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Tag Archives: dinner

Easy Enchilada Casserole

30 Apr

It’s almost Cinco de Mayo.  Time for something festive, delicious, and easy.  Like a  Mexican Pasta Bake.  Or, serve up this foolproof Enchilada Casserole.  No need to roll tortillas one at a time; just layer up the good stuff.

Enchilada Casserole 4

This Enchilada Casserole has been in my potluck repertoire for years.  It’s a sure-fire hit at parties.  When I made it for the fam recently, my finicky 6-year-old eater swiftly polished his plate off and reached for seconds.  To my happy astonishment, all my kiddos proclaimed themselves enchilada fans.  Who knew?

Enchilada Casserole

This Enchilada Casserole is hearty, hefty, and heavenly.  Dee-lish.  And unbelievably easy.   It’s piled high with melty cheese, savory meat sauce, and chunky salsa.  Soft corn torillas are layered within.  How can this not be good?

Enchilada Casserole 2

Ooh, let’s not forget the best part.  The sauce can be made the day before, and you can quickly assemble it when ready to bake.  I simply adore all food that can be done ahead of time.  In fact, this sauce tastes better as it sits overnight.  Bonus!

Enchilada Casserole 3

Enjoy, and happy Cinco de Mayo!

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RECIPE for Enchilada Casserole (one 13×9)

INGREDIENTS

Light olive oil
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 chopped brown onion
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups of chunky salsa (thicker the better)
1 can (1-lb size) refried beans
1 1/2 cups good enchilada sauce
1 cup sliced olives
18 (6 inch) corn tortillas, sliced in half
4 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
sliced green onions for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Make the Sauce:  In large heavy skillet, saute onion and garlic with olive oil for one minute.  Add ground meat and cook until browned.  Drain if needed.  Stir in salsa, refried beans, enchilada sauce, and olives.  Bring to a boil, and immediately reduce to simmer.  Cook and stir for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.

To assemble:  Layer half of the corn tortillas on bottom of a greased 13×9 baking dish.  Cover with half of the meat sauce.  Sprinkle on half of the cheese.  Repeat layers.  Cover tightly with foil, and bake 20 minutes at 375F.  Remove cover and bake another 5 minutes until cheese is nicely melted.  Garnish with green onions and serve immediately.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, inspired by Ortega

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Mexican Pasta Bake

26 Apr

Casseroles are an ever-popular dinner choice for busy people, not to mention great for bringing to new mommies and new neighbors.  It wasn’t until I moved to the midwest that I realized how prominent a role The Casserole enjoys around here.  I now have many favorites, ranging from breakfast bakes and brunch bakes to dinner bakes.

Here’s a sassy twist on casseroles.  We’re kickin’ it up with a Mexican Pasta Bake.

Mexican Pasta 2

This is such a fun change of scenery in the realm of pasta bakes!  My family loves taco nights, when we have a tempting spread of various goodies to fill our tacos with.  This Mexican pasta bake is almost like a taco in casserole form.  All the lively spices are seamlessly paired with pasta and baked to aromatic perfection!

Mexican Pasta

So, I totally realize we’re not talking authentic Mexican fare at this moment.  Hubby and I spent most of our lives in LA, and this really wouldn’t be found on any Mexican menu 😉  But this yummy dish is SUCH a super tasty way to change up your usual pasta bake routine!

Mexican Pasta 3

Ground beef or turkey, taco seasoning, salsa, and cheese…you just can’t go wrong.  I made mine with whole grain penne, but feel free to use any pasta you like.  Rotini, Corkscrew, or Mafalda… have fun with it.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE for Mexican Pasta Bake (8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 TB olive oil
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 (1.25 oz) envelope taco seasoning
1 jar (about 15-20 oz) mild chunky salsa
1 small chopped and seeded green pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried oregano
12 oz uncooked pasta of choice
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/2 cup light sour cream
chopped cilantro for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta in well-salted water to al dente only.  Drain (don’t rinse) and set aside.

