Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

I am trying to convince myself that there are really only 5 work days that stand between another weekend.  For some reason, I know that doesn’t mean anything.  These days the weekend doesn’t mean no work – it just means that I am not at work, and I guess if I think back to 16 years ago, before I had a laptop, when I had work to do – I actually had to drive to work.  It was a different world back then.  In a way, even though work never stops anymore, at least I am not wasting hours away sitting in the car.

When I think back to those times, I remember what I used to do about meal planning.  This was before kids – and my husband worked just as much as I did.  We would usually make it home around 8pm most nights, sometimes even later – and at that time, I couldn’t start making dinner from scratch. So – Sundays was my “cooking day.”  I would make 2-3 meals that I could put in the refrigerator and just stick in the oven when I got home.  In about 30 minutes, I would have a delicious meal for us – while I was sitting on the coach watching TV.  It was awesome.  This was also before the Big Green Egg.  We ate a lot of one dish meals back then – and we loved them.  I would usually make one casserole with rice, and one with pasta.  If I had enough time, I would also make a hearty soup.  When we ran out of the meals I had prepared, then we would order take out…but some weeks we had plenty to last until the weekend.

One of the dishes I used to make was a chicken-noodle casserole.  Each week it was slightly different – but always healthy, and always with fresh vegetables.  When I saw this recipe in Cooking Light - it reminded me of those days.  Now I am just too busy on the weekends to prepare meals for the week – and my husband actually does it for me – he will smoke up some extra chicken breasts or pork, that I will use in my recipes during the week.  It is definitely a huge time saver.

This mac-n-cheese was a huge hit – and it covered all the food groups.  For less than 400 calories a serving, you cannot go wrong.  And hey, it was awesome warmed up the next day.  So – even if you don’t have your act together to make your meals ahead of time – this one will feed a crowd…so enjoy the leftovers – particularly when it is warming up in the oven, and you are sitting on the couch recovering from the day, instead of slaving over a hot stove…

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 1/4 cups)

Preparation

Preheat broiler to high.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain.

While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon; reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Sprinkle chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add chicken to drippings in pan; cook 4 minutes. Sprinkle with garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with turmeric; cook 30 seconds, stirring frequently.

Combine remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt, milk, stock, and flour, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Add pasta mixture and 2 ounces cheese; toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining 3 ounces cheese and bacon. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken-Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

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Corn, Squash, and Green Onion Flatbreads

 

Corn, Squash, and Green Onion Flatbread

Less is more.  I keep trying to remind myself of that – although it is truly not the motto that normally I would quote.  Normally what goes through my mind comes from a very wise man in my life – my father-in-law – if it’s worth doing, it’s worth over doing…  Yes, unfortunately those are usually the words that describe my crazy life.  What can’t I just adopt less is more?  Maybe then I wouldn’t be so ridiculously exhausted.

It’s funny – eating is probably the only place in my life where that cute little three word saying makes absolute sense.  I have always subscribed to the everything in moderation theory.  I have never dieted in my life – I eat healthy, and I eat everything in moderation.  A little of this, a little of that – and I never deprive myself.  It seems to work for me, but I also exercise – I love being active, and then if I want to eat something, I do it – I just don’t overdo it.  I save that for everything in my life besides eating.

The other month I found this recipe in Cooking Light – it looked so fresh and simple, and it was on a piece of…wait for it…YES…NAAN!!!  I was immediately intrigued.  It seemed so obvious and simple, yet I never thought of it myself.  Isn’t that always the way?  Now that zucchini is in abundance, and fresh corn is easy to come by, I gave it a try.  It was super easy to make, and seriously, it was amazing.  My older daughter loved it almost as much as I did.  It really was the perfect lunch.  And look at it – with just a handful of ingredients – less really is more.  Less time, more substance.  What could be better?  I’ll tell you – if I could just adopt that technique everywhere.

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 (8.8-ounce) package whole-wheat tandoori naan bread
  • 8 green onions, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 (7-ounce) yellow squash, thinly sliced (about 1 1/3 cups)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2.5 ounces vegetarian part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 2/3 cup)
  • 2 ounces vegetarian fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

Preparation

Place rack in upper third of oven. Preheat to 400°.

Heat a grill pan over high heat. Lightly coat pan with cooking spray. Add naan; grill 1 minute on each side or until grill marks appear. Place naan on a baking sheet. Add onions to pan; grill 2 minutes, turning once.

