Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

Posts from the ‘main course’ category

We eat chicken at least once a week and we got so tired of my boring baked chicken preparation.  Now that I’ve discovered this wonderful Turkish Seasoning from Penzys Spices, we have an easy and tasty way to make chicken that we all look forward to.  Follow the simple marinade and refrigerate in the morning or in the afternoon, and cook the chicken how you like (bake, saute or grill).  The marinade should work on lamb and beef just as well as it does on chicken.

Turkish Chicken

Recipe adapted from Penzeys catalog.

Turkish Chicken

Ingredients:

Turkish Seasoning by Penzeys Spices

1 pound chicken (we prefer boneless, skinless)

Extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 1 tablespoon Turkish Seasoning and rub over chicken.  Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or all day.  Bake in oven at 375 or 400 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through (insert knife into thickest part of chicken and chicken will no longer look pink and the juices should run clear).  Alternately, sauté in skillet (or grill) over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes per side or until chicken is just cooked through (insert knife into thickest part of chicken and chicken will no longer look pink and the juices should run clear).  Let the meat rest for a few minutes (so it retains its juices) before serving or slicing.

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I love brick oven pizza – the crust is so light and crunchy and the toppings take center stage.  When I saw this recipe in the Wall St. Journal for making pizzas at home, I thought it would be fun to try.  This is not an easy weeknight dinner, but this is doable over the weekend (and can be a fun “hands-on” dinner party idea) – and best of all, you can make parts of it ahead of time.  You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead, the dough up to 3 days ahead (or frozen up to a month ahead), and the rest is easy.  Three quick notes — 1) take the fresh mozzarella out of its liquid the day before you make your pizzas so it doesn’t soak your pizzas, 2) the dough might need a bit more cold water when mixing (up to 1/2 cup), and 3) I substituted pancetta for the guanciale.  I did not have a pizza stone and my pizzas turned out just fine.  You will be amazed at how good these artisanal pizzas are – made in your own kitchen!

Pear Pizza

Recipe from The Wall Street Journal (article by Sarah Karnasiewicz and recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food”)

Romana Pizza Dough

Marc Vetri’s simple recipe produces a hearty-yet-thin Roman-style crust that is easy to execute at home. Makes 6-7 12-inch rounds.

Ingredients

6 cups high-protein flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour),

plus extra, for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2¾ teaspoons packed fresh cake yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)

2½ teaspoons fine sea salt

What To Do

1. Put flour, sugar, oil and 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water in bowl of a stand mixer. Crumble in yeast. Using dough hook, mix on low speed until everything is moist, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until dough clings to dough hook, about 4 minutes. Add salt and mix until dough is very soft and stretchy, another 3 minutes.

2. Cut dough into 6 or 7 equal pieces and roll into balls (about the size of a softball) on unfloured board. Arrange balls on baking sheet and scatter a little flour on top of dough. Cover entire sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Working one at a time, flatten ball on a floured work surface. Hold disk in the air and circle your fingers around the edge, pinching gently around the edge to make a border. It’s easier to start stretching dough in the air instead of on a work surface, because gravity will pull and stretch it. Once it’s about 8 inches in diameter, place dough on floured work surface and pat it out with your fingertips, from the center toward the edge, to fully stretch. Gently push your palms into center of the dough to stretch it toward the edges. Pat and stretch to a round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-¼ inch thick. Top as you like and bake.

Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate dough for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw and bring to room temperature before rolling out.

Basic Pizza Sauce

Don’t skimp here. Since this base has only four components, flavorful tomatoes, quality oil and fresh herbs make the difference between a so-so and a sublime sauce. Makes about 2½ cups, about 4 pizzas’ worth.

Ingredients

1 (16-ounce can) peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ bunch fresh basil

What To Do

Purée everything with an immersion or upright blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make ahead: You can refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Instructions For All Pizzas:

• Remove all but the bottom rack in your oven. Set baking stone on remaining rack.

• Preheat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. If you have convection, turn it on to help brown and blister the bottom of the pizza.

• Place dough on a well-floured rimless baking sheet. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough round, then spread from the center to the edges by moving the ladle in widening concentric circles.

