Tag Archives: Quick and Easy

Orzo with Veggies and Feta

Orzo with Feta

Orzo with Feta

I’ve been thinking about making something with orzo for a while, and saw a good recipe on Tasty Kitchen and thought I’d give it a try.  But you know me, I can’t follow directions when it comes to food, so, as always, I added my own touch on the recipe.

The asparagus I had was already roasted (LOVE! roasted asparagus) so that was one variation from the original recipe.  Another was the tomatoes.  I love tomatoes, and Sendik’s had cute little cherry tomatoes on sale.  These aren’t good enough to eat on their own yet, but are good enough to cook with (the added spiced and other things in the dish help out the paper-like taste of winter tomatoes).

Ingredients:
1/2 cup orzo
1/2 lb spinach
1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/2 cup roasted asparagus (sliced on the diagonal in bite-sized pieces)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
Feta (as much as you like)
2 TB olive oil
Salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste.

Steps:
1. Cook orzo according to package directions
2. Let the minced garlic infuse the olive oil on relatively low heat, so it doesn’t burn, until you can smell it (or about 5 minutes)
3. Add the spinach and cook down a bit
4. Add the tomatoes, season, and cook together for about 5 minutes
5. Add the roasted asparagus and orzo
6. Add the feta

Garlic infusing oil

Garlic infusing oil

Cooked spinach

Spinach cooked down

Tomatoes

Added the tomatoes

Orzo

Added orzo and asparagus

Added feta

Added feta

Mushroom “Stroganoff”

mushroom-stroganoff

YUM

I was reading a few yummy recipes, some for beef stroganoff and some for a mushroom and pasta dish, and the wires must have gotten crossed and this creation emerged.  I had a rather large packet of mushrooms from Costco and I’ve been trying not to waste them (again).  So I figured I’d saute them and server with ribbon pasta and some sort of sauce, but that’s not exactly what happened.  Here is what I did:

Ingredients:
24oz packet of mushrooms (thinly sliced)
1 cup of low-fat sour cream
Roasted asparagus (optional; I just had some in the fridge so decided to use it)
1 large onion (diced)
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, sweet paprika, smoked spanish paprika (all to taste)
Noodles (I used half a pound of whole wheat ones)

Steps:
Cook noodles according to package directions
1. Saute onion.
2. Add mushrooms and saute them too. If you see it sticking, add some stock or pasta water.
3. Add sour cream. Season.
4. Add asparagus, if using.

mushrooms_onions

Mushrooms and onions

mushroom stroganoff

With Sourcream

mushroom stroganoff with pasta

With Noodles

Chicken Soup

chicken soup

Look at the golden glow!

I’ve never made chicken soup before. Mainly because I don’t really like it. I know, it’s an odd confession as an opening for a chicken soup recipe. But…. The soup I made wasn’t like the chicken soup I grew up with. What never appealed to me was the rich, clear broth that had little pools of chicken fat floating on top.

So I figured that instead of throwing a whole chicken into the pot with a carrot and an onion, I’d do something differently. I used a chicken breast, a chicken leg, and a bone in, skin on chicken thigh. As usual, I tried to remove as much fat as possible. I also added a lot more to the soup. There is the typical carrot, however, instead of just halving it, I diced it into half moons and sauted a little. The onion also got the saute treatment instead of being just halved and thrown in. Potatoes and a bell pepper also made their way into the pot. I wanted to add some more veggies (of the frozen variety) but there was no more room in the pot. Oh well. Here is what I did:

Ingredients:
1 large white onion (diced)
1 large carrot (diced in large half moons)
chicken (whatever you want, but I used cut-up chicken breast, thigh, and leg)
6 cups of water (pretty much the max for my pan, but you can use more if you’d like a looser soup)
2 small-medium potatoes (I use Yukon Gold)
1 bell pepper (chopped in large chunks)
1-2 bay leaves (optional)
Salt, pepper, turmeric, spanish smoked paprika, sweet paprika (all to taste)

Steps:
1. Saute the diced onion and carrots for a few minutes.
2. Add chicken and cover with water.
3. Bring water to a boil and add the spices.
4. Add the potatoes and bell pepper. Add the bay leaves if you’re using them. Check the spices in a few minutes (potatoes tend to absorb a lot).
5. Let simmer on low heat for a half hour or so.

soup-veggies-saute

Soup veggies sauteing

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup Cooking

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

I was looking online for a rice, sausage, and beans dish and stumbled upon a Dirty Rice recipe by the Neelys on Food Network. It looked easy, quick, and I had all the ingredients. But I’m sure you noticed that I have to add my own touch to recipes. The Neelys’ recipe didn’t have beans and I switched out a few of the ingredients. Instead of the pork sausage they used, I used buffalo hot dogs from Lakevew Buffalo Farm. I tried the hot dogs earlier in the summer and really liked them; they’re more like brats or sausages than hot dogs and a lot healthier too, probably. Here is what I had.