Rub cut sides of garlic over top side of naan. Drizzle with 2 teaspoons oil. Layer squash over naan, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle corn over squash; top with onions. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and salt; top with cheeses. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes. Turn broiler on (do not remove flatbreads from oven); broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and thyme. Cut each flatbread into 4 pieces.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Corn, Squash, and Green Onion Flatbreads

Bacon and Leek Risotto

 

Bacon and Leek Risotto

It is hard to be on a treadmill day after day, not feeling like you are actually getting anywhere.  There is so much going on at work these days, I take one step forward, and two steps back.  I told my team a little secret yesterday…sometimes I go home and make myself a list of things to do – just so I can check things off and feel like I have accomplished something.  Yep, I have a problem.

Fortunately I finally figured out my blog problem.  I have to say, I love WordPress, I have had very little issues with them.  Super easy to use, very easy to get help – but this one really baffled me.  For some reason when I looked at my post, I was looking at the code – not what it looks like on the other side.  Well, once I actually was coherent and spent a few minutes thinking about it – I realized there were two tabs on the upper right hand side – “Visual” and “Text”.  It somehow switched to “Text” and when I switched it to “Visual” the code disappeared.  The menu bars were still not the same, and either was the picture, but I figured out I had to click the “Toolbar Toggle” – and then edit the picture and make it bigger.  Whew.  I felt a whole lot better afterwards – like I really had accomplished a lot.  I love that feeling.

So I have mentioned the market basket that we started getting on Thursdays – it seriously is one of the highlights of my week.  Not only am I amazed at what they stick in there week after week, it gives me another opportunity to feel like I am accomplishing something.  If I can use up everything in that basket every week – that is quite a feat.  I am finding myself thinking creatively about cooking again, and I love it.  The leeks have been beautiful lately – nice and big, and bursting with flavor.  I found this recipe in Cooking Light and decided that it was a risotto night – I needed to use up the leeks, and the sweet and smoky bacon that they had put in the basket – from my absolute favorite farm.  Maybe it was the ingredients that I used, but this risotto was over the top delicious.  For a weeknight dinner, it certainly felt special.  Like I had finally gotten off the treadmill and actually ran a mile.  For once, it felt good to run back…

Ingredients

  • 5 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 bacon slices
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced leek (about 4 large)
  • 1/2 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Bring stock and 2 cups water to a simmer in a medium saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add leek, shallots, thyme, and garlic to pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in rice; cook 2 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup stock mixture; cook 5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Reserve 1/3 cup stock mixture. Add remaining stock mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly until liquid is absorbed before adding more (about 25 minutes total). Stir in lemon juice, butter, pepper, salt, and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Remove pan from heat. Stir in reserved 1/3 cup stock mixture. Sprinkle with reserved bacon and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Bacon and Leek Risotto

Garlicky Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Bacon

Garlicky Grilled Cheese

I feel like I should have a column on my blog called “Sunday Lunches” – maybe it would get me to do this more often.  I swear, I love having a plan for lunch on Sunday.  This is now about the 4th time I have actually decided to make something out of the ordinary for lunch, and the girls and I are having a ton of fun with it.

Grilled cheese is definitely a staple in this house.  It started out many years ago – before my husband and I were married, but we lived together.  Sometimes he needed a snack after dinner – in those days it was not uncommon for us to eat dinner, and then go do something – or he would run back to the lab for more work.  It wasn’t a mid-night snack, but he would often need something before he went to sleep – and he always turned to his toasted cheese sandwiches.  He loved cheese more than anyone I knew.  It was his 5th food group.  He would toast some bread, throw some cheese on it, stick it in the microwave for just a few seconds, just enough for the cheese to melt, then he would put it together – and there he had his perfect toasted cheese sandwich – no grilling necessary.

Over the past few years, that has stopped as he has given up dairy – but recently the girls have started having that as their Sunday lunch.  At first they balked at a toasted cheese sandwich – they claimed the bread would get soggy – but he showed them exactly the way to make it, and even they were impressed.

Well, that’s good and all, but nothing is better than a good old fashioned grilled cheese sandwich – and this recipe from Cooking Light was just about as good as it gets.  Adding in the spinach and bacon – wow.  Even my older daughter was fine with the greens, because everything else about the sandwich was so darn delicious.  So there you have it – another Sunday lunch.  This might just be the last, seriously, what could top this?

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2  large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 4 cups baby arugula leaves
  • 4  center-cut bacon slices, halved
  • 8  (1-ounce) rustic Italian bread slices
  • 2 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

Preparation

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add spinach and arugula; stir until wilted. Remove spinach mixture from pan. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook until crisp. Remove bacon.

