Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

Herb and Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breast

I came upon the recipe that inspired this in my latest “Cooking Light” magazine issue. Indeed it may not be quite the “lightest” dinner ever.  Chicken – good, herbs – good, goat cheese – eh…But you know what?  Goat cheese is certainly better than stuffing it with cheddar or fontina (which I have done and loved), so if you want a stuffed chicken breast, this probably is still on the “light” side.  And hey, speaking of “light side”, I did have a light side dish.  What’s healthier than steamed asparagus?

I started this dish by digging out my seldom used and under appreciated Cuisinart mini-prep.  It has become the ugly step-child of the kitchen ever since its big brother entered the picture.  Nonetheless, it works extremely well for small applications like this.  Here, I have combined a few fresh basil leaves, some thyme, black pepper, and about 2 oz plain goat cheese.

cheese mix

Blitz it up with a tiny bit of olive oil to make it slightly more pliable.

Herbed Goat Cheese

Herbed Goat Cheese

Then move on to prepping the chicken.  I used boneless skinless chicken breasts which I then butterflied and pounded out.

Pounded Chicken

Pounded Chicken

A small cast-iron skillet is the perfect meat-pounder if you don’t own a “real” meat pounder.  Its flat, heavy, and has a large surface area.  Just don’t forget the plastic wrap!

Cast-Iron Meat Pounder

Cast-Iron Meat Pounder

Once the chicken is evenly flattened, spread the goat cheese mixture on in an even, thin layer.  Cover only 1/2 or 1/3 of the chicken so that you can fold it over to cover the cheese.

Spread the Cheese

Folded over Chicken

Folded over Chicken

Try to make sure that not too much cheese is going to melt out, although so melting is inevitable.  Luckily, the cheese doesn’t burn if it melts out, just gets oozy.

And after all that fussiness, I needed a super simple side-dish!  Have I ever mentioned how much I love my Farberware Steamer Pot?  I do, I love it.

Steamed Asparagus

Steamed Asparagus

And that’s all folks.  It turned out to be too much food, the chicken was very filling!

Lovely Springtime Dinner

Perfect Springtime Dinner

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 6/10
– the flavor was delicious, however, the chicken was a bit tough by the time it was cooked.

Simple recipe after the break.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Roasted Vegetable Pasta

As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband just got his wisdom teeth out.  He’s doing fine, sipping down Instant Breakfasts like a champ, however, he’s still off solid foods for at least one more day.  So he told me to go ahead and make a meal that I love that he doesn’t.  I immediately decided on my Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower Pasta.  I made this one up about a year ago after the raging success of the Summer Squash Spaghetti.  However, the reviews of my new recipe brought me back down to earth and reminded me that I couldn’t just pass any old veggie/pasta dish by my husband and expect him to love it.  I did NOT have carte blanche with noodles and vegetables.

However, I thought the dish was delicious.  Before trying this, I had never experienced the wonders of roasting broccoli and cauliflower.  It is amazing the transformation these vegetables undergo when roasted.  They get slightly brown and caramelized, sweet, nutty, so delicious!

Veggies, Pre-Roasting

Roasted Veggies

Want to see that transformation close up? Here you go.

Pre-Rosting, close up

Roasted Veggies, close-up

Now I know what you’re thinking.  THEY’RE BURNED!!! You MESSED UP!!  But I promise you, dear readers, they are not burned.  They don’t taste burned, they taste delicious!  This is what you want – would I lie to you?  Never.

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

Lemon Herb Vinaigrette

I pair the roasted vegetables with a vinagrette made with lemon juice and zest, thyme, rosemary, and olive oil.  The lemony brightness goes beautifully with the nutty roasted vegetables.

Zesty!

Zesty!

This is one of the few dishes where I actually prefer whole wheat pasta.  I know I should eat it all the time.  High protein, high fiber, blah blah blah.  But I just don’t like the flavor or texture of it with traditional red or white sauces.  But with this dish, it works perfectly.

So if you’re up for another vegetarian pasta dish, give this one a whirl, especially if you have never tried roasted broccoli and cauliflower.

Dinner for One

Dinner for One

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10

Get the recipe after the break:

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Summer Squash Spaghetti

Summer Squash Spaghetti

Summer Squash Spaghetti

I know its not quite summer yet, but I feel like I need to start getting warmed up for the months of non-stop zucchini production by getting reacquainted with making my old summer standby- Summer Squash Spaghetti.  I made this up while I was living in Tucson out of laziness and the desire to add more vegetables to my diet.

