thegingerchef

Recipes from My Kitchen

For the Unmotivated.

Solo nights I try to get the adult-stuff done – tidy up the place, maybe do some laundry, get groceries, clean the kitchen, beach myself on the couch.  Some nights it happens…some nights it doesn’t.  So for those nights where you know you need to do things, but you just can’t Adult, I bring you another delicious one-pot wonder!

The great thing about dishes like these is that you can use/add/substitute almost any ingredient you want to.  The recipe calls for quinoa, but you only have cous cous?  Sure!  Don’t like black beans, try chickpeas instead!  Fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, with or without cilantro!  The possibilities are endless.  Throw it all in a pot, set it and forget it, head to the couch – remote in hand.  Glorious.

In all seriousness, this meal is great for a quick dish, side dish, or leftovers the next day (i.e. what I’ll be having in 5 minutes).  You pretty much get a big pot, throw in all the ingredients, and then wait for it to cook up.  It’s a pretty dish, you can tailor it to your liking, and who doesn’t like simple (especially on nights when your stomach is louder than your motivation)?

1460068212995.jpgONE-POT Mexican Quinoa
(http://damndelicious.net/2014/04/09/one-pan-mexican-quinoa/)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  3. Serve immediately.
  4. (My Note:  Add meat to it for the leftovers, especially if you have leftover meat from earlier in the week!)
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Just in time for the weekend!

“Zucchini Cheese on Toast.”  This is a fabulous, fancy, easy-peasy breakfast.  When you read these ingredients together, you might think there’s no way this will taste good.  And, admittedly, even *making* this dish I had those thoughts.  But it was so good, I ate all of it, and – had I a spare zucchini in my refrigerator – might have made even more (nom nom nom).

This recipe is very simple to make, and is great if you have extra squash that didn’t get used up and might be ending its life span.  They usually aren’t as pretty, might not slice as nicely.  But grating them?  Yeah, you can grate anything and it’s tasty.  For reference, I used one whole zucchini, one egg, and it covered 3 pieces of wheat bread.  I kind of wish I had fancier toast, maybe something a little heartier (that didn’t crisp in the oven as much) but this was still delicious.

Grate the zucchini (either on a hand grater or in a food processor – I recommend a hand grater, less mess to clean up, which makes this meal even faster).  Put the grated veggie in some sort of tea towel and squeeeeeeze all of the water out of it, as best you can (nobody likes soggy toast).  Mix in the egg, shallots, cheese, salt, and pepper.  I toasted my bread just a little before topping it with the egg/veg mixture – this makes the toast a little more stable when trying to spread stuff on it.  Put the toast on a cookie sheet, top it with the mix, and broil for 5-8 minutes (I think i needed 7 minutes for mine).  Try to get the veggie mix as close to the edges as you can, so the bread won’t burn under the broiler.

I think a good way to describe this is “portable quiche.”  It has a lot of the same ingredients, has a savory component to it, but is less messy than trying to scoop out a pie-wedge of goodness when it’s hot from the oven.  Also, it’s enough for one person (eh, maybe 2 if you don’t mind sharing) so you’re not eating leftover quiche the rest of the week.   …not saying leftover quiche is a bad thing, but I feel bad making more meals when there are plenty of leftovers to be consumed, and I would definitely rather cook more and re-heat less.

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Mmmm, Toasty Goodness

  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 1 cup mature cheddar, grated
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 3 slices bread
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat the broiler (grill for UK readers).
  2. Toast the bread and put to one side.
  3. Put the zucchini in a clean cloth and twist to squeeze out the excess liquid.
  4. Place the zucchini, cheddar, egg, and shallot in a bowl.
  5. Add a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
  6. Lay out the toast on a baking tray.
  7. Spread the zucchini mixture on top of the toast, making sure to cover as much of the toast as possible to prevent the edges from burning.
  8. Place under the broiler at a medium heat until golden brown and bubbling (about 5-8 minutes).
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I can’t believe I ate the whole thing… (oh, wait, yes I can)

On busy nights, I like simple dishes.  I also try to make things that my chickadee will eat (maybe not every component or spice, but generally so – I’m not making 4 different meals for 2 people, every night).  Last evening was a Cooking Light recipe that I just happened to have all the ingredients for (well, I thought I had frozen spinach, but since I didn’t, I just used spinach pieces out of a salad-mix instead).

Tonight was a Chicken-Quinoa Marsala bowl.  I about-halved the recipe, which turned out to be ~1.5 chicken breasts (I always keep some frozen in ziplocs), a handful of spinach, and 1 prepared cup of quinoa.  That made two nicely sized bowls for me (without completely overdoing it…kinda sorta…ok, maybe a little) and left plenty of poultry for the little one (she loves cous cous, but is not a fan of quinoa – much to the babysitter’s distress, I’m sure, when I pack it in her lunch).

