Curried Chicken Pasta Salad I had some visitors on the ranch last week. I made the beds, dusted the furniture, and did what any self-respecting hostess would do: I bought ‘em a bunch of ready-made salads at Whole Foods, stuck ‘em in the fridge at the Lodge, and left my guests a note that read “Have at it!” It’s the kind of hostess I am. Okay, listen. I was happy as a clam, too, when my guests left and I moseyed up to the Lodge to tidy up. Within seconds, I’d retrieved a fork from the drawer and was feasting on the salad like there was no tomorrow. Last night, I whipped up my own variation, adding some pasta to the mix to round things out a little more. But whatever you do, make it. Here’s what you need. Mayo… Sour cream… Heavy cream. Curry powder. Salt… Pepper… And a little bit of sugar. And some celery. You’ll also need some golden raisins or currants. Can you hear that violin playing? Can you hear the voices? Sorry. You’ll also need chicken. Start by throwing the chicken into a pot of water. Cut it into strips… Look! Freaky.
Three Cheese-Stuffed Shells with Meaty Tomato Sauce This is yummy. This is simple. This was dinner last night. The kids loved it. Marlboro Man loved it. Amen. Everyone loves stuffed pasta shells—even people who don’t think they like stuffed pasta shells. Pasta shells will triumph! Sorry. Dice up an onion. Some garlic, too. Then heat up some oil in a large skillet. It’s getting cold here, by the way! Translation: I’ve never been happier in my life. Throw in the onion and garlic… Then throw in the Italian sausage. You could use regular breakfast sausage. Or hamburger. Or a mixture of both. Stir it around and crumble it while it browns. When it’s nice and brown, pour in some red wine. Let the liquid bubble and cook for a couple of minutes… Then pour in the crushed tomatoes. (You can also just use plain tomato sauce.) Stir it around, add salt, pepper, and sugar. While the sauce is cooking, throw jumbo pasta shells in boiling water. Throw the ricotta into a large bowl… Then throw in the egg. Throw in a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan. And some grated Romano. Yum.
Sour Cream Enchiladas This was such an easy throw-together meal last night. Reminded me of the meatless days of yore. They’re cheesy, sour creamy enchiladas straight from an old church cookbook of my mama’s. I added a little cayenne for some spice (I’m always doing that) and I loved the way they turned out. I ain’t got no cilantro. Here’s how you make ‘em: Start by lopping off the tops of a bunch of green onions. You’ll need about a cup when it’s all said and done. Like, totally. Add the green onions to two cups of sour cream, then measure a half teaspoon of ground cumin… And a fourth a teaspoon of cayenne. This adds a nice spice, so if you can’t HANDLE the heat, knock it down to an eighth of a teaspoon. Add a good amount of grated sharp cheddar. Confession: I used the pre-grated stuff. And I didn’t feel like exerting myself. Set the sour cream/cheese mixture aside, then one by one, fry the tortillas in a little canola oil. No more than five to seven seconds per side…not enough to crisp ‘em. Roll it up… Yum. Divine!
Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Panini I love panini. I love all varieties of panini. I whipped this one up yesterday. It’s nice and basic, and can be adapted by using storebough/rotisserie chicken if you’d like to omit the marinating/grilling process, and adding things like artichoke hearts and olives if you want the thing more loaded. To me, panini are like pizza or quesadillas: the combinations and permutations are endless. And delicious. We’re going to begin by making a concoction. Throw them into a food processor or blender. Add a little olive oil, a little lemon juice… And a little salt. Next, grab some prepared pesto. Where has all the basil gone? Add a good amount of pesto to the mix… Then pulse up the mixture until it’s all combined. Next, throw half of the mixture into a ziploc bag with two chicken breasts. Seal the bag, smush it around, then refrigerate it for several hours or overnight so the chicken becomes lovely and flavorful and happy and emotionally fulfilled. We all want that for our chicken breasts, don’t we? Yummy.
Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Feta Yesterday, after a weekend of brisket, chocolate cake, and innumerable other naughty delights, suddenly all I wanted was a cold, healthy salad. I eventually came to my senses and decided to include pasta in the mix, and threw in tomatoes, zucchini, and—the best part—lots of feta cheese. It tasted so darn good. There’s nothing simpler than this salad; the only thing I dressed it with was olive oil and lemon juice (and salt, pepper, and parsley), proving once again that some of the most pared-down foods are some of the most delicious. Make this after your hectic, calorie-filled weekend! Begin with a couple of zucchini. Not really. Lop off the tops and bottoms of the zucchini, then cut them in half. Cut each piece in half lengthwise… Then rotate it 90 degrees and cut it again. At this point, you’ll have sticks. *Slapping my own hand till I cry* Ree! Then turn the sticks to the side and dice ‘em up. Next, halve some grape tomatoes. I love grape tomatoes. Mince up some parsley… And halve a lemon. Oh!
