Thursday, January 31, 2013

Spicy Shrimp & Rice One-Pot Meal

Shrimp and rice is one of my favorite combinations so I immediately saved this recipe when I came across it a while ago.  I chose to make it recently as I was perusing dinner options, for it's simplicity and comforting appeal.  This dish is made in one pot and there's nothing complicated about it, making it a win-win.  The cayenne, tomatoes, and lemon juice all add a ton of flavor to the rice and shrimp, and when combined with the crumbled bacon, it's hard to top!  (Not to mention that the recipe starts with sauteing onions in bacon fat.)  The result is a tasty, comforting, and surprisingly light bowl of flavorful rice and perfectly cooked shrimp.  This is perfect for dinner but would also make a great brunch.
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 1/2 lb sliced bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • lemon juice from half of a freshly squeezed lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 lbs medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • lemon wedges, for serving
Rinse and drain the rice- set to the side.  Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally until it starts to crisp and brown.  
Remove from the pot to drain on a paper towel, leaving at least 3 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pot.  Add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes.  
Next, add the rice along with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne.  
Stir and cook for one minute.  Pour in the tomatoes with their juices, chicken broth, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.  
Bring to a simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes.  Check after 20 minutes to see how cooked the rice is.  If it tastes like it's almost done, add the shrimp.  If it is still pretty al dente, let it cook a bit longer until the rice is almost done before adding the shrimp.  Stir them in and cook with the lid partially off the pot, stirring often. Leave the lid completely off if your mixture is a little soupy.  Add more broth if it starts to dry out. After 10 minutes the shrimp should be fully cooked through.  
Taste for more seasoning.  Serve immediately, with fresh parsley and a lemon wedge.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Fennel and Onions

This dish is simple to make and has very few ingredients, yet still packs in a lot of flavor making a hearty winter dinner.  The use of both fennel seeds and fennel bulb add something different and special to your regular roasted pork tenderloin.  The flavor of the roasted fennel goes great with the onions, creating a sweet complement to the savory pork.  The recipe came from Serious Eats and I didn't feel the need to alter it one bit.  We served this with some potato pancakes, but it would be good with any potato or rice side dish. 
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, stalk trimmed and cut into 6 wedges
  • 2 red onions cut into 6 wedges
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pork tenderloin (1-1.5 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°F and adjust rack to middle of oven.  We preheated our stoneware baking dish with the oven.  Toss the fennel and onion wedges in a bowl with a generous pour of olive oil, and about a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Mix to coat evenly and pour into a large rectangular baking dish.  Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even cooking.  
Meanwhile, drizzle the pork with 2 teaspoons olive oil and coat with salt and pepper.  Rub the fennel seeds and thyme to fully coat the exterior of the pork.  Remove the fennel and onion from the oven, and create a space in the middle for the pork.  
Place the pork down in the center of the dish and roast until the thickest part registers 145°F with a thermometer. (Should take about 20-30 minutes)  Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  
Slice into 1/2 rounds and serve with the roasted fennel and onions.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, if desired.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hoppin' John (Black Eyed Peas)

Hoppin' John is a cheap, delicious, and pretty nutritious one-pot dinner- a great way to enjoy your New Year's day black eyed peas.  (Or on any day for that matter)  The addition of bacon adds some savory smoky flavor, and the red pepper flakes give it a nice kick of heat.  Black eyed peas don't take as long to cook as dry beans, and you should check them often to avoid over-cooking... as I learned from experience.  This is a hearty & warm winter dinner, but could also be eaten as a side dish with something like pork tenderloin.  The recipe came from Michael Ruhlman's website.
  • 1 pound black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 3 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 large onions, one peeled and quartered, one medium diced
  • 2 carrots, cut in half
  • 4 bay leaves
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 8 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch strips (preferably slab bacon)
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes (or more if you like it really hot)
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

In a large pot, combine the rinsed black eyed peas with the quartered onion, carrots, and three bay leaves with 1 teaspoon salt Add the chicken broth and then enough water to cover the beans and vegetables by about 3 inches.  This was a great opportunity to use our new ladle which has a built in measuring cup.  It was great for adding the chicken stock.

Put the pot over high heat, bring it to a simmer, then turn the burner to medium low and continue to cook until the beans are tender, 60 to 90 minutes.  (As a note, mine simmered for about 60 minutes and they were a bit over-cooked.  So test them earlier just in case).  Add 1 more teaspoon of salt midway through the cooking.  Reserve 1-2 cups of the cooking liquid. Strain the peas, picking out and discarding the onion, carrots and bay leaves.  Pour the peas back into the pot until ready to add to the rest of the dish but keep off the heat.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned. 
Add the medium diced onion, chopped garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Cook until the onion is softened and translucent and beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. 

Add the cumin, pepper flakes, and black pepper, turn the burner to medium, and stir to combine the seasonings with the onion. Add the juice from the tomatoes. Then add the whole tomatoes, crushing them in your hands as they go into the pot. Add the last bay leaf. Bring this to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes or so to reduce and thicken the sauce. 
Next, stir in the black eyed peas and heat through.  Add some or all of the reserved cooking liquid if the mixture looks a little dry.  Taste for more salt and/or pepper.  Serve hot and enjoy! 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beef Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits

Sean always finds great recipes from Food & Wine- such as this pot pie which was delicious and comforting.  We made a few minor changes, and halved the recipe to make just one large pot pie.  This isn't your typical pot pie with actual pie crust, rather it is topped with cheddar biscuit batter that bakes along with the pie filling.  It is much easier than going through the process of making a pie crust from scratch, in my opinion.  And the result is delicious fluffy biscuits on top of the savory chunky filling. Yum!

Pot Pie Filling:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3/4 lb carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 lb celery root or parsnips, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 lb ground beef
  • 2 Italian sausage links, removed from casing
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 5 oz frozen peas (about a cup)
  • salt and pepper
Biscuit Topping: Follow our cheddar garlic biscuit recipe, eliminating the garlic and reducing the salt to 1/2 teaspoon. 


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the oil.  Saute the carrots and celery root or parsnips with 1/2 teaspoon of salt for about 10 minutes, turning the heat to medium-high.  As you can see in the picture, we used celery root which had an amazing flavor, so I would definitely recommend it if you can find it at the store. 
When the vegetables have softened and are slightly browned, add the ground beef and sausage with an additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt, breaking up the meat as it browns.  Sprinkle in the thyme and rosemary.  We used a handy fresh herb grater that we got as a Christmas gift to mince and add the herbs.  Cook for about 10 minutes, until all the pink is gone and most of the liquid has evaporated. 
Stir in the flour and cook for 2 more minutes.  Next add the milk and chicken stock, and simmer until thickened.  (5-7 minutes)  
Stir in the peas and cook a couple minutes longer, tasting for more salt and pepper.  Pour the mixture in a 9x13 deep baking dish. 
While the vegetable beef mixture is cooking, prepare your biscuit batter, following our recipe for cheddar biscuits as I mentioned above.  
Place 12 even scoops of batter on top of your pie filling in the casserole dish.  We used an ice cream scoop, and then added a little more to each one with the rest of the batter that was left.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the biscuits are turning golden brown on top.  Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving.