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Archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ Category

There are a few foods that are dinner staples in our house. We can’t seem to go a week or two without having them. Pizza, pasta and Mexican are three of the things you’ll find us eating frequently. (And coincidentally all feature carbs and/or cheese!)

We decided on pasta last night but wanted to try a new recipe. Typing “pasta” into the search box on Epicurious yields overwhelming results so in order to focus us a bit more, I gave Brandon The Gourmet Cookbook to browse through. He came up with a Penne with Arugula and Prosciutto that sounded great and featured a 20 minute start to finish time. This was perfect since we weren’t able to start on dinner until after 8 p.m.

We made a few modifications to the original recipe. The biggest was the addition of shrimp which we both agreed really took the dish up a notch. Overall, this is a very simple recipe but each element plays a big part in the flavor, especially the arugula. Don’t skip it.

While the pasta was boiling, I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil with a little bit of a lemon pepper rub (Dizzy Pig Shakin’ the Tree). Once the pasta and shrimp were done, I drained the pasta and dumped all the ingredients into the pot with the pasta. After a stir and a generous crank of salt and pepper it was time to eat.

I served this  dish with a hunk of bread and olive oil dipping sauce. At one point I said, “Mmm…I love carbs.” aloud. We’re happy to have another pasta dish worth repeating (over and over again) in our repertoire!

Pasta with Shrimp, Arugula and Prosciutto
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1/2 pound pasta (half box) pasta, penne, corkscrew, etc.
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Seasoning of your choice for the shrimp (salt and pepper, lemon pepper, etc)
1/4 pound thinly sliced proscuitto, chopped
3/4 to 1 pound arugula, stems removed, chopped roughly (I used about 1/2 of a clamshell container)
1/2 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano
3/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 quarter lemon, squeezed
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain pasta.

While pasta is cooking, sautee shrimp over medium high heat with olive oil and seasoning of your choice. This should take about 3-4 minutes, total.

Return pasta to pot and toss with prosciutto, shrimp, arugula, cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of the pasta water if it seems dry.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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Before I even get started on the recipe portion of this post, let’s talk about the current status of Bakin’ and Eggs. I am the first to admit that my posts have been few and far between. My schedule has been so insanely busy lately that I just haven’t had time to get in the kitchen and cook new recipes to blog about. We’ve been turning to a lot of old favorites and quick meals that while healthy and delicious, aren’t really blog-worthy. Perhaps the most sad of all is how little time I have had to bake lately. I really miss it. What time I do have, I’ve been putting towards updating my healthy living blog, Peanut Butter Runner.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. If you’ll just stick with me, I promise that I will resume to posting 3-5 recipes per week again soon. I am so ready to get back in the kitchen.

Now, on to the dip. I’m not the best when it comes to appetizer ideas. Give me a cheese plate and I’m a happy girl. We had friends over for dinner last night and I wanted to serve an easy, healthy, make-ahead appetizer. I thought of making hummus but while I still love to eat it, I’m a little over serving it to guests. I found this recipe for White Bean Dip from Giada and thought that it sounded like a great alternative to hummus.

The dip was so super simple to make and ready in under five minutes. It’s just a puree of white beans, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. If you wanted to mix it up, I think that it would also be great with basil instead of parsley. I served it with mixed veggies and pita chips. It was a perfect make-ahead summer appetizer!

White Bean Dip
(Recipe source Giada de Laurentiis)

Ingredients:
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 garlic cloves (depending on how much punch you want to pack!), peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and parsley in a food processor or blender. Pulse or blend until the mixture is pretty smooth but still has some texture. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a small bowl and garnish with fresh herbs.

Yield: 6 servings

 

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Herbs de Provence is one of my favorite spices but I don’t find many opportunities to use it. I ran across this recipe for Herb-Rubbed Chicken with Creamy Orzo on Annie’s Eats a few years ago and have been making variations of it ever since.

This is a simple dish to prepare because the chicken and orzo cook in the same pan. The original recipe includes broccoli in the pan with the chicken and orzo but I find that I prefer it roasted on the side. If you feel inclined to make it a one-pan dinner, throw the broccoli in there! (Side note, if you haven’t tried roasted broccoli yet, you must. It’s life changing.)

