Pasta with Garlic Shrimp & Broccoli

This one from AllRecipes was a winner with the entire family tonight. It felt extravagant—and sure, it’s not great to eat heavy cream and butter every night—but it came together easily and tasted delicious. Winning!

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package angel hair pasta
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons pesto
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash hot sauce
  • 1/2 (16 ounce) package frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. Melt 1.5 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly stir in milk and cream; simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened. Mix in pesto, parsley, 3 cloves minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, white pepper, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, place broccoli in a steamer over 1 inch of boiling water, and cover. Cook until tender but still firm, about 2 to 6 minutes. Drain.
  4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet. Saute shrimp, remaining 3 cloves minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt for 5 minutes, or until shrimp are pink.
  5. In a large bowl, toss pasta, shrimp and broccoli; pour sauce over and serve.

    **I used frozen shrimp with tails on, first thawing them in cool water and setting them aside. I used frozen broccoli, cooking it most of the way in the microwave and then tossed it the butter and garlic to heat up by sauteeing. After a minute or two I added the shrimp and heated it altogether. Easy.

 

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Spiced Beef Patties with Couscous

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My daughter picked out this recipe from a library magazine. My intention was to have her make it, however she was putting away laundry so I went ahead alone. The beauty of a kid-picked recipe was that the weight of new-recipe-trying was completely off my shoulders—hoorah! As it turns out, this recipe is simple and DELICIOUS. A total win, and perhaps one of the best flavors of burgers my husband has eaten. 

2 carrots, finely grated
3 T extra-virgin olive oil
3 T chopped dried apricots or golden raisins
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 C couscous (10 oz)
1/2 C plain yogurt
1/4 C finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 t hot paprika
1 1/2 lb ground beef chuck
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 t ground cumin
1/4 t ground cinnamon

1. Combine 2 C water, half of grated carrots, 2 T olive oil, dried apricots, 1/4 t salt and a few grinds of pepper in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add couscous; cover and remove from heat. Set aside until ready to serve.

2. Meanwhile, mix the yogurt, half the cilantro, 1 t paprika and a large pinch of salt in a small bowl; set aside.

3. Combine the ground beef, scallions, cumin, cinnamon, 1 t salt, remaining grated carrot, and 1 t paprika in a large bowl. Mix with hands until just combined. Form into four 3/4 inch thick oval patties.

4. Heat the remaining 1 T olive oil in large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add the patties and cook until browned, 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in remaining cilantro. Serve the patties with the couscous and yogurt sauce.

Roasted Salmon Pasta with Tzatziki

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I pulled out this recipe from an online whole food kitchen class I took a few years ago. I knew it would be a bit of a stretch for my family, and sure enough, each of the kids said “ew” to the description. I did almost lose my nerve partway through, but I am so glad I persevered (not that it was a particularly hard recipe, just that I almost convinced myself I’d be eating it on my own for the next fourteen meals). I needn’t have worried. We ate every single bite, and I think Ian and Clara would have eaten even more had it been available.

Notes for next time: Jason said I could have doubled the salmon (and I agree). I was too lazy to make a gluten-free pasta option for myself, so I just gluten-ed it up with the rest of the family. Also, I didn’t get a picture of the tzatziki, but it was really good as well. The recipe notes say that traditional tzatziki uses mint as the fresh herb but that the dill pairs nicely with the salmon. I agree, but I might experiment with mint or even cilantro.

Also, the original recipe calls this “pasta salad.” I left out the “salad” because it was not at all salad-like in my opinion. The salmon and asparagus had cooled, and the tomatoes were room temperature, but I made the pasta last and tossed it while the pasta was hot, so overall the dish was warmer than room temp but not steaming by a long shot. The tzatziki was cool, and all those temperatures worked well together.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (6-ounce) cooked filet salmon, cooled and chopped into bite-sized pieces (I prepared it just like the salmon in this recipe); next time I would double this
  • 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, sautéed and cooled and chopped into 1-inch pieces (remove the woody tips and add to a medium-hot skillet with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper; sauté just a few minutes until bright green)
  • 1 package tricolor veggie pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions:

  1. Toss salmon, tomatoes, asparagus, and pasta in a large bowl (or, um, large skillet if you don’t have a large enough bowl)

For the tzatziki

  • 1 cucumber, peeled and seeded (and roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup plain greek-style yogurt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill (or 3 teaspoons dried dill)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • sea salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon salt)

Combine all the tzatziki ingredients in a food processor or blender and process on low until well blended.

Serve on the side to be spooned over pasta.

