Archive of ‘Main Dishes’ category

Clams with Bucatini

Sometimes, you just need a bowl of pasta that screams comfort and Summer all in one. This pasta is close to my heart for a number of reasons, one being it lets me taste the ocean without physically being there. Chris and I decided not to do any trips this Summer, since we are saving for a nice Fall trip. It sounds fine, at first, but as the mid-July slump took over, I found myself desperately needing to be by a large body of water, soaking in the sun, and eating the fruit of the sea. It’s a Summer tradition for most folks who grew up on the East Coast. I felt something missing all Summer and I realized that was why. What are some of your favorite Summer vacations? (more…)

So back to the pasta. I have never, ever cooked anything that was considered alive. In fact, I had cooked my best friend a lobster dish a few weeks back. Instead of paying for the cheap whole lobster, that I would have to kill myself, I opted for the much more expensive lobster tail option. I just couldn’t bring myself to do the deed. I saw this recipe for clams and pasta in the July issue of Food Network’s magazine. It had everything I wanted out of Summer: briney, lemony, buttery pasta with tender, sweet clams mixed throughout. I cooked a lot of garlic, then added the wine, then gently placed the clams on top, covered the pot and walked away for 7 minutes. Opening that pot was the most beautiful surprise. All of the clams were widely open, soaking it the wine and garlic they had just been cooked in. See my notes on caring for the clams at the bottom! This recipe is too easy and too delicious not to make. I made it again this weekend and was equally satisfied! Be sure to serve this with tons of napkins! A lot of slurpin’ with happen! Happy pasta making!

Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad

I find the best inspiration for cooking isn’t found in endless recipe searches on the Internet nor through a quick scroll through Pintrest. Going to the market and seeing what’s in season really gets my wheels turning. It’s like I’m a contestant on Chopped but without the stressful time limit. I have a few basic recipes in my head that I can alter to whatever I’m feeling for that day. I don’t need to get my Iphone greasy by trying to read a recipe as I go. This is cooking from the soul, my friends. (more…)

Chicken Milanese is an Italian classic that leaves you with a blank canvass with what to place next to it. To keep it on the lighter side, a salad seems to be the best option. I love combining sweet with savory so this Chicken Milanese with Spicy Tomato Peach Salad was a no brainer. Make sure your tomato and peach are perfectly ripe and you got yourself a show stopper. Spicy frisee pulls all of the elements together. Did I mention this is incredibly quick? Oh and butter.

Our chicken breasts are traditionally breaded and cooked in some olive oil and butter for good measure.

While our chicken cooks, our salad is combined. Capers are necessary here. Look at that cute peach peeking through. I’m soooooo glad it’s (almost) Summer!

I also pan-fried some prosciutto for one last crunch. So glad I did! A lot of people don’t enjoy prosciutto but when you fry it, its flavor changes. Check it out! I know there are a few more steps I didn’t picture but this recipe is very easy and ideal for a hectic week. Happy dinner or lunch making!

Prosciutto Mozzarella Flatbread

I know I’ve been pretty MIA lately and my posts have been few and far between. I appreciate you stopping by; whether it’s out of anticipation of a new post, or a revisit to an old post for the recipe, or if it’s just the first time for you. Warm weather spurs something within my soul towards cooking I normally don’t feel in the Winter. Then I step outside and the thick Maryland humidity slaps me in my face and demands I wake up. Standing over a hot stove? I’ll pass. And the worst part is, IT’S NOT EVEN JUNE (well, I guess now it is but it wasn’t a couple of days ago!). I’m afraid I’m going to either melt before Summer actually gets here or chop off all of my frizzy, curly hair because a bun isn’t cutting it. Either way, we will get through Summer in one cool piece and we will savor it, because, you know, Winter is always coming. (more…)