I really like recipes where chicken is braised in liquid. It’s a fool-proof, forgiving method for getting juicy, perfectly cooked chicken. The original recipe includes heavy cream but think all the other flavors are so great that I don’t need more than just a sprinkle of parmesan at the end.

Herbs de Provence Chicken with Orzo
(Recipe inspired by Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:

2-3 chicken breasts
2 teaspoons herbs de provence
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup chicken stock
Freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Season chicken with salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Set aside.

Preheat a large sautee pan (with a lid) over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add chicken and let cook for about 5 minutes until browned on one side. Remove chicken from pan and add orzo, tomatoes and chicken broth. Stir and return chicken to pan, browned side up. Cover and let cook over medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes or until orzo is tender and internal temperature of chicken reads 160 degrees.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve.

Yield: 2-3 servings

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If you’ve been reading for a while then you might be familiar with my tendency to create a recipe including things like feta, spinach, sundried tomatoes and kalamata olives and call it Greek. Case in point – Greek Pasta, Greek Chicken Breasts and Greek Inspired Flounder. Actually, there are 11 recipes in my “Greek” category…right up there with the 12 in the “Italian” category. We just love foods with Mediterranean flavors!

Brandon and I were enjoying happy hour at our local brewery last night and brainstorming ideas for dinner. I remembered seeing feta and spinach turkey burgers on Jenna’s blog this week and I mentioned making an amped-up version of those. Brandon is always up for a good burger so he happily went along with the plan.

We prefer ground chicken over turkey so we started with that as our base. I pretty much went through the fridge and pantry and added in anything that I thought went with my Greek chicken burger theme. We ended up mixing in sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, spinach, feta, parsley and oregano. I made a spin on tzatziki sauce to accompany the burgers.

These “on the fly” burgers totally ended up exceeding our expectations. After all the mix-ins, this was definitely not your average boring chicken burger. They were so easy to make and full of flavor.  I cooked them inside in a skillet but I’m sure they would be great grilled too.

One Year Ago: Mini Quiche (and dinner at Top Chef Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant!)
Two Years Ago: Lady Strawberry Cake

Greek Chicken Burgers
(Recipe inspired by Eat, Live, Run)

Ingredients:

FOR THE BURGERS
1 pound ground chicken
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 -2 tablespoons fresh)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
A few cranks of freshly ground pepper

FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon olive oil
Squeeze of lemon juice (maybe 1 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
Salt, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together ingredients for the sauce. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the burger ingredients and mix together (it’s easiest to use your hands here). Form into four patties. The mixture will feel pretty wet and like it’s going to fall apart but it will firm as it cooks.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little oil and burgers. Cook about 6-8 minutes per side or until internal temperature reads at least 160 degrees in the thickest part of the burger.

Serve on toasted, buttered buns with sauce, lettuce and tomato. Top with extra feta if desired.

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I discovered this beer bread recipe several years ago on the now defunct blog, Good Things Catered. I’d never made (or heard of) beer bread before and was amazed by how easy and delicious it was. Somehow I forgot about this recipe until recently. I was looking for an alternative to cornbread to serve with chili when we had friends over for dinner and remembered this beer bread. It was a huge hit with everyone and I have now served it to two different groups of company and received raved reviews from both groups.

The best thing about this bread is how easy it is to prepare. It has a short ingredient list, is assembled in one bowl and in the oven in five minutes. Also, the house smells amazing while it is cooking. I have made a couple of modifications to the original recipe and am posting my version below. Note,  I cannot link to the original recipe because the blog has been removed.

Please make this beer bread this winter and let me know what you think! I’m willing to bet it will become a favorite!

One Year Ago: Spicy Black Bean Soup
Two Years Ago: Cinnamon Rolls (YUM!)

Cheesy Beer Quick Bread
(Recipe adapted from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
A sprinkle of your choice of fresh or dried herbs, we like rosemary, chives, thyme, etc.
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar (or feel free to substitute other cheeses)
12 ounce bottle or can of beer (you could get fancy with this and use a lager or stout or you could be like me and save your good stuff. and use the random bottle of Bud Light you find in your fridge)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic and herbs. Add cheese and whisk to combine. Slowly add beer to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Dough should be thick. Knead dough a couple of times until it comes together.

