Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Broccoli Pesto Pasta: Better for your Pallet!

Good evening everyone!  As Tyler mentioned previously, we are transitioning to a new way of posting recipes.  We are still focusing on delicious and healthy recipes, and we also want to showcase weeknight dishes that are a snap to make, without too much hassle.  Tonight's recipe is a great example of that.  While most pasta recipes focus too much on the sauce it's doused in, this dish showcases a brilliant, yet healthy alternative to the norm.  And it's speedy recipe to whip up in a flash.

The Recipe:  Broccoli and Pecorino Pesto Pasta
Original Recipe Found In:  Cooking Light, September 2014 Issue

What You'll Need:
8 Ounces uncooked Whole-Wheat Angel Hair Pasta
1 (12 Ounce) package microwave-in-bag fresh Broccoli Florets
1/4 Cup fresh Basil Leaves
3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh Lemon Rind
3 Tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 Teaspoon crushed Red Pepper Flakes
2 Garlic Cloves
1 Ounce Pecorino Romano Cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

To start, prepare a medium saucepan, filled with water, over medium-high heat.  Bring the water to a boil and add the pasta.  Cook according to package directions, omitting any salt or oil.  In a sink, place a heatproof bowl over a colander.  Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving one cup of cooking liquid.

While the pasta is cooking, cook the broccoli according to package directions.  Once cooked, allow five minutes to cool the broccoli.  Prepare a food processor and add the broccoli, basil leaves, olive oil, lemon rind, lemon juice, salt, red pepper flakes, garlic cloves, and Pecorino Romano cheese into the processor.  Pulse all the ingredients together until the broccoli and basil leaves are finely chopped.

Keeping the processor on, slowly add the reserved one cup of cooking liquid through the chute, until the sauce has reached desired consistency.  In a large bowl, add the pasta, along with the broccoli mixture and toss to combine.  Place onto a serving dish, serve, and enjoy!

The End Result:

Like it's basic pesto predecessor, it keeps all the same flavors like before.  Adding the broccoli not only thickens the sauce, but makes it boosts its nutritional quantity.  If you didn't know you were eating broccoli, you'd be incredibly surprised to find it in this dish.  I'm all for dressing down overly complicated recipes.  If you are big fan of pesto (like myself,) you will not be disappointed with this dish!

That all we have for you this evening.  Check back frequently for brand new recipes to share with you and yours!  Until then,


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Smooth and Savory Potato Soup

Good evening everyone! As Christmas approaches, and the cool weather takes hold of the country - we've officially moved into soup season! One of my all time favorite soups is potato soup - a fact that can be easily discerned by looking over the archives of the blog. We've tried just about every variant we could get our hands on, from rustic to bacon infused - it's all been sampled (and savored!) So, it's rare when we find a new potato soup recipe that we HAVEN'T tried before.

Today is one of those rare days.

Today's dish blends yukon gold potatoes with the ever versatile leek to create a smooth and savory dish that's sure to hit the spot as the snow flies and the windows frost over.

The Recipe: Creamy Potato Leek Soup

Original Recipe From: Good Eats: "Sprung a leek"

What You'll Need:

1 Pound Leeks (Roughly 3 large leeks) Cleaned, dark green sections removed, diced
1 Pound yukon gold potatoes (roughy 4 medium), diced
3 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Quart Vegetable Broth
Heavy Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Chives

Place a large dutch oven over medium high heat and melt the butter. Once melted, add the diced leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are cooked through and softened - this takes about 25 minutes.

Next, add the potatoes and vegetable broth to the dutch oven and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the pot reaches a nice, rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pot. Allow the mixture to cook for 45 minutes (stir once halfway through).

Remove the pot from the heat and use an immersion or stick blender to blend the mixture until smooth. As the last lumps are being blended from the soup, slowly pour the heavy cream into the pot (while continuing to blend).

Finally, taste the soup and adjust with salt and pepper as necessary - serve with the fresh chives and enjoy!

The Results:

This smooth, savory soup is simple yet delicious. It's impressive how deep and flavorful this dish is despite only having two main ingredients. The potatoes act as a nice neutral backdrop for the leeks to shine, blending nicely with the heavy cream and chives to make this soup a personal favorite.

That's all we have for you this evening. We're making a bit of a change to the way we're posting updates to the blog. Maggie and I have each moved into new jobs, and the resulting new employment has changed our posting abilities. So, to amend this, we've picked up a new format. We still plan on posting two new recipes per week - but now Maggie will focus on weeknight cooking, posting her dishes sometime during the workweek. I'll shift to weekends and focus more on weekend cooking - soups, stews, roast - more ambitious projects - my posts will be up on Sunday evenings.