In my absolute stubborn attitude of not wanting to stand over anything hot, I offer you flatbread! This flatbread was inspired by a simple and very delicious panini I enjoyed in my recent trip to Las Vegas. I know the words simple and Vegas don’t go together and trust me, this isn’t my last Vegas-inspired food post. But…I loved these ingredients so much together I needed to recreate it and so I did. I use unleavened Lavash as the crust. I get this from my local Trader Joe’s and it’s the perfect cheat to a thin crust pizza! Fresh pesto is best, although if you have landed yourself a good grocery store find, you can use that too. I love fresh mozzarella on pizza, it melts perfectly and feels familiar, like Italian grandmothers have been doing this for years. After a quick trip to the oven, a simply dressed arugula salad and salty, thinly sliced prosciutto ribbons are added last minute. I’m always tempted to add something more, just one more thing. But then I take a bite and can’t believe there is so much flavor in such a simple gathering of good ingredients. This is how I survive summer without withering from all the heat in my kitchen. Plus, who doesn’t want pizza for dinner?

We first “schmear” our lavash with some fresh pesto.

Top with fresh mozzarella.

Give it a quick trip to the broiler. Don’t walk away! It only takes a couple of minutes for the lovely mozzarella to melt.

Toss the arugula with a healthy pinch of salt, good extra virgin olive oil, and delicious prosciutto. This flatbread is light, herbacious, and the easiest dinner ever. Happy flatbread making!

Steakhouse Pie

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Ever since I came across this issue of Bon Appetit magazine, my homemade pizza world drastically changed. Never will I ever buy store bought pizza dough again. There just isn’t a comparison. From how easily the dough stretches, to its pan tossed texture, and how simple it is to make, store bought pizza dough is not welcome here no more. I hope you are encouraged to brave the world of rising yeast and join me in changing how you view homemade pizza! As epic as that sounds, nights that I make pizza are not that epic. I recently made this hearty Steakhouse pizza pie for friends and it was an immediate hit. Chris and I also take no shame in eating a pizza pie for date night, even if there are yummy leftovers to look forward to the next day. At this point, I know you probably scrolled down to the ingredients list and immediately cast off this recipe because of how long it looks. Don’t fret! I’m here to comfort you in saying you probably have most of those ingredients sitting in your pantry, just waiting to be used! For the sake of your overall happiness, I really hope you try this goody out! No room for disappointments!

Here is the link for the best pizza dough! Bon Appetit Grandma-Style Pizza Dough

The Killer Burger

I like to name burgers the same way I like to name my nonexistant children. I want to give them a name that sets them apart and makes them stick out from the other burgers that are mundanely named. Although I can’t take credit for the name of this burger, I do think it appropriate to keep the name because the name says it all! I have this habit, when I’m menu planning for the following week, to look up recipes that sound good and are the healthier option. Take ground turkey burgers for example, when I found <a href="http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/anne-burrell/killer-turkey-burgers.html” target=”_blank”>Anne’s Killer Turkey Burger, I got all excited and proud of my choice of choosing white meat over red meat. But then reality struck and my desire for an all beef burger patty commandeered my desire to get the healthier meat. What I’m trying to say is I can’t stand ground turkey! Give it to me roasted and on a croissant sandwich with mayo but DO NOT give it to me in a form of a burger! That being said, I’m sure the turkey burger is outstanding in this recipe and don’t let my close-minded thinking deter you from trying the original recipe. (more…)

Don’t let the picture fool you. It may look like just the run of the mill burger but it’s so much more. This burger was so flavorful and perfect, I had dreams about it last night! I think it’s a great idea to throw these babies on the grill and add fresh toppings like ripe tomatoes, sweet red onion, and crisp, green lettuce. You really don’t need much embellishment for the amount of flavor you are going to get! Side note: Due to laziness and forgetfulness, I did not add the water chestnuts or the fresh ginger (I’m really disappointed with myself on that one!) but if you do, let me know what you think! This recipe also introduces us to Sriracha’s cousin, Sambal Oelek, a wonderful chili paste that you will be tempted to put on everything! Now, let us take a moment of thankfulness for Anne Burrell and her ingenious burger! Happy Burger making, guys!

