Sunday, September 10, 2017

My Favorite Go-To Pasta Dish

My garden has not been great this year: too much rain and too many pests. Still, it is the high holy season when my all efforts have come to fruition, and I am trying to use up everything I harvest in delicious and creative ways. So today, I made a seafood stir-fry fettuccine dish with onions, peppers, garlic, zucchini, sweet corn, spinach, and lots of fresh herbs. I've been making slightly different versions of this dish for nearly 30 years. It's quick, it's easy, it's good for you, and it's soooooooooooo YUMMY!

Seafood Stir-Fry Fettucine with Seasonal Vegetables and Fresh Herbs

1/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 large onion, diced
1 hot pepper, seeded and diced (or use a sweet pepper for a mild dish)
1 small zucchini, cored and sliced*
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 cup white wine
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. surimi "krab" (thawed)
2 ears of corn, steamed, and cut from the cob**
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon seasoned salt (your favorite blend)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 to 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup each fresh chives, parsley, and lemon basil, chopped
1 lb. fettucine, cooked until al dente, drained and pasta water reserved (or pasta of choice)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a 3 1/2 quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onion, hot pepper, zucchini, and garlic and saute for a few minutes until the onion is translucent. Deglaze the pan with white wine. Add the surimi and corn and cook for a few minutes until the seafood has softened. Season mixture with red wine vinegar, sugar, seasoned salt, and black pepper. Add the fresh herbs, the hot pasta, about 1/2 cup of reserved pasta water, and the Parmesan, and fold everything together gently to combine.

*I had zucchini and leftover corn to use this time, but I often used sliced mushrooms in this dish.
**I happened to have leftover cooked corn on the cob, but of course, you can cut the kernels off of raw corn, and then cook the corn with the other veggies at the beginning of this recipe.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Fall-in' Back into the Soup Routine

Despite my willing it not to be true, summer is over, and we're back to school. Even though it's only the beginning of the second week, I'm already stressed and exhausted! Since I figure my colleagues might be feeling the same way, I decided to make the first communal pot of soup of the semester to bring in and share at lunchtime. My most recent concoction was born of the question, why do people never put meatballs in chili? It was also born out of my desire to incorporate some seasonal vegetables such as local farm stand corn and zucchini and peppers from my garden. Lastly, it was born out of my need to make something fast and easy during the work week in my magic pot! I think it turned out delicious, and the crock pot emptied out pretty quickly at work today. :-)

Instant Pot Meatball Chili Mac Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper (or I use an Anaheim-type chili), seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium zucchini, cored and shredded
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 lb. (smallish) frozen meatballs
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried elbow macaroni
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ears sweet corn, shucked and kernels cut from the cob
1 can chili beans in sauce

Add the olive oil to the pot on high saute. Cook the onion, pepper, garlic, and zucchini for a few minutes until the veggies are tender. Then add the tomatoes, sauce, meatballs, chicken broth, macaroni, and seasonings to the pot. Cook on manual for five minutes and do a quick release. Stir in the corn kernels and the chili beans. Taste to correct seasonings if necessary, and serve garnished with shredded cheese and/or sour cream on top.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


I planted four kinds of basil this year--lemon, dark opal, lettuce leaf, and spicy globe--and I currently have it coming out of my ears! Obviously, I love fresh basil as much or more as the next guy, but let's face it: It's powerful juju! However, I learned a secret many years to taming that punch from the basil when making pesto, and that's to use an equal part of fresh spinach in the mix. Then when you combine the finished pesto with pasta, add a little heavy cream to mellow it out even more. Tonight's pesto featured lemon basil from my garden, Romano cheese, and macadamia nuts, and I topped the pasta with balsamic-marinated and grilled chicken.

