Archive for the 'Main Meals' Category

Thai Vegetable Curry

Today’s dish is one I was sure was on the blog already, based on how many times I’ve made it: Food & Wine‘s recipe for Thai Vegetable Curry. I first made it for a Thai-themed gourmet club meeting back in June of 2011 (along with this fantastic recipe for Thai Chicken with Basil). I typically make the curry every couple of months or so because it’s absolutely delicious, comforting, and incredibly easy.

This particular recipe is great for weeknights or entertaining. When I’m cooking for just the two of us, I serve it right away with a pot of rice. The curry is perfect for dinner parties, though, because it actually tastes a little bit better when it’s made a day ahead. I throw mine together in a Dutch oven, refrigerate it overnight for optimal flavor blending, and then gently reheat it on the stove while we enjoy appetizers with our guests.

Thai Vegetable Curry
Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 onion, sliced thin
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste (I used red curry paste)
1 2/3 cups canned unsweetened coconut milk (one 15-ounce can)
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup drained canned bamboo shoots, halved
1 pound boiling potatoes (about 2), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound broccoli, thick stems removed, tops cut into small florets (1 quart) (I used cauliflower)
1 tomato, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice
1/3 cup thin-sliced basil leaves

Method:
In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the curry paste and fry, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the soy sauce, brown sugar, salt, bamboo shoots, potatoes, and broccoli. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomato and heat through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and basil.

Variations: Other vegetables that would taste good in place of the broccoli include carrots, eggplant, cauliflower, snow peas, cabbage, green beans, and canned baby corn. Try your favorite, or use a combination of vegetables.

Source: Food & Wine

Thai Vegetable Curry

Yum, yum, yum.  Maybe I just love curry and coconut, but this dish is simply delicious.  There’s good textural contrast in the vegetables, and I adore the warm, creamy broth.  My version is very mild since I use red curry paste; try green curry paste instead if you can’t get enough heat.

Earlier, I mentioned that I usually serve the dish immediately when it’s just the two of us and a day later when we’re entertaining.  One other modification I make is that I’ll use light coconut milk for us and regular coconut milk when we have guests.  Light coconut milk makes the dish super healthy (only 4 Weight Watchers PointsPlus points per serving, without rice).  Regular coconut milk doesn’t make it a nutritional disaster, but it certainly adds a richness to the broth that elevates the dish for company.

Recipe link: Thai Vegetable Curry

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Vegetarian Chili

After enjoying glorious temperatures for the past couple of weeks, we’re back to comfort food weather here in Denver. (82° to 42° in 24 hours?  So Colorado.) Today’s recipe is one of my favorite recent discoveries: Vegetarian Chili from the May 2010 issue of Everyday Food. It’s quick and easy, but it’s also hearty and has great depth of flavor (thank you, chipotle chile powder!). I made it last month up in the mountains for a group of friends that included a vegetarian and several meat eaters. While my sassy meat-eating friends refused to call it chili since it’s meatless, one of them also said it was in his top five “soups” of all time. I’ll take it!

Vegetarian Chili
Total time: 35 min. | Serves 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 cup (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (15.5 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes

Method:
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes. Add cumin and chile powder, season with salt and pepper, and cook until spices are fragrant, 1 minute. Add zucchini and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste is deep brick red, 3 minutes. Stir in black beans, pinto beans, and both cans diced tomatoes. Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until zucchini is tender and liquid reduces slightly, 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: Everyday Food, May 2010

Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been on the hunt for a good vegetarian chili recipe, and I have to tell you, this is IT. I love the smokiness of the chipotle chile powder (it makes the dish!), the sweetness of the tomatoes, and the crisp-tender texture of the zucchini. The chili is chunky, hearty, filling, and delicious. Since the flavor is actually better than most meat chilis I’ve tried or made, it’s perfect for entertaining vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.

My only warning: If you don’t enjoy spicy food, you’ll want to cut the amount of chipotle chile powder considerably. As it’s written, the chili is quite warm (but certainly not unbearable), and that’s if you use canned tomatoes with mild green chiles. As a person who has been working to increase my tolerance for spicy foods, it pushes my boundaries just a bit. Our friends loved the amount of heat, but they did notice that it built up as they ate. Sour cream will offer some relief if you need it.

