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.

zucc1

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.)

dinner 1

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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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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Toddlers are not reliable food critics.

My kid loves pizza.  I love pizza.  Who doesn’t?  So I saw a recipe for Pizza Pinwheels (it was on some facebook post I saw about “7 things you can make with Puff Pastry”).  Well the store was out of puff pastry (darn you, Super Bowl parties!) but I thought crescent rolls would be a good substitute (and I was not wrong).

I was so excited – “I’ll make these for dinner”, I thought; “My toddler will inhale these,” I thought.  Well, I thought wrong.  One bite and from across the kitchen I heard “Eeeew, these are dis-GUS-ting, where are the other things I like?”  Meaning “where’s the real pizza, instead of this cheap-o knockoff?”  Kid, you don’t like my pizza-experiment, then you get fish sticks.  Kid approved of the fish sticks.  Kid 1, Mom 0.

But, there is always a silver lining.  In this case, there are a few of them!  One being, they are less than 5 ingredients and about 15 minutes to make – great for a snack, an appetizer, or (in my case today) breakfast.  Two, pretty cost efficient to make (I had 2 of the 3 ingredients on hand).  And three, I loved them.  In fact, the picture I took (below) was after I inhaled about 4 of them (I couldn’t stop myself).  Since they were mine, all mine, I saved a few for lunch today…and promptly ate them for breakfast (in fact…I started eating them in the parking lot, as I walked into work; I’m terrible).  So even though my pint-sized food critic was not impressed (she dips her green beans in ketchup, can she really be trusted??), this recipe is a keeper.  And, bonus – they were only about 50 calories per pinwheel (by using the Pillsbury crescent sheets).

pizza

Keep in mind, the recipe below used Puff Pastry – which definitely holds its shape better than the crescent rolls… So mine may look a little wonky, but don’t let that deter you, they were delicious.

http://www.purewow.com/recipes/7-Party-Appetizers-to-Make-with-Puff-Pastry

ITALIAN PINWHEELS

Roll out the puff pastry a little to flatten it. Spread ⅓ cup tomato paste all over the puff pastry. Layer 4 ounces sliced soppressata on top of the tomato paste, overlapping each piece a little. Sprinkle ½ cup grated pecorino cheese evenly over the entire surface. Starting with the side closest to you, roll the whole thing into a tight roll. Slice the roll into ½-inch-thick pieces. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 400°F until golden brown, 11 to 13 minutes.

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