Here's the pesto I buzzed up in the food processor tonight then added to cooked spaghetti rigate along with a few tablespoons of heavy cream:

2 cups fresh spinach
2 cups lemon basil
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup Romano (or Parmesan) cheese
1/2 cup macadamia nut pieces
1 head garlic, cloves peeled (or use only 4 cloves like a normal person)
juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Another Way to Deal with Your Garden Zucchini (You're Welcome)

    I picked my first--and maybe only--zucchini of the season the other day (I'm battling pests this year that are eating the flowers before they fruit). I really should've picked it earlier, because it was pretty big! Since then, I had been trying to decide what to do with it, and a friend mentioned that he liked it with stewed tomatoes, which I had actually never tried before. So I whipped this up in my magic pot--easy and delish! (And so good for you!)
    P.S. Take a stick blender to this, and it would have made a lovely sauce for pasta.
    P.P.S.Next time I make this, I am going to add an 8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms to the initial veggie sauté. I think that would be yummy!
    P.P.S. A friend suggested that mixing this with rice would make a nice vegetarian main dish. I concur!
Instant Pot Zucchini and Stewed Tomatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 large sweet onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (I used an Italian frying pepper for some kick!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large or 2 smaller zucchini, unpeeled, cored, and cubed
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

To the IP on high saute, add the olive oil, celery, onion, sweet or hot pepper, and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent. Then add the zucchini, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and Italian herbs. Pressure cook on manual for one minute. Let release naturally--no peeking! Stir in the balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and serve.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Final Feast for Orphan Black

Tonight was our final Orphan Black gathering. I'm so sad it's over, but it ended in a very satisfying way. As for our finale feast with my seestras, I was originally planning on doing something fabulously thematic. But I couldn't go to the grocery store to get stuff yesterday because my car died. (Boo hiss.) So I had to make do with what I had on hand. It was like my own episode of Chopped!

First, I looked through the freezer, and I found a spiral ham and a turkey. (LOL! Of course I did.) Now, I couldn't thaw a turkey by today, but I could make the ham (glazed with Dijon mustard and brown sugar). And I made fresh bruschetta for an appetizer (and bought crostini to serve it on from Hannaford's bakery). For sides, I had some of my favorite broccoli salad leftover from a potluck yesterday (based on a friend's mom's recipe), and I also unearthed a package of frozen hash browns, so I made what the Mormons call Funeral Potatoes. Funeral potatoes for the ending of my beloved Orphan Black seemed quite fitting, and all in all, I think I cobbled together an excellent feast!

The ham was about nine pounds and pre-cooked, of course. I pitched the glaze packet that comes with (I always do--I don't usually care for the spices they use), then all I did was slather the ham with Dijon mustard, coated it with brown sugar, wrapped it in foil, and heated it at 325 degrees for about an hour and a half (10-12 minutes per pound). It was sweet, succulent, and delicious!

Funeral Potatoes
(Source: adapted from Cooking Channel)

4 tablespoons butter, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 30-ounce bag frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, lightly thawed (I used cubed "southern-style" hash browns)
1 10.5-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (I used seasoned salt)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp yellow cheddar (I used 1 cup each Monterey Jack and cheddar, plus I added about 4 oz. of goat cheese/chevre)
1 1/2 cups lightly crushed corn flake cereal (I omitted the topping)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat two tablespoons butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, about six minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant and softened, an additional two minutes. 

In a bowl, toss together the cooked onions and garlic, hash brown potatoes, condensed soup, sour cream, Parmesan, salt, pepper and 1 1/2 cups cheddar. Spread the mixture in a sprayed 9-by-13 inch casserole dish. Melt the remaining two tablespoons butter. Top the casserole with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, corn flake cereal and melted butter. 

Bake in the oven until it bubbles around the sides, about one hour.

Party-Sized Broccoli Salad
(Source: adapted from Ivel Kelly)

2 bunches/heads broccoli, cut into florets
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup slivered red onion
8-10 slices cooked bacon, chopped

Cole Slaw Dressing*:
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon granulated garlic, optional
squirt of sriracha, optional

Combine the first set of ingredients, then mix the dressing. Stir everything together and refrigerate for about an hour before serving.

