Monday, August 31, 2009

Summer Evening Pasta

I really wanted to love this dish from Gillian's Goodies, but it just didn't speak to me the way I had hoped.  I thought it was kind of dry, and while I love each ingredient separately, I thought it lacked flavor as a whole.  I did leave out a couple of things, so maybe that was my problem, but I'm not so sure I'd make this again.

Ingredients:
  • 2 ripe, really fresh tomatoes, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, minced
  • 1/8 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp. black or kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. capers, drained
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 pound short pasta (wagon wheels, butterflies, penne...)
  • 1/2 cup cooked white/navy beans
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Add the pre-cooked beans during the last few minutes of cooking time just to warm them through.
2. While the pasta cooks, place half of the tomatoes in a large bowl along with the onion, olives, capers, and basil.
3. Place the remaining tomato chunks into a blender or food processor bowl. Add the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic. Puree until smooth. Transfer this mixture to the bowl with the tomato-caper-basil mixture.
4. Once the pasta and beans are ready, drain and add them to the bowl with the tomato mixture. Toss well and serve

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Rachael Ray's Chicken Pot Pie

Since I'm on maternity leave, I've been indulging in a little daytime television. A few weeks ago, I was watching the Rachael Ray Show and she made this Chicken Pot Pie. It looked so good that I added it to my meal plan for the next week.

This happened to be my first time cooking and eating the parsnip. Rachael said they are like carrots with attitude. I don't know if I'd go that far, but they're yummy.



I really loved this dinner - pay no attention to the ugly pictures. It was delicious and comforting and it will officially become my go-to pot pie dish.


Ingredients
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
  • 3 small onions, 2 cut in half, 1 chopped, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 pound button mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh tarragon, leaves picked and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 sheet puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water
Preheat oven to 375.
Place chicken, whole onion half and bay leaves in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring up to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until chicken has cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool. Reserve about 1 cup (a mugful) of the cooking liquid and then discard the remaining.
While chicken cools, place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add chopped onion, mushrooms, carrots, celery and parsnips to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 7-8 minutes. While the veggies are cooking, remove the chicken breast meat from the bones and shred.
When the veggies are tender, scoot them over to the side of the pan and add the butter to the center of the pot. Once butter has melted, add the flour and cook for about a minute. Whisk in white wine, milk, chicken stock and reserved poaching liquid. Bring up to a simmer then add the tarragon, Dijon, peas and shredded chicken. Bring back up to a simmer, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the sauce has thickened, 2-3 minutes.
Transfer to a casserole dish and cover with the pastry dough, trimming it as needed to cover the entire surface. Make a few slits in the dough to allow steam to escape, then brush the top with the beaten egg.
Bake the pot pie until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Caprese Lasagna

Don't even read this post; just scroll down to the end to get the recipe. Go to the store and buy whatever you need, and make this tonight. Seriously.


I bookmarked Rachael Ray's Caprese Lasagna a long time ago, but I'm really not sure why I waited so long to make it. But it for sure won't take me long to make it again.

It was such a great summery comfort dinner. The flavor combination of the basil, tomato, and mozzarella is one of my favorites, and you all know of my love for all things pasta.


Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • A few grates of fresh nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • Half a bunch basil, chopped (about 30 leaves)
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Pre-heat the oven to 375ยบF.

Place a large saucepot over medium-heat and melt the butter. Add the garlic to the pan and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk and chicken stock into the butter-flour mixture and bring up to a bubble. Add the nutmeg, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and simmer until thickened, 3-4 minutes.

Assemble the lasagna by ladling a small amount (about 1/4 cup, just eyeball it) of the sauce into the bottom of a 9-inch x 13-inch baking dish and laying three lasagna noodles over the sauce. Top the noodles with about a third of the sliced tomatoes, a third of the basil, 1/4 cup of sauce and about a third of the shredded cheese. Repeat until all ingredients are used up, topping the lasagna off with a final layer of sauce and shredded cheese.

Cover the pan with foil and bake the lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove the foil from the baking dish and bake another 15 minutes until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly. When ready to serve, top with the remaining chopped basil leaves.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Chicken Marsala Pasta Toss

I know, I know. I have been the most craptastic blogger ever. But now that our growing family has settled into a groove, I've been back in the kitchen and actually have a bunch of exciting dinners and treats to share. So don't let my recent absence turn you off; I'm ready to roll my sleeves up and get back to work!

This Chicken Marsala Pasta Toss (from Milk and Honey, by way of Stephanie Cooks) was actually the first meal I cooked after Daniel was born, excluding the dinners I cooked and stashed in the freezer at the end of my pregnancy.


I doubled the sauce ingredients, and I'm glad I did - even twice as much was almost not quite enough. But nonetheless, this was a delicious dinner, and I'm sure I will be cooking it again soon.



Ingredients
  • Half a box of rotini
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced button mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut into cubes
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • 2 tbs. flour
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup dry marsala wine

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta to al dente. Drain and set aside.

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet, cook green onions and mushrooms until tender, about five minutes. Season with a pinch of salt. Remove from skillet and set aside.

Add remaining olive oil to skillet and add chicken. Season with salt and pepper, stirring until just warmed through, about 3 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Melt butter in skillet and add flour, stirring to form a roux. Cook for one minute. Slowly add chicken broth and wine, stirring constantly. Simmer sauce until bubbly and thickened. Add chicken and veggies to the sauce and heat through. Add sauce mixture to pasta and toss to combine. Garnish with additional green onion strips, if desired.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

THANK YOU!

I cannot thank you enough for voting for my little cooking blog. Your votes paid off, because Lauren's Kitchen was one of two blogs chosen for HighLowAha's Second Annual SuperBowl Snack Throw Down!

During football season, I'll be competing against Kate as we each create recipes centering around a pre-determined "secret ingredient."

As you all know from reading this blog, I am not one to just create a dish on a whim - I am definitely a follow-directions kind of girl. Therefore, I am thrilled (and kind of scared!) of the challenge that lies before me. I can't wait to step up my cooking and creativity!

On a side note, remember how I had blog issues a few months ago? I was able to get some of the issues resolved, but not all. The date on each post is still weird (even though I've tried to adjust the settings), the title isn't big or distinguishable (aside from the color), and the bottom of each post runs directly into the top of the next.

Now that my blog is going to be featured for such a cool event, I really want to get these minor problems fixed. Any ideas or suggestions?

Thanks again for your votes! I'm sure I'll be soliciting more votes each week as I create game food. :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vote for my blog!

I was recently contacted by HIGHLOWAHA about a blogging competition they are hosting centering around football season.

Voters select two blogs who will go head-to-head this football season creating game-friendly recipes centered around a "secret ingredient." Again, voters will choose the winning recipe each week, and then THAT winner gets to compete in the "ULTIMATE snack throw down on Super Bowl Sunday."

There are two ways you can vote for Lauren's Kitchen:

1. Visit http://www.highlowaha.com/ (click on the red "blog" circle on the right) and leave a comment in the first post - titled "The Draft."

or

2. Send an email to highlowaha218@gmail.com.

Thank you!!

Cinnamon-Chocolate-Chip Poundcake

While flipping through the July issue of Martha Stewart Living, I found a selection on poundcake. Here, Martha offers a Classic Poundcake recipe, along with several variations to suit your appetite.

At the time, I was going nuts in the kitchen preparing meals to freeze in anticipation of our newest little boy. I very quickly added this pound cake to my list - I figured it would be perfect to serve to guests who stopped by to visit Daniel.


I started with the Classic recipe but then couldn't decide between the Chocolate Chip and the Cinnamon Raisin. I decided to combine them, and a Cinnamon-Chocolate-Chip Pound Cake was born!
(I chose to leave off the glaze since I didn't know how that would freeze. While I'm sure it would have been delicious, I didn't miss it!)
I found this obscenely easy to put together. It froze beautifully, and tasted absolutely fabulous. I think my only "complaint" is that my chocolate chips sank... but it did add an interesting layer!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 4 sticks softened unsalted butter, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 9 large, room-temperature eggs
  • 2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans. Combine all-purpose flour and salt in a bowl.

Cream butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed until pale and fluffy, for 8 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. Reduce speed to medium, and add vanilla extract.

Lightly beat eggs, and add to mixer bowl in 4 additions, mixing thoroughly after each and scraping down sides. Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 4 additions, mixing until just incorporated. Fold chocolate chips into finished batter. Divide batter in half. Fold cinnamon into 1 half. Scoop batters into 2 prepared pans, 1/2 cup at a time, alternating plain and cinnamon. Swirl with a knife. Tap on counter to distribute; smooth tops.

Bake until a tester inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 65 minutes. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on wire rack.

Yields two loaves.

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