Recipe link: Vegetarian Chili

TIPS:  I was shocked to see the cheapest option for chipotle chile powder at my usual grocery store was $8.19. Yikes. Thankfully, I was able to find a jar at SuperTarget for $4.99. Even better if you have time: Go to a local spice store (Savory Spice Shop is my favorite!) and buy an even smaller (and less expensive) quantity.

Green Chile Stew

It’s snowing like crazy here in Denver today, and it isn’t supposed to stop until tomorrow morning.  To me, one of the best parts of hunkering down for a snowy weekend is cooking warm, comforting food like today’s recipe – Green Chile Stew. I’ve enjoyed delicious green chile with pork many times at the Gomez home in New Mexico, but I’d never tried making any myself (probably because it took a long time to work up my spicy food tolerance to the point where I could handle the dish!). Motivated by the batch of roasted Big Jim chiles in my freezer (thanks, C.Go!), I decided to give this one a try.  Our noses ran from the heat of the chiles, for sure, but we enjoyed every bite.

February 3rd Snow

And it's still coming down!

Green Chile Stew
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds lean pork, cubed (I had a 1.5-pound pork tenderloin in my freezer, so I used that)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 to 8 green New Mexico chiles, roasted, peeled, seeds and stems removed, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and diced (optional)
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped (I was not about to deal with peeling a tomato, so I used a drained 14.5-ounce can of peeled diced tomatoes)
3 cups water (or chicken stock) (I used chicken stock)
Salt to taste

Method:

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the pork.  Add the onion and garlic and sauté for a couple of minutes.

Combine the pork mixture and remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven and simmer, covered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the meat is very tender.  Check occasionally and add a bit more water if needed.  Season to taste.

Per serving (with six servings): 245 cal; 8 g fat (2 g sat fat); 2 g fiber; 9 g carb; 33 g protein

Source: The Southwest Table by Dave DeWitt

Green Chile Stew

Ohhhh, this was so good.  Simple and delicious.  I was afraid the pork might be tough or dry after cooking for so long, but it was moist and tender.  I’ll definitely use a tenderloin again the next time I make this recipe.  I loved the broth and the heat from the chiles, and the potatoes were perfectly cooked.  (Though the potatoes bulked up the stew nicely, I’ll admit that I wondered if I was committing green chile sacrilege when I put them in.)  Yay for advancing in our spicy food training!

Recipe link: Green Chile Stew

Roast Pork Loin with Carrots and Mustard Gravy

A couple of weeks ago, my dear friend Christopher actually visited my blog (instead of viewing it through Google Reader) and noticed that my header was in need of a face-lift.  (He created the previous one, so he’s allowed to say that!)  He came over recently and created the new one while I prepared today’s recipe as a thank-you dinner.  Many, many thanks to Christopher for my fresh new look.  I love it!

Anyway, both Christopher and I have a thing for pork, whether it’s shredded for tacos, part of a meatball, sauteed with sauce, or – for this meal – roasted with vegetables and drizzled with mustard gravy.  This recipe has an amazing end result and is impressive enough for company; it certainly earned the C.Go stamp of approval.

Roast Pork Loin with Carrots and Mustard Gravy
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 pounds carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise if large
1/2 pound shallots, peeled and halved if large
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin roast
3/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grainy mustard

Method:
Preheat oven to 450°F.   On a rimmed baking sheet, toss carrots, shallots, and 1 tablespoon rosemary with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 10 to 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, season pork with salt and pepper.  In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium.  Add pork; cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes.  Transfer pork to a plate, and reserve skillet.

Remove baking sheet from oven; push vegetables to sides.  Place pork in center; return sheet to oven.  Roast, tossing vegetables occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of pork registers 145°F, 30 to 40 minutes. Loosely tent pork with foil.  Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

While pork rests, pour off almost all of the fat from skillet.  Add wine, and cook over medium-high, scraping up browned bits, until syrupy, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add flour, and cook, whisking constantly, 30 seconds.  Gradually add 1 cup water, whisking constantly.  Add 1 tablespoon rosemary.  Bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat. Whisk in mustard, and season gravy with salt and pepper.  Serve pork with carrots and gravy.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2009

My notes:

  • The smallest pork loin I could find at my grocery store was 2.7 pounds, so I bought it.
  • Since my roast was large, I used the full 40 minutes of baking time.
  • When I tested the temperature of my pork, it was more like 138° or 139°.  I didn’t want to risk overcooking it, so I tented it then.  I’m glad I did, because the pork turned out tender and juicy, and just barely pink.
  • Peeling all those shallots was kind of a pain, though they are delicious. Christopher and I think it would be fine to use a small red onion (cut into wedges) or pearl onions as a substitute.