*I usually make about half again as much of the dressing, depending on how big my broccoli bunches are.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Product Recommendations!

Product Recommendation #1:
I recently watched Bobby Flay, very atypically, get beaten trying to make gnudi, which is a little like a ravioli filling without the pasta around it, or like very light gnocchi. This left me with a profound hankering for gnocchi, and I remembered that I had a package of sweet potato gnocchi from Trader Joe's in the freezer. So I sautéed them in brown butter, chopped onion, and slivers of fresh sage from my garden, and finished the dish with salt and pepper and shredded Parmesan. And honestly, it was one of the best things I've ever had! Put this product on your TJ's shopping list immediately! SO YUMMY!!

Product Recommendation #2:
Cyd was always the grill master--the only cooking I could get her to do most times. But a friend recently commented that I don't seem to grill out much, and that made me stop and think: True enough, I probably haven't grilled out since Cyd passed away. So by the hardest, I managed to fire up my rusty old grill that only lights up on one side, and cooked some jerk pork using Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning that I bought on Amazon. I used country-style pork ribs coated liberally with the seasoning and refrigerated overnight. I must say, I usually make my own jerk marinade, but this stuff was DELICIOUS, without all the cutting and chopping! But I'm sure glad I bought the MILD Walkerswood jerk rub. YIKES! 🔥🔥🔥

Friday, August 11, 2017

Impatiently Awaiting the September Tomato

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the world's tiniest Caprese salad! I made it with two large (homegrown) cherry tomatoes, four small slices of fresh mozzarella, one ginormous piece of lettuce leaf basil from my garden, EVOO, herbed seasoned salt, and some of my beloved Saratoga Olive Oil's Neapolitan Herb Balsamic Vinegar. SO DELISH, and small and so quickly consumed. *sigh* I might have to break down and BUY some local tomatoes to tide me over until mine are ready to harvest.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Orphan Black Viewing Demands Southern-Style Feast!

Tonight was the first Orphan Black gathering we've had in ages, and we watched three episodes back-to-back! So I decided that the momentous occasion called for a veritable feast--a Southern meat-and-three extravaganza for my soul seestras. I prepared Ham Hock and Fava Bean Soup, Magic Pot Baby Back Ribs with Jamaican BBQ Sauce, Magic Pot Four Cheese Mac and Cheese, and Spicy Sautéed Kale (the kale and hot pepper were from my garden). And of course, we topped it all off with sweet tea pie!

First, I will tell you about the soup, which was an IP experiment that turned into an IP fail...and then into a soupy success. I tried to cook a bag of frozen (thawed) fava beans with onions, garlic, yellow peppers, a can of Rotel, a packet of Sazon, and a ham hock in some chicken stock, on manual for five minutes, but they came out really mushy--very flavorful, but sadly mushy. Plus, they had those awful, tough skins! So I sliced open and squeezed out each one of those darn beans, added another couple of cups of chicken stock, and used a stick blender to purée. Lastly, I stirred in a little heavy cream. It ended up tasting just like split pea with ham soup. Delish!

I bought two racks of frozen, pre-marinated (Kansas City BBQ) ribs, and I thawed them overnight in the fridge. To cook them, put the metal rack into the IP, pour in a cup of apple cider vinegar, then CURL the racks of ribs into the pot. Cook on either meat or manual for 27 minutes, then brush with your favorite BBQ sauce and broil for five to ten minutes in the oven until browned and crispy on top.

Monday, August 07, 2017

A Sweet Tea Pie Experiment

I bought two frozen pie crusts to make a birthday pie for a friend, but I didn't have room in the freezer to store the other crust. So what else could I do but make another pie? There was recently a whole pie episode on a show I watch called "Food Porn," and they featured a bakery called The Pie Hole in L.A. that makes an unusual item called Earl Grey Tea Pie. They didn't give an exact recipe, but they showed the steps of the process. Of course, I thought, "I could make that!" So I did. The pie has a bittersweet ganache layer and roasted/salted pistachios on the bottom, an Earl Grey-infused white chocolate mousse filling, and it's topped with lightly sweetened whipped cream and more chopped pistachios.