Winter Stuffed Shells

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Saturday and Whole Foods are the only two words that will make Chris get out of his comfy sweatpants and brave the crowds with me to grocery shop. Whole Foods will have tons of samples out, I guess making his trip more enjoyable (and mine too! Who am I kidding?). Last year, they had this interesting Gouda titled, “Winter Gouda.” I didn’t need to know what was in it, I was already intrigued. The cheese was a salty and mellow Gouda, studded with flecks of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. The combination was out of this world! It also inspired me to take those flavors to the next level. What could be better than a beef and tomato stuffed shell, bathing in a glorious spiced Gouda sauce? Not much. This recipe might be for a little more than two people but no one hates the idea of easy leftovers! Winter Stuffed Shells is warm, comforting with a spicy edge, and something you probably don’t normally have on your menu.

Herbed Chicken Parmesan

I think one of the most difficult aspects of Winter is the lack of “fresh.” My windows have to stay shut from the months of December to March so I desperately try to avoid that stale smell by using the air freshener plug-ins. Man, are they a life-saver! But they are nothing like the crisp, clean air that is found outside of my doorstep. I also miss the produce that is offered so abundantly in the warmer months. As much as I love cozy, hearty food, sometimes it makes me feel like I’m stuck in a box. Whenever I get into a cold weather funk in the kitchen, I try to incorporate fresh as much as I can. For me, this means herb overload! Herbs are a great way to add a burst of fresh to any dish so you aren’t gasping for air after eating your 100th bowl of chili this Winter season. (more…)

Chicken Parmesan will forever be one of my favorite dishes. I don’t know if it’s the crispy, crunchy crust, or the ooey, gooey cheesy goodness, or the tart, sharp tomato sauce. All components seem to work double time, satisfying all the things I crave in one bite. But even Chicken Parm can get old or outdated. Inspired by recent posts by other food bloggers, I decided to give the Chicken Parmesan a wonderfully fresh face lift. Also, I think there is something romantic about having Italian food for Valentine’s Day (just an idea). I’m not selling this as the best Chicken Parmesan you will ever have (there are plenty of legit Italian restaurants that could put me to shame) but it’s pretty delicious for a home-cooked meal. Pesto is added to the delicious toppings of this classic, enhancing the flavor by offering a burst of herby freshness. I also swap out regular Mozzarella (no hurt feelings) with a delightfully smoked Mozzarella (the obsession is real). Salty parmesan isn’t only added to finish this masterpiece off but it is combined with Panko breadcrumbs to give you the crunchiest, cheesiest, Chicken Parmesan you will ever cook! Did I mention this great classic is a one pan plan? We flour, dredge, and bake! It doesn’t get any easier, friends! Also, I think I used my monthly quota of the word “fresh” in this one post. Let’s do this thang!

Our ingredient line up! It doesn’t take much to enhance your pantry items. Here, it’s all about easily accessible ingredients and the seasonings in your spice drawer. We have eggs, flour, chicken cutlets, smoked Mozzarella, pesto, marinara (the jarred stuff), then a delectable mixture of Panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic and onion powder, salt, and pepper.

Our dredging station is complete with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs! It’s as easy as 1,2,3!!!

After the chicken is breaded, we generously grease a baking pan to ensure the crust gets, well, crusty. We also turn over our cutlets half-way through cooking so both sides get crispy! I’m pretty proud of this crispiness if I do say so!

Once the chicken cutlets are done, we get the topping party started. Each cutlet gets a healthy dose of marinara and smoked Mozzarella. The sky is the limit here. Don’t stop until it feels right.

Next, the chicken is dotted with the lovely pesto. Not to go there but it totally looks like Christmas here! Again, you can add as much pesto as you want! Don’t hold back! This amount was definitely not enough for my pesto-loving husband.

