Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 22

This was a bit of comfort food I kind of winged and kind of cheated on (who has time to make Alfredo sauce from scratch?). It was also a great recipe for what I like to call “cooking in spurts” – when I only have a few minutes here and there in the kitchen so I do little tasks throughout the day.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 1

First I roasted 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. I set them in a glass baking dish and stuffed fresh sage and thyme under the skin. I dusted the tops with salt and pepper. Then I baked them at 350°F for about 45 minutes, until the skin was crispy and the juices ran clear.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 2

Then I turned on the broiler and roasted 2 whole red peppers, turning them every 5 minutes or so, for about 20 minutes, until the skin was blackened. I let that cool for a while.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 3

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 4

Then I came back and pulled the skin off and discarded the seeds and stem. Then I went away again.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 5

Coming back in, I sliced up half a package of white mushrooms and sautéed them in butter and olive oil on medium heat until brown and starting to crisp. I removed them from the heat and went away again. I’m a busy person.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 9

Then I decided to actually get on with the business of cooking dinner. So I diced up a sweet onion and chucked that in a large frying pan with some butter and olive oil.

Roasted Chicken and Red Pepper Alfredo 7

I sautéed that on medium heat until the little onion pieces turned translucent, then I chucked in a few teaspoons minced garlic, as well as some salt and pepper.

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While that was going on, I pulled apart the chicken thighs and shredded the meat with a fork. I saved some of the nice fatty juices that came out of them, to add flavour to the sauce. I also saved the little bits of herb I’d roasted under the skin.

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As well, I diced the roasted peppers.

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And brought a large pot of salted water to boil for the pasta. I used a four-cheese tortellini here, because I like how filling it is.

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While the water was starting to get its boil on, I chucked the chicken (and reserved juices/herbs), peppers, and mushrooms into the pan with the onions and garlic.

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Then I dumped in a jar of pre-made alfredo sauce. I always add a little bit of water to the empty jar and give it a swish to get everything left.

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I stirred that for about 5 minutes at medium heat until everything started to bubble and smell amazing.

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I reduced the heat to low while I cooked the pasta according to the package directions. I drained the pasta and dumped it into the pan with the sauce.

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And then we ATE THE WHOLE THING. That’s a lie. We didn’t. Not all in one sitting, are you crazy? But I had seconds.

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Egg Wonton Lasagna

Egg Wonton Lasagna

I pulled this from the Get Cracking website and it just seemed so weird that I had to try it.  Plus I have a million wonton wrappers in my freezer that I bought in anticipation of making more gyoza (which of course I haven’t done).

Egg Wonton Lasagna

First we’re going to roast a few vegetables.  Put your oven on the broil setting.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and plop on your veggies.  I have here 2 red peppers and 3 Italian zucchini (or at least that’s what the sign at Costco called them).

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Roast them until the peppers are all charred and black.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Let them cool for a bit, then peel the skins off the red peppers.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Then we’re going to boil ourselves some eggs.  In a medium saucepan, cover 6 eggs with water and bring it to a boil.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

When it’s boiling, remove the pot from the heat, cover it with a lid, and leave that to stand for 20 minutes.  This is a different way to produce hard-boiled eggs than I’m used to, but I figure that the Egg Farmers of Canada know what they’re talking about.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Drain the eggs, run cold water over them to cool them off, then peel and slice them.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

I liked how the cold water looked so much I took two more pictures of it.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Egg Wonton Lasagna

While the eggs are doing their thing, finely chop 1 small onion and add it to another saucepan with a drop of olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic (or 2 teaspoons minced garlic from a jar).  Sauté until everything is soft and squidgy.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Chuck in a package of baby spinach and stir that around until it’s all wilted.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Pour in a jar/can of pasta sauce and bring that puppy to a boil, then remove it from the heat.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get all your ingredients ready to go.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

While you’re at it, chop up those roasted vegetables of your’n.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Find yourself an 8″ baking dish (or thereabouts) and ladle about a 1/2 cup of the sauce into the dish.  Line the bottom with some of your wonton wrappers, making sure to overlap them a little bit.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Spread that with some more of the sauce you have left, then some of your eggs.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Plop on a some of your chopped vegetables, then some grated mozzarella cheese (I’m not going to limit you on your cheese — we all have our preferences/weaknesses).

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Do another layer of wontons, sauce, eggs, vegetables, and cheese.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

When you are out of vegetables and eggs you should still have some sauce, cheese, and wontons left.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Any remaining wonton wrappers you’ve got, spread them over the top, then the rest of your sauce, and then some more cheese.  Bake in your 350°F oven for 30 minutes, until you can see the sauce at the centre of the dish bubbling up through the top.  Let it stand for a few minutes before you cut it, just so the rowdiness can calm down.  Serves SIX.

