Chicken Fried Rice

The next time you are craving Chinese food, try this delicious homemade version of everyone’s favorite, Fried Rice!  I had leftover chicken in the fridge but you can use pork, beef or shrimp.  For best results, cook the rice in advance and keep it refrigerated until ready to prepare the dish.  4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup uncooked long grain brown rice
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • salt
  • 2-1/4 cups water
  • 3 cups leftover cooked chicken, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup pancetta cut into small dice
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small carrot, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 tbsp. mirin
  • 4 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup scallions, sliced thin
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Preparation:

Use brown rice for a healthy whole grain option.  Simmer the rice 45 minutes in 2-1/4 cups water, pat of butter and pinch of salt.  Cook the rice at least several hours ahead of time and refrigerate until cold.

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Whisk the egg with one tbsp. water.  Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a large skillet and pour in the egg.  As it cooks, turn and cut into small pieces with a spatula.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

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Render the pancetta, then add the onions.  Cook in the rendered fat, about 5 minutes.  Add the shredded carrot, garlic and ginger and stir fry 2 minutes more.

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Add the cooked chicken with 1 tbsp. each of sesame oil and mirin.

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Add the rice and peas, 1 tbsp. sesame oil and 2 tbsp. soy sauce.  Spread the mixture out in the skillet and stir fry several minutes longer.  Add back the egg and toss until combined and warmed through.

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Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Stir in 2 more tbsp. soy sauce.  Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

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This was a fun dinner, a little different from my usual!  My family gave it 2 thumbs up.

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Pumpkin Ravioli with Sausage and Pancetta

Pumpkin Ravioli was the star of this week’s autumn inspired Italian Sunday Dinner.  I served it in sage infused butter sauce and tossed it with sausage coins and rendered pancetta.  Oh my!  Toasted pignoli, fresh Italian parsley from my container garden and grated cheese complete the dish!

Special Tools: I used my KitchenAid® pasta roller and a ravioli mold to make this pasta.

yield, 4 servings (about 48 ravioli)

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For the pasta dough:

  • 100 g. “00″ flour
  • 100 g. semolina flour
  • 100 g. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 12 tbsp. ice water

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup fat free ricotta
  • 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage cut into coins
  • 1/4 cup pancetta, cut into small dice
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 12 whole fresh sage leaves
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. toasted pignoli (pine nuts)
  • fresh Italian parsley
  • grated cheese for serving

Preparation: Drain the pumpkin and ricotta in a fine mesh sieve or use a colander lined with cheesecloth.  The filling should be firm, not watery.

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Add the spice, whisk together and refrigerate.  It may not look like enough, but each ravioli will need only 1/2 tsp. of filling.

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Combine the pasta dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the ice water 1 tbsp. at a time, until you have a shaggy dough that holds together when you give it a squeeze (think pie dough).

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Press the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.  This allows the flour to hydrate and makes the dough easier to work with.  Divide the dough into 3 pieces and flatten each into a disk.

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Roll out each piece into a long thin sheet.  I used my KitchenAid® pasta roller attachment and rolled to setting #5.  Use any pasta roller, or your rolling pin.

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Lay the sheets on a floured dish cloth or wax paper, and sprinkle the top lightly with flour.  Trim the ends even.

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Lightly flour the ravioli press.  Working with one sheet at a time, cut the sheets of dough to length.  Keep the remaining sheets covered with a dish towel so that they don’t dry out.  Lay one sheet of pasta over the press and fill each mold with a heaping 1/2 tsp. of filling.


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Set up a small bowl of water.  Dip you finger (or use a small brush) and lightly moisten the edges of each square.  Lay another sheet of pasta over the top and use a rolling pin to seal and separate the edges.

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Gently separate the ravioli and lay them on a lightly floured dishtowel, or sheet of wax paper.

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Continue with the remaining sheets.

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Refrigerate the ravioli until you are ready to cook.

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Toast the pignoli in a stainless steel pan (not non-stick), just until lightly browned.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

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Heat a large non-stick skillet and add the pancetta.  Cook it down, rendering the fat.  If pancetta isn’t available, you can substitute bacon.

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Cut the sausage into coins and brown in the same skillet.  When cooked through, remove the sausage and pancetta, and drain on paper towels.  Wipe the skillet clean.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil for the ravioli.

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Melt a stick of butter in the skillet.  When the butter begins to simmer, the solids will separate and rise to the top.  Skim off the solids and discard.  Add the sage leaves and stir to release their essence.  Drop the ravioli into the boiling water and cover the pot so the water returns to temperature.  Set the timer for 3 minutes.  They will float to the top when done.

