Posts tagged ‘dinner’

February 18, 2011

Chicken & Shrimp Stir Fry

Yesterday we had a surprise visit from our favorite neighbor and ultimate LYK fan, Russell. He waltzed into the Little Yellow Kitchen with a gigantic smile exclaiming that he held in his hand what was soon to be our new favorite evening activity, Julia. No, not the recent film Julie and Julia, but the real Julia — The French Chef with Julia Child: Disc 1. Never have I ever been a fan of black and white films, but Julia my friends, can entertain with the best of them.

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

We immediately began watching Julia create her classic Bouillabaisse Marseillaise with the head of a giant cod sitting front and center on the screen the entire time. This woman has no fear. She chops hacks fish in half like it’s an everyday activity – maybe it was? She is so much more real than what we see today on cooking shows. She cooks on a electric stove with switches for goodness sake! Needless to say, if you get the chance watch some of her infamous episodes, do it, and take copious notes.

julia

Onto the stir fry…

We cheated a little on this recipe because of time constraints but it gives me the chance to tell you about more great products from Trader Joe’s – I promise they don’t pay us to use their name so much, we just basically live there grocery shopping and love it.

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If you want a quick and delicious stir fry then this is the way to do it. Use Trader Joe’s Ginger Soy Marinade and their bag of fresh stir fry vegetables. If you can’t get to a Trader Joes, then use the vegetables listed in the ingredients of our recipe below.

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Stir Fry

(4 servings)

Ingredients:

1 chicken breast

8-10 shrimp

1 bag of Trader Joe’s stir fry vegetables (snow peas, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, celery, broccoli)

1/2 cup ginger soy marinade

1 zucchini, thick slices

1/2 onion, sliced

1/2 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon fresh ginger

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions

Marinate the chicken and shrimp in the ginger soy marinade for 30 minutes. Pour oil into a fry pan with fresh ginger and add the vegetables, sauté about 15 minutes or until cooked down. Add the chicken and shrimp with the marinade and cook through.

Remove from heat and mix in the soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds.

Serve with brown rice.

Buon Appetit!

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From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

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February 16, 2011

Mac n’ Cheese n’ Salami

Chris and I celebrated our Valentine’s Day together on Sunday by having a lovely picnic/Element tailgate at Cabrillo National Monument. The afternoon’s menu consisted of vintage cheddar cheese (by far my new fav Trader Joe’s  cheese), Sopressa salami, crackers and a breathtaking view of San Diego and beyond.

Later that evening I used the left over vintage cheddar cheese (I can’t say how good this was enough times) and Sopressa salami to make Mac & Cheese & Salami. Do I know the way to a man’s heart or what? They can never say no to mac n’ cheese — especially if you add meat to it.

The golden crispy top gets me every time. The creamy cheese and salty salami combo was slammin’! Slammin’? I haven’t used that word since 1997 or so…I should bring it back.

Want a bite?? Open up…

This recipe was much easier this time than it has been in the past. I usually complicate things by using 3-4 different cheeses. This was also my fifth or six time doing it so I guess it should be easier now, right?

Oh, and Chris shredded all the cheese for me. Be sure you hand a man the grater. If you let him watch TV at the same time he won’t even know he’s doing all the work for you.

First step is to make your cheese sauce and add the nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Dump your heart shaped pasta into the sauce.

Top with a sprinkle of bread crumbs and bake until the top is golden and crispy.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb elbow macaroni (or heart shaped pasta)

1/2 cup Sopressa salami, diced — I recommend sauteing your salami a little bit before hand so that it can crisp up!

1 1/2 very sharp cheddar, shredded

1 1/2 cups white cheddar (or Gruyere), shredded

2 cups milk

1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook the macaroni (or heart shaped pasta) according to the directions on the package. Drain well. If they stick together, drizzle some oil into them and toss it around.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, be careful not to let it boil. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large pot (you will be adding the pasta to it later on) and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Continue whisking as you slowly add the hot milk. Cook until it becomes thick and all the clumps are smoothed. Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper.Turn off the heat and add the cheeses of your choice and the salami. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a medium sized baking dish or ramekins.

Melt the remaining 1 tablespoons of butter and mix in the bread crumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes if in a baking dish, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top. Ramekins only need 10 to 15 minutes.

From the Little Yellow Kitchen,

Lauren

February 9, 2011

Lemon Herb Dutch Oven Chicken

I have been wanting to do this for a while now… but I needed a little inspiration. Thanks so much Julie @ The Little Kitchen !

With the temptation of a delicious  rotisserie chicken at a steal of a price for just $6.99 and ready to eat, it’s so hard to turn down. And the stores are smart, they always have these sitting on a warmer, right near the checkout. Normally, I’d just grab one and go, but not this time; this time I sacked up and bought a little raw 4.5 lb fryer chicken, some veggies and herbs, and set out on a culinary adventure. Not only does it give me the satisfaction of knowing I cooked a tasty chicken from scratch, but also it gives me the liberty to incorporate different flavors with much less sodium! Score!

