Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring Supper: Farfalle with Chicken and Broccoli

Spring is here.  (Kind of.)

Actually, it has been "Spring" for over a week now. So, it would be nice for the sun to make an appearance one of these days. But, I guess Mother Nature has other plans for us at the moment.

Speaking of plans, dinnertime came upon me rather quickly today, so I scrambled to find something simple yet satisfying to make.

I decided to go with veggies and pasta. So, I put on some water for pasta and browned some sliced chicken breasts in a pan with butter, garlic, and a bit of chicken broth. When the chicken was cooked through, I added in some baby broccoli -- stems and leaves, too -- as well as some oregano, basil and parsley. 

I reduced the heat to low and let it simmer uncovered while the pasta boiled. (I had some tri-color farfalle which seemed rather "Springy.") When the pasta was done, I drained all but 1/4 cup of the liquid from it, then added the chicken and broccoli mixture to the pasta pot. All it needed was a generous sprinkle of salt/pepper and a good toss to combine everything.

Served in deep bowls with some crusty bread and a simple green salad on the side, our springtime supper was ready in no time.
Now if only that sunshine could hurry itself up, too.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Orange Pepper Pork with Kale and Brown Rice

I usually make dinner 4 out of 5 nights during the work week, and while that seems like a chore to some, I love it. I get excited about going home and whipping something up. (And, the fact that I have a new gorgeous kitchen to come home to doesn't hurt.) The challenging part is to put together a meal in about 30-40 minutes give or take. I don't want to spend hours cooking after a long day, and no one at Chez Gourmess wants to wait until 9 p.m. to have dinner. So, I've become quite the pro at prep and planning ahead.

During times like these, creative cookery comes in very handy. I had a pork tenderloin that I had planned to make for a lovely Sunday dinner. I was going to slow-roast it with apples, bacon, and fennel, and serve it with butternut squash macaroni and cheese, fresh-baked bread, and a kale salad. It would be an all-day cookery production, perfect for a lazy Sunday -- not a weeknight. But, on my way home from the office last night, I started thinking about how good the pork would taste for dinner. I know that a boneless tenderloin doesn't take long to bake in the oven, but I didn't want to use the oven. I decided to try it on the stovetop instead. I'd brown it and then finish cooking it in some kind of sauce. I ended up with a tender and juicy piece of pork that I cut up and mixed into a tangy orange sauce that could compete with the best takeout in the neighborhood. Served with veggies over brown rice, it was the perfect meal to end a long, exhausting workday.

Orange Pepper Pork with Kale and Brown Rice
1lb boneless pork tenderloin roast (antibiotic-free!)
1/8 tsp ginger powder
1 1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 TBS olive oil
1/4 cup orange marmalade
2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
Crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 TBS butter
1 1/2 cups kale
6 mini sweet mixed peppers
4 cups cooked brown rice

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:

  • Remove any excess fat and the white membrane from the pork with a sharp knife. Pat pork dry. In a small bowl, mix together a pinch or two each of salt and pepper, the ginger powder and 1/4 tsp of the garlic powder. Sprinkle all sides of the pork with the seasoning mix.
  • Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven (or a large pot w/lid) over medium heat until it shimmers, then carefully add the pork and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes total.
  • While the pork is browning, whisk together the orange marmalade, soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, the remaining 1 tsp garlic powder, the sesame oil, the vinegars, a pinch or two of red pepper, a squirt of sriracha, and the chicken broth in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Chop the kale into bite-sized pieces, and seed/chop the peppers. Set aside.
  • When the pork is browned on all sides, reduce the heat to medium-low, and gently pour the sauce into the pan. Using tongs, turn the pork in the sauce until coated, then cover and let cook about 15 minutes or so, turning it over at the halfway point. If you have a meat thermometer, it's ready when it hits somewhere between 150-155 degrees. For the touch test, it should be fairly firm -- not solid, but not squishy. (Please do not stab/slice it open to check --all the lovely juices will be lost.)
  • Using your tongs, remove the pork and let it rest, covered with foil, about 10 minutes.
  • Swirl in the butter into the pan with the sauce and stir until melted. Add the peppers and kale to the pot and cook uncovered on low heat, stirring every few minutes, while the pork rests.
  • When the 10 minutes of resting are up, cut the pork into 1/4" slices, then cut those slices into smaller pieces. It should be slightly pink in the center, if all went well.
  • Return the pork to the pan with the peppers/kale and mix until everything is heated through, 1-2 minutes max. Season to taste with salt/pepper.
  • Scoop the pork mixture onto a mound of brown rice and spoon the extra sauce over it before serving.
So good!

Now, what to do for Sunday....

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Taco Night: With Eggs!

Tuesday is Taco Night.

But, what to do when the cupboards are mostly bare and the only thing in the fridge are eggs, cheese, some hot peppers and plain yogurt?  Make a delicious dinner for two, of course!
Spicy Eggs and Rice
2 cups cooked brown/white rice
1 taco seasoning packet (or use your own mix of garlic powder, paprika, cumin, chili powder, salt/pepper)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup salsa (mild or medium)
1/4 cup sliced jalapenos
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 eggs
2 TBS minced cilantro
Plain yogurt (or sour cream)
Hot sauce

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Combine the rice, taco seasoning and water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cover and cook until the rice has soaked up all the liquid.
  • Stir in the salsa and hot peppers and cook a few minutes more. Sprinkle with the cheese.
  • Make "holes" in the rice for the eggs, then gently crack the eggs into the spaces.
  • Reduce the heat to low and cover. When the whites of the eggs have started to solidify and the yolks wiggle when you gently shake the pan, remove the pan from the heat, but keep covered.
  • To serve: Use a spatula to gently place some rice and one of the eggs on each plate. Sprinkle with cilantro, and top with the plain yogurt (or sour cream) and hot sauce to taste. If you get to the table without much of a delay, the eggs should still be sunny side up (whites cooked, yolks a bit runny), which makes for a delicious bite when stirred into the rice mixture.
  • Serve with avocado slices topped with lime juice, salt, cilantro and a bit of chili powder, and/or quick quesadillas made on the stove using two flour tortillas and a heap of cheddar cheese.
Hooray for Taco Night!