Friday, February 28, 2014

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Fries

The husband asked what I was making for dinner. "Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Fries. Wait, wait, wait!! They're not real fries; they're baked. They're not actually fried at all. I'm just making Crispy Parmesan Asparagus. That's it. Not fries."

I was afraid of over-promising and under-delivering on the "fries" aspect of the asparagus. The husband loves fried food. If he was expecting the asparagus to taste like french fries, I worried that he'd be sorely disappointed.

Well, I had no reason to be concerned. The man went back for seconds. On baked Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Fries. I'd call that a success.

Crispy Parmesan Asparagus Fries
Adapted from Closet Cooking
Serves: 4

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon paprika, divided
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Get out three shallow bowls. Place flour in the first bowl. In the second bowl, whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon water. In the third bowl, stir together breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese. Evenly divide the paprika between flour and breadcrumbs and season both generously with salt and pepper. Mix to ensure the seasonings are evenly distributed.

Dredge a few spears of asparagus in flour, then dip in egg, allowing excess to drip off. Roll in breadcrumbs, pressing to help them adhere. Place asparagus on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining asparagus. If there are any breadcrumbs left in the bowl, sprinkle them on top of the asparagus. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until breadcrumbs are golden and asparagus is crisp-tender.

Monday, February 24, 2014

No-Stir Granola

You guys. I can't stop eating this granola. It's becoming a problem. I sneak a handful while I'm making breakfast (usually yogurt...with granola), and another as I make my PB&J for lunch. When the mid-afternoon munchies hit, you bet I'm back in the granola jar. Then maybe another scoop before dinner. And after dinner. And, while I'm at it, before bed, too.

I think I have a granola problem. But, really, is that a bad thing?

No-Stir Granola
Adapted from The Frugal Girl

1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups old fashioned oats
3/4 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a large, rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl mix together maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, and vegetable oil. Stir in oats, almonds, and pecans until everything is evenly coated. Press mixture into prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until granola is golden brown and smells toasted. (Start checking around the 25 minute mark to make sure it didn't burn.) Allow granola to cool on the baking sheet for 1 hour. Break into clusters and stir in dried cranberries, if using. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Serve over yogurt, topped with milk, or sprinkled on a banana hot fudge sundae.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Beef Stew

Beef Stew. It's so simple and unassuming, but, man, is it good. I've been meaning to make Beef Stew for a while now. Now that I tried it—now that I know how delicious it is—I can't help but wonder, what the heck took me so long? In case you're wavering, let me tell you why you should make Beef Stew post haste.

First, as I mentioned about fourteen times already, Beef Stew is delicious. Tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce create complex flavor and red wine adds richness. And after a couple hours of slow cooking, the beef is tender and falling apart.

Second...leftovers!! If I can cook once and eat twice, I'm all for it. Beef Stew reheats beautifully. And you can even add a twist to your leftovers by turning them into pot pie. Load your leftover Beef Stew into a casserole dish. Top with your favorite mashed potatoes. (Homemade or from a box...I don't judge. Mine were absolutely from a box.) Then let's gild the lily and sprinkle the mashed potatoes with shredded cheddar cheese. Yes, let's do that. Bake at 400 until the stew is bubbly, the cheese is melted, and the potatoes are golden around the edges.

Beef Stew
Adapted from epicurious
Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1" cubes
Salt and pepper
2 onions, peeled and chopped fine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup red wine
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
6 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Mashed potatoes or biscuits, for serving

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Generously season beef with salt and pepper. Add half the beef to the pan and cook until all sides are deep brown, turning as needed, 7-10 minutes total. Set browned beef aside on a plate and repeat with an additional 1 tablespoon oil and remaining beef.

Add final 1 tablespoon oil to now empty pan and add chopped onion. Cook onion, stirring regularly, until it's soft and translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.

Stir in wine and use a spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Stir in beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, bay leaves, and reserved browned beef. Bring to a simmer, cover, and place in oven for 1 hour.

Stir in carrots and return stew to the oven to cook for 1 more hour, until carrots and beef are tender. Place the pot on a burner over medium-low heat. Stir in peas and allow the stew to cook until the peas are heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve over mashed potatoes or biscuits, sprinkled with parsley.

