Roasted Chicken and Pear Crisp

This is such an easy dinner. Season bone-in chicken thighs with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. I gently pull up the skin and sprinkle spices underneath and replace the skin. I brush a bit of olive oil over them and then place them on top of halved potatoes and zucchini, also brushed with a bit of olive oil. Roast at 375 degrees.

Pear Crisp is delicious. It is my basic Apple Crisp recipe (here), added some walnuts and yum!



 

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Garden Fresh Pasta Dinner

I had friends over on Sunday and by request, made a garden fresh entrée. The advantage with this type of dinner is, it is quick and easy to prepare while guests are there. We had pleasant conversation as I put it together, which from start to finish was less than 20 minutes.

I apologize in advance, I have no photos of the final dish because I was having such a good time I completely forgot to even get my camera out.

Garden Fresh Pasta

  • 4 tomatoes
  • about 4 basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp dry)

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  • 12 oz linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (or red or orange as desired), chopped into large pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cubed
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 tomatoes (I used a variety from my garden and my friends’ garden), chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp dry)

saucepan, skillet, large pot

Blend 4 tomatoes and 4 basil leaves together until smooth and add to saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer while prepping the remainder of the dinner.

In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain, but don’t rinse.

In skillet, heat 1 tbsp of oil, add onions. Saute for a minute and then add peppers. Stir occasionally until they are softened and onions are translucent. Add additional tbsp of oil, once heated, add garlic, zucchini and eggplant. Saute until tender. Finally, add tomatoes and basil, cook for one to two minutes and then add the tomato mixture from the saucepan. Stir together gently and bring to a low boil for about 1 minute. Serve over pasta.

I served it with grated Parmesan, tossed salad and fresh baked bread

Go wild and add whatever fall garden vegetables you have on hand….



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Convection Roasted Chicken

Dinner is Served

After asking for and receiving some excellent advice on how to use my new convection oven, I decided to jump in and test it out. Roasting a chicken seemed like the most logical choice. If I ruined it, I could turn it into chicken salad. Sonoma Chicken Salad to be exact, found here.

This time of year, recipes seem superfluous – farm fresh corn, zucchini from my garden and sliced tomatoes need little embellishment. But I do have Tomato-Pasta Salad, here, that changes up the usual flavors.

For dessert, those plums needed to be used, so I went with a Plum Crumble (or as my cousin christened it, Plumble), recipe here. I used the convection feature,  which helped the crisp brown evenly. Bonus Bixby inspecting the plums here.

I don’t have any recipes from JeffreyW this week, but that could because this guy is keeping him busy:

DSC_5514(1600x1200)

That’s the most adorable, Gabe, getting himself into a bit of trouble. I am looking forward to seeing how JeffreyW’s figs turn out, hopefully abundant enough for homemade fig newtons. But if not, just fresh off the tree. I love figs! Photos of his fig progression are here.

What’s on your menu this weekend as summer winds down? My grapes are starting to ripen, and of course I’m overrun with plums, so does anyone have some good plum or concord grape recipes they want to share? What else is cookin’ tonight?

Chicken's Done

Tonight’s featured recipe is pretty simple, since what I wanted was to test out how the convection oven treated my ingredients. I started with a local chicken, zucchini from my garden, potatoes from my dad’s garden and local corn.

I mixed together 2 tbsps of butter with dried, crushed rosemary and basil, along with crushed garlic and rubbed it under and over the skin of the chicken. I then rubbed more of the herbs and garlic inside  the cavity.

I put the chicken and the sliced potatoes into the roasting pan. I roasted them at 425 degrees, until the breast meat registered at 165 degrees and the thighs at 170 degrees. The high temperature, combined with the convection created a crisp skin that quickly sealed in the juices. Total cooking time was one hour for a five pound bird.

Convection Oven Roasting

I added the sliced zucchini about 15 minutes before the chicken was about to come out of the oven, so everything finished up nicely. The corn was microwaved for two minutes an ear (for a total of six minutes) with the husks on. If I had been more confident with my oven skills, I would have popped the ears into the oven just a bit before the zucchini and roasted them in the husks.

I am over the moon with what the convection feature can do – the potatoes were perfectly roasted, the chicken crisp and moist, the zucchini tender. The flavors were great and the herbs really permeated the meat.

That’s it for this week. I’m sitting here watching the welcome rainstorm drench my very thirsty yard, while contemplating my long list of things to do this weekend. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

Quick Dinner: Vegetable Pasta Toss

And…we’re back. Tonight’s recipe exchange is going to focus on quick and fresh. This is as quick as it gets.