Top 4 bread slices evenly with cheeses, bacon pieces, spinach mixture, and the remaining 4 bread slices.

Heat pan over medium heat. Add sandwiches to drippings in pan; weigh down with a plate. Cook 2 minutes on each side.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Garlicky Grilled Cheese with Spinach and Bacon

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

Returning from vacation is no fun.  Normally it is bad, but this time I literally felt like I jumped into a deep pool of cold water – I can hardly catch my breath.  I am just hoping that Friday gets here quickly – I am definitely looking forward to getting back to the kitchen – although I haven’t had a minute to think about what I will make.  That is a good problem to have.

We ate extremely well last week – so well, that when I went to the cafeteria yesterday (I actually had 10 minutes of free time to run downstairs), nothing looked appetizing.  I hate that.  I ended up with a salad – which worked out fine – but as I walked upstairs, I thought about the amazing Asparagus Souffle I had for lunch the previous Monday.  Every bite was perfect – and just melted in my mouth.  I can’t wait to go back for more.

Before we left on vacation, my husband was travelling for work – which means break out the pasta and the dairy.  This time I let the girls make all the decisions, and I must say they did quite well picking out our dinners – this one from Cooking Light.  Chicken Tetrazzini is one of those dishes that I often crave.  There is nothing quite like a big casserole of noodles, chicken and a tasty white creamy sauce.  The girls were not thrilled with the peas, but they ate most of them anyway because the rest of the dish was so delicious.  This was a little more involved than I thought it would be – but completely worth it.  The best part, this definitely serves a crowd – we invited our neighbors over at the last minute, and we still had leftovers.  Exactly what I could use this week…

Ingredients

  • 10 ounce uncooked linguine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk
  • 2.5 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 ounces French bread baguette, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add stock and milk; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cream cheese, salt, and pepper.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add onion, garlic, and thyme; sauté 3 minutes. Add wine; cook 1 minute. Combine milk mixture, mushroom mixture, pasta, chicken, and peas; toss to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil. Process until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano; sprinkle evenly over pasta. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Top with parsley.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chicken Tetrazzini

Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Even since I made this for lunch many weeks ago, I have been trying to do something a little more special for lunch on Sundays.  It used to be that Sunday was my big day to cook a grand meal.  But then the Big Green Egg came along, and we have renamed Sunday “Egg Day.”  Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to “Egg Day” each week, but it has finally caught up to me that I miss my cooking day.  Baking stuff for the kid’s lunches is great, and making breakfast treats is awesome, but I miss making that one big meal that you can sit down and really be proud of.

I am not sure how it happened, but all of a sudden I started focusing on Sunday lunches.  It used to be that every Sunday I would just eat leftovers, or make myself an egg sandwich.  Usually I exercise in the morning, so by lunch I am craving some protein – and an egg sandwich hits the spot.  So instead of egg sandwiches, I started thinking about other egg dishes that would hit the spot.  I found this recipe a while ago in Cooking Light, and have been waiting until asparagus season to try it out.  I was actually waiting to make this for dinner one night – but wouldn’t it be an even better lunch?  Of course!

As I was preparing my dish, my younger daughter looked over at what I was doing with intrigue.  I asked her what she wanted to for lunch, and she quickly said, “whatever you are making!”  I loved it.  She was so excited to have her own beautiful Sunday lunch.  We felt like we were eating at a restaurant.  We both gobbled this down so quickly, I could have eaten two portions.  Scraping up that yolk with the asparagus, and then taking a bite of toast was just plain gleeful.  I can hardly wait for next Sunday…not just for dinner, but for lunch too.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice, divided
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
  • 1 1/2 ounces kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 12  (1/2-ounce) slices whole-wheat baguette
  • 6  large eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Preparation

Preheat broiler to high.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; keep warm.

Combine rind, 2 tablespoons orange juice, 2 tablespoons oil, and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

Place remaining 1 tablespoon orange juice, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, capers, fennel seeds, olives, and garlic in a food processor; process until finely chopped.

Place baguette slices on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until golden, turning after 1 minute.

Add water to a large skillet, filling two-thirds full; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar. Break each egg into a custard cup. Gently pour eggs into pan; cook 3 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Carefully remove eggs from pan using a slotted spoon.

