Friday, November 15, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta

Remember the swaps I used to participate in?  Well, the format has now changed (and for the better!).  Instead of being assigned a recipe that I might not be too excited to make, we are now given the theme and a blog and we get to choose what recipe within the theme to make.  I love this change, because there have been one or two recipes that I had been assigned that I wasn't so thrilled about (and you could probably tell from my posts about them).  So I jumped at the chance to participate in this month's swap under the new rules.

The theme for this month was Vegetarian.  I was assigned A Taste of Home Cooking, which happens to be the blog of the swap organizer, Sarah (no pressure, right?!).  I went through her vegetarian recipes (love that she has a "vegetarian" label, hopefully the gal who was assigned my blog knew to look at anything labeled dairy or parve for an easy search!).  A few jumped out at me, but after a little deliberation and an e-mail of my top choices to my husband, we settled on Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta, which is a recipe from Marcus Samuelsson.  We're big Marcus fans from watching him on Chopped and have eaten at his restaurant Red Rooster, so we were excited to try this out.

Neither of us are huge roasted red pepper fans, but we decided to give this one a shot since we liked everything else about it.  I wasn't 100% sure how much "3 peppers" was, so I just bought a 12oz jar and used that.  Maybe that wasn't as much as I was supposed to use, but for us it was the perfect amount.  As my husband wanted me to say - if you usually don't like roasted red peppers, don't shy away from this recipe!

And the pasta was even better the next day for lunch!  I warmed mine up, but my husband ate his cold (I've mentioned before his fear of using his office's microwave, yes?) and he said it was just as good right out of the fridge.

I'm very glad that I chose this recipe to make.  And I'm even more excited to see what I get to make in the next swap!

Roasted Red Pepper Alfredo Pasta (recipe by Marcus Samuelsson, submitted to the swap by Taste of Home Cooking)

1/2 lb pasta (I used fettuccine)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup half and half
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
3 roasted red bell peppers , coarsely chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
1 handful basil
8 oz artichoke hearts, cut into quarters

- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and reserve.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
- Add the half and half, goat cheese, Parmesan and roasted red peppers and simmer until the cheese is melted. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and add the basil. Puree with an immersion blender or food processor. Add in the chopped artichoke hearts.
- Toss the pasta with the sauce and serve immediately.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cornmeal-Crusted Flounder Sandwich with Tarter Sauce

I enjoy fast food as much as the next person, though I have never been a fan of hamburgers.  When I want a fast food fix my usual meal is a Filet-o-Fish from McDonald's.  My husband is not a big fast food person but he enjoys a good fish sandwich.  Whenever we go see the Mets play at Citifield, our go-to meal is a flounder sandwich from Catch of the Day.  When I came across this recipe in a cookbook I knew that I wanted to try this out since it would probably be 100x healthier than getting a fish sandwich at any of these places.

Not only was the fish delicious (and less greasy than their fast food counter part) but the homemade tarter sauce was surprisingly tasty.  When I get my fish sandwiches when I'm out I normally add ketchup to the usual tarter sauce.  This combo of flavors was so good as is that I actually have mixed this sauce up and added it to deli sandwiches since I made this dish.

These were so ridiculously easy to make that I'll definitely be making them again soon.  Even reheating some leftover fish tasted great!

Cornmeal-Crusted Flounder with Tarter Sauce (from Kosher by Design: Short on Time)

6 large flounder or sole filets
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten with 2 tbsp water
1 cup ground yellow cornmeal
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed (***I used grapeseed oil, as it has a higher heat tolerance)
1 cup mayonaise
2 sour pickles, very finely chopped
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp hot sauce

- cut each filet on either side of the spine and remove the spine; you will be left with 2 long pieces of flounder from each filet
- season both sides of each piece of fish with salt and pepper
- arrange 3 bowls on your work surface (I find it easiest to use deep dishes like a pie dish for this)
- place the flour in one bowl, the beaten egg in the second bowl, and the cornmeal in the third bowl.
- take the fish, one piece at a time.  Dip it into the flour; shaking off the excess.  Dip it into the egg; shaking off the excess, and then dip it into the cornmeal; shaking off the excess.  Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the fish in a single layer, working in batches if necessary.  Cook for 4 minutes per side, or until a crisp crust forms and the fish is slightly firm to the touch.  Remove to a plate or platter.  If you are doing this in batches you will need more oil.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tarter sauce:  In a small bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, pickles, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
- Serve the fish on rolls with the tarter sauce.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Butternut Squash Lasagna

When most people think of fall flavors the #1 thing that probably comes to mind for most people is pumpkin.  I'm pretty sure 99% of my newsfeed on Facebook was dedicated to the arrival of the pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks on the day they made their return appearance.  However, when I think of fall I immediately think of butternut squash.  I seriously can't believe that before 2011 I don't think I had even tasted it.  I now want to put it in everything!  My butternut squash soup made an appearance on our table a few weeks ago.  But I'm always looking for different things to do with it.

