Tag Archives: winter

Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

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I’m going to be upfront here and tell you that if I were writing a cookbook, this recipe would not be in it SOLELY for the fact that it is difficult to talk about how to make stuffed zucchini boats in a graceful manner. HOWEVER, the dish was good 🙂

And when you attend etiquette class in the fourth grade and learn how to gracefully smother your bread in butter NOT with a knife but with a graceful utensil-less shmear like me, you know that being elegant around food is important. (Are you proud I remembered that, Mom?)

I suggested we make this recipe for a quick girls getaway for MLK weekend and had the delightful pleasure of having a few girl friends help out with this intricate dish. What I didn’t know was how awkward it is to describe making these. “Yes, Ari, just scrape out the zucchini’s innards.” “Ok great, now put the zucchini flesh into a bowl and set aside for now.” Maybe you’re cringing, maybe this is intriguing you. If anything, at least it makes me happy that these are the kinds of experiences when I feel most alive. Just three gals, having girl talk in our pajamas and making a laughably girly meal followed by cookies. What more could you want?

My wonderful neighbor let us borrow her lakehouse for the weekend and while I can’t say I learned any wilderness skills, I met a dog named Buttons, at two delicious cinnamon rolls and gobs of cookie dough. It was a wonderful way to spruce up January, I might say. This lake always reminds me of busy days spent learned to waterski, tweeny tankinis (yea you know your mom made you wear one), and the days when my boy neighbors and I couldn’t muster up the courage to ask each other to hang out.

Rather, we perched right next to our moms on slow summer days and begged them to call our neighbors while we told them what to say. It started with, “Mom, I’m boooorrrreeed, will you ask Mrs. stockton if the boys want to play capture the flag?” (*sullen tween sigh*) “No, Katie, you can call th–” “Moooooommm pleasseeee.” The never-ending cycle of “mom, please” actually led to some great friendships and a lot of opportunities for learning to talk to foreign male species in middle school.

This winter trip defied all lake stereotypes from my perspective. No watermelon, no watersports, and really no pressure for activity at all. I feel blessed to have friends, new and old, here in Atlanta who enjoy the peacefulness of the mountains and find pure joy in each others’ company. As I look back on the weekend, I’m smiling thinking of the sun on the water.

As I told my friends that day, I used to think the glittery spots where the sun shone on the water were where angels were (don’t know where that came from). It was definitely the presence of my neighbor, Mr. Stockton, shining down on us from above – reminding us to reflect in the quiet that special places like the lake seem to behold. Court – thanks for being with us that day!!

Stuffed Chicken Enchilada Zucchini Boats

adapted from Skinnytaste <- Yea, for real

serves 3 generously

For the enchilada sauce:

  • olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 or 2 tbsp chipotle chile in adobo sauce, more if you like it spicy
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce (can find this in a can)
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

For the zucchini boats:

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lb sauteed chicken breast, cut in little chunks
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 3 tbsp water or fat free chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Start by having your lovely friend Julia saute some chicken breast. We just cut it into about 1-in chunks, and sauteed in olive oil, cumin, and some chili powder. Set aside.

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2. In a saucepan for the enchilada sauce, saute garlic, chipotle chiles, chili powder, chicken broth, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

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3. Meanwhile, get a large pot of water onto the stove and bring to a boil. (This will take a few minutes so you have time to prep the zucchini.)

4. Cut zucchini in half lengthwise (hot-dog style), and using a small spoon, “SCOOP THE FLESH FROM THE ZUCCHINI.” It says leave the boat 1/4 in. thick on the bottom, however this is really just dependent upon how much stuffing you want in your zucchini. From our experience, you may want to scoop out more if you like the zucchini soft and less if you like it a bit sturdier. Save the flesh and chop into little pieces for later.

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5. Once water is boiling, drop your zucchini halves in the boiling water for 1 minute to blanch them. Remove with tongs and set aside.

6. For the stuffing, saute onion garlic and green pepper in a skillet. Preferably have your chef wear a Happy New Years hat. When the onions are translucent and fragrant, add the zucchini insides and cilantro, Season with salt and pepper and cook until the zucchini are softened, about 4 minutes. Then , add cumin, oregano, chili powder, water or chicken broth, tomato paste and cook until everything comes together. Add in the chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes, until all the ingredients are mixed.

2015-01-18 18.40.517. Place 1/4 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (here we go, CASSEROLE LADIES), and place your zucchini boats face up in the dish. Stuff with desired amount of chicken mixture and pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the zucchini boats. If you so desire, top with a mound of sharp cheddar cheese.2015-01-18 19.20.00

8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with cilantro lime rice and nommmm hard mi amigos.

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Italian Sausage, Spinach, Tortellini Soup

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This recipe comes from my dear friend Edward’s mom and is your go-to recipe for cooking with men (boys). For our cooking date, I was gently steered towards not picking “any of that vegan stuff.” I must say it was a great choice for a cold night.

