Posts tagged ‘Dinner’

December 11, 2016

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Winter has come again to Colorado! A lot has happened over the last year and we will have a ton to update you on, but for now I thought I would share a quick dinner that doubles as a great leftovers for lunches for the week. When weeks get busy it is always nice to have something healthy that packs a punch and makes life easier and this fits the bill. My great grandmother had a fantastic recipe for Hungarian Stuffed Peppers that has long been a family favorite, especially great for a cold winter’s night. The thing about that recipe is that it is not the lightest food out there. Stuffed with ground meat and rice then simmered in tomato sauce makes for a hearty meal that “sticks to the ribs.” I found a way to lighten it up a little and still get a lot of flavor.

Our Whole Foods always has a ton of sausages with great flavors. I have found that one or two of these really pack a punch and add just enough flavor without adding too much bulk. When you spend a little more on something that adds lots of flavor, you don’t have to buy much and can get a lot out of it. I have used their teriyaki pineapple, or barbecue bacon sausages that add some interest without me having to do a lot of work. For the quinoa, I like to use a rainbow variety that adds some interest and color and cook it in some chicken stock that I keep in the freezer to add flavor. It helps a lot to take that one extra step rather than just using water. I always keep chicken stock in the freezer, but broth would work too. By sauteing spinach, you can get some extra veggies and all those nutrients in and it cooks down to almost nothing in no time, in the same pan you used to cook the sausage and then just toss in the quinoa. Make sure you like what you taste and stuff in the bell peppers. Bake for 15 min and you are done! I just throw them into tupperware for lunch and it is grab and go. The other great thing about this is that you can always use it to empty your fridge and use stuff up! Be creative; anything goes!

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1 Cup Rainbow Quinoa

2 Cups Chicken Broth

2 Sausages, Sauteed

1 Bag Spinach

1/2 Lemon

1 Shallot, thinly sliced

4 Bell Peppers, Tops & Seeds Removed

Prepare Quinoa in chicken broth. Saute shallot with the sausages (removed from casings and crumbled) until browned. Add spinach to the pan and squeeze lemon over the top and cover for 2 min. Stir the spinach into the sausage then add the quinoa. Taste and season as you like. Stuff the peppers and place upright in a baking dish. Bake at 375° for 15-20 min until peppers are tender. Enjoy immediately or as leftovers.

 

Enjoy the lead up to the holidays! One of my favorite times of the year! Happy cooking!

Kelly

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January 29, 2014

Cooking Staples

We started talking earlier this week about healthy eating and how to make it easier. When you live with someone who eats roughly 4,000 calories a day…all clean…you have to do some prep work to make things practical. On the weekend, we sit down together and make a menu for the week for dinner, but that doesn’t always help with breakfast and lunch. I am getting better at planning leftovers in for lunches, but it is much easier to just pack everything at the beginning of the week and be able to grab and go. I start by cooking about egg muffins, 2 cups of brown rice, 6 organic chicken breasts, 4 sweet potatoes and steaming a bunch of veggies. With these staples always in the fridge, you can make a lot of things happen. Sometimes chicken becomes Chicken Tinga, or enchiladas. Often it gets chopped and sent in lunches. By having a bit of an assembly line with the food scale, I can get through things pretty quickly with already cooked foods. Bonus, whatever we don’t get to, I just freeze and use that in meals down the road. Shredded chicken is awesome to have in the freezer…a great time saver! I try to mix in something I haven’t tried before once a week. It doesn’t always happen (read: the lentils I meant to make still in my pantry) but I try for variety. We usually mix in one fish meal and one lean red meat meal each week. I swear all of this is much easier than it sounds! It really does make the rest of the week go much smoother. Here is an example of a dinner I made from our staples in the fridge. You can see our fully stocked fridge is how we make it without take out for every meal! Chicken and Brussels sprouts with brown rice. MMMM. This was great too because it saved well and became the perfect lunch later in the week. Gotta love multitasking!

Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

2 Chicken breasts cooked and cubed

12-15 Brussels Sprouts, shredded

3 T Dried Cranberries

2 T Sliced Almonds

2 T Honey

2 T Butter

Crushed red peppers

Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium heat add Brussels sprouts and sauté about 2 minutes. Add chicken, cranberries, and almonds. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red peppers and drizzle with honey. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

Serve over brown rice.

