Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger for #WeekdaySupper

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.

Fast, inexpensive and tasty: all that you want in a #WeekdaySupper! No wonder why we make this Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger so often. I tend to have most of these ingredients on hand, making it easy to whip up. A great follow-up to the theme of the recent Budget Friendly #SundaySupper.

This dish is based on a recipe from The Vegetarian Planet. I've lightened it up with less butter then the original recipe, offset by an increase in garlic. So it's got healthy going for it too.

We enjoy this year-round, but there's something about sage that says fall to me, making this particularly well-suited to fall. Give it a try next time you are looking for something fast and tasty!

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.
1 lb. dried penne or other short pasta
3 tbsp butter*
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 2 inch piece of ginger, minced (or ¾ tsp powdered ginger)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced sage, or ½ tsp dried sage
¾ cup red lentils
1 cup water (plus extra during cooking as needed)
3-4 cups tightly packed baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

*Substitute dairy free spread or olive oil for the butter to make this dish vegetarian.

Begin boiling water for pasta. Melt butter in a medium pan, let it start to brown slightly, then sauté garlic and ginger for a couple minutes over medium low heat. Add the lentils, sage, a bit of salt, cup of water, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover pan.

Check and stir the lentil mixture every few minutes. If the lentil cooking liquid begins to evaporate, add another quarter cup or so of water. The lentils take about 15 minutes to soften...they should be soft but retain their shape as opposed to turning to lentil mush which can happen if you cook too long or too much water.

Add the spinach after the lentils have been cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring it in so that it wilts slightly.

Start cooking the pasta about 5 minute after you start cooking the lentils. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

When the pasta is done to your liking, drain and combine the cooked pasta with the lentil mixture and an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.


Wine Pairing:  A chardonnay works well with the lively ginger flavors, or you can also go for a Sauvignon Blanc.

Check out the Weekday Supper lineup!Sunday Supper Movement
Monday – 15 Minute Beef Soup by MealDiva
Tuesday – Salmon with Kale Chimichurri by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Wednesday – Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger by Cooking Chat
Thursday – Curried Chicken Wraps by A Mama, Baby and Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Friday - Spinach Ricotta Meatballs by Feed Me, Seymour

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper.

Please don't follow this Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole recipe.

Well, sure, I'd like you to try to make a tasty casserole for your family too. But one key to budget friendly meals is to use everything. Casseroles are a great way to use up various veggies you have on hand. In this one, we give a starring role to leek tops, an item that often gets thrown out. But sautéed with onions, garlic and other veggies available, they can be pretty tasty!

Leek tops can be sauteed and added to casseroles. Cooking Chat recipe for #SundaySupper.

I had this casserole in mind when having dinner at my sister's home recently. My brother-in-law asked if I'd "help" use up some of their abundant basil before it fell victim to the frost. So this casserole got some pesto as a bonus ingredient. Add it if you have some basil or pesto on hand, but of course don't out and buy pesto for this if you want to stick to the budget theme. Add an extra clove or two of garlic if you're skipping the pesto. Here's my pesto recipe if you want to make some.

I love the challenge of cooking great, healthy food on a budget. So I'm pleased to co-host this Budget Friendly #SundaySupper with T.R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. Today I'm focusing on casserole as a good way to use what you have on hand. For more of my budget friendly tips, check out "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

Time to get to the recipe. Use it as a launching point for your own casserole to use what you've got. Red cabbage looks nice, but if it's green you have, put that in there! Got extra spinach or other greens? Add the into the saute too. OK, I think you get the idea here...

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole uses leek tops with red cabbage for nice color. Tasty for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 leek tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped into thin slices
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup cheddar, divided
1/3 cup feta cheese
10 ozs elbow macaroni or other short shape
1/2 cup pesto (optional)
tsp dried basil if you aren't using pesto
handful or two of pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds also a good option)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, sauté on medium heat for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic.

Add the leek tops, bell pepper and cabbage. Stir well to combine all the veggies, then add the chicken broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the veggies have softened a bit.

Put on a pot of water on to boil as you start cooking the veggies. Add the pasta after you've added the chicken stock, and cook al dente according to package instructions. Don't overcook the pasta as it will cook more in the oven.

Drain the pasta when done, and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Combine the veggie mixture with the pasta, then add 1/2 cup of the cheddar plus the feta.

Spray a large casserole dish with oil. Add the pasta and veggie mixture to the casserole, leveling it with a spoon so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top, followed by the seeds.

Cover the casserole, and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the casserole took bake uncovered for another 5 minutes, this helps get the casserole browning nicely on top. After that final 5 minutes, you are are ready to eat. Scoop a generous serving of the casserole onto each plate and enjoy!

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Wine Pairing: I tend to think of a nice medium bodied red with a casserole. We enjoyed this with a great Dolcetto/Barbera blend from Italy's Piedmont region. You could also try a full bodied white with this.
Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper.


Be sure to check out all the great Budget Friendly Recipe from the #SundaySupper crew!

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Budget Friendly #SundaySupper Preview

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole. #SundaySupper post preview.

Eat well, spend less. That is one simple goal I'm sure many of us food bloggers share. Preparing most of our meals at home gives us more control over what we eat and it's also a great way to save money. But how can we home cooks really get that food bill down while making food that is healthy and tastes great? We will be picking up on this theme for the upcoming Budget Friendly #SundaySupper on October 19.