Chicken Pho

IMG_3867Oh man, this recipe is everything I wanted it to be: (so) easy, (so) delicious, a big hit with kids and adults. And if you make it a Pho-riday (get it? get it?), all the better.

I found this recipe in an old issue of Eating Well.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups chicken broth (I used 6 cups broth and 2 cups water, and would do it again)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bone-in chicken leg quarters, skin removed, trimmed (the original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but this is what I used, and I’d do it again)
  • 8 ounces wide rice noodles (the original recipe calls for 6 ounces, but we had an 8-ounce package, and Jason likes the noodles, so…)
  • 6 cups chopped bok choy
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • Sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 watches

Directions:

  1. Combine broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add chicken, meat-side down. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).
  2. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Remove and discard spices. Add noodles and bok choy to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the bone and shred with two forks. When the noodles are tender, stir in the chicken.
  4. Serve bowls of soup with bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro, jalapeños, Sriracha, and limes on the side, so everyone can add their own toppings.

 

Roasted Chicken with Cranberries and Winter Vegetables

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So I might be a little bit obsessed with this meal. It’s the kind of meal that I want to get every single flavor in every bite, but there are so many flavors that it can’t really (or can only barely) be done. It’s seasonal and beautiful (chicken notwithstanding) and super easy. A little bit of a disclaimer: cooked Brussel sprouts do not smell good. I took this meal to a friend’s house tonight to celebrate their new baby, and when we got back in the car, Clara said, “Are you kidding me? It still stinks in here?” Ha. But the taste is worth it.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if they are really big)
  • 2 small (or 1 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced thinly (peeled is optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (could also use chicken breasts)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 7 fresh sage leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the vegetables and cranberries on the sheet, then add the chicken on top.
  3. Melt the butter or ghee in a small saucepan, and add the sage leaves just until they wilt a bit.
  4. Drizzle the butter and sage over the chicken and vegetables and salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Waffle Donuts

Yummy little bites that look like waffles and taste like donuts. Win win.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups flour

for the topping (I had to make this twice for one batch of waffle donuts):

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  2. Add the eggs, milk, and melted butter and beat well.
  3. Stir in the 3 cups of flour, mixing well until it is thoroughly combined. You will have thick, sticky batter.
  4. Pre-heat your waffle iron.
  5. Place a teaspoon of batter in the middle of each waffle part (my waffle iron has 4).
  6. Cook for 3 minutes until golden brown.
  7. Remove the donuts and place on a cooling rack.
  8. Combine the cinnamon and sugar for the topping.
  9. Dip the waffles in butter, shake off, then dip into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Tempura

Transforming a beautiful plate of vegetables into a beautiful-in-a-different-way plate of deep fried vegetables has become one of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions. I’m not gonna lie: tempura is not super easy to make because it’s pretty labor intensive.  which is why it is a once-a-year kind of meal. But, it’s so delicious. The recipe comes originally from Alton Brown, and we have modified it over the past couple of years to reflect our family’s tastes. Although we do have chicken, the vegetables are by far everyone’s favorites.tempura

Ingredients

  • the vegetables and protein you’re going to fry–we use 2 small sweet potatoes, sliced; 1 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced; 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets; green beans (1/2 pound maybe?); 1/2 avocado, sliced; 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) white rice flour
  • 1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil (for each pan that you use to fry; I used two this time, and it worked well)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water (or club soda or sparkling water; do not sub tonic water)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • (ice to line a bowl that you’ll set the batter in)
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare your vegetables and chicken–slice, trim, chop, peel; do what you need to do.
  2. Whisk together the flour and rice flour in a medium glass bowl. Divide in half and then set the flour mixture aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer (or until bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon; every year I have to Google how to tell if oil is hot enough).
  4. When the oil is getting close to ready, whisk the seltzer water, vodka, and egg together and divide the mixture in half. Put half the wet mixture in the refrigerator to reserve.
  5. Pour half the wet mixture into half of the flour mixture and which to combine. (I have generally found we need to add a little more flour to at least half of the batter, sometimes to both halves). It will make a thin (but not watery) batter.
  6. Set the bowl of batter into a larger bowl lined with ice.
  7. Dip the vegetables in the batter and let drain for a few seconds over the bowl, then drop them carefully into the hot oil. Fry 6-8 pieces at a time until puffy and very light golden, about 1-2 minutes (the chicken takes a little longer).
  8. Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels, and sprinkle with salt as desired.
  9. When you run low on batter, whisk up the other half of the liquid and the flours.
  10. Tempura may be held in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Alton Brown said the texture would be compromised, but I thought it was just fine. :)