December 22, 2013

Salmon with Champagne Citrus Beurre Blanc

Cooking is a creative outlet for me and I probably make much fancier at home meals than most people, but not usually this fancy. This dish is special. It all started with me trying to find a way to use up the last bit of champagne in our fridge from a spontaneous celebration. After a night of sitting in the fridge, champagne is not particularly drinkable, but it is perfect for cooking! We still had some Alaskan salmon in the freezer brought home to us straight from the source…the gift that keeps on giving. That with some salad and bread to sop up the wonderful sauce made for the perfect date night in. This is my riff on beurre blanc but certainly not typical. By replacing the vinegar with extra citrus you get a bright sauce. Most of the time you would strain this sauce, but I left the shallots which added some texture. I also cut down the butter by about 75%. You still have a rich sauce, but without 3 sticks of butter. I am sure French cooking purists would not call it beurre blanc, but this is my show! This would be a perfect holiday meal and may be repeated in our house for New Years. Put this sauce on anything and enjoy!

 

Salmon with Champagne Citrus Beurre Blanc

1 + pounds of salmon (about ½ pound per person)

2 finely chopped shallots

1 clove finely chopped garlic

2 cups dry Champagne or white wine

Juice of 1 lemon, 2 tangerines, and 1 orange

1/2 stick of butter, cut into pieces

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Kosher salt

 

Preheat oven to 400°. Season salmon fillet with salt and pepper place in a baking dish. Cook for 12 minutes then turn off the heat and allow to stand in the hot oven for an additional 3 minutes.

Prepare the sauce while the salmon cooks. Add 1 T butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the shallots and garlic cook until soft and fragrant.

Add the wine and bring to a boil allow to reduce by half, stirring frequently. See the pretty bubbles from the champagne?? Add the citrus juice and simmer about 10 minutes until reduced by about half and it begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to low; gradually add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring after each addition, until melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place sauce on the plate and top with salmon. Garnish with more sauce. Serves 4.

November 3, 2013

Menu Planning

Everyone is so busy now-a-days with duel working households, endless activities and chores, the list always seems to go on. We are certainly no exception. BF and I both work and have our own activities keeping us busy. We also try to exercise and eat healthy. The task of keeping even just the two of us fed for a reasonable amount of money and time invested often seems daunting. For those of you with families, I am sure it is compounded!

We often talk about eating healthy and that there is a triangle you get to choose from: healthy, tasty and affordable. The caveat is you can usually only pick two. We are doing our best to work all three in as often as possible, but that takes planning. The best way we have found to stay on track is to plan our menu for the week and create a shopping list prior to our weekend errands. BF and I sit down together and talk about the schedule for the week and what we would like to have. I usually have some new recipe I have been wanting to try (usually inspired from my Pinterest boards). I also plan to have things that complement each other so I can cut down on the number of things we are making, for example rice with two meals or leftovers with lunch. We then make a list of what to get at the “regular” store and what to splurge on at Whole Foods. We seem to stay much more on track when we have a plan and don’t do as much impulse buying.

I am also working much harder at paying attention to coupons. I think you can get sucked in to couponing and end up buying things you don’t need, but for those things you buy anyway it is great if you can save a little. This week our store was offering a coupon for 10% off your groceries if you got your flu shot. So for a flu shot that was covered by my insurance, we saved more than $10 off our groceries…those things really do add up! I have even gotten pretty good at remembering to bring my own bags, which is now something we pay for in our town. I feel really good about myself when I remember bags and coupons!

You can see from our scribly menus that our system is not fancy, but it works for us. The latest menu goes on the fridge and we work together to make it work for the week. We often shop on Saturday and I prep on Sunday. That usually involves roasting chicken breasts and prepping veggies. I try to make sure we have things that are easy to pack for lunches (probably where we save the most money from this system). Mary, Ali, Geff and I recently had an all day cooking extravaganza to create some meals for the freezer…lots more on that to come…it has been so helpful to have soups and sauces, even ready-made meals on hand. It is so nice to be able to pull something out and know where it came from. Sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out (like when I forget to defrost the fish) but for the most part this helps us a lot! Do you do something similar? I would love suggestions!