The only thing standing between you and a yummy chicken dinner is Parmesan cheese. It IS Chicken Parmesan so now isn’t the time to be frugal with your Parmesan use. It’s as if these cutlets got a little snow dusting (ugh, it’s been Winter for way too long!). These guys get baked until everything is melted. You need to emotionally prepare for the next picture. Your mind is going to explode by all of the deliciousness about to be pictured.

BAM! Now, who wouldn’t be ecstatic to have this made for them for Valentine’s Day, let alone any other day of the week! Enjoy, friends! Happy Chicken Parm making!

Brunch Pad Thai

Life is stressful and sometimes, all you need is a warm bowl of noodles. Noodles of any form are what I consider real comfort food to me and I like ’em every which way! I was the kid on spaghetti night who preferred her spaghetti sans the red sauce and with the lovely addition of butter and parmesan cheese. My favorite part was biting into a huge forkful of pasta, not being able to fit the whole bite into my mouth,  and getting those cheesy, buttery noodle footprints  all over my face. I knew I was doing something right. Those same buttery delicious noodles get me through the hardest of days and longest of hours. Of course, I’ve traded in my green can of parmesan for the real deal. I love being a grown up! Well, other than the stressful part, of course. I tried to conjure up a few more Thanksgiving leftover recipes but honestly, I need a break from the holiday food for a sec. Feel me? Usually, Asian inspired dishes are what I turn to when I need a break from the usual rich and filling foods of the holidays. I introduce the Brunch Pad Thai! It’s a simple noodle dish made with the usual suspects of brunch: eggs and bacon. You could really eat this for any meal but isn’t it a fun thought to think of having a few friends come over for a unique brunch like this? All I know is that it’s delicious and I didn’t miss my eggs benedict…this week at least. (more…)

Our ingredient line up:

Asian rice noodles, beaten eggs, pea shoots, a mixture of tamarind paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce, mushrooms, bacon, sugar, garlic, crushed peanuts, and scallions.

The key here is to have a very hot wok or heavy skillet. We add our bacon and garlic. Be prepared. Your house is about to smell amazing.

This is how pad thai works; similar to stir fry. You cook meat and veggies on very high heat, remove, and repeat. You have to literally be on your toes during the whole cooking process so nothing burns. Here, we cook our eggs by swirling them in the pan so they cook fast and evenly. Burnt eggs equal gross so work fast!

Our noodles, pea shoots, and scallions are cooked. Our tamarind paste mixture is added. Tamarind paste is a must for yummy pad thai!

We kind of just throw everything else into the pan and toss! So much going on! So much flavor! Real talk: whatever you do, DO NOT overcook your rice noodles! This sweet little gal did and everything turned to mush! The horror!

Chaos. Perfect. Delicious. Chaos. You know what would be delicious with this? Cilantro and fresh lime juice! Don’t forget it at the grocery store like I did. Let me be the example. I hope you can find a calm moment in the midst of the holiday chaos and make yourself a nice bowl of your favorite noodles. Happy noodles making!

Ham and Gruyere Panini with Rosemary Onions

Is anyone else up to their elbows in Thanksgiving leftovers? My creativity to reinvent them is running thin and I don’t know if my stomach can accept anymore stuffing. But before I get entirely tired of the ham I made (my husband hates turkey), I always make this sandwich. Ham and I got off on the wrong foot 20 years ago when my parents made me eat some ham before I could be excused from the dinner table. It was the longest night of my life and I swore never to humor ham like that again. But as the years passed and my emotional scars from ham started to heal, I thought I would give it another shot. Ham ain’t so bad! It’s all about how you make it (brown sugar and Cognac glaze, anyone?). Plus, I do love having leftover ham sandwiches and when you adorn them with onions and rosemary, you’re in for a real treat! It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal and it’s oh so comforting. It also gives you an excuse to dust of that panini maker you asked for on your wedding registry but barely use. The sweet, mustardy onions paired with the smokey ham and nutty Gruyere makes for the best panini. It just feels like the holidays all wrapped up in a sandwich. I’m sure this wouldn’t be so bad with turkey either. There’s only so many turkey pot pies you can make, ya know? Let’s get moving on our Ham and Gruyere Panini! (more…)

Our leftover ingredient line up:

Crusty bread, butter, fresh rosemary, gruyere, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ham, onions, and brown sugar.

