Saturday, July 7, 2012

Recipe: Skillet Baked Penne

This recipe also came from the cookbook “The Best 30 Minute Recipes” by America’s Test Kitchen. I was honestly surprised at how much of a hit this was with my kids and hubby. It was almost like they couldn’t get enough of it. I would also like to mention the title of the recipe in the cookbook is “Skillet Baked Ziti”, however it specifically says in the recipe you can use Penne pasta, which is what I used.
Skillet Baked Penne
To complete this recipe in 30 minutes, preheat your oven before assembling your ingredients. If your skillet is not oven safe, transfer the pasta mixture into a shallow 2-quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the cheese and baking. Packaged pre-shredded mozzarella is a real-time saver here. Penne can be used in place of the ziti.

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounce Penne (3 ¾ cup)
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup minced fresh basil
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Making the Minutes Count:
Measure the water and the pasta before you begin cooking. Prep the parmesan and basil white the pasta cooks.

1.       Heat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees.

2.       Simmer Penne: Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt in 12-inch oven safe nonstick skillet and sauté over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, penne, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until penne is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.

3.       Add Cheese and Bake: Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over penne. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.
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Monday, July 2, 2012

Recipe: Almond-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cranberry-Orange Relish

Recently I was given a cookbook. It is titled “The Best 30 Minute Recipes” by America’s Test Kitchen. So far I have tried two recipes and it has made me rethink all the cookbooks I have sitting on my bookshelf. What I mean, exactly, is this cookbook, and the recipes I have cooked from the book, have been so incredibly delicious, I want to clean out my other cookbooks and get more like this one. This is one of the best cookbooks I think I have. I didn’t know too much about America’s Test Kitchen. I had definitely heard of them but wasn’t familiar with their recipes. I do have a couple magazine’s they also produce called, Cook’s Magazine. I’m one of those cooks who like to have a colored picture with every recipe. This particular cookbook is all black and white with just a few pages of colored pictures of the food in the middle. One thing I love about this cookbook, is the recipes all take 30 minutes to cook. With my crazy life, this couldn’t be more perfect. I’m still cooking my family a really yummy homemade fresh meal, it just doesn’t take that long. The recipes are super easy to read and it explains why to do it this way. I just love it. This is the first recipe I cooked out of this cookbook.

Almond-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cranberry-Orange Relish
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
¾ cup sliced almonds (see note*)
¾ cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon cornstarch
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and ground black pepper
1 cup vegetable oil
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup orange marmalade
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Making the Minutes Count:
Line the flour, egg, and bread crumbs up in a row for efficient breading. Also, start to heat the oil while breading the chicken.

Heat Oven: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees.

Prep Breading: Spread flour in shallow dish. Beat eggs in second shallow dish. Process almonds into fine crumbs in food processor, about 10 seconds, (I used a hand food chopper and chopped the nuts until they were in fine crumbs. It did take a little longer than 10 seconds), then toss with panko, cinnamon, and cornstarch in third shallow dish.

Season and Bread Chicken: Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dredge in flour, then dip into egg, and finally coat with nut mixture. Press on nuts to make sure they adhere.

Cook Chicken: Heat oil in 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken and brown thoroughly on both sides, 6 to 8 minutes total. Drain chicken briefly on paper towels, then lay on wire rack set over baking sheet and keep warm in oven.

Make Relish: Pour hot oil out in pan and wipe pan clean with wad of paper towels. Add cranberries, marmalade, and orange juice to skillet and simmer over medium-high heat until mixture is thick and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in chives and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon cranberry relish over chicken before serving.

 * Don’t process the nuts longer than directed or they will turn pasty and oily. You can substitute an equal amount of whole pecans for the sliced almonds, but note that the crust will be darker colored. It does say to use a food processor. I actually used a hand food chopper and it worked perfectly.
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