Tag Archives: entrees

Apple Dijon Pork 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.

Thinking it is fatty many people tend to avoid pork. Some pork is fatty–bacon anyone???- but cuts like pork tenderloin are lean and easy to cook. When you slice the tenderloin into coins it cooks even faster making it a perfect meat for a fast Friday night dinner. The pork is quickly sauteed in olive oil then added to a creamy Dijon mustard and apple juice sauce. Serve over a bed of brown rice or orzo with a green vegetable and dinner is served.

APPLE DIJON PORK SAUTE

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch rounds

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 shallot, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup apple juice

2 tablespoon cider vinegar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

3 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup heavy cream

  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • Generously sprinkle the pork coins on both sides with salt and pepper.
  • When the oil is hot, add the pork and cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until the pork is no longer pink in the middle. Remove the pork from the pan and place on a large plate tented with foil.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet.  Add the shallot and salt and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Stir in the apple juice and cider vinegar and bring to a simmer. Cook for approximately 9 minutes or until the mixture is syrupy.
  • Stir in any of the pork juices.
  • Turn the temperature to low and slowly whisk in the butter.
  • Stir in the Dijon mustard and cream then return the pork to the pan.
  • Cook for 2 minutes or until heated through.

Serves 4

Chicken w/ Artichokes in Creamy Mustard Sauce

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This dish adapted from The Splendid Table (which by the way is the best podcast ever) uses one of  my all time favorite vegetables: artichokes. Artichokes have a mild and slightly sweet and tangy flavor that pairs well  with just about anything. Here it is combined with Dijon mustard and chicken to make a quick end of the week dinner that the entire family will eat. In order to keep the flavor subtle, be sure to use plain artichoke hearts and not ones that have been pickled. Serve the chicken over rice so you can absorb all of the yummy sauce.

Chicken w/ Artichokes in Creamy Mustard Sauce

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 teaspoon salt, divided

1 teaspoon, divided freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups canned artichoke hearts, drained and sliced

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Chopped parsley, for garnish

  • Season the chicken on both sides with half of the salt and half of the pepper.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken  and brown for 2 to 3 minutes per side. It does not need to be cooked through at this point.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Add the shallot and red pepper flakes and scraping the bottom of the pan, cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the artichoke hearts, lemon zest, oregano and the remaining salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes then stir in the tomatoes.
  • Return the chicken to the pan then add the wine and chicken broth.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat so the chicken is at a low simmer and cover.
  • Cook for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, combine the cream and mustard in a small bowl.
  • When the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the mustard sauce.
  • Top with the chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Serves 4

Chicken Marsala

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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.

Chicken Marsala is a family favorite in our house and this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen is my all time favorite.  Sweet Marsala wine combined with mushrooms result in a rich sauce that is the perfect topping for boneless chicken breasts.  If you can find them, I like to use chicken breast filets since they are thinner and cook up in just a few minutes.  If you only have chicken breasts you can either pound the meat into a uniform thickness or slice the breasts in half to make them thinner.  When paired with a pasta or mashed potatoes, this dish is fast and you can have dinner on the table in a matter of minutes.  Alternatively, you can make the chicken ahead of time and let it sit on a warm burner for up to two hours before serving.

CHICKEN MARSALA

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 boneless chicken breasts or 8 chicken breast filets

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 ounces pancetta, finely chopped

8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced thin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

1 1/2 cups sweet Marsala wine

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the flour in a shallow pan and generously season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture and set aside.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chicken and cook until light golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes for chicken breasts and 3-4 for chicken breast filets.  Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the pancetta and mushrooms to the skillet and stirring occasionally, cook until the pancetta is crisp and the mushrooms are brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and tomato paste.  Cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the Marsala, scraping up any browned bits.  Simmer until reduced and slightly syrupy, about 8 minutes.
  • Stir in the lemon juice and any accumulated chicken juices.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter, one piece at a time.  If you serving the chicken immediately, proceed to the next step.  Alternatively, cover the pan and return it to low heat until ready to serve.
  • Add the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4

Cilantro Shrimp w/ Apple-Raisin Sauce over Curried Polenta

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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.