Nothing more than that is changing - we're still cooking - we're still sharing the recipes with you - it's just the timing that'll be different. Get it? Got it? Good!

Stop back in next week for a brand new dish from Maggie. Until then,


Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Curious Case for Citrusy Chicken

Good evening everyone!  On my continuing series of soup/stew recipes, I came across this Asian inspired dish.  While it has more of a broth base, the ingredient in the broth make it delightfully more cozy and delicious.

The Recipe:  Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon and Ginger
Original Recipe Found In:  Cooking Light, November 2014 Issue

What You'll Need:
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Cup chopped Onion
1 1/2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh Ginger
1 Tablespoon White Miso
1 (8 Ounce package) pre sliced Cremini Mushrooms
4 1/2 Cups unsalted Chicken Stock
1 1/2 Cups shredded skinless rotisserie Chicken Breast
3 Cups chopped Bok Choy
1 (8.5 Ounce) pouch precooked Brown Rice
1 Tablespoon lower-sodium Soy Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon grated Lemon Rind
2 Tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice

To start, heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the oil.  Once the oil has heated and been swirled around the cooking vessel, add the onion, ginger, and miso.  Saute for four minutes or until the onion has just begun to soften.  Next, add the mushrooms and cook for two minutes, or until they've taken on a bit of color.  Add the chicken stock, rotisserie chicken, and bok choy and stir to incorporate.  Bring the ingredients to a boil and once bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for eight to ten minutes.

While the soup simmers, prepare the pouched rice according to package directions.  After the soup has simmered, add the rice, soy sauce, salt and pepper into the soup and cook for four minutes or until the bok choy has become tender.  Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and stir in the lemon rind and juice.  Ladle into soup bowls, serve, and enjoy!

The End Result:

This recipe has a very distinct hint of citrus flavor, from the ginger and lemon.  While it's not completely overpowering, it's pronounced enough to note it, but it certainly does not take away from the flavor of the dish.  The chicken and the rice make the soup almost a homey feel, which I would have never gotten from putting rice in the soup.  The bok choy definitely makes its presence known.  It's almost a bitter green, without going into the realm of kale.  Adding it to the soup is a welcome addition, but the key is to cooking it until it becomes tender.  It might throw off the whole soup otherwise.  Overall, a great soup to add if you're looking to switch up your tradition Chicken Noodle Soup recipe.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

T-Day Extravaganza!

Good evening everyone! This week, obviously, features the Thanksgiving holiday. Which, for a cooking blog is a bit like culinary Christmas. (Which makes Christmas like culinary new year? I'm not sure how that works...) Over the past four years, we've featured recipes around the holiday feast - from side dishes to ideas for leftovers - we've done it all but the turkey.

Until today.

That's right. We're doing a turkey this year! After years of putting off committing to the main event (it wasn't really practical for a family of two) we're finally taking on the feature dish on many menus. The results, if I do say so myself, were nothing short of outstanding. Simply put, unless you're 100% in love with your current turkey cooking method - you'll want to give this recipe a try.

The Recipe: Good Eats Roast Turkey
Original Recipe From: 'Good Eats' - Via Alton Brown

What You'll Need:

1 Turkey (...I hope that's implied) weight varies by amount you need to feed

For the Brine:
1 Gallon Vegetable Broth
1 Gallon Water (Heavily iced)
1 Cup Kosher Salt
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons All Spice Berries
1 Teaspoon Whole Black Pepper Corns

For the Turkey:
1 Apple (Sliced roughly)
1 Onion (Sliced roughly)
2-3 Fresh Sprigs Rosemary
1-2 Fresh Sprigs Sage
Canola Oil

2-3 Days before T-day, you'll want to fully thaw your bird. Stir it in the refrigerator once thawed.

8 to 16 hours before the main event - begin preparing your brine.

In a large (clean and food safe) 5 gallon bucket, combine the broth, water, brown sugar, salt, all spice berries and pepper corns. Submerge the turkey (breast side down) in the brine and store it and cool place. Monitor the turkey from time to make sure the ice is still intact (replace if necessary).

3 hours before dinner time, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it well.  Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Pat the turkey (inside and out) dry with a paper towel. Meanwhile, add the apple and onion slices to a microwave safe dish with a cup of water and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Once that's complete, transfer the steeped veggies into the turkey's...cavity...along with the sage and rosemary. Cover the outside of the turkey with a liberal helping of canola oil. Transfer the bird to your favorite roasting rack and set aside.