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Remove the sage leaves from the butter sauce and add the sausage and pancetta back to the skillet.  Lift out the cooked ravioli with a spider strainer, and add them to the skillet.  Use 2 spatulas to gently turn and coat the ravioli with the butter sauce.

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Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with toasted pignoli, chopped parsley and grated cheese.

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Foodie friends, this dish is a must try!  I hope you enjoyed our Italian Sunday Dinner and that you found some inspiration here today.


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Cornbread Stuffing

For me, the best part of Thanksgiving dinner has always been the stuffing.  Here is my moist and delicious “in or out of the bird” recipe, starting with homemade cornbread.  Forget the packaged stuffing that is loaded with sodium and preservatives, from scratch is best!

Cornbread Ingredients:

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • cooking spray

Stuffing Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cubed cornbread
  • 1/2 lb. sausage, casing removed
  • 8 strips of bacon
  • 2 small apples, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4″ dice
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. sausage seasoning
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken or beef broth
  • sage and thyme

Preparation:

Make the cornbread one day ahead.  Whisk together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar, milk, and oil.  Stir together the wet and dry ingredients, just until moistened.  Coat an 8 x 8″ baking dish with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 425º for 20 minutes.  Cool in the pan.  When the Cornbread has cooled, cut into 1″ cubes.

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The next day, make the stuffing.

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Cook the bacon in a large skillet.  Remove and drain on paper towel.  Cook the sausage in the rendered bacon fat, breaking it up with a spatula.  When completely browned, remove and drain on paper towel with the bacon.

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Chop the sausage and bacon into 1/4″ bits.  Add 2 tbsp. butter to the skillet.  Add the onion and cook for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Sprinkle with sausage seasoning.  Add the celery and apple to the skillet and cook 3 minutes more, with additional seasoning.  Add the sausage and bacon back to the skillet and toss well to combine.  Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.  You can prepare up to this point the night before and refrigerate.

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When cooled, stir in the cornbread cubes.

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Lastly, whisk together the egg, milk, and broth with a pinch of sage and thyme.  Pour over the cornbread mixture and toss well to until everything is moistened.

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To stuff or not to stuff?  You decide.  Always follow food safety guidelines.  If you stuff the turkey, do so just prior to roasting.

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I had enough to fill the turkey and a little extra.  For those who prefer out of the bird, spray an 8″ x 8″ baking dish with cooking spray and spread the stuffing evenly.  Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes or until nicely browned around the edges.

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Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you enjoyed this post.  As we prepare to celebrate the holiday with family and friends, I wish you all a day that is blessed with love, good food and a thankful heart.  Happy Thanksgiving!    

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Beef Mushroom Barley Soup

Welcome fall with this hearty and flavorful soup that will warm you to your toes!  I’m on a barley kick this month and it’s a great addition to this soup.  Also featured in the recipe are mushrooms, I used a combination of dried porcini and fresh baby bella (cremini) mushrooms for a more intense flavor.  Finally, in addition to beef broth, which can be home made or readily purchased, I’m using a cup of beef stock that was reserved from another meal, a bone in chuck roast that I had braised over a bed of carrots, celery and onion.  I strained the liquid, reduced it by half and froze it for future use.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup dried Porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 lb. stew beef cut into 1″ dice
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large celery stalk, diced
  • 1/4 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 oz. fat free, low sodium beef broth
  • sage and thyme, to taste
  • 1 cup baby potatoes, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked barley
  • fresh chives for garnish

Preparation:

Good quality dried mushrooms are a must have in your pantry.  These are imported Porcini mushrooms, and they are wonderful.

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To reconstitute them, simmer gently in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes.  Then strain the mushrooms through a fine mesh sieve, reserving the liquid.

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Chop the mushrooms and they are ready to use.

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Here is my beef stock, defrosted and fat skimmed from the top.  It is going to give our soup that simmered all day flavor in just a few hours.

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Chop the stew beef into small dice, and brown it in a heavy stock pot with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Remove the browned beef from the pan and set aside.

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Add more olive oil, and begin cooking the carrots, celery and onion.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir for several minutes, until the onions are translucent.

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Stir in the fresh mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the reconstituted porcini mushrooms, along with their strained cooking liquid.  Add the beef stock, beef broth, garlic and potatoes.  Return all of the browned stew beef to the pot.  Season the soup with sage and thyme, to taste (I like about 1/2 tsp. each).

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Cover and simmer for 2 hours on low heat.  While the soup is simmering cook the barley according to package directions.  Add the barley to the soup during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

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Doesn’t that look great?  Serve in shallow bowls and garnish with fresh chives.