Place dough in prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

Yield: 8 servings


 

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Recently, I’ve had the baking bug. I attribute it to our staying in town on the weekends. We went through a four-week stint where we traveled every weekend. All of that traveling made my weeks crazy trying to cram everything in and prepare for the next weekend’s travel. I have loved being home on the weekends and back in the kitchen. Over the last couple weeks I’ve baked pumpkin chocolate chip bars, homemade crackers, peanut butter chocolate chip bars, pita bread (twice!) and these muffins.

The inspiration from these muffins came from a can of Libby’s pumpkin puree in my pantry that was calling my name. I came home one night and it was rainy and cool. I immediately headed to the kitchen and started paging through my favorite cookbooks for pumpkin muffin recipes. I found a Pumpkin Apple Bread recipe in The Gourmet Cookbook and decided to adapt it to be a bit healthier and muffin form.

The modifications I made included halving the recipe, subbing some of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat, reducing the sugar, cutting back on some of the oil in favor of applesauce and omitting the streusel-like topping in favor of a small sprinkle of brown sugar and cinnamon. The muffins turned out great, even with the modifications! Usually Brandon can immediately tell when I’ve “healthified” things but he was totally on board with these and ate them every morning for breakfast.

I think my favorite thing about these muffins is the addition of  diced apple. How perfect is it that this recipe includes two of the best Fall baking ingredients!? These are a great change from my normal banana muffins and I will be baking them again this season!

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Pumpkin Apple Muffins
(Recipe heavily adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Very small pinch of cloves (1/8 teaspoon)
1/2 (of a 15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
Extra brown sugar and cinnamon to sprinkle over the muffins before baking

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with liners (or cooking spray).

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a separate medium bowl, mix together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, sugar and eggs. Add wet mixture to flour mixture and stir until combined. Fold in apples.

Divide batter between muffin tins, filling about 3/4 (or a tad more) full. Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the tops of muffins. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. Muffins will keep for 3-5 days out or freeze well for a couple of months.

Yield: 12 muffins

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We have been so on the go lately and with our busy schedules the weekly menu plan has kind of gone by the wayside. We are finally back on a normal schedule and I was so happy to sit down this morning to plan the week’s menu and make the grocery trip. One of the first things that I do when I’m menu planning is check the store specials. I knew I wanted fish tonight and saw that they were offering rainbow trout at a great price. A quick search on Epicurious led me to this recipe for Sauteed Trout with Pecans.

I made some modifications to the original recipe. First, it called for an obscene amount of butter. I greatly reduced the butter with no detriment to the flavor of the dish. Second, after reading some of the online recipe reviews, I decided to add a bit of brown sugar to the pecans. I loved the hint of sweetness it gave the nuts.

This dish took less than 15 minutes to prepare. It was so simple but provided a lovely Sunday dinner when served alongside brown rice pilaf, green beans and ciabatta. I would have no problem serving this dish to dinner guests. Another win from Gourmet magazine – you just can’t go wrong with their recipes. This would have been a great dish for 68 Days of Gourmet!

One Year Ago: Malted Ice Cream Sundae Pie

Sauteed Trout with Pecans
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, January 2008)

Ingredients:

2 trout fillets with skin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Directions:

Pat fish fillets dry and rub flesh sides with cayenne, teaspoon salt and pepper. Dredge in flour to coat both sides and shake off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Cook trout, skin side down, until skin is golden-brown, about 4 minutes. Turn fish over and cook until just cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and keep warm, loosely covered with foil.

Pour off butter from skillet and wipe clean. Cook pecans with remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and brown sugar, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley and spoon over trout.

Yield: 2 servings

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I am loving peach season this year. The South Carolina peaches that we are getting in Charlotte seem extra sweet and have the perfect texture. As a result, there has been an endless supply of peaches in our house. I just can’t stop buying them because I know the season will be over soon.

I made a peach cobbler a few weeks ago and have been eating peaches plain, with yogurt and in my oatmeal. I was thinking of new ways to serve the peaches and remembered that I’ve been wanting to try them grilled. I added them to the dinner menu one night when we were planning on grilling pork tenderloin. My original plan was to serve them alongside the pork but Brandon convinced me to have them for dessert topped with ice cream instead. I have a really hard time saying no to the idea of topping anything with ice cream! ;)

We really enjoyed the grilled peaches. The brown sugar and cinnamon caramelize on the peaches and they get a very slight smoke flavor. This recipe would be a perfect side item or dessert.I will definitely be asking Brandon to throw some peaches on the grill again before peach season ends!