This meal only appears complicated but in reality is fast.  There are three components in this dish but each cooks in a matter of minutes and when combined on the plate create a satisfying Indian-esque meal. The original recipe from Cuisine at Home used sea scallops but I substituted shrimp with tasty results.  Fresh steamed broccoli completed the meal.

CILANTRO SHRIMP w/ APPLE-RAISIN SAUCE over CURRIED POLENTA

For the sauce:

1/2 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons minced red onion

2 teaspoons minced orange zest

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Combine the apple, raisins, orange juice, broth, onion, zest, honey, and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or until the apples are tender.
  • Stir in the cilantro, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Keep warm while you make the remaining meal components.

For the shrimp:

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 pound fresh or frozen raw shrimp

1/3 cup minced cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan until it shimmers.
  • Pat the shrimp dry and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  • Add the shrimp to the oil and tossing occasionally,  saute until cooked through, approximately 2-3 minutes.
  • Off the heat and stir in the cilantro.

For the polenta:

4 cups whole milk

1 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal

1/2 teaspoon sweet curry powder

1/3 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup diced tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped scallion greens

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Combine the polenta and curry powder and slowly whisk it into the milk.
  • Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and smooth, 4-5 minutes.  Be sure to mix continually otherwise lumps will form.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cheese, tomatoes, and scallions.
  • Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves: 4

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Because some things never go out of style:

mac n cheese

 

Macaroni and cheese is one of those classic American dishes.  During a recent trip to the United States we had international friends who made a point of trying this all-American dish.  However, they came back disappointed and not understanding what all of the fuss is about.  This is just proof that not all macaroni and cheese recipes are created equal.  And as any self-respecting foodie will tell you, cheese should never come in a dehydrated form.  That means those boxes of macaroni and cheese with their bright orange powdery “cheese” are a non-starter for true macaroni and cheese connoisseurs.  Besides, when the dish is so simple to make from scratch, why should you rely on those pre-made kits anyway?

Macaroni and cheese is family favorite at our house and I regularly cook but big batches of it.  I will make a big pan of it and we’ll eat it for dinner one night then enjoy it as leftovers throughout the week.  I’ve even taken to putting the macaroni in individual sized crocks and serving it at formal dinner parties to provide our guests with a little taste of America.

In addition to being easy to make, the recipe is quite flexible.  This recipe calls for cheddar, Swiss and Gorgonzola cheeses but you can easily substitute whichever cheeses you like or have available. This is especially convenient here in Albania where our cheese selection although limited yet growing, is never reliable.  A cheese might be available in the supermarket one week then disappear off of the shelves for months at a time.  Be flexible and experiment since you never know what new flavor combination you will discover and love!  I also like to bake my macaroni and cheese. Panko bread crumbs and a bit of butter make for a crunchy topping but you can also use fresh bread crumbs or even crackers.

BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE

1 pound uncooked small pasta of your choice (I like to use shells for individual   sized servings and penne when I am making it in a single dish).

2 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk

3 dried bay leaves

1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Salt & pepper to taste

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

3 tablespoons butter

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Generously coat an 8 x 10 casserole dish or 10 individual ramekins with cooking spray.  If you are using ramekins place them on a rimmed baking sheet.  Set aside.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente according to package instructions.  You do not want to over cook it since it will continue to cook in the oven.  When done, drain and place in a large bowl.
  • Place the milk, bay leaves, and Tabasco sauce in a medium-sized sauce pan.  Heat over medium-high heat until scalding.  Do not allow to boil.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes then remove the bay leaves.
  • Place the flour in a small bowl.  And the milk to the flour and whisk continually until well blended and no lumps remain.
  • Return the milk and flour to the sauce pan.  Set over medium heat and whisk continually until thickened, approximately 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses.  Mix until blended then pour over the prepared pasta.  Season with salt and pepper and stir until well combined.
  • Pour the pasta into the prepared baking dishes.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Add the Panko crumbs and stir to coat.
  • Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the top of the pasta.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly.   Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving.

The dish can be prepared up to one day ahead of time.  Simply allow to come to room temperature (or adjust the baking time accordingly), sprinkle with the crumb topping, and bake.

