Watch Cooking Channel

Posts Tagged ‘quick and easy’

Dinner Rush! Beet Salad With Crispy Goat Cheese

I resorted to blowing the dust off from one of my old culinary schoolbooks the other night while canvassing for confirmation of a culinary fact in dispute. Welcome to my world. As I cracked the spine and thumbed through pages of notes (I’m a big advocate of writing in my books), an unexpected kick of nostalgia provided inspiration for that night’s dinner plans.

One of my culinary school’s go-to “beginner” recipes was a super simple but amazingly satisfying beet salad tossed with mustard vinaigrette and topped with a crispy round of goat cheese. It’s a salad with a bit of everything going on: roasted vegetables, a basic vinaigrette and a warm and crispy garnish. It was a total benchmark of achievement to go from having it served to you as a freshman to preparing it for others as a sophomore.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Beet Salad With Crispy Goat Cheese

Dinner Rush! Picnic Pizza Rolls

This is it, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Memorial Day has passed and summer is officially here!  I think it’s only fitting to celebrate the advent of summer with a bit of al fresco dining (what’s all this beautiful weather for, anyway, if not to enjoy?)  This week’s Dinner Rush! is heading outside with a picnic basket in hand.

OK, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a picnic — the point is these pizza rolls are great to make in advance for dinner anywhere from the front porch to the city park.  Like any good pizza, you can pretty much fill them with whatever you want, then just pack them up and get out for some fun in the sun!

Most stores offer pizza dough that is already prepared and can be picked up from the refrigerated case (or even the freezer).  If your market seems to be out, give your corner pizza shop a call — they’ll usually sell you a ball of dough no problem.

Happy Summer!

Picnic Pizza Rolls

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Picnic Pizza Rolls

Dinner Rush! Grilled Romaine With Charred Grapefruit Dressing

Grilled romaine is one of those things that I order every time I see it on a menu. It’s just such a fascinating hybrid to me of two things that I wouldn’t at all think belong together: the grill, with its rough, hot brutishness juxtaposed with the tender, crispy leaves of “spa food” infamy. What sounds like failure in the making may in fact change the way you feel about romaine forever.

Grilling romaine at home is not a complicated or lengthy process. A quick spritz with some nonstick spray, 30 seconds of high-heat contact and BAM! Otherwise boring greens take on new life with a smoky aroma and toasted flavor with enough depth to let them stand on their own as a dinner centerpiece.

I stole a page from my friend Charissa’s recipe book and charred a grapefruit to serve as the base of this salad’s dressing. Its subtle tartness plus the charred leaves and a few toasted almonds make beautiful culinary harmony.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Grilled Romaine With Charred Grapefruit Dressing

Dinner Rush! Grilled Shrimp and Greek Bread Cheese

So there I am, minding my own business, scanning over the hundred-and-some-odd cheeses that populate my favorite local market’s cold case. The usual suspects are there in force: cheddar varieties for days, countless Camemberts, some funky monkey “pistachio-infused” wedge in coordinating green. And then I spot bread cheese.

What, what? Bread cheese? I mean, I’ve done bread + cheese, but ne’er without the two entering into our engagement as initially separate entities. Rick, the archetypal cheese man in his cute tweed derby cap, likens it to a grilling cheese. “The flavor is pretty mild,” he tells me, “like a halloumi but not as salty. People buy it up like crazy and eat it for breakfast and dessert. I guess you could use it as a savory snack, too. That would be good.” In the basket it goes.

Juustoleipa, as the Finnish call their native creation, translates to “cheese bread.” The idea is that this cheese is made and then baked, giving it a beautiful signature golden-brown surface appearance. To serve it, the Finnish recommend warming it in a microwave or an oven to soften the center. They’re wicked fancy and traditionally make theirs with reindeer milk, but we mostly get cow’s milk varieties in the U.S. Echoing Rick’s comment, it’s usually served as a breakfast or dessert item smothered in preserves or honey and nuts, but I’ve got other plans.

Combining some Greek salad-inspired flavors of tomato, olive, cucumber and oregano, this surprisingly filling meal offers a fun bit of something different from the typical pasta/rice/polenta portion of dinner. It’s got a great chewy (some say “squeaky”) texture that’s just as satisfying as any traditional carbohydrate. Give it a whirl, and leave me a comment below or on Facebook and let me know what you did with it!

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Grilled Shrimp and Greek Bread Cheese

Dinner Rush! Moroccan Chicken Stew With Green Beans

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an entry encouraging you guys to make your own tandoori spice at home, inspired by a delicious one I found at my local market. Not being that guy who is going to leave you hanging with a rogue jar of “what do I do with that now?” spice blend, this week’s Dinner Rush is putting it back in action to create a quick and delicious Moroccan-inspired stew.

The flavors of Morocco are known for rather closely treading the line between sweet and savory. Lots of the spices in our tandoori blend — cumin, ginger and turmeric, for instance — are blended with cinnamon, lemon and dried fruits to produce simply composed and intricately flavored dishes. For ease of preparation, I’ve borrowed only a few of those ideas. If you’ve got the time to get a bit crazy, though, see how a pinch of saffron and a handful each of chopped prunes and chopped green olives completely will take this dish to a new level.