Roasted Pork Loin with Carrots and Mustard Gravy

I rounded out the meal with a simple side of green beans, and did we ever enjoy it all.  The pork was perfectly cooked, the vegetables were tender, and the blackened bits on the vegetable edges were over-the-top delicious.  We liked the rosemary in the vegetables but thought it was overkill in the gravy; next time, I’ll leave it out. Also, if you’re feeling a bit lazy, the meal would still be perfectly delicious if you skipped the gravy altogether.  I enjoyed the extra flavor boost, though.  This one’s definitely a keeper!

Recipe link: Roast Pork Loin with Carrots and Mustard Gravy

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

Oenophile (\ˈē-nə-ˌfī(-ə)l\): a lover or connoisseur of wine

Am I a lover of wine?  Absolutely.  Would I consider myself a connoisseur?  Absolutely not.

Maybe that’s why I hung onto a bottle of 2001 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon that was so graciously gifted to me by my friend Annie when she came to visit Dr. O and me in Dallas in 2008.  It was way nicer than anything we’d typically buy for ourselves (I’m an $8 – $15 bottle kind of gal), so I figured we’d save it for a special occasion.  Somehow, though, after many special occasions and two moves, the bottle was still sitting on a wine rack in my basement.

Since one of my goals for 2012 is focus more on the present (I’m a compulsive planner!), I figured there was no better reason to enjoy the wine than to have a date night dinner at the house with Dr. O.  Good red wine requires steak, though, right? After scanning several recipes on Martha Stewart’s website, I found my winner: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes.  The end result was absolutely wine worthy and something I plan to make again and again.

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes
Prep time: 35 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 pints grape tomatoes
6 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak (cut into 2 or more pieces, if necessary, to fit in skillet)
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Method:
Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a large saucepan, set 4 cups water to boil.  On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss tomatoes with scallion whites and 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.  Roast until tomatoes are tender and some skins have split, 12 to 15 minutes; toss with scallion greens.

Meanwhile, add 1 teaspoon salt to boiling water; gradually whisk in cornmeal. Simmer very gently over low heat, whisking occasionally, until polenta is thickened and cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Whisk in butter and Parmesan, and keep warm over very low heat (whisk in some water just before serving if polenta becomes too thick).

Heat remaining tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high.  Season steak with salt and pepper; add to skillet.  Cook, turning once, 6 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest, 5 to 10 minutes (reserve skillet).

Add vinegar to skillet, and boil over high until reduced to 1/2 cup, 5 to 7 minutes; stir in any juices from resting steak.  Slice steak, and serve with vinegar sauce, polenta, and tomatoes.

Source: Everyday Food, March 2008

My notes:

  • I used flank steak instead of skirt steak.
  • I cooked my steak for 6 minutes on each side (12 minutes total) for medium meat.
  • I checked my balsamic 3 minutes into the reduction process, and it was already way too reduced.  Keep an eye on it and take it off when it has a syrupy consistency.

Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

Honestly, this is the best meal I’ve made in ages.  (I couldn’t help but compliment myself repeatedly as we were eating…  Ridiculous, I know, but I deserved the praise!) The flavors and the cooking methods were so simple, but I think that’s why everything was so amazing.  Roasting really brought out the sweetness in the tomatoes, the scallions had some bite to them, and the steak had a wonderfully seasoned crust from cooking over high heat.  The polenta was creamy and absolutely heavenly when the vegetable and steak juices were mixed in.

Great food + fantastic wine + the company of someone you love = an unbeatable evening.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Recipe link: Balsamic Skirt Steak with Polenta and Roasted Tomatoes

Update: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Maybe I should search for recipes on my blog before I write them up…  I was convinced that I’d never posted this recipe (one of my all-time favorites), but I did (in August of 2008).  However, since it’s so good and since I have a much-improved photo, I think it’s worthy of a repeat.  I made it recently for Dr. O and my friend Christopher; subsequently, Christopher has been signing me up for meatball throwdowns with friends’ Italian mothers, convinced I’ll win.  It’s a pretty amazing recipe.

