Posts Tagged ‘weeknight’

Enchiladas are a staple in my weeknight cooking rotation. They are full of flavor and incredibly easy to make. I make my life even easier by buying an already cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. I use the breast meat to use as filling for the enchiladas and use the rest of the meat for another meal.

Ingredients (serves 3)

  • 1 1/2 lbs cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 c Enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 c mozzarella, grated
  • 1/2 c cheddar, grated
  • 6 flour tortillas

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1c enchilada sauce in the bottom of 9 X 12 baking dish. Turn the dish to cover the entire bottom evenly.

2. Place a flour tortilla on the counter. Line 1/2c chicken down the middle running the entire diameter. Fold the end closest to you over the chicken and tuck under. Roll the rest away into a cigar shape.

Note: If your tortillas aren’t easily pliable, you can microwave the stack for 10-15 seconds.

3. Place the finished enchiladas into the dish until it is full. You may have to squeeze the last one in, but this is okay.

4. Pour the 2nd cup of enchilada sauce over the rolls. Spread the sauce with the back of a spoon to coat all of the tortilla. Cover with the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the inside filling has warmed.

5. Let the enchiladas sit for a couple minutes to set. Serve hot with refried beans or rice.

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I hated Shepard’s Pie when I was a kid! Despised it even. And I could never figure out why. At first, my mom made it with a mix of peas and corn, which makes sense why I hated it because peas are gross. But then she started making it half with corn only – one of my favorite vegetables – and I still couldn’t stand it. Whenever it would come around in the dinner rotation, it was as if my world was ending (remember being a teenager and how that felt – ah, youth!).

I figured that Shepard’s Pie needed a second chance and in honor of the St. Patrick’s day next week, now was the right time. For this version, I’m not doing anything out of the ordinary except adding a thin gravy on top for some added flavor and cooking the sirloin in beer. Although in the end, I could have done with a thicker gravy, I can see that this old stand by is not nearly as bad as I remembered from my childhood.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sirloin, ground
  • 1 celery stalk, minced
  • 1 white onion, minced
  • 1/2 red or orange bell pepper
  • 8 oz middle of the road beer (drink the rest)
  • 12 oz frozen corn (never canned), thawed
  • 2 lbs red bliss potatoes
  • 1/4 c cream (substitute half and half or milk)
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 green onions, cut thin

1. Start by placing the potatoes in a pot of cold water with 1 tsp salt. Cook until the potatoes are easily pierced by a fork.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion, celery, and pepper to the pan and sauté for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Then add the beef and cook until you cannot see any more pink. Pour in 8 oz of your favorite beer. Reduce until most of the liquid has evaporated. Take off the heat and set aside.

3. When the potatoes done, drain and add to a large glass bowl. Add the butter, sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend with a hand mixer until you reach your desired consistency. If you find there is not enough liquid, add milk or cream slowly and blend until you get the consistency you desire. Add the green onions at the end and fold in.

4. To build your pie, place the meat at the bottom of a 9 X 13 baking dish. Add the corn and top, and then spread the mashed potatoes on top evenly. Cook in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until everything is warmed through and the potatoes begin to brown.

5. Serve hot out of the oven with a gravy.

Biryani was originally a Persian dish that remains wildly popular in Southeast Asia. Biryani has as many variations as stir fry in that you can use any vegetables, meat, fish, or eggs in this dish. I appreciate the versatility of the dish in that if you learn how to cook one version, you can easily substitute ingredients to suit your fancy. But what I really appreciate  about this dish is that the whole thing cooks entirely in one pot making clean up a snap.

Cooking will go fast on this one so make sure you have your ingredients in order and accessible. Even though there is a bit of prep to go through before you even touch the stove, it’ll pay off in the end.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1c basmati rice
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Cut the chicken into cubes. Place a skillet overr high heat with 2 tbsp of canola oil in the bottom. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper and place in the pan. Sear the chicken on all sides. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside.