Spread tapenade evenly onto toasts; place 2 toasts on each of 6 plates. Drizzle asparagus with dressing, tossing gently to coat. Divide asparagus evenly among plates. Top asparagus with 1 poached egg; sprinkle eggs evenly with pepper and salt. Serve immediately.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Asparagus Salad with Poached Eggs and Tapenade Toasts

Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

The days are getting longer.  Yes, that is exactly how I think about it.  Daylight Savings Time is not my friend.  In the fall, it is a completely different story – you get an extra hour of sleep, everything is peachy.  Plus, I actually love when it gets dark at 4pm in the afternoon, there is something very appealing to me.  I think it is because it seems like it should be so much later when it is dark, but you have hours left in the day.  Last weekend really messed me up – I have been exhausted all week – and as I am typing away, I really should be getting some sleep, as I have a 4am conference call tomorrow.  As if my internal clock isn’t already messed up enough.

There is something positive though about longer days…and it all comes back to this blog.  When I started this blog, I went out and got a painter’s light so I could take pictures before dinner (when it was dark), and I would still capture some good shots.  Over the years though life has become just too hectic – and last year, with my New Year’s resolution to simplify (which I tried extremely hard to do, but it never seems to be enough), I decided I would no longer go through the hassle.  Taking pictures outside is much easier and less time consuming.  Easier said then done.  What that means is that half the year, I can only make things on the weekend to post – and they need to be photographed while there is still light in the sky.  At least my family no longer waits for me to take pictures before we eat dinner.

Longer days means taking pictures after I make a weeknight meal – I love it.  Last night I was so excited to run a bowl of soup outside and snap a few shots before sitting down – I felt like I accomplished that much more in my evening.  After all – this very easy soup that I found in Cooking Light was definitely worth photographing.  I took one taste, and I knew it was a keeper.  I love a good meal in a bowl – and this was definitely satisfying.  I must say – do not skip the cilantro – it made the entire dish sing.

So, maybe longer days means I can be more productive.  But seriously, is that really what I need right now?  Just a good bowl of soup and some sleep – now that’s more like it.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped seeded poblano pepper
  • 1 ounce smoked Spanish chorizo, finely chopped
  • 4 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can unsalted diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2  corn tortillas, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 12 ounces 93% lean ground turkey
  • 1  large egg
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preparation

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add onion, poblano, and chorizo; sauté 2 minutes. Add stock and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Stir in tortillas.

Combine 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, and next 4 ingredients (through egg). Shape turkey mixture into 12 meatballs. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs; cook 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add meatballs, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and corn to stock mixture, and simmer 5 minutes. Top with cilantro.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Tortilla Soup with Chorizo and Turkey Meatballs

Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Lunch has never been my favorite meal and I think I know why.  At home on the weekends, it seems to be more of a chore than anything else.  The girls are usually not starving, because they had a late breakfast – and they never know what to eat.  If it were up to them they would have a brunch every day – with eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc…  At work, although I am starving, I have to force myself to get to the cafeteria just to get something healthy in my body.  Then I just march back up the five flights of stairs just to sit in my office and eat while I catch up on email.  How is that healthy?

When I am traveling in Europe it is completely different.  Even when I am in the office we take the time to go to the cafeteria and sit down and eat – that is if we don’t get out of the building and eat somewhere else.  Even when we have meetings, we take the time to have lunch.  When I studied there during college, I remember that was the only meal that I didn’t eat with my French family – that was their family time – the kids left school to go home for lunch, and that was the big meal of the day.  It makes sense – you have hours to burn off the food and then you eat a light dinner before going to bed.

When I am home on the weekends, my go-to-lunch is an egg sandwich.  I tend not to eat eggs for breakfast, but by lunch time that is exactly what I need.  I have been staring at the lentils in my pantry for quite a while now, when this recipe flew out of the stacked pile from Cooking Light.  A big light bulb went off in my head.  Instead of my typical egg sandwich, why not take the time to make this lentil salad that I can enjoy a few times this week, and cook a soft boiled egg to go on top – just like the beautiful picture next to the recipe.  I swear, it was calling me.

My egg was probably a little softer than the recipe called for – but it was perfect for me.  The yolk drizzled over the top of the arugula and the combination with the lentils was to die for.  By the time this was done, the girls had already eaten, and were upstairs – so I had the kitchen to myself.  It was almost luxurious – sitting there with my beautiful salad. Not having to get up and get something for someone.  I took my time, and savored every bite.  Now I can see why lunch is so appealing – if only life always quieted down during the middle of the day.  Keep dreaming…

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups dried petite green lentils
  • 6  large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 8 cups baby arugula

Preparation

Place lentils in a medium saucepan. Cover with water to 3 inches above lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain and keep warm.

Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 3 inches; bring to a boil. Add eggs; boil 5 minutes and 30 seconds. Drain. Plunge eggs into ice water; let stand 5 minutes. Drain and peel.

Combine oil, vinegar, mustard, garlic, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Set aside 2 tablespoons oil mixture. Add lentils, bell pepper, onions, and celery to remaining oil mixture; toss gently to coat. Place reserved 2 tablespoons oil mixture and arugula in a large bowl; toss to coat.

Place about 3/4 cup lentil mixture and about 1 cup arugula mixture on each of 6 plates. Cut eggs in half lengthwise; top each serving with 2 egg halves. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/8 teaspoon black pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Lentil Salad with Soft-Cooked Eggs

Pork Posole

Pork Posole

I have started trying something new on the weekends.  I have been very spoiled for some time now – my husband has a toy, it is called The Big Green Egg, and Sunday’s are egg day.  I am no longer responsible for Sunday night dinners, and haven’t been for a few years.  He has taken that responsibility (of course I help with the sides), and I have definitely been benefiting.  It allows me to focus on making jam and baking on Sunday, which is absolutely what I love to do.

The other weekend though I had a thought – cooking during the week is hard.  We cook every night (we are not a take out family, nor do we go to restaurants on school nights), and let me tell you – after being at work all day, it is hard to get home and then cook a meal from scratch every night.  Before we had kids – I would cook every weekend, for the entire week.  We worked even more back then, and when we got home at 8pm, we just wanted to be able to throw something in the oven, but still have a home cooked meal.  So why don’t I do more of that now?  Well, I have limited cooking time, and like I mentioned, I need to save some for jamming and baking.

So, I decided to make one meal over the weekend, that we could warm up later in the week – and I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and thought it would be perfect.  It was super easy to make, and it warmed up just perfectly.  I think it actually even had a better flavor after letting it sit in the refrigerator for a few days.  The pork was so ridiculously tender, and the hominy really softened up.  Let’s see if I can actually keep this going…and maybe add another meal in there at some point.  I can always dream.

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 ounces boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • 2 cups unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1  (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • avocado

Preparation

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add pork; sauté 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove pork from pan, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return pork to pan; stir in cumin and pepper. Add beer; bring to a boil. Cook until liquid almost evaporates (about 9 minutes).

Add chicken stock, salsa, and hominy; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 10 minutes or until pork is very tender, stirring occasionally. Ladle 1 1/3 cups soup into each of 4 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon cilantro and avocado.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Pork Posole

Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dal

This is going to be brief, but I need to share this recipe.  What a week – I can hardly believe it is almost over.  I really feel like I blinked, and it went from Monday to Thursday night.  It didn’t help that I was in meetings pretty much all week, and have barely had a chance to catch my breath – and in the process came down with a nasty cold. My body was definitely trying to tell me something…maybe I just need some soup.

Fall came really quickly this year, and all of a sudden it became soup and stew weather.  Not only is it pretty easy to make (for the most part), you can make a large batch and it usually it gets better the longer it sits.  One of my favorite recipes to make when the weather turns is Dahl.  I just love Indian food – those wonderful flavors and spices all blended together, and Dahl is just super easy to make – particularly this recipe from Cooking Light.

We used to eat Indian food quite a bit, but with my husband’s dairy allergy we have really cut that out of our routine.  The girls also have not embraced Indian food as much as they have embraced other international flavors.  This dish though got them a little closer to asking for it – they both loved it, and even ate the large pieces of spinach.  Hopefully they will be able to ward off this cold – and I will be seeing some Indian food in my future….more soon.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 3/4 cup dried small red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2  serrano chiles, minced (optional)
  • 2 ounces spinach (about 4 cups loosely packed)

Preparation

To prepare dal, combine 3 cups water and lentils in a bowl. Let stand 20 minutes; drain.

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil; swirl to coat. Add the chopped onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add ginger and next 6 ingredients (through serranos); sauté for 30 seconds. Add lentils and remaining 2 cups water to pan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 23 minutes. Stir in spinach; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts.

To prepare salad, combine 2 tablespoons oil, rind, juice, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add carrot, sliced onion, and cilantro; toss to coat.

To prepare flatbreads, shape each dough portion into a 5-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Coat dough with cooking spray. Heat a grill pan over high heat. Add 2 dough portions to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly charred. Repeat the procedure with remaining dough. Combine coriander and 1/4 teaspoon salt; sprinkle over hot flatbreads. Serve with rice, dal, and salad.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Red Lentil Dahl

Red Lentil Dahl 2