In large heavy skillet, brown ground meat over medium heat.  Drain if needed.  Stir in taco seasoning, salsa, green pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano.  Bring to boil, stirring. Immediately remove from heat.

Meanwhile, combine cooked pasta with 1 cup of the cheese and sour cream and mix well.  Spoon into a greased 2-qt baking dish.  Top with the meat mixture and remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered 350F for 30 minutes.  Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from taste of home

Creamy Avocado Pasta

17 Apr

One hallmark of the house I grew up in was a colossal avocado tree in the backyard.  From my vantage point, it was a monumental tree amongst several other smaller fruit trees.  Much to my parents’ chagrin, we kids wouldn’t touch the avocados that grew profusely.  Mom always ended up giving away loads of fine fruit.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 1

Fast forward to present day.  Hello, Self. What was I thinking?!  Avocados cost like 1.50 each.  Hind sight is always 20/20.

Creamy Avocado Pasta 3

When my parents moved to their current house, a new avocado tree took root in their new backyard.  A petite version of their massive old one.  This new avocado tree may not be the tallest in the bunch, but it sure yields a copious crop.  When people visit my folks, they go home with more fruit than they know what to do with.  Older and wiser now, I made sure to bring home my share of large avocados.  Still firm enough to safely cram into my suitcase for the cross-country flight home.  Did I mention they would normally cost 1.50 each?

Creamy Avocado Pasta 2

What my avocado-loving middle child didn’t immediate polish off, I was able to make into yummy dishes.  Case in point:  this phenomenal Creamy Avocado Pasta.  This pasta has all you’d want in a creamy-sauced pasta dish, minus the cream.  No cream.  Just pure avocado bliss.  It’s rich, smooth, and light all at the same time.  For extra nutrition and beautiful color, add plenty of fresh parsley (you can’t really taste it in the dish.)  To make it Superman healthy, we use whole grain pasta.

P.S.  If you keep the sauce separately in an air tight container, it will keep beautifully ’til tomorrow!  Enjoy it!

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RECIPE (8 servings)

INGREDIENTS

4 large ripe Hass avocado, peeled and pitted
Juice of 1 fresh lemon
8 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp paprika
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
20-24 oz dried pasta
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly shaved Parmesan for topping

DIRECTIONS

Blend lemon juice, garlic cloves, salt, paprika, parsley, and olive oil together in a food processor until smooth.  Add avocado.  Continue processing until smooth and creamy.  Add black pepper to taste.  Set sauce aside in air tight container, with cling wrap resting directly on top of sauce to keep air out.

In a large heavy pot, bring well-salted water to boil.  Cook pasta just until al dente, according to package.

Drain pasta in strainer and sprinkle with olive oil to prevent sticking.  Plate the pasta and pour desired amount of sauce onto each plate.  Toss to combine and sprinkle with plenty of fresh parmesan.  Serve immediately.

Note:  If there will be leftover sauce, keep it in a separate air tight container (cling wrap resting on top of sauce.)  Keeps well in fridge for a day or two this way.  When ready to use, simply make hot pasta and pour on remaining sauce.  Don’t reheat the sauce – just toss it with hot pasta.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from ohsheglows

Parmesan ‘n Panko Crusted Pork Chops

11 Apr

Parmesan and Panko.  Both fabulous creations in their own right.  Put together, they equal  unparalleled deliciousness.  If you haven’t tried Panko, please try it soon.  It literally can put bread crumbs to shame.

Panko Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops 4

These Parmesan and Panko crusted pork chops are bursting with tender juiciness, well-seasoned flavor, and a crisp bite to the exterior.  What more could we ask for in a quick weeknight meal?  Yes, I did say quick and weeknight in the same sentence.  Because it’s that easy.

