Sometimes the best recipes come out of necessity. I mean, there I was, rummaging in the fridge, trying to decide what to make for dinner. I have a tomato that’s just starting to pucker, a carrot that’s beginning to dry out, a bit of onion left over from a previous meal, some parsley that’s looking a little ragged, and a couple of portobello mushrooms left over from some grilling I did last week. And let’s not forget the hot Italian chicken sausage in the freezer.
Sounds like the beginnings of a fantastic meal, right?
Of course you’re right. And, it’s easy too.
After a quick saute of the carrot and onion, I added some garlic and the chicken sausage until the sausage was browned and crumbled. Then I added in the tomato and let it cook until the tomato got soft and saucy. No need to add herbs because the sausage is already full of Italian seasonings.
I then simply removed the mixture from the heat, mixed in a little parmesan cheese, and stuffed the portobello mushrooms, mounding the meat mixture generously. Once topped with another sprinkle of parmesan cheese, I baked them in the oven for 30 minutes.
The result? Perfection. At once tender, hearty, and spicy, it’s a gourmet quality dish that’s ready in almost no time. It’s also perfectly adaptable to baby portobello mushrooms for a superb appetizer.
What are you making with your fridge finds tonight?
This may be the easiest recipe I’ve ever published on my blog. I mean, a total of 6 ingredients with minimal fuss in the prep? It truly doesn’t get much easier.
It all started with my typical weekly browse of the “What’s New” shelf at my local Trader Joe’s. My eyes lit upon a bottle of Organic Sriracha and Roasted Garlic Barbecue Sauce and I knew that baby was going home with me for dinner. The entire ride home my mind was swimming with ideas of how to use it.
In the end, though, the simplest idea is generally best. And so these Sriracha BBQ Chicken Sandwiches were born.
In the morning before I leave for work I simply toss some lean chicken breast, this sriracha barbecue sauce, and some slices of red onion into the slow cooker. Heck, I’ve even taken the chicken straight out of the freezer and thrown it into the slow cooker. That’s right, no dethawing.
At the end of the day, when I come home from work the house smells like someone’s been barbecuing all day in my kitchen. I then whip up a simple slaw of a store-bought coleslaw mix, lowfat blue cheese dressing, and a bit of crumbled blue cheese. Now all that’s left to do is shred up the chicken breast and slap my sandwich together.
Getting back into the kitchen after my injury has not been so easy. I find that even minimal effort leaves me with an aching ankle and as exhausted as if I had just completed a hard workout.
Thank goodness for my slow cooker.
I use my slow cooker this time of year for many a dish, but I’ve found myself using it more since I’ve been slowly getting back into the kitchen. I can set it in the morning, dinner is ready for me at the end of the day, and I have leftovers to keep me fed for at least a few more days.
This Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew makes some of my favorite leftovers. Rich red Rioja wine makes for a complex and tasty broth that swims with creamy red potatoes and spicy chorizo sausage. Chorizo sausage made from chicken lowers the fat and calorie content, making a great stew also good for you.
Bonus? The stew also freezes well. I like to ladle it into containers in individual serving sizes. Then it’s just a matter of popping the container into the microwave for a satisfying lunch or dinner.
What are you making in your slow cooker?
Slow Cooker Rioja Red Potato and Chicken Chorizo Stew
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and salt and cook until the onions are transparent.
Stir in the sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is cooked and crumbly and the onions are browned.
Add the red wine and use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, getting all the cooked bits off the bottom of the pan.
Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the contents into the slow cooker.
Stir the potatoes, tomatoes, broth and paprika into the chorizo mixture in the slow cooker.
Submerge the bay leaf in the stew, cover and cook on low for 10 hours.
Stir in the fresh cilantro and ladle yourself up a bowl of steaming deliciousness.
Rioja wine comes from the Rioja appellation in Spain and is made primarily from tempranillo grapes. The wines from this region are beautiful and worth seeking out. If you're looking for a domestic wine, though, seek out a tempranillo for this recipe.
The smoky bacon and sweet pineapple combine in perfect harmony. I knew I had to create something with this deliciousness, so I grabbed a package (or two) and headed home to my kitchen.
I start by dicing up the sausage and sauteing it with thin slices of red onion. I only use a little bit of olive oil in the pan as the sausage will release some fat when it cooks that helps keep everything from sticking.
