Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fettuccine with Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Spinach

I clipped this from the newspaper a while back and last night seemed like a good night to try it. We all really liked it and the only real comment was that it could have used more spinach.

Fettuccine with Sausage, Sweet Onion, and Spinach
4 servings
modified from The Washington Post

8 oz dried fettuccine
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz sweet Italian sausage (I used 3 sausages), casings removed
1 large sweet onion, cur into thin slices (about 2 cups)
1/8 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large red bell pepper, roasted and cut into 2-inch strips*
      (may substitute 3/4 c sliced jarred roasted red peppers)
6 oz package of baby spinach
3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Cook the fettuccine according to the package directions. Drain. While the pasta cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large shallow pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage, breaking up any large clumps; cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until it is no longer pink. Use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a paper towel lined plate to drain and cool.

Reduce the heat to medium; add the onion to the pan; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the roasted bell pepper strips, spinach and broth. Use your fingers to crumble the sausage into the mixture. Increase the heat to medium-high; cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring, until the spinach wilts and the ingredients are well combined.

Add the cooked pasta and the remaining tablespoon of oil; toss to combine. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Serve, passing the grated Parmesan cheese on the side, if desired.

*To roast the bell pepper, place it on a piece of aluminum foil under the broiler, about 4 inches from the flame. Let the pepper become blistered and charred on one side, then rotate so a new side is exposed. Continue until most of the skin is charred. Don't worry if the pepper loses its form. Place the pepper in a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, discard the skin, stem, and seeds.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Chicken Jambalaya

This is a fast, easy dish to make. We enjoy it, it's not too hot and spicy for my family. This is one from my "plaid cookbook," the Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.

Chicken Jambalaya
serves 4

1/3 c chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
1/4 c chopped onion (about 1/2 onion)
1/4 c chopped green pepper (1/2 pepper)
2 Tbsp butter
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 c chicken broth
2/3 c long grain rice
1 tsp dried basil or thyme, crushed
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 to 1/2 tsp bottled hot pepper sauce
1 bay leaf
2 c cubed cooked chicken or turkey

In a large skillet cook celery, onion, and green pepper in butter till vegetables are tender. Stir in the undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, rice, basil, garlic salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and bay leaf. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or till rice is tender. Stir in chicken; cook till heated through. Discard bay leaf.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chili-Mac Skillet

I made this the other night when I had no plan for dinner. Fortunately, it uses pantry staples so I had everything on hand to pull it together (except the cheese). Sweet Pea said it was really good and asked when the last time we had it was; it's been a while. This is another one from my plaid cookbook. This would be good served with cornbread or muffins.

Chili-Mac Skillet
serves 6

1 lb ground beef
3/4 c chopped onion
1 15.5 oz can red kidney beans, drained
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 c elbow macaroni (uncooked)
1 4 oz can diced green chili peppers, drained
2-3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

In a large skillet cook meat and onion until meat is brown. Drain fat. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, undrained tomatoes, uncooked pasta, green chilies, chili powder, garlic salt, and 1/4 c water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Top with cheese. Cover and heat 2 minutes or until cheese melts.

Farmer's Markets

Do you like going to farmer's markets? We do and there's two that we go to relatively regularly, especially if you loosely interpret "regularly."

The first is Central Market in Lancaster, PA. We go there whenever we visit my dad. The girls love to go, I enjoy the atmosphere and really, if we lived a lot closer (like in Lancaster) I'd be there often, trying all sorts of stuff. It's the oldest, continuously operating farmer's market in the country. It's in an old historic brick building that they just finished renovating. The stand holders are a mix of what you would typically find in a market - lots of fruits and vegetable stands, meat stands - as well as some that are more unusual, for example there's a couple of coffee stands, The Herb Shop (a favorite of ours, he sells loose tea, spices, and a few packaged specialty items), Rafiki's Deli (they sell a variety of African food that looks really good), The German Deli (German delights), and of course there's several stands that are run by the Amish. Oh, and I can't forget the candy stand; behind The Herb Shop it's the one stand that the girls have to stop at to get their candy fix. The market is open on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and I think my dad must go all three days. He goes for his social time to see his friends, the stand holders; it's good exercise, we always walk to market when we're there (a nice walk through Lancaster), and of course, he goes to buy food.