Turkey Tetrazzini I couldn’t wait. I’m sorry. I had planned to save my turkey leftover recipes for next week (so you’d have time to plan your after-Thanksgiving meals) but this one is just too yummy not to share. It’s turkey tetrazzini, one of my all-time faves. The Cast of Characters: leftover turkey, butter, mushrooms, white wine, salt, pepper, cream cheese, monterey jack, parmesan, turkey broth, peas, black olives, bacon, and garlic. Add some butter and chopped garlic to a pot over medium heat. Saute the garlic for a minute or so… Then throw in the mushrooms. Stir around the mushrooms and let them cook… Then add a little salt. Pour in a good cup of white wine… Then you need to let the mushrooms cook and bubble and go nuts for several minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. At that time, you will need to sit on your hands in order to prevent yourself from scarfing down the entire pan of wine-cooked mushrooms because there’s nothing better in the world. When the liquid is reduced… Next? But wait! Enjoy!
Leftover Turkey and Swiss Panini I can’t believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Well, let me back up: I can’t believe it’s November. If you’re still looking for some last-minute recipes for turkey day, feel free to browse my recipes here: Thanksgiving Archive. If you’ve already got your plan in place, here’s an absolutely scrumptious (and easy) way to use up your leftover turkey. The Cast of Characters: Leftover turkey, leftover cranberry sauce, chopped pecans, fig or apricot jam, Dijon mustard, Swiss cheese, bread, and butter. On all the slices of bread… Spread a layer of jam… The squirt on a good amount of Dijon… And spread that on, too. The pile on the leftover turkey…no matter how dry and pitiful it might look. Take the pecans… And throw them into the cranberry sauce. Pile this mixture on the turkey… And spread it around to evenly cover the turkey. Top this with two thick slices of Swiss. Then top with the other slice of bread, slather both sides with butter… Yum. Score. This was astoundingly delicious! Ingredients
Chicken Piccata This is how you make Chicken Piccata when you’re out of capers and you have a pathological fear of cooking anything without adding heavy cream. At least it’s how I make it. This is a really delicious quick and easy chicken-and-pasta dish with a strong lemon flavor and the decadence of cream. I love food. (I love lemon-pasta dishes. Here’s what you need: chicken breasts, salt, pepper, flour, butter, olive oil, lemons, white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream, and parsley. Have a pot of simmering water going. You’ll want some nice, neat boneless/skinless breasts. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. If you could also sprinkle your counter with salt and pepper, I’d be most appreciative. Now throw the flour onto a plate… And dredge both sides of the chicken in the flour. Now, melt half the olive oil and butter in a large skillet. Then throw in two of the dredged chicken breasts. Cook them for about three minutes on both sides, until the chicken is golden and lovely. Mmm…yum. Except this: Enjoy!
Restaurant Style Salsa Okay. Here’s the situation: I am completely high maintenance when it comes to salsa. Now, I’m not talking about Pico de Gallo. I’m high maintenance there, too…but that’s not what I’m making today. What I’m making today is salsa. As ubiquitous as it is, you’d think salsa would be a pretty straightforward thing. No vinegar, dude! Must have cilantro, holmes! Who knew I had such deeply felt principles? Salsa…it just brings it out in me. My whole point is, if you have a good blender or food processor, making salsa at home is a total snap. The Cast of Characters: Whole canned tomatoes, Rotel (tomatoes and chilies), onion, fresh jalapeno, salt, sugar, garlic, and cilantro. Dice up a little onion. Throw the canned tomatoes, juice and all, into the bowl of a food processor. Next, dump in the two cans of Rotel. That I used one can of Mild and one can of Original was purely an accident…but strangely, the balance of spice turned out to be just right. Add just 1/4 cup chopped onion to the bowl. Jalapenos.
Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce This delectable, tangy, strange, creamy, and bold pan sauce is one of my favorites, and I’m getting ready to tell you why. Are you ready? Here goes: It’s delectable, tangy, strange, creamy, and bold! That’s why. But really, guys. Make it for someone you love sometime soon. The Cast of Characters: boneless/skinless chicken breasts, garlic, brandy, Dijon mustard, grainy Dijon mustard, heavy cream, and (not pictured because I am chronically airheaded when it comes to taking complete Cast of Character photos) olive oil, butter, chicken broth, salt, and pepper. Cut the chicken breasts in half like this… (Nice hand, Ree. (Not.) So that you wind up with eight smaller, thinner chicken cutlets. Thoroughly salt and pepper both sides of the chicken… Then I need you to use your imagination. The reason I need you to imagine it is that I inexplicably forgot to take photos of the chicken cooking in the skillet. Don’t be like me. Reduce the heat in the skillet a bit, then throw in a bunch of minced garlic.
Springy Shells I know it’s bathing suit season and we all need to be more conscious of every bite that enters our yappers so we can all look great in our bikinis. But here’s the awesome part: I haven’t worn a bikini since 1993! It was in Bermuda. Anyway, now that I don’t wear bikinis and worry about every fat gram and every tenth of a pound…I get to eat things like this! And you can eat things like this, too! For this deliciousness, you need green vegetables. Asparagus is a must. Zucchini is yummy, too. Broccoli. And don’t kill me, but I think frozen peas are just peachy. Wash/rinse all the veggies. Set the asparagus aside. Then cut the broccoli into very small pieces. I love green vegetables. Now. Then rotate the slices 90 degrees and cut them into smaller pieces. Grab some garlic and chop it up. Go ahead and throw in the pasta. Slice 2 or 3 green onions until you reach the darkest green. Next, grab some ricotta cheese. Dump it into a bowl. Crack in a couple of eggs… 1/2 teaspoon salt… Do NOT disobey me. Enjoy!