I especially appreciate cooking with people who find garlic to be as necessary of an influence on dishes as I do. While I wouldn’t suggest a high garlic factor recipe for a real date, in this case it was absolutely appropo. This recipe is great for a quick meal and involves little complication (you can’t mess it up that easily 🙂 )

Italian Sausage, Spinach, Tortellini Soup

serves 1 tall slightly Italian 20 something and 1 food blogger or 4 average eaters generously

2 (9 oz) packages of refrigerated cheese tortellini

3/4 lb sweet or hot Italian sausage

1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth (low sodium)

4 cups water

1 (10 oz) bag of frozen spinach, unthawed

1 (28 oz) can of Italian peeled tomatoes (can be chopped or whole)

1 can Ro-tel tomatoes

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBS italian seasoning (we used a combo of dried basil and oregano)

1. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and heat pan to medium. Break the sausages out of their casing and brown the sausage meat until slightly brown, breaking up the sausage with the back of your spoon.

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2. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.

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IMG 3187 from thereshegoes35 on Vimeo.

Look at that stirring form, what a natural chef. We had a pump up playlist for this soup, naturally. Actually I think we just replayed the song in the vid over and over again. Oldie but a GOODIE.

3. Add spinach, seasonings, garlic, and both kinds of tomatoes, then bring to a boil for another 10 minutes.

4. Add in your tortellini and cook until pasta is cooked, about another 10-12 minutes.

5. Serve with parmesan if you have it and some vino.

Christmas 2014 – Rosemary Sage Garlic Stuffed Pork

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Merry Chrisma-hanna-kwanzaa, my friends! I am writing to you from sunny Florida, jittery from the delicacy that is free hotel continental breakfast “homemade” waffles. Before I go any further, if any of you celebrate Kwanzaa, can you explain to me how your holiday meals were passed down? As my roommate and I tried planning a holiday fest that welcomed all winter holidays, Pinterest suggested that the “traditional” Kwanzaa meals included southern mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, Gina Neely’s collard greens, and sweet potato pie. While I realize the holiday’s origins are in the US to commemorate the African heritage of African Americans, I’m curious if there are any dishes families actually make that are traced back to their African roots. Just some questions for you all…

This year, my Christmas was more adult that ever – we didn’t even open presents until 3 pm on Christmas day and skipped the crazy Christmas Eve masses for a quieter one on Christmas morning. I had a wonderful time in the presence of my closest friends and family and wanted to serve them the best dishes possible for their holidays!

Traditionally, my family has served rosemary crusted lamb chops for Christmas Eve, yet we never seem to find chops with enough meat on them from the butcher. This year, I thought a stuffed pork loin might be comparable and fulfill all the shortcomings of the lamb chop – tender, juicy meat that goes well with the same herby, garlic crust we like on the lamb. Turns out nobody on the internet had exactly what I had in mind. I really wanted to have the pork stuffed and rolled in a spiral so you could see all the pretty herbs on the inside, and I wanted to marinate it for at least 8 hours to ensure the flavors soaked in completely.

Thanks to all of you who helped me with your recipe recommendations! Here are some of the best ones that were recommended to me that influenced this recipe!

Katie’s Rosemary Sage Garlic Stuffed Pork for the holidays

Serves 10-12

1 5 lb boneless pork loin, not too fatty

8-10 cloves of garlic, minced

1/3 cup chopped rosemary

1/4-1/3 cup chopped sage

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1.5 TBS dijon mustard

2 TBS olive oil

4 slices of bacon

1 1/2 TBS kosher salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup chicken broth

kitchen twine or white sewing thread if you don’t have any twine

1. Prepping the pork loin: To ensure the maximum flavor richness and moisture, the best thing is to marinate the pork in the morning or the night before you’re going to cook it. This will also help if you’re pressed for time at night making other dishes and want to make it easier on yourself 🙂 Rinse the pork off if it’s in plastic packaging, and pat dry with some paper towels (getting it dry will help ensure the pork gets crispy). Here’s the best video I could find for butterflying a pork loin in thirds, but I can explain briefly as well. If you watch that video , skip to 1:13 for the important stuff. Also make sure to listen to T-swift jammin.

You want to make this big rectangle so that you’re able to roll up the pork and seal in the herbs. If you’re facing the short end of the pork you want to cut along the width of the pork so that it will open up like a book. We want to cut it twice so you’ll triple the width of the pork. Start cutting from the opposite short end of the pork to the bottom and the point you’ll pick is where you’ve cut about a third of the height of the pork. So, 2/3 of the pork is still together and we’ll cut that part in half in a minute. Cut the pork from the right into the center until it looks like a book and you’ve cut almost all the way through the spine. At this point, start from the “spine” and cut the 2/3 portion of the pork that’s still together in half so you’ve formed like a tri-fold poster board (for all you science fair experts). Here you are! If I’ve confused you thoroughly, watch the video above a few times.

Cover the pork with plastic wrap while prepping the herbs.

2. Chop up your herbs and garlic. The herbs dont have to be perfectly minced or anything, just not so big that you’d take a huge bite out of a rosemary stem. For the garlic, I minced it and then used the side of my knife to crush the garlic into a sort of paste. this can help get more of the flavors out of the garlic. For the pine nuts, I toasted them briefly then chopped them lightly.

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3. Mix your herbs, garlic, salt, pepper flakes and black pepper, olive oil, mustard, and pine nuts in a small bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Try to press them together with the back of your spoon to make the whole mixture meld together.

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4. Take the plastic wrap off of the pork and start massaging the herby mixture onto the pork (yea we’re getting graphic here). If you think it looks a bit dry, drizzle some olive oil over the pork and press it all into the pork.

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5. If you have somebody around, this is the part where it’s helpful to have help!! The same way that you cut the pork is the way to roll it up. Starting from left to right, roll the pork into a log, making sure your stuffing stays inside. Once you’ve rolled the log tightly, use twine or thread to tie the roll together. I used about 5 pieces of twine and knotted at the top after rolling the log up.

6. Drizzle some olive oil on the outside of the pork and coat with any leftover filling, salt , and pepper. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator either overnight or at least 8 hours before ready to cook.

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7. One to two hours before cooking the pork, take it out of the refrigerator to let the meat come to room temperature. Get your bacon out and drape over the top of the pork (this was a game time decision for me and such a good call). I cut the pieces of bacon in half.

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8. Heat the oven to 450. Place pork in a roasting pan and place in the oven. We’re getting a crust on the pork before dropping the temp to cook the inside. Roast at 450 for about 10 minutes then drop the temperature down to 350. Make sure not to cook too long at 450 or the bacon will burn. Add the chicken broth to the pan to keep the pork moist. Bake at 350 for 60-75 minutes, or until a meat thermometer stuck in the middle of the pork registers 145 degrees.

9. Take pork out of the oven and cover lightly with aluminum foil for 20 minutes. This will seal in all the juices. Slice into coins/rounds and serve!!!

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Joyeux Noel!

our delicious potato galette sides…

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Indian Mulligatawny Soup

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The inspiration for this soup comes from a lunch date I had about a year ago with a fierce friend of mine, the lovely Katherine Selko. Katherine, the biggest soup fan I’ve ever met, came to Atlanta on the dreariest day ever and lucky for her, the perfect day for soup.

We ventured to my favorite and maybe the only place I know of with good soup in ATL, Souperjenny. Mulligatawny happened to be the special that day, and I was so intrigued. Apples in soup?? Curry, lentils, potatoes, coconut milk, apples?? It was a combination of my favorite Indian curry recipes from home and some North African/Mediterranean spices. Needless to say, I’m sitting here all perplexed with the flavors and Katherine’s all – “Girl, you’re thinking way too much into this.”

A whole year later, I finally tried a mulligatawny recipe on a night when 1) I felt sick and therefore craved soup and 2) my roommate was out so I could make a mess with a billion spices. One thing I’m going to recommend is that you make this when you can actually smell (I had a cold and it kinda messed with my cooking mojo) because most importantly the flavors are intense and smell amazing. But also because if you burn your almonds/peanuts in the oven and maybe light them on fire accidentally you’ll actually be able to smell the smoke….just a tip.

Indian Mulligatawny soup, adapted very slightly from the Wanderlust Kitchen

1/4 cup butter (half a stick)

1 chopped yellow onion

1 carrot, chopped (I didn’t peel mine but you can, otherwise just give it a good scrub)

1 green jalapeno, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp peeled and minced/grated fresh ginger root

2 small Granny smith apples, peeled, cored, diced

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 TBS curry powder

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/3 cup red or green lentils, dried

3 cups chicken broth (low sodium)

2/3 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup chopped scallions

1/2 cup chopped cashews or almonds

1. Wow there are a lot of spices here but don’t worry. You’ve got time to prep them. Start by focusing on your basic veggies. Melt your butter on low heat in a large Dutch oven/soup pot. While the butter’s melting, chop up the jalapeno, carrot and onion. Drop those into the pot and let them saute until the onions are starting to look clear and add a pinch of salt and pepp.

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2. While the veggies are starting to soften, go ahead and grate or mince your ginger and garlic. Chop up the apples and open the can of tomatoes. After the veggies have soften slightly, maybe 5-7 minutes, add the ginger, garlic, apples and tomatoes.

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3. Ok measure spices now!! Sometimes it’s easier to get a tiny bowl and measure out all your spices into it at once instead of having to scramble to add all the spices at the same time to the pot. If you’re going with the tiny bowl method, measure out the spices while the tomato mixture is bubbling and then add all the spices at once after about 3 minutes.

