Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir-Fry with Chicken

Quick and delicious meals are something I am always searching for. And, meals that aren’t written for 6 or more servings. Since I cook for just myself 4 or less is perfect. It gives me enough for leftovers for the following day. While you can find quick to prepare food at the supermarket, you know those flavored rice’s and pasta sides, have you ever noticed how much sodium is in them. I am by no means a health nut, but, I do try to avoid certain things whenever possible. Sodium being one of them. Today, I am bringing you a quick dish that can be made with tofu, chicken or shrimp and has a healthy amount of vegetables… A Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry. What’s really nice about this dish is that there are no sauces that are giving this dish a flavor. Just some salt, pepper, garlic, onions and basil. Yum! And, it’s written for 2 servings… Perfect for me.

Zucchini, Corn and Basil Stir Fry

Ingredients:

8 ounces tofu, chicken breast or sausage, or shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup red onion, chopped

3 medium-sized zucchini, sliced into half-moons a 1/2 inch thick

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off*

1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced into ribbons

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes, optional

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, season the oil with salt and pepper. Cook your chosen protein to your liking, fully cooked if chicken or shrimp. Set aside.

In the same skillet, add more oil if necessary, add the onion and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the zucchini, and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the zucchini is golden, stirring frequently.

Add the garlic and corn and cook for an addition 2 minutes, stirring. Add more salt and pepper.

Cover the skillet and let it steam for 3-4 minutes. Check the zucchini with a fork for doneness. When the zucchini is ready add the basil and adjust the salt.

Add the red pepper flakes, if using and return your protein the skillet and heat through.

Recipe from Feasting At Home

Slow Cooker Sunday: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

So, funny thing, pretty much the only reason why I made this was because I had celery in my fridge and I didn’t want it to go to waste. That always happens when I buy celery. I use a few a few stalks and then the rest gets thrown out. I was determined not to let that happen again. So, I knew I wanted to make something in my slow cooker but wasn’t sure what and then came across this recipe in my favorite slow cooker cookbook.

What was even better, this is one of my favorite types of slow cooker recipes – throw it in there and let it cook. I know that doesn’t sound to proper considering we are talking about food, but, I will assume that you know what I mean. In my slow cooker I added in chicken, andouille sausage, okra, green bell pepper, celery, onion, cayenne pepper, salt, can of diced tomatoes, and chicken broth. Now, it may look like there isn’t enough liquid in there….

But, after cooking on low for about 4 hours there was more than enough liquid. One thing I didn’t do that the recipe called for was adding a cornstarch-water mixture after 3 hours to thicken the liquid. I find that I am not too keen on thickening the liquid because it tends to look congealed after refrigerating it. Granted, all is well once it is warmed up, but, since I am cool with the thinner liquid I stick with that. One more thing, this was delicious, but, if you don’t like spice, I suggest using less cayenne pepper. To go along with the gumbo I made white rice and it’s the perfect accompaniment to soak up all the juices.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

1/4 lb. andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 pound okra, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

1 green bell pepper, chopped

3 celery stacks, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes

2 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup cornstarch

White rice, for serving (optional)

Directions

In a slow cooker combine the chicken, sausage, okra, pepper, celery, onion, cayenne pepper and salt. Add the diced tomatoes, along with their juices, and the chicken broth and give everything a few good stirs to combine. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours.

In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch along with 1/4 cup water. Stir into the gumbo to thicken it, cover and continue cooking for an additional hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with white rice.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites

Brussels Sprouts & Cranberry Sauce

So, I’m working a little backwards here. Yesterday I brought you a delicious pie you can serve for Thanksgiving dessert and today I am bringing you two sides. A roasted Brussels sprouts dish and homemade cranberry sauce. Come back on Sunday for Slow Cooker Sunday where I will tell you how I slow cooked a turkey breast – see, definitely working backwards!

I know Brussels sprouts is not a favorite vegetable for many, but, I think the reason is because they are not preparing them the best way. Yes, they have a bitter flavor, just like broccoli rabe, but, when you season and roast them in the oven they take on a whole new flavor. Even the little charred sections taste good. And, they get perfectly tender. The recipe I recently tried called for them to be roasted in the oven and then topped with a glaze made with grapes, honey & scallions… YUM! I can’t wait to make it again and I am pretty sure it will make any Brussels sprout skeptic think twice about that vegetable that looks like a baby cabbage.

