Sunday, March 29, 2009

Tomato, zucchini and chicken pasta

One of my favourite things to do is scrounge up a meal from the odd-end ingredients I have on end, and this recipe is definitely a success story from that process. I was running low on groceries, but needed to throw together a quick dinner, and came up with this.

Tomato, zucchini and chicken pasta

1 bag wide egg noddles
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" pieces
10 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup frozen zucchini, thawed
1/2 cup parsley or 2-3 tbsp. parsley paste
1/4 cup instant potato flakes
salt and pepper

1. Boil noodles according to package instructions.

2. Salt and pepper chicken and saute in olive oil until browned. Add garlic and shallot and cook until chicken cooked through.

3. Pour tomatoes with juice over chicken and bring to boil. Add zucchini and parsley and heat through. Add potato flakes, as needed, to thicken sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Drain noodles and pour sauce over pasta.

Emily's rating: 9 out of 10

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Classic Apple Pie

This is a bit of a cheat, since I'm using pre-made, frozen crusts, but it was nevertheless nice to have a homemade apple pie to eat during the week.

Classic Apple Pie

Two pre-made, frozen crusts
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt
4 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Thaw pie crusts according to package instructions. Flatten one pie crust to use as pie top.

2. Mix sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in large bowl. Stir in apples.

3. Turn mixture into pastry-lined pie plate. Cover with top pastry, cutting slits in middle to release steam. Seal and flute edges.

4. Cover edges of pie with 2" stripe of aluminum foil to prevent excessive browning; remove foil during last 15 minutes of baking.

5. Bake 40-50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through slits in crust. Cool on wire rack for at least 2 hours.

Cheesy Chicken Tortellini Bake

I was very lucky to receive a batch of delicious recipes, compiled for me by friends and family, at my wedding shower this summer. This one came from my high school bestie Allison, and it's become a good go-to throughout the fall and winter because it's the perfect comfort food.

Cheesy Chicken Tortellini Bake

Pasta Mixture
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 jar (16 oz.) Alfredo sauce
2 pkgs. (9 oz. each) cheese tortellini
1.5 cups cubed, cooked chicken
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped or 1 tbsp. dried basil

Crumb Topping
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan
2 tbsp. melted butter
1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cook pasta in boiling water according to instructions. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil over medium-high heat; add onion and garlic. Cook and stir 2-3 minutes until onion is tender.

4. Stir in pasta sauce, tortellini, chicken, milk, water, peas and pepper. Heat until mixture just comes to boil; remove from heat. Stir in basil.

5. Grate parmesan and melt butter. Stir in bread crumbs and cheese; mix well.

6. Spoon pasta mixture into bakeware; sprinkle with crumb topping. Bake 15-20 minutes or until edges are bubbly and topping is golden brown.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pasta with bacon and peas

This is another stand-by that I find really useful for nights where I don't want to make a big meal, but I still need some yummy comfort food. Also, it requires only ingredients that I think most people tend to have on hand all the time.

Pasta with bacon and peas

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
1 box frozen peas, thawed
1 c. half-and-half cream
1 box (18 oz.) pasta (I find fettucine works the best)

1. Boil pasta according to directions.

2. Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to plate, leaving fat in skillet.

3. Add shallots and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 1-2 mins.

4. Add peas and cream; season with salt and pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 mins.

5. Reserving 1/2 c. water, drain pasta. Pour sauce over pasta and toss. Add reserved water as necessary. Sprinkle with bacon.

Emily's rating: 7 out of 10 (yummy, but doesn't reheat well for lunch the next day)

Chipotle Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

I've been unsure about what to do with recipes that don't turn out, and whether I should even bother posting them here. I decided to go ahead and do it, in case someone else wants to try their hand at improving upon my failures.

In this case, this dish was just...weird. I can't remember where I got the original recipe, but I remember writing it down because a) I love normal shepherd's pie but Nate hates it and b) we both love sweet potatoes.

But the combination here just does not work. The spiciness of the chipotles does marry nicely with the sweetness of the potatoes, but the rest just tastes funny in terms of texture and flavour.

Anyway, if anyone does want to take a crack at re-jigging this thing, please let me know, because I would love to figure out how to make it work.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

1 (7oz.) can of chipotle peppers in adobo
2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 c. 2% milk
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

2 lbs. ground sirloin
2 c. chopped onion
1 c. chopped carrot
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. frozen peas
1/2 c. crushed tomatoes
1/4 c. fresh parsley
3 tbsp. steak sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Remove 1 chile and 2 tsp. sauce from can; reserve remaining for other use. Coarsley chop chile.

3. Place potatoes in a sauce pan; cover with water. Bring to boil, cooking approx. 15 minutes until tender. Drain.

4. Place potatoes, chile, adobo, milk, salt and pepper in mixer and beat until smooth.

5. Cook beef until browned. Remove from pan; drain.

6. Sauté onions, carrot and garlic 8 mins. Add beef. Stir in peas and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 mins.

7. Spoon beef into casserole; top with potatoes. Bake for 30 mins.

Emily's rating: 3 out of 10
Nate's rating: 1 out of 10

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