Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

 

What an easy, fast dish!! The greatest amount of time is consumed chopping the pepper, onion and chicken. Super fast!! This is great on it’s own (as I had it) or over rice.  This will definately be made again soon.

Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Veggie Stir-Fry

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1.25 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces  
  • 1 lb sugar snap peas
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced  
  • 1/2 medium red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts  

Instructions:

  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients, whisk to combine and set aside.
  2. Heat a large wok or large heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tbsp oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the chicken and stir-fry for 4 minutes or until browned and done. Remove the chicken and add the other 1 tbsp oil to the wok and swirl to coat. Add the peas, pepper and onion and stir-fry until crisp-tender about 3 minutes. Stir in te brown sugar mixture and cook 1 minute or until thickened.  Stir in chicken, toss to coat. Sprinkle with green onion and peanuts.

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, September 2012 issue.

Makes 4 servings (without rice). Prep time: 10 minutes  Cooking time : 15 minutes.

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Ribollita a/k/a memory of Florence in a bowl.

I have an obsession with Florence. A serious one. Now that the weather is starting to get cooler I couldn’t wait to make this thick, delicious, healthy soup. It reminds me of the last time I visited Florence which was in February of this year. The winter is a great time to go, by the way, as it’s absolutely empty! Anyway this was the 2nd time that I dined at Antico Fattore (the first time was in Sept. 2010). They serve this soup there and I can’t get enough of it. This recipe is pretty close to what I get there but, as always, there’s something missing. Perhaps the ambiance of Florence. Perhaps a secret ingredient that the restaurant throws in. Who knows. But having a bowl of this brings me right back to the inside of a small and cozy restaurant on a small street on a cold night in the most enchanting city on earth. Enjoy!!

 

Notes: if you’re using dried beans you’ll need to give yourself 3 days to make this. If you’re using canned, 2 days.

Ribollita

  • 1/2 cup (4fl oz/125ml) extra virgin olive oil plus more for seasoning
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 zucchini (courgettes) coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup (6oz/185g) canned plum (Roma) tomatoes (I used San Marzano) chopped
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero (tuscan cabbage) or kale, tough center stalks removed and cut into thick strips
  • 1/2 head savoy cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups (21oz/655g) cooked cannellini beans (if using dried soaked overnight or canned rinsed)
  • Leaves from 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 day old coarse country bread, preferrably unsalted, toasted

Instructions:

  1. In a soup pot over medium heat, warm the 1/2 cup of olive oil.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, potatoes and zucchini and saute until the vegetables are softened-about 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and 4 cups (32 fl oz/1 l) water then add cavolo nero (or kale), savoy cabbage and spinach. Raise the heat to high, bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and let cook until the greens are tender-about 45 minutes.
  2. Stir in the beans and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes longer. Add the thyme leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The following day, preheat the oven to 350f. Line a 2qt (2l) baking dish with the toasted bread and ladle the soup over the top. Bake, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon so that the bread slices break apart and blend with the soup, 20-25 minutes. Continue baking without stirring until a lightly browned crust forms on the top of the soup-about 5-10 minutes.
  4. Serve at the table directly from the dish. Season generously with olive oil and pepper.

Makes 6-8 servings. Serve with a nice Chianti!!

I bought this gorgeous loaf of the house bread from my local Fairway and it was perfect for this!

From Williams-Sonoma Florence

Peperonata

What a delicious combination of onion, red pepper and tomato. I made this on Sunday morning and put it in the fridge to cool and then was invited to a friends house for some wine and apps.  I brought some with me and it was great chilled and put onto toasted pita wedges.  This can be served warm, cold or at room temperature and is so versatile! Put it on a sandwich or on a cracker or eat as a side salad…the list goes on an on. Such a fresh refreshing little salad.

Peperonata (Braised Sweet Peppers, Tomatoes and Onions)

Ingredients:

  • 1lb (500g) red bell peppers (capsicums), stems, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup (2fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tomatoes, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cut the bell peppers into 2 inch squares. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the peppers, olive oil, onion and bay leaves and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and have released their juices-about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer gently until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Serve warm or chilled.

Slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma Florence cookbook.

Torta di Mele con Creme All’Inglese (Apple Torte with Custard Cream)

 

A deliciously apply, dense cake. The chunks of apples give a lot of texture and the custard cream spooned over the top is absolutely delicious!!