Then I add in some chopped, dried cherries and crushed pineapple, toss it with whole wheat couscous and fresh arugula, and that’s it! The entire dish takes about 15 minutes to prep and cook, making it perfect for those busy weeknights.
What’s your favorite Aidells product?
Pineapple and Bacon Chicken Sausage with Fruited Couscous
This past week has been so cold and blustery here in the Portland area that my dog has taken to lying directly on top of the heater vent. The wind gusted through the city, knocking down limbs and and blowing over my trash and recycling cans. The rain pelted down, turning my backyard into mud. And I? I sat inside, still confined to my couch with my injured leg, and listened to the commotion outside.
In other words, it was the perfect weather for stew.
I love a thick, hearty stew this time of year. It warms me from the inside out and is so much more filling and satisfying than soup. Of course, it must always be accompanied by a hunk of hot, crusty bread. Buttered, preferably.
This week I decided to craft a Tuscan-inspired stew, full of chunky red potatoes and hearty cannellini beans, slowly simmered in a red-wine based broth. Doesn’t that sound divine? I added in some tender chicken breast and juicy tomatoes to bulk it up, as well as some fresh rosemary for flavor. I think this may be the perfect cold weather stew.
Heat the olive oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat.
Add the chicken and sear just until lightly browned on the outside but still pink on the inside, about 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
Remove the chicken from the pan onto a plate or bowl and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium and add the carrots, onion, salt, rosemary and garlic to the pan. Continue cooking about 10 minutes or until the onion is transparent.
Add in the potatoes and cook about 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. There should now be a good amount of crusty goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan.
Pour the wine into the pan, over the vegetables, and use the back of a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan, scraping up all that crusty goodness from the bottom of the pan. Let cook until the wine reduces by half.
Add the chicken back into the pan then stir in the diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, chicken broth, and red chile pepper flakes until well combined.
Submerge the bay leaf in the stew then cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 1 hour.
Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper to taste (not included in the nutritional information).
Serve yourself a steaming bowl of stew and enjoy!
Be sure to use a good Tuscan-style wine in this recipe. A Chianti is always a good choice, which is made from Sangiovese grapes.
Weeks ago when I was working on my recipe for Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Farro Salad, the thought occurred to me: why not use this same preparation technique for the squash in a real chili recipe? Oh my what delicious thoughts that conjured!
And so I set about crafting this recipe for Chili Roasted Butternut Squash Chicken Chili.
I started with the butternut squash prepared exactly as I prepared it for my salad, but that is where the similarities ended. I then used my deep cast iron skillet to brown up some lean ground chicken with red onion and a spicy jalapeno for extra heat. Finally, I mixed in some diced tomatoes, tomato paste, cannellini beans, chicken broth, and the roasted butternut squash cubes.
All that was left to do was to reduce the heat to low, cover, and let the chili cook for an hour. This is probably the most torturous part of this cooking adventure as the amazingly delicious smells that waft from the kitchen will leave your mouth watering and your eyes watching the clock. The final slow cook is absolutely essential to a flavorful, thick chili though.
As with any good chili, I like to serve this with a chunk of cornbread. It’s true comfort food on a cool wintry evening.
As the weather has turned cooler, I’ve found myself spending lazy Sunday afternoons experimenting with various braising techniques. To braise something, you really have to commit to a meal because it’s a lengthy, slow cooking process. However the resulting tender meat and rich sauce are so entirely worth the effort that you’ll soon find yourself making time to braise anything and everything you can.
For this recipe, I started by searing lean boneless, skinless chicken breasts in browned butter. I don’t use butter often in my cooking, but as I crafted this recipe I found it was absolutely essential to the dish. The trick is to heat the pan on medium-high and melt the butter until it’s foamy, lightly brown, and crackling on the stovetop.
I then add the fat chicken breasts and sear them hot and quick for just 1-2 minutes on each side until they’re lightly browned. When I remove the chicken from the pan, there are inevitably small crusty bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. And this is where all the glorious flavor begins.
I pour in a bit of dry marsala wine that hisses and crackles when it hits the hot pan. A steady, quick scrub of the bottom of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon releases all of the browned, buttery bits of chicken from the bottom of the pan and begins the making of the sauce. And now, the slow braising begins.
