Posts Tagged ‘parmesan cheese’

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

Friday, August 27th, 2010

This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. I’m going to say that again, because you’d never expect it from the title, and it definitely bears repeating. This recipe is from Cooking Light magazine. It was very tasty, but somehow manages to be good for you (relative to other alfredo recipes, at least.

The sauce wasn’t quite as thick as I would’ve liked, so I may adjust the amount of flour next time. Using bacon drippings for a roux was a nice touch, as it added a smoky, salty flavor that wouldn’t have been included in the traditional butter. Normally, you don’t need a roux, of course, but it helps to compensate for the 1% milk in the place of the more traditionally heavy cream.

This wasn’t the best alfredo sauce I’ve ever had, but it was absolutely the tastiest “light” alfredo sauce I’ve ever tried. We’ll be making this again.

Photo from cookinglight.com

Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, January 2010

Ingredients

  • 1  (9-ounce) package refrigerated fresh fettuccine (I substituted a high-quality dry pasta)
  • 2  slices bacon, chopped
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  all-purpose flour
  • 1  cup  1% low-fat milk
  • 2/3  cup  (about 2 1/2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper

1. Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.

2. While pasta cooks, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings. Add garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Sprinkle flour over garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly; cook 2 minutes or until bubbly and slightly thick, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low. Gradually add cheese, stirring until cheese melts. Stir in salt. Add hot pasta to pan; toss well to combine. Sprinkle with bacon, parsley, and pepper.

Note: Even with all that cheese, the sauce wasn’t terribly thick. The original recipe suggested using some of the starchy pasta-cooking water to make the sauce, but I skipped it because I was afraid the results would be too watery. I think that was the right call. We had some leftover grilled chicken, so I threw that on top, but it would be fine without the chicken. whatever you prefer.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

David and I have not, historically speaking, been big fans of polenta. My first experiences with polenta were way back when my mom was doing Weight Watchers in the late 90’s, when someone on the message boards convinced her to try the pre-made kind. It came in a tube, we sliced it and tried to pan fry it with olive oil, or maybe even cooking spray. Yuck. No flavor at all. Weird texture. No thanks.

Then, Alton Brown convinced me to try again. Not really compatible with Weight Watchers this time, since his recipe calls for plenty of cheese, butter, and whole milk.  It was also mildly complicated, as he extolled the virtues of “real” polenta, and asked me to avoid the instant stuff. Trusting Alton, I did. This was better than the first time, but I still remember being disappointed. Handfuls of good-quality cheddar, wasted. I ate my spoonful, but I didn’t really like it at all. It was mildly better sliced and pan-fried, but not great. I was ready to write off polenta altogether.

Except…

Something makes me WANT to like it. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know why I’m so determined. I’ve had it at restaurants, and still wasn’t a fan. Cheese couldn’t save it. But for some reason, when I saw this recipe at the Cooking Light site, I was willing to give it another try.

And this time, I was pleasantly surprised. The fresh sweet corn adds additional flavor and texture that the other recipes I tried were lacking. The parmesan added a salty richness, but the flavor wasn’t overwhelmingly cheesy. The fresh tomato and basil balanced the flavors. I subbed shallots for onions (I do this often—where onions are too much for me, I’ve learned to like the milder taste of shallots) and even liked the flavor that they added. It was really good. I went back for seconds. I’m pretty sure David did, too. And I even ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.

I never got around to slicing and frying this batch, but next time I make it, I’d make sure I got to try that with the leftovers. And there will be a next time.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes & Basil
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine, June 2008

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 2  cups  chopped onion (2 medium)
  • 4  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2  cups  fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 2  garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1  cup  instant dry polenta
  • 1/2  cup  (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  cup  chopped tomato
  • 1/2  cup  chopped fresh basil

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in broth, corn, and garlic; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Slowly add polenta, stirring with a whisk until polenta is thick (about 5 minutes). Add cheese, stirring to melt. Stir in salt and pepper. Remove from heat; sprinkle with tomato and basil. Serve immediately.

Note: Bonus points for this recipe—I got to use my dutch oven! A heavy saucepan would work just fine though.

Well, Lost is Over.

Monday, May 24th, 2010

I’m pretty happy, actually, with the finale. I enjoyed it, and I thought they wrapped things up pretty well.

My friend Cara (who has her own fashion blog, if you’re so inclined) came over to celebrate The End. We undertook the massive re-watch together last summer and have made watching Lost a weekly event pretty much ever since, so it was only fitting that we finish it together.

She did an awesome job with the Dharma-tizing of our snacks. You can check out her handiwork below.

that's Dharma wine, beers, and sodas, Dharma Initiative tortilla chips with Dharma salsa, guacamole dip, and salsa con queso dip.

