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 Egg Soup with Orzo, Spinach and Dill

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It’s getting to be soup weather in New York — complete with a rainy Nor’easter. This soup has some nice bright flavors from the lemon and dill, and it cooks up in 30 minutes — the perfect comfort food on a chilly night. I’ve never made soup with egg in it before — it adds a nice creaminess without cream or milk — just make sure you whip it thoroughly before stirring it in. Quick, easy and the leftovers are delish!

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TW’s Tips

  • The recipe calls for pastina, which you could probably find at a specialty Italian grocer. I opted for orzo, but you could also use Israeli couscous or any small pasta.
  • I used shredded roasted chicken and threw it in at the end to heat through, instead of putting the whole chicken on the bone in the pot.
  • Serve with pita or flat bread.

Chicken and Egg Soup with Orzo, Spinach and Dill

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 (2 1/2-to-3-pound) rotisserie chicken (on the bone)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup pastina (small pasta) or orzo
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups baby spinach or other baby greens
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
  • Crumbled feta cheese, for garnish (optional)

Directions
Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot over high heat. Add the onion, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, the broth, 4 cups water and the juice of 1 lemon; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, add the pastina/orzo and simmer until the pasta is cooked and the soup thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken; when cool enough to handle, pull the meat off the bone and shred into bite-size pieces.

Remove the soup from the heat. Whisk the juice of the remaining lemon with the whole eggs and yolks in a medium bowl until frothy. Gradually whisk a ladleful of the hot soup into the egg mixture, then stir the warm egg mixture into the soup and return to medium-low heat. Cook until creamy, about 1 minute. Stir in the shredded chicken, spinach and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls; garnish with feta, if desired.

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich

In honor of my sister and brother-in-law running the Chicago Marathon earlier this month and posting some pretty dang impressive times in the process (4:08 and 4:24 respectively), I present you the Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich (recipe courtesy of Jeff Mauro, “The Sandwich King”).

This is one delicious sandwich, and I love me a good sandwich. It starts with juicy, medium rare ribeye, topped with a garlicky spinach with a little heat from red pepper flake, topped with a blue cheese buttermilk spread on a crusty roll. Yum. I also added some super ripe beefsteak tomato slices, since everything is better with tomato. Add a pickle on the side, and you’re good. This came together so quickly — it’s a perfect weeknight meal since it won’t take you more than 30 minutes to throw it together. It’s so easy, I don’t have any tips!

Chicago Steakhouse Sandwich

Ingredients

Steak:

  • One 20-ounce boneless rib eye steak
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauteed Garlicky Spinach:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Three 10-ounce bags fresh spinach, washed and stemmed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Sandwich Build:

  • 1 fresh loaf crispy French bread, cut into 8-inch segments, buttered and grilled

Directions

For the steak: Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until very hot. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt and pepper. Place the steak in the hot skillet, reduce the heat to medium and sear until well browned, about 4 minutes. Flip the steak and cook until medium/medium-rare, about 6 more minutes. Set aside, loosely covered with foil, and let rest before slicing.

For the sauteed garlicky spinach: Heat the oil and sliced garlic in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the garlic is golden brown and crispy. Remove the garlic and set aside on a paper towel to drain. Add the crushed red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir to combine with the oil. Cover and let cook over medium-high heat until the spinach is wilted but still bright in color, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the garlic chips.

For the buttermilk blue cheese dressing: Mix the mayonnaise, buttermilk, blue cheese, dill, mustard and pepper together in a bowl and set aside. Adjust the seasoning if necessary.

For the sandwich build: Slice the rested steak against the grain into 1/4-inch slices, removing any non-rendered fat. Place the steak slices on the bottom bun, top with the spinach and schmear the top bun with buttermilk blue cheese dressing.