P.S. Here's a cell phone pic of my leftover Beef Stew turned Shepherd's Pie. Tastes better than it looks, but I thought I'd share.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Two throwback posts in a row! I just can't get enough of these Hot Dinner favorites, you guys. It's been so fun to go back through old posts. Good memories and good food.  

Today we're making Asian Lettuce Wraps. Thanks to P.F. Chang's, Asian Lettuce Wraps are universally loved. It's easy to see why: Crunchy and refreshing lettuce envelops a savory filling drizzled with sweet and tangy sauce. Plus they're fun—albeit a bit messy—to eat.  

Next time you're looking for an appetizer or a light meal, give these babies a whirl. I think you'll see why they ended up on my favorites list.

Asian Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from
Original post here.

For Wraps:
16 leaves of butter lettuce (or iceberg or Romaine, just use something crunchy)
1 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons pickled ginger, minced
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Asian chile pepper sauce
8 ounces water chestnuts, drained and chopped
5 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

For Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup plum sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon teriyaki sauce

In a skillet over high heat, brown the ground turkey and onion in 1 tablespoon oil. Add garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce into the skillet and stir. Stir in the chopped water chestnuts, white and light green parts of the onion, and sesame oil. Continue cooking until the onions begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce. Whisk together plum sauce, orange juice, corn starch, and teriyaki sauce in a small saucepan. Boil for 1 minute. 

Arrange lettuce leaves on a platter and add the meat in a big pile. Serve with the sauce, letting everybody make his or her own lettuce wraps. And make sure you have plenty of napkins.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle

Today I have another flashback recipe for you. I originally wrote this in February 2011 as a guest post for the blog Cheap, Healthy, Good. It's one of my favorite posts (Go ahead. Just take a moment and read it.) and it's one of my favorite soups. The rich sweetness of the sweet potato is perfectly balanced with just enough smokey heat from the chipotle chile to warm your soul. It is absolutely February food.

This recipe makes a big enough batch to feed a crowd or pack for lunches for the week. Wouldn't a thermos of Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle brighten up your brown bag?

Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle
Adapted from Everyday Food
Original recipe here
Serves: 8

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds total), peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
1 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped; plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (or to taste)
Approximately 7 cups* low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Sour cream, for serving

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Add onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook onion, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden-brown around the edges, about 7 minutes. Add cumin and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in sweet potatoes, chipotle chile, adobo sauce, and 6 cups chicken broth. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and allow soup to simmer until sweet potatoes are very tender, about 25 minutes.

Allow soup to cool slightly. Transfer soup to blender in batches, being cautious not to fill blender to the top, and, holding lid on tightly, puree until smooth. Return pureed soup to Dutch oven. (Alternatively, puree soup using an immersion blender.) If the soup is too thick, add remaining 1 cup chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. At medium-low temperature, heat soup until it is warmed through. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

*Feel free to use more or less broth until the soup reaches your desired consistency.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Honey Roasted Carrots & Parsnips with Herbes de Provence

Roasted vegetables, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Seriously. Let me count the ways...
  1. Roasted vegetables are crazy easy. You all know that I'm lazy. I take the easy way out so I can watch more TV. And that's real life.
  2. Roasted vegetables are ridiculously delicious. High heat caramelizes the natural sugars, and you might just be able to trick your taste buds into thinking you're eating candy. Healthy candy. 
  3. Roasted vegetables are versatile. I've roasted green beans, potatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrotszucchini, asparagus, snap peas, and squash. There might be more, but you get my drift. You can roast pretty much any vegetable and expect delicious results. 
Today we're roasting carrots and parsnips, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with Herbes de Provence for a subtle floral sweetness. Crazy easy and ridiculously delicious. 

Honey Roasted Carrots & Parsnips with Herbes de Provence
Serves: 4

1 pound parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place parsnips and carrots on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and honey and sprinkle with Herbes de Provence and salt and pepper to taste. Use your hands to toss everything together so the vegetables are evenly coated. Bake for 10-15 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the vegetables are golden and tender.