Pasta alla Norma

I always consider it a personal triumph when I find a vegetarian recipe that Dan really enjoys.  I scored big with this eggplant pasta.  We both loved it, and we have officially added it to our recipe rotation.  No offense to anyone who is vegetarian or adores vegetables, but I think the reason we liked this so much is that it doesn’t taste like vegetables.  The eggplant is substantial and gives the pasta an almost meaty flavor.  This pasta is a good one to try if you want to work more vegetarian meals into your routine but aren’t a big fan of veggies.  Baby steps! Continue reading “Pasta alla Norma”

“Pressed” Game Hen

One of the great things about enjoying food and cooking as much as we do is that we often get cool cooking-related tools and gadgets as gifts.   For Dan’s birthday this year, his brother and sister-in-law gave him a “mattone chicken press” (thanks Jerry and Cary!)  The mattone is a terra-cotta press used to cook Tuscan-style chicken that is crispy outside and juicy on the inside.  Pressing the chicken down while it cooks also helps it to cook evenly.  We had never cooked with a mattone before and were excited to try it.  For our first attempt, we decided to do a game hen in the oven, although the mattone can also be used on the grill or the stove.  The game hen was delicious, and the mattone was really easy to use.  Next time we’re going to try a chicken on the grill!

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Slow-Cooker Green Chile Pork Enchiladas

This is one of our favorite slow-cooker recipes.  It has great Tex-Mex flavors, and you can make it as spicy as you like.  The recipe makes enough for 2 pretty big pans of enchiladas, so we usually freeze half of the cooked enchilada filling to use later.  I was in charge of preparing everything for the slow-cooker on the day we made these, which was a bit of a challenge for me since it involved trimming 2 pork tenderloins of their fat.  Since Dan does pretty much all the cooking around here, he also takes care of the cooking steps that involve raw meat, something I’m not very experienced with and probably enjoy least about cooking.  But, I decided to face my fear dislike of processing raw meat and take one for the team this time.  (And I freely admit that I’m a wimp in the kitchen.)

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Grilled Potato Salad with Watercress, Green Onions and Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

We don’t cook burgers at home all that often (not sure why — maybe because we don’t eat a lot of red meat, so when we do, we prefer to have steak.)   But Spring is definitely in the air around here, which means the daylight lasts a little longer and we’re even more inclined to cook on the grill (not that darkness has ever stopped Dan from grilling.  Or snow, wind, or rain for that matter), and we were in the mood for burgers.   Dan asked me to find an interesting side dish, so I consulted one of our Bobby Flay grilling cookbooks. Whether you’re a fan of Mr. Flay or not (we are), he has created some of the widest varieties of side dishes in any grilling cookbook I’ve seen.  It didn’t take long for me to choose this Grilled Potato Salad as the perfect accompaniment to our cheeseburgers.  It sounds a little strange to have the “salad” (as in greens) part in the same dish as the potatoes, but the dressing really ties it all together and it works very well.

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Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya

New Orleans is one of our favorite places to visit — with its impressive architecture, hidden courtyards, quaint local shops and art galleries, abundance of live music and, of course, entertaining nightlife.  But one of the main reasons we love New Orleans is the food.  There are so many amazing restaurants, especially if you like shrimp and other seafood.  Jambalaya is just one of the many traditional dishes from The Big Easy.  Jambalaya is a Creole dish with Spanish and French influence.  There are two basic variations of the dish — “red” with tomatoes, or “brown” without tomatoes.  Other ingredients vary depending on the recipe, what you have on hand, and what kinds of proteins you like  — anything from chicken, sausage, ham, shrimp or fish.  For our first foray into homemade jambalaya, we decided to try this basic recipe for (red) Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya from Cook’s Illustrated’s website.  It was delicious  — rich and comforting with just the right amount of spice. Continue reading “Chicken and Shrimp Jambalaya”