Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Whole-Wheat Pasta with Herbes de Provence

Roasted Vegetable Whole-Wheat Pasta with Herbes de Provence
Adapted from Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice (Reeni)

I was in search for a vegetarian pasta recipe when I came across this recipe. I love roasted fennel and Herbes de Provence so this will be the recipe I'll make this week. The recipe calls for grape tomatoes which I substituted with large round cherry tomatoes since they were on sale and halved them. I realize after roasting the vegetables that I should of left the tomatoes whole. I was surprised there was not any garlic in Reeni's recipe so I added in some minced garlic. The recipe also calls for two tablespoons of Herbes de Provence. Herbes de Provence is a strong blend of herbs so I was hesitant to add that much Herbes de Provence, but I followed the recipe and it worked out perfectly. Pasta dish was full of flavor and the roasted fennel and fronds along with the tomatoes, zucchini, onions and the Herbes de Provence roasted up perfectly. The aroma in the kitchen was so fragrant as the vegetables were roasting in the oven. I immediately knew this was going to be delish...and it is! This recipe is very easy to put together. Just cut up the veggies, toss with oil, herbs, salt and pepper and in the oven to be roasted. Cook the pasta and toss everything together with more olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Very simple, healthy and delicious! Tastes even better the next day.

My photo doesn't look as sharp and colorful as Reeni's photo, but trust me, it is delicious pasta dish. Here is Reeni's recipe: Roasted Fennel, Zucchini and Tomato Pasta with Herbs de Provence. My version of the recipe follows:

Roasted Vegetable Whole-Wheat Pasta with
Herbes de Provence

2 fennel bulbs, cut in half lengthwise, core removed and sliced crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (about 13.8 ounces)
1 large red onion, cut in half lengthwise and slice on the grain into 1/4-inch slices (about 10.9 to 13.4 ounces)
1-1/2 pounds zucchini, unpeeled. cut in half lengthwise, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch, half-moon slices
One 12-ounce frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
One 6-ounce can medium black olives, drained and rinsed
6 cloves garlic, finely minced (0.8 ounce)
1/2 cup snipped fennel fronds (0.3 ounce)
2 pounds large grape tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes, whole
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (3.4 ounces) plus a separate 1/4 cup (1.7 ounces)
3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence, crushed
2 teaspoons salt plus a separate 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound whole-wheat fusilli pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Position two oven racks in the lower third and upper third of the oven. Set aside two sheet pans.

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the fennel, onions, zucchini, artichoke hearts, olives, garlic and fennel fronds. Toss in 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and ground black pepper until thoroughly combined. Divide vegetables into two sheet pans. Roast in oven for 35 minutes, rotating pans half way of baking time.

Meanwhile, cook pasta until al dente (about 11 to 13 minutes). Drain pasta and return pasta to the pot. Set aside until vegetables are done roasting.

When vegetables are done roasting, transfer all the vegetables to the pasta. Add the 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup olive oil, Parmesan cheese and parsley. Give pasta good toss and ready to serve. Top with more grated Parmesan cheese.

Yield 6 to 8 servings

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Buttery Soft Caramel Chewies

Mmmmm...Soooo Delicious!
(Ooops! Focus too close!)

I'm starting to plan out my homemade Christmas gifts for Christmas 2012. I like to try new things so last weekend, I made Soft Caramel Chews to give out as gifts. Everyone LOVED them. This caramel recipe is from Land O'Lakes's website: Aunt Emily's Soft Caramels. The only change I made is to add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the recipe since I used UNSALTED butter. There is one other recipe I would like to try and see if it would be superior to this recipe. As of now, this is the ULTIMATE soft caramel candy recipe I've found. This is definitely one of the Christmas candies to make as gifts this year.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Irish Brown Soda Bread

This is a very easy-peasy recipe. From measuring the ingredients to putting the bread in the oven took about 15 minutes. This bread baked up beautifully and tastes absolutely wonderful: crunchy on the exterior and soft and dense in the interior. Good with a smear of butter. This bread is the easiest and quickest bread I ever made. Normally, Irish Soda Bread tastes the best the day it is baked, but toastes up nicely in the toaster the next day spread with a a smear of reduced-fat cream cheese, any type of nut butter, or just plalin butter. This recipe is adapted from Cooking Light magazine, March 2007 issue.

