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Archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 29

I feel terrible that I’ve been such a bad blogger this week. I started in the hole since I didn’t get to make my weekly menu and grocery shopping trip. It was a major pain to scramble every night to figure out what to have for dinner. Now we’re back in town and settled back into our routine.  I promise that I have lots of fun cooking and baking projects planned for this weekend that I can’t wait to share with everyone!

I was looking for something simple to make last night for dinner. I was browsing through the easy and healthy weeknight meals gallery on Epicurious and sent the link for this Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup recipe to Brandon. I was shocked when he said, “I’d eat that.” I still firmly believe that it’s only because this soup included sausage in the ingredient list! Also, kale is one of my grandmother’s signature dishes so Brandon has discovered that he loves it. I love using kale in recipes – it packs a HUGE nutrient punch. Check out this overview of the nutrients in boiled kale.

So back to my struggle with blogging and dinner this week…I work out pretty much every day after work. I usually don’t get home from my workout until after 7 p.m so if I haven’t planned dinner, it’s very challenging to make it happen. I’m very proud to share that it is extremely rare that we eat out on a weeknight. I always have something planned for dinner. I know I continue to harp on the importance of meal planning in advance but it makes a huge difference. I was stressed all week this week trying to pull together dinners and make time to get to the store.

On Monday Brandon and I went to a Vinyasa Basics yoga class at Y2 Yoga. It’s a newer yoga studio with smaller classes. I thought the class was pretty easy but it’s always nice to get back to the basics. Brandon enjoyed the class and got some great work in on perfecting the basic positions.

I planned on running with Sullie Tuesday after work but got stuck at work until 6:45. I still had to go to the grocery to get stuff for dinner (again, pre-planning people!) so by the time I got home at 7:30 I was hungry and cranky and it was freezing cold and dark. The run didn’t happen.

I set my alarm to get up and run Wednesday morning. Sullie is great motivation to get out of bed because she really needs the exercise and to get out of the apartment. We did an easy 3-miler but it was freezing – about 20 degrees and windy! Wednesday night I went to a power yoga class at Y2.

I planned on running today but got called at the last minute to sub BodyPump. Literally, at the last minute. I had to leave work a few minutes early to go home and grab my music, change and get to the gym. I hit terrible traffic and ended up being 10 minutes late to class. I felt terrible because I know how disappointing it is to have the workout you committed to cut short but hopefully all the push-ups we did made up for it! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill after.

So, hopefully I’ll be updating the blog A LOT more frequently and you won’t have to get a whole run down on my week in fitness in one post! I had this Kale and Potato soup for lunch today and it totally satisfied me for the whole afternoon! And I think the leftovers were even better today!

I made quite a few modifications to the original recipe. The original calls for only adding the kale in the last 5 minutes of cooking. There is no way it would have been done in that amount of time. We like our kale tender so I added it with the potatoes. Honestly, I didn’t  really follow the cooking directions at all for this recipe. I just did what made sense to me. But the soup turned out great and is an easy and nutritious weeknight dinner.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2009 – the last issue ever :( )

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chouriço or linguiça (smoked Portuguese sausages) or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (uh, I used kielbasa)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (2-3)
6 cups water or chicken broth (I used half and half)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, like Sriracha, for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic and continue to cook 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then add potatoes, water or chicken broth, kale, paprika and salt to taste to the pot.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until kale and potatoes are tender. Mash up some of the potatoes with the back of a fork to thicken the soup a bit. Taste and do a final season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Yield: 4 main course servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 25

I love black bean soup. It’s easy, healthy and hearty. It’s been so cold here lately so I thought black bean soup and cheese quesadillas would be a great dinner. This was my first time making this recipe and overall I was very pleased with it. I was hoping for a little more kick spiciness-wise but otherwise it was perfect. The leftovers were even more tasty the next day. This will definitely be in my regular soup rotation!

Spicy Black Bean Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, December 2008)
Printable Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh jalapeño (2 inches), seeded and minced
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 (19-ounces) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 cups water (I used half water/half chicken broth)
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf

Directions:

Heat oil in a 4-to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Saute onion and jalapeno for about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and saute for another 2-3 minutes. Add black beans, water and bay leaf and simmer, covered. Stir occasionally until soup has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender or food processor (I recommend a food processor – use caution when blending hot liquids!) and purée . Return to pot and heat, stirring frequently. Discard bay leaf. Season with salt and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 22

I didn’t plan on making this pork tenderloin recipe. It happened out of desperation. I originally planned on making this Fennel Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel Wedges. I bought all the ingredients for it and everything. Then I found out that my husband hates fennel – how did I never know that? I said “too bad, I’m making it anyway” but then the recipe would not load on Epicurious and it’s not in The Gourmet Cookbook. I looked everywhere online for it with no luck. It was 8:30 and I had to start something for dinner. I was hungry and cranky. I begged Brandon just to take it out and grill it but he refused…it was freezing out. I sulked off to The Gourmet Cookbook and began browsing through the pork tenderloin recipes. I was pleased to find Island Pork Tenderloin. It sounded like something we would love.

