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Monday, March 6, 2017

Recipe Review from 2/27/2017

Huh.  This ended up being a robust new recipe week!   With the exception of the Chicken Wild Rice Casserole, everything else was super easy from prep to table.   I highly recommended the Saucy Eggs, Flatbread and Paella.  

The Meal Plan from week of 2/27:
Sun (L) Leftovers   (S)  Eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce
Mon (yoga/bkgrp/Legion)  leftovers
Tues -  Sausage flatbread
Wed - Easy paella   Out
Thurs (yoga) - leftovers
Fri - leftovers  Easy paella
Sat (L) leftovers  (S) chicken wild rice

Lunches - Pumpkin soup with toasted pumpkin seeds

Roasted Pumpkin [Squash] Soup (The Food Lab)  gluten free, vegetarian option
While this may seem time consuming, it's really not.  The bulk of the cooking is hands off while the squash does it's thing in the oven.  When the squash is done cooking and while it's cooling, the onions and spices are sauted in the butter, the chicken stock and squash are added to the pot, then it's maybe another 20 minutes of simmering?  I think I went a bit longer because one of my quarters wasn't quite fully cooked.  Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth, and DONE! 

This was a fantastic way to use up the last of the summer's butnut harvest. 

4 lb pumpkin, halved and seeded (variety recommended, I used 5lbs butnut)
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
4 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp maple suryp

Preheat oven to 350*.   Coat cut surface of squash halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place cut side up on roasting pan and bake for one hour or until a knife can easily be inserted.  (I went for 1.5 hours).  Remove and let cool.  When cool, remove skins.

While squash cools, in a large dutch oven, sauté onion in butter until soft.  Add spices if using and saute 30 seconds or until fragrant.  Add chicken stock and squash, cover and bring to a boil.  Using an immersion blender,  blend until smooth, adding more chicken stock to acheive desired thickness.  (I like my soup thick, so I didn't add any).   Stir in maple syrup.

My note:  I also drizzled in a bit of heavy cream because I had some on hand and I like the taste/consistency it brings to a soup dish. 

Saucy-Skillet Poached Eggs (Ckng Lght, Mar 2017)  vegetarian, gluten free
This is super easy to assemble and very versatile.  I made this for supper instead of breakfast, served it over a sausage patty for the Husband, and had some toasted sourdough English muffins along side.  In hindsight, this would have been great over polenta, so I see a future opportunity here. 
I also forgot the feta, had a nice fresh tub in the fridge just ready for this dish. Argh!  Well...a future opportunity.
Recommended for its simplicity.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Photo from
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar  (I used Franks Hot Sauce)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano  (I used dried)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 (28-oz.) can unsalted crushed tomatoes
1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4 cup)
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/4 cup water and next 4 ingredients (through tomatoes). Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened. Stir in feta.
Form 4 (2-inch) indentations in sauce with the back of a spoon. One at a time, crack eggs into a small custard cup, and gently slip 1 egg into each indentation. Sprinkle black pepper over eggs. Place pan in oven and bake at 375°F for 12 minutes or until whites are set.  I just finished on the stove top, covered.  Sprinkle with chives and oregano. Divide sauce and eggs among 4 shallow bowls.

Sausage and Broccoli Rabe Flatbreads (Ckng Lght, Mar 2017)  vegetarian option
I will say first thing, I managed to make this more complicated than it needed to be, because I have a tendency to do that.  My changes:
  • I made my own ricotta.  Which was a bit of an adventure all on it's own
  • I couldn't find broccoli rabe, so I subbed regular broccoli, sliced and steamed on the stove
  • I skipped anything to do with the broiler, and baked the pizzas (yes, these are basically little pizzas).  I tend to burn things under the broiler. 
Despite my complicating things, these were kinda tasty - not heavy like pizza, a nice size and flavorful.  The hot italian sausage added a nice zing! without being heat-heavy.  I didn't serve anything along side.  Recommended. 

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
photo from
12 ounces broccoli rabe, trimmed and coarsely chopped (I used regular broccoli)
1 (8.8-oz.) pkg. whole-grain naan (such as Stonefire)
5 ounces spicy turkey Italian sausage, casings removed (I used hot italian sausage)**  skip if vegetarian
1/3 cup pizza sauce (such as Rao's)
1/3 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler to high.  (Which I skipped - preheat oven to 350*.  On a foil lined baking sheet, place two pieces of naan, and bake until warm.)