Egg Wonton Lasagna

Summer Fresh Pasta

Summer Fresh Pasta
This quick meal is great for when you don’t have a lot of time and the gloomy summer weather outside has you craving a few carbs.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Plus it’s another method of eating the hated sausages.
Summer Fresh Pasta
And an excuse to eat more cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta
Start a pot of water a-boiling and cook up pasta, such as farfalle, penne, or rotini.  Cook enough for four or five people.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Slice yourself up half an onion, a red pepper, and a handful of mushrooms.  Set the pepper and mushrooms aside for now.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Sauté the onion with a spoonful or two of minced garlic until softened.

Squeeze in the contents of three hot Italian sausages and cook, stirring to break up the sausages, until the meat is no longer pink.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your peppers and mushrooms and stir for a few minutes longer.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Drain your pasta and stir in 1/2 cup pesto.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Add in your sausage and vegetables and a further 1/2 cup pesto and toss to coat.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Serve hot or cold, garnished with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
Summer Fresh Pasta

Sausage Risotto with Broccoli and Mushrooms

I really like risotto.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite starchy sides.  So why has it been ages (over a year) since I last made it?  Hard to say.  It’s not like it’s hard to make risotto.

The Pie really likes sausages, and they’re cheap here, so we eat them often.  I am not such a huge fan.  On this particular night, I decided that if I had to slice through another meat-and-two-veg meal with slippery hot sausages as the main attraction I might throw something at my husband.  And I like him, so I wanted to avoid such a situation.

The basic principle of risotto making is the constant adding of more and more liquid, stirring as you go.  This brings out the naturally creamy nature of the arborio rice.  If you find a recipe that tells you to add cream to your risotto while it’s cooking, then the authors don’t know how to cook it right.  The creaminess comes by itself, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different.

The traditional method for making risotto involves adding one part white wine to the mix, then three parts water, gradually.  Today we are going to use straight chicken broth instead.

Squeeze the meat out of 3 hot Italian sausages and plop that in a pan.

Slice up about 8oz mushrooms of your choosing.  You can chuck those in the pan with the sausages.  I suppose if you wanted to do it right you would saute each of those things separately, but when do I ever follow the rules?

Dice 1 whole onion and put that in a saucepan with a dab of olive oil.  Set that to sautéing, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are translucent.

While that is cooking, sauté the mushrooms and sausage as well.  Break up the sausage with a spatula as it cooks, until you just have little sausage-y bits. 

Drain off any juices and fat and keep warm.  We also had about 2 cups frozen steamed broccoli hanging around, so I popped that in the pan as well to thaw.

Pour 1 cup arborio rice into the onions.

Add 1 cup hot chicken broth (low sodium) to the rice and onions and cook on high heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add a further 3 cups hot chicken broth, one at a time, stirring in each one until fully absorbed.  The whole process should take about 20 minutes and leave you with a lovely creamy rice.

Season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Stir in about 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup grated romano cheese.

Dump in your sausage/mushroom/broccoli mixture and stir well.

Serve hot, garnished with more grated romano.  Makes great leftovers.

Chicken in Toronto

In the last week of August I went to Toronto for the Molson Canadian World Hockey Summit, which was incredibly exciting for me, to be able to rub elbows with all the people I hope to know personally once I’ve finished my doctorate.

I was also able to meet the Pie in town on two nights and catch some Blue Jays games.  This is Jose Bautista.  He’s not much to look at but he got a home run on one night.

I stayed with my best friend Chel and her lovely new husband Invis right downtown.  Talk about making the most out of a small space!  Here is their tiny kitchen, with Invis filling up most of it.  Chel had the clever idea of using one of her favourite coat hangers (because she couldn’t find another place for it) to hang up her pots and pans. I think it’s genius.

One night  they were kind enough to allow me to cook them dinner, and we decided, since it was hot and humid in the Big Smoke, to keep things on the simple side.  We settled on a chicken rosé sauce on pasta followed by vanilla ice cream with strawberry and red currant fruit sauce.

We decided to feature basil in the recipe because Chel has been keeping a lush little plant going for some time.Chop up a few boneless skinless chicken breasts, as well as a small onion, some mushrooms, and a red pepper or two.  And don’t forget lots and lots of fresh basil.