I will honestly say that I’m happy our original recipe didn’t happen because this Island Pork Tenderloin was wonderful. The spice rub is a great combination of warm flavors and the glaze is such a nice finish with brown sugar, hot sauce and garlic. Sounds strange but it totally worked. Also, I love recipes where I can start meat in a skillet and finish it in the oven. It frees me up to prepare the side items. I served this with roasted potatoes, salad and rolls.

Island Pork Tenderloin
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook)
Printable Recipe: Island Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

FOR PORK
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pork tenderloins (a little over 1 pound)
1 tablespoons olive oil

FOR GLAZE
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tablespoon hot sauce (Tabasco)

Directions:

FOR THE PORK
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I had my oven at 375 because of the potatoes. Just watched the internal temperature closely)

Stir together salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and cinnamon and coat pork with spice rub.

Heat oil in an ovenproof 12-inch heavy skillet over medium high heat until just beginning to smoke. Brown pork on all sides, about 4 minutes total. Remove from heat.

FOR THE GLAZE AND TO ROAST THE PORK
While the pork is browning, stir together brown sugar, garlic and hot sauce. Once you remove pork from heat, spread glaze onto top of each tenderloin. Roast in oven until thermometer inserted in center of  tenderloin registers 140 degrees, about 20 minutes. Tent with foil and let pork stand in skillet at room temperature 10 minutes. (Temperature will rise to about 150-155 while standing.) Slice and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 21

I have to admit that I had a mini-meltdown during menu planning this week. I was all over the place and couldn’t make a decision. Sometimes menu planning is so simple for me – it all just comes together. Other times – not so much.  I was just really over thinking it for some reason. While we were unpacking groceries, I was rambling off the menu selections for the week. Brandon seemed pretty pleased with his options so I guess I pulled it off.

We decided to keep it simple tonight with salad and a baked potato. But not just any salad…Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs. I flagged this one in The Gourmet Cookbook because a) Brandon loves bacon and b) he thinks pretty much any food is even more delicious topped with an egg. One of his recent favorites has been a fried egg on hamburgers. Extra protein?

I actually made several changes to this recipe but it still turned out fabulously. First, we don’t love frisee – we usually pick it out of the salad mix or its left uneaten on the plate. You can’t even buy it on its own at the grocery store  where we shop and I was not going to make  a special trip for it. I had some baby arugula mix in the fridge so decided to go with that. Second, I realized I was out of red wine vinegar so I used a splash of white wine vinegar and a splash of balsamic instead. And last, I opted to use my egg poacher rather than use the written method for poaching eggs.

I will definitely be making this salad again. How can you not love this combination? And the warm bacon dressing is amazing…although I had to put it in the back of my head that it was essentially bacon grease and vinegar. This is a great easy weeknight dinner paired with soup or a baked potato. It would also be an impressive first course for a dinner party.

Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs
(Recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, printed in Gourmet February 1999)
Printable Recipe: Frisee Salad with Lardons and Poached Eggs

Ingredients:

1/2 pound frisée (French curly endive)
6 ounces slab bacon or thick-cut bacon slices (about 6 slices)
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons shallot, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Directions:

Tear frisee into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. If using slab bacon, cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices. Then cut bacon slices crosswise into 1/4 inch thick strips (these are your lardons).

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, stirring occasionally. Remove skillet from heat when bacon is golden and beginning to crisp. Set skillet aside.

In another skillet, place 1 inch of warm water and set aside. Fill up a 4-quart saucepan halfway with water and stir in white vinegar. Bring liquid to a simmer. Break each egg into a teacup one at a time and slide into simmering liquid. Immediately push white around yolk with a slotted spoon, working gently. Egg should be oval in shape and yolk should be completely covered by white. Using the same method, add the remaining 3 eggs. Simmer eggs for about 1 1/2 minutes for runny yolks up to about 3 minutes for firmer yolks. Immediately transfer eggs to skillet of warm water.

