Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Midweek Meals: Hearty Chicken Bowl with Kale and Mushrooms

One of my biggest kitchen conundrums is chicken. What to do with the endless bags of boneless, skinless chicken breast we all drag home from Costco, right?! Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoy chicken and I know white meat is good for you and all that (even though I secretly cheer for team dark meat). But I just get foodie writer’s block when it comes to this most basic of chicken meals at times. So this week I did a little inspiration hunting. There’s this book I have with like a million chicken recipes. Truth be told, they’re pushing it a bit with all the chicken in that book, but one in particular I adore. It’s this creamy pasta number (surprise, surprise, I was drawn to the dish based on cheese and pasta) with woodsy mushrooms and a tangy sauce. After rummaging around the pantry and frig, I found what I needed and got to work. It’s almost a one pot wonder…almost. I combined sautéed kale spiked with red pepper flakes, creamy white beans, white wine, lemon juice, sweet carrots and peas, earthy mushrooms with chunks of perfectly cooked chicken tossed with tender pasta…a weeknight bowl that was great for leftovers and very satisfying. Feel free to change it up, toss in what you have laying around and make a mid-week feast out of it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Roasted Fennel with Parmesan

Fennel was not a vegetable we ate a lot of growing up but as an adult, and as a member of the produce mecca of the land known as northern California, I've grown to simply adore fennel. I actually quite dislike licorice flavor as odd as that is and since fennel is reminiscent of this flavor profile, I found it surprising how much I love it.  But once roasted, the flavor mellows, develops hints of caramel, which when mixed with the cheese bite of the Parmesan, blew my mind. This is such an easy vegetable side.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tasty Homemade Salad Dressing in Under 3 minutes

I have no idea why people buy salad dressing anymore. It is so unbelievably easy to make with a few ingredients you probably have in your pantry already. My favorite go to salad dressing is a zippy little number featuring balsamic vinegar. It’s sweet and tangy and works with just about any veggies or proteins you could through into a salad bowl. And the most time consuming part of the dressing is mincing shallot, which takes about a minute and a half, so it’s a whip it up whiz of a recipe. The best part, make extra and store it in old mason jars or jam jars. Keep it in the frig and pull it out when you need it…just like store bought products but better for you and much cheaper. Try this once and I promise you’ll never look back. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Baked Mushroom Risotto with Caramlized Onion...it's a thing, really!

I love risotto. I mean who doesn’t! It’s a creamy, lusciously decadent starchy dish that soothes the soul right down to the foodie core. The only issue I have with risotto is the stirring. It’s easy to make but time consuming as you tenderly add ladles of broth, stirring each one in allowing the rice to take its sweet old time absorbing the liquid until you get a fluffy, melt in your mouth consistency. I think there is a time and place for the care one has to put into making traditional risotto and it better be for someone you really like because standing over the stove stirring for 30+ minutes can be a pain. Until recently, I had no idea there was another way to my risotto heart until I stumbled across Ina Garten, in all her Hampton glory, making…GASP…BAKED RISOTTO (cover your ears Nana)! Once I managed to pull my chin off the floor, I did some digging. This baked risotto is like a thing…it exists…people make it, and LIKE it! I was having some friends to dinner last night, a combination of carnivores and vegetarians and of course my go-to veggie entertaining dish is risotto but after a 10 hr workday, I did not feel like stirring for hours, no matter how much I love my guests. So off I went in hunt of the baked mushroom risotto and inspiration was found with theKitchn’s baked mushroom risotto with caramelized onions.

I made some changes but in the end, this dish was a serious hit. My friend’s husband had I think 3 helpings! It took some prep work but I think it’s worth it. The recipe called for the surprising addition of balsamic vinegar, which I added less of than called for but loved as well as a few other additions of my own. And seriously, caramelized onions on top of risotto….yes please! So next time the risotto urge bites you, try this and I promise you won’t be disappointed.