When I moved back to be in Kansas with my husband, I didn’t figure that he’d go for a dish like this.  One time for dinner, I was at a total loss for what to make and he told me to just make something I would have made for myself in Tucson.  So I made us up a pan of the squash spaghetti and guess what…he actually liked it…a lot!  I know, I know, I was just as shocked as you are.  I thought I’d have to trick him into eating this many vegetables in one sitting by covering them in melted cheese and sprinkles, but to my utter delight, this has become a meal he frequently requests!

Just tonight as I was making dinner, he came by and said that he had been looking forward to this specific meal since we haven’t had it in a long time.  See?  It warmed my heart to hear such praise for a vegetarian dish, heavy on the vegetables.

This recipe is super simple, its all about the ingredients.

The Veggies

The Veggies

The Pasta

The Pasta

Add in some olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese, and that’s literally all there is, folks.

Cooking Veggies

Cooking Veggies

Saute the vegetables in a good helping of olive oil – its the only “sauce” there is, so you can’t skimp too much – and add a generous pinch of salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper.  I like to saute them over fairly high heat so the squash and onions get slightly browned and carmelized.  The garlic is grated in a little later so it won’t burn.  You can finely mince the garlic, but I find the micro-plane the perfect tool for grating it down.

Adding the Garlic

Adding the Garlic

Cooked Veggies

Cooked Veggies

Once the veggies are done, simply pile them atop some cooked spaghetti and top with grated Parmesan.  You can of course use whatever pasta your little heart desires.  I’ve tried it with whole wheat Penne and thought it was good, but the Mister isn’t so hot on the whole wheat pasta.

Veggie Pasta for Two

Veggie Pasta for Two

Prep Ranking: #1 – Make on the Fly (it takes about 15 minutes start to finish)
Tastiness Grade: 8/10

Simple recipe after the jump.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork

I pulled out the slow cooker once again.  I think its the best way to make a meal with a big ‘wow-factor’ with the least effort.  I’ve fallen hard for my slow cooker.  Since I’ve discovered the wonders of slow cooking, my new favorite food is probably any meat that has cooked for 8 hours and has the ability to melt on your tongue.   It is truly amazing how a cheap cut of meat can turn into the most mouth watering treat when you let it cook for 8 hours at low heat with a bit of seasoning.

I started the pork last night, letting it sit coated in the dry spice rub overnight.  I know its not exactly in the tradition of K.C. bbq (which is more sauce-based), but I really like the flavor of meats cooked with dry rub.  I found a recipe for a spice rub mix, originally published in Cook’s Illustrated.  I of course made my own alterations to it.  Here’s what I ended up with.

BBQ Dry Rub Mix, enough for a 3-4lb pork shoulder

1 Tbsp Chili Powder (medium hot)
2 Tbsp Sweet Paprika
1/2 Tbsp ground Corriander
1/2 Tbsp ground Cumin
1/2 Tbsp ground White Pepper
1/2 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 tsp ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Allspice
2 tsp Granulated Garlic
1 Tbsp Salt
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp White Sugar

Combine everything in a gallon sized ziploc.  Once the spices are mixed, add the pork roast to the bag and either using your hands or smooshing it around in the bag, thoroughly coat the pork with the rub.  Let it sit in your fridge overnight.  Yes, you must plan ahead for this one.  But oh, is it worth it!

Spice Rub

Spice Rub

There's a roast in there, I swear

There's a roast in there, I swear

The next morning, transfer the roast to a 5-6qt slow cooker.  I cut mine into a couple of big hunks, but this probably wasn’t necessary.  Add 1/4 cup water to get the juices going and cook on low for about 8 hours.  When time’s close to being up, give it a poke with a fork.  If it disintegrates under slight pressure from a fork – its done!  The pork should be absolutely falling apart.

Cooked Pork

Cooked Pork

Transfer it to a bowl or a plate and commense shredding.  Remove any big hunks of fat (duh).  I added back about 1/2 cup of the juice from the crock pot.  It added moisture and a lot of flavor to the meat.