Panko Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops 2

Pork, famous for being the other white meat, really is surprisingly lean.  I had sworn it off many years ago when I was in my health-nut phase and thought all pork was fatty.  It eventually dawned on me that with the right cuts, it’s an extremely lean protein that makes the taste buds happy.  Pork chops became my friend again.

Panko Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops

These Parmesan and Panko crusted pork chops are super popular with kids and grown ups alike.  We don’t bother with sauces here, because there is simply enough robust flavor in this recipe as is.

Go ahead.  Have your pork and eat it too.  Enjoy! 🙂

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PARMESAN PANKO CRUSTED PORK CHOPS (serves 4)

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggs
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3/4 cups freshly grated (grate it yourself) Parmesan cheese
4 large (10-12 ounces each) center cut pork loin chops, 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick
light olive oil
kosher salt and freshly grounded black pepper
optional lemon wedges for serving

DIRECTIONS

Lightly beat eggs in a pie plate.  In another pie plate, thoroughly combine Panko, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and onion powder.  In a third pie plate, place freshly grated cheese.

Sprinkle each pork chop lightly with kosher salt and pepper on both sides.  Coat the chops completely with fresh cheese, pressing down to adhere.  Dip pork chops into beaten eggs, and then completely coat with Panko mixture.  Pat to adhere on both sides.

Heat 4 TB oil in large heavy skillet (nonstick works well) over medium heat.  Add pork chops one or two at a time (do not overcrowd), cooking uncovered until golden brown and 150F at center – about 6 min per side.  Repeat with remaining chops.  Transfer to plates and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

9 Apr

One of our family’s favorite weeknight meals is a really good Teriyaki Chicken.  We lived near several yummy hole-in-wall Teriyaki joints in So. Cal, and it was as easy as a walk down the street to satisfy that craving.  Sadly, good Teriyaki is mysteriously hard to find in my current midwest ‘hood.  The one at the mall food court the closest thing we could find, and that’s… well… that’s all.

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Fortunately for all of us who love Teriyaki but aren’t in a position to call in an order down the street, great tasting Teriyaki is easy to dish up yourself!  In the warmer months, we like to grill up some chicken or beef for Teriyaki bliss, but in the colder months (Spring, are you coming to town?) we bake it up instead.  Baking makes it super easy as a one-dish meal, and it’s mouthwateringly delish.  It’s all about the sauce, whether you grill it or bake it.

Teriyaki Ckn 5

This is the one and only Teriyaki Sauce that I use and have used for years.  It’s super versatile, and can be used on a variety of proteins.  Even on a Hawaiian Burger!   It’s savory, it’s sweet, it’s thick, and oh-so-addictive.  This sauce opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

Teriyaki Baked Chicken

Be sure to have extra sauce on hand.  Everyone will want to drizzle it onto their plates.  Don’t forget the rice (we use brown rice) – you’ll want rice to go with that sauce.

Enjoy!

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BAKED TERIYAKI CHICKEN RECIPE (for 10 chicken thighs)

INGREDIENTS

2 TB corn starch dissolved in 2 TB water
1 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki Sauce (each brand tastes different)
1 cup water
1/2 to 2/3 cup white sugar, depending on taste
1 tsp ginger powder
Juice from 3 wedges of a fresh orange (do not use store bought OJ)
10 chicken thighs, bone in, with skin
kosher salt
chopped scallions, optional

DIRECTIONS

Stir all ingredients except for chicken in a medium saucepan.  Cook on medium, stirring, until sauce bubbles and thickens.  Set aside to cool.

Thoroughly dry each raw chicken piece with paper towels.  Loosen skin from the meat so that marinade can get into the meat, but don’t remove the skin.  Using a fork, poke holes all over each piece of chicken.  Arrange chicken in a single layer in a baking dish and sprinkle top of each piece with a light layer of kosher salt.  Spoon just enough marinade to cover all pieces well, ensuring that tops and bottoms are covered with marinade.  Save 1/3 to 1/2 cup of the sauce for basting and drizzling.  Cover and let sit in fridge overnight or at least 4 hours.