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This is one of my favorite soups.  It’s very filling and you can make a meal of it along with some thick slices of country bread.  Barley is a very versatile grain and you may see it turning up in some of my stews this season, or even milled into flour for one of my bread recipes.   Thanks for stopping by today and hope you found some fall cooking inspiration!

 

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Horn of Plenty Pumpkin Pasta

For an autumn inspired Italian Sunday Dinner I’m making pumpkin pasta with a ridged, horn shape.  The dough is enriched with egg and pumpkin puree, imparting a rich golden color.  The pasta was hand rolled on a bamboo mat to create the deep ridges.  It was a labor of love that turned out absolutely delicious.  In keeping with the season I’m calling it Horn of Plenty Pumpkin Pasta.  I topped our Cornucopia with a Harvest Pasta Sauce full of fall veggies like butternut squash.  Here’s how to make it.  6 servings.

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Ingredients:

  • 100 g. semolina flour
  • 100 g. 00 flour
  • 100 g. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 8 tbsp. pumpkin puree
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

Preparation:

Combine the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  You will notice that there is no water listed in the ingredients.  The egg and pumpkin are enough to moisten the flour.

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Press the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap.  Let it rest for 20 minutes.  The rest time allows the flour to fully hydrate, and it will be easier to roll and shape.

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Use a bench knife to divide the dough ball into 4 pieces.

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Work with one section at a time, keeping the rest covered so it will not dry out.  Roll each piece between your palms, into a long rope 1/2″ thick.  Cut the rope into 1/2″ pieces.

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Roll each piece into a ball.

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Place a ball on the bamboo mat, and roll it out with a dowel or wooden skewer to create ridges on one side.

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Mr. Extruded Noodle made me a 1/2″ wooden dowel to use for my pasta creations.  If you don’t have one, you can use a pencil (a new, very clean pencil) or a wooden barbecue skewer.

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Once you have created the ridges, roll the dough around a skewer, ridged side down.  Keep the opening narrow on one end and wide on the other to create the horn shape.  Press down with the skewer to seal the edge.

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I promise, once you have done a few you will begin to pick up speed.  Watch!

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Place the finished pasta on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and dusted with flour.

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Follow food safety guidelines!  Pasta made with eggs should be refrigerated within one hour.  When you are ready to cook, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta and cover, so it will promptly return to temperature.  Cook 3 minutes.  Fresh pasta cooks quickly, don’t overcook!  It will float to the top when done.

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Drain and transfer the pasta to a large serving platter.  I love these!

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Top with your favorite pasta sauce and grated cheese.

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Learn how to make this chunky Harvest Pasta Sauce here, made with butternut squash, pumpkin and carrots!  What a meal this was!  I hope you have enjoyed our Italian Sunday Dinner.  Thank you for stopping by today and please check out my other Handmade Pasta, all from scratch made right here in my kitchen.

 

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Harvest Pasta Sauce

Foodie friends, this pasta sauce truly captures the colors and flavors of the autumn harvest!  It’s thick and chunky, loaded with veggies!  Make it this weekend for your Italian Sunday Dinner.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
  • olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz.) tomato sauce
  • dried basil, dried oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, fresh ground pepper
  • 1 sweet Italian sausage (4 oz.), sliced into 1/4″ coins
  • 1 boneless chicken breast (12 oz.), sliced into 1/4″ medallions
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar

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Preparation:

Brown the chicken and sausage in a little olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.  Dice the vegetables and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes at 425º.

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Heat the tomatoes in a heavy sauce pan.  Season with basil, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and fresh ground pepper.

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Stir in the cooked chicken and sausage.

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Finally, stir in the roasted vegetables, pumpkin puree and 1 tbsp. brown sugar.

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Cover and keep on a very low simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Serve a generous amount over your favorite pasta with grated cheese and fresh parsley.

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Everyone loved this sweet hearty sauce, it was the perfect topping for my homemade pumpkin pasta.  That’s coming up in another post!

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Thanks for stopping by today and I hope you have enjoyed this recipe.  It’s easy to make so give it a try for your next pasta dinner.

 

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Roasted Delicata Squash

Delicata Squash is one of my favorite fall vegetables.  It’s only in season for a short time, so  when you see one at the market, be sure to snap it up!  Delicata Squash is aptly named.  It is sweet tasting, easy to slice and seed, and you can eat the skin!  My favorite preparation is a simple toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and oven roasted.  You can add other veggies as I have for a fall inspired vegetable medley.

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To prepare, use a sturdy knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise.  Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds then cut into 1/2″ slices.