She also printed us boarding passes for Oceanic 815, along with all those awesome poster-prints. We couldn’t resist playing the numbers in the lottery. But more about the food.

I contributed some Dharma Initiative-iced cookies, the “Fish Biscuit” goldfish crackers, and “Black & White Rocks” (i.e. chocolate/yogurt covered raisins). And of course, John Locke orange-slice-smile props.

You’d think that was more than enough food for two people, even though it’s mostly snacks, but no. I also made Donkey Wheel Pasta Salad, which is pretty much just this Pepperoni Parmesan Pasta Salad, which you’ve seen before. I used mini wagon wheel noodles to give it that extra Lost-y touch, but otherwise, it was the same.

Then, in honor of Mr. Smoke Monster himself, I made Lil’ Smokey’s in a blanket, with Smokey cheddar cheese. Yum! (Super-Quick Recipe: Cut crescent roll dough pieces into quarters. Wrap each sliver around a Lil’ Smokey and a small slice of cheese. Bake according to the crescent roll package directions. Enjoy!)

So that was our Lost menu. We had a blast celebrating the series, but I’m not going to lie: I’m going to miss it. What in the world am I going to watch all summer?

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

This was a nice, quick recipe that we enjoyed quite a bit. I butterflied or normal extra-thick pork chops, which cut down quite a bit on the cooking time, and made these a nice weeknight dinner. The recipe comes from Giada De Laurentis from the Food Network. This recipe was super-easy and will be a nice addition to our regular pork-chop rotation (There are only a handful of ways that we normally have pork chops, but I think this made the list). The lemon juice added a surprisingly delicious tang to the chops.

parmesan crusted pork chops

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis’ Everyday Italian

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 (1/2 to 3/4-inch thick) center-cut pork loin chops (each about 10 to 12 ounces)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

1. Whisk the eggs in a pie plate to blend. Place the bread crumbs in another pie plate. Place the cheese in a third pie plate. Sprinkle the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Coat the chops completely with the cheese, patting to adhere. Dip the chops into the eggs, then coat completely with the bread crumbs, patting to adhere.

2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add pork chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown and the center reaches 150 degrees, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to plates and serve with lemon wedges.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

This recipe caught my eye on the cover of last month’s Real Simple magazine. I’m not really prepared to admit how much I liked the rest of the magazine or what that says about my life stage (I clearly have more in common with the Real Simple crowd than the Cosmo one), but I definitely enjoyed the feature on “A Month of Easy Dinners.”

This ravioli dish was very tasty. Just a little bit out of the ordinary, but quick to throw together. An excellent weeknight dish, since I spent 20 minutes, at most, throwing it together.

Ravioli with Apples and Walnuts

  • 1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 crisp apple (I used a honeycrisp), cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)

1) Cook the ravioli according to the package directions.

2) Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring often, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

3) Add the apple, parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine. Spoon over the ravioli and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Veggie & Parmesan Brown Rice Risotto

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

I stumbled across this recipe on the Whole Foods website while I searched for cooking methods for short-grain brown rice. Accidentally, at Costco, David bought us 12 pounds of short-grain brown rice. I make baked brown rice with long-grain brown rice all the time, but I wasn’t 100% sure that the same receipe would work for short grain rice. I was trying to sort out whether I need more water or what, and instead, I learned that you can make risotto with short-grain brown rice. Makes sense, after all, since traditional risotto is made with short-grain rice.

I decided to make risotto instead of sorting out how to/whether to adjust my regular brown rice recipe. Mostly, I pushed that problem off for another day, but in the meantime, I got to eat risotto. I also got to use up a zucchini we had sitting on the counter from the farmer’s market.

I made a number of changes from the initial recipe, skipping the veggies I don’t care for (most of them!) and lightening up on the cheese, butter, and oil (we’re trying to eat a bit healthier around here). I also used Vegetable Stock instead of Vegetable broth as the original recipe called for, for a richer flavor. It worked. The risotto was delicious. It’s only problem was that it was still a bit on the al dente side. One key difference between white rice risotto and brown rice risotto: the brown rice takes longer!

photo

Veggie & Parmesan Brown Rice Risotto
Adapted from the Whole Foods website; Serves 6 as a main dish, more like 12 as a side.

  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
  • 2 carrots, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces by weight) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Method

Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium pot.  Cover broth-water mixture and reduce heat to low.

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring gently, until toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the broth-water mixture and cook, stirring constantly and adjusting heat if needed to maintain a simmer, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat process, adding about 1/2 cup of the broth-water mixture each time, until rice is just beginning to get tender, about 25 minutes. Add carrots and continue process with broth-water mixture. When rice is just al dente and carrots are just tender, add zucchini and cook 5 minutes more. (If broth mixture gets low, add water as needed.)

