Monday, January 27, 2014

Let's keep it moving!

Baby was content to sit on the kitchen floor today, learning how to bang spatulas on pots and pans (yes, she did this for the first time today!). So while she kept herself busy, I voraciously raced around my little kitchen to make two dishes that could fill us up for the next few days!

The first will be called, "Chicken and vegetables on pasta with creamy goat cheese, mushroom, and red pepper sauce." Not very catchy, but very descriptive!

For this filling dish, you will need:

-1/2 bunch kale, stripped from the stalks, torn into chunks and rinsed
-2 chicken breasts, or 3 chicken thighs
-olive oil
-5-6 mushrooms, sliced
-1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
-1/3 onion, sliced
-1 tbs butter
-4 tbs flour
-4 cups chicken broth
-1-2 tbs goat cheese
-salt/pepper/Italian seasoning to taste
-1/2 package of pasta of your choice

Flash boil the kale (boil for one minute and drain). Set aside.

Heat up 2-3 tbs of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. When hot, put in the chicken breasts/thighs and let simmer on low-medium until browned on each side and cooked through. Remove from the oil and let cool on a plate with napkins (to soak up excess oil). DO NOT THROW AWAY OIL IN PAN. Meanwhile, soften onion, mushrooms and peppers in a separate pan with butter. When the butter is absorbed, add 1 tbs oil to keep the vegetables from sticking. Once soft, remove the vegetables from the butter/oil with tongs and temporarily store in a bowl close by. Pour the oil from your cooked chicken INTO the pan with the oil from the cooked vegetables (combine the two). Now add flour and stir with a whisk (you are making a roux!). This will get dry and sticky pretty quickly. Slowly add the chicken broth and stir, it should get thicker and creamier as you go. While stirring, add the goat cheese and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt/pepper as desired.

The process of making a roux is not a perfect science (at least not for me). If you feel it gets too runny, add more flour. If it's too thick, add more chicken broth. The important part is to get it right before you add the other ingredients in.

Add the cooked vegetables, chicken, and kale to the roux. Season with Italian seasonings. Allow these ingredients to simmer on low while you boil water for pasta. Cook the pasta slightly less than directed since you'll be baking it more later. Drain the pasta and put it in a deep casserole dish. Top the pasta with your vegetable roux mix. Cover and refrigerate for later, then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Voila!

Now clap and yell "yay!!" for your kitchen buddy who just discovered how to play peek-a-boo with the strainer!!

Next dish, French onion soup! I used a packaged mix for this...please don't judge me. BUT, I added:
-1/2 bunch of kale (raw, I figured it would cook in the soup)
-4-5 mushrooms, sliced
-freshly sliced onions (as directed)
-2 cups whole grain egg noodles

The moral of the story here's okay to use store-bought mixes once in a while! They are great gifts! But I try to "jazz them up" with fresh ingredients so they are a bit more healthy and hearty. I will upload a pic tomorrow!!

Now go pat yourself on the back for keeping it moving in the kitchen!!

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