I'm excited to co-host the Budget Friendly Sunday Supper with T. R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. I relish the challenge of coming up with great meals while keeping within our budget, and over the years I've been honing my approach for achieving this goal. I broke down some of my tips in this post, "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

I'm excited to share the recipe for  my casserole shown above (great dish for adding in what you have on hand!) and hearing more about all these tasty recipes from the #SundaySupper crew! Be sure to check back on Sunday for all the recipe details, and join our Twitter chat at 7 p.m. ET.

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cab

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet. Cooking Chat recipe.

Do you start with the food or the wine when coming up with a wine pairing? Well, I go both ways, but I do love the challenge of creating a recipe that will be well-suited for a particular wine. OK, sometimes this isn't all that challenging. Like when you have a bottle of Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles. A bold California Cab calls out beef to me. I'd picked up some dried chanterelles mushrooms recently, so it wasn't long before I came up with this Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms to go with the Halter Ranch Cabernet. An easy idea to come up with, but very tasty!

Lest you think I always go for such natural pairings, be sure to check out the Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers I came up with for a different Halter Ranch red.

Back to the steak dish. This is my standard way to cook steak when it's not grilling season. Quick pan-sear on the stove top, then roast briefly in the oven. The lean sirloin cut cooks quickly, and is best served medium-rare. You could definitely go for a cut like ribeye with more fat content, might be an even better pair for the Cab. But we were definitely very happy with this dish and pairing!

Chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted and ready to chop for steak sauce. Cooking Chat recipe

One other quick note before the recipe. I combine "regular" mushrooms with the fancier chanterelles as a cost-effective way to get the deeper flavors from the gourmet mushrooms. You could go with a full ounce of chanterelles and skip the regular mushrooms if you like.

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet. Cooking Chat recipe.
For the steak
1 large sirloin steak, about 1.25 lbs
1/2 tsp herbes de provence
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

For the mushrooms
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1/2 oz dried chanterelle mushrooms
6 button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup red wine
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the dried chanterelles by pouring boiling water over the mushrooms, then set aside for 30 minutes. Drain the water, and then chop the chanterelles into bite sized pieces.

Pre-heat the oven to 400.

Make the rub: combine the herbes de provence, garlic powder and salt in a bowl. Sprinkle half the rub onto one side of the steak, then gently rub it into the meat. Turn the steak over, and rub the remaining half into that side. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes to let the rub absorb a bit into the meat.

Make the mushrooms: heat 1 tbsp oil in a skillet. Add the shallot, sauté  on medium for a few minutes until softened. Add the button mushrooms first, stirring them into the pan along with another tablespoon olive oil. Add the chanterelles a minute or two later, stirring to combine everything. Add salt and pepper to taste along with the thyme.

Chanterelle and button mushrooms to serve with roasted sirloin.

Cook the mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they begin to "sweat" (moisture starts coming out of the mushrooms). Add the cooking wine, bring to a boil briefly, then reduce to simmer until the wine is mostly absorbed, about 5 more minutes. Finish the mushrooms by stirring in the butter, letting it gradually melt in and combine with the mushrooms. Keep warm on low heat as the steak cooks.

Cook the Steak: You can start the steak around the time the wine gets added to the mushrooms. Add a tbsp of olive oil to an oven-proof skillet (if you don't have a cast iron skillet, it's a must have in my kitchen!), and heat the skillet on medium high. When the skillet is good and hot, with oil beginning to shimmer, add the steak. Sear on one side for one minute, then turn to sear the other side for a minute.

Move the steak from the stove top to the oven. Roast the steak 11 to 12 minutes for medium rare. Adjust the cooking time slightly based on the size of your steak and your desired doneness. (The steak in the photos here came out at 10 minutes, at which time it was rare. I correctly figured that rest of the steak would continue to cook up as we were taking these tasty photos!)

Let the steak rest for a minute or two, then slice it up, and serve topped with the mushrooms. Enjoy with a green salad, and a potato of your choosing if you're not shunning the carbs. Of course, there's that glass of wine to enjoy with it too...

Roasted Sirloin Steak with Chanterelle Mushrooms and a Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Cooking Chat recipe.


Wine Pairing: This dish was created with the 2012 Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon from Halter Ranch in mind. I hadn't tried it before, but based I expected it to be a big, beef-worthy wine. I wasn't disappointed.

2012 Halter Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.
The wine is deep red in the glass. I got eucalyptus on the nose. I tasted blackberry and cherry fruit, along with notes of charcoal. Tannins are well-integrated. It's approachable now, but I suspected decanting or aging would really make this shine. So I decanted after the first small tasting pour. Just 15 minutes or so in the decanter really help show a nice long finish on the wine.

No surprise that this robust Cab paired nicely with the steak. In addition to standing up to the beef, there was enough nuance to the wine to play well with the subtle flavors of the chanterelle mushrooms. A winning match for sure!

One more note on the wine: this Cab is comprised of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Malbec and 3% Petit Verdot. I'd say the grapes blended in with the Cab add to the depth and complexity. Halter Ranch is a SIP Certified sustainable winery, too. One more reason to grab a bottle!

Full disclosure: I received a courtesy sample of this wine from the winery. As always, the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.