My second secret to the success of this dish is a parmesan rind. That’s right, I place the chicken back into the pot with the liquid, a little more marsala wine, a branch of rosemary, and the hard rind from a block of parmesan cheese then cover it and place it in the oven. The rind doesn’t melt or gunk up the braising liquid in the cooking process, rather it stays intact yet adds a complexity to the flavor that will leave you wanting more.
When there’s only a half hour left on the timer, I add in slender haricots vert (aka French green beans), sliced mushrooms, and chopped sundried tomatoes. This gives the vegetables enough time to cook without becoming mushy.
To finish the dish up, I discard the rosemary and parmesan rind then remove the chicken from the pan and chop it up. Before I add the chicken back into the vegetables and braising liquid, I toss in some cooked pasta and let it soak up the flavor. Finally, I add the chicken back in then dish out the goodness and top it with a little shredded parmesan cheese.
Now isn’t a couple of hours on a lazy Sunday worth that delicious effort?
Have you ever had a truly insane day at work? One of those days where time seems to fly, everything is urgent, and it’s all you can do to find time to even slip away to the bathroom?
I had one of those days this past week. There were so many demands being made of me that I didn’t know where to start, and it seemed like it was never ending. As the day started to ebb, and my energy levels were sagging, I began to dread going home and making dinner. I was just too tired to even think about cooking.
And then I remembered I had put this delicious Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew in the Slow Cooker before I left the house that morning. My spirits were buoyed. All I had to do to complete the meal was to warm up some crusty bread and ladle some stew in a bowl. Heck, there was even wine ready to be poured with it!
I first published this Slow Cooker recipe almost 2 years ago, but it has remained one of my all time favorites. I find myself in a bit of a bind right now because, while I have many recipes in the hopper that I’m working on, I don’t have one that is ready to share with you yet. You need to realize that I’m very particular about having things just right before I publish a recipe to the world.
So I decided to recycle one of my favorites, this gorgeously delicious Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sausage and Bean Stew. It’s spicy and hearty, and the tomato and red wine infused broth is delicious soaked into a piece of warm, crusty baguette. What I love best, though, is that I can have a roller-coaster day at work, come home, and have dinner waiting for me. Perfect!
This week I donned my boots, skinny jeans, t-shirt, cardigan and scarf and made it official. Forget the fresh smell of the rain, the crunch and crackle of fallen leaves, and the plethora of pumpkin flavored products lining the store shelves. If the boots and scarves are out, you know it’s autumn.
It’s the time of year that I start cooking indoors more, looking for quick and easy dinners to make the most of these ever shortening days. My cast-iron skillets come out of the cupboards and are the stars of many a fall meal. They’re easy and versatile, and what’s better than a one-pot meal?
Around 20 minutes to make and all cooked in 1 pan? Yes please!
For my 3 Pepper Sausage and Potato Skillet, I wanted something hearty and filling with a little heat and lots of color on the plate. Because food is not just about the taste, it’s also about the presentation. Our eyes are the gateways to our stomachs. I love the party pop of color that the peppers add to this dish.
Of course, the bonus is that this is a super quick and easy weeknight meal, perfect for those nights on the go with the kids. I used baby gold potatoes in this recipe, but it would be fantastic with baby red potatoes as well. Add in some lean Andouille chicken sausage for some heat and smoky cumin and crisp cilantro for flavor, and it’s truly a one-pot wonder.
Here I’ve been sitting on this scrumptious and incredibly easy recipe for my Sriracha Soba Noodle Bowl. What is wrong with me? How could I be so selfish to keep this bowl of spicy deliciousness to myself?
A spicy bowl of deliciousness!
Well my friends, I’ve been busy. I’ve been learning, networking, and just having some fun at the International Food Bloggers Conference (IFBC). This was my second year attending IFBC and, just as last year, my mind is literally exploding with ideas and inspiration. I’m still digesting what I learned so that I can thoughtfully set some smart goals for my blog. In the meantime, though, I have to share my top 3 highlights from the conference.
1. The Sur La Table and KitchenAid pre-conference excursion
I have to admit, I did not realize that my go-to kitchen shopping mecca is headquartered in Seattle. When I saw this pre-conference excursion to the Sur La Table corporate test kitchen, co-sponsored by KitchenAid, I signed up without hesitation. And lucky I did because there was a waiting list a mile long.