Our onions are cooked until a luscious golden brown then we add more butter (surprise, surprise), brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and dijon.

The mixture is finished with a little chopped rosemary. If you have some thyme left over from Thanksgiving, feel free to add that instead.

Now, we layer! If you are at all a professional sandwich maker like myself, you know the layering process is incredibly important and should be taken very seriously. Grab your bread and out some ham on it. See what I mean? Precision is key! We top the ham with that delicious onion mixture.

Then, just as you thought things couldn’t get anymore complicated, we take grated gruyere and using all of the strength within us, sprinkle on top of the onion mixture. I know, I know. I’m asking too much of you but we will persevere!

Finally, our sandwiches are topped with a buttered slice of bread and some more rosemary is sprinkled on top. Whether you use a panini maker or a stovetop skillet, make sure there is some butter melted so the bottom of the sandwich gets plenty of love.

Wait for it…money shot! Just kidding. Sandwiches are a little camera shy but I wanted you to see the magic that is happening inside this sandwich. It’s buttery, it’s rich in flavor, and it’s the perfect way to use up your holiday leftovers. Happy panini making!

Slow Cooked Asian Style Short Ribs

Slow cooker talk: I need them in my life. They make dinner so much easier. I even use them in the summer when it’s too hot to turn the oven on. Slow cookers are ideal for the full time working person or someone that just wants to throw dinner together and forget about it for the rest of the day until dinnertime. I feel like slow cooker meals have gotten a bad reputation throughout the years. The ease gets confused with the quality of products. Don’t get me wrong. I, too, have fallen victim to the world of creamed soups for a dump and go dinner. BUT, we can still have a dump and go dinner, we just upgrade our ingredients. What if I also told you that this dump and go meal is also worthy of a dinner party (something you would actually want to serve to other people). I have been fully immersed in a book of slow cooker recipes by William Sonoma and I’m literally starting from the very beginning of the book and working my way back. I came across this recipe and fell in love so I thought I would share. I tweaked it a bit to my liking but this is definitely a warm, comforting meal that doesn’t require that much work. You with me? (more…)

Before we get started though, we need to have a Daylight Savings ending talk. It’s hell for a food blogger, especially a newbie. I was just sitting on my couch, smelling the amazing aroma of what would be my dinner when I realized the sun was setting! I didn’t have a final picture! I did my best but had to scrap the pics. Hopefully, I can get my act together here. So now, we slow cook!

Our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Beef short ribs, onion, garlic, ketchup, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, honey, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar (I actually used white wine vinegar), a spice combo of cayenne, cinnamon, ground fennel seed, ground cloves, and fresh ginger. This may look like a lot of ingredients, especially on the printable page BUT most of these should already be in your pantry. It’s all about the flavor, baby!

Here is the dump and go part! We throw into the slow cooker all of the ingredients, except for the short ribs and spices. Our ginger looks like it’s in a happy mood today! Give it a healthy stir!

Our short ribs are seasoned and broiled on both sides so they are nice and brown. Add the short ribs into the slow cooker and turn the ribs a couple of times to be fully covered in the delectable sauce. These babies are slow cooked for about 6 hours until they are basically falling off the bone. I served mine with some broccoli I will be featuring later this week. Add some rice and you have a complete meal! Whew! Wasn’t that easy? If you aren’t a fan of short ribs, you can make the same recipe with a chuck roast. I might actually do that next time. Happy dinner making!

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