What’s Cooking This Week

Fall is in the air! And the weather is certainly turning cooler so I’m returning to indoor cooking; remembering some of our favorite dinners and trying some new dishes.

I love a good breakfast for dinner sometimes. These ham and cheese stuffed hash brown waffles never fail to be a hit.

The key is making sure the frozen hash browns are completely thawed and as much water is squeezed out as possible (which can be pretty messy). Toss a full bag of thawed potatoes with half a stick of melted butter, salt, pepper and dill. I have a four-slice waffle maker, so I put half a cup of the potatoes in each section, add some diced ham and cheddar and top with another quarter cup of potatoes. It will take a good 15-20 minutes to get them nice and crispy brown. The other key is to make sure the waffle iron is really well sprayed. Otherwise, they’ll be almost impossible to remove!

I serve them with some sour cream or applesauce on the side.

My favorite local grocery store now has rotisserie turkey breasts which are seasoned to perfection (and if we’re being honest, a better deal than the rotisserie chicken!). All I had to do was find the perfect sides to accompany the turkey.

So I made a quick zucchini gratin with Asiago cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic and rosemary olive oil. When the zucchini was tender, I added some panko breadcrumbs and fried onions and returned it to the oven till the top was browned.

The fingerling potatoes had a similar flavor profile: olive oil, garlic, and oregano. After about 15 minutes in the air fryer, I added some chopped mushrooms and a slice of chopped bacon, finishing it off for another 5 minutes or so.

While we’re sorry to see summer is coming to an end, I have to confess fall is my favorite season and I can’t wait to re-discover some of our favorites while finding new dishes to share. What’s your best-loved taste of fall? Whatever it is, I hope you enjoy it in good health and surrounded by those you love!

Eat well my friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Well it’s been a hot stretch here so we’ve been looking for as many things to cook on the grill as possible! It’s also the time of year where vegetables are amazingly bountiful. Unfortunately, I have no self-control when it comes to picking out what we need for the week from the farmer’s market, so I also have to spend some time thinking of ways to use things up before they go bad! Both of these revelations drove what was on the menu this week.

In the summertime, nothing beats a nice pasta primavera. The challenge is that I always need to incorporate some kind of meat into the mix to keep my household happy. So off to the grill I went over the weekend to grill up my sausage and veggies for the perfect, quick weeknight dinner. I grilled up broccoli, tri-colored carrots, snap peas. mushrooms, and peppers tossed in some olive oil, red pepper flakes and garlic. On the side, I also grilled some spicy Italian sausage. On dinner night, I cooked some pasta, and made a sauce of basil, chicken stock, a bit of heavy cream and parmesan. I added my grilled goodness into the sauce to warm through, then tossed everything with the pasta (if the sauce is too thick, I just add a bit of the pasta water). Sprinkle with parsley and a little more parmesan. Perfection.

Our go-to potato side dish this summer has been grilled ranch potatoes. Any kind of potato works (these are russets that I scrubbed and cubed). I tend to cook them for about 15 minutes in the microwave in salted water just to make sure whatever meat I’m grilling doesn’t get overcooked. Add the potatoes to a grill pan, toss with butter, ranch dressing mix and red pepper flakes. Grill for about 10 minutes, add your favorite shredded cheese on top, then grill till the cheese melts. Sprinkle some parsley on top (which is growing like mad in the garden) and enjoy. (Feeling fancy? A sprinkle of bacon never hurts!)

What’s been your go-to beat the heat menu this summer? No matter what it is, enjoy it in good health and with those you love! Eat well my friends.

Pasta on the Grill? Why Not!

If I haven’t made it clear yet, I’m all about grilling this time of year. What I do tend to overlook is my side burner which is a game changer to keep you from having to run in and out of the house checking on things as you’re tending to what’s grilling. So last night, it was all about the pasta.

This is one of my go-to dishes because it’s quick, easy and satisfying. Start with tossing some broccoli in a foil pan with olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic and oregano. While that’s cooking, grill up some of your favorite sausage (I’m using sweet Italian chicken). Fire up a pot of salted water and add some pasta.