Here’s how the fun process works:

First, grate some lemon peel.

Combine lemon peel with chopped fresh rosemary and thyme, and some salt and pepper and a pad of  butter.

Rub the herb butter on chicken breast, underneath the skin. This will  make it super moist and extra tasty!

Coarsely chop carrots, celery, and onion.

Make the Spice Rub and apply to the skin of the chicken….really rub it on there good,  you won’t regret it.

Then stuff the cavity of the chicken with a few handfuls of veggies, along with a quartered lemon and a sprig of rosemary.

I bet right now you are getting so excited that you are almost ready to get your little guy cooking. I know that I was so giddy… but first, you should infuse some olive oil with a few smashed cloves of garlic and rosemary.

Put the chicken in, breast-side down to brown for 5 minutes. Add the remainder of the veggies around the chicken.

Flip the chicken over, breast-side up, and let other side brown for another 5 minutes. I threw some more thyme on top too, just for fun.

Put the lid on the b-e-a-utiful dutch oven, and put in the oven.

After about 30 minutes, pull it out and pour in the wine along with placing  the quartered potatoes on top. Put the top back on and pop back in the oven for another half n hour or so.

Check done-ness with instant thermometer (our new kitchen tool, compliments of Lauren’s dad, Thanks Mike!)

Take chicken out of the pot, and set on cutting board (with grooves, so juice doesn’t flow all over the place), cover with foil for 20 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a bowl.

Add in parmesan cheese, chopped rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper, a pad of butter, and some milk. Get smashing, until preferred texture.

Strain out the juices from the solids, applying a little pressure on the solids to help the process, and discard them. Then let the juices settle and spoon out the fat, which is that whole top layer. Cook the remaining juice with lemon juice and serve this “sauce” with the chicken & smashed potatoes!

Meanwhile, chop up some onions, green bell pepper, and trim some asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil and a little balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with garlic salt. Let bake in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Plate the chicken, smashed potatoes, and crispy balsamic veggies… and you have an amazing 100% home-cooked 3 dish dinner!!

Ingredients:

1 whole roasting chicken (41/2 to 5 pounds), giblets removed and discarded,

salt & pepper

1-2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

7 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3 sprigs fresh rosemary (one to stuff in the chicken, and one to finely chop)

2 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp lemon peel, grated

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

4 red potatoes, cleaned and quartered

Spice rub: (1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper) This combination was inspired from The Little Kitchen blog

Chicken Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange racks to make room for dutch oven.

2. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season outside with spice rub (see directions above).

3. Mix butter, rosemary, thyme, and lemon peel and distribute evenly underneath the skin, atop the chicken breast. Stuff the chicken cavity with the carrots, celery, onions, 4 cloves smashed garlic, sprig of rosemary, 2-3 wedges of lemon.

4. In a large Dutch oven over high, heat the oil and add small sprig of rosemary (only the leaves) along with 3 smashed cloves of garlic to infuse the oil. Add the chicken, breast-side down. Scatter the remaining onion, celery, and carrots around chicken.

5. Cook until the breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken breast-side up and cook another  6 to 8 minutes. Add in the wine.

6. Cover with lid and transfer the pot to the oven and cook until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees when inserted in thickest part of breast and 175 degrees in thickest part of thigh, about 60 to 80 minutes. Halfway through, throw the quartered red potatoes on top, close the lid and return to oven.

7. Once it’s finished cooking, first take out the quartered potatoes and put aside, in a medium bowl. Then, transfer the chicken to carving board, tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

8. Now the fat has to be separated from the juice. While the chicken is resting, strain chicken juices from the pot through fine-mesh strainer into a glass measuring bowl, pressing on solids to extract liquid. Discard the solids (carrots/celery/onion). You don’t want to eat the veggies since they are doused in fat, although I suppose they are tasty.

9. Allow the liquid to settle, about 3 minutes, then pour back into dutch oven and set over low heat.

10. Carve the chicken, adding any accumulated juices to the saucepan (if at all possible). Stir lemon juice into the saucepan to create some really delicious “au jus” type sauce, and serve with chicken.

Herb-Parmesan Smashed Potatoes preparation:

1. Smash potatoes with fork, or a masher if you have it.

2. Add a pad of butter, 2 Tbsp of grated parmesan cheese, 1/4-1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme, and 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper to taste. Mix until desired consistency (it’s best to start with less liquid, and then adding more as needed). Also it would be a great idea to add in a few tablespoons of the chicken “au jus”.

