Monday, July 27, 2009

Ziti with Creamy Lamb Ragu...and a Winner!!

Carb loading is traditionally a favorite activity of many a marathoner. However, hubby and I are really just normal folks who happen to love carbs in any shape or form. This evening, we decided to celebrate a great weekend with heaps of good pasta and a loaf of our favorite bread from the Hillcrest farmer's market. If you're ever in the area, check out the very appropriately named "Best Bread" booth. Ooh, I could live there it's so good.

Lamb Ragu
Another one of Giada's winning recipes, this dish comes together fairly quickly thus minimizing the insane heat creation in our home. Ziti pairs quite nicely with a lamb ragu flavored with sauteed shallots, fresh mint, & a touch of ricotta for creaminess. We paired these beloved carbs with a nice bottle of chardonnay to round out a perfect summer meal. Lamb was also a nice change from the usual chicken and/or shrimp I've been cooking.

Ziti with Lamb RaguBefore I leave you with the recipe I also wanted to give a huge shout out to Melissa from Baking for the Boys for being the WINNER of my reader recipe contest. This is a very late congratulations but thank you so much for your Angels on Horseback recipe! Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of the winning recipe (I dont know how you all entertain and manage to take photos), but I can provide you with some testimonials if you want proof of how delicious these were! As I was looking for easy entertaining recipes, shrimp wrapped in bacon and drizzled with homemade bbq sauce definitely fit the bill.

To thank Melissa for her great recipe, I'm sending her a copy of Alice Medrich's Chocolate Holidays: unforgettable desserts for every season. In my opinion, this book is a chocoholic's dream. Good thing Melissa likes chocolate :) Enjoy!

Both delicious recipes follow:

Ziti with Lamb Ragu
Adapted from Giada
1 pound rigatoni pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground turkey (*you can use all ground lamb)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine
4 1/2 cups marinara sauce, store-bought or home made
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
3/4 cup ricotta cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.

In a large skillet warm olive oil over high heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the ground lamb, ground turkey, salt, and pepper. Cook until the lamb has browned and most of the juices have evaporated. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has reduced by half. Add the marinara sauce and simmer over low heat about 10 minutes. Add the mint and ricotta and stir until mixed. Add the pasta and stir to coat. Serve immediately with a loaf of warm bread.

Angels on Horseback
Courtesy of Melissa

36 large shrimp
salt and pepper
1/4 pound bacon

1. Season shrimp with salt and pepper
2. Wrap in bacon
3. Broil until done, about 10 minutes
4. Brush w/ BBQ sauce (recipe follows)
*I pre-cooked the bacon a bit so that the shrimp didn't overcook and also sprinkled the bacon/shrimp with a touch of brown sugar.

La Posada BBQ Sauce
yield: 1 1/2 pints
5 oz. Worcestershire sauce
5 oz. soy sauce
1/2 lemon, juiced
5 oz. tomato puree
1 1/2 T. dark brown sugar
1 c. heavy whipping cream

1. In a small saucepan combine Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, tomato puree and dark brown sugar. Stir on medium heat until sugar has dissolved.

2. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. In a large sauce pan, add cream and bring to a boil. Simmer until the cream sticks to the back of spoon. Stir in BBQ sauce base to taste. Bring mixture back to boil and simmer again until it coats the back of a spoon

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sesame Five-Spice Shrimp en papillote

Thanks for all the notes about Sadie! She's truly a great puppy though I'm not sure how I'll deal with her in a few months. She's already 47 pounds but has the most ginormous lion-sized paws. I think we have a Marmaduke on our hands!

On to the food, hubby cooked Five Spice Shrimp for Man Food Mondays. My favorite Monday tradition has not died, I've just been a lazy blogger.

Five Spice Shrimp
Always out to impress, he tackled this recipe which called for en papilotte cooking. Fancy-schmancy, huh? Ok, it was very easy but it still sounds cool, right? Steaming the shrimp in parchment paper resulted in some of the most tender & juicy shrimp I've ever had. To top it off, a slightly sweet & spicy marinade made me very happy - is there any better taste combo?

Pair this with any veggies you like....the spiced shrimp is definitely the star of the show! We ate big bowls of steamed brown rice along with our own personal lovely packets. Cooking with parchment paper has become one of our favorite ways of cooking. I suppose this way two hungry eaters don't have to fight over second helpings...we each get our own bundle of food!

