Leeky Linguine with Shrimp

IMG_5845Shrimp is the perfect weeknight meal. Why? Because they cook so fast your food is done in no time. Plus, they’re delicious. This is a super simple pasta meal — it combines leeks (basically mild green onions, don’t be scared) with lemon, garlic and white wine, and a hit of red pepper flake for a tasty dinner. It’s a Rachael Ray recipe that really might only take 30 minutes! For reals.

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TW’s Tips

  • To clean the leeks, chop off the upper part of the leek where it starts turning from light green to dark green. Cut the bottom in half lengthwise then cut into half moons and drop them into a bowl of water. All kinds of dirt gets stuck between the layers, so you need to swish them around then let it sit for a minute so the dirt sinks to the bottom of the bowl. Then fish out the leeks and dry them on a towel.
  • You can choose to keep the tails on your shrimp or take off the whole shell.
  • I buy the shrimp that are tail-on but already shelled so you don’t have to mess with that.
  • I added mushrooms to this since I had some hanging around and it wasn’t that bad! Then again, I like mushrooms on everything.

Enjoy!

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Leeky Linguine with Shrimp

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh linguine
  • 4 leeks trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise and washed
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (a generous handful)

Directions

In a bowl, toss the shrimp with 2 tablespoons EVOO, the lemon peel, garlic and crushed red pepper; season with salt and black pepper.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 5 minutes.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and black pepper and cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Push the leeks to the side of the pan, add the shrimp to the skillet and cook until pink and firm. Pour in the wine and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the pasta to the skillet; season with salt and black pepper. Add the parsley and toss.

Winter White Turkey Burgers

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Snow is falling outside tonight — apparently didn’t get that whole spring memo. This is hopefully one of the last “winter” weekends we have for quite some time , so this recipe seemed a propos — Winter White Turkey Burgers, courtesy of Rachael Ray. Unfortunatley the pictures don’t look anywhere near as delicious as these burgers are. It’s so simple yet so many awesome flavors happening. First let me say that I’m not a big turkey burger fan. They can be dry and flavorless. But this one works — it’s got Dijon mustard mixed in, which is pretty genius, along with scallions, thyme and lemon peel. And on top of that is pear cooked in white wine — um, yes. Plus cheese, because a burger’s not a burger without cheese, and hot pepper jelly. Yum. This thing is good.

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TW’s Tips

  • I found a pepper relish at the grocery but not the pepper jelly — I bet this would be even better if I found the right thing. I’m on a mission now.
  • I used regular sized English muffins — just make the burgers sized appropriately to fit the bun.
  • Serve alongside a green salad or fancy chips.

This comes together super fast so it’s perfect for a weekday dinner. Enjoy!

Winter White Turkey Burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 4 scallions, white parts only, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Grated peel and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 ripe bartlett pear, cut lengthwise into 8 slices
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 4 tablespoons hot pepper jelly or jalapeno jelly
  • 4 extra-large English muffins, split and toasted

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, scallions, mustard, lemon peel and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Shape into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.

In a small nonstick skillet, add the pear slices, wine, lemon juice and enough water to just cover the pear. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the pear is softened, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pear slices to a plate.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium heat. Add the turkey patties and cook, turning once, for 12 minutes. Top with the cheese and pear slices, tent the pan with foil and cook until the cheese is melted, 2 minutes.

Spread 1 tablespoon hot pepper jelly on each English muffin bottom; top with a patty and an English muffin top.

Rosemary Chicken Breasts, Brown Butter and Balsamic Ravioli, Warm Spinach Salad with Pancetta and Sweet Vinaigrette

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This was a winner! Balsamic vinegar was a theme throughout this Rachael Ray recipe, which was fine with me. The chicken was super flavorful and the fresh ravioli alongside in a simple sauce was the perfect accompaniment. All in all, pretty simple and really delicious.

TW’s Tips

  • Cooking chicken breasts is not my favorite, but these turned out great despite not thinning them out a little with a meat mallet. I turned them several times and got a great sear on the chicken without drying them out.
  • The salad was a little salty so take it easy with the seasoning.
  • Pick a yummy ravioli in the fresh food case–I got a good one from a local Italian shop.
  • Don’t cook the ravioli for long — if anything, undercook, as it will cook more once you mix everything together.

