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?
Well friends, it was pasta week this week in my kitchen. I’ll confess sometimes I’m not exactly paying attention when I plan the week’s dinners and this happens. And sometimes, we’re just in the mood for some pasta! So this week it was pasta two ways (I didn’t hear any complaints!)
First up, we have the classic chicken riggies (or is that more of an Upstate New York thing?). When I think about building layers of flavors, I think chicken riggies: the combination of the spicy cubinelle peppers and the sweetness of the roasted red peppers gets me every time. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is to wear gloves when working with any kind of spicy peppers (one benefit of the pandemic is it seems I now have a never-ending supply of disposable gloves! But back to cooking, it’s the perfect, soul-satisfying weeknight dinner that comes together with pantry staples and a couple well-planned editions to my weekly grocery list (I rarely have hot peppers in my veggie bin or heavy cream in my fridge). Just brown bite-sized pieces of chicken and set it aside while you saute onions, the cubinelles and garlic. Add crushed tomatoes and the roasted red peppers to form the sauce. To finish up, add the chicken to reheat and the heavy cream to warm through. Toss in the cooked pasta, sprinkle on freshly grated Parmesan and dinner is served!
Another of our favorite pasta dishes is Italian steak and pasta. I like to start with grilling a steak that’s been rubbed with pepper, garlic power, crushed red pepper and Italian seasoning. Depending on the weather, I either cook it outside on the grill or in a grill pan on the stove top. One of the things I love is how the sauce brings together so many fresh veggies. While the steak is resting, saute zucchini and mushrooms till soft then add a can of stewed tomatoes (I do like to give them a bit of a rough chop first). Add some crushed red pepper and basil, then just stir in some cooked pasta. Top with slices of the steak and that’s it.
So probably no pasta on the menu this week, but I will never say never! What’s your favorite one-dish pasta?
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?
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?
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.