Thursday, April 16, 2009

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach

At restaurants  I don't usually order pasta unless it is visibly soaked in sauce, even when the others on the menu do sound appealing, but I was in the mood for something light and fresh and flavorful and this dish was all of the above.  I didn't even regret not having my noodles drowning in a  red or creamy sauce.  This would be so nice for a summer evening dinner outside served with mozzarella and tomato bruschetta

Garlic Chicken Penne with Spinach
My Kitchen Cafe

6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, doesn't make it spicy just adds flavor
6 Tbs olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne
1 5 oz bag baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 Tbs dried
juice from two lemons
1  cup grated Parmesan, but I always add a little bit more when cheese is involved

Bring water for pasta to boil in large pot.  Meanwhile combine garlic, pepper flakes and oil in a small microwavable bowl and microwave until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and cut into bite size pieces.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer 1 Tbs garlic/pepper oil to a large skillet and heat over med. until oil is rippling.  Add chicken and cook until well browned and cooked through and remove from heat.      

Add I Tbs salt to pasta water and add pasta.  Cook until al dente, firm but tender.  Reserve one cup pasta water and drain pasta.  

Add pasta, spinach,basil lemon juice, Parmesan and remaining garlic mixture to chicken.  Toss until mixed and well coated.  Add pasta water as needed.  Salt and pepper if desired, serve immediately.

Roasted Pork Ribs with Rosemary and Dijon

This was our main entree for Easter dinner.  I wanted to be  little bit nontraditional by not baking a ham but still use pork, so. . . pork ribs!  I'd never made ribs before and I haven't had a lot of pure success baking meat in the oven lately so having these turn out was a huge relief.  And not only did they come out uncharred (by which I mean, our oven did not burst into flames this time)  everybody actually really liked them.  I'm sure I'll use this recipe again since it was a nice change to the Texas standby of bbq for ribs.

Roasted Pork Ribs with Rosemary and Dijon

1 rack of ribs, ours had 12
3/4 cup dry white wine (I didn't have any on hand so I used white grape juice)
3 Tbs firmly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
salt and pepper to tastw
1/4 cup heavy cream

Set the ribs in a large baking pan.  

In   a bowl, whisk together the wine, brown sugar, olive oil, mustard,rosemary and garlic.  Brush the ribs generously on all sides with the marinade.  Pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and set aside.  Cover ribs with plstic wrap and let stand at room temp for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325.  Tent pan with foil and roast meat for about 3 hours.  Let rest for 20 minutes before cutting.

Place the sauce pan with reserved marinade over med-high heat.  Add the cream and boil until the sauce is reduced slightly, about 5 min.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a gravy boat.  Serve alongside ribs.

*Note:  I decided to not make the sauce, though I still think it would be yummy, but instead glazed the ribs with the remaining amount during the last half hour of cooking and removed the foil so it would bake on well.  This worked out and made the ribs really tasty.

Carrot Cake

I made this for Easter and Logan's birthday.  It turned out super moist and otherwise delectable.  I used my new favorite frosting, the whipped cream cheese frosting from the Banana Bars recipe and it was so perfect for this. I didn't put in nuts since Jon and I prefer crunchy things to stay with their own kind, but substituted raisins instead.

Stir in carrots, coconut, walnuts and pineapple.

Pour into pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until a butter knife comes out clean.  It will probably sink a little in the middle so don't worry.

Allow to cool completely before icing.  If using whipped cream frosting refrigerate after icing.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

We loved these pancakes. They were simply, lovely; light and lemony and lovely. I made them for dinner with powdered sugar sprinkled over top and a fresh, homemade blackberry syrup drizzling over and down the sides. Mmm. These could have made for a great brunch meal as well. Perfect for spring.

Now, that said, I fought hard for these pancakes. I had seen the recipe that day, thought "this is perfect. I'm not really in the mood to cook tonight; a quick batch of yummy, light pancakes will be just the ticket!." When I got home with the few ingredients I was lacking, my lean cuisine lunch had worn off like 3 hours ago and I was starved, so thank goodness this was an easy one, right? WRONG! Very, very wrong. And curses to the girl who was "oh, i make these all the time. blah, blah, blah, my fav ricotta pancakes, here's the recipe world." Can you tell I'm only a little bitter.

Now I know that the first of any batch of pancakes is going to be splotchy ( that's what we call Logan, our first pancake :o) ) but c'mon! The first ones were too big and thick an burned on the outside while still being gooey in the center. The second ones I made more crepe like, medium and thin, with lower heat, but they were impossible to flip w/out crumpling into mush. Okay so go small and thin- still wouldn't flip, but we were getting closer. Ditches the normal spatula for a small rubber one she and continues on. You can thank me for going through this headache so that you all won't have to, I was happy to do it, really.
Here is the successful version, enjoy:

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes
You Got Served
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup ricotta cheese
juice and zest of one lemon

Combine dry ingredients. In a seperat bowl, combine wet ingredients thoroughly and then mix into dry ingredients. Add lemon juice and zest. Using your best non-stick pan pour ~ 1/8 cup batter onto medium hot, ungreased skillet. They should be about sand dollar size. *Side note, these take forever to cook. So word to the wise, either make them ahead and freeze them for later use or be prepared to have a crossword, a sink full of dirty dishes to dispose of, etc.. while you're waiting. Also, don't make them for dinner if all you've had for lunch were two mouse sized swedish meatballs and three noodles to go with them, and you're really depending on these to be a quick refuel- It ain't gonna happen.

Cook for about 5 minutes, until the spatual can safely raise the edges of the pancakes off the pan Go around entire pancake like this and then flip quickly. They are supposed to be moist in the middle, but still golden brown. Cook another 5 minutes on other side and place on an oven safe plate and into warm oven to keep hot. A tortilla warmer also works well to keep them hot, remember it's going to take a while to get through the whole batch. Will make ~ 26. Serve hot with powdered sugar, fresh berries, etc...

Truly, these are worth the time and effort and I will be making them again, but it would have been nice to know what I was in for ahead of time.