• When recipe calls for fresh mozzarella, slice cheese into 2½-inch-thick rounds, then break each up into 2 pieces and scatter over pizza.

Featured Pizza: Sliced Pears, Guanciale, Provolone, Mozzarella and Mixed Herbs

This pie is all about contrasts: salty guanciale, sweet pear, mild mozzarella and sharp provolone.

Scatter half a very thinly sliced pear, ¼ cup diced provolone, ¼ cup fresh mozzarella and ¼ cup finely chopped guanciale onto dough. Slide pizza onto hot stone and bake at 500 degrees until cheese melts and crust is golden brown, 5-7 minutes. When pizza comes out of oven, scatter 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (try parsley and thyme) on top.

—Recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food,” Ten Speed Press

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I love brick oven pizza – the crust is so light and crunchy and the toppings take center stage.  When I saw this recipe in the Wall St. Journal for making pizzas at home, I thought it would be fun to try.  This is not an easy weeknight dinner, but this is doable over the weekend (and can be a fun “hands-on” dinner party idea) – and best of all, you can make parts of it ahead of time.  You can make the sauce up to 4 days ahead, the dough up to 3 days ahead (or frozen up to a month ahead), and the rest is easy.  Two quick notes — 1) take the fresh mozzarella out of its liquid the day before you make your pizzas so it doesn’t soak your pizzas and 2) the dough might need a bit more cold water when mixing (up to 1/2 cup).  I did not have a pizza stone and my pizzas turned out just fine.  You will be amazed at how good these artisanal pizzas are – made in your own kitchen!

Parma Pizza

Recipe from The Wall Street Journal (article by Sarah Karnasiewicz and recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food”)

Romana Pizza Dough

Marc Vetri’s simple recipe produces a hearty-yet-thin Roman-style crust that is easy to execute at home. Makes 6-7 12-inch rounds.

INGREDIENTS

6 cups high-protein flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour),

plus extra, for dusting

2 tablespoons sugar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2¾ teaspoons packed fresh cake yeast (or 1 teaspoon instant yeast)

2½ teaspoons fine sea salt

WHAT TO DO

1. Put flour, sugar, oil and 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons cold water in bowl of a stand mixer. Crumble in yeast. Using dough hook, mix on low speed until everything is moist, about 4 minutes, scraping bowl as needed with a rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix until dough clings to dough hook, about 4 minutes. Add salt and mix until dough is very soft and stretchy, another 3 minutes.

2. Cut dough into 6 or 7 equal pieces and roll into balls (about the size of a softball) on unfloured board. Arrange balls on baking sheet and scatter a little flour on top of dough. Cover entire sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Working one at a time, flatten ball on a floured work surface. Hold disk in the air and circle your fingers around the edge, pinching gently around the edge to make a border. It’s easier to start stretching dough in the air instead of on a work surface, because gravity will pull and stretch it. Once it’s about 8 inches in diameter, place dough on floured work surface and pat it out with your fingertips, from the center toward the edge, to fully stretch. Gently push your palms into center of the dough to stretch it toward the edges. Pat and stretch to a round about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8-¼ inch thick. Top as you like and bake.

Make ahead: Cover and refrigerate dough for up to 3 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Thaw and bring to room temperature before rolling out.

Basic Pizza Sauce

Don’t skimp here. Since this base has only four components, flavorful tomatoes, quality oil and fresh herbs make the difference between a so-so and a sublime sauce. Makes about 2½ cups, about 4 pizzas’ worth.

INGREDIENTS

1 (16-ounce can) peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano

¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

½ bunch fresh basil

WHAT TO DO

Purée everything with an immersion or upright blender. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Make ahead: You can refrigerate the sauce in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Instructions For All Pizzas:

• Remove all but the bottom rack in your oven. Set baking stone on remaining rack.

• Preheat oven to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes before baking. If you have convection, turn it on to help brown and blister the bottom of the pizza.

• Place dough on a well-floured rimless baking sheet. Ladle 2/3 cup sauce into the center of the dough round, then spread from the center to the edges by moving the ladle in widening concentric circles.

• When recipe calls for fresh mozzarella, slice cheese into 2½-inch-thick rounds, then break each up into 2 pieces and scatter over pizza.

