Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spinach Manicotti

This is a super-simple recipe that I always forget about. Tonight I needed something quick that would serve a lot of folks, and this filled the bill. The recipe is based on one from Cooking Light about five years ago. It takes an hour to cook, but the prep time is only about 15 minutes. This gives you time to do other things. Keep these ingredients on hand in case company shows up unexpectedly. (WW points per manicotti: 4.) Enjoy!

Spinach Manicotti
1 (9-oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 (15-oz.) container ricotta cheese
1 (8-oz.) package shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 egg
1 box manicotti shells
1 (26-oz.) jar pasta sauce

1. Combine spinach and ricotta. Stir in 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese and next 6 ingredients. Use your hands to stuff uncooked manicotti shells with spinach mixture. Arrange manicotti in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
2. Pour pasta sauce over manicotti. Fill the jar half full with water; shake to incorporate remaining pasta sauce in jar. Pour water mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
3. Bake at 375° for 1 hour.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Flank Steak

This entrée inspiration came from the meat case at Whole Foods. We love flank steak because of how quickly it cooks and blue cheese is one of our favorite ingredients. Steak + blue cheese = perfect combination. In my mind the rolled flank steak would look like roulage, but I wasn't able to achieve that. BTW, Costco sells the most economical packages of flank steak. I bought a package of two for $14; one flank steak at Publix is around $10. The idea of using kitchen string to tie up the meat is probably a little intimidating, but try it—it's as simple as tying your shoes. I served with roasted sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

Blue Cheese-Stuffed Flank Steak
1 flank steak
Montreal steak seasoning
1 (4-oz.) block blue cheese, crumbled
Kitchen string

1. Place flank steak on a cutting board. Sprinkle with steak seasoning. Place blue cheese along one long edge of steak; starting from that end, roll up steak. Tie at regular intervals with kitchen string. Sprinkle outside of steak with steak seasoning.
2. Grill for 20 minutes or until steak is desired degree of doneness.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Potato-Crusted Salmon

Often we have fish on the days I go to the grocery store and today was no exception. I decided to use my mandolin (if you don't have one, you can use a knife) to thinly slice a potato to cover the salmon like I saw on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives recently. Andy was a little wary of the salmon—he doesn't like fish that's too fishy. However, he liked this dish and said that we can have it again. I served the salmon with my super-simple rémoulade sauce and steamed broccoli. The best part: Dinner was ready in less than 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Potato-Crusted Salmon
2 salmon fillets
1 Yukon Gold potato, thinly sliced
Coarse-grain Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. olive oil

1. Place salmon fillets skin side down on work surface. Spread top of fillet with mustard; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Layer potato slices over mustard. Cook fillets, skin sides down, in hot oil in skillet 5 minutes. Use a fork to remove skin, and discard. Turn and cook 5 more minutes or until potato slices begin to brown.
2. Transfer skillet to oven, and bake at 350° for 15 to 20 minutes or until salmon is opaque and flakes with a fork.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Recipe Rewind: Guacamole

2 avocados, peeled
1 plum tomato, chopped
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice from 2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place avocado in a bowl and mash with a fork or potato masher. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Recipe Rewind: Chicken Enchiladas With Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

We are visiting Andy's family this weekend for two reasons: our niece Savannah was selected to participate in a cotillion and Andy's dad turns 75 next week. Tonight we had a birthday fiesta to celebrate. My f-i-l loves Mexican food, so I decided to make this yummy recipe again. It takes a while to make, but it totally worth it and it makes a ton, so you'll have meals in the bank (freezer) for later. I served the enchiladas with Guacamole, Queso, Homemade Tortilla Chips, and http://letseattonight.blogspot.com/2009/03/apple-blue-cheese-chopped-salad.html. For his birthday cake, Sir (his granddad name) requested Salted Caramel Cupcakes (I made these regular size, instead of mini). If you haven't tried them, you must!

Chicken Enchiladas
Olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1.5 pounds chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
10 flour tortillas
1 (8-oz.) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
Vegetable cooking spray
2 cups sour cream
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1. Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil until tender. Stir in cumin and flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken stock, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened. Stir in half of tomatillo salsa, cilantro, and chicken; season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. Pour a small amount of tomatillo salsa into bottom of a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon chicken mixture into center of each tortilla; sprinkle with shredded cheese. Roll up tortillas, and place, seam side down, in baking dish. Spread sour cream over top of enchiladas; top with remaining tomatillo salsa.
3. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Serve with additional sour cream.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb. tomatillos, husks removed
1 onion, cut into chunks
4 garlic cloves
1 jalapeño, seeds and membrane removed
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 lime

1. Place tomatillos and next 3 ingredients on a foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes.
3. Place tomatillo mixture and pan juices in food processor bowl; pulse until mixture is pureed. Pour into a bowl, and stir in cumin and remaining ingredients.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Homemade Breadcrumbs

Since I stopped working full time after the first of the year to pursue what God is calling us to do with Grace's Kitchen, I have been looking for ways to save money on food. When I worked, I did all my shopping at Publix because it took less time. However I have recently discovered Aldi and appreciate how much money it saves us. Now a typical grocery-buying trip includes stops at Aldi, Publix, Target, and occasionally Costco; the best thing is that I have whittled down our grocery budget by $50—every little bit helps!