In Dallas, I would routinely make this dish, along with Penne with Vodka Sauce, when we’d have dinner guests.  I always appreciated that I could make the meatballs ahead and have them waiting in the refrigerator; sautéing them and making the sauce was easy enough, even in the presence of company.  If you’re like my family (not a drop of Italian blood in us, yet we have Italian food for Christmas dinner), this could be a great option for a holiday meal.

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Serves 4 – 6
Prep time: 20 minutes | Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
1 large egg
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
8 ounces ground pork
8 ounces ground dark-meat turkey
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
3/4 pound spaghetti

Method:
In a large bowl, whisk together egg, 1/4 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Stir in half the onion and half the garlic.  Add breadcrumbs, cheese, pork, turkey, and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning.  Mix gently.  Form into 16 balls.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the meatballs; brown on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.  Cook remaining meatballs in remaining tablespoon oil; remove meatballs.

Add remaining onion; cook over medium-low until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add remaining garlic and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning; cook 30 seconds.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in tomatoes and 3/4 cup water.  Return meatballs; cover, and simmer until cooked through, about 20 minutes.  Remove meatballs.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti according to package directions until al dente.  Drain, return to pot.  Toss with sauce; serve meatballs on top, sprinkled with more cheese.

Note:  If you have time, chill the meatballs for about 30 minutes before cooking them; this will help them keep their shape and make them easier to handle.

Source: Everyday Food, April 2004

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Oh, these meatballs are soooo good.  They’re super flavorful (thank the seasoning and the beautiful browning!), and Christopher characterized them as “fluffy,” as opposed to the super-dense meatballs you get with some recipes.  The sauce is garlicky deliciousness; just make sure you taste and season it to your liking before serving the dish.

TIPS:  This is a repeat from the original post, but at most grocery stores, ground pork and turkey come in 16-ounce packages, not 8-ounce packages.  In the interest of efficiency, I always double the meatball part of the recipe (making 32 meatballs) and freeze half of them.  When I’m ready to cook them, I just thaw them overnight in the refrigerator and start with the second step of the recipe.

Recipe link: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

I dug into the December 2011 issue of Everyday Food this weekend and came out with an absolutely delicious recipe: Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry.  I can’t say that I’ve ever made a stir-fry with bacon in it, but maybe that’s the secret.  Dr. O said it was just like Pei Wei – not the ultimate Asian food experience, I’ll admit, but pretty darn good.

This one isn’t on the Everyday Food website (yet), so here’s the recipe if you’d like to give it a try:

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry
Serves 4 | Active time: 30 min. | Total time: 30 min.

Ingredients:
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 large egg white
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless turkey thighs (about 2), thinly sliced (I used chicken thighs since I couldn’t find turkey thighs; turkey breast or chicken breast would also be acceptable substitutes)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili sauce, such as sambal oelek (I got mine at SuperTarget)
5 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 bell peppers (any color), stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

Method:
Cook rice according to package instructions.  In a large bowl, whisk together egg white and cornstarch until combined.  Add turkey and toss to coat.  In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, and chili sauce.

Heat a wok or large skillet over high.  Add bacon and cook, stirring, until browned and crisp, about 7 minutes.  Add turkey mixture and ginger and stir until turkey begins to brown at edges, about 3 minutes.  Add bell peppers and scallions and stir until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add soy sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until sauce is thick enough to coat turkey and vegetables, about 2 minutes.  Serve over rice.

Per serving: 296 cal; 7 g fat (2 g sat fat); 31 g protein; 27 g carb; 2 g fiber

Source: Everyday Food, December 2011

Spicy Turkey Thighs and Bacon Stir-Fry

Oh, this stir-fry is sooooo good.  It’s salty, spicy, and extra flavorful from the ginger and scallions.  It’s definitely essential to use the low-sodium soy sauce dictated in the recipe since the bacon is salty as well; regular soy sauce would put the sauce over the edge, I think.  As written, though, this recipe is an absolute keeper.

TIPS:  I get a little nervous cooking on high heat, and several of my steps in the recipe were a minute or so shorter than the recipe said they’d be.  (I think my bacon was ready at 5 minutes, and my turkey and vegetables only needed about 2 minutes each.)  I proceeded more based on what the recipe said to look for (browned and crisp bacon, turkey browned at the edges, etc.) than on exact times.




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