Remove chicken from dish, and arrange evenly in a foil-lined baking sheet (rimmed.)  Bake at 350F for 1 hour, basting with some of the reserved sauce every 15 minutes (separate basting sauce from drizzling sauce.)

Serve chicken with rice, and drizzle with remaining sauce onto plates.  Garnish with chopped scallions if desired.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Note:  The bake time listed is for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs.  Adjust your bake time for boneless or other cuts of meat.  If you have leftover basting sauce that you want to use for drizzling, simply bring sauce to boil again, and enjoy!

Honey Baked Ham

21 Mar

I’ll be the first to admit that our family isn’t usually crazy over ham.  During the holidays, we opt for turkey over ham; a big ol’ ham isn’t something we gravitate to.  However, years ago, my girlfriend showed up at a holiday party with a standout Honey Baked Ham that got my attention.  The only homemade ham I’ve ever liked!

Honey Ham

That was neons ago.  These days, I’ll do baked ham about once a year, usually for big gatherings.  Perfect for Easter, coming right up.  This ham is always the one and only recipe that I use, adapted from my friend’s original recipe.  It never fails to impress, and I usually get hit up for the recipe as well.

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Just look at the golden brown goodness.  Courtesy of brown sugar, country style mustard, all dripping with honey.  Non-ham eaters may think twice, with this guy on the table.

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I’m convinced one reason for ham’s popularity is that it’s super easy to prepare and can feed a crowd.  This Honey Baked Ham tastes like you’ve spent much more time on it than you really did.  Be sure to get the spiral sliced ham if you want ease of slicing; plus, the juices really sink in with the pre-sliced ham cooking in the oven.  Enjoy it!

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RECIPE (12-15)

INGREDIENTS

Fully cooked, spiral-sliced ham (4-5 lbs)
1 cup good apple cider
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse ground mustard (the kind with whole mustard seeds in it)
1/4 cup honey

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350F with rack on lower position.

Mix together apple cider, brown sugar, mustard, and honey in a bowl.  Mix well to fully incorporate basting sauce.

Place ham in a 13×9 baking dish.  Coat ham with a generous amount of sauce.  Bake for 60-70 minutes, basting thoroughly  every 15 minutes.

To serve pre-cut slices, arrange slices neatly on a serving dish and brush leftover sauce all over ham slices and serve.  If serving ham whole, be sure to have leftover sauce available for drizzling.  The sauce is what makes this ham so great!

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from my old friend Janice.

Hearty Sloppy Joes

14 Mar

This weekend marks the end of spring break for us.  The kiddos might not be ready for the end of their vacation from school, but let’s just say I’m good with resuming their school schedule.  The ongoing freeze has made it hard to spend time outside during spring break this year.  Three kids plus a new puppy under one roof equals one exhausted mommy.  Thus, I packed everyone in the car today (puppy included) for a good romp in the empty, snow-laden park fields.  Energy outlet galore!

Hearty Sloppy Joes

Days of chaos render little time for padding around in my kitchen.  Crazy days like these call for simple yet fool proof meals.  Meals that everyone will happily run to the dinner table for.  Meals that can be made ahead of time and easily served.

Hearty Sloppy Joes 2

These tasty sloppy joes are one of my favorite go-to recipes for crazy weeknights.  If I know the next day is going to be hectic, I like to prep the ingredients for sloppy joes the night before.  Then, all I have to do is put it on the stove the next day.  Easy.  Hugely flavorful.  Satisfying.

Hearty Sloppy Joes 3

I often use ground turkey for my sloppy joes, but ground beef works well.  My guys inhale this stuff, and it makes enough for leftovers, which taste amazing!    Be sure to have enough buns on hand, as it’s easy to polish off several of these at one sitting.