Toss some grated Parmesan on the broccoli when it’s almost done. Deglaze the foil pan with some chicken stock to scrape up all the browned bits and add a jar of Alfredo sauce. Chop the sausage and toss it in the sauce. Keep warm on the grill while the pasta finishes. Drain the pasta and add to the pan (if it’s a little thick, just add some pasta water).

After a final few minutes, everything gets that smokey, grilled taste. Serve it right out of the pan (it’s summer after all) after topping with chopped tomato and parsley.

What’s Cooking This Week

This is a tale of a tasty dinner taking on new life as the leftovers were lovingly used for breakfast. When we’re empty nesting, I find I have a really hard time doing two things: buying meat in smaller quantities and portioning food that serves two people (not a small army). So while leftovers are always good for lunch, I’m still trying to think of new ways to use them!

Dinner began with a beef & veggie skillet. I tossed some sliced steaks in sesame oil and garlic, then gave them a quick stir fry. When the beef was done, I set it aside, deglazed the pan with a little stock, then cooked some peppers & spinach in the pan with some soy sauce. The meat makes a return to the pan and is topped with green onions. Normally, I serve rice with a dish like this, but we were feeling potatoes for some reason that night. So I scrubbed some russets and started them cooking in the microwave for 15 minutes. Then I drained them, patted them dry, tossed them in melted butter and smoked paprika and finished them off in the air fryer. I’ll admit, I would have liked them crispier, but the flavors were really good and worked with the steak and veggies.

As we were eating dinner that night, we got talking about this dish seeming like a deconstructed hash when potatoes were served instead of rice. Which gave me the idea for breakfast. I chopped the leftover steak and potatoes and added them to a pan to warm up a bit with the leftover veggies. Then I added some scrambled eggs and mixed everything together while the eggs cooked, finished with a bit of shredded cheddar cheese and wrapped everything up in a tortilla. So good.

As I head to the kitchen to get some Easter preparation going, what’s your favorite way to re-purpose leftovers?

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

Spring might finally be starting to arrive here (well other than the snow that’s in the forecast for tomorrow), but it has me thinking about getting back to spending some time getting organized for the week: prepping some things to make for easier dinners and making sure the extra veggies we don’t use during the week don’t go to waste. So as today’s plans got rescheduled, I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. Honestly, I blame the productivity app on my phone that asked if I wanted to get more organized at dinner. Sometimes it’s like the thing watches what happens in our house.

Here’s what we ended up with. Not bad for a day’s work! I started with cooking some broccoli and sausage for a pasta dinner this week. I used two of my favorite kitchen gadgets: my air fryer to cook the broccoli in some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano and my grill pan to put a nice grill on the hot sausage links. It will come together as I heat them in some sauce while cooking some pasta.

Then I cleaned off the grill pan to move on to chicken to make tacos this week (since I’ve got all the veggies coming from my weekly Misfits delivery to seal the deal). One of my pandemic finds was this amazing guide on making your own spice blends so I love this mix for any kind of tacos. I’ve learned to keep the chicken from drying out, once I get the grill marks on the chicken, I just add some water to the pan to keep it juicy while it’s finishing up.

Last up, looking at the weather for tomorrow and knowing we could spend a chunk of the afternoon outside, I wanted to have something warming and ready to go when we got home so I made a batch of white chicken chili. I love the flavors in this: roasted red and poblano peppers, cannelloni beans, cooked chicken and some cayenne pepper, cumin and chili powder for heat.

Of course, I was under the watchful eye of my dutiful kitchen assistant at all times (who may have been rewarded with a taste of the cooked chicken before it got into the spicy mix!) What are your favorite prep time shortcuts?

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

It’s all about old and new favorites this week: one dish that is super easy to put together that we tried for the first time, and another that takes more time for the flavors to develop but is worth the time.