2 cups all-purpose flour (9 ounces)
2 cups whole-wheat flour (9.5 ounces)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda (0.3 ounce)
3/4 teaspoons salt (0.2 ounce)
2 cups buttermilk (1:0.9 pounds)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

In a very large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt. Stir ingredients with a whisk until thoroughly blended. Make a well in center of mixture. Add the buttermilk to the flour mixture. Using a pastry fork, stir everything together until blended. Dough will be sticky. Using floured hands, transfer dough to a generously floured surface and knead lightly 4 to 5 times. Using floured hands, gently shape dough into an 8-inch round loaf (I gently turn and shape dough into a round shape and then pat the top into 8-inch diameter; add more flour on work surface as needed and flour hands as needed). Place dough on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray. Cut a 1/4-inch deep X on the top of the dough, using a serrated knife..

First bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes. Immediately reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees (do not remove bread from oven) and bake for additional 15 minutes or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer loaf to a wire rack to cool.

Yields 6 to 8 servings

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Korean Spicy Braised Chicken
Adapted from www.maangchi.com

Version 1
Made with SKINLESS CHICKEN thighs and added Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin).

Version 2
Made with SKINLESS, BONELESS TURKEY thighs and used The Little Potato Compay brand Terrific Trio potatoes (red, yellow and blue potatoes) with Kabocha squash (Japanese pumpkin).

Both versions of this recipe are equally delicious. I doubled the recipe so I can eat it all week long. I love it that much and it is so easy to make. Just dump all ingredients in one pot and cook. The sauce becomes thicker as it sits in refrigerator. So simple and so delicious. This is Korean homestyle comfort food at its best. Maangchi's recipe uses entirely potatoes, but I decided to use half potatoes and half Kabocha squash (or you can use acorn squash or Delicata squash). Instead of cooking the stew right away, I marinade the meat and onions overnight with the sauce so the flavor will penetrate through the meat (my daughter's idea).

Here is my version of Maangchi's recipe:

4 pounds skinless chicken thighs (about 12 thighs) OR
3-1/2 pounds skinless turkey thighs (about 6 thighs)
1-1/2 large yellow onion, thickly sliced and separated (1:1.2 pounds)
1/2 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos or any low-sodium soy sauce (4.6 ounces)
1/2 cup finely minced garlic, about 1 head (2.5 ounces)
1/2 cup Korean coarse hot pepper flakes (1.6 ounces)
1/2 cup Korean hot pepper paste (5.4 ounces)
2 tablespoons natural cane sugar (1.0 ounce)
2 tablespoon sesame oil (0.6 ounce)
2 pounds red or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks OR 2 pounds Little Potato Company brand Terrific Trio potatoes (red, yellow and purple), unpeeled
2 pounds Kabocha squash, cut into large chunks
2 jalapeno chilies, thinly sliced with seeds (2.4 ounces)
2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced

Remove all visible fat from the chicken thighs or turkey thighs.

If using chicken thighs, cut each chicken thigh in half vertically along the thigh bone to get two pieces from each thigh. If using turkey thighs, remove the bone from each thigh and cut each thigh meat into 6 pieces.

In a very large mixing bowl or an 8-quart stock pot, combine the meat and onions. Set aside.

In a separate small bowl, combine the liquid aminos, garlic, pepper flakes, pepper paste, sugar and sesame oil. Stir well to combine into a thick paste. Rub the entire paste into the meat and onions. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or place lid on stock pot and refrigerate overnight to marinate.

The next day, transfer meat and onions into an 8-quart stock pot (if it is not already in one). Add 4 cups of cold water. Stir well to combine.

Ready for cooking. Cooking time will vary with chicken and turkey:

If you are cooking with chicken, bring to a boil over high heat. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, covered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Kabocha squash and jalapeno chilies. Continue to cook until potatoes and squash are knife tender, about 15 minutes.

If you are cooking with turkey, bring to a boil over high heat. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook, covered, for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the potatoes and continue to cook, covered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Kabocha squash and jalapeno chilies. Continue to cook until potatoes and squash are knife tender, about 15 minutes.

If made ahead of time, let stew cool completely before transferring stew to an airtight container and refrigerate. Rewarm serving-size portions at a time. Transfer stew to a serving dish and sprinkle generously with green onions.

Yields 8 to 10 servings