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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Garlic Confit

It was quite awhile ago that I made a recipe for a sauce that called for garlic confit. So long ago, in fact, that I can't recall the original recipe. The garlic confit, however, I most definitely remember. 

My husband is a big garlic fan, he will even eat the cloves raw sometimes. I like it roasted, or chopped finely and used in recipes. This confit garlic is almost like candy. You can eat it alone, or in recipes, but it also has this amazing by-product. You get a nice batch of garlic infused olive oil, which I have used for grilling vegetables or even to start an omelet, in place of butter. 

And it's super simple to make. I can almost guarantee, if you like garlic, you will wind up doubling or tripling this batch ! 

Garlic Confit 
2 cups good quality olive oil 
30 cloves of garlic, peeled 

In a medium sauce pan, combine olive oil and garlic. Simmer over low heat, being careful not to boil, until the garlic is soft and golden brown. Remove garlic from oil and let both cool. Store garlic in the refrigerator, and oil is fine in a bottle on the counter.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Lemon Chicken with Tortellini and Spinach

I almost always find there is a "roundabout" way to my best recipes. This was one of those... 

My husband saw a recipe on a friend's Facebook page, and asked if I could make it. So I purchased the ingredients needed, then set about making it. Then I started thinking...he loves tortellini, so why not use that as the pasta ? And since it was originally a lemon chicken recipe, why not marinate the chicken with lemon pepper ? I love mushrooms, I should add those as well ! Oh, wait...and onions, and a fresh tomato from the garden... 

You can see where this is going. All that really remained from the original recipe was lemon, and chicken. It maybe had spinach, but at this point I had already veered away so far, what else could I do to it ? Substitute a hard goat cheese for parmesan, of course ! And this was the result: 

I promised my husband I would post the recipe, so he can make this when I am not here. It may seem like a lot of steps, but it was really not hard at all ! 

Lemon Chicken with Tortellini and Spinach 
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts 
Marinate with: 
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon agave or honey 
2 teaspoons fresh cracked pepper 
1 teaspoon salt 
Marinate at least 3 hours or overnight 

For the rest of the dish: 
1 small onion, diced finely 
8 ounces fresh baby bella mushrooms, sliced 
1 medium tomato, diced 
2 tablespoons olive oil (I used garlic infused, but any good olive oil is fine here)
2 packages cheese tortellini ( I used dry, but fresh will work as well) 
3 cups fresh spinach 
3 lemons, zested then juiced 
1/2 cup salted butter 
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper 
4 ounces hard goat cheese, grated (or parmesan, if you prefer) 

Start a large pot of boiling water for the pasta (whatever kind you choose, following package directions). In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, remove chicken breasts from marinade and place in the pan. Cook on one side approximately 5 minutes, then turn and cook and additional 5 minutes. When chicken is lightly browned on each side, and cooked through, remove from pan. Place on a plate to cool, then cut into bite sized pieces.

Check your pasta water, you should be ready to add dried pasta at this point. If using fresh, wait...

In the same saute pan as the chicken, add the diced onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes, then add mushrooms and tomatoes. Saute this mixture until everything is soft and combined, remove from heat.  If you are making fresh pasta, add this to the pot of boiling water, and cook while you dice the chicken breast.

At this point your pasta should be cooked. Drain it, reserving about 1/2 cup of liquid. Saute spinach in the liquid until it reduces down, then stir in the mushroom, onion and tomato mixture. Add the tortellini back to the pot, along with the chicken. Stir in the lemon juice, butter and pepper. Make sure it is all well combined, then top with lemon zest and grated cheese.



Thursday, June 16, 2016

"Magic" Chicken with Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Salad

A couple of years ago, I made a dip to take a party, made from Greek yogurt, cilantro and lime. I unfortunately left it at home, so I needed to find some way to re-purpose it. I decided it might make a good marinade, and the "magic" chicken was born.

During summer, a simple grilled meat and salad is the perfect dinner. It is simple to throw on some beets when grilling your protein, and then incorporate in your salad. Goat cheese and beets are a pretty classic combination, but I love the golden beets even more than the red, because they are more mild. This dinner was a really great summer salad !

"Magic" Chicken with Golden Beet and Goat Cheese Salad 
 For the chicken:
3 four ounce chicken breasts
1 cup full fat Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 limes, zested and juiced
Salt and pepper
In a large bowl, mix together yogurt, cilantro, zest and lime juice. Salt and pepper chicken breasts generously.  Place chicken in the yogurt mixture, and let marinate overnight. When ready to grill, preheat grill to high, and cook chicken 4-5 minutes on each side until completely cooked through.