3. Enjoy!

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

-Chrissy

February 7, 2011

Spicy Pepper Jack Fondue

Who doesn’t adore fondue? There are some restaurants solely devoted to serving this luxurious preparation of food. From cheese, to meat, to chocolate, fondue is one of those special-occasion delicacies. Even though we prepared this Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese Fondue for Lauren’s birthday, we’d like to think that if it was healthier, we wouldn’t need a special occasion to make it. But let’s be honest, this cheesey pot of love has to involve some stickin’ on the hips, so maybe we will keep with the “special occasion” criteria.  Regardless, you MUST TRY THIS!


A simple fondue makes for a happy tummy. These are all the ingredients you will need!

Flour and shredded cheese, combined. The next step is….

The melting! Its easiest to melt cheese in thirds, adding the wine and pepper in halfway through.

A nice, even consistency is what you are looking for. This double boiler action is the key to fondue success!

 

Fresh baked bread (from the store, or from your oven) is always a great fondue dipper, as well as a variety of  crunchy veggies.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

1 cup white cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 Tbsp flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

dash of pepper

stuff for dipping! (veggies or bread, they both work great)

Directions:

1.  Coat shredded cheese with flour

2.  Add 2-3  inches of water in a medium sauce pan, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, place a large metal bowl in the boiling water, to create a Double Boiler (check out that link for a great “how to” on double boilers from the Baking Bites blog).

3.  Turn down the heat to medium (so the water isn’t boiling like crazy out of the saucepan) and add 1/3 of the floured cheese into the metal bowl, and whisk. When the cheesy contents are melted, add 1/3 more of the cheese along with some pepper and the wine. Whisk until combined, then add the remaining cheese.

4. Transfer into a fondue pot and turned on the low-heat setting (so the cheese doesn’t burn).

5. Cube up a loaf of french bread, or arrange a variety of veggies (raw or blanched) and use these to dig into that cheesy fondue dip.

6. Enjoy. Fondue is so delicious, how could you not?

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

-Chrissy

January 26, 2011

Crispy Eggplant Spinach Parm

Eggplant. I repeat, Eggplant. Do not be scared of it! It is so delicious when prepared the right way. I promise.

Here, have a look for yourself…

Since Lauren and I prepared some Mediterranean-style, grilled eggplant sandwiches for work yesterday, we still had a large portion of the eggplant hanging out in the fridge. On occasion, the remaining eggplant half might just end up pushed to the back only to be found during an intense cleaning session, thus resulting in a mass exodus of forgotten leftovers. We tried to steer clear of this from happening (again), so it was time for an eggplant parmesan creation.

Here are a few rules of thumb when preparing Eggplant:

1) Make sure you pick a fairly solid eggplant; if it is squishy in spots or feels hollow, steer clear.

2) Cut thick slices (about 1/2 in.); if slices are too thin, then they will turn out soggy and mushy and you will be so sad.

3) Soak up moisture. Use an old towel to press each side of the eggplant slices, before breading them, which will ensure a crispy and firm baked eggplant result.

Note: this is a messy task, try to only dirty one hand.

For the Eggplant:

Prepare a dredging station consisting of the following:

  • bowl with a 1/2 cup flour
  • bowl with 2 eggs, beaten
  • bowl with breadcrumb mixture (2/3 cup Italian bread crumbs; 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, additional dash of oregano, thyme, basil)

Don’t be shy, smother eggplant slices in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Place on foiled cooking sheet and bake for around 10 minutes on each side in a 400 degree oven.

 

Meanwhile, start preparation For the Sauce:

1/2 Jar of  tomato & basil marinara

1 Mexican squash (zucchini is fine too)

1 Medium onion

6-8 Small crimini mushrooms

1 Can drained diced tomatoes

Handful of fresh spinach

Garlic powder, salt, pepper (to taste)

Directions: Saute onions for a few minutes. Add in the diced squash and mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes. Add in the rest of the ingredients, except for the spinach, and let simmer for around 15 minutes, stirring occassionally. Turn off the heat and stir in a handful or two of spinach.

Now, for the layering!


Start with a base of sauce. About a cup covered the bottom of our casserole dish.

Then put first round of eggplant slices atop the sauce. Follow with a few handfulls of spinach and cheese (we cut back on the mozzarella this time, and used a pre-shredded, 6- cheese Italian mix, along with some grated Parmesan & Romano.

Now, its time for the last layer of crispy eggplant slices. Lastly, top with a thin blanket of shredded cheese (mozzarella or the 6-cheese blend that we used) and grated Parmesan.

Put it in the oven and let cook at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top is looking golden brown. Remove, and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into it, so that its not so messy when dishing it up.

Seeeeeee... Eggplant is good enough to eat! (or scarf down, in our case...)

 

 

 

From the Little Yellow Kitchen

–Chrissy