Pineapple Fried Rice

I finally succeeding in making Asian food at home that tasted like real Asian food – not just soy sauce and veggies.  The secret is sesame oil!  I actually lucked out and happened to find some good gourmet sesame oil at HomeGoods.  This dish is the perfect side to grilled shrimp, Mmm…

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Oven Baked “Risotto”

This quick and easy “risotto” recipe from Barefoot Contessa was surprisingly good.  It’s a great side dish to any meal or could be a filling meal on its own.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock, simmering
  • 1 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (one you would drink)
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Place the rice and 4 cups of the simmering stock in a medium dutch oven (i.e. Le Creuset)
  • Cover and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked al dente
  • Remove from the oven and add in the last cup of chicken stock, wine, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt and pepper and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until everything is well combined
  • Lastly, add in the peas and stir until the peas are heated through

Chicken Pot Pie

I had actually never tasted this classic comfort food until I made it last night.  I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  If you have the time to make the dough, I recommend it – the consensus was that it tastes like a biscuit… so good.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1  1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn, green beans)
  • 1 large potato, peeled
  • 3/4 cup pearl onions (frozen or fresh)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, whole but smashed
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups chicken broth (store-bought or homemade)
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pie crust (you can either use store-bought or homemade*)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp water (egg wash for the crust)
*This recipe will yield enough filling for two large pies or 4 individual pies –
if you want to make the large pie, you will need to double the dough recipe*
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1  1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco), cubed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 2/3 – 1/2 cup ice cold water

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • Drizzle olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  • Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 350°F for 35-40 minutes or until fully cooked
  • While the chicken is cooking, prepare the pie crust if you’re planning on making it yourself
    • Once the chicken is cooked, cut it into bite-size cubes
BAREFOOT CONTESSA’S PIE CRUST
    • Mix the flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade
    • Toss in the shortening and butter and coat them with the flour
    • Pulse 10 times or until the shortening and butter are about the size of peas
    • While the food processor is running, pour in the ice cold water
    • Process until the dough is moistened and is beginning to clump together
    • Place the dough onto a floured surface and form it into a ball
    • Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 mins
  • Parboil the potato and then cube it – leave the water in the pot and keep the heat on
  • In the same pot, blanch the mixed veggies and pearl onions (if the onions are fresh, boil them for 2-3 minutes with the skin on; then remove the onions, cut the root and the onion should just pop out of the skin)
    • Put the prepared veggies aside for now
  • In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth and bouillon cube
  • In a large pot or saute pan with high sides, melt the butter and saute the onions and whole garlic cloves
  • Remove the garlic cloves once they’ve become very fragrant and saute the onions over medium-low heat until they’re translucent
  • And the flour while stirring the mixture constantly over low heat – approximately 2 mins
  • Add the hot chicken broth to the flour mixture and whisk over low heat for another minute or until it thickens
  • Add 2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and the heavy cream – continue to stir
  • Add in the cubed chicken, mixed vegetables, potatoes, pearl onions, parsley and thyme – stir the mixture well
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There are two options for the presentation of this dish…
 
OPTION I – Make it into a classic pie 
    • The filling will be enough to make 2 pies – so either half the recipe, or double the dough
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and roll it out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Drape the dough over the pie dish and press it down against the dish with your fingertips
    • Fill the pie with the chicken filling
    • Roll out the other half of the dough into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Cover the pie with this dough and make sure the edges are sealed along the edge of the pie dish
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour  or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly – you may want to cover it for part of the time, just check on it while it’s baking to see if it’s getting too brown
OPTION II – Make it into individual pot pies
    • Cut the dough ball  in half and then in half again
    • Roll 1 quarter of the dough out into a circle on a lightly floured surface
    • Place the 1/4 of the chicken filling into an oven-safe bowl or ramekin
    • Brush the edge of the dish with the egg wash – this will prevent the crust from sticking to it
    • Drape the dough over the dish and leave about 1/2 inch hanging over the side – press the dough down against the side of the dish with your fingertips
    • Brush the dough with the egg wash and make 3 slits on the top
    • Repeat this with the remaining filling and dough
    • Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly

Venus de Milo

This hearty minestrone soup is a favorite of mine – it’s so simple but really tasty.  Top it off with some American cheese and you’re good to go! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 envelope Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, string beans and peas)
  • 1 can red kidney beans (optional)
  • 1 large (28 oz.) can of Pastene ‘Kitchen Ready’ tomatoes
  • 7 cups of water (equivalent to two Pastene cans full)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (or other small shaped pasta)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a large soup pot, brown the meat – once the meat starts cooking, add in the Lipton Onion Soup Mix
  • Once the meat is cooked, pour in the tomatoes and water – stir well
  • Add in the mixed vegetables (and beans, if desired)
  • Season with the tsp of sugar and salt and pepper to taste
  • In a separate pot, cook the 1/2 cup of pasta
  • Add the pasta to the soup and let it simmer for at least 20-30 mins

Hushway

This Middle Eastern dish literally translates to “stuffing.”  It’s what my mom stuffs our Thanksgiving turkey with – minus the peas.  It’s super easy to make and really gives you the feeling that you’re eating something exotic.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. – 1  1/2  lbs. ground beef
  • 1 cup uncooked white basmati rice
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

HOW TO MAKE IT

  • In a medium pan, season the ground beef with the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper and then brown it
  • Once the meat is cooked, add 2 cups of water to the pan and stir
  • Bring the water to a boil and add the frozen peas and mix
  • Bring the water to a boil again and add in the rice and stir
  • Lower the heat on the stove to low and cover the pot
  • Keep stirring the rice often so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan
  • Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender

*Try topping this rice with cool plain yogurt – it’s not only a refreshing combination, but it also hits all of the food groups!