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Ingredients

Chicken

  • 4 pieces boneless, skinless chicken breast, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, eyeball it, just enough to coat chicken lightly
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 stems rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped, about 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and coarse black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, cracked away from skin with a whack against the flat of your knife

Ravioli

  • 1 package, 12 to 16 ounces, fresh ravioli, any flavor filling
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 handfuls grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls

Spinach Salad

  • 6 slices pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, eyeball it
  • 1 bunch, about 10 ounces flat-leaf spinach
  • Salt and pepper

Directions
Coat chicken in balsamic vinegar, then olive oil. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper and let stand 10 minutes.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for ravioli. Salt water and drop ravioli in water. Cook 8 minutes or until raviolis expand, float to top of water, and are al dente.

Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken breasts and cracked garlic to the pan. Cook chicken 12 minutes, or until juices run clear, turning occasionally. The balsamic vinegar will produce a deep brown, sweet finish on the chicken as it cooks.

When the chicken is 2 or 3 minutes away from done, heat a second skillet over medium low to medium heat. To the second skillet, add butter to the pan and let it begin to brown.

Remove chicken from the first skillet and transfer to a warm platter. In a skillet over medium high heat and add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits, about 2 or 3 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain and return pan to heat, reducing heat to medium. Add oil and shallots to the pan and let the shallots saute 2 minutes.

When the butter for the ravioli has browned, add cooked ravioli to the pan and turn in butter to heat through. Add balsamic vinegar to the ravioli and cook a minute or 2 longer to reduce the vinegar and glaze the ravioli. The vinegar will become thick and syrup like. Add cheese, parsley, salt and pepper to the pasta and remove the pan from the heat.

To the sauteed shallots for the spinach salad, add sugar and cook sugar with shallots 1 minute. Add vinegar to the pan, scraping up pan drippings. Add spinach to the dressing and turn to wilt and coat it evenly in sweet vinaigrette. Add crisp pancetta to the salad.

Serve chicken along side ravioli and spinach salad, all on the same dinner plate.

 

Chicken and Mushroom Reuben

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I am a HUGE sandwich fan. I love sandwiches. I’ll eat them at any meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s a delicious meal between two pieces of bread — the possibilities are endless! This sandwich is pretty cool — it’s a spin on a reuben that uses chicken and mushrooms instead of the traditional corned beef filling. (It’s a Rachael Ray recipe.) The traditional Thousand Island dressing is homemade and ratcheted up with some fresh dill and parsley, and my favorite part is the portobellos cooked with sage until they’re dark and fragrant. But really, everything about this sandwich is good. It uses an unusual bread, which I love. The sauerkraut mixed with onion is awesome. And the gruyere melted on top — yum. There are so many flavors going on! Kim and I ate this for a girls TV night, and we just wanted to keep eating and eating even though we were stuffed. Now that’s a sign of a successful meal.

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TW’s Tips

  • I used jarred sauerkraut, but they also make it in little refrigerated packets if you can find them. Be prepared, it doesn’t smell good, but once you cook it, it’s delish.
  • I used a good Gruyere and it adds a little something that deli Swiss just doesn’t achieve.
  • The mushroom mixture doesn’t make a ton — I would add another 1/4-1/2 pound of mushrooms based on how my portions turned out. I had a ton of chicken and sauerkraut and not a lot of shrooms.
  • This definitely makes more than four sandwiches. I’d say at least 6-8 (if you increase the mushrooms).
  • I was also craving salt and vinegar chips with this one, in addition to the pickles.

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Chicken and Mushroom Reuben

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter (1/2 stick), divided
  • 1/2 pound baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 package sauerkraut (1 pound), rinsed and drained
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved (6 ounces each half)
  • McCormick brand Montreal Steak Seasoning or other grill seasoning blend
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons dill relish
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped, or1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 8 slices marble rye, rye, or pumpernickel bread
  • 8 slices Gruyère cheese or deli Swiss cheese
  • 4 large deli pickles
  • 1 bunch radishes, halved and salted

Directions

In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, add the mushrooms and raise the heat a bit. Cook the mushrooms for 8-10 minutes, until tender and dark. Add the sage midway through the cooking time. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper after they’re dark and tender, as salt slows the browning by drawing out liquids.

