Monday, May 30, 2011

Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad

I like making different pasta salads, like my South of the Border Pasta Salad, or this Antipasto Pasta Salad. So when I was given a new pasta salad to try in last weeks Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap (click here to see all of the recipes shared), I was excited to try it. And with the holiday weekend cooking fest underway, the timing was perfect.

The recipe was submitted by the author of the blog My Kitchen Rx. I made a few changes, noted in italics below.

The Dressing

  • 1 7oz jar sundried tomatoes, with the oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 c extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Added: 4 large basil leaves
In a food processor, combine the sundried tomatoes in their oil, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and vinegar until the tomatoes are chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil and continue pulsing until everything is combined. Note: I probably used a bit less olive oil than the recipe called for since I used the flavorful oil from the sundried tomatoes. This made a lot more dressing than I needed, but it will last in the fridge for a bit.

The Salad
  • 16 oz corkscrew pasta
  • 1/2 lb cubed mozzarella
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes cut into halves
  • 10-15 leaves basil, chopped or julienne (I did a chiffonade)
  • 1.5 c grated Parmesan cheese (I totally forgot to add this before serving, and didn't miss it)
Cook the pasta, drain, rinse under cold water until no longer hot. Toss with some of the dressing, the mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Add more dressing as needed. Chill before serving, adjust dressing if needed.

This was a really good recipe - everyone loved it. It had a nice tang from the sundried tomatoes, and was so fresh and summery with the basil and tomatoes. I will definitely make this again.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chipotle-Tomato Rice

I was looking for ideas for a new side when I came across this recipe for Chipotle-Tomato Rice on the blog Oishii. Easy, flavorful, and it went perfectly with our chili-lime-garlic marinated pork chops.


  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 TBS. canola oil
  • Half a white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder); I used the pepper in adobo sauce, diced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano; I used Mexican oregano
  • half of a 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro, for garnish

  • In a large saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium high heat.
  • Cook the onion until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  • Stir in the chipotle and oregano.
  • Add the canned tomatoes with liquid. Reduce heat, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.
  • Add the cooked rice, and stir until combined and heated through. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve. Garnish with cilantro.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Before making this myself, I had never had gumbo, not even when I was in New Orleans. I have always wanted to try it, but never really thought about making it myself until I saw it here on Elly's blog. I immediately put it on my list of things to make. Although I'm just blogging about it now, I made it back in late March.

One ingredient in the recipe I wasn't familiar with was the file (fee-lay) powder. Turns out that it is a thickening agent, but also adds flavor. I'm not sure what kind of flavor, however, because I forgot to buy it. But I do know that the local specialty bulk foods store carries it so I will get it next time I make it to see what it adds to the recipe (although I don't know what the file powder would have added, I do need to note that I didn't feel the recipe was missing anything).

This is definitely something to make when you have a few hours to kill, and when you want leftovers for a few days. It made a lot, but that was fine with me, and with my parents who got a big container of them.

One other note, and something that Elly mentions in her post, too - prep your chopped veggies ahead of time. Although you don't use the veggies until you are about 45 minutes into the recipe, you won't have time to do any prep once you start as the creation of the roux takes constant attention. And one more thing - I used chicken breasts instead of thighs. Here is my adaptation of the recipe.

  • 1 tbsp and 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1 lb smoked sausage cut into 1/2 inch pieces; I used chorizo
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp Emeril's Creole Essence Seasoning; I probably used a bit more (didn't measure, just seasoned liberally!)
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 ea chopped red and green bell peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 9 c chicken broth
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • Heat the 1 tbsp oil in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  • Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Season the chicken with the Essence seasoning. Add to the pot and brown on both sides, about 6 minutes total. Remove the chicken, cool, and store in the fridge til later.
  • Here comes the long part - making the roux. Add the 1/2 oil and flour to the pot over medium heat. Stir slowly and constantly until a dark brown roux that looks chocolaty in color is formed. This will take 20-25 minutes.
  • Add the yellow onion, celery, and bell peppers and cook 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked sausage, salt, cayenne, and bay leaves and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring, until well combined. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour.
  • Add the chicken to the pot and simmer for 1.5 hours, skimming off any fat that rises to the surface (since I used chicken breasts, I didn't really have any fat to skim).
  • Remove the pot from the heat, and remove the chicken using a slotted spoon. Shred the meat, then add it back to the pot along with the green onions and parsley.
I served the gumbo over rice. Optional: hot sauce.

