Friday, December 10, 2010

Red Pepper and Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breast

We made this meal the other night because we wanted something new to do with a chicken breast. Roasted red peppers and spinach seemed like a good place to start.

Red Pepper Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipe
Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

4 boneless chicken breasts pounded
2 oz cottage cheese
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 red bell peppers
1 cup baby spinach
1/2 cup milk
½ cup water
Salt and pepper
1 tbls starch mixed with 1 tbls of water

Cut bell peppers in half, remove seeds and stem. Place on cookie sheet cut side down and in oven on broil. Broil for 10 minutes or until skin starts to blacken and bubble. Plunge peppers into ice water for 10 seconds. Peel and discard skin of peppers. Turn oven down to 400 degrees. Lay out pounded chicken flat on a flat surface. Sprinkle salt and ground black pepper on chicken. Lay out 1/4th spinach on each chicken breast. Add cottage cheese and garlic on top of spinach. Top with roasted red peppers. Roll each chicken breast, wrap with cotton string to secure and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in baking dish with water and cover dish lightly with foil. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or when internal chicken is 155 degrees. Pour drippings into a saucepan and mix with milk. Heat over medium heat, salt and pepper to taste, and mix in starch mixture to thicken. To serve remove string from chicken, slice into half inch rolls and top with sauce.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Homemade Pasta With Turkey Meatballs

 I started this project because I wanted to try an Italian sausage recipe with ground turkey. Unfortunately, the sausage came out poorly and I ended up eventually throwing it away. After the failure, I had some left over meat so I decided to try to make some meatballs. I did not want to use egg because I wanted a lower fat meatball and the turkey did not need extra moisture. The meatballs needed a sauce to live in so a red sauce is where I went.
The sauce was created with the season and taste method. It is very important to taste what you are cooking before you serve it and when you are cooking from scratch without a recipe then it is even more important to taste as you go. This is of course as long as what you are cooking does not pose a risk if eaten raw. You do not want to taste a raw piece of chicken since it is widely accepted that raw and undercooked chicken poses a health risk. Meatballs and sauce is a great meal but really needs to be enjoyed on a roll or noodles. I chose noodles.

For the noodles, I used a basic pasta recipe that works with one cup of flour to one egg and a half tsp of flour. Since I do not have a dough roller, I could not make spaghetti so I rolled out the dough on the counter and cut into long strips with my pizza cutter. My pasta ended up being closer to a thin fettuccini a thicker ribbon than linguini though they were not uniform with some thicker than others. The pasta noodles were great. They were not heavy like pressed noodles are. Cutting the noodles was the most time consuming part of the meal.
I was able to make this meal in about an hour and a half of constant cooking because I was not prepared and I made things out of order. If I would have started by making the pasta dough, then started the sauce followed by the meatballs, and then finish the pasta I think the time could be cut down to under an hour.

Pasta waiting to be boiled
 Pasta Sauce Recipe
Time: 40 minutes largely unattended
Servings: 4

16 roma tomatoes skinned and seeds removed
2 tsp fresh garlic
1 1/2 tsp mortons light salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 packet sweetener

Coarsely chop tomatoes and add to saucepan with other ingredients. Heat to a simmer and let simmer for at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally to allow flavors to meld. (If adding meatballs, can add them after first 20 minutes of simmer.

Turkey Meatball Recipe
Time: 30 minutes
Servings: About 20 meatballs

1 lb 90% lean ground turkey
2 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
3/4 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Oil or cooking spray
Mix all ingredients except oil in bowl. Divide and roll into 3/4 oz balls. Brown balls on all sides in oiled skillet over medium heat. Simmer in spaghetti sauce for 10 minutes or until balls are cooked through.

Pasta Recipe
Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6.

2 cups of flour
1 tsp light salt
2 eggs
dab of water if needed

Measure dry ingredients into a food processor with metal blade attachment and pulse two times to combine. Add eggs and process for 30 seconds add water if there is flour that has not combined into the dough. Divide into 4 equal sized balls and let sit for at least 5 minutes (may be covered in plastic rap and saved for 3 days.) Roll out each ball to a thickness of 1/8th inch cut as thin as desired with knife or pizza cutter. (Can use dough roller with cutter head to roll out and cut dough). Drop cut noodles into well-salted boiling water and cook until desired tenderness. Well take less time to cook the noodles than does to cook dried packaged noodles. Uncooked noodles can be well floured in a freezer bag and stored in freezer for up to a month.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cajun Style Grilled Shrimp

Being far from, the ocean seafood is not as common as land animals in my part of the country. Since shrimp is treated pretty well by a freezing process, grilled shrimp is a quick and easy seafood dish. The most time consuming part of the entire dish is peeling the shrimp since grilling the shrimp takes less than 6 minutes. The great thing about cooking on the grill is fewer dishes to cleanup when you are done.

Cajun Style Grilled Shrimp Recipe
Servings 2
Time: 20 minutes

1-pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp with tails
3/4 tsp oregano
3/4 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Cooking spray or olive oil

Preheat grill on high. Rinse shrimp and pat dry with paper towels. Mix spices together and toss with shrimp. Thread on skewers or put in grill basket. Brush or spray lightly with oil. Grill for 3 minutes, flip and grill for another 2-3 minutes or until center meat is no longer translucent and outside is pink.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

When I think of macaroni and cheese, three different visions come to mind:
  1. A blue box (the mac and cheese we had most often)
  2. Some kind of inedible mushy casserole with bread crumbs on top
  3. A creamy wonderfulness made with ultra processed "cheese food"
If allowed I would have eaten macaroni and cheese for most meals if my parents would have let me. Unfortunately for me, my dad was not the biggest fan of the blue box. Now that I am older, I understand why we were not fed the bright orange fake food. The boxed stuff is barely cheese, has very little flavor, (other than salt) and does not feel grown up. The macaroni and "cheese food" was a dish I was very fond of growing up but I can no longer get behind a soft cheese that does not need to be refrigerated.

Luckily, the French knew what to do. They have a basic cream mother sauce called b├ęchamel sauce. Add some cheese to that and you have what they call mornay sauce. Add cooked macaroni and you have a cheesy and creamy macaroni and cheese that tastes great and not from a box. You can use any kind of cheese to make this so you can get as creative as you want but in the name of simplicity and for the"just like my momma use to make" feeling I go for a cheddar flavored macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Time: 30 min
Servings 2

3 cups Cooked Macaroni
2 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp All Purpose Flour
1 cup Milk or Cream
1/2 cup Shredded Medium Cheddar
1 1/2 tbsp Cream Cheese
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Melt butter in 1 qt saucepan on med-low heat and whisk in all-purpose flour. Continue to Whisk mixture over the heat until the mixture is bubbling for about 5 minutes and the mixture no longer smells like flour. Slowly whisk in milk one to two tablespoons at a time until all milk is incorporated and sauce is smooth. Warms sauce until hot enough to melt cheese, whisk the cream cheese into the sauce until melted. Add cheddar cheese one quarter at a time, making sure the previous quarter is melted completely before adding the next. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix sauce with cooked macaroni and serve.