Monday, December 10, 2012

Cooking from the Pantry: Weekly Menu 12/10

Salmon, Pasta, Meatballls, Potatoes. Family friendly, easy dinners

With all the extra food shopping I do during the holidays, especially for ingredients that I don't usually have on hand, like almond extract or stuffing, I find myself evaluating the pantry staples that I stare at (but don't use up) day in and day out.

Hence this week's pantry raid, where I aimed to use up things like boxes of pasta, bags of rice and cans of diced tomatoes. My pantry is a bit clearer and we had some damn good results, thanks to fantastic recipes from a few of my favorite food bloggers and cooking sites.

In case you also need a pantry purge, here are some other recipes from past Weekly Menus that use up pantry ingredients:

Easy Asian Beef and Noodles: use up packs of Ramen noodles
Roast Sticky Chicken: use up lots of spices 
Vegetarian Burritos: use up canned beans
Italian Sausage Soup: use up cans of broth and diced tomatoes

What do you want to use up in your pantry?

Asian Salmon Bowl with Lime Sauce

 Asian Salmon over rice with broccoli and a lime soy sauce 
 Protein + veggies + rice = a one-bowl meal. Convenient, no?

Sides: With one-bowl meals, sides aren't really necessary, though Mandarin oranges or peeled Clementines would be a good addition.

  • Use pre-cooked, bagged rice such as Trader Joe's or Uncle Ben's Ready Rice
Make Ahead Notes
  • Cook rice ahead if not buying pre-cooked rice
  • Prepare syrup glaze and set aside for later
  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 salmon fillets (4 ounces each), skin removed
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 packages (5 ounces each) baby spinach (or substitute broccoli, but be sure to cook it until just tender)
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • Heat oven to 400°F. Cook rice as directed on package. 
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Sauté garlic and pepper flakes until garlic is lightly golden, 1 minute. Add syrup, juice and soy sauce; cook until bubbling, 3 minutes. 
  • In a bowl, combine cornstarch and 1 teaspoon water; stir into garlic glaze. Cook until slightly thick, 1 minute. Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Spread 1 teaspoon glaze over each fillet. Roast until just cooked through, 12 minutes. 
  • In a medium skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add 1 package spinach; sauté until just wilted. Remove from pan; set aside. Repeat with second package spinach. Divide rice among 4 bowls; top each with 1/4 spinach and 1 salmon fillet, broken into large pieces. Drizzle with remaining sauce; sprinkle each with 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds.
Recipe from Epicurious


 Cider Braised Meatballs

I have been meaning to make this ever since I started reading the amazing blog, Dinner A Love Story. This dish takes just a bit longer to prepare, so save it for a Sunday dinner or a more leisurely weeknight. (What's that??)

Sides: Steamed green beans and buttered egg noodles

Make Ahead Notes
  • Mix up and form meatballs; set aside on a baking pan in the fridge until ready to cook
  • Chop shallot
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs 
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 2/3 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream

  • Using your hands, mix together the first seven ingredients and form into golf-ball size meatballs.
  • Set a medium saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Brown meatballs on all sides (in batches if necessary) and remove to a plate. They do not have to be cooked all the way through.
  • Add the shallot to the pot and cook 1 minute. Add the white wine, apple cider, cider vinegar, a little salt, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low, add meatballs back to the pot. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove balls from pot, whisk 1 tablespoon heavy cream into the braising liquid. Serve meatballs with sauce spooned on top.
Recipe from Dinner A Love Story

Pasta with Tomatoes, Ricotta & Bacon

Pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, ricotta and bacon, served with broccolini
Although I don't think this was the prettiest looking dish, it tasted great - rich, smoky and cheesy. 

  • Buy pre-chopped onion from the produce section
Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop bacon and put in fridge for later
  • Chop onion and bell pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green, red, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound pasta, any shape you like
  • Set a pot of water on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil for cooking the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, heat a sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until just beginning to turn golden and most of the fat is rendered. Add the onion and peppers, and cook until the onions are translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, thirty seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  • Let the tomato sauce to simmer while you cook the pasta. Drain the pasta and set aside. Add the ricotta cheese to the tomato sauce. Stir and taste for seasonings.
  • Scoop the pasta into individual bowls and spoon the sauce on top. Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy immediately.
 Recipe from The Kitchn blog

Extra Credit: Crash Hot Potatoes

Smashed, roasted red potatoes with salt and pepper
Extra credit this week is a challenge to mix up your usual potatoes. They are from the Pioneer Woman blog, they are simple and they never fail to be a HIT.

Make Ahead Notes
  • Boil potatoes ahead and allow to cool slightly; do not refrigerate before baking
  • 12 whole New Potatoes (or other small round potatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Rosemary (or other herbs of choice) to taste 
  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
  • On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
  • With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
  • Sprinkle potatoes generously with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
  • Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

 Recipe from The Pioneer Woman blog

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