And I must say, I am so pleased with myself and how my Earl Grey Tea Pie experiment turned out so beautifully! It's light as feather (how could it not be, as it's mostly comprised of whipped cream?) with a little dark chocolate bitterness and some pistachio crunch on the bottom, and the tea flavor in the white chocolate mousse filling is more subtle than I had feared. The only thing that would perfect this pie is a homemade crust, which I will be sure to do next time.

Earl Grey Tea Pie
(Source: inspired by The Pie Hole's signature pie)

one 9-inch pie crust*, blind-baked and cooled

1 cup half-n-half
4 Earl Grey tea bags
1/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup roasted and salted pistachio, roughly chopped (divided)
3/4 cup chopped white chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

While you are baking and cooling your pie crust, bring the half-n-half and the teas bags just to a boil, remove from the heat, and let the tea steep for at least an hour until the half-n-half is a tan color. Remove the tea bags and discard.

Bring the infused half-n-half back to just before the boiling point. Add 1/4 cup to the bttersweet chocolate chips, and the other 3/4 cup to the chopped white chocolate (in separate bowls). Whisk until smooth. Spread two or three tablespoons of the bittersweet ganache into the bottom and up the sides of the baked and cooled pie shell. Sprinkle on two tablespoons of chopped pistachios. Place the pie shell in the fridge while you continue with the rest of the pie.

Whip two cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Don't worry about tiny bits of tea in your ganache--I like how that looks--but if larger pieces have escaped the tea bags, strain it through a mesh strainer.) Once the tea-infused white chocolate ganache has cooled to room temperature and has been strained (if necessary), whisk in one quarter of the whipped cream, then gently fold in another quarter of it. Remove pie shell from the fridge and add the white chocolate mousse filling.

Gently fold in the powdered sugar and vanilla bean paste to the remaining whipped cream, and then top the pie with that mixture, and the other two tablespoons of chopped pistachios. Chill at least two hours or, preferably, overnight.

*I used a frozen pie crust, But according to the "Food Porn" pie episode, The Pie Hole's two-crust recipe is as follows:
3 cups flour
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup cold water

Mix ingredients until it feels "like a baby's bottom" then chill. Roll out, fit into a pan, weight down, and blind bake for 20 minutes until GB&D.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Ina Makes Pasta, So I Make Pasta

Ina Garten is my spirit animal, and she prepared a lemon cream pasta on her show recently that inspired me to make something similar. Unlike Ina, I topped mine with some succulent smoked salmon that I brought home from St. John, New Brunswick, where I spent part of my summer vacation. What a fabulous combination! (Any seafood would be great with this pasta.)

Lemon Cream Angel Hair Pasta

In a medium hot skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter and add:
1 hot pepper, seeded and minced
2 large shallots, peeled and minced

Saute until the veggies are tender.

zest and juice of two lemons
3/4 to 1 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the sauce with one pound of angel hair pasta, cooked al dente and drained. Gently mix in chunks of smoked salmon. Garnish with 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

YO! Philly Cheesesteak Pasta in the Instant Pot

I tried something new in my magic pot tonight, an adaptation of another one of those recipe videos that was going around Facebook, called Philly Cheesesteak Pasta. It turned out well, but it basically tastes like Beef Stroganoff. (That's okay. I like Beef Stroganoff. Tee hee.)

Instant Pot Philly Cheesesteak Pasta
(Source: Adapted from Twisted Food)

Brown in a large skillet over medium heat in two tablespoons olive oil:
1 3/4 lbs. stew meat (I used chuck)
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Add browned meat to the IP. In the pan drippings plus one tablespoon butter, cook until tender:
1 large onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced (I prefer a Cubanelle)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Add the sauteed veggies to the pot, plus:
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Cook on stew mode for 35 minutes, then let release naturally.

