Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce

At the grocery store, I came across a bottle of roasted red pepper Italian dressing and thought it looked interesting. Unfortunately, it's a bit too strong to eat on lettuce, so I was left to figure out what I could make with it. A pasta sauce came to mind. It was delicious, if I do say so myself. The red pepper flavor came through clearly and complimented the marinara sauce beautifully.

Roasted Red Pepper Marinara Sauce
Serves 4
Cook & Prep Time - about 15 minutes

1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1 jar marinara sauce
1/4 cup roasted red pepper Italian dressing
3ish oz cream cheese
1 lb pasta (I used farfalle)

Cook the onions and garlic in the oil for a few minutes over medium heat, until the onions begin to soften and get translucent.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta to al dente. Drain & set aside.

Add the marinara sauce and red pepper dressing. Stir to combine. Add the cream cheese and let it melt for a few minutes. Once the cream cheese is soft, stir to combine until the cream cheese is mixed through.

Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Applesauce Bread

I love making quick breads. They're such easy things to whip up and they make a great breakfast or snack in the morning. My husband's mom makes applesauce muffins every once in a while, and they're always great, so when I came across this recipe for applesauce bread, I knew I had to make it straight away. I loved it. However, I felt like it was missing a little something so next time I make it, I'm going to add a bit of nutmeg or allspice to give it an extra kick. I halved the recipe to make only one loaf, but next time I will definitely make the full amount.

Applesauce Bread
Recipe from allrecipes, adapted
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 cups flour (I did 1/2 cup whole wheat and 1 cup all-purpose)
1 egg plus one egg white
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg or allspice
1 generous tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.

Dump all ingredients into a bowl and mix together until well combined.

Pour into a greased loaf pan and bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Cuban Sandwiches

I have to confess. I'm in love with a sandwich. Specifically, the Cuban sandwich. I don't know how I survived my nearly 30 years without them. If you've never tried one, you must. This was honestly one of the best things I've eaten in a while, and certainly the best sandwich I've had in a long time.

The Cuban sandwich is traditionally a pressed sandwich made with roasted, shredded pork, ham, cheese, mustard, and pickles. I tried a bit of my sandwich with pickles and some without and I very much preferred it without. But, I generally dislike pickles on sandwiches, so it was pretty much expected. However, I also generally dislike mustard, but I really liked mustard on this sandwich, so if you're like me, don't immediately write off the mustard.

Cubano Sandwich
Recipe by Tyler Florence, adapted
Makes 4 sandwiches
Prep Time - 10 min
Inactive Cook Time - 6 hrs
Active Cook Time - 10-15 min

1 lb boneless pork roast (I used country ribs)
salt & pepper
dried oregano
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup orange juice
1 lime, juiced
1 cup chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 Cuban rolls (baguettes would be good too)
Yellow mustard
12 slices Muenster cheese
8-12 slices deli ham
salt & pepper
pickle chips
canola oil

Spray the ceramic of your crock pot with cooking spray. Slice the onion and place at the bottom of your ceramic. Smash the garlic, peel off the skin, and add those, too.

Heat the oil and chili flakes in a skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Sear the meat for just a couple minutes per side. Place in the ceramic of your crock pot. Add the orange juice, chicken broth, lime juice, and bay leaves. Cook on low for about 6 hrs, or until the meat is tender enough to shred.

To prepare the sandwiches, cut the rolls in half. Put mustard on the bottom of the roll and put about 1 1/2 slices of cheese on top. Add a layer of pickle chips. Next add the pork. Season the pork with salt & pepper and drizzle a little bit of the cooking liquid over the top. Then 2-3 slices of ham, and then another 1 1/2 slices of cheese.

To cook, heat a large grill pan or cast iron skillet. Lightly coat with oil and place the sandwich(es) in the pan. Firmly press down with something heavy. Keep pressing and cook for about 5-7 minutes per side.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Roasted Chicken

I went to Frontera Grill in Chicago in May and I'm only half joking when I say that it kinda changed my life. I've been making lots of recipes from his cookbook "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" and while this Chicken Adobado wasn't my favorite, it was definitely the prettiest. That's not to say it's not good. It's really delicious and extremely tender. But, it's roasted chicken, which, in my opinion, really can only be so good. Of course, I still think you should make it. Just don't expect it to forever change the way you look at roasted chicken.

Since I got this recipe from an actual cookbook, I'm not going to re-print it here. Sorry. But you really should buy the cookbook anyway.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grandma's Zucchini Bread

Zucchini bread was one of my favorites when I was a kid, and nobody made it quite like my grandma. Well, truth be told, when I was a kid there were a lot of things nobody could make quite like my grandma could. This is my take on her recipe. I've tried to make it just a little healthier so you don't feel quite so bad about eating it.

Zucchini Bread
Grandma Ann's recipe, adapted
Makes 2 loaves

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
1/3 cup water
4 eggs
2 1/2 - 3 cups grated zucchini
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mix together the flours, salt, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, beat together the canola oil, water, eggs, and lemon juice. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add zucchini and applesauce and stir until combined.

Pour into pre-greased loaf pans and bake for 1 hr, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*If you want, you can eliminate some of the oil by swapping out an equal amount of oil for apple sauce. So, for example, if you only add 1/2 cup of oil, add 1/2 cup more of the applesauce, for a total of 3/4 cup.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tandoori Chicken

Don't you hate it when you need a small amount of something for a recipe, but end up having to buy a huge quantity of it because the store doesn't sell any other quantity? I recently found myself with a big tub of plain yogurt and had no idea what to do with it, aside from the half cup I needed for a stroganoff recipe. So, after I made the stroganoff, the yogurt sat in my fridge. Then, when I was looking through my recipes, I found a recipe for tandoori chicken that looked great. And it was. Even my husband, who previously thought he didn't like Indian food liked it.

Tandoori Chicken
Recipe adapted from several at Allrecipes
Serves 4
Prep Time - 10 minutes (plus marinading time)
Cook Time - 20 minutes

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ground cloves
8 chicken pieces, bone-in

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, lemon, onion, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, garam masala, cayenne, cumin, coriander, and cloves.

Rinse and pat dry the chicken. Cut a few small slits, lengthwise, into the chicken pieces and place them in a ziplock bag. Place the yogurt over the chicken and refrigerate for 6-24 hrs (generally longer is better).

About 30 minutes before you're going to cook the chicken, take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter.

Preheat your grill and lightly oil the grate. Take the chicken out of the bag and shake off any excess marinade. Cook the chicken until cooked through, turning a couple times, about 20-30 minutes.