Chicken Tetrazzini

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Since the weather feels and looks like winter, I decided to make a one pot dish that would typically be served during cold weather months. Chicken Tetrazzini is a classic comfort food dish that is both easy to prepare and great for serving as a large family meal. My friend Jeanna came over to take pictures of me preparing this rainy day dinner, which turned out to be pretty tasty! Thanks, Martha!

Ingredients:

  • Coarse salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoon(s) butter
  • 1 pound(s) white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
  • 3 cup(s) milk
  • 1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup(s) dry white wine
  • 3 cup(s) grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) dried thyme leaves
  • 1 pound(s) linguine, broken in half
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded (about 4 cups) or shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 package(s) (10-ounce) frozen peas, thawed and drained

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for pasta). In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add mushrooms, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing frequently, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and set aside.
  2. Make sauce: In same saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, gradually add milk, broth, and wine. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and add 2 cups Parmesan and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions for al dente; drain and return to pot. Add sauce, chicken, peas, and mushrooms. Toss well to combine. Divide between two shallow 2-quart baking dishes; sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Freeze (see below) or bake until browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
  4. To freeze: After placing pasta mixture in baking dishes and sprinkling with Parmesan (step 3), cool to room temperature. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 3 months.
    To bake from frozen: Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 2 hours. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes more. Serve.
    To bake from thawed: Thaw overnight in refrigerator. Bake, covered with foil, at 400 degrees, until center is warm, about 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake until top is browned, about 20 minutes.

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Stuffed Bell Peppers

20130621_183457Welp, I am officially all graduated and moved out of my tiny Corvallis apartment. It is bittersweet, but I do love being back in beautiful Portland. Not only am I in the city that I love but I also have access to a much more spacious kitchen and my mom’s debit card at the grocery store…two of my favorite things, really. Things have been pretty hectic since moving back, but I was finally able to make a family dinner last night. For my summer debut back in the kitchen, I decided to go with simple Mexican style stuffed bell peppers. Deeelicious and let’s just say my family is happy to have me back!

The ingredients for this recipe are extremely versatile and the peppers can be prepared a variety of different ways. Instead of rice, orzo or quinoa could be used. I used ground turkey, but sausage, ground beef or chicken could also be a fabulous addition. Also, look around in your fridge because you might be surprised by leftover salsa, vegetables or toppings that you might be able to conjure up at the moment. For example, I was able to toss in some leftover corn salsa from Trader Joes that made for a fun little addition. Get Creative!

The filling is also way too much to fit in the peppers, but makes for a great burrito filling for lunch the next day.

Here are the ingredients that I used:

Olive Oil

1/2 lb lean ground turkey

1 cup chopped onions

1 heaping tbsp of taco seasoning

2 cups of cooked rice (any type you like – even rice-a-roni)

4 bell peppers, halved and seeds removed

1 can of black beans, drained & rinsed

½ cup of frozen corn

1 (15 -16 ounce) jar of salsa

Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Sour cream

Sliced avocado

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the peppers with olive oil and roast in a baking dish about 20-25 minutes just until cooked thru. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle them.

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2. Sauté the ground turkey and chopped onions in a skillet with a little olive oil until cooked through.

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3. In a bowl, add the taco seasoning, cooked ground turkey, onions, black beans, corn and rice. Add in the jar of salsa and mix well.

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4. Carefully spoon the turkey mixture into each half of the bell peppers and place back into the baking dish. Cook the peppers for another 15-20 minutes or until the peppers are cooked all the way thru. Before removing from the oven sprinkle the tops of each pepper with shredded cheddar cheese. Place back into the oven just until the cheese has melted.

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5. Remove from the oven and top with avocado slices and/or sour cream just before serving.

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$10 Challenge: Roast Beef Hoagies

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After hours of lounging on the couch watching Food Network’s Sandra Lee on Sandra’s Money Saving Meals, I had the epiphany “Hey, I can do that” moment. With my new found enthusiasm for finding a bargain, I trekked over to my local grocery store and challenged myself to only spending $10 on ingredients to produce a nutritious and satisfying dinner for two.

When most TV personalities attempt an endeavor like this, they end up using hoards of items from their endless “pantry.” However, in my case, let’s just say my pantry is far from desirable. Sure I might have the basics like butter, milk, sugar and flour, but for this challenge I tried to stay true to my promise of only spending $10 by not adding elaborate ingredients that your average household would not likely keep on hand.

The only pre-planning that I did was looking online for any coupons for the store that I was going to go to. I am not cut out for TLC’s Extreme Couponing, but I enjoy a good coupon every once in a while. Who doesn’t enjoy saving a buck or two every now and then? Many grocery stores have coupons online, club cards or daily specials that allow shopping on a budget to be much easier. For example, Safeway allows you to load coupons onto your club card online for use when you are in the store. This is a great way to get even more savings than just the club card price, which is already cheaper than usual.