First the old favorite that takes some time: chicken curry with kale and sweet potatoes. About four months into the first wave of the pandemic, our public broadcasting station offered an online culinary experience. For a donation and event “ticket”, you got a box of ingredients delivered to cook along with Marcus Samuelsson. Ummm, yes please! I signed up as fast as my fingers could navigate that keyboard. I totally nerded out cooking along during the Zoom session and hearing his stories. I also realized I’d never make it as a professional chef because I certainly move at a more glacial pace in my kitchen! And I’ll confess, I wasn’t really sure how a culinary adventure would play out at my dining room table. Suffice it to say, it was an absolute hit! One thing I took from the cook-along was the importance of developing layers of flavors (like the heat of the poblanos working with sweetness of the coconut milk) which got me thinking of building profiles while I cook in a way I never had before.

The quicker, and newest favorite, brings me back to our favorite appliance: the air fryer! I try to be really good before going to the grocery store to plan meals for the week. But inevitably there comes a day where I just don’t feel like cooking what I planned (usually because I’ve gotten distracted and waited too long to start dinner). I was gifted the Skinny Taste Air Fryer Dinner cookbook once I fell in love with the appliance and had to try the kielbasa, veggie and pierogis. Seriously friends, this could not be easier: as the title implies it’s really just peppers, onions, turkey kielbasa, and frozen pierogis (I used four cheese because that’s what was in my freezer). Working in a couple batches, I had dinner ready to go in about twenty minutes. It was incredibly delicious. You are supposed to add fresh asparagus as well but we aren’t fans (not to mention I didn’t have any on hand).

So here’s to old favorites and new ones! What’s cooking in your kitchen?

What’s Cooking This Week

It was a bit of a crazy week here. With Lent starting, the kitchen theme became Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (I wish I could claim that I planned it that way, but alas it was pretty coincidental, yet delicious)

Our Tuesday meal was sheet pan porkchops, potatoes and green beans. You guessed it: the potatoes and green beans came from our weekly Misfits box. And I love sheet pan meals, especially when things are chaotic – you want a hearty meal everyone will enjoy, but you just don’t want to fuss around with a bunch of different dishes. This one is epically easy with a great ranch flavor. I use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as a starting point. But a couple things I’ve learned while making this recipe: heat the oven to 425 degrees instead of the higher temp, depending on the cut of your potatoes (I love using fingerlings when I have them), give them a 10 minute start before adding the pork chops, and I find that the ranch dressing means you don’t have to add any extra salt. When I made it this week, we wanted a little more crunch on the potatoes but were afraid of drying out the pork chops, so I just tossed them in the air fryer for about 5 minutes while I was plating everything else!

Wednesday, I brought the world’s easiest tomato soup back into the rotation. (I don’t know why I only make it during Lent, but that seems to be how things go!) Start with half a cup of diced onion and carrots. Sautee them in a little olive oil till soft. Add one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, two 5 ounce cans of tomato juice and heat to simmer. If you like your soup smooth, use an immersion blender to get things all nicely blended. Add your favorite spices – my go to’s are garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 – 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock until the soup is the consistency you like (one cup will be on the thicker side, so I lean toward two). Simmer for about 15 minutes to let all the flavors combine and enjoy! If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a little shredded parmesan and fresh basil.

As I’m thinking about planning this week’s menu, what was your kitchen success of the week?

Eat well!

Pizza Epiphany?

We love pizza (ok, who doesn’t really?). Plus I love simple, so I started using garlic naan for the grill and just kept on using them in the oven the majority of time I make pizza. But as I started experimenting with grilling pizza, I kept running into problems with getting the cheese melted before the crust burned when I layered the cheese on top. That continued when we moved to putting the pizza in the oven. One day I realized I was doing this all wrong and tried to put the toppings on top of the cheese. Perfection!

Here’s how it’s been going down in the kitchen:

  • Top naan (or traditional crust, or flatbread…) with the sauce of your choice. One advantage of the individual sizes is that we can choose our own adventure (traditional tomato, white pizza sauce, or my latest go-to, spicy tomato oil)
  • Top with a layer of cheese (we like a mozzarella/provolone blend, but it’s a great way to use up fresh mozzarella too)
  • Layer on toppings. I was worried when I started experimenting that things would dry out, but I’ve experimented with cooked sausage, pepperoni, pepper, onion and mushrooms and haven’t hit an issue yet.
  • Keep an eye on it in the oven. My oven takes about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • If you like spinach or arugula on your pizza (and as you see, I certainly do), I just sprinkle it on top when I take it out of the oven. The heat wilts it just enough to be perfect!

