Sunday, August 15, 2010

Simple Summer Skillet

It's hot outside. I mean really, really hot. We can only survive so long on salads, cold cut sandwiches and paninis before I am forced to turn the stove on in order to add variety to our repetitious summer palette. This one pan wonder filled the need to create a savory summer meal without adding excess heat to the kitchen unnecessarily.

Pork Chops and Rice

1 Tbs. vegetable oil
4 pork loin chops
1 cup long grain rice, uncooked
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup orange juice
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
Garlic Salt

Sprinkle both sides of pork chops lightly with garlic salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat; add the pork chops and cook until browned on both sides, about ten minutes. Remove chops and set aside. In the same skillet, combine rice and onion, cooking about 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Gradually stir in broth, orange juice and 1 1/2 Tbs. parsley. Heat to boiling; return chops to skillet and reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and chops are no longer pink. Top with remaining 1/2 Tbs. chopped parsley and serve up with a side of steamed broccoli or a yummy summer salad. Buon Appetito!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shrimp Carbonara

My children and I love husband does not. When we find ourselves dining without the Music Man present, we like to indulge in little delights that we otherwise might not prepare. Most carbonara is made with linguine and often call for eggs. While dining out a few weeks ago, I was served shrimp carbonara that used neither linguine or egg and this inspired me to attempt a version of my own. You'll need to assemble some ingredients before you begin...

First, chop one medium size yellow onion, 8 oz. of white mushrooms and 6 slices of crispy bacon. Quarter 10-15 cherry tomatoes. Then melt 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) of butter in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute until tender and translucent.

Once the onions are soft and tender, add the mushrooms and 1 pound of already cooked shrimp with tails removed. I find that pulling tails off of shrimp is a great job for my 8 year old who consistently wants to help in the kitchen! If you have children, get them involved - their future nutritional choices are being sculpted right now by the every day food choices they (and you!) make...I will now step down from my soap box and continue...

Remove the shrimp mixture from your pan. Over medium heat, add 2 Tbs. olive oil and 2Tbs. flour to the same pan and whisk to combine. Heat for 2-4 minutes allowing the olive oil and flour to marry together - this will remove the starchy taste from the flour. Whisk in 1 cup of chicken broth, 1 tsp fresh black pepper and 2 tsp. koser salt. Cook and whisk until well combined and beginning to thicken.

Stir in 1 cup of cream and 8 oz. of shredded monterey jack cheese, combining well and stirring until cheese melts. Always shred your cheese by hand - it melts better this way. The pre-shredded cheeses at your grocer are coated with a product that prevents the shredded cheese from clumping to itself in the packaging...this coating also prevents the cheese from melting evenly.

Return the shrimp, onion and mushroom mixture to your pan and stir to well combine with the cheese mixture.

Now pour the yummy, cheesy, shrimpy goodness over 1 lb. of cooked rigatoni...

Top with the chopped bacon and the quartered tomatoes...

Stir to combine well and grab a fork!

Shrimp Carbonara

6 slices crisp cooked bacon, chopped
10-15 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 lb. box rigatoni (or penne or farfalle), cooked to package directions
8 oz. monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 medium size yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
1 lb. cooked shrimp with tails removed
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cream
4 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. flour

Melt 4 Tbs. butter in the bottom of a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped yellow onion and saute until tender. Add de-tailed shrimp and chopped mushrooms to the pan, cooking until mushrooms become tender. Remove shrimp mixture form pan and set aside. In the same pan, whisk together the olive oil and the flour for 2-4 minutes. Add the salt, pepper and chicken or vegetable broth, whisking until well combined and beginning to thicken. Add cream and monterey jack cheese, stirring until well melted. Return the shrimp mixture to the pan and coat thoroughly with the cheese sauce. Pour over cooked rigatoni, stir in chopped tomatoes and bacon. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Live-It-Up-Variation: Cook 8 ounces of frozen peas to package directions and stir into carbonara with the bacon and tomatoes.