So I was incredibly excited when I flipped through this month's issue of Food Network Magazine and in their weekend meal section featuring different lasagnas they included a recipe for one using roasted butternut squash.  I basically started salivating as soon as I read the title of the recipe.  I knew that I had to make it in the near future.

I was able to get this done on a Sunday night, when my husband was home to help with the baby.  Though I will say, although this recipe straightforward probably does take the 2 hours listed, it's easy to do some of the parts earlier than others.  For example, I put the squash and onions to roast and then went to feed the baby.  When I returned to the kitchen maybe 30 min later (my husband was on oven duty and had taken the pans out when they finished cooking) I then did the sauce.  I like when a more time consuming recipe doesn't leave time constraints.  Much easier to handle making a dish like this while I can't give it my undivided attention.

Although I typed out the recipe below as printed in the magazine, I adjusted the recipe slightly to suit our tastes:
- I used a red onion instead of a basic "cooking onion" as I usually do.  Roasted red onions may be another new favorite of time
-  I didn't use sage leaves just a sprinkle of dried sage. While I'm not the biggest sage fan my husband absolutely hates it and wouldn't touch a dish with sage leaves
- I used skim milk instead of whole
- I changed the size of the pan and made 2 pans. Since there are only two of us and I'm heading back to work in a few weeks I want to start stocking up the freezer.  One pan was plenty for dinner 2 nights and now we have some in the freezer to enjoy later.

This came out so delicious, I am sure it will make a return to my fall menu next year!

Butternut Squash Lasagna (from Food Network Magazine)

for the vegetables:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 onion, halved and sliced

for the bechamel:
2 tbsp unsalted butter
10 sage leaves
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
pinch of freshly ground nutmeg

for the lasagna:
unsalted butter, for the baking dish
1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 4 oz)
1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 oz)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 oz)
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
9 no-boil lasagna noodles

- Make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Toss the squash with 1 tbsp olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt.  Toss the onion with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil on a separate baking sheet; season with salt.  Roast, rotating the baking sheets once, until the vegetables are tender, 18-20 minutes; set aside.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350.
- Meanwhile, make the bechamel: Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the sage and cook 1 minute.  Whisk in the flour until smooth, cook, whisking, until the flour is lightly golden but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the nutmeg.
- Assemble the lasagna: Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish.  Toss the cheeses and the flour in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for topping.  Evenly coat the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of the bechamel.  Lay 2 noodles side by side on top.  Cover with one third of the remaining bechamel.  Sprinkle with half o the remaining cheese mixture, then top with half of the vegetable mixture.  Arrange 3 more noodles on top and repeat the layers (bechamel, cheese, vegetables).  Top with the remaining 3 noodles, then cover with the remaining bechamel; sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup cheese.
- Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Turn on the broiler.  Uncover the lasagna and broil until browned, about 2 minutes.  Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Primavera Chicken

Now that we have the baby, I am always looking for recipes that take very little prep time but still look and taste like I slaved for hours in the kitchen.  Flipping through my Kosher By Design: Short on Time book the other day I came across this recipe that not only was a perfect fit for a delicious fall dinner, but also takes no time at all to prepare.

All you have to do is slice up the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes the dish is basically ready to go!  Of course it takes 2 hours to cook but as someone who is home for most of the day but doesn't have all afternoon to cook, this is something that can easily be done.  Once I go back to work I would only make this on a weekend when we're busy around the house but even if you get home before 5:30 you can still have dinner on the table by 7:30.  I halved the recipe, but I typed it up as is below in case you have more than 3 people to feed.  It's very easy to halve since the original recipe calls for it to be baked in two separate 9x13 pans.

I actually threw in a few more vegetables (butternut squash and red onion), though I roasted them separately just in case they didn't all work well together.  In the end I served the added veggies underneath the rest and thought the combination was great.

This chicken dish will definitely make its way into our dinner rotation.

Primavera Chicken (from Kosher By Design: Short on Time)

6-8 chicken legs, with bone and skin
6-8 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
1 yellow squash, unpeeled
1 green zucchini, unpeeled
1 qt cherry tomatoes, halved
1 8oz bottle of Italian dressing

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the chicken pieces in single layers, skin side up, into two 9x13 inch baking pans.
- Slice the squash and zucchini in half lengthwise and slice into 1 inch thick half-moons.  Scatter over the chicken.  Toss on the halved tomatoes.
- Shake the dressing and drizzle it over the chicken.
- Bake, uncovered, for 2 hours
- Remove the chicken to a platter.  Toss the vegetables in the pan liquid and then scatter them over the chicken.