Meanwhile, in a second small skillet over medium heat, melt another tablespoon of butter. Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, 10-12 minutes. Stir in the sauerkraut, warm through and turn off the heat.

While the onion cooks, heat a cast iron pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Season the chicken liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Add the EVOO to the pan or griddle and cook the chicken, turning once, for 12 minutes, or until done. Remove from the heat and wipe down the skillet or griddle and lower the heat to medium-low. Slice the chicken into thin slices on an angle.

While the chicken cooks, stir the sour cream, relish and ketchup together in a small bowl and season with the fresh herbs.

Lightly butter one side of the slices of bread with the remaining tablespoon of butter. Build the sandwiches with buttered sides facing out, in this order: dressing, cheese, mushrooms, sliced chicken, sauerkraut with onions, cheese and ending with the dressing to set in place. Grill the sandwiches for about 3 minutes on each side. Serve with the pickles and salted radishes.

Spanish-Style Chicken & Dumplings

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This is a delicious spin on chicken and dumplings, a classic comfort food, that I made for my friend Kim. It takes a Spanish angle — with chorizo, saffron and sherry — and instead of a traditional dumpling, uses my favorite Jiffy cornbread for a topping, which made this almost like a pot pie. The chicken dish itself is thick and hearty, with lots of yummy mushrooms, onion, garlic and thyme, and it was great reheated for leftovers. Credit goes to Rachael Ray for the recipe.

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TW’s Tips

  • I’m a mushroom lover, so I threw in more than the recipe called for
  • I actually used vegetable stock (homemade of course) instead of chicken for this — still delish
  • Careful when choosing the chorizo, especially on the West Coast — you want Spanish chorizo, not Mexican, which is uncooked. If you can’t find Spanish chorizo, use linguica or a chicken sausage (spicy is best). The key is that it isn’t crumbly. You should be able to slice through it and keep it intact.

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Spanish-Style Chicken & Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 pinches saffron
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound chorizo, casings remove and chopped or crumbled
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breast tenders, diced
  • 3/4 pound medium to large white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 to 3 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 small box biscuit mix or mix to prepare 8 drop biscuits, prepared to package directions, (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

Directions

In a small sauce pot combine the stock and saffron, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer to allow the saffron to steep.

In a large deep skillet with a lid or a Dutch oven heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and render and brown for 2 minutes, then add the chicken and lightly brown. Stir in the mushrooms, onions and garlic as you chop them and add the bay leaves, salt and pepper, to taste, and thyme. Put a lid on the pot and increase the heat to high for 5 minutes to soften the vegetables. Stir in the flour, add the sherry and stir a minute more, then add the saffron broth.

While vegetables soften, put the biscuit mix in a bowl and stir in the parsley and paprika. Add the liquids to package directions for the biscuits.

Drop 8 small mounds of biscuit dough onto the surface of the chicken and sauce. Cover with tight fitting lid and cook for 5 to 6 minutes.

Ladle into shallow serving bowls and serve.

Cumin and Lime Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Creamed Corn

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Very often I default to a few select proteins for my meals–more often than not, it’s chicken– how boring! I’ll throw in ground beef, steak, shrimp, salmon now and then…but there are so many more options out there. I realized I needed a little variety. For instance, why no pork? Pork is delicious. This Rachael Ray recipe for cumin and lime roasted pork tenderloin gave me the inspiration I needed.

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The pork came out perfectly, still moist and tender, and with some spice and tang from the cumin and lime. The spicy corn was a great side dish — it’s got great heat from the jalapeño. I found some beautiful pork tenderloin at Costco — these came in a two-pack, with two smaller tenderloins in each package. Grocery stores often sell pretty large tenderloins and it can be hard to find smaller ones, so keep your eye out next time you go grocery shopping to see if your regular store sells them.

