Weekly Winner:  Simple Citrus Reset

Yes it has indeed been awhile.  I have fallen behind on my posting. I’ve also been traveling and falling behind on eating sensibly.  I’m back home and bound and determined to set things right!  I’m a firm believer in everything in moderation and that’s been the trouble.  There has been nothing moderate about the food I’ve been eating and it has all been wonderful.  But now its time to dial it back until the holidays – when gluttony will once again reign.

Luckily, I find that my body and appetite tend to have an automatic “reset” button of sorts.  After a week or two (or five) of eating wonderfully rich, complicated food I tend to crave simplicity.  I must have sensed that this is what I’d want to eat when I pulled this recipe awhile back.  I got home and knew this would hit the spot.  And it did.  The citrus and fresh oregano made it homey and just a bit unique.  But not too unique.  I’m done with unique for a while.

Lemon Chicken with Butternut Squash comes from Food Network Magazine and is a good reminder that sometimes, simple is better.  At least for now.

Lemon Chicken with Butternut Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1-3/4 lbs cubed peeled butternut squash (about 6 cups)

2 lemons (one sliced, one juiced)

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Salt and Pepper

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

Procedure:

  • Preheat oven to 450F.  Toss the squash, sliced lemon, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp oregano, 1/2 tsp salt and a few grinds of pepper in a large bowl.  Spread on a rimmed baking sheet.  Roast, undisturbed, until the squash is tender and lightly browned around the edges, about 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.  Add the chicken; cook until well browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes.  Flip the chicken and transfer the skillet to the oven.  Roast until the chicken is just cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Return the skillet to stovetop over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute.  Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 Tbsp oregano.  Cook, spooning the pan juices over the chicken for 1 minute. Serve the chicken with the roasted squash and lemon; drizzle with the remaining pan juices.
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Farro + Feta = Fabulous Fall Fare

Even though it has started to cool off a bit here, I still have those days that I crave a salad.  But it needs to be a season-appropriate salad.  A bit on the hearty side, with a warm element or two and a recipe that uses the best of fall produce.  And, if it has bacon in it…. even better!!  My answer is this spectacular salad.

Apple, Farro and Bacon Salad with Warm Feta Cheese comes from Woman’s Day magazine.  It’s a salad that definitely stays with you for a while — you won’t be hungry thirty minutes after eating it.  Roasting the bacon also makes it a bit chewier than if you simply fried it which, along with the farro, gives you something to sink your teeth into.  And besides that … its bacon, so it has that going for it already.

Apple, Farro and Bacon Salad with Warm Feta Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 slices of bacon

4 oz feta cheese

2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp fresh thyme

Kosher salt and pepper

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 small red onion, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1 crisp red apple, cored and cut into thin 1-inch pieces

1 bunch arugula, thick stems discarded

Procedure:

  1. Heat oven to 425F.  Cook the farro according to package directions.  Place the bacon in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until crisp, 12-15 minutes; crumble and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the feta in the center of a piece of foil.  Drizzle with 1 tsp. oil; sprinkle with thyme and pepper.  Pull the foil up around the feta to create a pouch.  Bake for 5 minutes just before serving.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper.  Add the onion and toss to coat; let sit for 5 minutes. Add the celery, grapes and apple and toss to combine.
  4. Add the farro, drizzle with the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil and toss to combine. Fold in the arugula and bacon and serve with the feta.

Weekly Winner:  Perfect Pre-Run Pasta

Don’t let the title of this post fool you.  I have stated numerous times that I am, in no way, shape or form a runner.  However hubby is and he meets up with his running group every Saturday morning for runs of various lengths. This means that for as long as I can remember, Friday nights have been “pasta night” around here.  This is a definite perk for the non-runner in the household — I’m guaranteed at least one pasta dinner a week!

For quite a while now, said runner-hubby has been searching for the perfect pre-run pasta.  Some pasta with a lean protein such as chicken to accompany it.  Now while it would be easy to simply grill some chicken and whip up a pasta with a prepared sauce — where’s the fun in that?

I’m happy to announce that we now have our “Go-To Friday Night Pasta”.  Pasta alla Vodka with chicken cutlets and sundried tomatoes. The recipe comes from Cuisine at Home is just what hubby’s been looking for.  It has even made him reconsider his stance on sundried tomatoes. He’s never been a big fan of them before but loved them in this dish.  And, its super-yummy and just decadent enough to make me happy as I curl up on a Friday night after a hectic week in the kitchen.  To top all that off.  It’s easy!  He gets chicken and pasta, and I get pasta in a luscious cream sauce and chicken that’s crunchy on the outside and incredibly juicy on the inside.  Everyone goes home happy!  Well, OK, actually we’re already home, but you know what I mean!

Pasta alla Vodka with Chicken Cutlets & Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 oz dry campanelle pasta (or, in my house, 8 oz of whatever bits and pieces you have left over)

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

6 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, coated with olive oil

1/2 cup minced oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and oil reserved

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup diced onions

2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp minced fresh garlic

1 cup vodka

1/3 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 cup shredded pecorino

Procedure:

  1. Cook pasta in pot of boiling, salted water according to package directions; drain.
  2. Combine bread crumbs and 2 Tbsp parsley in a shallow dish.
  3. Pound breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap with a meat mallet to 1/2 inch thick cutlets; season with salt and pepper and coat both sides of chicken in bread crumb mixture.
  4. Heat reserved sundried tomato oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Arrange cutlets in pan; saute until brown, 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate; tent with foil.
  5. Melt butter in same pan.  Add onions, tomato paste and garlic; cook until onions soften, 2 minutes.  Remove heat from pan.
  6. Add vodka and return pan to heat; cook until reduced by half, 2-3 minutes.  Add broth and sundried tomatoes and simmer 3 minutes.
  7. Stir in cream and pepper flakes, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 2 minutes.  Add pasta, pecorino and remaining 4 Tbsp parsley; season with salt and black pepper.  Divide pasta among four plates and top with cutlets.