Penne With Vodka Sauce and Veggies

Featuring quick and easy food is becoming a way of life as I continue to clear brush hoping to finally create a clearing large enough for a house.  We did away with the last of the double-size garage brush pile last weekend…two more truck and trailer loads.

This weekend, I’m imposing on Aggie’s awesome hospitality while the blessed rain falls.  We really do need the rain, even though Swamp Nomstress, aka the front yard, will shortly reappear.  I will refrain from waxing poetic about the joys of slogging through shin deep mud while toting small trees and get on with the food.

In the interest of saving my sanity time, I used a jarred sauce, which was pretty good.  I’ll go ahead and include the recipe to make the Vodka sauce with actual vodka just in case you’re feeling like a glutton for punishment purist!

Beginning with the usual suspects, garlic and onion.  Chop and cook until tender.

Add some sliced mushrooms.

I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  Trimmed WELL.  Cut into about 1 inch pieces.

Stir together and brown.

When the chicken is browned, add the vodka sauce and a can or two of roasted diced tomatoes, drained.

Stir together well, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes.  Leave off the lid so it’s not too soupy!  Then, add zucchini, cut into half moon wedges.

Let the zucchini cook for about 15 minutes, until it’s just becoming a bit soft, and add the spinach and peas.

Wilt the spinach for another 10 – 15 minutes.  It cooks down quite a lot, and you’ll want to put the lid on at this point.

Uncover and stir well.

Serve over penne with some hot bread.  You’ll feel so warm and fuzzy, but you’re actually getting a lot of great veggies, too!

To make the homemade vodka sauce:

1/3 cup vodka

15 oz diced tomatoes

8 oz tomato sauce

1/8 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (shredded)

Combine over low heat and stir until cheese melts and all ingredients are incorporated.

Fat free half-and-half is still creamy and rich, but keeps down the fat content.

Canadian bacon is an alternative to the chicken, also lean but loaded with flavor.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Verde Enchiladas

I try to avoid going to the market on weekends.  Yes, it’s crowded, and slower than weekdays, but what really gets me is the food tasting. I taste things I wouldn’t normally make, and it’s good.  Then I get a ginormous jar of whatever product it was I just tasted, go home, and make meal X for the family.  Invariably it receives mixed reviews at home.  Sigh.

This one was a winner, however.  I did tweak the recipe on the jar a bit.  Who can possibly argue with more cheese?  Unless maybe you’re lactose intolerant.  But then you can use soy cheese or any of the other non-cheese cheeses that are commonly available these days!

You’ll need to boil a chicken.  I used a whole chicken, because skinless breasts just don’t have that much flavour, and they’re rather expensive in comparison.  AND…you get more chicken, so you can make more than one dish from the same chicken.

When the chicken is fully cooked, set it in a bowl to drain.  Strain the liquid in the pan, reduce it, and you have some delicious non-salty chicken broth.  Save this, and we’ll make some delicious chicken vegetable soup!

Two notes on the chicken:

1) Do make sure to remove the giblets before boiling!

2) De-bone carefully.  You don’t want anyone to choke or lose a tooth later!

Shred 2 to 3 cups of chicken.

Add 2-3 cups shredded cheese.  I used a cheddar Habanero variety, but it really wasn’t very spicy.  Also add 1 cup sour cream, and 1 cup pico de gallo.

Stir together, and then add 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed.

Try not to be like me and pour the black bean juice all over the counter.  Some days I just can’t hold onto things.  This morning, I poured half my cup of coffee on the counter in the same spot.  There is a land shark living there.  That MUST be it.

After the filling is combined…gently as to not squish the beans, pour in about half the jar of Cookwell & Company Green Chile Stew, until the filling is quite moist.

Microwave the corn tortillas until they are pliable, then spoon about 3 teaspoons of the filling into the tortilla, roll, and place into your baking dish of choice, seam side down.  The recipe says to use a 9 x 13.  I chose to use non-stick so I wouldn’t have to grease it.  I made enough filling with this recipe to make 2 pans!  That was about 24 enchiladas!

Cover then with some of the remaining Chile Stew mixture, then liberally apply shredded cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 – 40 minutes.

Garnish with some salsa and more shredded cheese.  We are not big fans of Spanish rice, so I just threw together some pilaf from frozen peas and corn with Jasmine rice.  It was all quite nomable!  🙂

Hope everyone is having a good week before Christmas!

Parmesan Chicken

It’s still cold outside.  Well, if you consider 50-something cold…  I’m a Gulf Coast dweller.  Stop judging me!  🙂

Rat Boy is always asking me to make this for him, and it’s so easy, I probably should more often.  But then he’d just be tired of it, and it wouldn’t be a treat then.

So, I had this chicken.  And I was wondering what I’d cook today.  So I decided to make Rat Boy happy.  🙂

Use boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this.  It keeps really well, and is good cold on a sandwich, or even by itself, so make plenty!

Butter a baking sheet (with sides) well.  Really well, as the butter will kind of fry the chicken to heavenly.

Slice teh breasts in half crosswise to make them thinner.

This is so much easier and less messy than pounding them thin.  🙂

You’ll need 2 small bowls, one for breadcrumbs (I used panko and they were awesome) mixed with Parmesan cheese…

and one for a beaten egg.  Using a shallow, wide bowl for the breadcrumbs works the best.

Dip the chicken pieces in the egg.

Then into the breadcrumb/cheese mix.  You can press it on to get a nice thick layer.

Your fingers will be goopy, but it’s really worth it!

Lay the chicken in the melted butter on the baking sheet.

Pat any remaining crumb mix onto the bald spots, then bake at 350F for about 20 minutes.  Flip the chicken pieces over, and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the pieces are nicely golden brown and crunchy.

If your oven is a hundred years old like mine, you’ll need to rearrange the pieces so they are evenly cooked!

Then enjoy the crunchy deliciousness.  🙂

Oh, and don’t forget the wine.  You deserve it!

Please ignore all that stuff in the background.  I was washing up while the chicken was baking.  Now, I can enjoy the wine!

Spicy Chicken Pasta

Guess today is an unintentional 2-for, as I posted the Christmas Cake last night around 10, and it was already today on server time.  I am now convinced the server must be out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean somewhere, since I am so far behind server time!

It’s still cold.  Amazing in Texas to have the same kind of temperatures for 4 or 5 days, but the sun is back, so doubtless it will warm up soon.

Meanwhile, a bit of spice was in order to keep us warm, at least on the inside.  😛

Let’s hear it for the comfort food!

Slice boneless, skinless chicken breasts into thin, about 1 inch pieces, and brown with garlic, onion and celery.  Brown in a skillet with a bit of olive oil.  I used the Dutch oven, as I was planning to finish this off in the oven.

Wow!  Did I actually just say planning?  That’s a word that doesn’t see much use at our house!  😛

The cast of players tonight, include squash (of course), tomato, and chicken.

Thinly slice the chicken, and brown in olive oil with diced garlic, onion, and celery.  I used 3 cippolini onions I happened to have on hand for a sweeter flavor, but really couldn’t tell the difference when everything is smothered in tomato!

Salt and pepper to taste while browning.

Thinly slice some peppers.  I matchsticked these, a poblano and 2 jalapenos, just to be different.  🙂

Drop in the peppers when the chicken is almost finished browning, so they get a bit charred, too.

Then add 2 cans of diced tomoatoes.  I’m using the fire roasted with garlic variety.

Stir the whole mess together well, and add a cup or two of broth, veggie or chicken.

Stir together well, and pop the whole thing into the oven at 250F for a couple of hours.  I had planned to add red wine to this, but didn’t.  So I drank it instead!  😛

About 20 minutes before you want to serve, slice some squash, and add it to the sauce, making sure the squash is down in the liquid.  I used yellow squash and zucchini this time.  Stir in some tomato sauce, if you want thicker gravy.

 

Back into the oven for 20 minutes, while you make the pasta, and it’s ready to serve!  2 thumbs up from Rat Boy!  😀

Chicken and Squash Curry

Today, I went over to the house and hung out with Mum and Dad for a bit.  They are still bummed out about the whole dog thing, so I took them some pumpkin cake, too.

Maybe I won’t end up eating most of it now.  Rat Boy has been whining about the nuts, and Hubby is studying for a PT test. 😦

Another quick easy dinner tonight.  This took about an hour to put together!

I had l lot of squash in the fridge, and a couple of chicken breasts.

Butternut cubulets left over from the Moroccan Stew…

some zucchini and yellow…

and a bottle of curry sauce.  🙂

I sliced the chicken breasts into about 1 inch cubes, and threw them in the pan  (well, not literally) with a tablespoon of butter and some olive oil.

I’m not going to show the raw chicken.  A close up view of that tonight just isn’t in the cards.

Chopped some onion and bell pepper…I had red 😀 … into chunks about the size of the chicken pieces.

Into the pan it goes!

There’s even a decent pic of the nicely browning chicken.  🙂  I let it all brown together until the onions soften.

Then sauced it up.

Added my friend, veggie broth, to thin the sauce, and so it could stew longer without me having to stand over it and stir.

That was also not in the cards for tonight.

Stirred it and added the butternut squash.  Added enough broth so the squash is submurged, but not too much, as then the sauce is too thin.