Chicken Dijon

I’m a big fan of mustard — pretty much any kind — so I loved this tangy Chicken Dijon by Guy Fieri. The sauce combines two types of mustard with white wine and cream, so it’s rich but a great bite from the mustard. Guy then tops it with a bunch of spinach and some caramelized shallots and garlic, and finally some melty Swiss cheese. Yum!¬†

The final product was full of delicious mustard and garlic flavor. I’d recommend serving this with a vegetable — I thought the spinach would do the trick but it cooks down a lot so it didn’t really feel like enough of a vegetable. You’ll want something that can stand up to the strong flavors of this dish — my favorite spicy broccoli would work magnificently.

TW’s Tips

  • If you don’t have an ovenproof skillet (one that doesn’t have a handle covered in plastic), just cover the handle with a couple layers of tin foil (see above).
  • It’s worth it to seek out the shallots (they have a milder flavor), but if you can’t find them, use a small onion.
  • I didn’t have granulated garlic, so I just used garlic powder.
Chicken Dijon

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 quart cool water
  • 4 boneless, skinless 1-inch-thick chicken breast halves (about 2 1/4 pounds)
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach, shredded
  • 8 slices Emmenthaler or Swiss cheese (about 1/4 pound)

Directions

In a resealable 1-gallon plastic bag, dissolve the 1/4 cup kosher salt and sugar in the water. Add the chicken, seal tightly, and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

Preheat the oven to 275 F.

In a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the shallots and cook until golden, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from the pan. Do not rinse the pan.

Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Slice the breasts in half horizontally, so that each piece is about 1/2-inch thick. Trim any fat. Season the flour with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and granulated garlic and combine well. Dredge the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and 3 tablespoons butter in the skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Working in batches, add the chicken (do not crowd) and cook for 3-5 minutes, until browned on one side. Turn the chicken over and cook for 2-3 minutes to brown the other side. As the chicken finishes cooking, place it on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

Pour the wine into the pan and cook until the pan juices are reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 3 minutes, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Stir in the mustards and stock until smooth. Stir in the cream. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring frequently. Return the chicken breasts to the pan, turning to coat them evenly in the sauce and incorporate the coating into the sauce (this helps to thicken the sauce).

Increase the oven temperature to a low broil if you have it and make sure there’s an oven rack in the top third of your oven, or to 500 F if not. Evenly sprinkle the spinach on top of the chicken, evenly distribute the shallots and garlic on top of the spinach, and top with the cheese. Broil or bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and just starts to brown in some spots. Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest on a heatproof surface for 5 minutes before serving.

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

I love quiche. Since this is my second quiche post, I guess that much is obvious! Ah quiche… it’s like a casserole but French and fancy — and people don’t realize just how easy it is to throw one together. Pair it with a salad and you’ve got a meal.

This spinach and bacon quiche by Paula Deen is pretty darn yummy. The key ingredients: bacon, spinach and swiss cheese, all baked with eggs and cream in a crust. I use pre-made — it’s so much easier and makes for a really fast meal. If you want to make your own, be my guest. It would probably take this to the next level! But even with a pre-made crust, you get the buttery flakiness and crunch against the salty, cheesy egg filling. Oh la la!

The recipe calls for layering the bacon, spinach and cheese in the pie crust, then pouring in the egg mixture. I put the bacon in last, but that made the top a little bit funky — more browned than I would like, and rather un-quiche-like. I recommend putting the bacon in first, then spinach and cheese, and gently pressing it down a little bit before pouring in the eggs. This had to cook a little bit longer than the recipe indicates in order to set the middle. But other than that, I have no tips — it’s that easy!

I served this with a green salad with a simple¬†vinaigrette — whisk together a minced shallot, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper and extra virgin olive oil, and voila — delicious dressing. Some people even say you can throw it all in a blender to make it. I’ve never tried it, but next time, I will!

Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach, packed
  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crust, fitted to a 9-inch glass pie plate

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender. Layer the spinach, bacon, and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust, then pour the egg mixture on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the egg mixture is set.