You can make everything but the quinoa in one pan, which is pretty handy – and you can prep most of the ingredients as you go along and something else is cooking (quinoa can fend for itself).   In this picture you also see a pan of spiralized squash.  I wanted to do baked chips, but ran out of time, so this was a quick sautee.  I tried to convince the kiddo they were noodles – and to her credit she tried them – but was not a fan.  I, however, thought they were great and ate her portion.  (This is why I run.)

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Overall, the dish was a winner (and chickadee loved the chicken – she asked for seconds!).   I did have too much liquid in the chicken pan, so I had to pour some into a cup (saved it in case it got too thick and needed thinning), but the flavor was really good.  I only had two real edits –  I added poultry seasoning to the quinoa batch instead of cooking it in chicken broth (was trying to flavor it for kiddo) and it was still really good; and I rarely (if ever) cook with chicken thighs – they’re good, and I love dishes with the crispy skin, but chicken breasts are more versatile and I keep them on-hand.  Since it’s a Cooking Light recipe you know it’s (mostly) healthy and pretty tasty – I haven’t found too many of theirs to be unpalatable (which is why I’m still a subscriber!).

 

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Hope you guys enjoy!

Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowls

http://www.myrecipes.com/m/recipe/mushroom-chicken-marsala-bowls

Ingredients
2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup dry Marsala wine
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation
Hands-on: 35 Minutes   Total: 35 Minutes

  1. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add quinoa to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until toasted and fragrant. Add 1 1/4 cups stock; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add spinach; cook 1 1/2 minutes or until beginning to wilt. Remove spinach from pan.
  3. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in pan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add mushrooms; cook 8 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove mushroom mixture from pan.
  4. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 4 minutes, browning on all sides. Add shallots, thyme, and garlic; sauté 1 1/2 minutes. Add wine and remaining 1/4 cup stock, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes or until liquid is reduced by two-thirds and becomes slightly syrupy. Remove from heat. Add remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, mustard, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, stirring constantly until butter melts. Stir in mushrooms and spinach. Serve over quinoa.
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Cheers, to Gordon Ramsay – you make a good dish.

I stumbled on an episode of some kind of Master Chef show the other day (well, what really drew me in were the celebrity couples competing to make the better cupcake).  Gordon Ramsay, he-who-yells-for-every-occasion, was the judge in this particular contest and it was fairly entertaining.  After celebrity couples, two super models squared off (who knew Gigi Hadid was a burger connoisseur?), then former winner-Adults vs. former winner-Kids.  This.  This is what really captivated me.  I really like cooking shows if they provide the recipe (or I can Google it), and this one was searchable.  The teams were competing to make one of Gordon’s signature dishes – Salmon en Croute.   And I just knew I had to make it.

And tonight, I did.

And, I ate entirely too much of it (considering the ingredients).

And, I’m not sorry.

This dish is a crowd WOW-er.  I would highly recommend it if you are going to have company over.  Presentation is key, the dish is beautiful, and would look great next to some asparagus.  We are under a tornado warning, so I skipped the store and just ate the fish.   Overall the dish is not hard to make – and it looks super fancy.  You just need to do your prepping in a timely manner, and have a little arm-strength when making the sauce, but otherwise it’s a fairly simple recipe.  (Shh, don’t tell your dinner guests – just let them be impressed.)  Here is where I got the recipe

salmon:  http://www.redonline.co.uk/food/recipes/salmon-en-croute

Hollandaise:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/hollandaise-sauce-recipe.html

so you can read over that for the details – I’ll just go over the highlights.

Fist step – thaw out the puff pastry.  This takes about 30 min at room temperature to be pliable enough, and I’ve learned (the hard way) you can’t rush this.  Once it’s thawed out, roll it out a little thinner so there’s enough to cover the fish.

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For this dish, you need two pieces of salmon, fairly equal size.  The first step is combine softened butter, dill, basil, and lemon zest (or juice, if you’re lemon-less) to make a paste; you’ll spread this on one of the fillets.  On the other, dijon mustard.

 

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In case you don’t have dill – and I haven’t grown any for a while, so I don’t have any fresh or frozen dill handy – these squeeze bottles are *great* to have on hand.  I also usually keep one in lemongrass and ginger, but they make many types of herbs.  They’re great when you just need a little flavor in a sauce, they impart a very genuine flavor (in my opinion).

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When the boneless/skinless fillets are cut, one end will usually be thicker than the other.  Since you are going to put these pieces of fish on top of each other, you’ll need to put them head-to-foot so that they are similar in thickness across the stack.

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The fish are on a paper towel, as I patted them dry before adding the topping

Put the fish stack on the rolled-out puff pastry and wrap it up, placing it seam-side down on a baking sheet, then chill in the fridge for a few minutes.   When you’re ready to bake, make a few crisscrosses on the pastry sheet with a knife and brush with an egg wash.

Doesn't it just look pretty?

Doesn’t it just look pretty?

