Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orecchiette Pasta

Pasta, pasta, pasta!  We love pasta at our house!  One of the first foods (besides banana) Griffin asked for by name was "pata", so like I said we love pasta :)  I am constantly trying new ways to make it both exciting and healthy and still get in the pasta.  For some reason I can put almost any vegetable with pasta and my kids will eat it.
So, tonight when I looked at the clock and it was already 6 and I hadn't made dinner I decided to go for my old stand by and add a little of this and a little of that!  It took me less than 30 minutes to throw together (including waiting for the water to boil) and what I came up with was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself :)

Orecchiette Pasta
1lb box orecchiette pasta
3 tablespoons (about) olive oil
1 onion (I used red for a little color), diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped up
2 cups asparagus, chopped about 1 inch in length
20 (or so) grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup basil leaves, torn
Salt & Pepper

Using a large pot bring about 6 quarts of SALTED water to a boil.  When water is boiling add pasta and cook to the instructions on the box (mine said 11 minutes).  While waiting for the water to boil start making the veggies!  Add about 3 tablespoons olive oil to a large saute pan.  When it is hot add onion and asparagus.  Season with salt and pepper.  Saute until onion begins to turn translucent, next add garlic and turn the heat to medium low.  You want the veggies to kind of melt together.  Add tomatoes and leave on low.  When pasta is done cooking drain well and add to pan.  Turn off heat and stir it all together, add in basil leaves.  Taste and add more seasoning if need.  Then its time to serve!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did tonight!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Garlic Baguette with Caprice Salad

I just had one of my favorite things for lunch!  A caprice salad!  I love the combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil...I could seriously eat it everyday :)  I know tomatoes aren't in season right now, but my hubby brought home some beautiful black heirloom tomatoes so I couldn't resist (I also saw some yummy looking tomatoes on the vine at Trader Joe's yesterday!)

I have a little bit of a cold right now, and after encouraging a friend on facebook to try a little raw garlic to shorten her cold I thought I should take my own advice!  So I used some garlic and a few slices of baguette to add to an already awesome lunch!

Ingredients for the Caprice Salad
Tomato, sliced
Fresh Mozzarella Ball, sliced
Fresh Basil, torn
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

The key to making this salad so delicious is to SEASON EVERY LAYER!!!  Start by laying a slice of tomato on a plate, season with salt and pepper.  Lay a slice of mozzarella on top of tomato, season with salt and pepper.  Lay a generous amount of basil leaves on top and then drizzle a few drops of olive oil over the basil.  You can then continue to layer each ingredient, or make a few of their own little piles!  So yummy!

Ingredients for Garlic Baguette
1 fresh baguette
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 clove peeled, raw garlic

Slice a few slices of the baguette on the diagonal.  Rub some olive oil on one side and put on a sheet pan (cookie sheet).  Put in oven under the broiler for about a minute.  You want a little color and for the bread to toast, but not burn.  Watch it closely!!  Take the bread out of the oven and while it is still hot rub the bread with the raw garlic.  I like to rub generously on both sides...I LOVE garlic.  If you are not so much of a garlic fan rub one side. 
I have to admit that this is a trick that I learned from Casey, I didn't come up with it on my own.  I figured you wouldn't mind because, why would you want to read a blog about a chef's wife if you weren't going to get some advice directly from a chef?!?
Want something really yummy?  Make the caprice salad on top of your garlic baguette and you can pick it up and eat it kind of like a bruschetta!  Yum!  Enjoy :)

**I am on a diet right now and wanted to be good, so I did not use any olive oil on mine (every calorie counts) and it was still really delicious, just not quite as good as it could have been :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chicken & Veggie Soup with Stars

I love making soups, and lucky for me my family loves to eat soup! I once told Connor, when he was sick, that he should have some soup because it would make him feel better. Well, now anytime he has the slightest sniffle he asks for soup and within seconds of eating says he feels better! So sweet :)
Making soup is really easy and sooo much better tasting and sooo much healthier than eating canned soup. I take pride in knowing that my kids are eating something that I made and that is really good for them. So, if you don't already, start making soups from scratch! You will see that it is much more simple than you might think :) And, if your hubby doesn't think soup is enough for dinner (like mine!) pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich or some crusty bread, yum!