Do you have an instant read thermometer? (You really should) Good! Now's the time to place the probe into the deepest part of the breast. Set the temperature alarm for 161 degrees and pop the bird into the oven for 30 minutes. (30 minutes at 500 degrees will create that great golden color that looks so good on the serving tray)

After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and let the bird roast until the probe starts beeping (I.E. until it reaches 161 degrees internally). Now, it's VERY IMPORTANT (you can tell, because I wrote it in all caps) that you allow the turkey to rest (covered by aluminum foil) for 15 minutes before carving. Get impatient and cut it up before then and you'll have wasted all of that effort you put into brining - your patience will be rewarded.

Finally, after the 15 minutes are up, simply carve up and enjoy.

The Results:

Best. Turkey. Ever.

Let me reiterate... BEST TURKEY EVER! This is one juicy and flavorful bird that I would be willing to put up against every other turkey I've ever eaten (or you've ever eaten) EVER. Yes, ever.

We paired out thanksgiving feast with some favorite side dishes:

Escalloped Corn
Green Bean Casserole 
Mashed Sweet Potatoes 
Pumpkin Pie 

With the holiday, we're not going to be posting any more this week. We hope you all have a happy and healthy turkey day with your friends and family. Until next week,


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Can a Sandwich Influence a Stew?

Good evening everyone!  It's becoming apparent to me that I have a problem...a soup/stew problem.  Every recipe I find, I tend to gravitate towards the warm, brothy-ness of a soup.  In fact, I have three (including today's) recipes lined up that are some variation of a soup or stew.  When the temperatures are only the 20's-30's, can you blame me?  Tonight, I'm creating a very unique stew, that has influences from a very famous sandwich from Philadelphia.

The Recipe:  Philly Cheesesteak Stew
Adapted from a Recipe Found On:

What You'll Need:
1 1/2 Pounds Beef Sirloin, very thinly sliced
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
4 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour, divided
2 Onions, quartered and thinly sliced
10 Ounces White Mushrooms, sliced
1/2 Teaspoon dried Thyme
2 Cloves Garlic, pressed through a garlic press
4 Cups Beef Stock
2-4 Slices Provolone Cheese

Before you begin anything, pour the beef broth in a large pot and set over medium-low heat, so that it's hot when you are ready to use it.  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add the beef sirloin, onion powder, and a couple of pinches of salt and black pepper and toss to coat evenly.  Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the meat and toss to coat again.  Set this mixture aside.

Next, place a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add three to four tablespoons of olive oil in.  Once heated, add half of the sirloin in and cook for a minute or two and flip the pieces over to cook on the other side, continuing to cook for a minute or two.  Remove the pieces of meat to a clean plate and add the repeat with the remaining sirloin. 

After the beef has cooked and been removed from the skillet, add a tablespoon of oil into the pan and add the sliced onions, along with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for six minutes, until the onions have started to caramelize, but not burn.  Once the onions have cooked and started to soften, add the mushrooms and allow them to saute with the onions, cooking for six minutes, stirring frequently.

Next, add the dried thyme and garlic into the skillet and stir to incorporate.  Once the garlic becomes fragrant, sprinkle the remaining two tablespoons of flour over the onion/mushroom mixture and stir to combine and blend well.  Once thoroughly mixed, slowly add the hot beef stock to the skillet and stir as to not have any flour clumps forming.

Turn the heat down on the skillet to medium-low, add the cooked sirloin pieces, and let the stew simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered, so all the flavors can infused and it can begin to tighten up.  Season with salt and pepper.  

Preheat an oven to broil on high.  Prepare a small baking sheet with aluminum foil and place some crocks on top.  Ladle the stew evenly in the crocks and top with a slice of provolone cheese.  Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook for a minute or two, just so the cheese has just began to melt.  Serve and enjoy!

The End Result:

The incorporation of the onions, mushrooms, and beef in the recipe almost reminds me of a french onion soup, but obviously with a little more meat.  It's full of flavor and letting the stew the simmer with all the ingredients makes that happen.  The original recipe had the soup in sourdough bowls and letting the cheese melt on top of that.  While that is a very delicious idea, I had been itching for months to use the crocks Tyler got me for my birthday, and they were a great vessel to use the soup in.  If you want to try a new hearty stew, this is the recipe for you!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Root Vegetable Pot Pie

Good evening everyone! As fall changes to winter, there's lots of things not to love. It's dark by 5pm (thanks, daylight savings time). It's a whole lot colder and then there's...snow. There is one positive from the switching seasons; root vegetables have moved into their prime season! From potatoes to turnips, if it's a root veggie, now is the time you want to get in the kitchen. While the globalization of the food industry means you can have root vegetables all year round, you'll likely never find them any better than they will be over the next few months.

If you decide to cook up some root vegetables, the next decision you'll need to make is which veggie to choose? Potatoes are a solid staple, as are carrots. You can change things up a bit by using rutabagas, turnips or parsnips as well - but we say, why limit yourself to one? The great perk about root vegetables is that they all compliment each other beautifully in any dish - so why keep them separate?

