Saturday, November 24, 2018

When Less Is More: Tikka Chicken and Onion Stir Fry Over Affordable Saffron Rice

When Less Is More...
Tikka Chicken and Onion Stir Fry Over Affordable Saffron Rice

Sometimes the grand meals I plan in my mind turn out much more simply in real life based on what I have in my frig and in my pantry. The reality is, sometimes less is more. This is one of those dishes where a few spices create a grand meal with complimentary textures and layers of flavors. 

This dish would make a great mid-week meal or Friday night meal when everyone is super tired. Let's get to it, shall we?

Affordable Saffron Rice

Go the the Mexican spices section of your local grocer. Many are starting to carry a Saffron Flower package that is slightly more expensive than the rest of the brands' spices but just as aromatic as the major expensive Spanish Saffron.  Look for the El Guapo packagingTM*.  

If you do not have access to the above listed brand, or something like it, using the expensive but always perfect Spanish Saffron (which I also have) is fine!

Add a pinch (1/2 teaspoon) Saffron strands to 2 cups water or chicken stock over medium-low heat. Allow the saffron water or stock to steep and marry its flavors. 

Meanwhile, measure one cup of rice for two good eaters, or three light appetites.  Add two tablespoons of garlic infused evoo into a shallow skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the rice to the skillet when the oil begins to ripple. You are toasting the rice.  Stir vigorously to coat the rice, providing some sizzle to the rice.  Such great flavor!  After three or so minutes, when the rice begins to darken, add it to the steeping saffron water. Interestingly, the rice will cause the water to sizzle and steam.  Bit of a fun science experience!  Bring the water to a boil, stir vigorously, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for up to forty minutes.  

For the Chicken

six pieces boneless/skinless chicken thighs
one large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Tikka paste or powder
salt and pepper
2-4 tablespoons evoo

Add three tablespoons evoo to a skillet over medium-high heat.  In the package or on a plate, use six pieces of boneless-skinless chicken thigh and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Next, add Tikka paste or Tikka powder to all sides of the chicken thighs.  Add the chicken cut side down when the oil begins to ripple.  It will sizzle and release an amazing aroma!  Sear on each side about three minutes.  No, the chicken will not be done, but stay tuned!  Remove the chicken and set on a plastic cutting board. 

Add one coarsely chopped red onion to the skillet with one finely chopped clove of garlic.  Saute up to six minutes, while you slice the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Add the chicken pieces to the onion in the skillet and combine thoroughly.  Saute for seven or eight minutes until fully cooked over medium-high heat, stirring often. 

The rice should be done shortly.  When it is, try to plate it in a circular pattern and add a hearty helping of the stir fry atop the rice.  Garnish with fresh lemony thyme and fresh chopped rosemary. 

Serve family style or singularly. Either way, what a delicious meal!

With that, Thank You, friends, for your visit! I always appreciate when you all stop by to view my dishes.  Thank You!

Now, Go Cook For Someone You Love!

In-House Cook

Friday, November 23, 2018

Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Pasta Shells Finished in Pomodoro Sauce

Sausage and Ricotta Stuffed Shells finished in Pomodoro Sauce

Sometimes, holidays do not go as planned and adjustments made last minute.  I was having Thanksgiving dinner at my place, but half of our little family unit were ill, two others dining elsewhere, so that left my mom and I. We decided to put it off till later.  I needed to do Something for dinner and decided on stuffed jumbo pasta shells. It was a handy pantry item and, with a little of this and a can of that, I created an delicious and satisfying meal with leftovers for a fantastic lunch today.  This is such an easy meal to prep, minimal dishes to wash after, with complex textures and amazing flavors.  Let's get started, shall we?

Shells Stuffing

1 box jumbo shells
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 + 1 rounded tablespoons combined fresh basil, rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano, finely chopped*
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated parmesan cheese
2/3 pounds Italian Turkey Sausage
Evoo, two tablespoons

My Pomodoro (Tomato) Sauce

1 28-ounce can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes
*the other rounded tablespoon of fresh finely chopped herbs
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon infused evoo
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 cup water

*2 cups mozzarella cheese as bake topping

You can make the sauce ahead of time if you wish.  This is the simplest sauce ever.  Add a tab of butter or lemon infused evoo to a pot of high-sided skillet. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat.  Add the can of San Marzano tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and partly cover.  After ten minutes, uncover and mash the tomatoes which have softened quite a bit.  Done. 

Now, I used the same high-sided skillet I'd cooked the sausage in and kept some of the fat reduction in the skillet for flavor.  

For the Shells

Bring four quarts of water to a roiling boil over high heat.  Liberally salt the water, as it is the only time you have to season the pasta. Add 13 - 15 shells, unless you are cooking for several more people than two, then add the whole box. Cook it before al dente, which is just before being done. The shell should be soft but not done yet.  You will finish it off in the Pomodoro Sauce. 

After fully sauteing the sausage with the evoo, process the chunks in a food processor so it is more of a finely crumbled consistency.  After cooling, process, then mix together with the two cups of ricotta cheese and the fresh finely chopped herbs, salt and pepper.  Use a small spatula or spoon to fill each of the shells that should be removed from the water with a spider or colander. Place each shell into the Pomodoro sauce.  Top with the two cups of mozzarella.  Bake at 350-degrees for 30 minutes. 

Saute the sausage, then, when cooled, process into a fine crumble

After combining the ricotta, herbs and sausage, fill the nearly cooked shells and place each one into the Pomodoro.

I added some extra fresh thyme atop the shells.

I smothered the shells with grated mozzarella and baked at 350-degrees for thirty minutes. Below is what the final product prior to plating looks like. 

The mozzarella becomes golden brown and the Pomodoro Sauce bubbles along the perimeter of the crust. The aroma is purely Italian. The flavor, divine. 

I plated this last night but it was recommended that I plate it on classic white plateware.  

While these are not the best pictures ever, you certainly can see the filling and denseness of the sauce. I garnished with fresh lemony thyme.

However you serve it, the point is to enjoy it, savor each bite and those whom you are sharing your meal with.  

With that, awesome viewers and readers, I  appreciate your support and I hope you had a Truly Happy Thanksgiving.  

Now, Go Cook For Someone You Love!

In-House Cook

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Mother Hubbard Empty Cupboard Pantry Meal: Tortellini with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs

My Mother Hubbard Empty Cupboard 
 Pantry Meal:
Tortellini with Fresh Tomatoes and Herbs

As a teacher on a single income, the last week of the month oftentimes is very lean.  Food is not lavish, but more pantry meals. October was an extremely tight month and the day before Halloween was the very last meal my cupboard pantry and refrigerator could muster. I made the most and best of it, though, and with the help of my friends, Anne and Chase, Thanks Friends!, I made a fulfilling and delicious extreme pantry meal. The LAST pantry meal.

I had a bag of Tortellini in my freezer and though I had intended to have it this day, that day and the other day, I kept putting it off.  So glad I did!  It was the Last usable item in my freezer and refrigerator. I had no more tomato based products, so the sauce was going to have to be something else. But, I did have butter!  So, brown butter sauce was part of the menu.  Problem:  I did not have fresh sage, no money to get any, and no friends have it growing.  So brown butter sage sauce, was going to have to be brown butter something-else sauce. 

Let's get to the ingredients, shall we?


1 package tortellini
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
1 teaspoon or tablespoon garlic
*onion, if you have it, sliced
1/4 stick butter
2 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
4 + 4 leaves fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons evoo
parmesan cheese

I had gotten some fresh basil for a previous dish a few days earlier from Anne and Chase, so I had greens.  I had parmigiana, a few sprigs of thyme and a pint of baby grape tomatoes in the frig, as well, and a small container of garlic paste.

I added three tabs of butter and a teaspoon of garlic paste to a skillet over medium heat with two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. While the butter melted, I added four quarts of water to a pot over high heat. 

When the butter melted in the skillet, I added the tomatoes and four chiffonade cut leaves fresh basil, as well as a tablespoon of fresh thyme. I allowed the flavors to marry during a medium heat saute. 

When the water comes to a roiling boil, liberally salt the water and stir it in.  Add the tortellini and stir again to prevent sticking.  Like gnocci, tortellini sinks then rises when it is done. As the flavors marry in the skillet, use a spider or other water draining utensil to scoop out the tortellini and place it into the skillet. I do not know if this video will work, but, if not, please visit my blog's facebook (In-House Cook) site, instagram (In-House Cook) or Twitter (In-House Cook/@crdn9) and you can see several videos about this dish.  Thanks!

When the tortellini has finished cooking, add it little- by- little to the skillet.  Toss gently and coat the pasta evenly. Add a tablespoon of dry Italian seasoning and stir.  Again, I hope the video works when the post is published!!!

I garnished with some more fresh basil and shaved parmesan cheese. This dish easily feeds three or four, especially with additional items, such as garlic bread or a protein. 

Some people do not like butter or oil on their plate (I love brown butter sauce, so it Is on my plate) so you can always use a slotted spoon to plate the tortellini. 

Such a basic dish but so delicous.  Lesson learned?  Always have that one item like tortellini or ravioli in your freezer with something to create a sauce with and keep that in your pantry. When you have that one day when you really need it, it's there. 

With that, my gentle viewers, Thank You for your time and consideration.  I am grateful for your visit!

Now, Go Cook Something For Someone You Love!

In-House Cook

Friday, November 2, 2018

Marinated, Grilled, Sliced Flank Steak and Pesto Farfalle Pasta

Steak and Pesto Farfalle Pasta

Last week I was asked to cook for a dear friend's family twice and I had the pleasure of cooking this for them last Tuesday.  I had marinated a deliciously seasoned flank steak I'd purchased from our local butcher, grilled it, let it rest and sliced it.  So soft and delicious! I'd made farfalle pasta, otherwise known as bow tie pasta, added fresh tomatoes, fresh torn basil and pesto to it and tossed it in butter for flavor and a sheen.  What a delicouis meal with a built in salad!

Let's get started, shall we?

Flank Steak Marinade

1 flank steak
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 onion, grated
dried or fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano
4 leaves, fresh basil, finely chopped
4 tablespoons evoo
white balsamic vinegar 
1 Fresno chile, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Place the steak into a gallon sized plastic zip-lock bag. Pour the marinade into the bag, zip the lock, smush the steak and marinade together so it coats the entire steak. Set it into the frig for as long as you can to marinate. 

Grill the flank steak indoors or outdoors, about 7 minutes per side.  Remove and let the steak rest about five minutes. Slice. Halve the longer pieces. 

Bring 4 quarts of water to a roiling boil and liberally salt the water as it is the only time you have to season the pasta. Add one box or container of farfalle, aka. bow tie pasta and stir to prevent sticking. Cook until done, not al dente, or almost done, as the package suggests, about twelve minutes. When done, drain the pasta.  

two pints of baby tomato medley
four leaves fresh basil, chiffonade cut
1 white onion, halved and sliced into crescents
2 cloves garlic, grated
fresh thyme and oregano
1 4-ounce container store-bought pesto
3 tabs butter
2 tablespoons evoo
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and garlic.  The aroma will floor you!  Add the rest of the ingredients listed above and saute three minutes to coat with the oil and butter. Now add the hot, moist pasta atop the veg and toss several minutes to marry the amazing flavors. 

Plate the pasta family style on a large serving plate and top with the steak.  Garnish with fresh torn basil and shaved parmigiana. Serve. 

Enjoy yourselves! This is a simple, easy, and fun recipe to make!

As always, my gentle readers, Thank You for your time and consideration and visit.  I'm humbled!

Now, Go Cook For Someone You Love!  

In-House Cook

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