Kelly

October 21, 2013

Chicken and Sausage Bites

Do you ever rediscover a former love of a recipe? Last weekend we decided to have a freezer cooking day with each of us picking something we wanted to make. I chose an old favorite from Lidia Bastianich. I am sure I have said before how much I love Lidia. Her recipes are unique and always wonderful. I think they always turn out (though I do tend to modify things as I go). This time we made this to be eaten later and miraculously it actually made it to the freezer! I am looking forward to enjoying it some night we have nothing in the house. It is full of flavor both robust and tangy. Served with veggies and bread or brown rice and you have a great fall meal!

Kelly

 

Chicken and Sausage Bites in Vinegar Sauce

¼ c Olive Oil

1 lb Sweet Italian Sausage, cut into bite sized pieces

2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

Salt

4 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped

2 T Honey

2 T Butter

¼ c Red Wine Vinegar

½ c Aromatic White Wine

½ c Chicken Stock

Chopped Italian Parsley (for garnish)

 

In a large skillet heat 2 T olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until lightly brown on all sides. Pour off the fat if necessary. Add remaining 2 T of olive oil. Season the chicken pieces with salt and add to the pan. Cook until brown on all sides. When close to done, make a space to brown the garlic. Once golden and aromatic, stir into the chicken and sausage.

Drizzle the honey over the top and cook, stirring often until chicken is a rich mahogany color. Add the butter and stir until melted. Pour in the vinegar and bring to a boil. Boil until the vinegar has almost completely evaporated. Add the wine and bring to a boil, then add the chicken stock. Boil until thick and there is just enough to coat the chicken and sausage.

Sprinkle with parsley and serve. YUMMY!

A Few Notes: This is a recipe where it helps to have all the ingredients laid out and prepped before you start cooking. Everything goes from not ready to done quickly! I like to use sausage out of the casing to save myself some time. I also find that it helps to remove the sausage while you cook the chicken. It helps free up the pan to encourage browning. I almost always use extra honey to get to the right color. Be a little flexible on the liquid amounts. Do what you like!

September 15, 2013

Pho at Home

 

I got inspired to cook Pho in two ways. The first was from a WSJ article on the subject. The second was Ali and Geff who like this dish at a favorite restaurant for a weeknight dinner.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444180004578018390589710484.html

Another one I liked while researching this was this one below. I liked their opinions and details;

http://www.inspiredtaste.net/4307/vietnamese-soup-pho/

 

I don’t know of any great places for Pho in Boulder, but I did go to a noodle shop once in LA so I had a bit of a concept. Geff and Uncle Stacy provided a gift of some beef bones to get me started, but I have to say it was a bit overwhelming with my limited knowledge of the end game. So I started with the broth with the intention to freeze…Which I did. I wasn’t crazy though about the weird gray color of the stock. So, I kept that but started again with a more traditional stock with roasted bones. Think a cross between Ad Hock and Jacques Pepin. Anyway, I prefer roasted bones and veg for my beef stock. Still added the crazy roasted ginger and other spices. We did not use fish sauce as it’s not a fav in our house, but use it if you like it.

Yum…even though it was in the heat of summer Pho was great and fun to try. But, be prepared; it’s an adventure and lots of work!

Mary

 

June 30, 2013

Cedar Plank Salmon

Looking for an easy way to update your salmon recipe? Cooking on a salmon plank on the grill adds a whole new dimension. You end up with a slightly smoky flavor with a nearly candied finish. This is a great way to fancy things up a bit with very little work. BF brought this idea home one night and it was a huge hit!

Soak the cedar plank in water for 1-3 hours. (I will admit we cut it close at about 30 minutes and it should have been a bit longer, but we were hungry!) Season 1-1 ½ Pounds Salmon Filets with salt and pepper. Preheat grill. Remove the planks from water and place on the grill until hot. Brush smooth side of boards with olive oil. Place fillets on the smooth surface part of the plank. Brush teriyaki sauce (we like Soy Vey) over salmon. Cook over a medium to high flame for approximately 10 minutes or until done.

