Category: Pasta/Rice

Quick Chicken Spinach Bolognese

I had a cooking fail. It’s amazing how much of a rage something like that sends me into. I was trying my hand at a Spanish tortilla. Finally. Finally because I stopped being so scared. Something about it intimidates me. It’s really easy. Maybe it’s because stewing potatoes and onions in olive oil isn’t probably something you should do regularly. No, it’s not that. It’s because it’s intimidating. It’s a perfectly pillowy, yet dense, cake of eggs, potatoes, and onions. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, so if you fuck it up [and I did], it’s obvious. I was doing well until I got to that whole “slide a plate over the top of your pan and flip it over” thing. Yeah, that wasn’t happening. My non-stick pan is losing its non-stick properties. It’s given up on me. I’ve been eyeing this one [but probably an All-Clad], but I’ve been holding out. The one I have was a perfectly good non-stick pan, but once eggs start sticking–even with boatloads of olive oil–you’re dead to me. Needless to say, the tortilla became a scramble. It tasted fine. It tasted just like it was supposed to, but it wasn’t what it was supposed to be. It made me want to throw things. Sigh. I’ll try again someday. Probably not until I get a new pan.

Until that happens, there is this really good chicken spinach bolognese that doesn’t take much time to throw together, and pretends to be super healthy with all that spinach. I wanted something to take to work the next few days, which really turned into the next day only because I ate that much of it for dinner. Pasta is a weakness. I bought a little block of Pecorino Romano to grate on top. Deliciously salty.

I’m starting to understand the whole ‘reserve some pasta water’ thing; it makes all the difference to the consistency of a bowl of al dente pasta. It elevates it from becoming a congealed mass of starch with toppings. It keeps better in the fridge so I can steal multiple bites any time I open the fridge door [read: all the time]. The original recipe called for turkey, but I was hesitant to recreate the feeling of thanksgiving. Every time I cook with it, browned turkey just smells like thanksgiving. Chicken was the easy and obvious substitute. Pork would have been equally delicious, especially of the hot Italian sausage variety.  This is a lot more mellow in flavor that way. Feel free to add tons of red chile flakes. I did.

Quick Chicken Spinach Bolognese

Inspiration: Fuss Free Cooking

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground chicken
  • 250g frozen spinach
  • 15oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1lb pasta of choice
  • Parmesan
  • Red chili flakes

Preparation

In a large skillet, heat a little bit of olive oil on medium high heat. Brown the chicken. Add in the frozen spinach and roasted tomatoes. Don’t drain them first. Stir until well mixed and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let it simmer together and unthaw the spinach.

While the sauce simmers away, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Before draining, retain 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Taste the sauce and add salt, pepper, and possibly some red chili flakes.

Add the pasta to the sauce. Stir well and add pasta water to get the desired consistency.

Before serving, add a healthy dose of shaved parmesan.

Udon Noodles with Spring Vegetables

Vegetables! Give me spring vegetables.

It can’t be pizza all the time around here. But I wouldn’t complain if it was.  

This came from a fierce craving of something fresh, green, and crisp. It’s rather coincidence that sugar snap peas are all the rage right now. Thanks Spring. I had a handful or two [probably two, lets be real] of dried udon noodles left over in the pantry, so noodles! I spent a crazy amount of time julienning again because it’s turning into a soothing ritual. Who am I? Meditating is all the rage, right?

If I’m honest, I really just wanted the vegetables [of which I ate a ton while cutting them up] and this sauce. The udon noodles just kept me from gnawing my arm off within an hour after eating. I love any excuse to use toasted sesame oil. It’s such a specific, slight overpowering flavor that it takes time to find those recipes that it would be good in. Rice vinegar, soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger round out the rest of the flavors. It’s very bright and tangy. It feels almost as crisp as the vegetables. I added red chile flakes and a bunch of the seaweed gomasio, which is sesame seeds, salt, and seaweed. I had to immediately put half of this in a to-go container so I could eat some for work the next day, otherwise I’m sure I’d have eaten all of it in one sitting.

Spring Udon Noodles

Inspiration: Sprouted Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 6oz dried udon noodles, cooked to package directions and rinsed/drained under cool water
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned
  • 2 handfuls of sugar snap peas, halved
  • Green onion, red chile flakes, sesame seeds for garnish

Preparation

In a small bowl or in a jar with a lid, add the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter, garlic, and ginger. Whisk or shake together.

In a large bowl, add the vegetables and the dressing. Toss everything together before adding the noodles. Serve and top with your garnishes.

 

Sweet Potato Spinach Pasta

No long hours at the office. No studying. No class. No exams. Nothing. I leave the office like a normal human, and I find myself with an abundance if free time. I haven’t had free time like this in years. Even though I would still do what I wanted during school, CPA exams, and busy season, I always had a lot going on mentally. That to-do list ever present. And now? Nothing. It’s weird and it’s awesome. I’ve already read a few books, read a ton of magazines thanks to the library’s magazine app, and am a few lessons into German on Duolingo. I went out to eat only once last week. Once! Who am I? That means there are several new recipes to come. We have a loose timeline for the Germany trip, but I can actually focus on details now. Plans for replanting the patio flowers will have to wait until we’re back from Germany. They need all the help they can get to not die this year.

Pizza week was a success. I have a few photos to share once I get them off the phone camera. It’s probably my favorite in the burgers vs pizza weeks that go on. I’m such a sucker for pizza.