This recipe was born out of a desire to be as economical as possible, while still preparing fresh recipes for our family. I used the last of the panko breadcrumbs on Monday night's tilapia. To help the budget, I try to shop every two weeks and this is the beginning of that two-week period, so going to the store was out. As part of my menus for this period, I had planned to make oven-fried chicken tenders for a meat-and-two meal and then use the leftovers to top a main-dish salad. (Unfortunately, I should have checked to see how much panko I had.)

Instead of throwing out my menu plans, I decided to use my food processor to create breadcrumbs from four slices of sourdough bread. Then I spread the breadcrumbs on an ungreased baking sheet and baked them at 300° for 20 minutes. After they cooled completely, I put them into a glass canister. Not only was this easy and saved money, the breadcrumbs work great. Hooray for economy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toffee-Chocolate Cookies

Toffee-Chocolate Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 (11.5-oz.) bag milk chocolate chips
1 bag toffee chips

1. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients in a separate bowl. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in chocolate chips and toffee chips. Scoop onto baking sheets.
2. Bake at 350° for 11 minutes or until done. Cool 10 minutes on baking sheets; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia

Andy's dad was here tonight for dinner. I decided to serve fish as a contrast to all the Krystal hamburgers the two of them eat fo lunch when they are working. We have this fish a lot, but I think this technique is my favorite for oven-frying; this is my other favorite way to eat tilapia. Instead of dipping the fish in a liquid, I spread Dijon mustard on both sides to help the coating stick. The sides were Parmesan cheese grits and steamed green beans. I topped the fish with homemade Tartar Sauce. Both Andy and his dad really liked our dinner. Enjoy!

Pecan-Crusted Tilapia
1 lb. tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
Dijon mustard
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped
Parchment paper

1. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper on both sides. Spread mustard on both sides of fish. In a shallow dish, combine panko and pecans. Place fish in panko mixture, pressing to adhere coating on both sides. Place fish on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
2. Bake at 350° for 17 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Increase oven temperature to broil, and cook 3 additional minutes or until fish is golden.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Slow-Cooker Braised Beef Short Ribs

A couple of weeks ago, I made Braised Beef Short Ribs from Ad Hoc at Home for supper club. It was a terrific dish, but it took several hours to prepare the short ribs and to chop all the vegetables. Because of the huge time investment, I decided that wouldn't be a good recipe to post. However it did introduce me to boneless beef short ribs, which are available at Costco. I have made beef short ribs many times, because they are pretty cheap and benefit from long, slow cooking. However, boneless ones were new to me. For dinner tonight, I decided to cook the short ribs in the slow cooker to see if I could re-create the melting tenderness that I achieved with the more intensive recipe. And it was a success! I cooked the meat with hoisin sauce and vegetables. After a day in the slow cooker, the meat was fall-apart tender and seasoned perfectly. We ate them with lefttover Risotto and Roasted Zucchini. Enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Braised Beef Short Ribs
Beef short ribs (I cooked two in this recipe, but you can double it as many times as needed.)
Montreal steak seasoning
2 carrots, cut into thirds
1 onion, cut into chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into chunks
2 whole garlic cloves
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup water

1. Sprinkle steak seasoning on all sides of short ribs. Place carrots and next 3 ingredients in bottom of slow cooker. Top with short ribs; pour in hoisin sauce and next 2 ingredients. Cover and cook at LOW for 8 hours. Serve with vegetables and au jus, if desired.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Breakfast Sandwich

This is my go-to breakfast. It is low in points (about 3) and very easy to make. I cook center-cut bacon in batches and keep it in the refrigerator so it's always on hand; then I reheat 2 slices each morning the microwave for 20 seconds. All I do each morning is toast the low-fat, multigrain English muffin, spread a little cream cheese (I prefer Weight Watchers brand) on the cut sides of the muffin, and then top it with bacon. I served one to my father-in-law and he suggested I post the recipe. I guess it's my version of the Egg McMuffin, but with out the egg. Enjoy!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Roasted Chicken

Tonight we had Roasted Chicken with Risotto, Slow-Cooker Green Beans, and Dill-Cheese Biscuits for Andy's birthday dinner. The entertainment was provided by AC and Lizzie, so we laughed a lot! Bone-in chicken breasts were on sale at the grocery store, so I decided to slow-roast them in the oven. The meat was very tender and flavorful. Enjoy!

Roasted Chicken
2 carrots, cut into 2 pieces
4 pieces celery
1/2 fennel bulb, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Kosher salt
Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 3 lb.)
1 lemon, sliced
Chicken stock
Orange juice
Herbes de Provence

1. Arrange carrots and next 4 ingredients in bottom of roasting pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with chicken breasts, bone side down; arrange lemon slices on top. Pour about 1 cup each of stock and orange juice in pan. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and herbes de Provence.
2. Bake at 350° for 2 hours, turning chicken over halfway through cooking time. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.