We are walking a fine line here, y’all.  😛

The butternut  takes a bit longer than the other squashes, so added those after it had simmered about half an hour.

There should be plenty of juicy sauciness to get the squash down into the liquid.

Let it simmer about 15 minutes longer, and served with the rice I made while the butternut was cooking.

We think ahead and multitask around here.

Cuz that’s how we roll.  😛

Vegetable Soup with Chicken Sausage

Finally it feels like Fall in these parts.  Possibly even what passes for winter along the Texas Gulf Coast.  A lovely if brief thunderstorm (yes, rain!) followed by a temperature dip into the 40s last night!

Perfect weather for a nice hot bowl of soup!

I think me head got in the picture.  😦  But the soup still looks scrumptious!

As usual, I started by sauteing onion and garlic in a little olive oil.  This time, I added some diced celery.

Smells wonderful.

The other day at the market, I ran across this mix of barley, lentils, and split peas.  I thought it would be good as a side dish, but even better in soup.  Into the pot it went.

Then I added about about 6 cups of vegetable stock.

I love this stock.  I use it in practically everything that needs stock.  Of course, wine is good, too, but I really can’t see putting an entire bottle of wine into anything…except my mouth perhaps.  😛

The day before I set the grill on fire, I had grilled some corn.

I cut a couple of ears worth off the cob, and also diced some of the the red bell pepper that I had grilled.  I love the way grilling brings out the flavour of veggies!

After I added the corn and bell pepper, I also sliced and added the chicken sausage with spinich that I grilled when I was grilling the corn.  I had planned to throw it together with some rice, but this seemed like it would be SO much more interesting

I also added some jalapeno.  We like the spicy!

Stir the whole mess together, adding more broth if needed. Salt and pepper to your taste.  Cover, and simmer a couple of hours to blend the flavours.

After a couple of hours, add some sliced zucchini, and cook about 15 minutes longer.

It’s warm, and comforting, and actually healthy.  Perfect for our little cold snap.  I like bread with soup, and served cornbread with this one, as Hubby has been asking for cornbread.  Honestly, we just love bread.  And soup.

Another 1 pot meal.  🙂

Chicken and Pasta

I realize I’m falling down on the job of posting every day.  Yes, already.  But I will offer up the only excuse I have at the moment…I’m a slacker BEEN BUSY COOKING!!!

LOL.  Kat meme pics are amusing, but that’s not what I intended for this blog to be about.  And while I’m trying to turn Groovy Noms into a real life business, I AM still feeding Rat Boy and Hubby daily.  Some days, it’s just nothing new or interesting.  😦

Today I have good stuff.  The Pioneer Woman gave me the idea, and this is a slightly twisted version of her Penne Pasta with Chicken ThighsDeliciously twisted!

We will begin with chopped onion.  I chopped one half, and diced the other…just to be different.

Add some garlic, of course.

And olive oil.  Saute until tender and glassy.  It will smell divine!

Insert chicken thighs, skin side down so they will brown obediently.  I used my fingers to scoot the onion/garlic mix out of the way.  You might want to use a spoon, however.

I know.  Raw chicken looks…well, raw.  But when it’s brown, it looks golden!

When they ARE brown, flip those thighs over, and drain most of the grease from the pan.  I accomplish this by using a wooden spoon to hold the thighs, and carefully pour out most of the liquid into the sink.

It’s best if the sink is clean, due to occasional unplanned thigh-flight.  Obviously, chickens are unaware they do not fly.

Once the pan is safely back on the stovetop, add a jar of pasta sauce and a can of roasted tomatoes.

Add about 1/2 cup of a nice red wine, and give everything a stir.

This one is very nice.  So I had to drink it.

Let the chicken simmer, uncovered, about an hour on low heat.

Then add zucchini slices, and whatever other veggies you might desire.

Veggies are looking lovely right now.  The corn is for today.  But it looked so pretty, I just had to take a picture while the chicken was simmering.

When the zucchini has cooked, about 10-15 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove chicken, zucchini, and tomato chunks from the pan.

Turn up the heat, and stirring constantly, reduce what remains of the sauce.

Boil some pasta.  I was feeling the farfalle last night, aka bow tie pasta.  In whole grain, even!

After draining the pasta well, without rinsing, pour the reduced sauce over it and gently mix to coat.  The pasta will soak up the sauce and yummy chicken juices.

Serve chicken over saucy pasta.

Garnish with basil, if so desired.  Hubby and Rat Boy are getting a bit tired of basil this year, but it’s still going strong.  😛

Eat, enjoy, and LOVE that there’s only 2 pans to wash!  (And the collander.  but I’m not counting that one.)

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