Green Bean Spaghetti Carbonara

Yes, I’m still alive over here! Tired, but alive, and even cooking a little bit 🙂 Tonight’s dinner is a minorly (is that a word!?) tweaked recipe from Rachel Ray’s magazine. It was easy and delish, but not exactly low cal (oh well!). Bacon is one of our favorite foods in this house and I loved that there were green beans in the dish to help salvage the nutritional value 🙂 I’ll make this one again!

Green Bean Spaghetti Carbonara

Source: Adapted from Rachel Ray Magazine
Yield: 6 servings

1 lb. spaghetti
1 lb. green beans, cut into bite-size pieces
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 eggs
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper

1) Cook pasta according to package directions, adding beans halfway through cooking time; drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking water.

2) Brown bacon in large skillet over medium heat; add onion and sautee until soft; deglaze with reserved cooking water. (or if you’re like me and forget to reserve it, regular tap water will be ok!)

3) Whisk eggs with cheese. Off heat, add pasta, beans, eggs and cheese to skillet and toss; season with salt and pepper.

Meatless Monday – Broccoli Cheese Soup

I’m baaaaaaaaack! Well, maybe, sorta. I know I suck at blogging lately and for that I apologize (Mom, Mary Helen, and anybody else who thought I got stuck in traffic). We have had so many different projects going on in our house and trips, visitors, etc. It’s safe to say summer got the best of me. I’m also currently residing in braces hell!! My mouth is KILLING ME. I’m hoping this latest torture idea that my orthodontist has going on is a short lived one…

So I’m here with a sore mouth and it’s rainy. I felt like I needed broccoli cheese soup. I gathered the ingredients and my husband did the cooking. He’s my hero for today!! He rocked the soup! This soup is not super creamy, but it’s not watery either. It’s a perfect in between consistency – just what you want for dipping in a nice piece of french bread!! I also love that this has tons of broccoli in it and that not even the stems are wasted.  A perfect serving size that everyone in your house is guaranteed to love!

Note: If you don’t want your soup too chunky, you can always put some of the soup into a blender and puree until smoothe. Do this after the 15 minutes simmer and return it to the pan before you put the milk or the florets in. I wouldn’t do more than half of the mix in the blender, though.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Adapted from Epicurious
Yield: 6 servings (about 1 2/3 cup each)

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) butter, room temperature, divided
2 pounds fresh broccoli, stems and florets separated and chopped into bite-size pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
6 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium pot over medium-high heat. Add broccoli stems and onion; sauté until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and tarragon; sauté 1 minute. Add broth; bring to boil. Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in milk.

Mix remaining 3 tablespoons butter with flour in small bowl to make paste. Whisk paste into soup. Add broccoli florets. Simmer until soup thickens and florets are tender, stirring frequently, about 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese.

Divide soup into 6 bowls and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese evenly over the top of each bowl. Enjoy!!

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

I had a BUSY day today. I spent the better part of my afternoon on my keester at the endocrinologist’s office. Boy howdy was that fun… or NOT. By the time I got home, the last thing I wanted to think about was cooking dinner. I grabbed some pork chops from the freezer and did a quick thaw on them and found this great recipe for Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce. I adapted it slightly to match what we had on hand in the house. This was a <30 minute meal and the entire family (2 year old included) loved it! I served egg noodles and green beans – perfect for a quick weeknight family dinner.

One quick note – if you’re like me, when you finish making the sauce you’ll think, “No way. NO WAY. Not enough sauce!!” but I am here to tell you that it’s plenty! The sauce is tangy and rich and a little bit goes a long way!!

Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
Yield: 4 servings

4 (3/4″ thick) boneless pork chops
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp heavy cream
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2) Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Pat pork dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot skillet, swirling to coat, then brown chops, turning over once – about 8 minutes total.

3) Transfer chops to a shallow baking pan, reserving skillet, and bake (uncovered), until cooked through – about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and loosely cover with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.

4) Meanwhile, pour off any remaining fat from the skillet and then add butter. Over medium heat, cook onions and garlic in the melted butter, stirring, until softened (3 to 5 minutes).

5) Add broth and any juices from the baking pan and boil, scraping up any brown bits (2 minutes). Add mustard and cream and return to a boil, then add lemon juice and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Serve pork chops with sauce spooned over top.

“Lick your fingers” BBQ Baked Chicken

I spent my first 2 years of college at East Carolina University (go Pirates!), which is in Greenville, NC. This also happens to be the heart of BBQ Country. This is also where I fell in love with good barbecue. I’m talking about REAL barbecue with a tangy and slightly spicy vinegar sauce, cold crisp coleslaw on top and Oh Heaven!!

Living in Florida, there’s not an awful lot of good ‘real’ barbecue! I’m sorry if I’ve offended you with that statement, but it’s the truth. So I’ve had to settle for good meat, but covered in a thick sweet sauce. I’ve adapted by mixing some hot sauce into the sauce and now I actually really like it like that. (I can’t believe I’m admitting that!)

I wanted to grill chicken for dinner tonight, but we were having some serious thunderstorms so I had to go for the oven instead. I mixed up this sauce, which is the perfect mix of a sweet traditional sauce and my vinegary love. It’s not spicy, but has a subtle hint from the cayenne.  This is super easy to whip up. The hardest part is waiting for the chicken to cook!!

Note: I cooked it on a pan lined in foil, but next time I make it, I’m going to put it on my broiler pan or on a baking sheet with a rack on it – like this. Using the straight foil method, the chicken couldn’t drain and sat in a little bit of liquid. It was fine, but just a little softer on the bottom. If all you have is foil, don’t worry and just go for it!

“Lick Your Fingers” BBQ Baked Chicken

Serves 4 (1 drumstick and 1 thigh per serving)

4 chicken drumsticks
4 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to season chicken
3 Tbsp olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2) Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. (If you dont have a giant pan, you can do this in batches) Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Brown the chicken by cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set on a plate.

3) Combine the remaining ingredients (garlic through kosher salt) in a medium-sized bowl. Stir with a whisk until well combined. Remove 3/4 cup of the marinade and set aside.

4) Give the chicken pieces a good dunk in the sauce and place on a baking sheet or broiler pan.

5) Bake the chicken at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste the chicken with the remaining marinade. Return to the oven and bake 10 minutes more, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature 165 degrees (this is the USDA recommended temperature!)

6) Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes before eating. Enjoy!

Quick & Easy Sauteed Shrimp with Peppers

One of the most popular restaurants in downtown St. Augustine is a Cuban/Spanish-style restaurant called The Columbia. Founded by a Cuban immigrant in the early 1900s, The Columbia originated in the Tampa area and is a mini-chain restaurant (there are a handful of them, all in the state of FL).  The food is very unpretentious and down-home. They have some of the best Cuban bread on earth (soft, warm, heaven!) and the sangria?! Don’t even get me started!! I’ve blogged about the sangria before – here’s their red sangria recipe and here’s the white sangria straight from their website. I prefer the white, but they are both great.

Before you think I’m a lush, let me get back to the shrimp!! This recipe is adapted from one in their cookbook (which of course, I own. I need a 12 step program for cookbooks!). All of the recipes in the book start with a good solid half cup of oil (or more! ACK!), so I adjusted that and a few other bits and pieces as I go along. This recipe was originally referred to as “Creole Shrimp”, but it’s not at all spicy. I think calling it Sauteed Shrimp and Peppers is much closer to the truth. If you have everything chopped, peeled, and standing by, this becomes a superfast and easy main meal. It would be great over rice, couscous, or just with a nice hunk of that Cuban bread!

Quick & Easy Sauteed Shrimp with Peppers

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 green pepper, cut into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup white wine or vermouth
handful of chopped parsley (about 1/4 cup)
salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper)

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and pepper until the onion is soft and transparent and the peppers are softened.
2) Stir in the garlic, then add the shrimp. Saute for 1-2 minutes until the shrimp starts to turn pink. Add the paprika, wine, parsley, salt, and pepper, stirring for another minute until the sauce thickens slightly and the shrimp are cooked all the way through.

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