A few notes: this is a dense cake. I’ve made it a few times and each time I put all of the apples into the batter I think I’ve forgotten some ingredient becuase it seems like there are way too many apples for batter. But it’s correct. Essentially it’s baked apples held together by a delicious batter.  In my oven this takes only 45 minutes to bake completely. I have an oven thermometer so I know the temp is correct.  The custard-don’t skip it!!! It really does enhance the flavor of the cake.  The recipe says only 7 minutes but it takes me way longer for the consistancy to be correct.  I also love that I only need a few things to make this-I dont have to use my Kitchen Aid mixer or anything-just a whisk and wooden spoon.  Not that I don’t love my KA, I do! But sometimes you just want it to be simple.

 

Look at those apple chunks!!

Torta di Mele con Creme All’Inglese (Apple Torte with Custard Cream)

Ingredients: For the torte

  • 2 1/2 cups (10oz/315g) cake (soft-wheat) flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup (4oz.125g) sugar
  • 2 tbps extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 lb (750g) cooking apples-such as Rome, Pink Lady or McIntosh, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks (think pinky nail size)

Ingredients: For the custard cream

  • 2&1/2 cups (20 fl oz/625 ml) whole milk
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup (2ox/6g) sugar
  • Zest of one lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350f.  Either oil and flour or spray a 9 inch springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.  In a separate larger bowl beat the eggs and sugar together until pale and creamy.  Add the olive oil, milk and vanilla and stir well to combine.  Use a wooden spoon to incorporate the flour mixture gradually into the egg mixture, stirring to form a thick batter. Stir in the apple chunks and pour into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, remove the outside of the pan and let cool.
  3. To make the custard cream, in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until small bubbles appear along the edges of the pan-about 5 minutes.  Note: it’s a good idea to take the milk out of the fridge for a bit before you start this so it doesn’t take the time on the stove to warm up from very cold.
  4. Meanwhile, in a non-reactive bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and lemon zest. Whisk until pale and creamy.
  5. Whisking constantly slowly add up to 1/2 cup of the warm milk to the egg mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the milk in the saucepan on the stove and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it-about 7 minutes. Do NOT let it boil. Remove the cream from the heat and stir for 2 more minutes. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. If chilling the cream cover it with plastic wrap pressing it down onto the entire top of the custart to avoid a skin. Refrigerate for 2 hours to 2 days.
  6. Transfer the torte to a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve warm or cold, topping each with a small amount of warm or cold custard cream.

Makes 1 9 inch torte.

From Williams Sonoma Florence cookbook.  One of the best cookbooks on the planet!!!!

Pancetta, Leek and Zucchini Fritatta

Is there really anything better than crispy pancetta? In my opinion-no.

This fritatta is delicious!!! I love the taste of the leeks, the crispy texture of the pancetta and the chunks of zucchini.

Make it!! Now!!

Pancetta, Leek and Zucchini Fritatta

Ingredients:

  • 8 very fresh large eggs
  • 1/3lb pancetta, thinly sliced and then cut into small strips
  • 4 leeks, white and pale green parts only
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • A few fresh basil leaves

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the broiler or the oven to 400f.
  2. In a bowl lightly beat the eggs until blended and season with pepper.
  3. Cut the leeks into rings crosswise, put them in a colander and rinse-separating rings-to remove any soil. They’re really dirty little buggers-clean them well. Drain well and pat dry.
  4. In a large frying pan over medium heat cook the pancetta to desired crispyness then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
  5. Add the olive oil and butter to the pancetta fat in the pan. Add the leeks and sautee until soft then add the zucchini and sautee until lightly golden. Add basil leaves when the zucchini is almost done
  6. Pour the eggs over the top and reduce the heat to low.
  7. Sprinkle the pancetta evenly over the top.
  8. Cook, occasionally running a spatula around the outside to keep it from sticking, until the sides and bottom are set but the center is still loose.
  9. Place pan under the broiler and cook until the top is firm and golden-about 5 minutes.

This can be served warm or cold. Depending on how large you slice it and which size pan you use you will have 4-8 servings. For me though-this made only 2 servigs as I was a pig and ate half.

Fresh Herbs!