Chicken Veggie Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed or shredded :)
3 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 cup green beans (fresh or frozen)
1 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1 box (32 oz) chicken stock
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound pasta (I like Stelle which is tiny star shaped)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you want to heat it up!)
Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

Put olive oil in large stock pot. Add onion, celery, carrots, bell pepper and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Saute until onions are translucent. Add liquids and bay leaves. Bring to a slow boil. Add in pasta of choice as well as chicken, green beans and corn. Cook at a slow boil until pasta is cooked and then your soup is ready! (Take out Bay Leaves before serving)

**If you are making a large batch to serve for multiple meals it is better to make the pasta separately and add to each person's bowl, as the pasta will become very soft (mushy) if left in the liquid.

Friday, February 11, 2011

BBQ Pork Chops

I really like to make pork chops for my family, and there are so many different ways to make them taste great!! A new way I made them a couple months ago was braised with beer and bbq sauce. They were so awesome that my chef hubby claims it is now one of his favorite meals! That is always a nice thing to hear from him :) I like to buy my pork chops from COSTCO. They are thick and a really good price :)

I made these served with mashed potatoes and broiled Parmesan asparagus! Another great way to serve them is to shred the pork and put on Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (or another roll) and make little pulled pork sandwiches, with coleslaw (found here!

BBQ Pork Chops

3 thick cut pork chops (or however many you need for your family)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, cut in half then sliced

1 bottle beer, New Castle is great :)

1 1/2 cups bbq sauce

Salt & Pepper...of course ;)

Season pork chops generously with salt & pepper. Add olive oil to deep pan. Heat oil until pan is hot. Add pork chops to hot pan, let brown for about a minute and then turn to the other side. You want a nice crust on each side of the pork. Remove pork. Add onions and sweat them until they start to become translucent. Add beer while scrapping bottom of pan to remove any bits, add bbq sauce. Stir together and then put the pork chops back in. Cover the pan half way and let simmer on low (so its barely bubbling) for about 2 hours. The pork will be tender and the sauce will reduce into a think syrupy bbq sauce. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chicken Salad

I am a part of a group called MOPS (Mothers Of PreSchoolers). I am so blessed by these women as we are all in the same life stage and we get together every other week to encourage, share and learn with each other! We have been on a break since before Christmas so my table had a play date. It was a little loud and a little crazy with so many babies and preschoolers running around, but it was so much fun!!
I offered to bring a chicken salad for the moms to eat! My mom makes an awesome chicken salad, so I started with her recipe and added a twist of my own!! (Mom, your salad is awesome just the way it is...I just like being creative in the kitchen. So please, keep making it!!)

Casey LOVES this salad and actually asks me to make it! So, it has the chef's stamp of approval :)

Chicken Cabbage Salad
1 head of cabbage, quartered and sliced REALLY thin
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 package chicken flavored Top Ramon, noodles crunched
For Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons vinegar (I like to use apple cider vinegar)
Top Ramon seasoning packet
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl combine cabbage, chicken, noodles, almonds and cilantro. Whisk together ingredients for dressing and mix it in. Its best to dress the salad about 30 minutes before you eat it to allow the flavors to mix together without making it too soggy! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Out to dinner with a chef!

Being married to a chef means weeknight dates, if I get a date at all :) So, when my mom-in-law said she would babysit we took the opportunity to go out to dinner, just the two of us! Casey laughed when we sat down, because he noticed that I strategically sat on the side of the booth facing the kitchen. I knew that if he could see the kitchen he would be distracted watching the goings on in there, rather than paying attention to me! He can't help it, and I know it! I always (well most of the time!) order what he tells me to order. He is an expert, so of course I will take his advice, and he is always right!! We had a great time! It makes me realize even more how much I miss him while he is working, and it also makes me so grateful for the job that he has and that he is able to do something he loves every day and that I am able to be his partner in life!!