Vegetable Pasta Toss

  • 9 oz pkg linguine
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (or 6 green onions, including greens)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 8 oz broccoli florets
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp basil, crushed
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated

saucepan, skillet

Cook linguine according to package directions.  While it cooks, heat oil in skillet over medium heat, add onions and saute until translucent. Add  garlic and vegetables, stirring until tender-crisp. Stir in tomatoes, basil and cook until heated through. Drain pasta and add to skillet, tossing well. Top with Parmesan cheese.

cropped-squash-blossoms15.jpg

Dinner Menu: Pasta with Marinated Vegetables and Bruschetta

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Photo courtesy FoodNetwork

Just finished giving the Beast a bath. He hasn’t been in the tub all summer because he loves sprinklers, his pool and my neighbor hosing him down. The first thing I noticed: he’s grown. I’ll post pictures later.

Keeping in the vegetarian theme, here is this week’s dinner menu.

On the board:

  1. Pasta w/ Marinated Vegetables
  2. Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta
  3. Grapes

Pasta w/Marinated Vegetables

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 tray ice cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled & chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 2 oz black olives
  • 2 oz grated parmesan

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tsp minced oregano leaves
  • 1 to 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Saucepan, skillet, bowl, serving bowl

Mix together dressing and refrigerate. In saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse in cold water and toss with ice cubes. Set aside and let cubes melt. While pasta is cooking, in skillet, heat oil and sauté eggplant, mushrooms and zucchini until tender. Remove and cool in refrigerator while preparing remaining vegetables. In bowl, toss all vegetables with dressing. Remove any un-melted ice cubes from pasta, and toss with vegetables, refrigerate 10 minutes. Add cheese.

Tomato & Olive Oil Bruschetta

  • 1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (more if needed)
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • 3 green onions, chopped

baking sheet and bowl

Gently toss 1 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tsp crushed garlic, basil, tomatoes and green onions and set aside. Mix togethere 1 tbsp oil and 1 tsp garlic. Spread on sliced sides of bread. Broil bread until golden brown on top (watch carefully). Layer tomato mixture on each half of the bread and then slice each half into quarters or eighths.

Shopping List:

  • 10 oz Rotini pasta
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 4 mushrooms
  • 2 zucchini
  • 10 to 12 cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 loaf Italian bread
  • Large bunch of basil
  • Small bunch oregano
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 green onions
  • Grapes or any in season fruit

Also: crushed garlic, olive oil, red wine vinegar

 

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Summer Dinner Menu: Fajita Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs

Chicken kabobs

I thought we’d send summer out with a bang and do a spicy grilled mix and some fruit cobbler. I am a summer worshiper and I mourn its passing. Let’s have a moment of silen…okay, done now. Bring on the fall foods! It was cool enough today that I was actually thinking of soup. Chicken Tortilla Soup and Sweet Pepper Potato Soup (recipe coming up soon).

On the board tonight:

  1. Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs
  2. Black Beans
  3. Rice
  4. Fruit Cobbler

Fajita Chicken & Vegetable Kabobs

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning

bowl

In bowl, mix together 1 tbsp oil, garlic, salt, pepper, & 1 tbsp fajita seasoning, add chicken and toss, coating chicken well.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks (about 8 pieces each):

  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp fajita seasoning
  • 1 cup fresh salsa

4 metal skewers and bowl

In bowl, combine vegetables with oil, vinegar, garlic, 1 tbsp fajita seasoning and toss gently to coat well. Assemble onto skewers with chicken, using tomato chunks as first and last item (keeps everything else in place).  Grill, turning frequently until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Do not overcook.

Black beans

To liven up black beans, add a dash of lime juice, some chopped cilantro and a bit of cayenne or chili powder.

Fruit Cobbler

  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)
  • 1 tbsp sugar

8X8 baking dish, bowl

In 350° oven, melt butter in baking dish. In bowl, sift together flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder & salt. Add milk & egg, whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour into baking dish (don’t stir butter in). Scatter fruit evenly over the top of the batter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes until fruit bubbles and batter is golden brown.

Shopping List:

  • 12 to 16 oz can black beans
  • 1 cup dry rice
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • fajita seasoning
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 large tomato
  • 8 oz fresh salsa
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 oz milk
  • 1 egg
  • 16 oz fresh fruit (peaches, berries, apples or a combination, whatever is best available in your area)

Also: oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper, red wine vinegar, baking powder



 

Dinner Menu: Mambo Italiano Edition

Spaghetti and Meatballs2

Going old school tonight.  I thought you may still have some zucchini and tomatoes that needed to be used up and this menu does both.  Growing up, spaghetti was a weekly occurrence.  I’m not sure where my mom learned to make it, because it is my dad’s half of the family that is Italian, but it was always a hit at our house.  Over the years we’ve all played with different variations, but this is pretty close to the original. Whether it was at a weekly family meal or the Christmas dinner at my Gram’s, this basic sauce ruled.  And the good thing is, it is simple to modify depending on your tastes.  If you want to spice things up, add 1/4 to 1/2 lb of spicy Italian sausage and reduce the ground beef by as much.

