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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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!).

 

dinner 2

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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Martha Stewart is Never Wrong

Soooo, here I am again!  I was asked – twice last week, believe it or not – whatever happened to my food blog.  Well, as most people can relate, life happened.  I still cook; I still find unusual, or re-imagined, or comforting recipes; and I still experiment on my friends with new recipes (not all of them are winners, for certain).  But usually I get so wrapped up in the cooking, enjoying the process, or teaching my chickadee how to measure and pour that I forget to take photos, or write down what worked and what didn’t.   I truly am living in the moment, and I’m very unapologetic for that 😊.  But then some nights, I make something so good that tomorrow’s leftovers are in jeopardy.  That is tonight.  I made a lasagna – which of course brings to mind lots of richness, and heavy sauces – perfect for a cold evening, so I intenionally made about half a batch to deter eating a gigantic pan all by my lonesome.  Cause, let’s be honest…girl can eat.

Anyway, I have saved and bookmarked about two thousand recipes (that’s a very conservative estimate), and a lot of those come from a tried-and-true favorite, Martha Stewart.  Years ago, I subscribed to her “Everyday Food” magazine (also available at most grocery store checkouts).  This is great for a beginner in the kitchen – the recipes are fairly simple, no real unusual ingredients.  But her “Living” magazine is more creative, the recipes are a little tougher, and can be very involved (yet delicious).  Both sources also culminate at her website – a great resource for any kitchen questions you might have (I reference it frequently; and in fairness, my other go-to resource is Food Network).  I also follow Martha on Facebook, and that’s where some random ideas live; it’s a virtual grab bag of culinary suggestions, and I love that they organize it by category:  10 one-pot meals, 25 shrimp recipes, 85 things you can do with chicken!  Be careful, you can lose yourself in there 😊 (www.marthastewart.com).

This randomness is how I found tonight’s recipe: Rich artichoke and mushroom lasagna.  I picked it because I had most of the ingredients on hand, and really, I can’t turn down anything with artichokes in it.  I made some slight changes – I didn’t roast the mushrooms (I tossed them in at the end with the mix in the skillet), I figured they’d bake in the dish just fine and I was not disappointed – great flavor without being mushy; I used regular lasagna noodles instead of no-boil.

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http://www.marthastewart.com/338978/rich-artichoke-and-mushroom-lasagna

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3 cups drained canned artichoke hearts (two 13.75-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 recipe Basic Bechamel Sauce
  • 8 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 3/4 cups grated Parmesan (3 1/4 ounces)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, with racks in middle and upper third. Divide mushrooms between two rimmed baking sheets. Toss each with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until tender, 20 minutes, stirring mushrooms and rotating sheets halfway through. Let sheets cool on wire racks.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add artichokes and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes. Add lemon zest, chives, and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 3 minutes. Transfer artichokes to a medium bowl.

  3. Spread 1 cup sauce in an 8-inch square baking dish. Top with 2 noodles. Layer with half the artichokes, then 1 cup sauce and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Top with 2 more noodles, half the mushrooms, 1 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup Parmesan. Repeat layering with remaining ingredients, reserving the last 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover lasagna loosely with foil and bake on top rack until sauce is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes. (Place a rimmed baking sheet on middle rack to catch any drippings.) Remove lasagna from oven and heat broiler. Sprinkle with reserved Parmesan and broil until cheese is browned and bubbling, 3 to 5 minutes. Let cool 20 minutes before slicing.

This is why I like cooking far more than baking.  Baking is so precise, and with cooking I can easily throw everything in a pot and forget about it.  With these types of recipes, feel free to tailor to your tastes and needs.  I didn’t roast the mushrooms, nor did I broil it (I was starving by then!).   But remember – good, quality recipes will always be delicious.  And if you need a good one, Martha Stewart is never a bad choice.

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So nice, I made it twice!

This will be a very short post.  That’s how easy this meal is.  And it was so crazy delicious (I had it for dinner lastnight) that I just had to make it again.  It took about 10 minutes, and was very filling.  You could probably even mix and match ingredients, but definitely try it as soon as you can!!  (The recipe came from my Eating Light magazine.)

20140329_113007Ingredients
Chorizo (any flavor, I used regular/sweet, and for one person I just used one link)
Shallot, finely chopped
Cherry tomatoes – quartered
Chickpeas (I used half a can for each meal)
Snow Peas, Chopped (This wasn’t part of the recipe, but I had them, and they not only made it colorful, but added a really delicious crunch)
Cooking Sherry
Parsley

 

Sautee the diced chorizo and shallot in a pan with a little oil.  I removed the casing from the sausage before adding it to the pan.  After the meat is browned, add in the tomatoes, chickpeas, and peas.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the tomatoes break down.  Add in the parsley and 2 Tbsp of the sherry, then remove from heat (continue stirring for a minute or two).  20140329_113840

 

That’s it!  It’s so delicious, crazy good, and very low incalories.

 

 

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Brought to you by the letter E, for Easy.

I don’t always use my crockpot as much as I’d like to – it can make a ton of food, and I can only do leftovers so many times.  Tonight I did an oldie-but-goodie, because it’s still chilly out, and reading books with my baby girl was more important than being in the kitchen 🙂

You will read the ingredients, and question them.  Don’t.  Just do it, and enjoy the results!!

Ingredients:
Pork Roast (no other cut will do)
White Onion
Lipton’s Onion Soup Mix (1 packet)
Can of Coke (regular, NOT diet)

Here’s a tip – if you can find the crock pot liners, buy them!!  It will make clean-up (and your life) much easier.  They’re in with the Zip-Loc stuff, and all they are are crockpot shaped plastic bags – just line the inside with one and fill with your ingredients.  Cleanup is easy – just remove the bag and throw away.

Slice up a white onion and line the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the pork roast on top (there will be a big layer of fat – you can trim it if you want to, but leave some of it).  Pour the packet of soup mix over the roast, then pour a can of coke (12 oz) in and around the pork.  That’s it!!  Cover and cook on low – go to work and forget about it!  The cola gives the pork a sweet flavor, and breaks down the meat really well.

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*This is the pork, with the soup mix on it – pre-cooking

I decided pork just wasn’t enough for dinner, so I made a potato dish to go with it.  It was also easy, but I rushed it and it didn’t turn out quite like it should have.  But still delicious 😉  Slice a potato on a mandoline, about 1/8 – 1/4″ thick.   (The recipe called for both white and sweet, but I just used white.)  In an oven-proof skillet, brush butter on the bottom, and put on the stove on low heat.  Layer the potato slices in overlapping circles with each other to complete the bottom layer.  Season with salt, pepper, parsley.  Keep adding potatoes in layers, adding more butter and seasoning.  Crank the heat up to medium/high and cook for about 5 minutes (get a good set on the bottom layer).  Put the whole skillet in the oven (covered with foil) @400 for about 15 minutes.  Then remove the foil and cook @450 for another 15-20 minutes.    Here’s where mine flopped:  You should be able to scoop the potatoes out of the pan by loosening the bottom, and slide them onto the foil from earlier.   Then, you put a plate over the foil and invert – you should have a pretty looking potato-pie.  Mine fell apart, so I just scooped them onto a plate.  Same difference 🙂20140127_162722

For a topping, mix sour cream (or Greek yogurt!) with a little lemon juice, zest, fresh dill, salt, pepper, and chives.   Scoop a little topping onto the potatoes on your plate.  Gives them a great little zing 🙂

 

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