This stew is a great idea to keep on hand, too, for a Meatless Monday inspiration. You can easily swap the chicken stock for veggie stock or water, and trade the shredded chicken for a can of chickpeas. Do me a huge favor, though, and don’t skimp on the cilantro at the end. It cuts through the spice in the tandoori powder and gives the dish a great balance. Plus, it’s one of my top-three favorite herbs, for those curious.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Moroccan Chicken Stew With Green Beans

Eating Well When You Feel Lazy

Penne Aglio-olio-Anything

Put down the mac and cheese, and back away from that can opener. I know the terrifying depths laziness can take a person, but don’t take it out on your stomach. A Doritos panino topped with Brie cheese and pickles isn’t creative — it’s a cry for help. Here are some foods that taste awesome and don’t require much effort.

Penne Aglio-olio-Anything

No excuse, folks. Pasta practically cooks itself. And this recipe doesn’t call for a trip to the store or to your neighbor’s house to ask for missing ingredients. Just throw in whatever you’ve got and it’s totally good enough.

Continue Reading Eating Well When You Feel Lazy

Dinner Rush! Winter White Turkey Chili

Aside from being painfully chic – what with its “winter white” moniker and all – this recipe is a particularly sentimental one for me as it’s one of the first things my now husband made for me when we first started dating.

You see we both went to culinary school – met there in fact – but he took the road less kitchen-y in favor of other aptitudes (basically, he’s a fantastic marketer and a terrible cook [his words not mine]). Keeping a few culinary tricks up his sleeve, though, he loves making chili and, being that we started dating mid-winter, this recipe has always been a big ol’ seasonal heart-warmer for me.

We call it a white chili because there’s very little tomato in it, but the addition of cumin, beer, tons of beans and a topper of creamy avocado keep it just as satisfying as a traditional red chili. It’s a nice change to help wean you off from the football season barrage.

And take it from a culinary school grad who (claims that he) can’t cook. This recipe is super flexible, welcoming into the pot whatever vegetables you have in the house, and is delicious with the addition of a chopped up sweet potato or chipotle in adobo.

Just make sure to serve it in something chic to keep the momentum going for me, would you please?

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Winter White Turkey Chili

Dinner Rush! Spicy Chicken & Chorizo Tacos

Being a kid from the snow covered hills of Northern New York, I love a classic Northeast winter. Snow storms, sledding, and mornings so chilly you can see your breath — it’s nostalgic and delicious. That being said, I don’t mind a bit of a refresher on the beauty of summer fun and flavors every now and then.

Enter taco night!  Being that tacos come in so many different shapes, sizes and varieties, I opted this week for a simple and delicious chicken & chorizo combo with a big kick up on the spice factor.  My husband loves spicy food (I’m getting there, too; give me some time) so I reached for a heavily seasoned fresh chorizo from my local Latin market and topped these tacos with a chipotle cream and quick pickled jalapenos — both of which I made fresh at home in the time it took the meats to cook through.

The toppings that I used were what I had in the fridge.  Take my suggestions as a guide, then go ahead and get crazy with whatever you have around.  That’s really what’s so great about taco night, isn’t it?  They’re easy; they’re interactive; and they’re just so delicious.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Spicy Chicken & Chorizo Tacos

Dinner Rush! Beer-Braised Burgers

Imagine what happens when you combine your favorite tailgating beverage with America’s favorite sandwich.  Chardonnay Hoagies?  Yuck.  Cosmo Reubens?  Way off point.  But beer and burgers?  Now we’re talking.

This “knife & fork” style beer-braised burger does most of its cooking in a delicious sudsy bath of brew, which not only builds in a great depth of flavor, it also helps to create a killer pan sauce that you can pour over your finished masterpiece.  While it looks like 110% “so bad, but so good” man food, a few tricks can help lighten this dish. Opt for ground sirloin to cut out some excess fat from the meat and use a strongly flavored cheese (such as the recommended Stilton) to get the most flavor bang for your caloric buck. You can also use a lighter beer like a lager or ale (though I’d recommend something hearty like a porter or stout).

Now – if you’ve had enough time to shake the thought of what a train wreck Cosmo Reubens would be – game on!

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Beer-Braised Burgers

Dinner Rush! Beans & Greens Spaghetti

It’s now week two of the “Resolution Stretch.” How you holding up?  I know, I’d rather we call them long term goals, too.  How about a quick and healthy dinner plan to get “two birds with one stone” ahead of the game?

 

The combo of cooked beans and hearty greens is a pretty classic one in Italian home cooking.  The beauty of it, really, is that you can easily make a super hearty dinner for four (or even a few more) that is nutritionally balanced, ready in no time and light on the wallet.

Reach for whatever cooking greens your grocery store has around – mine happened to have some beautiful escarole and rainbow chard so I went with a combination of the two.  Anything will work. Although you’d never know it from the depth of flavor, this recipe is also vegetarian. If you prefer a bit of meat with your dinner, go ahead and crisp up some pancetta, bacon, or their leaner Canadian cousin and add that to the mix too.

You’re saving money, time and calories all in one dish.  Go on, you Resolution Rockstar.

Continue Reading Dinner Rush! Beans & Greens Spaghetti

c