One Year Ago: Blueberry Peach Crisp

Grilled Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Glazed Peaches
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 peaches
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat grill to medium. Cut peaches in half, twist to separate and remove the pit. Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Brush peach halves with vegetable oil and grill (cut sides down) for 3-4 minutes with the lid down. Flip peaches over so that cut side is exposed and sprinkle with brown sugar/cinnamon mixture. Grill for another 3-4 minutes, lid down, until brown sugar mixture has caramelized.

Serve as is or top with ice cream and sprinkle with more brown sugar.

Yield: 2 servings

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I came up with the idea for this dish when I was desperately hungry in the grocery store tonight at 8 p.m. after a yoga class that nearly was the end of me. I planned on making sauteed grouper but of course by that time at night the seafood counter was down to one last sad fillet that was not coming home with me.

I picked up a few organic chicken breasts and decided to make Brie and Apricot Chicken with Almonds. Then I realized that I didn’t have apricot preserves and brie was going to run me at least six dollars. I started brainstorming ideas for what I could make with what was in my fridge.

And that’s how these delicious Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts were born. I had all the ingredients on hand at home to make a Greek-inspired chicken dish. Rather than stuffing the chicken breasts, I took the lazy way out and made a tasty topping. It worked perfectly. The topping added so much flavor to the chicken. I pounded the chicken out thin to ensure that it cooked quickly, evenly and stayed tender and juicy.

I served the chicken with quick cooking couscous and green beans. This was a very simple meal for a weeknight that was on the table in less than 20 minutes. Both of us really enjoyed this dish and I will be adding it to my quick weeknight dinner repertoire.

One Year Ago: Broiled Blue Cheese and Bacon Tomatoes

Sauteed Greek Chicken Breasts
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, rinsed, trimmed and patted dry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion,finely diced (or one small onion)
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon (total) fresh basil and/or oregano, minced (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried)
2 ounces feta, crumbled

Directions:

Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag or between two sheets of wax paper and pound to about 1/4-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour flour into a shallow dish and season with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in the flour and shake off excess.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Place chicken in oil and saute about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and internal temperature is 160 degrees. Remove chicken from skillet and let rest on a plate, loosely covered with foil.

Add onion to skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic, olives and sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute or two. Add broth and a squeeze of lemon and stir, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in fresh herbs and feta and spoon mixture over chicken.

Yield: 2 servings

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This recipe has been starred in my Google reader since October 3, 2009. Every time I scrolled through my starred recipes I would think, “oh that looks good, I need to make it soon.” And it finally made it on to the menu plan this week! Artichokes are one of my all-time favorite “special” vegetables and stuffing a burger with artichokes and cheese just sounded perfect.

The verdict? I am glad that I made these burgers nine months after originally staring them! They were an awesome change from traditional burgers. The original recipe used fontina but suggested subbing feta. I had a big block of feta in the fridge so I went with that. The feta was delicious!

The only negative about the burgers is that they were a little hard to work with. The turkey was difficult to shape – the mixture seemed really wet. Brandon was concerned about getting them on the grill but they ended up grilling nicely and firming up.

Overall, I would recommend these burgers to anyone looking for a twist on traditional burgers or looking for a lower fat (or red meatless) option. We might try the burgers with ground chicken next time!

One Year Ago: Strawberry (or Cherry) Muffins

Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers
(Recipe adapted from Proceed with Caution, originally from Good Things Catered)

Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 medium sweet onion, finely diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 artichoke hearts, quartered
4 ounces crumbled feta
4 burger buns

Directions:

Mix together turkey, onion, balsamic, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form three or four patties (depending on the size of your buns and keeping in mind that the burgers will cook down a bit on the grill). Place patties on a plate and remove the top third of them. Create a small well and place an artichoke heart quarter and one ounce of feta in the well. Replace the meat you removed on top of the filling and seal the edges.

Heat grill to medium. Cook burgers about 8-10 minutes per side, or until a thermometer registers at least 160 degrees. Be careful placing the burgers on the grill and try not to move them around much (so they keep their form).

Place on buns and serve.

Yield: 3 to 4 burgers

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