The other market we go to is much closer to home. It's the Dale City Farmer's Market run by the rec center. This one meets outside in one of the commuter lots on Sunday mornings. During the regular year, it's open from 7am-2pm (I think). This year for the first time, they decided to try a winter market that's open from 10am-1pm and we've been a few times. They have many fewer stands but there's been a milk guy, a meat stand (they had great pork chops and I'll be going there for lamb chops for Easter), one stand with fruit (apples and pears), one or two bread/baked goods stands, and the goat's milk soap lady. There may have been one or two others; the actual stands kind of varied by week and weather. I think they probably had a successful winter trial since the weather in general wasn't too bad. Starting in early April, they'll get back to their regular schedule with the larger market - in addition to the above stands there will be lots more veggie stands, at least a couple more fruit stands, I remember a goat cheese stand, Rosie Jane's favorite is the kettle corn truck, there was also a crepe truck last fall. Last spring there was at least one stand with flowers and plants. I generally try to go every couple of weeks after church to pick up some soap, veggies, fruit, and occasionally a bag of kettle corn.

Hopefully you can find a good farmer's market near you. I can't wait until the spring market starts again!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Artichoke Dip

We don't entertain much but when we do I like to make this dip. I had to bring an appetizer type thing to my MOPS group tonight so I pulled this out. I'm not sure it was the best choice for a day that's in the low 80s but it won't be piping hot when I take it tonight.

Artichoke Dip
modified from Fresh from the Pantry by Longaberger

8 oz. cream cheese, softened, cut into cubes
1 c mayonnaise
1 c sour cream
1 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 14-oz can artichoke hearts, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/8 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor container. Process for 1 to 2 minutes or until blended. Spoon into an oiled baking dish. Bake at 375* for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve with crispy crackers.

I use light mayo and sour cream and neufchatel cream cheese and it turns out fine, although the recipe recommends using regular for best results.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Asian Sloppy Joes

I found this in the Food section of the Washington Post a while back and I really like the twist it puts on sloppy joes. It's a recipe from Ming Tsai, so it's got to be good.

Asian Sloppy Joes
serves 6-8
modified from The Washington Post

2 medium red onions, cut into 1/4 inch dice (about 2 1/2 cups)
3 or 4 ribs celery, cut into small dice (about 1 cup)
6 or 7 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2-inch piece ginger root, minced or 1 Tbsp minced ginger 
1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 to 1 Tbsp hot chili sauce
1/2 to 1 c hoisin sauce
3/4 lb lean ground beef
3/4 lb ground pork
1 can diced tomatoes
1 lime
shredded lettuce
hamburger buns

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom; once the oil is hot, add the onions, celery, garlic, ginger, and hot chili sauce (to taste), stirring to coat evenly. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the vegetables have started to soften.

Add the hoisin sauce and cook for 1 minute, stirring, then add the beef and pork in pinches. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often to break up the meat, until it is no longer pink. Cut the lime in half. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the skillet, then squeeze in the juice of the lime halves. Season with pepper to taste. Stir to combine; reduce the heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Some of the liquid will evaporate.

While the sloppy joe mixture is cooking, split and toast the buns. Place the bottom half on a plate, add a generous portion of the sloppy joe mixture, then some lettuce and top with the top bun. Serve hot.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole

This is a dish I haven't made in a long time. Not sure why since it's one we all like. I made it last week when I was taking a meal to a friend and decided to make it for us that night as well.

Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole
serves 4

2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 boneless chicken breasts (or thighs would work well), cut into bite size pieces
1 package of Long Grain and Wild Rice
a couple handfuls of shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a skillet and add onion and rice. Cook until rice is golden and the onion is softened. Add water according to the rice package directions (about 2 cups) and the chicken. Bring to a boil and add the cheese and seasoning packet from the rice. Pour into a 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish and bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes. The rice should be soft and the chicken cooked through.