Note: The chicken does not need to be cooked through as it will finish cooking later.

2. Lower the heat to medium high. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent.

3. Add the cinnamon, curry powder, cumin, garlic, and ginger to the onion and stir to combine with the onion. Cook until fragrant – around 30 seconds.

4. Add the chicken stock to the pan to deglaze. Be sure to scrape up as many brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pan and add the raisins and rice. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to simmer and cook covered for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

5. Turn off the heat and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve the Chicken Biryani piping hot in large bowls.

You’re going to have to trust me on this one and try this. Don’t think about, just do it. Forget the fact that bulgar rhymes with vulgar. Forget that it’s a whole grain and 1 cup of it contains more energy and nutrients than the grains you consume in an entire day. Forget that you are going to find this in the organic or natural food aisle of your local grocery store. Forget that this is a staple of Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine where people eat healthier and live longer. This is good stuff all the way around.

I was introduced to bulgar through the Power Foods cookbook put out by Weight Watchers. No, I myself am not a Weight Watchers member, but I was cooking with a friend of mine who had this cookbook. I found the cookbook itself to be really good and the recipes inside introduced me to healthy ways of incorporating a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern spices into my everyday cooking. The idea behind the Power Foods cookbook is to eat more meals that contain power foods which fill you up faster and take longer to digest so that you don’t go back an hour or two later to consume more.

This bulgar pilaf combines the sweetness of golden raisins with the light, nutty taste of bulgar complimented by various spices used through the Middle East. I strongly encourage you to give this recipe a try as a side to your next dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2c chicken stock
  • 1 1/2c medium, quick-cooking bulgar
  • 1/2c golden raisins
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

1. In a medium sauce pot, place 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the onions in the pan and sauté until nearly translucent. Add the garlic and combine until the garlic is fragrant.

2. Add the spices to the pan. Combine with the onions and garlic and cook until the spices are fragrant. Add the chicken stock to the pan and turn up the heat to high. Bring to a boil. Add the bulgar and raisins to the pan, cover with a tight lid, and turn off the heat.

3. Allow the bulgar to sit for 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve warm.

When I was growing up, I often tried to help my Dad by carrying the tools or shining a  flashlight whenever he was making repairs to the house or the family car. Something inevitably would go wrong and he always cursed his lack of the proper tools. Even today, we still joke about never having the right tool for the job.

I only bring this up because risotto intimidates many people, but it would be made incredibly simple by having the right tool for the job. In my Boston Baked Beans post, I mention the versatility of the pressure cooker and how it can make you life easier and introduce you to a whole new realm of cuisine. Here is yet another delightful application that can be made from start to finish in less than 20 minutes.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 lb scallops (U-12 preferred)
  • 4 c chicken stock
  • 2 c Arborio rice
  • 1 1/4 c parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 c White wine
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 4 tbsp butter
1. Take the scallops out of the refrigerator and set on the counter. Mince the onion and add to a pressure cooker with 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Sweat the onion for 3 minutes ensuring you do not caramelize the onion. Turn the heat up to high and add the rice to the onion and continue until the rice begins to toast.
     

2. Very carefully, add the white wine to the rice. Wait for the steam to subside and then add the chicken stock and lemon zest to the pot. Stir to combine.
     
Note: If you prefer a more deliberate lemon flavor in you risotto, add 1/4 c lemon juice and reduce the wine to 1/4 c.

3. Put the lid on the pressure cooker and bring up to the highest steam level possible. When the button has popped, reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and set a timer for 7 minutes.

4. As the rice is cooking, put two sauté pans over high heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter to each pan. When the fat is nearly smoking, add the scallops to the pans ensuring that the pan is not crowded and the scallops do not touch. DO NOT TOUCH the scallops for 1 1/2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from the pan.

          


5. When the timer sounds, release the steam from the pressure cooker. Take the lid off and add the parmesan cheese and remaining butter. Stir and allow to melt.
     