Serves 10

Lemon & Dill Tilapia Filets

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One of the great things about living in this part of the world is our easy access to quality, fresh fish. From shellfish to lake trout and everything in between it is all available in Albania and it is always fresh and surprisingly affordable.  Along the coast many restaurant menus only include fish and seafood and it is common practice for a waiter to present your table with a platter of still wiggling fish plucked from the Adriatic Sea and allow each diner to select the one they want to eat.  Meals filled with fish and seafood also tend to be the most common dinner presentations at formal dinners and as such, I’ve found myself trying new types of fish on a regular basis.  My favorite meal by far has been a dinner hosted by our Turkish friends where every item on the table came from the sea.  (Who knew there were so many ways to cook octopus?).

I’ve always loved fish so I thoroughly enjoy these meals. Prior to arriving in Albania, however, Glenn would avoid anything marine related at all costs.  Much to his horror his first few formal dinners in Albania revolved around fish and seafood and he would come home with stories of how he actually ate a bite or two of the meals and survived.  While he won’t order it from a menu in a restaurant, Glenn has gotten better about eating fish and no longer cringes when it appears in front of him.  Of course, those closest to us know of his lack of enthusiasm for fish and avoid serving it but when it is presented to him, he does eat it.  And, on more than one occasion, he has even proclaimed that he liked what he ate.

We’re trying to eat healthier in the Brown household and to that end, and at Glenn’s request, we are now incorporating fish into our weekly menus.  Cooking fish at home isn’t always an easy proposition.  Most fish is sold whole and even after my taking a class on how to de-bone a fish, I struggle with getting it right.  I’ve also learned that in order for Glenn to enjoy fish it can’t taste “fishy” and he likes it to be served with a sauce which in many cases, negates the healthy aspects of the fish.

Cooking fish is also a relatively new experience for me and I find myself slightly outside of my comfort zone.  So I’m starting with the basics and working my way up. I have a vision of being able to cook a whole octopus before we leave Albania (which when cooked correctly, is absolutely delicious).  In the meantime I’m starting with a mild tasting and boneless tilapia.  Very simple but when cooked correctly, very tasty.  The olive oil adds a bit of healthy fat and when combined with the lemon juice makes for a flavorful sauce.  The best part?  When I placed dinner on the table even Sidney proclaimed that “Sidney likes fish”.

LEMON AND DILL TILAPIA FILETS

2-4 ounce tilapia filets (or one filet per person)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons finely minced dill

1 whole lemon, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 Teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place a large piece of foil on a rimmed baking sheet.  Arrange the tilapia filets in the center of the pan.  
  • Drizzle the olive oil on top of the fish.  Sprinkle the filets with the dill and arrange the lemon slices on top.
  • Season with the salt, pepper, and paprika.
  • Wrap the foil into packets being sure to seal the edges so none of the oil escapes.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the fish is flaky but not dry.

Bourbon & Brown Sugar Marinated Flank Steak

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Photo courtesy of Fine Cooking

I discovered this recipe while standing in line at Home Depot of all places.  Glenn and I were in the midst of yet another home renovation project and as we stood in the check out line for the second time that weekend a new (to me anyway) magazine caught my eye.  I had never heard of Fine Cooking, but was immediately drawn to their colorful pictures, interesting recipes, and honest product reviews.  I ended up buying the magazine back in 2005 and have been renewing my subscription every year since then. We no longer own our renovated house but that very first recipe has been come a family favorite whether it is served as a quick go-to weeknight dinner or as a part of a more formal representational dinner.

Because the marinade is so good, I like to serve the steak with a starch that can soak up the juices.  Garlic mashed potatoes, a simple risotto, or gouda bread pudding are all good choices.  Regardless of which side dish you choose, the steak is fast and easy to make and is sure to please whomever is sitting at your table.

BOURBON & BROWN SUGAR MARINATED FLANK STEAK

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup bourbon or other whiskey

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 1/2 to 2 pounds flank steak

  • Combine the first five ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.  Seal and shake to fully combine and dissolve the sugar.
  • Add the steak to the bag, seal, and massage to cover the steak with the marinade.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Prepare a medium-hot grill.*  Remove the steak from the marinade and shake off the excess.  Grill the steak for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until desired doneness.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes then slice on the diagonal. 
  • Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cook until syrupy and serve over the sliced steak.

* You can also broil the steak in the oven for 3-4 minutes per side.

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