Add cheese, butter/margarine, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cup more of the broth-water mixture to finished risotto before serving, if you like.

Note: I thought this was very tasty. I expected to have to pick out the zucchini–David likes it, not me, but was pleasantly surprised. It just all kind of melded together and tasted great. I don’t think this needed more cheese at all, even though I basically halved what the recipe called for. The only thing I could’ve done was cook it longer, but we were impatient and hungry! For just us, I’d definitely half this recipe next time. We had tons of leftovers.

P.S. Sorry for the terrible picture. My camera wasn’t charged, and I couldn’t find the charger, so I had to make do with my iPhone. But a poor picture is better than no picture, right?

Pastitso (Greek Lasagna)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

So Kat got me a pretty awesome birthday present. A cooking present. (It sure does seem like all of my presents lately are cooking presents, but I’m not complaining!)

She bought me this Middle Eastern cookbook. It’s called The Complete Middle East Cookbook. And it’s pretty awesome. It’s broken into sections for all different kinds of cuisines, including Greek, which I know a little bit about, but also others that I know nothing about, like Cyprus, and Turkey, and Egypt and many more. There’s a lot to learn in this book, which I know I will enjoy. And, like all my favorite cookbooks, it’s complete with pretty pictures. I love my cookbooks filled with glossy pictures.

The first thing to catch my eye in the new cookbook was Pastitso. Defined in the book as a “Macaroni & Meat Pie,” it’s really just Lasagna with a Greek twist. When I’ve seen recipes before, it featured spinach, and other veggies, which to be honest, I’m not that crazy about. I was excited to see that this recipe didn’t require substitutions on my part. We liked all of the ingredients.

Though it required some effort, much like making a Lasagna from scratch, it was totally worthwhile. I especially liked the layer of cream sauce. I really wish that I’d thought to make two and freeze one, like I do with Lasagna. That, I think, was my one mistake.

Pastitso (Greek Lasagna)
Adapted from The Complete Middle East Cookbook

For the pasta layer:

  • 1 pound box of macaroni (I used whole wheat penne, because that’s what we had on hand)
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 cups grated kefalotiri or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten

For the meat sauce:

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the cream sauce:

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to pan.

2. In a small saucepan, melt butter until golden brown, and pour over the reserved pasta. Add 1/2 of the cheese (1 cup) and toss well. Leave until cool, then add eggs and toss again. Set aside

3. Make the meat sauce. First, saute onions and garlic in butter until the onion is soft and translucent. Increase the heat and add the ground beef. Stirring frequently, cook until meat is browned. Add the tomato paste, wine, stock, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper and cover. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, to let the flavors come together.

4. Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook gently for 1-2 minutes, until the flour browns and the raw taste is removed. Stir in the milk and bring to a bubble, stirring constantly. Add nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and allow to cool before stirring in the beaten egg.

5. Add 1/2 cup of this cream sauce to the finished meat sauce and stir to combine.

6. To assemble, butter a 9×13 baking dish. Line the bottom of the dish with a single layer of prepared pasta. Make sure that the pasta covers the bottom of the dish and is spread evenly. Top with the meat sauce, spreading it carefully and evenly to the edges of the baking dish to create a complete layer. Next, pour the cream sauce on top, and again spread carefully to create an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese on top and cook in a 350 oven for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

This simple recipe was the perfect weeknight meal: very quick, easy cleanup, and delicious. I love the tomato/basil/mozzarella flavor combination just about any time I come across it, so this was sort of a no-brainer to throw together. Marinated chicken is flavorful and juicy when grilled (or cooked in a grill pan, for us apartment-dwellers!), then topped with fresh tomato salsa-style sauce and a bit of mozzarella. The result was kind of like a Chicken Parmesan, but much lighter (both in a caloric sense, and in the sense that it’s June, and it’s hot outside, and Chicken Parmesan sure feels like a winter dish). For a quick and easy side, I tossed warm penne pasta with olive oil, garlic, a bit of the fresh tomato “salsa” and some Parmesan cheese.

Bruschetta Grilled Chicken

  • 1/2 cup Balsamic Vinaigarette salad dressing, divided
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/8 cup sun-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

1. Pour 1/4 cup of dressing over chicken in a ziploc bag, refrigerate 20 minutes.

2. Grill chicken over medium heat on a grill or in a heavy-bottomed grill pan (about 6 minutes). Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, basil and remaining dressing.

3. Turn chicken over, top each piece of chicken with a spoonful of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle a bit of cheese over the top of each chicken breast. Cover, and cook an additional 7-8 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.

