a pot of simmering water until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes; let cool, then shred.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook, stir-ring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.
Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.


Tuesday. Mom's Baked Macaroni.


Dinner really does not get easier than this...

Feel free to substitute any cheese you prefer.

The recipe -
Boil 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
Grease Pyrex loaf pan.
Alternate layers of macaroni and American cheese starting with the macaroni.
Break 3 eggs and pour over macaroni. Fill a baking dish with milk to almost cover macaroni.
Top with bread crumbs, and parsley. Bake 350 degrees until set, usually about 45 minutes to 1 hour.