Category Archives: entrees

Cashew Kung Po Chicken

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

I love Chinese food and often resort to getting take out in order to fulfill my cravings. But more often than not I am disappointed. The food arrives soggy and lukewarm and lacks the real flavors I’m craving. But the reality is that so many Chinese dishes are incredibly easy and quick to make so there really isn’t any reason not to make them yourself.

Case in point is this kung po chicken dish from Noble Pig. It is fast, delicious and because you are making it yourself you can adjust the spiciness to your liking, which in my case is very hot. The key to ensuring that your dish is fresh and flavorful is to prep all of your ingredients before you begin cooking. Do this and not only will your meal be great but it will be done and on the table in a flash. Enjoy!

CASHEW KUNG PO CHICKEN
1-1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2″ pieces
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons  rice vinegar
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3/4 cup cashews
4 scallions, white bulbs and green tops cut separately into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, more or less depending upon your preferences

  • In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sherry and 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch.
  • In a small bowl, combine the sugar, vinegar, sesame oil, water and the remaining 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of sherry and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.
  • In a large wok, heat  1 tablespoon of the oil over moderately high heat.
  • Add the cashews, stirring until light brown, about 30 seconds.  Remove from the pan.
  •  Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the wok.
  • Add the white part of the scallions and the red-pepper flakes to the pan and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken with its marinade and cook, stirring, until almost done, 1 to 2 minutes.
  •  Add the soy sauce mixture and the scallion tops and simmer until the chicken is just done, about 1 minute longer.
  • Stir in the cashews.
  • Serve over steamed rice.

Serves 4

 

Cambodian Noodle Soup

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With the exception of my travels through the Balkans, I have yet to visit any metropolitan area where I didn’t stumble upon a pho shop.  With their steaming bowls of noodles, broth, and an endless variety of add-ins, these Thai noodle soup shops have a cult like following that make them both universal and hard not to like.  In grad school my favorite lunch was a steaming bowl of pho from the student union.  The options were endless so I could eat there every day without repeating the same bowl of soup twice.

I had never made pho before but decided to give it a try when my craving for the hot broth covered noodles got the best of me.  In browsing through recipe options I came across one in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Splendid Table is my favorite radio program on NPR.  I can even stream their broadcasts online meaning I can get my Lynn Rossetto Kasper fix while living overseas).  I was set to give the pho recipe a try then I turned the page and saw the Cambodian twist on the soup which sounded even more intriguing.  Unable to decide which version to make, I combined the best elements of both recipes to form what I present here.  You can also add or substitute ingredients as your palate or pantry dictates.

The verdict?  This soup is delicious but a lot more work than popping into your local pho shop. But if you don’t have one in close proximity to you, make this soup.  You won’t be disappointed.

CAMBODIAN NOODLE SOUP

For the broth:

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 two inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

6 whole cloves

1 star anise

Freshly ground black pepper

7 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce

For the soup:

8 ounces linguine-style rice noodles

6 ounces thinly sliced top round steak

1 1/2 cups winter squash, diced

1 cup unsweetened pineapple chunks

1 medium tomato, diced

For the table salad:

10 sprigs fresh cilantro

8 sprigs Thai or other fresh basil

8 mint sprigs

Generous handful bean sprouts

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced

1 large lime, cut into wedges

Add-in sauces:

Asian hot sauce

Hoisin sauce

  • Place a rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler and then pre-heat the oven.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and evenly distribute the onion, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, and five grinds of black pepper over the baking sheet.
  • Broil for 5-6 minutes until the spices are fragrant and the onions begin to brown.  Scrape the mixture into a large soup pot.
  • Add the broth, sugar, fish sauce, and squash to the pot.  Cover the pot tightly and bring the entire mixture to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender.
  • Meanwhile, place the noodles in a large pan and cover with very hot tap water.  Allow to soak for 20 minutes or until the noodles are tender.  Drain, rinse with cold water, then divide evenly between two large soup bowls.
  • Thinly slice the steak into bite sized pieces.  (Hint:  For easier slicing, place the steak in the freezer before you begin making the soup.  Allow it to sit for 20 minutes then remove it from the freezer and slice).  Evenly divide the meat between the two soup bowls.  The hot broth will cook it to a medium-rare
  • Arrange the table salad ingredients on a medium-sized platter and place on the table.
  • When the squash is tender, add the pineapple and tomatoes to the broth and stir well to combine.  Cook for 1 minute to allow the broth to return to a simmer.
  • Ladle the broth over the noodles and meat and serve immediately topped with the table salad and sauces of your choice.

Serves 2

Brandied Chicken

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Here is a fun twist on a classic chicken marsala. To me, with its rich and spicy undertones, brandy is a winter liqueur. So what better way to dress up a chicken breast than bathing it in brandy? Like chicken marsala this dish is fast. The brandy adds a spicy sweetness to the onions and mushrooms making it a meal that the whole family will love.

BRANDIED CHICKEN

4 chicken breasts sliced in half or 8 chicken breast filets

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large yellow onion, sliced lengthwise

1 tablespoon sugar

2 cups button mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup brandy

1/2 cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium high heat.
  • Combine the flour, salt and pepper on a shallow plate and dredge the chicken breasts on both sides with the mixture.
  • Working in batches if necessary, add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. You want the breasts to be browned and mostly cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the sliced onion and the sugar.
  • Saute, stirring occasionally until the onions are softened and have caramelized slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms to the onions and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to high and deglaze the skillet by adding the brandy to the onions and mushrooms, scraping up any stuck on brown bits.
  • Stir in the chicken broth.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and cook for an additional minute or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Off the heat, add the butter to the skillet and stir until it has melted.

