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Roasted Tomato and Chicken Stew with White Beans

It’s no secret that I love soup. What’s not to like about it? Easy to make, you can use scraps from your kitchen, they’re usually healthy, and make great leftovers. Win, win, win, WIN in my opinion.

Two weekends ago it was cold here in SF, and I was craving an Italian-style soup, but one without any pasta (I’ve been continuing to lay off the refined carbs). This Minestrone inspired soup, thick with shredded chicken, lots of vegetables, and a light garnish of salty parmesan cheese did the trick. To amp up the flavors, I roasted some fresh tomatoes and garlic — each tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar — and beyond the extra richness it added to the soup, the smell alone made this step worth it. While they were roasting, Joe kept drifting in and out of the kitchen, until he finally came in and asked, “Why does it smell so GOOD in here?”

Need I say more?

Get the recipe (and more food pics!), after the jump! Continue reading

Recipe: Bucatini with meatballs and homemade tomato sauce

A couple weeks ago, Lara from Simply Irresistible posted two pasta recipes that looked SO good. Well, I mean, all of her recipes look really good, but I must’ve been craving pasta, because the minute I saw these, I wanted to make them right then and there. Which is weird, because at home, Joe and I typically stay away from pasta, mostly for dietary reasons. But the weather has been cooler, and the thought of a big, warm bowl of noodles just sounded really delicious!

Two Saturdays ago, we spent the day out and about, running errands and buying a coat for Joe, and it was drizzling all day. Inspired by Lara, I suggested pasta for dinner to make up for the miserable weather. I was blown away when Joe said, “Spaghetti and meatballs?” Done and done. And to make things extra special, I told him I’d even make the sauce from scratch.

This dish turned out really well! If you’re following exactly what I did, I’d recommend you save this one for a weekend, when you have a bit more time. However, you could easily make it a weeknight meal by using your favorite jarred marinara sauce.

Get the recipe after the jump! Continue reading

Recipe: Hearty Stuffed Peppers

Do you have a recipe that you often forget about, but whenever you make it, you want to kick yourself for not preparing it more because it’s so easy and so delicious? That’s how I felt when I recently made my roasted stuffed peppers. Ridiculously easy to put together, you can make this recipe as sinful or as healthful as you’d like — but no matter which route you choose, the results are irresistibly satisfying.

I like to stuff peppers with ground turkey meat, but you could of course substitute chicken, pork or beef — anything you’d like really. During my most recent attempt, I used a mixture of dark ground turkey meat, onions, garlic, lots of herbs and just a hint of parmesan. The mixture is spooned into red and yellow peppers, then baked with marinara sauce until the peppers have browned and the meat cooked through. The best part? The juices from the meat always leak out of the peppers, mixing with the marinara and leaving you with a tomato sauce that tastes like it was cooking all day.

The great thing about stuffed peppers is that you can customize them to any genre of food you’d like. You could stuff them with cooked rice, corn, black beans and diced chicken, top each with some monterrey jack, and bake with green enchilada sauce. I’m betting they’d be delicious stuffed with ground lamb, spinach and feta, then smothered in a creamy white sauce (yes, that would definitely fall in the ‘decadent’ category). Stuffed peppers are a great way to clean out your fridge, if you think about it!

You can also choose to make these as a side dish — just buy smaller peppers and adjust the amount of filling you make.

Hearty Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 medium to large bell peppers, if serving as a main dish (I used two red and two yellow)
  • 3-4 springs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, cleaned
  • 1.25 lb ground dark turkey meat
  • 1/2 yellow onion, very finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8-10 cremini (dark brown) mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and finely chopped
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • –salt and pepper to season
  • 2 jars of your favorite marinara sauce
  • –extra virgin olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375°.

Slice the tops off of the peppers and set aside. Using your fingers, clean out the seeds and white ribs from inside the pepper, being careful not to tear the sides of the vegetable.

Combine the herbs on a cutting board and mince together. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey meat, onion, garlic, herbs, mushrooms, egg and parmesan cheese. Season well with kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Use your hands to thoroughly combine, as if making a meatloaf. With a spoon, tightly stuff each pepper with the turkey mixture. It’s okay to overfill these a little.

Select a baking dish that will fit all your peppers. Pour enough marinara into the dish to completely cover the bottom. Place the peppers into the baking dish, then top each with a little extra parmesan if you’d like. Pour sauce over each pepper and into the baking dish (I used a little less than 1.5 jars of marinara total), drizzle extra virgin olive oil on top of each pepper, then place its “lid” on top.

Bake for an hour to an hour and a half (depending on your oven and the size of the peppers you chose) until the peppers have begun to brown and the sauce mixture is bubbly. You may want to spoon some of the sauce over the peppers part way through baking to help speed the pepper cooking process along. Serve with pasta, vegetables, or on its own!