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My girlfriend Tracy was kind enough to give me tons of fresh herbs from her garden this weekend! They’ve been all bagged up and put into the freezer for use later. Thanks Trace 🙂

Chicken Rollatini with Zucchini, Mozzarella and Pecorino Romano

 

I’ve made this dish a few times now and love it! The outside of the Rollatini is crispy, the inside creamy and tasty and the chicken comes out perfect every time! It’s important to buy super thin cutlets for this as they’re easier to roll, skush out less of the filling and lay more evenly in the pan. Do not use pre-shredded cheese here. Go and get yourself a nice wedge of Pecorino Romano. The recipe calls for part-skim mozzarella but you can certainly replace it with a gorgeous hand-made fresh mozzarella as well.

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Chicken Rollatini with Zucchini, Mozzarella and Pecorino Romano

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups (1 medium) zucchini, shredded
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp Pecornino Romano cheese (or parmesan)
  • 3 oz part skim shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 thin chicken cutlets, 3 oz each
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 lemon, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and fresh pepper
  • non-stick cooking spray 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Wash cutlets and pat dry, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Place a large skillet over med-high heat. When hot add oil and saute garlic until golden-about a minute. Add zucchini, 1/4 cup Romano cheese, salt and pepper and saute about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. When cool, add mozzarella cheese and mix to combine.
  4. Lightly spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.
  5. Combine breadcrumbs and grated cheese in one flat, wide bowl. In a second flat, wide bowl combine olive oil, lemon juice.
  6. Lay one cutlet down on and spread 3 tbsp of zucchini mixture on top. Roll it up and roll it in the same direction first through the lemon juice and olive oil then through the bread crumbs. (It’s important to roll it in the same direction so that the seam stays together.)  Then place the roll seam side down (no toothpicks needed) in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with all chicken. 
  7. When finished, lightly spray with oil spray.
  8. Bake 25 – 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Total time: 40 minutes.

Slightly adapted from SkinnyTaste

Cilantro Lime Rice

 

This rice is very very tasty and so super simple to make. Neither the lime nor the cilantro is overbearing and you can adjust them to your taste.

As you can see I served it with Barbacoa beef and corn salsa.  It was good on the side or in the tacos!

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup extra long grain rice or basmati rice
  • 1/2 lime, juice of
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
  • 3 tsp vegetable oil

Instructions:

  1. In a small heavy pot, add rice, water, 1 tsp oil and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off flame and keep covered an additional 5 minute.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, rice and remaining oil and toss until completely mixed.

From Skinnytaste

Corn Salsa with Lime

Wow! This salsa was delicious!! Light, cool and super flavorful!! A little sweet, a little tangy, a little spicy! It’s great on it’s own as a side or in the beef tacos I made with it.

Corn Salsa with Lime

Corn Salsa with Lime

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups (20 oz) cooked sweet yellow corn (either fresh or frozen)
  • 2 vine ripe tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 scallion, diced
  • 1-2 jalapeños, diced (remove seeds unless you like it really spicy)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 limes, juice of
  • chipotle chili powder, to taste
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients and refrigerate for about an hour. Makes about 6 cups.

From Gina at Skinnytaste

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Barbacoa Beef

 

You know why this is a crappy photo? Because for 4.5 hours I’d been smelling this beef cooking in the oven. Quite frankly I was in such a hurry to eat it that I didn’t care how the photo came out. I took a bite and took a picture. That should give you a clue about how awesome this smells. I have to tell you-it tastes even better.

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Barbacoa Beef

Ingredients: 

  • 3 lbs beef eye of round or bottom round roast, all fat trimmed
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1/2 lime, juice
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 cup fat free beef broth

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 275f.
  2. Place garlic, onion, lime juice, cumin, oregano, chipotles and cloves in a bowl and use immersion blender to liquify (or use blender or food processor).
  3. Trim all fat off of meat, cut into 4 large chunks. Place dutch oven on stove over med-high heat with 1 tsp oil and brown meat on all sides.  Add liquified spices, bay leaves and beef broth. Cook, covered, in oven 4 to 5 hours, checking every once in a while to make sure there’s enough liquid. Once cooked shred it with two forks, discard bay leaves and adjust seasoning to taste. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes to let the liquid thicken.
  4. I served mine with warm tortillas, shredded cheddar cheese and guacamole to make the tacos and Gina’s cilantro lime rice and corn salsa on the side. Perfect!!!  My husband made some awesome tacos with the rice, salsa and all of the toppings. It was delicious.

Slightly adapted from awesome Gina at SkinnyTaste

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