Sur La Table’s CEO, Jack Schwefel, and KitchenAid’s Senior Marketing Manager, Nikki Lockett, talked to us about their respective companies, business philosophies, and partnership. Sur La Table’s Culinary Director and Culinary Program Content Manager also gave a cooking demonstration using the KitchenAid appliances, after which we got to chow down on the delicious Fettucine with Kale and Walnut Pesto and Warm Cranberry Crumble Tarts they made.
My favorite part, though, was the preview of the new products for Holiday 2014. KitchenAid has a beautiful line of modern retro-looking appliances debuting as well as amazing new attachments for their infamous stand mixer. The crowd favorite was a wireless immersion blender with multiple attachments. The group of bloggers literally exploded with excitement when it was brought out. I think I was actually drooling. I know what I want for Christmas!
One thing that I really admire about Sur la Table, though, is their dedication to innovation in the kitchen. They are so committed to bringing new ideas to Sur La Table that they actually monitor crowd-funding sites like Kickstarter for new products to distribute. They have 2 new products debuting this season that came from Kickstarter, one a fantastically compact sous vide machine. What a wonderful way to innovate and support entrepreneurs at the same time!
And before I finish on Sur La Table and KitchenAid, I have to tell you about the swag bags they sent us home with. AH-MAY-ZING! Each of the 50 attendees got 2 bags full of goodies, including KitchenAid’s new food processor attachment for their stand mixer that retails for $299 each and isn’t even available in stores yet. We also all received a bottle of California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 bags of flour from King Arthur Flour, a Spatula, Holiday Tree Ornament, an Aquasana Filtration System, Berard Olivewood Spreaders, Chilewich Table Runner, Kerrygold Cook Book and Coupons for FREE butter, Le Creuset Tea for One Pot, Lekue Disposable Pastry Bags, Lekue Microwave Steamer Basket, and 3 bags and 2 tins of various TCHO Chocolates. Wow!
Then to top that, they randomly selected 10 attendees to take home KitchenAid’s new Electric Kettle, which retails for $175 . And I won!! What an unbelievable day!
2. Karen Page and Andrew Dornenberg
In my pre-conference post, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to hearing Karen and Andrew speak. After all, I’ve spent more than a little time digesting The Flavor Bible this summer. Shortly after publishing that post I received a lovely thank-you tweet from the pair. I was smitten!
Their presentation was about the growth in plant-based diets and the culinary innovation that is happening at restaurants all over the country as a result. I am definitely not a vegetarian, but the presentation struck a note for me because since adopting my healthy lifestyle almost 6 years ago now, I have consciously incorporated at least 1-2 meatless days into each week, many times more. I do this because the food is leaner and helped me to first lose and now maintain my weight. (Not familiar with my weight loss story? It’s pretty inspiring! Take a read here!)
I carried my copy of The Flavor Bible around all day hoping to run into Karen and Andrew. Finally, in the Bordeaux Wines session, it paid off. I waited for an opportunity and approached, asking if they would sign my book. Karen looked at my nametag and exclaimed “Are you Colleen?” I grinned like a silly fangirl and said I was. She then gushed about my pre-conference post, thanking me for the nice article, and asked me “Can I give you a hug?” And just like that I got a hug from Karen Page. Weekend made.
3. Bordeaux Wines
If you know anything about me by now, you know that I’m not only a wino, but I’m also a total Francophile. France is hands-down my favorite country to visit and I go as often as I can afford it. I have not yet been to Bordeaux – it’s on my list – but I have long been an admirer of their wines. After all, some of the finest wines in the world come from Bordeaux.
I had the pleasure of meeting representatives Jeffrey and Clara over breakfast Saturday morning. What better breakfast topic than wine and travel, right? I then attended the wine pairing session sponsored by Bordeaux Wines in the afternoon. We walked through a history of the region and its wines before beginning a blind tasting. We had 10 glasses of assorted whites and reds at each table that we had to swirl and sniff then name the aromas we were smelling. I must admit, I didn’t guess correctly on all of them. But I did get most of them right, including the wine with notes of green bell pepper that seemed to stump everyone else at my table!
This session was a highlight for me because it made me realize that I want to further educate myself on wine. I need to do more research before I commit to something, but I’m seriously considering studying to be a certified sommelier. Not only does that interest me personally, but I think it would give me and my little blog more credibility in the industry.