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Monday, November 5, 2012

Recipe Review from 10/29/12

A mostly uneventful week with my office's 5th Annual Chili Cook-off (I organize so I don't directly participate) and a headcold that took me out by Friday.  Which meant I missed a day off awesome chili leftovers.  Sad indeed. 

Basic Lentil Soup  (The Vegetarian Family Ckbk by Neva Atlas)
This was for lunches for the week.  Remember what I said a couple of weeks ago?  No?  Then repeat after me:  Your Crockpot Is Your Friend.  This was meant for stovetop, I put it in the slowcooker.  I've typed the recipe as published however.  This was decent, but not stellar.  Was missing something in the background.  If you prefer bland, then it would be just fine as written.

2 tbsp olive oil  (skip if slowcooking)
1 medium-large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced  (skipped - lazy me)
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/4 cups dried lentils
2 vegetable bouillion cubes  (skip if using vegetable stock)
2 tsp salt free all-purpose seasoning mix (skipped - lazy me)
2 bay leaves

My method:  combine all ingredients plus 6 cups water or water and vegetable stock in a slowcooker.  Cook on low 8 hour or high 4 hours or until lentils and vegetables are soft.  Add more liquid to taste.  I added one can of crushed tomatoes per suggestion below.

1. Heat oil in a small soup pot.  Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the celery and carrots and saute 3 to 4 minutes longer.

2. Add 6 cups water and the remaining ingredients, except the salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 30-40 mintues.

3. Season with salt and pepper.  If time allows, let soup stand one hour to let flavors develop.   Re-heat and serve.

Suggested variation - Lentil Tomato Soup:  add one 15oz can diced or crushed tomatoes once the lentils are done and simmer gently for another 10 minutes.

Proscuttio, Chicken and Havarti Sandwich  (modified from Ckng Lght, Nov 2012)
This is another sandwich that I ended up modifying greatly.  I'm more interested in concept sandwiches and ideas than I am to duplicate it exactly.  This was really good and would nicely complement a side of tomato soup.  Which I did later in the week to use up the leftovers.  Very quick assembly if you skip the shallots and lemon juice business.
Photo from
  • 2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves  (leftover rotisserie chicken)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto, cut into 4 thin slices
  • 8 (3/4-ounce) slices sourdough bread
  • 4 teaspoons butter, softened and divided
  • 2 ounces Gruy√®re cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)  (used havarti because all I could find for Gruyere was smoked and processed cheese product)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups arugula leaves  (Subbed spinach)
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots  (Skipped to save time and dishes)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 large red-skinned pear, sliced

My version - place leftover chicken and proscuttio on a pan lined with aluminum foil.  Broil lightly until just warmed.  Broil or toast the bread, spread with mayo/dijonn mix.  Add chicken and proscuttio to one side, add spinach and cheese to the other slice, keeping cheese on top. Broil just until cheese melts.  Eat. 

 1. Split each chicken breast in half lengthwise to form 2 cutlets. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan. Wrap 1 prosciutto slice around each chicken cutlet

2. Return pan to medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Spread one side of each bread slice evenly with 1/2 teaspoon butter. Place 4 bread slices, buttered side down, in pan. Top each bread slice in pan with 2 tablespoons cheese; toast bread for 2 minutes or until underside is toasted and cheese melts. Remove the bread from pan. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Place the remaining 4 bread slices, buttered side down, in pan; toast 2 minutes or until toasted. Remove from pan.

3. Top each cheese-topped bread slice with 1 chicken cutlet. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard over untoasted side of each remaining bread slice. Combine arugula, shallots, and juice in a bowl; toss. Divide mixture evenly among sandwiches; top each sandwich with 1 bread slice, mustard side down. Serve with pear slices.

Beer Match: Try an amber ale like New Belgium Fat Tire ($1.50/bottle). The toasty malt and hoppy bitterness in these ales will complement the recipe's sweet pears and nutty cheese. --Gretchen Roberts

Roasted Butternut Baked Penne  (How Sweet it Is food blog)

New food blog find thanks to friend Tess.  We're looking for ways to use some giant butternut squashes and she found two recipes here.  This is one of them.  This. Was outstanding.  Directions seem a bit complicated, but really, you can be multi-tasking on this one.  By the time I popped this into the oven, I just needed to wash a couple of dishes, set the table and that was a wrap!  Kitchen cleaned AND dinner ready!

I omitted the bacon as the husband cooked it up for breakfast.  The dish really doesn't need it, but would definitely go well.  I upped the milk as suggested for a bit creamier dish.  My only complaint is now I need to find something to use up the rest of the marscarpone cheese - had I paid attention to the amt, I would have subbed some goat cheese I had open in the fridge.  This dish could easily be doubled and is fit for company. 
serves about 4
1 pound butternut squash, peeled and chopped
Photo from How Sweet It Is blog
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small shallot, chopped
1 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
2/3 cup milk
1/2 pound whole wheat penne
1/4 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
sage leaves
crumbed bacon, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel and chop squash, then lay on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Roast for 20 minutes, flip once, then roast for 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and add squash to a bowl, then mash with a potato masher or fork.

2. Prepare water for pasta and cook according to directions.

3.While pasta is cooking, heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add butter and shallots. Whisk continuously until the butter browns and small brown bits appear in the pan. Immediately whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, mascarpone and mashed squash, then mix until until combined. I chose to keep my “sauce” in a thicker state (see the second picture), but if you’d like it thinned out a bit more, add additional milk. At this point, taste and see if you’d like any additional salt or spices – this will most likely depend on how seasoned your squash was. I added another small pinch of salt.

4. Add pasta to an 8 or 9-inch baking dish. Pour sauce over top, then use a spoon to fold the sauce into the penne, coating it completely. Top with shredded cheeses and fresh sage leaves. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly. Garnish with crumbled bacon if desired.

Blog Author's Note: this is a very “thick” pasta, and it is not swimming in sauce. If you would prefer it to be “saucy,” I’d advise adding more milk to the sauce while cooking. It is great reheated, and adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk when reheating helps it come together nicely.

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