Featured Pizza: Parma Pizza

Piled with arugula and slices of salty prosciutto, this pie is like the love child of a pizza and a salad.

Scatter ½ cup cubed fresh mozzarella and ½ cup cubed fontina cheese on dough. Bake on pizza stone at 500 degrees until crisp. Mix together 2 cups arugula, 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon Sherry vinegar and salt and pepper, to taste. When pizza comes out of oven, put arugula mixture on top and garnish with 4 thin slices of prosciutto.

—Recipes adapted from Marc Vetri’s “Rustic Italian Food,” Ten Speed Press

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This is a wonderful and interesting dish – a great option for a vegetarian night.  There are so many tastes (and textures) going on: salty feta and olives , sour dried cranberries, bitter kale, sweet red onion, and aromatic garlic.  I could eat this once every two weeks — and I don’t know why I don’t!  It’s great with linguine, but also great with healthier penne (we often use Barilla Plus or Barilla Whole Grain). In this photo I tried a brown rice penne from Trader Joe’s which was also good.  Two notes: 1) whole wheat pastas don’t reheat that well (so chewy!) just in case you plan to make enough to have leftovers and 2) I thought 5-6 cloves of garlic was plenty (recipe calls for an entire head).

Pasta with Kale, Olives and Cranberries

Recipe from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod.

Pasta with Kale, Kalamata Olives, Dried Cranberries, Toasted Garlic & Feta

Yield: Serves 6-8

This pasta dish is also known as “crazy spaghetti” because it is crazy good-a family favorite!

Ingredients:

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 large bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound spaghetti or other pasta (we use whole wheat)
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, cut into slivers-pits removed
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Cook onion in the remaining oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add dried cranberries and cook until plumped, about 1 minute.

2. Add kale leaves into onion mixture with water and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat until almost tender, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook pasta in a pasta pot of boiling salted water until aldente. Reserve 1 cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta.

4. Toss pasta with kale, Kalamata olives, and 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle feta cheese and garlic chips over the pasta dish and serve warm.

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I love this very simple recipe for spaghetti and meatballs.  Next time, I would make twice the amount of sauce.  I don’t think I would ever tire of this ultimate comfort food.

Spaghetti and meatballs

Recipe from The Saucy Apron.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

“There’s something oddly therapeutic about making meatballs. Which means when Monday rudely crashes the party on my weekend I sometimes find myself elbow deep in meatball therapy.  The result, a spicy, saucy, juicy, meaty, cheesy dish thats a few hundred bucks cheaper than a therapist.”

Start with the love-made sauce:
Two cans of tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
A good sprinkle of red pepper flakes
A bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Puree tomato in blender.  Cook onion and garlic in oil until soft. Add tomato, pepper and bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.

Now the Meatballs:
1 pound of beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Using your hands mix beef, bread crumbs, cheese, oregano, garlic, egg, salt and pepper. Roll into large ping pong balls.  Now fry the meatballs until brown then simmer in the sauce until the inside is no longer pink.  About 30 more minutes. Stir a few times while cooking.

Serve over spaghetti with a big glass of red.

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My goal is to serve seafood once (or even twice) a week, but it requires me to get to Whole Foods or the fish market the day of … and life seems to get in the way of that.  I do think extra large raw frozen shrimp is great to have on hand for a last-minute dinner.  After all, many times when I buy raw shrimp, it’s already been previously frozen anyway.  I simply defrost it in a bowl filled with slightly cool water in the sink, peel and devein it … and I’m ready for our recipe!  This one is nice and simple and tastes great.

Shrimp Scampi

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.

Lemon Pepper Shrimp Scampi

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 pound uncooked orzo

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

7 teaspoons unsalted butter, divided

1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Cook orzo according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain. Place orzo in a medium bowl. Stir in parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and olive oil; cover and keep warm.

2. While orzo cooks, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add half of shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer shrimp to a plate. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in pan. Add remaining shrimp to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until almost done. Transfer to plate.

3. Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter in pan. Add garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in shrimp, juice, and pepper; cook 1 minute or until shrimp are done.

4. Toss shrimp and butter-lemon sauce with orzo and serve.

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