A site for sore tastebuds and a woeful wallet

Posts tagged “spinach

When it’s 12° Only Soup Will Do

100_1038In the Region of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy the tortellini was born.  It is unclear why it is named tortellini; perhaps because of the architectural structures using a tortoise shell for inspiration but also the pasta is called little navels (ombelico) reminding some of the navel of Venus.

This divine reference is perfect for how this tortellini soup tasted and warmed us through and through tonight.  I think Venus herself might have relished this soup.   Just smelling it cook gives one a feeling of warmth.

If you would like to warm up the same way just gather these ingredients from the pantry and refrigerator:

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 white mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced100_1042
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 scallion, sliced thinly
  • a pinch each of salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 lb pork sausage or ground turkey (turkey will need Italian seasoning)
  • one 15 oz. can diced regular or roasted tomato
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3 cans (from the tomatoes) water
  • 1/2 package thawed frozen spinach
  • 1/2 lb fresh 3 cheese tortellini

First, in a dutch oven or stock pot saute the onion, m100_1045ushrooms, garlic and scallion in olive oil until the onions brown a bit. Brown off the meat, add seasoning if necessary, then add the tomatoes with the juice to 100_1048deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Add the stock, cans of water, and bouillon cubes and stir.  When 100_1046the spinach is thawed remove half from the box and put it on a paper towel.  At the sink squeeze out as much liquid as possible, open the towel and place the spinach in the pot and stir until it breaks apart.  Let the soup come to a boil, add the tortellini and 100_1047let it boil for about 5 minutes or until the tortellini it is tender.

This only takes a little more time than boiling a big pot of water but instead of just hot water you get a delicious, nutritious body warming soup with such a depth of flavor you won’t believe could happen so fast.  It will fill you up as well.  On a chilly January night what more could one ask?

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There’s an “App” for That

100_0327Need a quick appetizer for that surprise invitation to the barbecue?  Here’s an “app” that takes just a little over half an hour and you probably have the ingredients in your bread box, the pantry and the ‘fridge.  You’ll also need a small bowl and a 9″x9″ baking pan.  A pie plate will also do. The ingredients are as follows:

  • Several slices of day old bread
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 12 oz jar of quartered artichoke hearts
  • 1 box frozen spinach thawed
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • a sprinkle of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

First preheat the oven to 400°.  Drizzle the bread with the oil, cut it into bite size pieces and bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy and toasted.  While that bakes, drain and cut up the artichokes into smaller bits.  Place the thawed spinach into a cloth or a sheet of paper toweling and squeeze out as much liquid as possible into a small bowl 100_0330and set it aside.  Do the same with the artichokes.  You may use the same toweling and will get out a bit more moisture even 100_0334after draining.  Place the vegetables into the baking pan along with the 100_0335mayonnaise, Parmesan and seasonings and stir it all together.  If your mixture is too dry, add a bit more mayonnaise along with a few tablespoons of the reserved liquid.  When it becomes a spreadable mixture, smooth the top over evenly, remove the bread from the oven and switch it with the spinach and artichoke dip and bake it until warmed through. 100_0340 It may even be a bit browned on the edges. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.

Now you’re ready for the barbecue, the pot luck supper, or the trip out to the winery’s picnic.  This little appetizer is hearty enough to even be lunch…and that’s just what it was for me and my daughter today.  I encourage you to give this one a try.100_0342100_0346


Elegant Chicken Dish On A Strict Budget

100_8560There’s no doubt, chicken is quite an economical way to serve and enjoy good flavor, concentrated protein  and essential iron while giving your wallet a little relief.  There are so many ways to cook chicken as well.  I’ve probably blogged about over three dozen recipes myself.  This is one of my favorite ways because it always turns out so elegant and tasty without letting anyone know I’m a huge cheapskate.

100_8563Chicken thighs are the new chicken wing.  It  used to be that the wings were the cheapest cut of chicken because there was no real meat on them.  Then the Buffalo wing was born and wing prices went up.  I feel guilty for touting the economical benefit of the thigh because it’s one of those same stories where only we cooks know that the thigh is about the tastiest meat on the bird and when it costs five bucks for four pounds of it, most of it meat unlike the wing, we know what a good deal we’re getting…well, you will when you try this dish.

Four thighs was half the package and that is what I cooked for the family this evening.  A bit of prep work was in order so here are the steps in the process of making creamy spinach stuffed baked chicken:

  • Four thighs with bone removed
  • one can spinach well drained
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 100_85701/3 cup Parmesan cheese
  • a dash each of black pepper, salt, garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion.
  • spices for the outer skin (I used a Cajun seasoning)

100_8572Preheat the oven to 375°.  Mix the spinach, mayo, cheese, and the dash of each seasoning, stir in onion and set aside.  Turn the chicken thighs skin side down on a cutting board and look for a vein of fat that runs parallel to the bone.  With a very sharp knife cut directly along that vein and the bone will be exposed.   cut around and even under that bone and remove it, 100_8573slicing out each end careful not to remove too much meat but all of the joint and its connective matter.

100_8574With the bone out, cut a slit in the bigger half and unfold that portion (like a brochure) making a uniformly flat piece of chicken.  Spread an even amount of spinach mixture (about 1/3 cup) over the chicken meat and roll it up.  Place the roll seam side down in a 9″x 9″ casserole dish.  Use a larger casserole for more thighs.  The spinach mixture should be enough filling for six or seven thighs.  Now bake them for about 50 minutes to one hour, or until the internal temperature reaches 180°.

100_8576Remove to a plate and allow these to rest for about ten minutes and serve with a little salad or some rice.  Remember there are already two vegetables inside the chicken so they will also be good all by themselves. 100_8577

 

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