For the salad:
2 medium golden beets
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups mixed greens
9-10 garlic scapes (or green onions, if these are not available)
4 ounces goat cheese crumbled
2 tablespoons pepitos
Rub the beets in the the olive oil, and wrap in foil. Place on the grill, and cook while chicken is grilling, turning frequently. Remove from grill, let cool, peel and dice. Toss scapes in olive oil and lightly grill, then chop. Arrange salad ingredients on a platter, top with your favorite dressing ( we like a citrus vinaigrette) and serve with chicken.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pickled Ginger

Post number three in the "lovely pickled things" series. Pickled ginger is mostly seen in Asian cuisine, in a strange pink form. This version is a much more zesty version, and I like to use the brine from it in vinaigrette as well. It is so versatile ! I used a mandoline to cut the ginger thinly. We actually have enjoyed just pulling a slice from the jar to snack on every now and again.

Pickled Ginger 

1 cup peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/2 cup cider vinegar 
1 cup water 
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 tablespoon salt 
1 tablespoon pickling spice
Place ginger in a pint jar, cover with remaining ingredients, and give a jar a good shake. Let sit on the counter for one hour, or refrigerate. Can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pickled Onions

As a follow up the previous post, pickled onions !

We love these on so many things. And, you are starting to see these more and more on the Food Network shows, so apparently I am "trending". They are so simple to make, I keep a jar in the refrigerator all the time. Try them on tacos, burgers, pizzas...any other ideas ?

Pickled Onions 

2 large red onions, sliced 
1 cup cider vinegar 
2 cups water 
3 tablespoons sugar 
1 tablespoon salt 
1 tablespoon pickling spice
Place onions in a quart jar, cover with remaining ingredients, and give a jar a good shake. Let sit on the counter for one hour, or refrigerate. Can be kept refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Homemade Pickling Spice

This might seem like a little bit of overkill, but I use this a lot at home. It's not just for dill pickles anymore. There will be a few recipes that follow where I will show you how (think pickled onions, pickled garlic, brining mix)! It is very expensive to purchase in the spice section at the regular grocery store, and if you buy these in the bulk section (in the small packages rather than the plastic containers), you can make this entire batch for the price of one 1 ounce bottle. 

 Homemade Pickling Spice 

3 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 tablespoons mustard seeds
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
3 tablespoons hot red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons allspice berries
1 1/2 tablespoon ground mace
3 small cinnamon sticks, crushed or broken into pieces
3 to 4 bay leaves, crumbled
3 tablespoons whole cloves
1 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger

Place peppercorns, mustard seeds and coriander seeds in a small saute pan. Heat and stir until fragrant, being careful not to scorch or burn them. Seeds may pop or crack while you are toasting them. Gently crack peppercorns and seeds in mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife on cutting board.

 Toss together with other spices. Store in tightly sealed plastic or glass container.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

Goat Cheese and Crab Alfredo with Blistered Grape Tomatoes

I often joke that I am the queen of leftovers, but when there are only two people in your household, you do tend to end up with several odds and ends of food. And, I love to grocery shop, so I often have odd combinations of ingredients on hand that can make for some creative meals. 

I had made goat cheese alfredo for dinner earlier in the week, but I made an enormous batch, so we had quite a bit left over. I had originally planned to make some crabmeat grilled cheese sandwiches, but I just wasn't feeling it when it came time to start dinner, and I had this large bowl of pasta to use up. Enter, the crab.... 

This was so easy to put together, so I will start with the alfredo recipe, and then add the other ingredients. My husband said his lunch leftovers the next day were the best lunch he has ever had. That's pretty high praise ! 

Goat Cheese and Crab Alfredo with Blistered Grape Tomatoes 

3 tablespoons butter 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
3 tablespoons flour 
2 cups heavy cream 
1 1/2 cups whole milk 
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 
8 ounces crab meat, flaked (you can use the imitation kind here, it will work as well) 
1 pound fresh linguine 
8 ounces grape tomatoes 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 
2 tablespoons basil, cut chiffonade 

Before you start the sauce, preheat the oven to 375. Toss the grape tomatoes in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and place on a shallow baking sheet. Roast tomatoes in oven until the skins start to split, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and let rest while you prepare the rest of the dish. 

In a large saucepan, melt butter and saute garlic until soft. Add flour and stir until flour starts to turn golden. Slowly add cream and milk, and stir over low heat until sauce thickens. Start a pot of water for the pasta, salt water well.  Add goat cheese, and continue to stir until melted.  Stir in crab meat, and remove from heat. When water for pasta comes to a boil, add linguine, and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and combine with sauce. Serve in individual bowls, topped with tomatoes and basil.