Doesn't this look delicious?? I can't wait until next fall so I can make this again. LOVED it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Spicy Chicken with Asparagus and Chile

When I saw this recipe, I wanted to make it because it combined asparagus and jalapenos, and I don't think I've ever eaten them together, especially in an Asian-inspired recipe. But I love both, so I put it on our menu.

The original recipe, posted by Brianna on her blog
Oishi, called for ground pork. I had chicken breasts to use, so I decided to dice the uncooked breasts, sort of like how I diced them for my Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. I also omitted the oyster sauce and honey, and added a bit of hoisin and chicken broth. We both loved this recipe, and it's a quick and easy one to throw together on a weeknight.

Below is my adaptation of the recipe.

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
  • 3 tsp Asian sesame oil, divided
  • 12 oz thin to medium Asparagus spears, cut on a diagonal to 1/2-3/4 inch pieces
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (ribs and seeds included)
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 c chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp hoisin
  • 2 green onions, sliced


  • In a bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp of the soy sauce, the rice wine, and cornstarch. Add the chicken and toss to coat.
  • Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Add the asparagus, jalapeno, and ginger. Toss until the asparagus is crisp tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pan. Add chicken; saute until browned, about 4 minutes.
  • Return the asparagus mixture to the pan. Add the remaining soy sauce and hoisin. Saute a few minutes. Add the chicken broth and toss.
  • Stir in the green onions, or serve them on top.

We ate this over white rice, but it would also be good over noodles. I would have liked a little more sauce, so next time I'll increase the liquids.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Tomato Sauce

This dish brought me one of the best compliments I could get - my mom said thought she was eating her mother's food.

Growing up, we spent almost every Sunday afternoon at my grandmom's house, and she would always cook a big meal. We aren't Italian, but my grandmother's cooking was very Italian influenced as our family was from Yugoslavia near northern Italy.

She loved to slow cook meats in sauce, and when I saw this recipe for
Beef Short Ribs Braised in Tomato Sauce on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I immediately thought of how my house would smell while cooking - it would smell like my gradmom's house.

I'm not sharing the picture until the end of the post, because my picture just doesn't do this meal justice (but check out Bridget's picture in the link to her blog - she not only creates fabulous recipes, she takes beautiful food photos!). This meal was so good, so comforting, the flavors were so layered and full, and it tasted like my grandmom's cooking.


  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 (3-4 lbs) beef short ribs; I used 4 lbs and it was 8 short ribs
  • salt
  • 3 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano; I used dried oregano
  • 1/2 c wine; Bridget suggests red or white, something not too sweet or not too oaky. I used a California cab
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes with their juice
Directions - these are Bridget's exact directions, just broken out to see the steps a little easier. I didn't change a thing as far as the recipe/cooking method is concerned.
  • Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt clinging to them. Cover them with 1/2 c water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the plastic wrap, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Use a fork to lift the mushrooms from the liquid; mince the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.

  • Season the beef ribs with salt. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it flows like water when the pot is tilted. Add the beef ribs and cook, for 2-3 minutes per side, until richly browned on all sides . Remove the ribs from the pot (I had to do this in 2 batches).

  • Lower the heat to medium and add the pancetta to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to the plate with the short ribs. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.

  • Add the onions and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned on the edges, 6-8 minutes.

  • Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, mushrooms, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  • Pour in the wine; scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

  • Stir in the tomatoes, beef ribs, pancetta, mushroom soaking liquid (being careful to leave any dirt behind), and 1 teaspoon salt.

  • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

  • After 2 hours, remove the cover, increase the heat to medium low, and simmer for another hour, until the beef is tender.

  • Transfer the ribs to a plate; shred the meat.

  • Meanwhile, if the sauce is too thin, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. I didn't have to do this.

  • Stir the meat back into the sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary, and serve over pasta or polenta.
I served the meat over a polenta that I made with 3/4 c stone ground yellow cornmeal, 3 c chicken broth, a few pinches of thyme, and some shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese and it went perfectly.