Leave pot on warm and add:
1 lb. penne, cooked to al dente and drained
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
salt and pepper, to taste

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy (Belated) St. Paddy's Day to Ye!

I got invited to my wonderful friend Domenica's place for an amazing St. Patrick's Day dinner on Friday night. That girl even corned her own beef! So I didn't get around to making my own corned beef dinner until tonight.

I cooked the meat in my Instant Pot, of course, and then glazed it and finished it under the broiler. I also roasted carrots and potatoes in the oven instead of boiling them, and because I'm not a fan of steamed cabbage, I had a side of homemade hot pink sauerkraut instead. Irish-German fusion cuisine!

Instant Pot Corned Beef

1 bottle of hard cider (or beer)
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon ground celery
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4-5 lb. corned beef, soaked in cold water for 15-30 minutes
spice packet
Add all of the ingredients to the IP liner. Cook on Meat/Stew for 60 minutes, then let it release naturally. 

Optional glaze finish:
1/4 cup grainy mustard
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Mix the mustard, malt vinegar, and brown sugar and brush onto the cooked corned beef. Broil until caramelized.
Roasted Vegetables

6 medium potatoes, washed and cut into eighths
6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks (parsnips would be great, too)
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup malt vinegar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1 teaspoon herb seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
Mix all of the above ingredients together on a lined sheet pan. Roast at 400F for about an hour or until the vegetables are tender enough for your tastes. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Thickest, Silkiest Greek Yogurt in the Instant Pot!

    Somebody in the Instant Pot Community shared a tip about using Fairlife Ultra-Filtered Milk to make yogurt in the magic pot. I used 2%, and you can see below how thick it was before I even put it in my new "Euro-strainer."

    Of course, I had a near-catastrophe with what was apparently an old, weak starter. At five and a half hours, it was still just thick, warm milk, so I checked the temp (110F), added a 1/4 teaspoon of a different strain of dried cultures, stirred, and let it go another three and a half hours, and it set up perfectly! Yogurt crisis averted, leading to a second crisis: Too much yogurt! (Why didn't I make just half a gallon?)


    To make yogurt in the Instant Pot, pour a gallon of milk into the liner, hit "yogurt" then right away, hit "adjust" until it says "boil." Cover with a glass lid. It will take maybe an hour to come up to about 185F. Then I like to turn it off and leave it sit (covered) for about 30 minutes.

    Next, put the liner into a sink of cold water for a few minutes until it comes down to 110F. Scoop out a little of the warm milk into your starter (1/4 cup of prepared yogurt, or I use 1/4 teaspoon of dried starter cultures), then pour this mixture back into the pot along with sweetener of your choice (sugar, honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc--to taste, one half to one cup), and I use about a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste.

    Stir well, cover with the lid, and press "yogurt." It will stay warm and do its thing for eight hours,'s yogurt! For Greek yogurt, strain through cheesecloth or a flour sack towel, or a special yogurt strainer until it reaches the desired consistency. You might want to whisk it until smooth at this point, and then put it in containers and into the fridge.

    To strain, I have always strained my yogurt and skyr and ricotta and such in a damp flour sack towel tied to a kitchen cabinet knob over a bowl to catch the whey. It worked perfectly fine, but I splurged and bought an inexpensive ($16) yogurt strainer on Amazon and tried it out today after making a batch of yogurt in my magic pot. While not an absolutely essential cooking tool, it's so handy, and after about 7-8 hours in the fridge and then whisking to remove lumps, I ended up with the thickest, silkiest, Greek vanilla bean yogurt that I've ever made! Euro strainer FTW!