Shredded Pork

Shredded Pork

The shredded pork is wonderful eaten on its own or simply on hamburger buns, which is how we enjoyed it tonight.  I also made potato salad for the side (straight from Betty Crocker, tried and true).

Potato Salad

Potato Salad

And for full disclosure, I also made a chocolate cake tonight.  The decadence of it all.  It was a very belated birthday cake for my husband.  He requested chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  With all of the other food I was preparing today, I asked him if it’d be OK for me to use a box mix.  He said – of course.  I then asked if I could use store bought frosting.  Once again – fine.  So I went to the store to buy the box mix and frosting.  However, when I picked up the frosting and checked out the (scary) nutrition label, I noticed that it actually still had trans-fats. A lot of trans-fat.  Can you believe that?  I just couldn’t bring myself to make a cake for my husband that was chalk-full of trans-fats.  So I bought the box mix and made chocolate buttercream frosting from scratch.  Delicious.

For the Pulled Pork:
Prep Ranking: #3 – Slow Cook, Minimal Effort
Tastiness Grade: 10/10 – I could eat this all day long

Read Full Post »

Italian Panini

Italian Panini

More Griddlin’ going on in the kitchen of Dr. Domestic.  I was sitting in a scientific seminar today, at 4:30pm on a Friday, and my mind drifted off to what I was going to make for dinner.  Don’t judge me, is your mind really on the ball that close to quittin’ time on Friday afternoon?  My brain (guided by my growling tummy) kept coming back to paninis.  So easy and so good, and the husband is always up for it.  I settled on Italian Paninis.  The options for fillings are endless, so I just picked my favorites, and some of Greg’s favorites too.

The most time consuming part of these (by far) was preparing the balsamic carmelized onions.  When the hubby and I go to one of our favorite local restaraunts, Ingredient, we always get pizza with balsamic carmelized onions.  And every time we taste them, Greg says, “Oh these are so good, you should make them at home.”

So I finally tried it tonight.  Carmelized onions are not hard, they just take a bit of time.  Mostly unsupervised time, thankfully.  My onions turned from this:

uncooked onions

uncooked onions

To this, in about 45 minutes.

carmelized onions

carmelized onions

Here’s how: Thinly slice 2 medium sized onions and put them in a non-stick skillet with about 2 tsp olive oil.  Add about 1/4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp sugar and allow them to cook over medium low heat, stirring every few minutes, for about 45 minutes.  About 10 minutes before they are done, add about 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar.  Once they are done, taste for salt/sugar and adjust to your liking.

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

mmmm, balsamic-y goodness

And after the onions were done cooking, it was easy sandwich assembly.

First layers: Provolone cheese and pepperoni

Layers #1 and 2

Layers #1 and 2

Next up, hard Salami and peppers.  I chose the hot pickeled banana peppers (on the left), Greg opted for the sweet roasted red peppers (on the right).

Layers #3 and 4

Layers #3 and 4

And finally, fresh basil and the carmelized onions on the flip side.

Layers #5 and 6

Layers #5 and 6

Now just lightly butter the outsides and toss them on a panini press, heated to medium.  They cook in about 8 minutes.  Alternatively, you can cook them in a big skillet, weighted down with a foil covered brick or cast iron pan.

I don’t need to give you a recipe for these right?  Just put what you want to on them!

Instead, I’ll leave you with a couple lessons learned from my experience tonight.  Cut up the basil before putting it in the sandwich.  The large leaves kept coming out of the sandwiches whole as we’d bite into them.  Also, use hearty, crusty bread.  The sourdough bread I used was a bit flimsy and wasn’t quite up for the task of handling the load of ingredients I saddled it with.

Otherwise, the dinner I made tonight turned out to be very tasty.  On the side we had some kettle-fried salt and black pepper potato chips.  Have you guys tried those?  They’re dangerously good!

dinner

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10
– better bread would bump it up slightly!

Read Full Post »

Chicken Parmesan

Chicken Parmesan

After a very long day of toiling in our soon-to-be garden, we needed something hearty.  I promise to poast an update about the seedlings and garden soon, there has been transplanting going on and a LOT more rock excavation.  Seriously, I think there’s a rock quarry in our backyard.