Bake the fish 20 minutes or so, until it’s cooked all the way through (I think I baked these about 22 minutes).  When it’s done, transfer to a cutting board and let it rest for a few minutes.  While it rests, make the Hollandaise.  This is where your trips to the gym will pay off, unless you’re using a hand mixer (c’mon now, don’t cheat, make it the right way!) your arm will get very tired of whisking.  But, it’s so worth it in the end.  There’s no real trick, other than a little steam heat and time.  The directions (in this recipe) say don’t put the whisking pot directly into the hot water (steam bath), as it will cook the eggs, but my whisking pot was really thick-walled, so I did touch-and-go in the hot water to help the process along.  You’ll know it’s done when it stops being foamy (like whipped eggs) and starts looking thick like a gravy.

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Beautiful Hollandaise. Add a pinch of cayenne to give it some zip!

 

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By now, your salmon should be cooled (I had extra puff pastry from where I wrapped the fish, why not bake it, too, amiright?), slice it open and serve with the Hollandaise drizzled over it.  Your guests will be impressed with your kitchen skills (even though it really is just the basics) and your dish will be the talk of dinner.

Ta-da!!

Ta-da!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Different Kind of Meatball

I have made these Apple and Chicken meatballs before, but I have yet to actually pair them with anything – like a pasta, or a sauce, or anything – I usually just eat them.  I know, I’m terrible.  My goal is one day to find some such thing; but until then, I will just eat them plain and enjoy their simplicity.

I like these because they’re just a little different than your typical meatball (ground beef, red sauce).  These are made with chicken and a grated apple (I haven’t tried it, but I could almost guarantee you could substitute in applesauce).   So, lastnight, step 1 was Grate the Apple (but about halfway through I got tired of grating and just chunked it 🙂 ) .

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Next, put some chicken breast, apple, and a few spices (onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper) in the food processor, with some bread crumbs, parm cheese, and parsley.

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You pretty much need this to become almost paste-like, so don’t worry about over-doing it.

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When it’s all mixed up, roll them into uniform spheres and roll them in a little flour.  This is for frying – I would think if you chose to bake them instead you could skip this part, but it does help fry up a nice outside.  The first batch I did had was on too high of heat – they charred a little more on the outside than I would have liked (don’t get me wrong, I ate them anyway, they just weren’t pretty).  If that happens, just make the next batch at a slightly lower temperature (I always do just a few meatballs in the first batch for this reason, adjust the temperature if needed, and put more meatballs in subsequent batches).

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As you can see, I am not content with just making meatballs – there’s also some farfalle for my chickadee, the chicken I’m not currently using that will be going into the freezer for another day (buy in bulk – yay!), the soup I’m also making (that will probably be in another post) and all of its ingredients, and other various stages of unrest.  I need a sous chef – not to chop up my veggies and prep food for me, I like doing all that; I need someone to clear out my space, get rid of the dishes, put food back in the fridge, and keep me a little more in order (so I can stop setting off the smoke alarms; yes that happened last week…twice).

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Then, when all is said and done, you have these perfectly golden, tasty, nekkid meatballs…that still need a sauce, or a noodle, or a zoodle, or a hoagie.   Delicious, but a little lonely.  These meatballs aren’t overly sweet, but they are very juicy and have a nice, light flavor.  Hopefully, the kids will like them (aside from frying, they’re basically chicken and apples), for those with picky eaters.

I know I found this online somewhere – and when I find the actual recipe link I’ll post it.  Until then, 1 apple, 1 chicken breast, and a few spices of your choosing should do you just fine.

Update: here is the link!

Chicken Apple Bites

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Soup warms the soul

I consider soup a winter food.   I know gazpacho and vichyssoise are good for the summer, but I just can’t bring myself to make them.  But in the cold seasons, I make soup a few times a week.  

One of my favorite local restaurants has a variation of this soup (Spicy Chickpea and Tomato), so when I saw this recipe I knew I’d love it.   (It doesn’t hurt that it’s a Martha recipe!)

This is a super simple recipe, and I had all of the ingredients on-hand.   I also ate three bowls (don’t judge me).   For those who are familiar with the word ‘garbanzo bean,’ chickpeas are the same thing, so no need to be confused.

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I used fresh cilantro instead of parsley, and used my immersion blender to purée (man, I love that thing).

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And yes, I garnished my bowl, all three of them; the sour cream might actually be what makes the dish.

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http://www.marthastewart.com/353560/spiced-chickpea-and-tomato-soup

Spiced Chickpea and Tomato Soup

INGREDIENTS

3 garlic cloves, minced
3 dried hot red chiles, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes, with juice
1/2 cup drained jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed
3 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
Sour cream, for serving
Parsley sprigs, for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Using a mortar and pestle or the back of a spoon, crush garlic, chiles, coriander, salt, and caraway to form a paste.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic mixture, and cook until just softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and stock. Simmer, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender. Rewarm if necessary. Divide among bowls, and top each with a dollop of sour cream and a sprig of parsley.

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