Five Spice Shrimp en papilotte
Eating Well

3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice wine
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/4 pounds raw large shrimp. peeled and deveined
1 cup fresh corn kernels
2 cups sugar snap peas
1 red bell pepper, chopped

1. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, honey, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds, five-spice powder and crushed red pepper (if using) in a large bowl. Add shrimp and mix well. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 400°F

3. Add corn, snap peas and bell pepper in a medium bowl. Prepare large rectangles of parchment paper.

4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer one-fourth of the shrimp into the middle of the parchment paper. Place one-fourth of the vegetable mixture (about 1 cup) on top of each portion of shrimp.

5. Close the packet to cover the ingredients. Starting at the top, seal the packet by folding the edges together in a series of small, tight folds. Twist the tip of the packet and tuck it underneath to help keep the packet closed. Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet (packets may overlap slightly). Bake until the shrimp are just cooked through and the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, place the reserved marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and boil until reduced slightly, just a few minutes.

7. Let the packets rest unopened for 5 minutes. Serve the shrimp and vegetables drizzled with the reduced marinade and a side of steaming hot brown rice.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Meet our Newest Addition!

Well, there must be something in the air. First, Grace found herself some cutie new kittens.

Then, not quite ready for any kids, we thought we'd experiment with being parents when this 7 month old darling stepped into our lives. Welcome to the blogosphere Sadie!

As you can see, she's already a bit of a ham.

But, here's her serious face:

She needs some work on her commands, but otherwise she is the sweetest little gal. Hubby never knew that having a puppy would be such a chick magnet. Oh well, too late...

Have a good weekend!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Curry Crunch Chicken Salad with Naan

curry crunch chicken salad
Though it could've been one of the hottest weekends in my San Diego memory, we successfully pulled off our move with only a few missing items: hubby's chess pieces, a few towels, and my laptop power cord. Last time we moved, we lost a whole box of Christmas decorations, so I consider this a success! :) I have always been more of a fan of Santa then chess anyway.

I'm loving the new kitchen, though I still feel like a guest in someone else's house. Since we are still in the midst of settling in and getting used to our neighborhood, eating out has become increasingly tempting. A little happy hour here, a few drinks there...Tonight, however, we were determined to cook our first meal, though we knew it had to be an easy one.

I found Rachael Ray's Curry Crunch Chicken Salad to be full of flavor and as I mentioned, very easy to pull together. I poached a few chicken breasts, though in a bind, you could also purchase a rotisserie chicken and shred it. Spiced with cardamom, curry powder, honey and a dash of cinnamon, the chicken salad takes on a uniquely sweet & spiced flavor. Best of all, grapes and toasted almonds add a nice crunch to each bite. Served with warm and toasty naan bread and a few sauteed garlic scallions, you have yourself a full meal.

I hope to have more yummy eats to share this week. Now that I have a gas stove and a Henry's right outside my door, I have no excuses! Have a great week!

Curry Crunch Chicken Salad with Naan
Source: Rachael Ray
1 cup plain Greek style yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon tumeric
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
ground cinnamon for sprinkling
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 cups poached chicken, chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
4 scallions, sliced thinly
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
4 naan breads (I purchased Naan from Trader Joes)

1. In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, curry powder, honey, tumeric and cardamom. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste and whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Add chopped chicken, grapes, scallions and almonds to the dressing and toss to coat. Serve with toasted/warm naan bread.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Feta Stuffed Tomato and Basil Phyllo Pizza

Hope everyone had a happy 4th of July weekend! We spent the day relaxing on the beach, basking in the sun and visiting a few local drinking establishments. During those precious moments when I was not relaxing, drinking or sunning myself, I packed (...boxes and boxes of crap)! We are getting ready to move to a new house in just a few short days so sadly cooking has been on the decline.

Tomato & Basil Phyllo Pizza
Everyday, hubby packs up a little bit more of the kitchen and I find myself missing key kitchen items like my food processor, cutting boards, & knives while in the midst of preparing a recipe!

So, to save us both from WWII, we officially "shut down" our kitchen tonight with a very summery Feta Stuffed Basil and Tomato Phyllo Pizza from July's Cooking Light.

Feta Phyllo Pizza
Our basil plant's life was coming to an end so we thought we'd give him one last chance to shine along with my favorite cheese, feta. Though phyllo is sometimes tricky to handle, this is a great "throw together" meal that's a perfect appetizer for guests or just a light dinner. As for us, we sat outside with two glasses of white wine, munching away on our last meal in our first apartment as a married couple :) Enjoy!

Click here for the recipe
*The only modification I made was to double the cheese & tomatoes and use full sheets of phyllo instead of halves.