Sunday, January 17, 2010

Weekend Warriors

I am sitting here listening to the sounds of my handy husband and a plumber installing a new faucet in our shower and bathtub. The second step on the road to a new bathroom! Yesterday was demo day. It was dirty and tiresome but totally satisfying to tear out all of the old tile and plaster. We had planned on just doing the shower this weekend and saving the floor for another time but once we got into the demo we decided to just go for it and so far I am glad we did. Ask me how I feel on Tuesday morning though, when it is time to go back to work and we have no shower. In the end it will be great to have it all fresh and new. Maybe I will post some pics here to show you all the before and after.

Lets get on to the menu. Like I said, I have been cooking a lot. It has been pretty hardy, winter type food. The type that warms you up at the end of a cold day.

This is basically the same as the butternut squash version I posted about here in the Fall but this time I opted for a frozen package of squash and the butternut they had was full of margarine and other non-desirable things but the winter squash was just winter squash so I went for that. I have to say, at first I didn't like it quite as much but it mellowed out as it sat and the leftovers I had for lunch the next day were delish.

Chicken and Winter Squash Risotto
modified from This Week for Dinner
makes 4-6 servings

1 12oz package frozen winter squash, thawed
2 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper, sauteed in olive oil and cut into bite size pieces
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 T olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups Arborio Rice
1 cup dry white wine
pinch nutmeg
kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T butter
1 t fresh thyme leaves

In a large saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and toast, stirring often, for about 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the it is absorbed, 2-3 minutes.

Add two ladles of the warm chicken broth to the rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat adding two ladles at a time until all of the liquid is absorbed. If the rice is not completely tender continue to add hot water, 1/2 cup at a time until rice is cooked through.

Stir in the squash, nutmeg, thyme, salt and pepper to taste and let cook two minutes. Add the chicken, cheese and butter and stir until melted.


These were so easy to make and really fantastic. After I made them I couldn't stop thinking of all the delicious variations you could do. Yesterday we made another batch but with breakfast fillings. Mine had scrambled eggs, onions, green peppers and turkey sausage. Jer just went for the eggs sausage and cheese.

Pork and Sweet Potato Turnovers
modified from Real Simple
make 4 servings

1/2 lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 sweet potato grated
2 cups baby spinach
kosher salt and black pepper
2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Brown the pork with the garlic over medium-high heat until cooked through. Add the sweet potato and spinach and cook until the spinach in wilted. Season with salt and pepper.

Cut each pastry sheet in half and place 14 of the filling on half of each piece. Fold the top over the filling and press along the edges to seal.

Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes.


Jer has recently decided that he loves cooked carrots (especially if they are roasted) so I have been looking for ways to incorporate them into our meals. This came from the Martha Stewart Great Food Fast Cookbook (I got it from my Mom for Christmas). It is great book, I like that it is organized by season and the recipes are simple and strait forward. It also has really enticing photos of all of the recipes in the book.

Oven Roasted Chicken and Vegetables with Rice Pilaf
modified from Great Food Fast
makes 4 servings

4 chicken breasts
1 lb carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut diagonally into 1/2" chunks
6 cloves garlic, quartered
1 medium red onion, halved and cut into 1/2" wedges
kosher salt and black pepper
rice pilaf for servings (I made one from a box)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the carrots, garlic and onion around the chicken; season everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve with rice pilaf.

This was another from the Martha Stewart book. Well it started out that way but as I got into it, it quickly became one of those meals where nothing seams to be working right and it became something entirely different than what it set out to be. The main problem was that I thought I had hoisin sauce sauce but when I went to dig it out of the depths of the fridge it was no more (probably the victim of a clean sweep of the refrigerator one day when I couldn't find what I was looking for). I looked online to see if I could make it from things I had in the pantry and sure enough there were several recipes. I came up with something based on what I did have but then, when I made it, it came out very thin. That was when I gave up on the plan and started flying by the seat of my pants. Here is what came out of the fog.

Hoisin Pork with Pineapple
makes 4 servings

For the Hoisin Sauce:
4 T soy sauce
2 T peanut butter
1 T honey
2 t white vinegar
1/8 t garlic powder
2 t sesame oil
20 drops hot sauce
1/8 t black pepper

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

For the pork:
1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 pineapple cut into 1" pieces
1 T vegetable oil
1/4 t fresh ginger minced

Heat the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pineapple and cook until they start to get a little char on them. Add the pork and cook until cooked through. Pour in the hoisin sauce and ginger and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly.

Serve over rice.


This was supposed to be a weekend project but I didn't get to it last weekend. I had all of the ingredients so I decided to take it on on Monday. It took me two hours and the entire time I was doubtful they were going to turn out, but in the end they were a total success and I think next time they may even be a little quicker too.

Chinese Dumplings
from Fine Cooking (check out the Feb/March '10 issue for great step-by-step photos and variations on the filling and cooking method)
makes 36 dumplings

For the filling:
1 cup napa cabbage, finely chopped
kosher salt
6 oz ground pork
4 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined and coarsely chopped
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 T Chinese rice wine
3/4 T grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 t soy sauce
1 t sesame oil
1/4 t granulated sugar
1/4 t black pepper

In a medium bowl. toss the cabbage with 1 t salt and set aside for 30 minutes to shed moisture. Wring out in a clean kitchen towel to extract as much moisture as possible.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. (You can prepare and refrigerate the filling up to 8 hours ahead.)

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour: more for kneading
1/2 cup cold water

Put the flour in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the water. Stir first with a spoon and then with your hands. If the dough remains in shreds, sprinkle in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it begins to stick together. Don't ass too much water or the dough will be difficult to work.

Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour and knead the dough for 5 minutes to form a smooth, firm, elastic ball. The dough should not be sticky and should bounce back when pressed lightly.

Divide the dough in half with a benchknife and roll into two 6" logs. Sprinkle each evenly with four and, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. (At this point you can cover the dough with plastic and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. return to room temperature before rolling.)

Cut each log in half crosswise. Cut each half crosswise into thirds, then slice each of those pieces into three even pieces. You should have 36, equal size, pieces. Toss the pieces in four and cover with a clean towel so they don't dry out.

Roll each piece of dough into a thin 3" circle. Spoon 1-2 t of the filling onto the dough circle, fold it in half and seal by pinching at the center of the curved edge and then pleat toward the center on both sides to create a rounded belly.

Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. As you work arrange the dumplings on a plate in a single layer without touching, so they won't stick together.

To pan-fry the dumplings for pot-stickers heat 2 T vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working quickly (in batches if necessary) arrange the dumpling, belly side down in the skillet. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Pour in about 1/2 cup water, enough to come about 1/3 of the way up the sides of the dumplings, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and continue to cook until the dumplings are dry and crisp on the bottom, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate, browned side up, and serve with a dipping sauce.

Soy dipping sauce:
3 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1 t granulated sugar
1/2 t hot chile oil or sesame oil
1 small scallion, thinly sliced.

Combine first four ingredients. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in scallion.

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Twila said...

So glad you are back! And please do send some before/after bathroom pictures :)

KT said...

Hi! So we made the sausage and sweet potato turnovers tonight and they were so good! My only question is did you eat anything with them? Something seemed like it was missing, but we also put cheese on everything so that could have been it :) Also my pregnant brain had a hard time figuring out that you meant 1/4th instead of 14, lucky for me I have a smart husband! I think they would be great for breakfast too!

Andrea said...

Hi KT! It is so funny that you say that about the cheese because the original recipe called for it but I left it out on accident and then I thought they were pretty good without it.

Anonymous said...

I always wanted to try risotto. It looks so delicious. Thanks for the recipe now I can try it! =)