Monday, April 19, 2010

Lentil Rice Loaf

In an attempt to incorporate more meatless meals into the menu, I attempted a lentil rice loaf. Now I will say it looked good and it smelled good while cooking. However, that was just a tease. I have heard of "dirty rice". Well that is what this tasted like: dirt and rice. I was never a big fan of mud pies as a kid and I am not going to eat a "mudloaf" for dinner. It will definitely be a while before lentils get a second chance on the menu. This recipe god a big "BLECH" in the book.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

This week's foray into new recipes came from a Guideposts magazine. Spaghetti alla Puttanesca is literally "Whore's Spaghetti". Rumor has it that it's quick preparation made it popular as a fast snack between clients. Now most people when they hear "anchovy" immediately respond with "Ew! I hate anchovies!" "Have you ever tried them?" "No, but everybody hates them!" Not the ancient Romans. Anchovies were considered an aphrodesiac to them. Today they are one of the ingredients in worcestershire sauce,remoulade sauce and green goddess dressing.

The recipe sounded intriguing. I like most of the ingredients, although I thought capers was something to do with frolicking not little round pickled things.(they are actually the picked buds of the Capparis spinosa which is native to the Mediterranean and found in many Mediterranean cuisines)

Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

3 tbsp oil oil (I use my favorite garlic olive oil because there is no such this as too much garlic in our house)
4tbsps minced garlic (Bob had to mince by hand since I broke the garlic press last week making the chicken marsala stew)
1 can black olives cut in quarters
3 tbsps of capers (about 1/2 of the tiny bottle)
1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes (aka pizza pepper)
1 2oz can anchovies
1 15 oz can Italian plum tomatoes (I used a can of Italian Style Stewed tomatoes, cut up with juice reserved)
1 tbsp salt (optional)
1 pound spaghetti (we used whole wheat spaghetti)
4 tbsps chopped parsley (we used fresh and it adds some nice color to the dish)
1 tbsp butter
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic, olives, capers, pepper flakes and anchovies. Keep at medium low for about 5 minutes breaking up anchovies (they dissolve).

Add tomatoes and reserved liquid, raise heat to medium high til tomatoes start a slow bubbling boil.

Stir ingredients. Lower to medium low and occasionally, simmering for about 20 minutes.
Cook pasta and drain when done.
Add parsley and butter to sauce.
Mix sauce and pasta. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

This dish is slightly salty and the anchovies give it a nice added flavor. The anchovies don't resemble a fish like a sardine does. They looked more like crushed, de-boned fingers. This might be a plus in enticing little boys to eat this due to the "ew" factor.

We served it with a light Caesar salad (keeping the anchovy theme) and some crusty sourdough bread. Bob like it, but then again he is a salt freak and would be perfectly happy with a salt lick in the yard. I like the subtle play of flavors. You can taste the anchovy but its not overpowering. We will definitely be making this again!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicken Marsala Stew

I found this recipe in the paper and it sounded really great so I decided to try it. I did make a few tweaks to the original recipe.

Recipe: Chicken marsala stew with spring vegetables

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves 4
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided (I used garlic olive oil)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon salt ( I left this out, don't tell Bob)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (I used fresh shitake mushrooms from the farmers' market)
8 ounces baby carrots (I sliced up 2 regular carrots)
1 cup frozen baby peas (I don't care for peas so I sliced up 2 ribs of celery)
1 large sweet onion, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped (since I used garlic olive oil, I only added 1 clove)
1/2 cup marsala wine I used the whole bottle!)
11/2 cups chicken broth (fat free, salt free, again for Bob)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken pieces and season with 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with another 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and the remaining chicken, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Add another 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to soften and give off liquid, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the carrots and peas, then sauté for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of the oil to the pot. Add the onions and sauté until they soften and start to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in the marsala and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Add the chicken broth and reserved vegetables, then bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the reserved chicken and vinegar and simmer until heated through, about 3 minutes.

Per serving: 361 cal.; 33 g pro.; 26 g carb.; 10 g fat (2 sat., 6 monounsat., 2 polyunsat.); 68 mg chol.; 821 mg sod.; 6 g fiber; 12 g sugar; 25 percent calories from fat.