Such a simple hack has been a game changer! What’s your must-have on top of your pizza?

What’s Cooking This Week

This week, we’re testing out some of the fun things that came in my last delivery from Misfits Markets. I have to say, we’ve been really happy so far with what we’ve received. And of course I’m still playing with the air fryer on a regular basis (spoiler)!

First up is the easiest pasta dish I make. I tried cooking the broccoli in the air fryer, cooking it for about 7 minutes (I tossed it with red pepper flakes, oregano and garlic powder). I was pretty happy with the texture and the flavor. We tend to disagree in our house about “how done” broccoli should be. I like it a little more firm, so this seemed to be a nice compromise with the smoky flavor. Cook 2 cups of rigatoni in boiling, salted water. While the pasta is cooking, I used a grill pan to grill up some organic chicken sausages that were in my last Misfits’ order. I love using chicken sausage to lighten things up without losing that sausage flavor in pasta. Once the sausage is cooked, slice it into 1 inch pieces, return to the pan with the broccoli and add the pasta. No sauce you say? Using some of the pasta water to deglaze the pan and adding a bit more as everything comes together works beautifully. Hit it with some oregano, more red pepper flakes and a bit of parmesan. Transfer to a serving platter, and add a little more grated parmesan on top. Perfect.

So next I wanted to try something different with eggplant, so I diced it, tossed it with some rosemary-infused olive oil, garlic power and Italian seasoning and put it in the air fryer for 10 minutes (shaking it halfway through cooking). I tossed it in a greased casserole dish, topped it with some fresh mozzarella (which I ordered accidently) and Panko and let it go in the oven while my chicken cutlets were baking (such a simple breading mix of breadcrumbs and parmesan – the real key is using some melted butter mixed with Worcestershire sauce and spicy mustard to dip the chicken in before breading). But while all that was in the oven, it occurred to me I forgot a potato. So I decided to see how frozen, shredded hash browns would play in the air fryer. And let me say they sure do without the mess of cooking them on the stove or the hassle (and poor health) of frying them in a ton of oil.

A winning week with our Misfits ingredients! As I head to prep some food for the week, what was your kitchen fave?

Eat well!

What’s Cooking This Week

I’ll confess, we broke down and bought an air fryer after the holidays and I’m completely hooked! So this week in the kitchen I’ve been trying to perfect healthier versions of some of our favorite fried foods to make them more accessible. This week’s triumph was crispy onion rings and fried ravioli. (No, I didn’t serve them together). The ravioli made an appearance on a game day charcuterie board (along with some amazing jalapeno poppers & meatballs) and the onion rings were the perfect side for grilled steaks.

Note to self: share post on our new love of charcuterie & small plates!

One thing that’s been getting on our nerves is the weekly trip to the grocery store. We’ve been pretty regular customers of one of the big chains popular in the northeast and mid-Atlantic region and my husband was beginning to doubt my reports that I didn’t come home with half the items on my list because the shelves were bare. Plus what items I did secure put our grocery bill at a higher level than when we were trying to fill our strapping son’s appetite. So he decided to join me last week and saw I wasn’t censoring his food choices!

So we decided to try out Misfits Market because I’ve heard good things from friends, love the convenience of having groceries delivered to my door, and the prices were much less on staples than I was paying. Our first box was filled with pantry staples (the organic flatbreads made the perfect pizza crust) and fruits & veggies (now we’ll have fresh guacamole for the Superbowl, plus tons of carrots & celery to munch on with our wings. That will be made in the air fryer – obviously!) This week’s box will be one of their cold boxes, filled with cheeses and organic meats. I’m excited.

We also tried our another local grocery store. Of course, my resident skeptic had to accompany me and we were both happy to see fully-stocked shelves! It was significantly cheaper than what I’d been paying, even adding in the cost of the Misfits box. That’s my long way of saying that we’ll continue this experiment for another few weeks.

So, as I head to the kitchen to prep some of the abundance of extra produce I received, I’m wondering your favorite tips for fighting rising grocery costs. Bonus points for sharing your favorite things to make in the air fryer.

Eat well!