Quick, easy and freezes well, I usually make double so I have some on hand for quick dinners.  Trust me, you will never find any jar sauce in my house.  Ever.  If you’d like to have meatballs instead, recipe is here.

On the board tonight:

  1. Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce
  2. Zucchini Italiano
  3. Crusty Italian Bread
  4. Sherbet or even better, Gelato

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 3 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Zucchini Italiano

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½  tsp oregano, crushed
  • ½  tsp basil, crushed
  • 4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

medium skillet

Clean and slice zucchini, heat oil in skillet, add zucchini, garlic and spices. Stir-fry over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon water and let steam until zucchini is tender.  Toss with parmesan and serve.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

Shopping List:

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 carrot
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • Crusty Italian Bread
  • Sherbet or  Gelato

Also: olive oil, crushed garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, rosemary, salt & pepper

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Originally published Oct 2010 copyright What’s 4 Dinner Solutions Cookbook Spring Edition

Friday Recipe Exchange: Summer Salads

summer pasta salad

JeffreyW makes an easy pasta salad. Just toss garden veggies and pasta with a little olive oi, vinegar and herbs. Dinner’s done.

In my email this morning there was a nice recipe for pasta salad and suddenly I had a craving for a veggie filled summer pasta salad. Pasta salads can be served cold, warm or hot, depending on what you’re looking for and what style of ingredients are added. The featured recipe tonight is a warm pasta salad using garden fresh vegetables and melted cheese.

This appealed to me because one of my clients has given me a big hunk of the most amazing cheese. I have no idea what it is, except it’s clearly a very sharp white cheddar in a black rind. It’s a creamy and salty, best I’ve ever had and goes great with apples and strawberries. It melts beautifully and crumbles like feta on salads. I’ll be sad when it’s gone. But…

I live within walking distance of a great cheese shop, it has an entire room that is basically a walk-in refrigerator. They even lend you jackets to wear while shopping. It’s fun to stop by there on a hot summer day and spend a half hour in the fridge and sample cheese from around the world and from local farms. I think I’ll see if they can help me identify or duplicate the cheese. Side note: I’ll miss everything that is within walking distance when I move. Right now I live near downtown and can walk to bank, post office and any number of great restaurants. But it’s the trade off for more space and a functional bike path.

On to the recipes.

First up, Chipotle Macaroni Salad (recipe here), which takes cold pasta salad up a notch and has become my go-to cookout salad.

One of the keys when making a good cold pasta salad is to cook the pasta al dente, drain, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and then drain again, but let the pasta stay wet. This allows the pasta to absorb whatever flavors are added, but not absorb all the moisture from the dressing. Don’t toss with dressing until just before serving. Taking these steps will keep the salad moist and flavorful, avoiding the mushy pasta, dry salad problem that makes many pasta salads unappetizing.

Not excited about pasta? How about a nice Italian Lentil Salad (here) or a tangy Apple Salad (here).

What’s on your menu for the first day of summer? Have any favorite salad recipes (pasta or otherwise)? I am crazy about salads, so would love to have a few new varitions to add to my recipe box.

Tonight’s featured recipe is adapted from an American Test Kitchen recipe. I’d link to the original, but it’s behind a firewall. Sorry for that.

Summer Vegetable Pasta

The beauty of this recipe is you can substitute whatever vegetables are fresh and available.

  • 12 oz of favorite pasta (penne, large shells, rotelle, etc)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 to 3 tsp crushed garlic (depending on your preference)
  • 2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1 small summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 5 ounce package Garlic & Herb Boursin cheese – or any creamy cheese, flavored or you can add your own fresh herbs to it instead –  I actually used the cheddar mentioned above because it melts so well,  and is really creamy, not like typical cheddar.
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved (more as desired)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese as garnish

Dutch oven or large saucepan

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven. Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente (this is a still chewy texture). Reserve 3/4 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta (the easiest way to do this is to ladle pasta water into a measuring cup and then drain the remaining water).

Wipe out the pan, add oil and heat  over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds. Add zucchini, summer squash, and ¼ cup reserved pasta water and cook, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta, and cheese, remaining 1/2 cup pasta water, tomatoes and basil until pasta is heated through.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with grated Parmesan. Serves 4.

Have a great weekend – TaMara