    There are few things in this life as sublime as my Greek Vanilla Bean Yogurt with homemade Nutty Maple and Brown Sugar Granola. Mmmmmm!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Taken In by Another Social Media Cooking Video

I saw a recipe making the rounds on Facebook called Creamy Sundried Tomato Parmesan Chicken that looked good, so I tried it tonight. And it was delish! Of course, I changed a few things in the recipe, as is my way. I used bone-in thighs (skin removed), because that's what I had on hand. And as they were thicker cuts, I had to brown them in a skillet, then finish cooking them in the oven. I also used a bag of "Heavenly" cocktail tomatoes from Trader Joe's that I needed to use or lose and then just half the amount of sun dried called for in the original recipe. And I used light cream for the sauce and no corn starch. I did use the optional dried Italian herbs, but I omitted the fresh basil--though that would have been lovely if I had any and/or the will to go to the store during the latest arctic blast.

Creamy Sundried Tomato Parmesan Chicken
(Source: Adapted from Cafe Delites)

For the chicken:

2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally to make 4 fillets (I used bone-in thighs, skin removed)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt (I used a spicy soul seasoning blend)
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons reserved sun dried tomato oil (or olive oil)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
7 oz jarred sundried tomato strips in oil, drained (reserve 2 tablespoons of oil for cooking)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
11/2 cups milk (or half-and-half or light cream)
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of milk**
1/3 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (do not include for dairy free option)
2 teaspoons Italian herbs (optional for added flavour)
2 tablespoons fresh shredded basil, to serve
  1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour mixture; shake off excess and set aside.
  2. Heat one tablespoon of the reserved oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Fry the chicken until golden on each side, cooked through and no longer pink (about 5-6 minutes each side, depending on the thickness of your chicken). Transfer onto a warm plate. (I transferred them to a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes until the thighs were cooked through.)
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet; sauté the garlic until fragrant (about one minute). Add the sundried tomatoes and mushrooms; fry until the mushrooms are just soft. (I chopped up a bag of cocktail tomatoes and threw them in as well.)
  4. Reduce heat to low-medium heat, add the milk (or cream if using) and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and add the milk/cornstarch mixture to the centre of the pan. Continue to simmer while quickly stirring the mixture through until the sauce thickens. (Only use cornstarch if using milk for your sauce.)
  5. Add in the parmesan cheese; allow sauce to simmer for a further minute until cheese melts through the sauce. Add the chicken back into the pan; sprinkle with the fresh basil and a little extra pepper (optional), and serve over pasta, rice or steamed vegetables.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Spezzatino? (You Do, and You'll Clean It Up!)

I caught an episode of Giada at Home the other day, and she made something called a "spezzatino,"  which was basically Chicken, Artichoke, and Cannelini Bean Stew. And of course, I converted the recipe to be made in my magic pot! As the weather is soon to turn frigid again, this dish is delicious, healthy, and will stick to your ribs until spring makes a proper--and less capricious--return.

Chicken, Artichoke and Cannellini Bean Spezzatino
(Source: Adapted from Giada de Laurentiis via Food Network)

4 cups chicken stock
1 small can tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 sprig of rosemary
1 bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 oz. bacon, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, large dice
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans (or butter beans), rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley*

Add the stock, tomato paste, oregano, basil, thyme, salt, pepper, rosemary, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes to the Instant Pot and stir well to combine. Submerge the chicken thighs and cook on poultry for 15 minutes, then do a quick release.

Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a skillet, cook the bacon, and reserve the crispy pieces. Then sauté the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in the bacon fat until the onion is tender.

Remove cooked chicken from the broth to cool. Add the sautéed veggies, artichokes, and beans to the IP and cook on low sauté until the carrots are tender. Remove the bay leaf and rosemary stem. Cut the chicken into one-inch pieces and add it and the fresh parsley* to the pot. Taste to correct seasonings. Serve the stew garnished with the reserved bacon pieces.

*A few handfuls of fresh spinach or basil would also be nice.