Tag Archives: Fast Friday

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

 

Creamy Ravioli w/ Squash, Lemon & Chives

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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 absolutely love this pasta dish from Noble Pig. The ingredients are quite simple–pasta, either fresh or frozen, summer squash and bit of cheese and cream. But when these ingredients are pulled all together the results are truly delicious. The secret is the combination of cream and parmesan cheese combined with bright and tangy lemon zest. It is unexpected yet so welcome. And as an added bonus you truly get a balanced meal in a single dish thanks in part to a generous amount of squash. What a perfect end of the week meal. Enjoy!

CREAMY RAVIOLI w/ SQUASH, LEMON & CHIVES

16 to 18 ounces cheese ravioli
1 Tablespoon olive
1 shallot, chopped
3 summer squash (zucchini and/or yellow squash; about 1-1/2 pounds), thinly sliced
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Add the squash and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper to the skillet.
  • Cook, tossing often, until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the cream and lemon zest and cook until the vegetables are tender and the cream is slightly thickened, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the squash mixture, grated cheese and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the cooked ravioli and toss gently to coat. Add additional reserved water if the sauce is too dry.
  •  Serve sprinkled with the chives.

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

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

Dill Pickle Soup

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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.

Depending upon your obsession with all things pickled, you are either going to love this soup or hate it.  My husband, who avoids everything that has been bathed in vinegar, is not a fan. I, however, love this soup.  Yes, it is different but then again variety is the spice of life.  More importantly, this soup is ridiculously easy to make.  I was intrigued by the recipe the first time I came across it on the Noble Pig website and when I came across a giant jar of Vlasic pickles that needed to be used up, I just knew I was going to have to try this soup.  So if you love or even like dill pickles, give this soup a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.

DILL PICKLE SOUP

5 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 3/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and quartered

2 cups finely chopped carrots

1 cup diced dill pickles

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 cup sour cream

1/4 cup water

2 cups dill pickle juice

1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt, optional

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • In a large pot, combine the broth, potatoes, carrots, and butter.  Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.
  • Add the pickle and continue to simmer for a few minutes.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, sour cream, and water to make a paste.
  • Vigorously whisk the sour cream paste into the soup two tablespoons at a time.  You might initially see some small balls of flour but between the whisking and the boiling they will all disappear.
  • Add the pickle juice, Old Bay, pepper, and cayenne.  Taste and if needed, add a small amount of salt.  Cook for 5 additional minutes then remove from the heat.
  • Serve immediately garnished with pickle slices, fresh dill, and black pepper.

Serves 6-8

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin w/ Cherry Compote

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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.

With the arrival of spring in Albania comes fresh cherries.  Small ones have been appearing in neighborhood fruit markets in recent weeks but they are now ripe, juicy and plentiful.  I can eat fresh cherries by the handful but I also like to incorporate them into entrees.  When combined with fresh orange juice and a dab of honey the cherries make for the perfect complement to balsamic glazed grilled meat.  I used pork tenderloin for this recipe but the flavors work just as well with chicken.  I served this dish alongside fresh peas, which are also plentiful this time of year, and leftover pearl barley.  Not bad for a quick and balanced dinner.

BALSAMIC GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CHERRY COMPOTE

1 pork tenderloin

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted

1 Tablespoon honey

Juice & zest from one orange

Dash of kosher salt

1 Teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 Teaspoon cornstarch

3 Teaspoons cold water

1 Tablespoon Kirsch

1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until the vinegar is syrupy and reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the honey and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the honey is melted.  
  • Stir in the cherries and a dash of salt, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook until the pork is cooked, stirring occasionally and crushing the cherries slightly.  
  • Stir in the orange zest, ginger, and Kirsch.
  • In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and the cold water.  Bring the cherries to a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and boil for one minute.
  • While the cherries are cooking pre-heat a gas grill on high.
  • Liberally sprinkle the pork loin with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Reduce the grill heat to medium-high.
  • Grill over indirect heat for 8-10 minutes turning twice.
  • Brush  the reduced balsamic over the pork.  
  • Cook for an additional 4 minutes then baste again.  
  • Repeat basting and grilling until the pork is cooked to your likeness.  The total cooking time will be 16-18 minutes.
  • Remove the pork from the heat and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Slice into 1/4 inch slices and divide onto four plates.  
  • Divide the cherry compote over the pork.

Serves 4

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