Monday, February 27, 2012

Guacamole Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta + Tomato Basil Soup

"What to do with Shabbos leftovers?!" The infamous question, something that never ceases to cry for help. I hate eating leftovers, I get bored (which is why I usually end up cooking just enough for Shabbos so that I won't have to deal with leftovers). So, whenever I am faced with leftovers, I try my hardest to transform it into something completely different. Case in point, tonight's dinner (yes, just for one!).. I took a leftover bone-in chicken breast, slathered (yes, slathered) a toasted deeeelicious ciabatta roll with guacamole, then added in the baby spinach, sliced tomato, & of course the chicken which I took off the bone & sliced. You can repurpose any kind of chicken in a sandwich, when can a sandwich fail? Or you can make this sandwich with fresh chicken. This chicken I baked after marinating it in fresh herbs, lemon, a lot of garlic, and a little bit of dijon mustard. But that's for another blog post :-)

The second part of my meal is a good old Tomato Basil soup, the quintessential "sandwich soup"- aka it goes perfectly with any sandwich (I am of course thinking of the classic tomato soup + grilled cheese sandwich). That is why I am specifically putting the recipe on this blog post. I had 4 large plum tomatoes that were getting a bit too soft, so in a way this is also a "leftovers" soup! It took all of 20 minutes to put together (normally I would have roasted the tomatoes with some balsamic, but I didn't have the time, so I just added the balsamic to the saute instead), and I let it simmer for a while before pureeing.

Guacamole Chicken Sandwich on Ciabatta
-2 baked chicken breasts (bone-in or not)
-Guacamole (my go-to easy guac is avocado mashed with some mayo [I like the additional creaminess- guilty pleasure], lime or lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste)
-Spinach leaves
-Tomato slices
-Square ciabatta rolls

-Toast the ciabbata rolls in a warm oven. In the meantime, prepare the guacamole & slice the chicken breast off the bone, and warm it up.
-Spread the guacamole on both sides of the toasted rolls. Top the bottom half with the spinach leaves, sliced tomato, & the chicken. Cover, & cut sandwich in half.

Tomato Basil Soup
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 minced garlic cloves
-2 stalks of celery, chopped
-3 small carrots, chopped
-salt, pepper, & Italian Seasoning
-1/4 cup white wine (optional)
-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
-4 large plum tomatoes, seeds removed
-28 oz. box (i.e. POM) or can of whole or chopped tomatoes
-4-5 frozen basil cubes (i.e. Dorot)
-2-3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (i.e. Trader Joe's or Imagine) or water. I used about half a box.
-1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped

-In a pot, heat up a tbsp. of Earth Balance & a drizzle of olive oil. Add the chopped onion, salt, pepper, & a sprinkle of Italian seasoning, & saute a few minutes before adding the celery, carrot, and garlic.
-Let saute around 4 minutes, & deglaze the pan with the balsamic & white wine (if you don't have the wine, then the balsamic will do the job. The acid brings up the all the bits of flavor).
-Add the chopped de-seeded tomatoes, & the box/can of tomatoes. Season again with some salt & pepper.
-Add the potato, & then pour in the broth, better to add in less now & the rest later, than too much because you don't want to accidentally thin it out too much.
-Drop in the basil cubes (they will defrost with the warmth of the soup)
-Bring to a boil & then reduce it to simmer for about an hour.
-Puree until smooth, & season with salt and pepper if needed. 

What is more comforting than a sandwich & soup combo? This is the perfect one!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Unstuffed Baked Sweet Potato with Polenta Portabella Ragout

I was feeling in the mood for a light dinner and since it's tax season, it's usually dinner for just me. But I somewhat enjoy making myself dinner, thinking up creative things & this dinner just kept giving me more ideas as I was going on. It started with just a baked sweet potato with sour cream, scallions, and sauteed onions. But then I added fresh spinach, mushrooms (tax season is when I can enjoy mushrooms the most since Avi won't touch it!). Then I saw my trusty log of Polenta in the pantry and decided to cube it and add it to the "ragu." This way it's hearty enough yet light at the same time. I've modified the recipe for 2.