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TW’s Tips

  • I’m partial to fresh corn (versus frozen, which can get cardboard-y/chewy) — I found some husked ears at Costco and they were surprisingly good and fresh!
  • This does make a lot of pork — I got a little tired of eating it straight up, so I made mini sandwiches with avocado and Dijon mustard on rolls and they were delicious!
  • The corn makes a lot. Unless you’re feeding a bigger family I’d cut it in half and serve with a green vegetable as well.
  • The meat came out just perfectly medium with a little bit of pink left — perfect!
  • If you get a larger pork tenderloin you’ll have to cook it longer. These were a little over a pound each, for comparison.

Cumin and Lime Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Creamed Corn

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 lbs pork tenderloin
  • 2 limes, juice of
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves (4 cloves cracked, 2 cloves chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 (10 ounce) boxes frozen corn kernels (or kernels cut from 5 ears fresh corn)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 500°. Trim the sliver skin or connective tissue from the tenderloins using a very sharp, thin knife.

Place tenderloins on a rimmed nonstick cookie sheet; coat them with the lime juice, rubbing the juice into the meat. Drizzle olive oil over the tenderloins, just enough to coat (about 2 tablespoons). Season the meat with the cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Cut small slits into the meat and disperse chunks of the cracked garlic cloves into the slits.

Roast for 20 minutes; remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes, tented loosely with foil.

While the pork is cooking, preheat a skillet over med-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter. Add in the onions, jalapenos, bell pepper, chopped garlic, corn, salt, and pepper; cook 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are tender. Sprinkle with the flour, and continue cooking 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and heavy cream; bring mixture to a simmer and then lower the heat to medium-low; cook until it is thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add in the parsley and cilantro; taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.

Slice the rested roasted pork; serve with spicy creamed corn.

Seafood Newberg Soup/Chowder

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The soup kick continues.

This time it’s a spicy seafood chowder with cod and shrimp, a recipe from Rachael Ray. It’s got a great kick from the Old Bay and cayenne, and it’s not too thick. Poaching the fish and shrimp in the liquid makes it so nice and tender, it melts in your mouth. And you get some good heartiness from the potatoes. Even reheated it’s fantastic! I could eat this every day.

It was also surprisingly easy to make, besides the fact that I mistakenly got non-EZ peel shrimp at the fish counter and had to devein and shell them, which made me not super happy. (Shelling is easy as long as they are deveined.) Oh well, they were yummy.

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TW’s Tips

  • This recipe calls for “corn toasties” which I remember from my childhood but they weren’t that amazing, so I made corn bread instead.
  • Any white fish will work in this — tilapia, cod, scrod, etc.
  • Don’t obsess about the size of the shrimp, since you cut them up anyway.
  • This makes a lot of soup. I started worrying after I finished since this wouldn’t freeze well, and ended up delivering a Tupperware-full to my BFF since there was no way I was eating it all on my own before it would go bad. I would estimate it was about 12 servings.
  • When reheating, I highly recommend either gently heating it in a pot on the stove or microwaving it on 50%, since heating it too fast may cause the fish to get tough.

Seafood Newburg Stoup with Cayenne-Chive-Buttered Corn Toasties

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large starchy potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery ribs with their greens, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 3 cups chicken or seafood stock
  • 1 1/2 pounds cod, scrod, or haddock, cut in chunks
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 corn toaster pastries, such as Thomas’ brand
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions

Heat a medium soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO and the 2 tablespoons of cold butter, cut into small pieces. Add the veggies, then season them with the bay leaf, salt, pepper, and Old Bay Seasoning. Cook for 5 minutes to begin to soften, then add the flour and cook for a minute longer. Next, add the sherry and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the stock and bring it up to a bubble, then arrange the seafood in an even layer around the pan. Cover the pan and cook until the fish is opaque and the shrimp is pink, 4 minutes. Remove the lid and add the milk and cook for 2 to 3 minutes longer to thicken. Add about 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, then adjust the seasonings. Discard the bay leaf. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper in a small cup. Toast the corn pastries, brush with cayenne butter, and sprinkle with the chopped chives.