Combine 1 tablespoon oil and broccoli rabe on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil 5 minutes or until broccoli rabe begins to brown. Remove broccoli rabe from pan. Add naan to pan; broil 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.   (Which I skipped - I lightly steamed by broccoli.)

Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add turkey sausage to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble.

Spread pizza sauce evenly on 1 side of each naan on baking sheet. Dollop ricotta evenly over top; top evenly with broccoli rabe, sausage, and pepper. Broil 2 to 3 minutes or until cheese melts and broccoli rabe is slightly charred.   (I baked at 350* for about 15 minutes.  Enough to warm everything up.) Cut each flatbread into 4 pieces.

Shortcut Shrimp Paella  (Ckng Lght Mar, 2016)  gluten free, vegetarian option
This is quick.  While rice cooks, assemble everything else, then into the pan it goes! 

A note on the rice - I have no idea what "precooked rice" is, if it's equivalent to the instant varieties I purchase, or something completely different. This has been noted in the comments to the editor of Ckng Lght magazine.   So I tend to use the Boil in a Bag option or, the instant you have to measure water/rice ratio.   I figure four servings (or however many servings the recipe makes). 
 End result, this was tasty, not a lot of heat (I would add some red pepper flakes next time), and could be changed up to use say, broccoli or cauliflower instead of shrimp.   I would totally make this again because of it's ease in prep to table.  Recommended.  
2 (8.8-oz.) pkg. precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's) (I cooked up four servings of instant brown)
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Photo from

1 cup sliced red bell pepper
1 cup frozen green peas
1/3 cup water
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined (vegetarian option: sub lightly steamed cauliflower, broccoli, or snowpeas
Cilantro leaves (optional)
Heat rice according to package directions.
Heat oil and turmeric in a medium skillet over medium; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add rice, bell pepper, and next 4 ingredients (through black pepper); cook 3 minutes. Arrange shrimp over rice mixture; cover and cook 6 minutes or until shrimp are done and rice is slightly crisp. Top with cilantro, if desired.

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Casserole (Ckng Lght, March 2017)  
This is a bit involved and best left for the weekend.  Recipe says active time is 35 minutes, and total 1:10, but I clocked it at 1:40 total and that was with pre-making the rice AND chicken, plus I had the Husbands help.  Ckng Lght, I think your time is wayyy off on this one.

My changes - I was making stock with a whole chicken and timed it so all I needed to so was shred the chicken.  Or have the Husband shred the chicken.  :D   Rice was pre-cooked earlier in the afternoon and ready to go.   I had the Husband saute while I did final prep, and he moved right into stirring when we added the flour/milk mix.  

This was the other place it took longer than the recipe noted to get the mixture to thicken.  You WILL need a HUGE skillet for this - you're adding 5 cups milk to a slew of veggies.   "Three minutes" isn't going to cut it (and I have a gas stove).

So, prep took longer that I anticipated even with pre-cooking the two main ingredients.    End result - a big pan of creamy goodness.   Yes, this one was worth it.  Lots of leftovers for us! 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
Photo from

2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper, divided
Cooking spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups 2% reduced-fat milk, divided
1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped   (I used 1 tsp dried thyme)
2 (8-oz.) pkg. presliced cremini mushrooms 
(I used 2 - 8oz whole cremini, and then quartered,  I can clean them better that way)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 ounce 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 cups hot cooked wild rice
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1. For the rice:  Simmer 11/2 cups rice in 6 cups water for 45 minutes and drain. You can also use 1 (13-ounce) package frozen cooked wild rice, such as Engine 2, which is sold at Whole Foods.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Sprinkle chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side. Divide chicken between 2 square (8-inch) baking dishes coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until done. Cool and chop.
4. Return skillet to medium-high. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in a bowl. Add leeks and next 4 ingredients (through mushrooms) to pan; cook 13 minutes or until browned and tender. Stir in flour mixture, remaining 4 1/2 cups milk, and parsley; cook 3 minutes. Stir in cream cheese until smooth; cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Combine chicken, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, mushroom mixture, rice, and green onions in a bowl. Coat baking dishes with cooking spray. Divide chicken mixture between dishes; top with almonds. 
5. Follow freezing directions, or bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbly. 
How-To FREEZE: Cool mixture completely. Cover with heavy-duty foil or airtight lids. Freeze up to 2 months. THAW: Uncover and microwave at MEDIUM (50% power) 15 minutes or until thawed. REHEAT: Cover and bake at 450 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.


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