So back to our hearty dinner – Chicken Parmesan.  I love getting chicken parmesan when we go out, that crispy, breaded chicken is so yummy!  But as I have documented here, I’m not much of a deep-frier, due to the ridiculous clean-up that follows.  I think this is the only recipe from Giada De Laurentis I use on a regular basis, but I think its a winner.  And its pretty quick to make provided you have some ready made marinara sauce, either yours or store-bought.

Herb Oil

Herb Oil

The great flavor of this recipe lies in the fresh herbs used to coat the chicken before it is cooked.  The recipe calls for fresh Parsely, Rosemary and Thyme.  My rosemary was looking a bit long in the tooth, so I substituted dried basil, and it worked just fine.  I think I’ve even made this recipe with only dried herbs and that worked OK too, just not quite as fresh tasting.

Herb-Coated Chicken

Herb-Coated Chicken

The chicken is cooked in a hot, oven-safe skillet for just a couple of minutes to brown each side.

Cooked Chicken

Cooked Chicken

Once the chicken is browned, the pan is put into the oven with all of the goodies, marinara sauce, Parmesan, mozzarella and a bit of butter for good measure.  Cook it at 500F for about 4-6 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and its at the appropriate Ooey-Gooey-ness.

Ooey Gooey Chicken Parm

Ooey Gooey Chicken Parm

Serve it up on top of whatever pasta you prefer, and that’s it.  Another simple chicken recipe to add to your repertoire.

Chicken Parm for Dinner

Chicken Parm for Dinner

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8/10
(me), 9/10 (Greg, he loves him some Italian food)

Read Full Post »

Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

Ham, Apple and Blue Cheese Panini

I’ve been a bit M.I.A. from the kitchen the past few days.  Very, very busy at work lately, plus I’ve been having mouth issues.  My issues stem from (yes I’ll admit it) my poor flossing habits as well as a medication I take that has a lovely side effect of mouth sores.  Sorry for sharing too much, but I have to have some valid excuse for the fact that my last two dinners have consisted of Ramen Noodles and Hot Dogs.  Both very gum-friendly foods.  Have you ever noticed that all the good foods in the world are crunchy?  Well, that’s not true, but it certainly seems that way when your mouth feels like one big, exposed nerve.

So I’m back on the horse tonight, in a big way with these crusty, crunchy panini sandwiches.  This recipe was inspired by the Harvest Ham sandwich at a fabulous restaraunt here in Lawrence, Freestate Brewery.  Greg fell in love with the sandwich, which is only available seasonally, so he asked me to try making it at home.  I was looking for excuses to use our fun panini press we received as a wedding present.

The main components of the sandwich are Ham, tart apple and blue cheese crumbles.  Oops, I gave that away in the title didn’t I?  Since I’ve never actually eaten the sandwich at Freestate, I had to take a guess at what kind of dressing was used to moisten the bread on the inside of the sandwich.  I’m not a mustard fan, and I didn’t think mayo would go well.  So I whipped up a balsamic vinegrette and it worked absolutely perfectly.

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

After whisking it up with some salt and pepper, spread it onto some good quality sour-dough with a pastry brush.

Vinagrette on the bread

After that, its just sandwich assembly.  First the ham, then the thinly sliced apple, then the blue cheese.

The Perfect Combo

The Perfect Combo

Squish it all together and lightly butter the outsides.

Sandwich Assembly Line

Sandwich Assembly Line

Throw it on a hot panini press and let it toast and heat through.  The apple will soften and the cheese will melt.

Gettin' Pressed

Gettin' Pressed

If you don’t have a fancy panini press, you can put them in a heated cast iron (or nonstick) pan with another heavy (or weighed down) pan, lined with foil, an top of the sandwiches.  This really does work well, I did it for a long time before the fancy panini press entered our lives!

A very CRUNCHY dinner

A very CRUNCHY dinner

As I was easing back into the whole food preparation thing tonight, a side dish was beyond the scope of my abilities.  Hence the tortilla chips and roasted tomatillo salsa.

Oh, and if you have just a tiny bit of ham leftover, and maybe a spare slice of apple and a wayward crumble of blue cheese, you won’t be sorry if you just smoosh it all together and pop it in your mouth.  Its a magical combination 🙂

Leftovers? No Problem!

Leftovers? No Problem!

Prep Ranking: #2 – Weeknight Fare
Tastiness Grade: 8.5/10

Recipe after the break.

(more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »