Saturday, January 29, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lemon Artichoke Chicken

I got this recipe years ago from Sunset magazine, which is my go-to place for new recipes. Every recipe I've made from that magazine is delicious as written.

This is an easy meal for a mid-week dinner, and it's also delicious and pretty enough to make for guests. I made it tonight for just us and served with these baked zucchini fries and a spinach salad.

Lemon-Artichoke Chicken

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves pounded to even thickness (1/4-1/2 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 can (14oz) quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or white wine in a pinch!)
2 tablespoons grated lemon peel
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a frying pan over medium-high heat melt the butter. Add chicken in batches and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish and add artichoke hearts.

Add sherry, lemon peel, garlic, and lemon juice to remaining butter in frying pan; stir over medium heat until well blended and hot, 2-3 minutes. Add cream and stir. Remove from heat and pour sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake until sauce is bubbling and golden brown on top, 20-25 minutes.

Baked Ziti

This is hands down my family's favorite pasta dish. I usually make a big batch and freeze some for later. You can make it with your favorite homemade marinara sauce or use your favorite jarred sauce. It's a great one to make for company. Serve with caesar salad and garlic bread.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. spicy italian sausage
1 lb. dry ziti pasta
1.5 jars of marinara sauce (about 36 oz.)
6 oz. sliced provolone cheese
3/4 cup sour cream
3/4 cup ricotta (I don't always have ricotta on hand--it tastes just as good without it).
6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 baking dish with olive oil.

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, brown sausage in a saute pan. Drain if needed, then add marinara sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain pasta it is done cooking.

In a baking dish spread 3/4 cup of meat mixture on bottom of dish. Layer 1/2 of the cooked pasta, provolone cheese, sour cream, ricotta and a little less than 1/2 of the remaining meat mixture. Layer the rest of the pasta, mozzarella, meat mixture and parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook another 10 minutes until heated through and cheeses are melted.

To freeze: cover dish with foil and freeze. Once it is frozen you can pop it out of the pan and put in a freezer bag. To heat--thaw first. Allow an additional 20 minutes baking time.

Optional: Omit sausage and add mushrooms and diced/shredded zucchini in its place. Or just add them to sneak in some veggies!

Serves 6-8

Orecchiette with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

My mother-in-law came to visit last week and brought this delicious and simple recipe with her. Like most pastas, it was even better as lunch leftovers the second day. It uses really basic ingredients I usually have on hand, so I'm adding it to my repertoire of "Oh Shit Meals" (as in "Oh, shit! It's 6:00 and I haven't figured out dinner!")

Orecchiette pasta look a little like slightly smooshed pasta shells. I think shells could be used in a pinch, but the orecchiette look a little fancier, sound a little fancier, and maybe hold the sauce a little better? At least that's what we tell ourselves to justify our trips to three different grocery stores to find it. I bought a few extra boxes for the pantry.

Orecchiette with Mozzarella and Tomatoes

1 lb. orecchiette pasta
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 to 5 large roma tomatoes, seeded or
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved or
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
kosher or sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Optional: spicy italian chicken sausage

Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. When pasta has about 5 minutes left to cook, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a large saute pan. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant and softened. Add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and heat through, stirring often about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add basil. Add drained pasta directly to the sauce pan and stir to coat. Pour into serving bowl. Add mozzarella and toss to combine. Season to taste and serve.

Optional: If using sausage, start with browning italian sausage in the saute pan. Drain if needed. Then add olive oil and cook garlic. Continue with directions for sauce above.