Serve with a great salad of CSA mixed greens and strawberries tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar and finished with salt and pepper for a healthy meal!

Kelly

June 23, 2013

First Day of Summer!

How did you spend your first day of summer? BF and I enjoyed an al fresco dinner on our brand new patio furniture.

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We had be looking for something for a while and finally found the perfect thing on sale. When you live in a place that boasts 300 days of sunshine a year, outdoor living is a way of life, and dining is no exception. I fixed one of our very favorite meals, Poisson Cru.

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It is so light and easy to make. If you are not a sushi lover, this is a good place to dip a toe in. The lime cooks the fish and it takes on a different texture. This one is a keeper! In fact, for lunch today I switched it up a little by eating the leftovers over rice.

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Try it, you won’t regret it! Enjoy summer!
~Kelly

June 12, 2013

Summer Mixed Grill

One of the things that has always been a staple in our house is the mixed grill. As a kid, I remember my mom shopping on Sunday for the week and picking up veggies, fish, chicken and steak to cook that night. We always ate the fish the first night and set the chicken and steak aside for later in the week. The brilliance of this is that you can use the meat for anything! It could be as is with some veggies, or reworked into something like tacos, or pasta. It makes things so easy for planning and you can save yourself time on work nights. This is also a great thing to do for a group or a party as we did here. Throw in the veggies from the CSA box, and you are good to go. Everyone gets what they like and there are always leftovers! Buy whatever is fresh or on sale and throw it all together on the grill; the perfect summer dinner solution!

Kelly


Mixed Grill

CSA Salad: Fresh lettuce, arugula, herbs, diced tomatoes and radishes, tossed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Tuna steaks marinated in Soy Vey Teriyaki grilled to medium.

Chicken legs grilled and basted with Grumpy’s BBQ sauce.

Teriyaki and pineapple sausage from Whole Foods…super delish!

Baby CSA artichokes steamed and drizzled with olive oil, pink flake salt and freshly cracked pepper.

CSA root veggies sautéed with onions in butter, then sherry vinegar to deglaze.

 

YUMMY!

 

P.S. Up next is our CSA dessert: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!

April 21, 2013

Birthday Dinner

Firsts together in a relationship are always memorable and sometimes a little stressful. (Remember the first time I cooked for BF?) After being treated to dinner at one of the premier restaurants in town for my birthday, I needed to take good care of BF for his! When I asked what he wanted to do, I was asked to make dinner. “Anything you want to make.” No pressure! We generally eat pretty healthy so I tried to find a way to keep it healthy and kick things up a bit. Thanks to Mary’s suggestion, I ended up finding a great idea in the lovely book “In the Royal Manner” by Paul Burrell. I chose Baked Sea Bass in Filo with Julienne Vegetables. Seriously DELICIOUS! It is such a nice way to put a twist on our usual baked salmon. It is festive and relatively easy and something that will be sticking around in the future. Try it out; you won’t be disappointed!

Kelly

 

Baked Sea Bass in Filo with Veggies

Inspired by “In the Royal Manner”

3-4 T Butter

Several Handfuls of Fresh Spinach

2 Sheets Filo Pastry

2 5-Oz Portions of Skinless Sea Bass Filet Steaks

3 Carrots (varied colors if available)

1 Zucchini

1 Small Leek

1 Clove Garlic

Salt & Pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400°. Julienne or shred the vegetables to equal sizes. Heat a frying pan to medium heat and sauté chopped garlic and a bit of leek until softened. Add washed spinach to the pan and cover for about 3 minutes until wilted but still bright green. Remove from heat, squeeze some lemon over, top with salt and pepper, and allow to cool.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Spread filo out on workspace and brush with melted butter. Fold the sheet over on itself and brush again.

Place fish in the middle of the sheet and top with spinach.

Carefully fold the opposite corners of the filo up around the fish. Gently press to seal and brush with butter.

Repeat with the second piece of fish. Place the fish in the oven and allow to bake 20-25 minutes until golden and baked through.

About 5 minutes prior to the fish being done, heat remaining tablespoon of butter and sauté the vegetables until tender.

Divide the vegetables on two plates and top with the fish. Serve and enjoy!

Note: We did serve with brown rice, though you may not need it.

P.S. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my Love.

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