Recipe: Pasta with sun dried tomatoes and spinach

Last Thursday in an attempt to both a) self-medicate and b) pay homage to the great Jersey Shore, Joe and I stopped by A.G. Ferrari and picked up lots of Italian goodies to snack on.

The next day, we had to go for broke and indulge two nights in a row, so the leftovers from our Jersey Shore binge — namely sun dried tomato pesto, sun dried tomatoes and Piave cheese — became the stars of a quick Friday night pasta dish. This is another great example of MacGyvering something together into a totally scrumptious meal (where are your requests, people?). While my pasta dish was pretty simple, one could easily add in grilled chicken, or cooked broccoli, white beans, or any other type of leafy green. Just use whatever you have laying around.

I present to you gemelli with sun dried tomatoes and spinach. The recipe is super easy. Continue reading

Recipe: Roasted vegetable lasagna

Joe was out of town all last weekend, and even though he wasn’t scheduled to get home until a little late Monday night, I promised him I’d have something waiting for him on the .01% chance that the airplane food wasn’t horrible.

He assured me that as it’d be late, he probably wouldn’t be that hungry, but that nurturing instinct in me (the one that drives me to cook as a means to comfort people) wanted something delicious at the ready. I’d been thinking about making lasagna for a while, so I used the homecoming as an excuse to indulge him/myself.

The weekend without him had already seen me stuffing my maw with dim sum, sushi, pasta, and lots of wine (self-medicating after a very long and busy week at work, obviously), so I tried to keep things a bit lighter with the use of yummy roasted vegetables, and no meat.

In case you weren’t aware, using roasted vegetables in any dish negates the calories from cheese and béchamel sauce that would otherwise go straight to your heiney. It’s true. I seen it.

I started with some sliced zucchini, little planks of yellow bell pepper and big slices of cremini mushroom. All these got tossed on a sheet tray with olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flake and some dried thyme.

I popped this into a 375° oven for about 20 minutes — basically whenever I was ready for them. The main idea in preparing the vegetables is that you want them to be about the same thickness, so that they’ll layer evenly in the lasagna. With the amount of water in all of these veggies, the roasting is less about browning them and more about getting them cooked most of the way through. They’ll finish cooking in the lasagna. Plus, you wouldn’t want all that water leaking everywhere in the lasagna. It would just water down the sauce.

While the vegetables roasted, I prepared the other “filling” ingredients for the pasta. Continue reading

Recipe: Risotto with asparagus, fresh shelling peas and lemon

This is a post with some seriously good eats. The not so serious part? It’s extremely easy to make, as long as you carve out some time for yourself on a weekend evening, and are totally, 100% committed to putting a lot of love into your food. If you can manage these first two requirements, you can give the gift of risotto to someone special in your life. Even if it’s just yourself.

Back story With a brief warm spell we had last week, a few springtime favorites made an appearance at the market near my house on Saturday: verdant, crisp asparagus spears. Knobbly, plump pea pods. I feel more sprightly just thinking about it. It was a no-brainer to use both in whatever I’d be cooking.

Since Joe was leaving the next afternoon, a big bowl full of risotto love seemed to be the thing that would provide both an appropriate sendoff, and remind him that there’s something (someone?) good to come home to when it’s all said and done.

To throw in an undertone of earthiness with all the vegetal, green flavors, I picked up a few cremini mushrooms to add into the mix. Then, to heighten and brighten all the flavors, lemon zest proved the ticket. Are you ready to see how it all came together? Away we go! Continue reading

Broke and Hungry

Broke and Hungry is a recently launched blog written by my good high school buddy Jeff. Given that he’s a city planning and public policy whiz kid (in addition to consulting, check out this new firm he just launched–the guy’s been doing a lot of launching, now that I think about it), it was a pleasant surprise to see him start a food blog. But I couldn’t be happier to see him focus some of his energy on food and cooking. After a day at work, there’s often no greater joy than being in the kitchen.

Bruschetta from a recent Broke and Hungry smorgasbord

Bruschetta from a recent Broke and Hungry smorgasbord

The concept of his blog is high quality cooking at super low, post-grad-school-friendly prices. Each post breaks down the cost of the meal. Of course, the same meals reproduced in different areas of the country would likely cost more or less, but the posts still drive home the point that great food is totally affordable.

His blog got me thinking about the individual costs of my meals, and inspired me to bring my lunch to work every single day this week. And tonight, as I threw together a 30 minute meal (I had to hustle–it was already 6:30 and No Reservations was on at 7!), I committed the recipe to memory so I could share the procedure and the cost here. Check out my amazingly cheap meal after the jump.

And take a gander at Broke & Hungry, and get inspired to start cooking at home!

No Reservations Spaghetti with Spicy Shrimp and Lemon Continue reading

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