Serves 4

Moroccan Spiced Pork Chops

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 It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.
Apples are the perfect foil for the warm and fragrant spices we associate with Moroccan cooking. Cumin, coriander and cloves complement the tartness of apples, mellowing the fruit and making it absolutely delicious. I most often think of these flavors resulting from a slow cooked tagine dish but with this recipe from Cooking Light you can enjoy these flavors in a lot less time.
MOROCCAN SPICED PORK CHOPS
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 6 ounce boneless pork loin chops
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tart apples, peeled and chopped (I prefer Granny Smith)
1 cup apple cider

 **Moroccan Spice Mixture:

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
For the pork:
  • Rub 1 teaspoon of the Moroccan Spice Mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt evenly on both sides of pork chops.
  • Melt the butter with oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the pork chops four minutes on each side or until done.
  • Remove the pork chops from skillet and keep warm.
  • Add the onion and salt to the drippings in skillet; cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the apples and the cider.
  • Cover, reduce the heat to medium, and cook 5 minutes or until fruit is tender.
  • Stir in the remaining 3/4 teaspoon Moroccan Spice Mixture and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook over medium-high heat 5 minutes.
  • Serve over the pork chops.

 

Serves 4

 

 

 

Chicken Lyonnaise Saute

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This chicken dish, from the Washington Post kitchens, is so delicious and fast that it proves that you don’t need a long laundry list of fancy ingredients to make great food. Onions, garlic, broth and a splash of white wine combine to form a rich sauce for simple chicken breasts. Serve the chicken with rice or another grain that will soak up the tasty sauce and you are sure to have a new family favorite.

CHICKEN LYONNAISE SAUTE

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon dried thyme

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 large egg, lightly beaten

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/2 tablespoon sugar

  • Place the flour, salt, pepper and half of the thyme in a sturdy plastic food storage bag, seal and shake to combine.
  • Beat the egg in a medium bowl.
  • One at a time, dip the chicken pieces into the beaten egg, letting the excess drip back into the bowl, then transfer to the bag.
  • Seal and shake to coat the chicken in the flour mixture. Transfer the coated chicken pieces to a plate.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil shimmers, place the chicken pieces in the pan, smooth side down. Cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown, then turn the pieces over and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown on the second side.
  • Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet.
  • Stir in the onions, garlic and remaining thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until a light golden brown.
  • Add the wine and vinegar; cook, stirring to scrape up any browned bits, for about 3 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, then the broth and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes or until the sauce is slightly reduced.
  • Return the chicken to the skillet, along with any accumulated juices.
  • Turn the chicken pieces to coat them with the liquid, then cover, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes or until the temperature of the thickest part of a chicken piece registers 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates, spoon the sauce over the chicken, and serve.

Serves 4

Rosemary & Red Wine Hamburger Patties

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Here is a ridiculously simple yet tasty dinner that is also fast. I think of it as a more sophisticated take on  your classic hamburger patty. My husband first introduced me to this dish early in our relationship; he wasn’t much of a cook but as an adult, realized that he couldn’t live on take out alone. I was skeptical when he first told me about this dish. Perhaps it was because he referred to it “as that hamburger thing”. However, I quickly changed my tune once I tasted it. In the years since then I’ve tweaked his recipe and in my opinion, improved upon it.

This is truly an easy dish to make. My number one recommendation, however, is to use a good tasting wine that you enjoy drinking. If you don’t like it in the glass, chances are you won’t like it on your plate. Besides, you only use a cup so there will be plenty left in the bottle to enjoy with your dinner. Serve this alongside noodles, mashed potatoes or another starch that can help absorb the yummy sauce because you won’t want to waste a single drop of it.

ROSEMARY & RED WINE HAMBURGER PATTIES

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 pound lean ground beef

salt and pepper

1 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

3 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.

When the oil shimmers, add the shallot to the pan and saute until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, use your hands to form the ground beef into four equal sized patties.

Season the patties generously on both sides with the salt and pepper.

Add the patties to the skillet and cook until the meat begins to cook and the patties are slightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Flip the patties and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the wine and the rosemary to the pan.

Continue to cook until the meat is cooked through to your liking and the wine begins to simmer. For me, this usually takes an additional 4 to 5 minutes.

Off the heat and stir in the butter. Adjust the seasoning as necessary and serve.

Serves 4

Browned Butter Flounder w/ Lemon Snap Peas

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It’s Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing I want to do is cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This is a fast and fresh tasting dinner option adapted from Cooking Light that literally cooks in minutes (so be sure to prep all of your ingredients before beginning to cook). There are just a handful of ingredients and best of all, everything is cooked in a single pan meaning cleanup is a snap as well. I’ve used flounder in this recipe but use whatever firm white fish you prefer.

BROWNED BUTTER FLOUNDER w/ LEMON SNAP PEAS

4- 6 ounce flounder fillets

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4teaspoon kosher salt

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

  • Combine the flour, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika and salt in a shallow dish.
  • Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat half of the oil in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Swirl the oil to coat then add the fish to the pan, cooking for 3 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove the fish from the pan and keep warm.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the butter to the pan.
  • Cook for 1 minute or until the butter begins to brown.
  • Pour the butter into a small bowl, stir in half of the lemon juice and the parsley.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining oil.
  • Add the snap peas and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until just tender crisp.
  • Stir in the remaining lemon juice and zest and serve alongside the fish topped with the brown butter.

Serves 4

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