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked rice
2.5 cups of stock (2 cups for the rice and .5 cups or so for the “sauce”)
1/2 large onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (large, finely diced)
1 red bell pepper (diced)
2 buffalo hot dogs
1 can of black beans
greens, scallions (optional, for garnish; I used a bunch of cilantro)
Olive oil, salt, pepper, ground chipotle, ground cumin to taste

Steps:
1. Cook the rice according to directions, substituting the chicken stock for water
2. Slice the sausage on the diagonal and brown in a bit of olive oil. Regulate the amount of oil based on how much fat is in the sausage.
3. Once the sausage is browned, add the onion and brown it. Then add garlic.
4. Add the bell pepper. If there is no liquid in the pan, add a little bit of the stock. Cover with a lid and let cook for about 5 minutes or till the pepper is crisp-tender.
5. Add the beans and spices.
6. Add the rice to the sausage mixture.
7. Add greens (optional).

Sausage, beans, bell pepper

Sausage, beans, bell pepper

Dirty Rice is Done!

Dirty Rice is Done!

Roasted Salad

Roasted Salad

Roasted Salad

I am so thrilled that it’s finally summer, but it seems I can’t give up my oven. Though I do have a grill, it’s an electric one. 😦 My local fire department does not allow grilling on balconies. But I still love summer veggies and have a tendency to buy too much. So, today, I decided to put some of those veggies to good use and make a salad. Since roasting is so easy and brings out the flavor so much, I decided to sacrifice personal comfort in my caricature-worthy tiny kitchen for the benefit of the salad.

Ingredients:
3 bell peppers (I used red, orange, and yellow)
1 bunch of asparagus
1/2 red onion diced
1 tb basil
Salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar to taste

Steps:
1. Cut up the peppers in large chunks and clean the asparagus
2. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
3. Roast to your desired doneness at 425 degrees; I roasted the asparagus for about 5-6 minutes and peppers for about 15-20.
4. When the veggies cool, dress with a little bit of balsamic vinegar.
5. Add the diced onion.
6. Sprinkle with a little bit of basil

Roasted Salad Detail

Roasted Salad Detail

Voila! Ready to serve.

Grilled Chicken

This is one of my favorite and easiest recipes. It also happens to be very frequently requested. The important part is not to skimp on the seasonings or the time it takes to marinate. It’s best to let the chicken sit in the spices for about 24 hours, or even longer, but even overnight will be good. This keeps well in the fridge for a few days, and travels well in a cooler if you’re going tailgating or to a grill-out somewhere.  This even works on an electric grill.  But a real grill (the kind with actual flames), or an oven, work much better.  Though, the chicken was just as tender as if it were on a real grill or in the oven.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
Chicken legs, as many as you want. Clean it as you would normally.
Spices (salt; I also use the following blends from Penzey’s: Tandoori, Southwest, Northwest; or you can use your favorite chicken rub/seasoning blend).

Steps:
1. After you clean the chicken, pull back (but don’t remove) the skin. Sprinkle the seasoning liberally. Pull the skin back to cover the seasoning.
2. Season the outside of the chicken leg.
3. Place into a container and into the fridge for about a day. The longer it sits, the better it will be.
4. Grill using your favorite method.

*IMPORTANT NOTE*
DON’T MIX THE SEAONINGS. Each leg gets its own blend. For example: one leg gets Tandoori, another leg gets Northwest. Don’t mix Northwest with Tandoori; it will taste nasty.

Season Outside

Season Outside

Season Inside

Season Inside

Grilled Chicken

Grilled Chicken

Grilling

Grilling

Tomato and Spinach Soup

Tomato-Spinach Soup

Tomato-Spinach Soup

This was a completely unexpected and impromptu soup. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m not much into soup since I have so few soup recipes. But this just came together suddenly, since I didn’t even get into to the kitchen until about 8 in the evening. What can I say, I was bored so I started cooking. 😉 I had some things I wanted to use up before they go bad and wanted something easy, light, healthy, and packed with nutrients. And since I’m fond of throwing a bunch of stuff in one pot and seeing what develops, I got a really yummy soup that is perfect for this cold and rainy weather. I hope, one of these days we’ll have spring.

Ingredients:
1 (1lb) jar of tomato sauce
2 bell peppers (red and yellow, or whatever you want)
1 large onion
1/2 lb carrots
1/2 cup of brown rice (optional)
1 lb spinach
Water (at least as much as the tomato sauce; I used two times the tomato sauce)
basil
bay leaves (optional; I used a few small ones)
Spices (salt, freshly ground black pepper, cumin, corriander, paprika, Pensey’s Chile Con Carne, Pensey’s Sweet Curry)

Steps:
1. Saute the onion and bell peppers. Season a little bit.
2. Heat the tomato sauce in a pan (I used a 3.5 QT pan). Add water (as much as you used for the tomato sauce. I just used the empty jar of sauce).
3. Add the sauted vegetables and cook a few minutes.
4. Add brown rice, if using and carrots.
5. Add spinach.
6. Add the rest of the water and bay leaves.
7. Add the spices, whichever you are using, and basil.

Tomato Soup ingredients

Tomato Soup ingredients

Tomato soup and veggies

Tomato soup and veggies

Tomato soup and spinach

Tomato soup and spinach