Open-Face Blue Moon Burgers with ‘Shrooms

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As the 4th of July often involves grilling and burgers, in the spirit of Independence Day grub (one day late), I offer this ahhh-mazing burger. Courtesy of Rachael Ray, it’s the Open-Face Blue Moon Burger with ‘Shrooms…and it will knock your socks off. What makes a burger so good? Well, besides the well-cooked, juicy burger itself, in this case it’s the combo of pungent blue cheese, earthy mushrooms, bright parsley and spicy arugula, all on a crunchy, thick piece of bread with well-seasoned tomatoes underneath. Suffice it to say that the flavors in this are pretty crazy. The mushroom-blue cheese sauce is so delicious that I could drink it straight from the plan.

This is definitely a knife-and-fork kind of burger, and I’m okay with that. It just means there’s lots of delicious, messy stuff going on with it. And it’s pretty awesome when the sauce and burger soften the crusty bread just a little bit and you can sop up all that goodness in one bite.

TW’s Tips

  • I didn’t use 2 whole pounds of beef and I definitely make smaller, more realistic size portions. A quarter pound burger is pretty big, and Rachael calls for a 1/2 pound — yikes. That’s a lotta beef.
  • Baby arugula works well for this, and you won’t need to de-stem.
  • Not the end of the world if you can’t find a yellow tomato. It just looks prettier with some variety in color.

Happy Fourth!

Open-Face Blue Moon Burgers with ‘Shrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground sirloin
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus some for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound button mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, a generous handful
  • 4 thick slices country-style crusty bread
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 small bunch arugula, washed and thick stems removed
  • 1 red beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
  • 1 yellow beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 thick slices
  • 4 ounces good-quality blue cheese, crumbled

Directions

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground sirloin, Worcestershire sauce and chopped shallot. Mix thoroughly. Score the meat with your hand, marking 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a large 1-inch-thick patty. Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season the patties liberally with some salt and pepper, and then drizzle the patties with a little EVOO and place in the hot skillet. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until the patties are firm to the touch and cooked through.

Preheat the broiler.

While the burgers are cooking, preheat a second large skillet over medium-high heat with the EVOO and butter. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and spread them out in an even layer, resisting the temptation to stir for a few minutes to let the mushrooms start to brown. Once brown, go ahead and stir, continuing to cook for 2 minutes, then add the onions and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring every now and then, for about 3 minutes, or until the onions start to look tender. Add the chicken stock, bring it up to a bubble, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the parsley and stir to combine; taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

While the burgers and the mushrooms are working, toast the bread slices under the broiler until they are golden on both sides.

Coarsely chop the basil and arugula.

Place a piece of toast on each serving plate. Top each piece of toast with 1 slice of red tomato and 1 slice of yellow, and season the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Sprinkle the tomatoes with the arugula-basil mixture and put a cooked burger on top of that. Add the blue cheese crumbles to the mushrooms, stir to combine, and top each burger with the mushroom-blue cheese mixture. Grab a fork and knife and dig in.

Chicken and Chorizo Romesco with Spanish Potatoes and Kale

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If you’ve never had Romesco sauce, you’re in for a treat. I’ve discovered it’s one of my faves. Made of roasted red peppers, garlic, roasted tomatoes, garlic, toasted bread, almonds and sherry vinegar all blended together, it’s super flavorful and nutty and garlicky, and you’ll want to put a big dollop on every bite you take of this meal. The meal, by the way, combines this delicious sauce with chicken and chorizo, and some Yukon gold potatoes smashed up with kale and manchego cheese. I love the idea of getting the kale in with the potatoes so you get your greens. And it adds some nice depth and crunch to the potatoes.

This is a Rachael Ray recipe, and unlike some of her recipes, I actually think this took about 30 minutes! Shocking. To make it even faster, pound the chicken out a little bit so it cooks through more quickly. The leftovers from this were delicious as well.