Enjoy something yummy for your chaotic days 🙂

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RECIPE (approx. 10 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs lean ground turkey (or beef)
1 chopped brown onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
2 TB olive oil
4 cloves chopped garlic
1 TB mustard
2 cups ketchup
1 cup tomato paste
2 TB brown sugar
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
Shredded cheddar cheese for topping
Buns

DIRECTIONS

In a large pan, brown meat with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper over medium heat.  Drain and set aside.

In same pan over medium heat, stir together olive oil, onion, green pepper, garlic, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp pepper until veggies are soft.  Drain liquids.  Add back the browned meat to pan.

Stir in mustard, ketchup, tomato paste, and brown sugar.  Stir to incorporate well.  Bring to simmer.  Let simmer for 30 minutes, covered.  Can be made ahead of time, and reheated for serving.

Serve warm, with shredded cheddar cheese on hamburger buns.

Source:  Chew Out Loud

Teriyaki Meatloaf

16 Feb

East has been meeting West in the foodie world for years.  Most of the time, dishes that are in the realm of Asian Fusion seem sophisticated and somewhat polished.  That said, I wonder where this Teriyaki Meatloaf fits in.  It’s more of an Asian Fusion comfort food.  Great grub.  Ordinary, yet extraordinary.

Teriyaki Meatloaf 5

This Teriyaki Meatloaf is soooo addicting once you’ve tried it.  It puts a fantastic spin on traditional meatloaf.  Not that traditional meatloaf isn’t totally yummy, but this just takes meatloaf to a whole new level.  It’s one of our favorite weeknight meals.

Teriyaki Meatloaf 4

I love that this teriyaki meatloaf is super easy to prepare, and the perfect solution to a busy weeknight.  It will feed the whole clan, and tastes like you spent way more time on it than you really did.

Teriyaki Meatloaf

Teriyaki meatloaf yields a tender, full-flavored dish.  It’s both savory and sweet.  The sauce is scrumptious.  It’s perfect with your favorite style of rice.  Leftovers reheat well, but we don’t tend to have much left over with this one.  Enjoy it!

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RECIPE (serves 6-8)

INGREDIENTS

For the Sauce:
3/4 cup light soy sauce
3/4 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

For the Meatloaf:
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 slices bread, torn into small pieces
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
3 cloves garlic, minced

DIRECTIONS

Set oven to 350F, with rack on middle or lower middle  position.

Mix together sauce ingredients with whisk until incorporated.  Set aside.  Mix together all Meatloaf ingredients.  Stir in the sauce, reserving 1/3 cup for later.  Mix thoroughly.

Press mixture into large loaf pan or shape your own loaf in a 13×9 pan.  If using loaf pan, be sure to have a large pan underneath to catch spillage.  Pour remaining sauce over top of meatloaf evenly.  Bake for 1 to 1.5 hours or until meat is cooked through.

Slice and serve with your favorite rice.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from my sweet friend Diana.  Because of you, Diana, we’ve enjoyed this scrumptious meatloaf for many years!

Deep Dish Pizza – Chicago Style

15 Feb

I know we’re in good company when I say our family is comprised of pizza lovers.  My kids literally jump for joy on occasions when I declare that it’s “pizza night.”  Thin crust, regular crust, stuffed crust… we love ’em all.  From Pepperoni to a yummy BBQ Chicken Pizza, the pies don’t last long here.  But nothing – nothing – beats a truly great Deep Dish Pizza.

Deep Dish Pizza 3

The last time we were in Chicago, we made a point of visiting well-known joints popular for their deep dish pizzas.  Perhaps it was the huge crowds of people waiting and maxing out the kitchen… or maybe we needed to manage our expectations, but we were left a bit in wanting.

Deep Dish Pizza

Of course, there have been moments we’ve experienced pizza heaven at certain little pizza joints, and those memories always made me wish I could make my own deep dish pizza at home so we could have it anytime the craving hit.