It’s funny that I’m sharing a pasta recipe today, and I have at least two more coming up. Apparently I’ve been on a pasta kick lately. I hardly ever cook pasta because…I don’t know. I don’t really have a good reason. It’s just not something I think about most of the time. Maybe because it’s a little lower on the difficulty scale. It’s also just an excuse to eat whatever is with it. I am actually a little more partial to loading up my pastas with all kinds of vegetables. It takes a lot of vegetables to get me to feel full enough to stop eating, so pasta helps me out in that department. This was a result of me craving vegetables towards the end of busy season when all I getting sick of all the snacks and catering. Plus, blue cheese. I love blue cheese.

Sweet Potato Spinach Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into uniform cubes
  • 2-3 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped into smaller pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2lb pasta of choice [I used spaghetti]
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • salt and pepper

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, toss the sweet potato pieces with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven and roast until browned on the edges and cooked through, approximately 30-40 minutes.

While the sweet potatoes roast, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. In a large bowl, add the spinach. Pour the drained, hot pasta on top of the spinach so it will wilt.

Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Saute the minced garlic until it’s  browning and fragrant. Add the olive oil to the top of the pasta. Top with the roasted sweet potatoes and blue cheese crumbles. Toss together until well mixed. Serve.

 

Jok with Chicken [aka Rice Porridge]

Ohhhh man. There is a new food cart downtown that serves all the jook and bao I could possibly want. Jook is rice porridge of the Chinese variety. Jok is rice porridge of the Thai variety. I had no idea until now. The more you know. Anyway, the cart is aptly named the Jook Joint, and you can add some pretty awesome proteins to it, like their 12-hour brisket. It has a little bit of a sweet sauce, but it’s a-ok with the fish sauce goodness that you find in a porridge like this. The soft boiled egg isn’t a bummer either. It’s stellar comfort food. There are a few other places in town that serve it, like Sen Yai, with all the squeaky pork or fish that you could possibly want. Making jok been on my to-do list for awhile. Gotta love checking something off the list.

It’s really easy to make, but requires a little bit of babysitting because you don’t want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. It makes a ton because the solution to keeping it from burning is adding more and more water. I kept adding more and more fish sauce because I didn’t want the flavor to get too diluted. Like most soups, it’s really customizable. I used chicken, but you often seen pork or seafood. There are often soft-boiled eggs, but I couldn’t be bothered. Because rice porridge like a more smooth risotto, you probably have an idea how filling this can be. It’s just like that. It tastes just as good day one as day three. We ate it and ate it and ate it again. The recipe I originally used no longer exists, apparently. Their website went down. This one from Rachel Cooks Thai is very familiar.

rice porridge

Ingredients

  • 1 cup jasmin rice
  • 10+ cups of water
  • 1 pound ground dark meat chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Green onions, soft-boiled eggs, diced chilies, or other hot sauce for serving

In a large pot, add the rice and 6 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil before turning down to a simmer. While the rice simmers, heat a skillet on medium high. Brown the chicken and add the garlic and ginger. Leave the chicken a little chunky to add texture to the rice when you add it. When it’s nearly cooked through, add a tablespoon of the fish and soy sauces. Add the fully cooked chicken and any remaining juices to the simmering rice.

Stir the rice occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add another cup anytime it starts to get too thick. At least another four cups is needed to achieve the typical creaminess. When the porridge is ready, stir in the remaining two tablespoons of the soy and fish sauces. Taste for more. I always love more fish sauce.

Blue Cheese Pasta with Spinach

We spent Valentine’s Day doing the things we normally do. Soccer game. Laundry. Eating. Food coma induced naps. This is the life.

We ate at Por Que No? Taqueria for tacos, red beers, chips and guac and followed it up with drinking chocolate and churros at 180. It sounds romantic, I know, but we do this kind of thing regularly. Why save it for one day? On a slightly unrelated note, this chocolate bar is the key to Andrew’s heart, in case you were wondering. And now I wish I hadn’t gone to their website. They had a small, perfectly good selection at WM Goods, but now I want ALL OF THEM. Sigh. Sometimes too much information is a bad thing. Trying a new-to-me pizza place tonight, Pizza Jerk, because pizza.

We made this pasta dish a few times now [and by we, I mean I made and we ate and he cleaned up], and it’s turning more and more into a vehicle for making steak this way. A little simple cast-iron action. It’s the only way to go when I’m too lazy to get outside on the grill, which has been a lot these days. This is a sneaky way to eat an entire 5oz container of spinach in one sitting and not realize it. It breaks down against heat of the pasta and you hardly taste it with the love-it-or-hate-it taste of blue cheese or gorgonzola. It’s so delightfully simple—cheese and pasta water. I’ve tried it with a few different pastas. It benefits from something with nooks and crannies. It captures that cheese sauce better. From there chopped nuts, fresh cracked pepper, or red chile flakes are yours to experiment. With the sliced steak, I found it didn’t need much else. The steak juices would get caught in those same pasta nooks. So good.

[sorry mom! blue cheese AND medium-heavy-on-the-rare steak]

Blue Cheese Pasta with Steak

Inspiration: The Splendid Table

Ingredients

  • 8oz pasta, trottole or other curly pasta
  • 4oz gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • 4-5oz container of baby spinach
  • grilled steak, chicken, or other protein for serving

Preparation

Bring your pot of salted pasta water to a boil. Make sure you use a pot that has a lid. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions minus 2-3 minutes. It should still be very dente so it can continue cooking with the sauce.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water before draining the pot. Return the pasta to the pot and add the cheese, 1/4 of the pasta water, and the spinach. Stir to combine and cover. The heat will melt the cheese and wilt the spinach. Now is a good time to cook your protein.

After a few minutes stir the pasta and add more water as necessary. I end up using at least half, sometimes more. The spinach will stick together which is mildly irritating, but ultimately ok. Season with fresh cracked pepper before serving.