Note: I used a new Basil & Parmesan vinaigarette by Kraft to marinate the chicken, and it was very tasty, but any Italian style dressing that you like would work here. Because we don’t have a grill, or a lid for our grill pan, I stuck the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes to melt and crisp up the cheese. Totally optional.

Smashed-Down Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

This is one of those recipes that’s so bad for you, you know it’s going to be amazing. It’s a fried potato side dish from Guy Fieri, topped with crispy bacon, shredded Parmesan cheese, and a tangy sour cream topping. The best part is that it starts with whole baby yukon gold potatoes, which are boiled and then smashed down into the best of both worlds: a flat potato that crisps up all around the edges, but with a smooth, creamy, almost mashed-potato texture at the center.

Smashed-Down Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese
Adapted from Guy’s Big Bite

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 pounds baby Yukon potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 3/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan (freshly grated, no green cans!)

In small mixing bowl combine sour cream, mustard, and white wine. Mix thoroughly and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In large stock pot cover potatoes with water and add 2 tablespoons salt. Set heat on high and boil until fork tender.

In a large saute pan over medium heat cook bacon and saute onions until caramelized. Transfer bacon and onions from pan on to a paper towel to absorb grease. Distribute evenly on a platter and keep warm. Leave remaining fat in pan.

When potatoes are fork tender, drain, and with a clean kitchen towel, palm smash the hot potatoes to approximately 1/3-inch thick.

Reheat fat in saute pan and add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Heat to oil medium heat and place potatoes in oil. Season with salt and pepper and brown on both sides, then transfer to onion and bacon platter. Repeat, adding more oil, until all potatoes are cooked crispy.

Top potatoes with Parmesan and then with sour cream mixture.

Note: Be sure to keep an eye on the potatoes–I didn’t have any trouble the first time I made this recipe, but this time, I think I let them go a little too long. These had a tendancy to start to crumble when I smashed them, which made it harder to fry the smashed-down potatoes intact.

Baked Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Last week, I handed David a cookbook and asked “What should I make for dinner?”

I should not have been surprised when he thumbed to the Pasta chapter for inspiration.

Nor should I have been shocked to hear him suggest variations on the theme of noodles, cheese, and sausage.

I wasn’t surprised. I really wasn’t. I ended up making this Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook.

Side Note: don’t think I’ve talked much about this cookbook before, and I really should. I picked up it up at Costco in a two book set (bundled with the Bon Appetit Cookbook). I like both books. Though they don’t have pictures of every recipe, what it lacks in illustrations it makes up in volume. Each book contains hundreds of recipes. The one we’re talking about today is broken down into sections on Starters, Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta & Rice, Chicken/Poultry, Salmon, Shrimp, Meat, Potatoes, Vegetables, Breakfast, Quick Breads, Frozen Desserts, Cookies & Brownies & Pies & Cakes, Custards & Puddings & Fruit Desserts, and Drinks.

Food Network Magazine has divided its recipe sections into weeknight cooking and weekend cooking. I really like that distinction. I love to cook, but there are things that just don’t make sense for a Wednesday night, and I appreciate the ability to flip through recipes knowing that I have the time and energy to prepare any of them. This set from Bon Appetit really makes the same kind of distinction. While I like both books a lot, the Fast Easy Fresh cookbook is really for weeknight cooking. The Bon Appetit Cookbook is more weekend fare. (P.S. Not to oversell it, but for the price of either book, you also get a free subscription to Bon Appetit magazine. Not a bad deal at all, if you’re into that sort of thing. And I am!)

Now, back to David’s pasta.

The Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage is just what the title of the book promises. The recipe came together fast, and uses just enough prepared ingredients (the marinara sauce, sausage) to be simple–without compromising flavor. Freshly grated cheese and fresh herbs bring a brighter, fresher taste to the dish than the pasta we’d normally throw together on a weeknight.

rigatoni

Rigatoni with Cheese & Italian Sausage
Adapted from the Bon Appetit Fast Easy Fresh cookbook. (4 servings)

  • 1 pound box rigatoni noodles
  • 8 ounces hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups prepared marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 ounce freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

1. Cook rigatoni in a large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Saute sausage in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up into crumbles as it cooks. Add garlic, stir 2 minutes. Drain off excess drippings and return to medium-high heat.

3. Stir in marinara sauce, crushed red pepper, and cooked pasta. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to 9×13 inch broilerproof baking dish. Sprinkle mozzarella and Parmesan over top.

4. Place under broiler until cheese melt and begin to brown, watching closely to prevent burning (about 1 1/2 minutes). Sprinkle rigatoni with fresh parsley and drizzle with olive oil.