Deep Dish Pizza 4

Rolling up the dough, starting from the short side

One day I noticed this deep dish pizza recipe resting in my humungous Cook’s Illustrated cookbook.  Nothing I’ve ever made in that beloved cookbook has ever turned out wrong, so I had a feeling this deep dish pizza would not disappoint.  We have never looked back.

Deep Dish Pizza 5

Slice rolled dough in half

This Chicago-style deep dish pizza turns out deeply flavorful and delish, so much so that the guys proclaimed it “way better at home.”  Deep dish victory!  The crust is appropriately crusty and deep, chewy yet tender, and not greasy at all.  The filling is a-ma-zing.  Awesome.  Mouthwatering.  Enviable.  Because other pies get jealous of this one.

Deep Dish Pizza 6

Roll both dough halves into balls. Two pizza crusts, ready to press into pan!

If you decide to make this, definitely follow original order for placing of the toppings.  The cheese goes first, then toppings, followed by sauce.  The cheese on the bottom is what prevents the crust from getting soggy…genius!  Wish I came up with that on my own.  The cooked pizza will yield a beautiful deep dish with cheese that stays melty underneath all the toppings your tummy desires.

Deep Dish Pizza 2

This recipe is for an awesome cheese/sausage combo, which is what we were craving the day I made this.  What’s your tummy craving?

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RECIPE (two 9-inch round pizzas)

INGREDIENTS

For the Dough:
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 1/4 tsp instant (rapid rise) yeast
2 tsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups room temp water
3 TB melted butter
4 TB  softened butter
olive oil

For the Sauce:
3 TB olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes with juices
1/2 tsp white sugar
2 TB dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:
1 lb (4 cups) freshly shredded mozzarella
1 lb bulk Italian sausage, browned and crumbled
4 TB freshly grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS

For the dough:  Using stand mixer and dough hook, mix flour, cornmeal, yeast, sugar, and salt on low until combined.  Add water and 3 TB melted butter and mix 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.  Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth, 4-5 minutes.  Pliable dough should pull away from sides of bowl.

Coat large bowl with olive oil and place dough ball in bowl.  Turn dough around in the bowl to ensure all sides of dough are protected by oil.  Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temp until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

For the sauce:  Saute minced onion and garlic in 3 TB olive oil over medium heat until soft.  Add rest of sauce ingredients, except for salt/pepper.  Bring sauce to simmer and cook until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, about 25-30 min.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set aside.

Heat oven to 425F with rack on lowest position.  Turn dough out onto large surface.  Roll into 15×12 inch rectangle.  Spread 4 TB softened butter evenly over top of dough, leaving 1/2 in border along edges.  At the short end, roll dough into a tight cylinder (see photo.)  With seam side down, flatten cylinder to 18×4 in. rectangle.  Slice rectangle in half crosswise.  Working with one half at a time, fold dough into thirds and pinch seams together into a dough ball.  Return dough balls to oiled bowl, ensure all sides of the dough are protected with oil, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise in fridge until doubled, 40-50 min.

Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 TB olive oil each.  Transfer one dough ball to large surface and roll into disk, 1/4 in. thick.  Transfer to cake pan and gently press into pan, working into corners and up sides.  Repeat with other dough ball.  (If dough resists stretching, let it sit for 5 min covered and try again.)

Divide the 4 cups mozzarella in half and sprinkle on top of each pizza dough.  Follow by browned sausage (plus any other toppings desired.)  Next, spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce per pizza.  Last, sprinkle 2 TB Parmesan cheese per pizza.  Bake until crust is golden brown about 20-25 min.  Remove and let sit for 10 min. before serving.

Source:  Chew Out Loud, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Cioppino – Seafood Stew

13 Feb

Happy Valentines Day tomorrow!  I meant to give you this succulent Cioppino earlier in case you were looking for a special dinner inspiration, but better now than never.  You’ll want to save this recipe for your seafood-loving friends and family; they’ll be hard pressed to find a dinner as enjoyable as this intensely mouthwatering seafood stew.  Your peeps will adore you for cooking up this Cioppino for any special dinner.