Chuck the onion in a pot with some olive oil and sauté until translucent.Season your chicken breasts and plop them in as well.  Stir it around until the chicken is cooked through.Add in your basil and let that aroma fill the space as it heats up.Then drop in your vegetables and let them cook for a wee spell.Now you can pour in a jar of your favourite pasta or other tomato sauce.Add in some whipping cream as well, about 250mL.  Let the whole thing simmer.If you find it’s too watery you can add in a can of tomato paste to thicken it up.Serve over your pasta of choice and you’ve got a lovely meal.Now while that is simmering you can whip up your dessert fruit sauce.  We found some lovely fresh red currants in the grocery store so I added them, some cut up strawberries, a bit of sugar, and some juice to the pot and set it to boil.Once you have simmered it for a while, remove it from the heat and let it cool while you eat your dinner.  Pour it over ice cream and you’re all set.

Good Ol’ Egg Pie

Ali’s Note: Things are getting uber-busy here at Elizabeth, so after today I’ll be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays only.

It seems to be a fad these days to make crustless quiches.  The health benefits are clear, and on the whole the process is a lot easier if pastry isn’t involved.

In my family, we’ve always had crustless quiches, for as long as I can remember.  My mother has only recently begun to perfect her pie crust so most of the time we just did without and it worked just fine.

In our house we call them egg pies, because that’s really what they are.  You can get totally creative with what you put in them — you’re only limited by what you have in your refrigerator.  The only tricks are really to ensure that the egg is more the matrix that holds all of your stuff together than it is the main ingredient, and also to cover your pie for the first half of cooking or the top will get too brown.

This particular pie is pretty simple.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

I had some broccoli florets left over from the red curry coconut noodles of the other day, so I decided to make a broccoli-cheddar egg pie.

Butter a 9″ pie plate and set it aside.

Gently steam the broccoli florets (this is from four small heads of broccoli) just until they’re a bright green.  You don’t want to over-cook them as they’ll cook further inside the egg pie.

Drain and chop them up roughly, then set them aside.

In a bowl, whisk together six eggs.  Add in 1/2 cup milk and whisk that sucker around. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, as well as a pinch of salt and season with ground pepper.  The Pie can’t taste the nutmeg, but I can.

Stir in about 1 cup grated cheddar cheese (really anything but mozzarella works well in these things).

Finally, add in the broccoli and stir that up as well until everything is all eggy.

Pour your mixture into the pie plate and level it out.

Cover the pie loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes.  Uncover the pie and bake again until the top is set and starts to brown, probably another 10-15 minutes, depending on your oven and the thickness of your pie plate.

Eat it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, hot or cold.  It makes a protein-packed and easily-carried brown-bag lunch as well.

Two other variations you might consider for inspiration:

Cheddar, red pepper, green onion, and chorizo.

Broccoli, mushroom, and feta.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Soup

If you know me, you’ll know I don’t like soup.  Seriously.  Considering the number of soups I make I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true. If I wanted to sip hot liquids I would rather have a cup of tea.  Blended soups, however, are a different story.  To me they’re like hot, savoury pudding.  Plus they look uber-fancy when in reality they’re not, which is a good way to easily impress your dinner guests.

I do like mushrooms, however, and I like garlic.  If you like mushrooms as well, perhaps you will enjoy this.

This one I made up, having never made soup with mushrooms before in my life.  But it turned out okay.  The Pie doesn’t like mushrooms all that much, so I don’t have any real objective feedback at the moment, but I will shunt some of this off to The Lady Downstairs (Kª) and see what she and Kº and Il Principe think.

Slice up about a pound or some other ridiculous amount of mushrooms.  Don’t worry about getting them too thin – after you sauté them you’ll be mushing them up anyway.

Visit Massive Mushroom Mountain!

Melt a bit of butter in a pan and add a drop of olive oil to keep the butter from burning.  Sauté up your mushrooms.  I did it in three batches, because if I’ve learned anything from watching Julie & Julia, it’s that butter is one of the greatest innovations known today, and that you don’t crowd the mushrooms.

Always cook butter with a bit of olive oil to prevent burning.

While you’re at it, why don’t you go ahead and sauté up a sliced onion?

In a pot, bring about 4 cups of stock to a boil.  I used chicken broth, but of course you can use vegetable stock as well.

Plop in your mushrooms, onion, and a couple heads’ worth of roasted garlic.  Splash in some red or white wine and leave to simmer for about half an hour.

Wine is optional, yet encouraged.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.  Using an immersion blender, food processor, or stand blender, blend your soup until you have a fine mushy mass.  I love my immersion blender.  My mother calls it the ‘brzzht’, because that’s the noise it makes.  She’s an artist.

Pour in whipped cream or coconut milk as desired and heat to serve.

Stir in the cream if desired.

Then you eat it!

Serve with stuff that goes with soup.

*** EDIT: Kª called it a ‘soup-tasm.’  I’m not sure I want to know. ***