Enter tonight's recipe. Inspired by the standard chicken pot pie, this dish switches chicken for root vegetables and the result is one tasty late fall treat.

The Recipe: Root Vegetable Pot Pie

What You'll Need:

4 Large Russet Potatoes (Peeled, diced)
3 Large Carrots  (Peeled, diced)
4 Large Parsnips (Peeled, diced)
4 Cups Vegetable Broth
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Sheet Puff Pastry

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray and add the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until well combined. Place the baking dish into the center of the oven and allow the vegetables to roast for 40 minutes.

While the veggies roast, you can prepare the sauce. In a large stock pot, add the vegetable broth and set over medium high heat. Bring the broth to  a light simmer before slowly whisking the heavy cream into the mixture. Once well blended, bring the mixture to a simmer once more before whisking in the flour. Stir until well blended and bring the mixture to a simmer one final time before removing from heat and setting the pot aside.

Shortly before your veggies are done with the initial roast, place your puff pasty on a lightly floured countertop and work it flat until it is approximately the same size as your baking dish.

After 40 minutes, remove the vegetables from the oven and slowly pour the sauce mixture over the vegetables. Carefully top the dish with the puff pastry and press around the edges to create a seal. Return the dish to the oven and let it bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let the dish rest for 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

The Results:

There's few things that can compete with slow roasted root vegetables. Topped with the savory sauce (which simulates traditional pot pie sauce quite nicely) and the flaky crust, you'll hardly notice this isn't a standard chicken pot pie. It's a bit time intensive, but the end result makes for one great weekend meal the whole family is sure to enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Corn Soufflé? Corn Soufflé!

Good evening everyone! Some combinations just sound great – burgers & fries, ice cream sandwich, chicken noodle soup. These are things that, paired together, generally bring positive thoughts to the mind and palette. 

Corn soufflé is…well…not one of those things. In fact, I’m not sure what first came to my mind when I read “corn soufflé” (I know what comes to mind NOW, but that’s clouded by the results of this recipe) all I remember is that the concept was intriguing and I wanted to give it a try. Corn and soufflé are things you very rarely read together, and yet the concept of tonight’s dish was interesting enough to make me wonder if that notion should change.

After you try this dish for yourself, I think you’ll agree with me.

The Recipe: Corn soufflé
Original Recipe Found In: Hy-Vee Seasons Magazine (October 2014 Issue)

What You’ll Need: 
6 Cups Frozen Corn (Thawed)*
2 Cups Half and Half
6 Large Eggs (Yolks and whites separated)
6 Tablespoons Butter (Softened, divided)
2 Tablespoons Honey
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
2 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
3 Green Onions (Diced)

* The preferred method would obviously be fresh corn kernels here, but it’s October and the best Iowa sweet corn has long been consumed. If you saved some (via freezing) from this summer, this would be a great place to use a bit of it – for the rest of us, frozen is the only option.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and coat the inside of a 3 quart baking or casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large food processor (and we do mean large…a lot is going to go into this baby) add 4 cups of the corn and the half and half. Pulse until the mixture is perfectly smooth and well blended. Next, add the egg yolks, honey, butter (divided into tablespoon sized chunks for easier processing) as well as the salt and pepper and pulse again until the mixture is smooth and all of the ingredients have worked in.

Transfer this mixture to a large bowl and stir in the remaining 2 cups of corn kernels as well as the green onions and parmesan cheese. Set this bowl aside.

Add the egg whites to a medium mixing bowl and beat them with an electric mixer until they become soft and slight peaks begin to form on the tips. You can use a standard handheld beater for this, but an electric mixer makes much faster (and easier) work. Once the egg whites are nice and foamy and have formed little peaks, carefully fold them into the bowl with the corn mixture. Once everything is combined, transfer this mixture into your baking dish and set it in the center of the oven for 45 minutes. 

Cook the soufflé until the top is golden brown and the dish is cooked through. You can check the doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the soufflé. If the blade comes out clean, you’re done – if there’s a bit of liquid on the knife, it needs more time. (For what it’s worth, we ended up cooking for an additional 30 minutes to reach the “done” point – and we have a fairly reliable oven.)

All that’s left is to serve and enjoy. You’re free to top with additional salt, pepper or butter if you so choose.

The Results: 

The phrase “corn soufflé” should absolutely be in your culinary vocabulary. This dish was full of sweet corn flavor, balanced nicely from the browning in the oven (and the green onions). The highlight was the light and fluffy nature of the dish – it was almost like you were eating whipped corn…and odd concept, but when you try it, you’ll get it. In short, despite sharing two words that don’t typically associate – this recipe is one side dish you’ll definitely want to become familiar with.