My plan when I first walked into the store was to check out the produce section and see if I could spot any sale items that could add pizzazz to my dish without breaking the bank. I immediately spotted bell peppers and onions, which were both less than a dollar each. Based on these items, the idea popped into my head to make roast beef sandwiches on Hoagie rolls with a side salad. In order to do this I picked up the following in the produce department:

Green bell pepper        $0.99

Yellow onion                 $0.59

Red leaf lettuce            $1.39 (cheaper than a salad bag and I already had dressing at home)

Cucumber:                    $0.50

Total                              $3.47

Following the produce purchases, I know had $6.53 left to spend on cheese, sandwich rolls and roast beef. In the lunch meet section, I found sliced roast beef on sale and in order to save more money, I bought a small chunk of mozzarella instead of the pre-shredded kind. It might be more work to slice it, but is both fresher and less expensive. Here is how I spent the rest of the money:

7 oz Roast Beef              $3.79

Hoagie Rolls                  $0.67 (Pack of 6 for $2)

Mozzarella                     $2.00 (16 ounces for $5)

14 oz diced tomatoes       My pantry

Oregano                          My Pantry

Total                               $6.46

Shockingly, I happened to have a small can of diced tomatoes and oregano in my pantry. However, if you do not have these items, cans of diced tomatoes are generally under a $1 and herbs and spices are inexpensive when purchased in bulk. A tablespoon or two of dried oregano (one of the cheaper herbs) purchased from the bulk section will probably be less than $0.25, yet are a flavorful addition.

Now that I had all of my ingredients, it was time to start cooking! Here are the steps for preparation of my Roast Beef Sandwiches and Side Garden Salad:

1. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onion and bell pepper to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes or until softened and browned.

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2. Coarsely slice the roast beef and add to another sauté pan along with the 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Stir and heat over medium heat until warm and almost boiling.

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3. While the roast beef is heating up, prepare the side salad but washing and chopping the head of lettuce. Slice the cucumber and add to the top of the salad. Pour on the desired amount of salad dressing and thoroughly combine in a large serving bowl.

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4. When both the roast beef and the onion and pepper mixtures are done cooking, take out the hoagie rolls and fill them with roast beef topped with onions and bell peppers. Sprinkle with a little bit of dried oregano and top with large slices of mozzarella cheese. Place the open faced rolls in a casserole dish and put under the broiler for a minute or two in order for the cheese to melt and become nice and browned around the edges. Remove from the casserole dish and serve immediately alongside the Garden Salad.

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The combined total for this meal was $9.93, which means that it was a success for both my wallet and my taste buds…and I even had $0.07 left to spare as well as leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch!

Caramel Cashew Cookies

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In this rich and tasty recipe from Martha Stewart, cashews and melted butter are combined in the food processor to create a smooth butter as the base for the cookie. With the first bite, it seems like you are eating a peanut butter cookie, but then your mouth is overwhelmed by salty cashews and gooey caramel topped with a sprinkling of coconut.

To make this recipe pop even more, I added a tablespoon or two of chopped cashews and diced up caramels into the cookie dough right before forming into balls. The extra crunch from the cashews and chewiness from the caramels definitely enhanced the cookie and made it a keeper for future baking occassions. I made this recipe for my thesis blog presentation and I think it was a definite hit with my guests!

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups roasted salted cashews
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened + 2 tbls
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 30 cubes soft caramel candy
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Sweetened shredded cocnut

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour and salt together. Coarsely chop 1 cup cashews and 6 caramel candies; set aside. Process remaining 1 1/2 cups cashews in a food processor until finely chopped. Pour in 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Process until mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Put cashew mixture, butter, and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low; gradually add flour mixture. Mix in reserved chopped cashews and chopped pieces of caramel candy.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; space 2 inches apart on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 6 minutes; gently flatten with a spatula. Bake until bottoms are just golden, 6 to 7 minutes more. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks.
  4. Melt caramels with cream in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring. Let cool. Using a spoon, drizzle caramel over cookies or dip the top of the cookie in caramel. Sprinkle with coconut. Store airtight in single layers.

This recipe makes about 30 cookies! Enjoy!

Taste of Italy Comes to Pangea

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Come enjoy delicious Italian cuisine prepared by Oregon State senior nutrition students this coming Thursday, May 30th! The annual event will be held at Pangea Cafe in the Memorial Union from 10:30-3 p.m. Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free and paleo options will be available on the mouth-watering menu. The Facebook page for the event features images of all the dishes, menus and further details. Stop by in-between classes for a week 9 pick-me-up and enjoy a delicious piece of lasagna, Italian chopped salad, and of course, some Francesca’s salted caramel gelato drowned in a shot of hot espresso. See you there!

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OSU Thesis Poster Fair

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The University Honors College showcased graduating senior’s hard work this past Friday at the annual Thesis Fair. This year’s event was chalk full of interesting and creative projects with topics ranging from chemical engineering to music and apparel design. Some of my favorites included “Effects of Long-term Use of Ankle Taping on Balance,” “An Exploration in Jazz Composition,” and “Teen Moms Navigating Identity and Social Discourse.”

I had a great time displaying my poster about A Tablespoon or Two and chatting with interested students and faculty about my project. It was fun to hear everyone’s feedback and I was even informed of a beautiful French food photography site called Mallet Photo. I am looking forward to presenting my final project to friends and family next Tuesday!

Snap Pea and Asparagus Linguine

With my latest finds from the Corvallis Farmers’ Market, I decided to throw together a simple linguine dish. Snap peas have recently become one of my favorite vegetables due to the crisp texture and easy preparation. All I did to make this dinner was boil linguine and toss it with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, sauté the snap peas and asparagus, mix the two together and top with freshly grated parmesan. The end result was a refreshingly light pasta dish full of flavor with only 5 ingredients! Of course this is another one of those versatile dishes that would work with almost any vegetable that you can find at your local farmer’s market paired with an array of cheeses, such as romano or a softer cheese such as fontina or gruyere.

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