Unstuffed Baked Sweet Potato with Polenta Portabella Ragout
-2 sweet potatoes
-1 onion, diced
-3 cups fresh spinach
-1 large portabella mushroom cap, cut into cubes
-1/2 a polenta log, cut into cubes
-olive oil, salt, pepper
-Sour cream or Earth Balance for the sweet potato
-Chopped green onion

-Pierce a sweet potato with a fork or knife a few times, wrap in tin foil & bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
-Saute 1 small onion in a few drizzles of olive oil, add salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar. Saute on medium-low so that the onions slightly caramelize. Add 1/2 a chopped portabella mushroom cap, stirring, adding a touch more oil if necessary.
-Push the mushroom/onion mixture to one side of the pan and add the polenta, and season the cubes with salt & pepper. Let it get brown before tossing/turning them (it might be annoying to start turning each cube so just move them around in the pan after a few minutes of sauteeing on one side)
-Add the spinach, roughly chopped, to the onion/mushroom and saute just until wilted. Incorporate the polenta. Season with more salt & pepper to taste.
-When the sweet potato is done, carefully make a slice down the middle, not going all the way through and push the sweet potato open. Season with salt, pepper, green onions, & sour cream on the side :-)

I am off to eat!! (again, sorry about my phone pictures, terrible quality.. Waiting for an Iphone so that my blog pictures don't look so sad! I take pics with my regular camera but when I want to post immediately, I have no patience for uploading!)


Friday, February 10, 2012

Simple Pasta Lunch

It's not hard to make pasta stand out with a simple & delicious sauce, it totally transforms it. I bought heavy cream a few weeks ago, but being that it isn't the type of thing you use daily, I froze 1/4 cup increments in Ziploc bags, & then when I want it, I let it defrost. Today I microwaved it in a bowl for 45 seconds and then stirred it & it was ready to go (because I forgot to take it out). I used fresh baby spinach, but any green can work (arugula, kale...) or even frozen if that's all you have. It just ups the ante by adding in some green at the last minute. You can use any shape pasta that you have, even spaghetti or angel hair, but I used Rotini (corkscrews).

Rotini with Pink Sauce & Spinach
-3 cups cooked Rotini pasta (I use Barilla Plus)
-1/4 cup chopped red onion
-2 garlic cloves, cut only in half
-salt & pepper
-1/4 - 1/2 cup "light" heavy cream
-1/4 cup marinara sauce
-1 tbsp. prepared pesto
-4 cups roughly chopped spinach
-Lemon zest & parsley, for garnish (optional)

-Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan, & immediately add the halved garlic cloves (you'll be taking them out). Add the chopped onion & saute, sprinkle some salt & black pepper.
-Once the onions are sauteed a few minutes, lower the heat to medium-low, pour the cream in, & stir. Take the garlic out & discard.
-Slowly raise the heat again to medium/medium-high, & add in the marinara & pesto.
-Add freshly ground black pepper & a pinch of salt
-Continue stirring, & then add the spinach off the fire. Continue stirring until it wilts down, and finally add the pasta in.
-Top with chopped parsley & lemon zest (optional)

(Sorry about the poor picture quality- it's from my phone)..
hmm, sorry it looks like a crime scene, it tasted soooo much better than it looks!


Monday, February 6, 2012

Sorry, Coffee Bar!

My next salad recipe is one that I get whenever I am at Coffee Bar in Lawrence when I am in the mood for a salad. I love a hearty salad, not just lettuce, tomato, and cucumber, rather one with enough substance to keep me full. I made it at home today for lunch, & it's perfect!!!! My dressing, though, comes from Ina Garten (if I remember correctly?) and not Coffee Bar, considering mayonnaise based dressings (what they mostly have) is by no means Greek! (P.S. black olives is the one thing I left out, because I didn't have any)

Greek Salad
-Romaine lettuce, washed & dried
-Hothouse cucumber (or kirby, whatever you have)
-1 hard boiled egg
-Feta Cheese
-Avocado (my addition)
-3 stuffed grape leaves (preferred brand: Galil)

Greek Vinaigrette
-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
-2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
-1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
-pinch of salt & pepper
-2 tbsp. olive oil

Whisk all the dressing ingredients & pour over the salad! ENJOY!