Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Rigatoni with Chicken, Bacon and Mushrooms
adapted from and with thanks to A Taste of Home Cooking
1 pound rigatoni
6 slices thick-cut applewood smoked bacon, chopped
1 1/4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, dried basil, dried thyme, dried oregano (OR 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning)
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple juice
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake
1 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup half and half
Grated parmesan and crushed red pepper flake, for serving
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook rigatoni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until about halfway done, remove to a bowl, and pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat. Season the chicken with the dried herbs, then add it to the pan and saute until golden brown and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate.
Add the bacon back to the pan and cook for another few minutes, until just barely crispy. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent, about 4 minutes. Increase heat to high and add chicken stock and apple juice. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and let cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of dried basil; season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium/medium low (sauce should still be bubbling) and cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 15 minutes.
Stir in half and half and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices. Add rigatoni to the pan (or vice versa if your pan is not big enough to hold the pasta) and toss to combine.
Serve immediately, with plenty of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and red pepper flakes at the table.
Cuh-razy good pasta. After only a few bites, Steve made me promise to put it in my permanent repertiore (which I did; I made it the second time only a week later). He also made me promise to make it next time we have any family over for dinner. It's that amazing.
I must admit, this one took me by surprise for one main reason: I thought it had a rather strange and jumbled ingredient list. Chicken + bacon + mushrooms + apple = good. Chicken + Italian herbs + cream + cheese + tomatoes + red pepper = good. All together, though? Really? I wasn't so sure.
I WAS WRONG.
This is an unbelievably fantastic combination of ingredients, however "busy" it may look on paper. Trust me. If you don't make this straight away, you're missing out.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, cranberries, almonds and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the bars are just golden brown at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.
These are so damn awesome. Even with giving some away, we plowed through the first batch in a few days and I made a second batch immediately. They've been serving as a fantastic dessert, particularly since I've been working out every day... they just "feel good," you know? Still, I have to be careful. Granola bars are a danger food for me, one of those that takes a lot of self-control to make myself stop eating. Like bagels and cream cheese. Like caprese pasta. Like really fresh sushi. Okay, I need to stop.
Anyway! I highly recommend sliced almonds and dried cranberries in these, but you can make them with 2 cups of anything: nuts, dried fruit or raisins, mini chocolate chips, whatever floats your boat. Play around; it all works and it's all delicious.
Monday, January 9, 2012
adapted just slightly from my friend Jenn via Cole Ward
3 lb ground pork (I grind my own from boneless pork shoulder)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp dried sage
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 cup maple syrup
In a medium bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the pork and the maple syrup. Set aside. Add the ground pork to the bowl of seasonings and mix well to combine. Add the maple syrup and work in with your hands until evenly distributed.
Use immediately or freeze in portions.
I tried three different versions of breakfast sausage - all good but not great - before luckily catching this one on a friend's Facebook page. My previous attempts all had the same elements this recipe does - sweet, peppery, herby - but I could not seem to find just the right ratio. Until now. This recipe is perfection.
I usually split this into four 12-ounce portions and use it every other week for weekday breakfast sandwiches.