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TW’s Tips

  • On my first go-round, I toasted the garlic a bit too much — I was afraid it would taste burnt, so I redid it. Take it easy on the heat.
  • If you have leftover Romesco, slather it on some fresh baked bread or use it like a pesto on a sandwich — yum.
  • I might try a spicier sausage next time around.

Chicken and Chorizo Romesco with Spanish Potatoes and Kale

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup shredded manchego
  • 1 to 3 slices stale bread, toasted, cut 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup pequillo peppers or roasted red peppers
  • 1 (15-ounce) can fire roasted tomatoes, drained, about 1 1/3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup marcona almonds (Spanish toasted almonds), substitute toasted sliced or peeled almonds if unavailable
  • 4 pieces boneless skinless chicken breast or thigh meat
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest or lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or sweet paprika
  • A handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3/4 pound Spanish chorizo, casings removed, cut into 8 pieces on the bias

Directions

Heat about 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and slowly cook until crisp and golden brown.

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water, bring to a boil, season with salt and cook 15 minutes or until tender, drain and return to hot pot. While the potatoes cook, simmer kale in salted water 10 minutes then drain. When you are ready to serve, mash potatoes with stock and cheese, fold in kale, adjust salt and pepper.

While potatoes come to a boil, move forward with the meal. Add to a food processor: toasted garlic (reserve the oil), some of the toasted bread in pieces, the peppers, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, almonds, and salt and pepper. Turn processor on and stream in reserved “garlic-oil” and add the rest of the toasted bread in pieces until you get a pesto-like consistency. Transfer sauce back to the skillet and keep warm over low heat.

Cut each piece of chicken into 3 chunks and season with citrus zest, smoked sweet paprika, salt, pepper and parsley. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and render it 1 minute. Remove the chorizo to a plate and then add chicken and cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally.

Pour a pool of sauce onto each dinner plate and top with a mound of potatoes and kale and chunks of chicken and chorizo.

Smoked Gouda and Basil Pesto Grilled Cheese and Creamy Tomato Soup

It’s been a rainy — dare I say stormy? — weekend in San Diego, and this soup/sandwich combo was the perfect curl-up-on-the-couch comfort meal.

I love me a grilled cheese, and this version by Tyler Florence, from his “Stirring the Pot” cookbook, is pretty amazing. He calls for smoked mozzarella, which I substituted with smoked gouda, layered with a delicious traditional pesto, sandwiched between bread toasted up with butter in a pan. The nice, crispy crust on the bread, plus the smoky, oozy cheese with the contrast from the fresh pesto — it’s basically my perfect sandwich.

And what better than to dip this delicious sandwich in creamy tomato soup?

I’ve never been a fan of the canned tomato soup. In fact, I didn’t even think I liked tomato soup until I tried a real, homemade one. What a discovery! This one by Rachael Ray is possibly the easiest one I’ve ever made. Big winner. It’s simple but has great flavor.

TW’s Tips

  • I used a yummy gourmet bread (I think it was sundried tomato/spinach or something) instead of plain white bread
  • Make extra pesto and use it later in the week for ravioli or put it on top of some salmon. Yum.
  • Dip the sandwich in the soup as you eat it. Obviously.

Smoked Gouda and Basil Pesto Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 4 slices white sandwich bread
  • 4 slices smoked mozzarella (I used gouda)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Pesto:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

To make pesto combine pesto ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well combined but still has a rough texture.

Assemble sandwich by smearing insides of bread slices with pesto.  Arrange a layer of mozzarella and season with a few turns of fresh pepper.  Layer the mozzarella slices over the top and then place the bread over to make the sandwich.  Set a large sauté pan over medium heat and add butter.  Add sandwich and cook 2-3 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from pan and rub toasted bread with garlic.

Creamy Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 (15-ounce) containers, chicken or vegetable stock/broth (preferred brand: Kitchen Basics)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can concentrated crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 20 leaves fresh basil, cut into chiffonade, for garnish

Directions

Combine broth and tomatoes in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. When soup bubbles, stir in heavy cream and reduce heat to low. Season with a little salt and pepper and simmer gently 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. With an immersion blender, puree soup. Serve bowls of soup with basil chiffonade.