Cioppino 1

I’ve been a seafood fan all my life.  My parents are adept at dishing up delicious sea fare, and living near the ocean most of my life sure didn’t hurt our fresh seafood consumption.  If you enjoy seafood, you already know there are very few things that parallel the awesomeness of a deeply satisfying bowl of good Cioppino.

Cioppino

We were previously under the assumption that Cioppino originated in Italy, which I gather is a common assumption.  In reality, Cioppino is considered Italian-American, as it was originated in good ol’ San Fransisco.  Cioppino is a concoction that resulted from fishermen combining their catches, creating a hearty stew with whatever good stuff was in their boats.  Catch-of-the-day stew.

Cioppino 4

I personally am supremely thankful for those fishermen who helped propel this wonderfully hearty, satisfying, and healthy stew.  It’s the perfect solution for cold weather dinners, and scrumptiously satisfying with crusty bread.  The bread is a must-have, for soaking up every drop of the light yet full-flavored broth that’s way too delectable to be wasted.

Cioppino 2

I’ve eaten Cioppino in many places, and it’s always made a little differently, depending on where you get it at.  Typically, there is a variety of shelled seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, etc.) combined with chunks of firm fish.  All swimming in an indescribably delicious warm broth.  If you can’t get certain shellfish but can get a hold of others, just sub with what is available to you.  Keep the shells on for cooking, as that is what lends the broth its amazing flavor.

Make it a date for two, or a dinner for eight.  My fave part – this phenomenal broth can be made the day before, and just add seafood the day of.  Enjoy!

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RECIPE (about 6 servings)

INGREDIENTS

2 medium onions, finely chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup light olive oil
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, seeded and diced
2 TB tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 can (28-32 oz) can whole plum tomatoes, drained and chopped.  Juices reserved.
1 cup bottled clam juice
1 cup chicken or fish broth
2 TB white sugar
20 hard shelled clams
20 shelled mussels
1 lb firm fish (ie., halibut, snapper, or salmon)
1 lb very large shrimp (16-20 count-size), deveined, shell-on
1 lb large sea scallops, muscles removed from side if attached
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, freshly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, freshly chopped
Crusty bread for serving


DIRECTIONS

Place first seven ingredients in a large heavy pot or dutch oven over moderate heat.  Cook until onions are soft, 5 min.  Stir in celery, bell pepper, and tomato paste, cooking 1 min.  Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5-6 min.  Stir in tomatoes, their juices, claim juice, broth, and sugar.  Simmer covered 30 min.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

(At this point, broth may be cooled and placed in fridge overnight.  When ready to serve, just bring broth back to simmer and continue with recipe.)

If ready to serve:  Bring stew to simmer.  Add clams and mussels until shells just open, checking every minute and transferring opened clams/mussels to a separate bowl with tongs immediately when they open.  Remaining unopened shellfish should be tossed out.  Lightly season fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops with salt/pepper.  Add them to the stew and simmer covered 3 minutes or just until shrimp turns opaque.  If shrimp turns opaque before the fish is done, remove shrimp to prevent overcooking.

Turn off heat and leave uncovered.  Discard bay leaves.  Return all cooked shellfish back into the stew.  Add parsley.  Serve warm stew in bowls, garnishing with fresh basil.  Serve with crusty bread.

By:  Chew Out Loud, adapted by Gourmet

Wine Pairing:  A good quality dry Sauvignon Blanc or crisp Rose will go beautifully here.

Notes:  Feel free to use whatever fresh/good quality seafood is available to you.  Many people like to include crab legs.  The most important thing is not to overcook the seafood.  If I have any leftovers, sometimes I pour it over al dente pasta the next day… amazing.

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