4. Add lentils and broth, give the pot a quick stir and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes – took more like 45 for me.

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5. After 30-45 minutes, really you just want to make sure the lentils are cooked, puree about 50-75% of the mixture in a blender or food processor. This is completely dependent upon how chunky you like your soup. After you’ve pureed however much you like, add it all back into the pot and add the coconut milk and adjust the flavoring with salt and pepp.

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6. Serve with scallions and some chopped toasted almonds or cashews (I think a little toast brings out the flavors of nuts).

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7. Brag to your friends and make soups that they like so they come visit you in Atlanta!! (Katherine see you soon!!)

Eggplant Porcini Mushroom meatballs with crusty bread and basil

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I am embarassingly late reporting back to you with the findings on my meatless meatballs adventure, friends and family. I made this dish about two months ago and have been holding it from you. I’m sure some of you have seen it on Amelia Morris’ bonappetempt blog where I found it and were perplexed by the meatless meatball.

Even if you’re not into the meatless meatball (how many times can you read that phrase without laughing??), the sauce alone is to die for. Here’s how I know: My roommate is a marinara sauce aficionado and she loved it PLUS a friend was over and along with eating my avocado cupcakes essentially licked the tupper ware clean. The magic that is slow-cooked tomato+garlic+olive oil+porcini mushroom flavored liquid was that much more special just because it was served at a Sunday night dinner.

I had an old friend and new friend over for dinner at my parents’ house when my grandmother was in town and wanted to get back to this kind of evening I used to have often. The first year out of college I thought that cooking was a way of guaranteeing the success of the evening – and I think many people see food this way. If I can crack the recipe, I can be sure something’s going right today.

My recent meatless mushroom meatball dinner gave me another view of what was really going on during most of my dinners. My old friend who attended has been a comrade in my adventures exploring adult life in Atlanta and my new friend reminded me of those sentiments of starting out in a new place. As we figured out which bars people go to in summer versus winter and how to not get lost parking at the Braves game (yes I am a native Atlantan and barely can figure that out), we always had Sundays every month or so at my parents’ house to remind us that the road is long and the bumps smooth out.

I realized that although the constant questioning of my life might not be there as much any more, Sunday night dinner will always be a peacemaker for somebody’s soul that night. My parents have always been a comforter and steadfast for me – I started thinking, maybe being an adult means that I am going to start being THEIR comforter on Sunday nights.

All of this is to say that I’m thankful for old friends who want to continue discussing politics (I always need a refresher), will taste my food, will sit and take a deep breath before starting the week, and never, ever, skimp on Sunday night dessert.

I hope you enjoy this!

(I doubled the recipe so don’t worry if yours doesn’t look like this much!)

1 large eggplant (1 1/4 pounds)

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
Boiling water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, finely grated
Two 28-ounce cans imported whole Italian tomatoes, seeded and pureed with their juices ( I didn’t actually seed them before I pureed them – get the Cento kind they are really good!!
2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus leaves for garnish
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 cups fresh bread crumbs (from 6 ounces crustless country bread)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 ounces PArmesan cheese, freshly grated, plus more for serving
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
All-purpose flour, for coating

Crusty bread

1, Roast the eggplant after pricking it all over with a fork, at 350 for about 45 mins to an hour until it gets really soft.I’d wait a few minutes to scrape out the insides – but yes, you’ll want to get rid of as much of the skin as possible

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2. While the eggplant is roasting, boil 1.5 cups water and pour over the mushrooms in a heatproof bowl. After 30 minutes strain but reserve the liquid. Rub the mushrooms of any grit and chop coarsely.

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3. While you’ve got the eggplant in the oven and mushrooms soaking, heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet. Add onion and half the garlic until fragrant, careful not to burn the garlic. Puree your tomatoes at this point if you havent already. Add the tomatoes and mushroom soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat for about an hour, honestly the longer the better. I think mine went for about 1.5 hours. Then add half the basil towards the end and taste test with salt and pepper.

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4. Here’s where things get weird. Fold together the mushrooms, breadcrumbs, insides of the eggplant, rest of the garlic, rest of the basil, parsley, and cheese. It says 2 ounces of cheese – I did one batch with cheese and one without and both were delicious. Add 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Fold your mixture into small golf ball sized balls, dust with flour and refrigerate on a baking sheet for 20 mins.

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5. When ready, heat a skillet to moderately high heat with a sheet of vegetable oil. Sear the meatballs until browned all over. After browning, drain them off on paper towels and add to your magical tomato sauce. It says simmer for 5 mins, I’d give it ten. Serve with crusty bread, torn basil and chocolate cake for dessert!!2014-09-28 18.34.37

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Bon appetit

So whose coming for dinner next Sunday?