Monday, February 4, 2013

New Dish Challenge Pt 2: Weekly Menu 2/4/13

Hello friends, and I'm sorry for the recent hiatus. Sometimes life is anything but easier, simpler or better, and that's what it's been like here as a home improvement project that should have taken a week dragged on for five. Five weeks with spotty access to the kitchen and no access to a table, plus a lot of take-out kind of slowed me down in the cooking department. So I shifted my "try new dishes" challenge and am continuing it into this month. I can feel the cooking energy coming back!

Sometimes you try a new dish and right away you know you're going to want to make it a LOT. That's the case with Italian Chicken, which my hairdresser shared with me last month. Make it and report back.


Italian Chicken

Italian Chicken
Does this look pretty or what? It's totally company-ready.

Sides: Freshly  cooked pasta

Make Ahead Notes
  • Chop tomatoes and artichokes; combine and set aside until later
  • Chop fresh basil and set aside for later
  • Though I haven't tried this, I think you could use drained, canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh in a pinch
  • 4-5 ripe Roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (plain, not marinated), drained and chopped
  • 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt & pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 TBSP flour
  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with S&P
  • 3/4 to 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese ( I used an Italian cheese blend from Trader Joe's)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

  •  Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease a 13x9 baking pan.
  • Combine the first seven ingredients well (tomatoes through flour) in a medium bowl.
  • Lay the chicken breasts in the pan and add the tomato mixture around the edges of the pan and between the chicken breasts (don't cover the breasts completely)
  • Bake at 350 for about 30-35 minutes or until *nearly* cooked through. Turn oven to broil setting.
  • Pull out the dish and sprinkle the chicken evenly with the cheese. Return to the oven and broil 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.
  • Sprinkle with the fresh basil and serve.

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs

Honey Mustard Chicken Thighs with rosemary
 Keep the skin on to roast the chicken even if you're not a skin fan. The chicken will stay much juicier that way. Other than the chicken, you probably have all the ingredients on hand for this dish.

Sides: Fresh steamed, sliced carrots and rice or couscous

Make Ahead Notes
  • Combine honey, mustard, oil and salt and set aside for later

  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup smooth Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 pounds chicken thighs (or legs)
  • Salt
  • 2 sprigs rosemary (or a generous sprinkling of dried rosemary)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, mix mustard with the honey, and olive oil. Add a pinch of salt and taste. Add more salt and mustard until you get the flavor where you want it.
  • Salt the chicken lightly and lay the pieces skin-side up in a shallow casserole dish. Spoon the honey mustard sauce over the chicken. Place the rosemary sprigs in between the pieces of chicken.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the thighs read 175° on a meat thermometer, or the juices run clear when the meat is pierced with a knife. Remove the casserole pan from the oven, use a spoon to spoon off any excess chicken fat that has rendered during the cooking.
  • Sprinkle some freshly ground black pepper over the chicken before you serve.
Recipe from Simply Recipes

Pasta with Pork Bolognese

Pasta with Pork Bolognese
Open the wine and dinner is ready in under 30 minutes. For real.

Sides:  Salad with Caesar dressing or Balsamic vinaigrette

Make Ahead Notes:
  • Chop basil and set aside for later
  • Grate carrot and set aside for later

  • 9 ounces refrigerated fettuccine(I used dried tagliatelle from Trader Joe's instead)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces lean ground pork
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 2/3 cups marinara sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  • Cook pasta per directions. Drain.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until pork is done. Add wine; cook 1 minute. Add marinara, 1/4 cup basil, salt, and pepper; bring to a simmer. Pour sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil.
 Recipe from Cooking Light


Extra Credit: Roasted Green Beans & Potatoes

Roasted Green Beans and Potatoes
One pan, one oven, one temperature... two side dishes. Wish I could do this more often!

Make Ahead Notes
  • Scrub potatoes. If you want to cut them ahead, submerge them in a bowl of cold water until you're ready to use them to prevent browning
  • Rinse and cut green beans
  • Buy a bag of pre-rinsed, trimmed green beans
  • 1 lb red potatoes, quartered or small golden potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced or quartered, divided
  • 1/4 tsp  each coarse salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed & halved
  • Preheat the oven to 425F with a rimmed baking sheet inside. 
  • Toss potatoes with half of the oil and garlic, then season with salt, pepper. Transfer potatoes to preheated baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. 
  • Toss the green beans with half of the oil and garlic, then season with salt, pepper. Add to the baking sheet with the potatoes. Turn potatoes once.
  • Roast for 10 more minutes.
Recipe adapted from The Curious Country Cook

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