Reheat bacon in its skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for about 1 minute, stirring often. Add red wine vinegar and boil 5 seconds. Immediately pour hot dressing over frisée and toss with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide salad among 4 plates and top with drained poached eggs. Season eggs with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 19

I have said this before but I have to say it again. Weekly menu planning and shopping makes life so much easier. I have converted so many friends to this practice and believe me, it’s life changing. First, you save tons of stress by not having to worry about what to make for dinner and having time to make it to the store. Second, you save money by planning meals based on weekly specials and only making one trip. On average I spend between $65-$80 a week on our groceries. Whenever I go to the store for just one meal, I never leave without spending $20-$30. That would quickly add up if you were making nightly trips. Also, if you don’t already have a plan, there’s the added temptation to go out instead of cook.

All that said, tilapia was on sale for $3.99 a pound this week. It was just too good of a deal to pass up and tilapia is one of the few fish that I can get Brandon to eat without grumbling. I found this recipe on Epicurious and was surprised to see that it had received 456 reviews and had a 4-fork rating. It sounded like something we’d really enjoy. This recipe was so simple to make. You could have this on the table in 20 minutes – easy. The chili lime butter was so full of flavor and wonderful melted over the pan sauteed tilapia. Brandon told me at least 5 times during dinner that he loved this preparation and wanted to add it to the regular rotation. We also decided that the chili lime butter would be good melted over grilled flank or skirt steak.

Don’t be scared of the peppers in the butter. The flavors are very balanced and it’s not overly spicy. I had a couple bites with some kick but nothing too bad. The lime juice and zest really add a brightness to the dish. This is a great fish dish to add to your collection.

Chili Lime Tilapia
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 2003)

Ingredients:

FOR CHILI LIME BUTTER
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red), including seeds (I used jalapeno because it’s all I had)
1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR FISH
6 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

FOR THE CHILI LIME BUTTER
Mix together the butter, peppers, shallots, lime zest and juice and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE FISH
Rinse fish and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper and then dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Carefully place fish into skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until fish is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees.

TO SERVE
Serve each piece with a dollop of chili lime butter. The butter will melt and spread over the fish.

Yield: 6 servings
(I made the full recipe of butter and only 2 tilapia fillets. We had a little bit of leftover butter but not tons – we are fatties and it was delicious! We kept spreading more on! :) )

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 7

turkeychili

I mentioned a couple posts back that Brandon grilled a turkey breast on the Egg a couple weeks ago. I decided to make turkey chili with the leftovers since I knew a lot of people would be looking for ideas on what to do with leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

I found this recipe from Gourmet. It was extremely easy to put together and was ready in less than 30 minutes. I will say the chili was better the second day after the flavors had more of a chance to blend. This recipe is a good starting place and you can really adapt it to whatever you have on hand. I think it would be good with different types of beans and also with corn added in.

Turkey Chili
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2008)

Ingredients:

1 large white onion, diced
1 bell pepper (any color), diced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
2 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in juice or diced tomatoes
1 (19-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked turkey, shredded or chopped
Topping ideas: sour cream, sliced avocado, shredded cheese, hot sauce, crackers

Directions:

Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add onions and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until golden. Add spices and brown sugar and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. If you are using whole tomatoes, cut with kitchen shears in can before adding to pot. Add tomatoes, beans, water and salt and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.

Stir in turkey and cook for about an additional 5 minutes, until heated through.

Yield: 6 servings

turkeychili2

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 6

buttermilkbiscuit

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is cook a big breakfast. We usually either have waffles or pancakes and bacon or eggs, grits, biscuits and sausage or bacon. I’ve been trying different biscuit recipes the last couple months in an attempt to perfect my biscuit making skills. I figured I’d try one from Gourmet since I’m doing 68 Days of Gourmet.

Overall, I was pleased with how these buttermilk biscuits turned out. I loved the size of them and they were a nice mix of tender on the inside and sturdy on the outside. You could definitely make a breakfast sandwich biscuit out of these and they wouldn’t crumble or fall apart.

They were a nice accompaniment to our breakfast and very tasty topped with apple butter. Brandon has requested an egg and cheese biscuit tomorrow morning with the leftovers.

biscuitdough

Buttermilk Biscuits
(Recipe source Gourmet, June 2005)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon milk or cream for brushing tops of biscuits

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Sift together twice flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Blend in butter with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk and stir with a fork until dough just forms (dough will be moist). Do not over mix.

Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead gently 6 times with floured hands. Pat out dough into an 8- by 5 1/2-inch rectangle, reflouring work surface if necessary. Using a floured knife, cut rectangle in half lengthwise, then into thirds crosswise to form 6 (2 1/2-inch) squares. Using a spatula, transfer biscuits to an ungreased baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each biscuit. Brush tops with milk or cream and bake on middle rack until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.

Yield: 6 biscuits

biscuitapplebutter

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