I grew up eating cranberry sauce from a can, not the whole berry sauce one, but, the jellied version. It’s weird, I won’t eat the whole berry one from a can because I feel like it’s too fake but I will eat the jellied version. Yes, I will still eat it with my turkey and stuffing. I don’t really know what prompted me to try making cranberry sauce myself since I was content with the can stuff, but, I’ve used the same recipe now for quite a few years and it’s one of my favorite things about Thanksgiving. I look forward to a sandwich with leftover turkey warmed up with melted cheese (preferably provolone) and topped with cranberry sauce every year after Thanksgiving. I am dreaming of it now as I type… LOL! So, what is so special about this sauce? I think it’s the simplicity of it. There are no out of the box ingredients. It’s simply a bag of fresh cranberries, sugar, water, fresh ginger, orange zest, a cinnamon stick, ground cloves and salt. I tried getting a little fancy one year, but, it just didn’t top the simple yet delicious taste of this cranberry sauce. Make a few days before you intend to use to really get the best flavor.

So, I hope these two dishes will make their way to your table, or, they have given you ideas of something else to try.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Grapes

Ingredients:

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups red seedless grapes

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons honey

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Place a baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven and preheat to 450 F.

Toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl. Spread them on the hot baking sheet and roast, tossing halfway through until tender and charred in spots, 20 to 30 minutes.

While the Brussels sprouts are in the oven…. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the grapes and thyme and cook until the grapes starting to burst, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions and honey. Increase the heat to high and bring to boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer until the juices thicken and the grapes are glazed. Season with salt and pepper.

Once ready, transfer the Brussels sprouts to a dish and drizzled the grape mixture over them

Recipe from Food Network

 

Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 2 1/2 Cups
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Ingredients:

1 12 ounce bag fresh cranberries

1 cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

2 teaspoons orange zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

 

Directions:

In a medium saucepan combine 1 cup of water with the sugar, cinnamon stick, ginger, orange zest, salt and cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the cranberries and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and allow to simmer, stirring until slightly thickened.

Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool before refrigerating

Recipe from Rachael Ray

Caribbean Chicken

Every week there are two questions I dread… What should I make for lunch for the week and what should I make for dinner? I try to switch it up and make different things but sometimes I just run out of ideas or quite simply I just don’t feel like cooking. Thankfully, I have a binder of organized recipes I have been collecting for quite some time and I am finally putting them to good use. This Caribbean Chicken recipe is one that I ripped out from Food Network Magazine a few years ago and I am sure I will be making it again.

To start I browned boneless skinless chicken thighs that I seasoned with curry powder, allspice, thyme salt and pepper in melted coconut cream that I skimmed off the stop of the coconut milk. Just remember not to shake the coconut milk or you won’t be able to skim this cream off of it.

 

Once the chicken was browned I transferred it to a plate and added onion, garlic, cilantro, a serrano chili and thyme sprigs to my Dutch oven and cooked until the onions began to soften. 

 

I then returned the chicken to the pot along with water and the remaining coconut cream and milk from the can and cooked it covered on medium-low heat, for about 15 minutes until the sauce was thickened and the chicken was cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. And finally, I added in a cup frozen peas and carrots thawed and cooked everything until the pear and carrots were warmed through. I then seasoned it with salt and pepper.

 

And served it with white rice.

 

Caribbean Chicken

Ingredients:

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, quartered

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (do not shake)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1 Scotch bonnet, habanero or serrano chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

Cooked white rice for serving

Directions:

Combine the curry powder, allspice, chopped thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small bowl and use it to season the chicken.

Skim 2 tablespoons of the solid cream off the top of the coconut milk and transfer to a large Dutch oven or pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5-7 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, chili and thyme sprigs to the pot and cook, stirring until the onions are softened. Return the chicken to the pot along with a 1/4 cup of water and the coconut milk along with any remaining coconut cream. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Remove the thyme sprigs and add the peas and carrots and continue cooking until warmed through.

Serve with rice.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

 

Rigatoni Pie

Don’t worry… You’re not putting pasta in a pie crust with this pie. This is a fun variation on your basic pasta, sauce and cheese dish.

You start off by boiling a pound of rigatoni pasta until it is lightly less than al dente – the minutes truly depend on the brand of pasta you buy. Once the pasta is ready, drain it and spread it on a baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Next, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a 9-inch springform pan in the center. Grease the pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and began standing the rigatoni on their ends in the pan until the entire pan is filled.

