February 19, 2011

Creamy Artichoke Pasta

I get bad cravings for pasta.  Not as much as I use to.  But there are times those tasty carbs scream my name so loud that I can't ignore it.   My husband had to work late and I didn't have a plan for dinner yet.  So I made this due to a sudden craving for a creamy pasta dish. (This definitely scratched that itch!)  I just pulled things out of the pantry and fridge that I had on hand and started cooking.   It's a very versatile recipe so sub in any vegetable that you may like best such as broccoli or spinach.  I just realized those are all green foods.  Weird.  I must be ready for St. Patrick's Day!!  Ooooo fresh spinach would be really good in this dish.  I imagine it would taste like Spinach Artichoke dip. Yum!  I guess that recipe is in the near future to try out and share.  If you beat me to it, let me know how it turns out.

1 lb rotini pasta (or your favorite shape)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 15oz can artichokes, drained
1/2 - 1 c vegetable or chicken broth
4oz (1/2 8oz block of cream cheese)
2 tbsp capers
1/4 parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly ground is always best (optional)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.   Drain and set aside.

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add butter and olive oil.   Add onion and garlic.  Cook until onions start to get translucent, stirring occasionally about 6-8 minutes.   Stir in artichokes and broth.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add more broth as needed if sauce evaporates too quickly.  Stir in the cream cheese, nutmeg and capers.   Cook until cream cheese is melted in and sauce is creamy.  Stir in pasta and cook until heated through.  Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top and serve.  Enjoy with garlic bread and/or a green salad.

February 4, 2011

Pear Tart with Gingersnap Crust

 I made this fancy but easy dessert for a friend's dinner party.   Every bite is full of flavor but very light!  This was a new flavor combo for me. You can really taste the gingersnaps and the zestiness of the orange and Tuaca flavors.  At first taste, I was unsure... it was interesting and different but I realized that I actually really liked it more after each bite.  So give it a try!!  The filling has a very citrusy flavor, so if you want to cut back use less Tuaca or a smaller orange.  I used a large navel orange in this recipe.

2 c gingersnaps
2 tbsp granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter, unsalted, melted

4 pears, peeled and cored (Bartlett or Bosc will work well)
6 c white wine
1 c granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean

1 lb cream cheese
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c Tuaca
Zest 1 large orange

CRUST DIRECTIONS - Place the crumbs and sugar in food processor. Grind into fine crumbs. Add the butter and mix well. Press into a well greased 10-inch flan or tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate until ready to use.

PEARS DIRECTIONS -  Place the pears, wine, sugar and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the pears are fork tender about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. 

FILLING DIRECTIONS - Place the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, Tuaca, and orange zest in a large bowl and blend with a handmixer or stand mixer until smooth.

To assemble the tart, remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Spoon the filling in the bottom of the tart pan. Slice the pears and arrange the slices on top of the filling and arrange in concentric circles. Cool about 2 hours slice and serve cool with softly whipped cream.  Enjoy!

February 3, 2011

One-Pot Chicken

I love when I throw something together and it turns out much better than I anticipate.   This is one of those dishes. The sauce was full of flavor and the perfect consistency.   I was thinking Chicken Caccitore when I started throwing everything in but it's more of a random One-Pot wonder. I love cooking with chicken thighs, especially when done slow and low.  The meat turns out so tender and flavorful.  This is my One-Pot Chicken recipe that you'll love. Perfect for a cold weather dinner!  It's easily adaptable so you can include any veggies you like.

2 tbsp olive oil
6-8 Chicken Thighs, (skin on, bone in adds flavor but feel free to use skinless, boneless)
1 c flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1 jar roasted red bell peppers, sliced in strips
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tomato, quartered
3/4 c white wine
1 c chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large dutch oven or pot.    Add flour to a resealable plastic bag.  Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken thighs.  Place the chicken in the flour and toss until coated.  Shake the excess flour off the chicken and add to the pot.   Brown chicken on both sides, 6-8 minutes.   Remove from pot to a plate and set aside.  

Add butter, onions and roasted red pepper to the pot and cook for about 5 minutes until onion starts to become translucent.   Stir in garlic and thyme, cook for about 1 minute.   Then add tomato, white wine and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Then add chicken back to the pot and cover.  Place pot in the oven and cook for 1 hour.  Remove lid and cook for an additional 15 minutes to brown the top of the chicken. Serve chicken and sauce over pasta or wild rice.   Enjoy!