6. Serve the scallops on top of a heaping pile of risotto. Garnish with lemon slices or quarters.

I love baked beans but I hate to wait for them. There’s the soaking, and the drying, and the mixing, and the baking for upward of 5 hours. A boy’s gotta eat and I can’t sit around all day waiting. Luckily, I have a pressure cooker that defies the rules of the kitchen and introduces intense amount of pressure that break the beans down quickly completing the meal from start to finish in around 30 minutes. This dish is sweet, sticky, and tangy and sure to become a family favorite.

If you don’t own a pressure cooker, I couldn’t recommend a piece of specialty kitchen equipment more. I bought mine to start canning my own preserves, but quickly found it had many more uses. It makes perfect risotto in under 10 minutes without ever needing to stand over the stove stirring, breaks down a pot roast to a perfect tenderness in around 40 minutes, and even makes chocolate cake. Cake, people! Cooked on the stove! If your in the market, I recommend the Fagor Duo. It’s made of high quality stainless steel, and has two pressure settings to maximize its uses.

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 7 c cold water
  • 1 lb navy beans, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c (4 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp whole gain dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
1. Put the beans, water, bay leaves, and 1 tbsp olive oil in a pressure cooker. Secure the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to the lowest setting possible and cook for 15 minutes. Release the steam and drain the beans into a colander set over a bowl. Reserve the cooking liquid.
 
2. While the beans are cooking, saute the onion and garlic in a medium sauce pan over high heat. When the onion begins to brown, mix in the molasses, light brown sugar, tomato paste, mustard, and cinnamon. Turn the heat off and combine all ingredients.
 
3. Return the beans to the pressure cooker with the onion-molasses mixture and 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Secure the lid and bring the pressure cooker up to high pressure. Lower the heat to the lowest setting and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Release the steam. If the beans are not tender, place the lid back on, but do not lock. Boil for an additional 5 – 10 minutes.
 
4. The sauce will thicken as it sits, but if you prefer, mash 1/2 cup of beans with a fork, return to the pan, and stir. Serve with hot dog slices if you wish.

Bubba (Benjamin Buford Blue) informs his best friend Forrest Gump of 8 different ways to cook shrimp and 13 dishes that could be made with these techniques. According to Bubba, “You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That – that’s about it.” Although Bubba did know about stir frying shrimp, his life was cut tragically short and he was never provided the opportunity to try gingered shrimp. He would have been a fan.

This is a quick and easy meal that can be put together in about 20 minutes. The key to this meal (and all stir fry) is to prepare your ingredients ahead of time. This will allow you to throw everything into the wok and cook in a few short minutes. As a side note, many people and nearly every restaurant I’ve ever been to leave the tails on for presentation. In my culinary mind, shrimp with their tails on are meant to be dipped in cocktail sauce – otherwise, the tails should be taken off completely. The presentation, however, is entirely up to you.

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 inch piece fresh ginger
  • 2 c snow peas
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch

1. Peel the ginger. Cut on round edge off with a sharp knife and lay on this edge. This will give you a steady surface to cut on. Proceed to cut the ginger into match sticks.

2. Mince the onion and set aside with the ginger.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken stock, soy sauce, and corn starch together. If you want to add a spicy kick, add 1 tbsp hot sauce.

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat (turn it all the way up to 11). When smoking hot, add the ginger and onion to the pan. Cook until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes.

5. Add the snow peas and cook under tender, but still crisp. The ginger should also begin to brown at this point. Add the shrimp and cook until nearly opaque. The shrimp will turn a pale pink which will intensify the longer you cook it. When you can see faint traces of blue, it’s time to move to the next step.

6. Whisk the sauce mixture together one last time to combine corn starch into ingredients and add to pan. Stir to combine into the ingredients and cook until the sauce has thickened. By this point the shrimp should be completely opaque.

7. Serve meal on top a pile of rice.