Pour your favorite pasta sauce over the noodles and then sprinkle mozzarella and parmesan cheese over the sauce.

Tent the pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes in a preheated 375 F oven. Uncover the pan and bake for about another 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbly.

Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes and then carefully remove the ring from the pan, cut the pie and serve.

 

Rigatoni Pie

Ingredients:

4 cups of marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)

1 pound rigatoni

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt

1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated

2/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and place on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until is slightly less than al dente. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared springform pan. Pour the sauce over the noodles and spread with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with cheeses.

Tent the pan with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the cheese us bubbly and golden brown, about an additional 30 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and then remove the ring from the pan.

Recipe from Food Network

 

Garlicky Baked Shrimp

This is my kind of recipe… Quick, simple and foolproof. I’ve made it 3 times and each time it was perfect. What is it… Garlicky Baked Shrimp. I usually serve it with rice, but, I think it would be perfect tossed with some pasta.

A few things to note… Don’t bake for more than 7 minutes or you will overcook the shrimp and you definitely don’t want rubbery shrimp. You can broil for an extra minute or so, but, once you see the bread crumbs are a nice toasty color you’re good to go – you don’t want garlic shrimp with a burnt topping. And finally, if you like your shrimp extra garlicky, through in an extra clove of garlic or two.

Garlicky Baked Shrimp

Ingredients:

1 1/2 – 2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and de-veined*

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons white wine**

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons melted butter***

1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs

1-2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh Italian-leaf parsley, chopped

*I buy my shrimp frozen, uncooked, peeled and de-veined. I let it sit out for a few hours to defrost and then proceed with the recipe.

**I used Chardonnay

***I used unsalted. If you choose to use salted keep that in mind when seasoning the shrimp with salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

In a medium bowl combine the shrimp, garlic and white wine and toss to combine. Transfer the shrimp mixture to a 9 x 13 – inch baking dish and spread it out in an even layer. Season with salt and pepper.

Rinse out the bowl and then add the melted butter and bread crumbs. Use a fork to stir everything together. With your finger, sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the shrimp.

Bake for about 7 minutes, until the shrimp is just turning pink. Switch the oven to broiler setting (high if you have that option) and broil for 2-3 minutes. Until the shrimp are completely pink and cooked through and the bread crumbs are beginning to turn golden.

Remove from the oven and drizzle the lemon juice over the shrimp and then sprinkle the parsley.

Recipe from Gimme Some Oven Blog

 

 

 

Slow Cooker Sunday: A Cookbook Review and Marinara Sauce

So about two months ago while perusing in the cookbook section of my local Barnes & Noble I began scanning through some of their slow cooker cookbooks and settled on purchasing America’s Test Kitchen: Slow Cooker Revolution. I was excited to try out some of the recipes as they sounded really good. I started with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup and it was a disaster! It had no flavor and was more like heavy mashed potatoes instead of soup. I decided that I would try it again another day with less potatoes. But then I tried another recipe and it didn’t come out that great, okay, truthfully, it was horrible again. It was a Broccoli and Chicken sauce that was to be used for pasta. The sauce, made with chicken broth and wine as the base, was bitter and the chicken was dry. Yuck! So, instead of trying a third recipe – quite honestly at this point none of the recipes sounded all that great – I headed back to Barnes & Noble to see if I could return it. And luckily I was able to. And since I wasn’t in a rush, I headed back to the cookbook area and picked up another book to try out… Slow Cooker Family Favorites by Maggie Shi. And (oh boy, starting 3 sentences in a row with “and,” such bad grammar… LOL) the first recipe I tried was delish… a slow cooker marinara sauce.

To make the sauce I combined crushed tomatoes, olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, fresh basil, fresh garlic and salt in the bowl of my slow cooker.

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And then gave everything a few good stirs and set it to cook on low for seven hours. For a little extra seasoning I added a few grinds of fresh pepper and that was it.

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I ended up with about 6 cups of sauce. I decided to freeze 4 cups and used 2 cups as a dipping sauce for this Cheesy Garlic Monkey Bread that I will be posting about tomorrow!

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Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

Ingredients:

2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 large fresh sprigs basil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons salt, plus more if needed

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to the bowl of a slow cooker and stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 7 hours. Taste for seasoning.

Serve with breadsticks, garlic bread, baguette slices, etc. for dipping. Or use for your favorite pasta. Makes about 6 cups.

Recipe from Slow Cooker Family Favorites