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Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer in a baking pan.  Add other veggies like Brussels sprouts, red onion, or potato.  Use a large enough pan so that the vegetables are not crowded.

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Roast for 30 minutes at 425-450, stirring every 10 minutes.

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The veggies should be browned and nicely caramelized.

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Enjoy this delicious side with all your favorite fall meals!

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Polenta

Polenta!  In a bowl or on the grill, this humble porridge is simple comfort food at its best.  This weekend I made Polenta 2 ways.  First, a warm creamy bowl topped with Crock-Pot Braised Beef for our main course.  The next day, as a side dish to go with our barbecue dinner.  Gruel or grill, here’s how to make it…

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Ingredients:

  • 5 cups water, divided
  • 1.5 tsp. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

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Preparation:

The cooking method is very much like making risotto and will take a full 40 minutes.  Heat 5 cups of water in a sauce pan.  In a second sauce pan, combine 3 cups of the heated water, salt and bay leaf.  Gradually stream in the Polenta, whisking with each addition.  Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring frequently.  As the liquid becomes absorbed, add the remaining water 1 ladle at a time.  Continue to stir the Polenta frequently until it reaches the desired thickness, about 40 minutes.  At the end of the cook time, remove the bay leaf and stir in butter and Parmesan.  Yes, it’s that easy.  So now that you have made a batch of Polenta, how will you serve it?

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You could serve it in shallow bowls with extra Parmesan as a side dish.  Or, enjoy it as a main course, topped with Crock-Pot Braised Beef for dinner.  Check out the link for the beef recipe, this is what I made and Mr. Extruded Noodle thought it was very good.

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What a meal!  But what about the leftovers?  Once cooked, Polenta will begin to firm up almost immediately.  Before that happens, pour it into a baking dish lined with parchment paper.  Cover and refrigerate.

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The next day you will easily be able to slide out the Polenta, peel away the parchment and lay it on a cutting board.  Slice into wedges.

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Now out to the grill.  Lightly oil the grates and grill the wedges for about 6 minutes per side.

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I made a grill meal of  Ribs, zucchini and Polenta.  Here is our Italian barbeque!

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I thought the grilled Polenta was delicious, and this was my favorite version.  It was pretty tasty dipped in BBQ sauce. :-)

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I’ll definitely be making this again over the winter months, and can’t wait to experiment with different ways to serve it.  Now that you know how easy it is to make Polenta, stir up a batch at your house this weekend.

 

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Crock-Pot Braised Beef

Fall is here and with it a return to comfort food.  Soups, stews and braised dinners will be on the menu as we welcome cooler weather.  Today I’m making a Braised Beef dinner in the crock-pot that will be served over a warm bowl of Polenta.  This is a simple dish to prepare.  Go about your day as the crock-pot transforms a tough cut of beef into tender, melt in your mouth goodness.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. chuck roast (pot roast)
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 large cans plum tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • salt and pepper

Preparation:

Mist the crock-pot with cooking spray.  Cut the onion, celery and carrots into large chunks and layer them in the bottom of the crock-pot.

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Season the roast with salt and pepper, then brown it in olive oil on all sides.  Place it in the crock-pot on top of the veggies.

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Add the red wine and garlic cloves, then cook on low for 10 hours.  Turn the roast occasionally, spooning the liquid over the meat.

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An hour or so before the meat is done make a tomato sauce.  Break up the tomatoes with an immersion blender and season with garlic, basil, oregano, and freshly ground pepper.  Simmer 45 minutes.  When the beef is ready, remove from the crock-pot, slice and top with the tomatoes.  How good does that look, served over a bowl of warm Polenta?

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When your beef is done cooking you will be left with a good amount of liquid in the crock-pot.  Don’t throw it away!  It will make an amazing stock for your beef based soups and stews this winter.  Strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth and freeze it for another meal.  Wondering about Polenta?  Learn how to make it in my next post!

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Tri Color Cavatelli

Cavatelli is one of my favorite pasta shapes and today I made a batch using tri-color dough.  I have been wanting to try this for a while and had a great time making the red and green dough and shaping the pasta.  I used spinach puree to create the green dough and sun dried tomatoes for the red.  The Cavatelli had a nice chewy consistency, the spinach and sun dried tomato imparted beautiful color to the dough.  I used a small food processor and a gnocchi board to create this pasta.  Here’s how…

Ingredients:

  • 100 g. 00 flour
  • 100 g. semolina flour
  • 100 g. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 eggs, about 6 tbsp.
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • ice water
  • baby spinach, large handful
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil
  • extra 00 flour for rolling the Cavatelli

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Preparation:

Whisk together the flours and salt, then divide the flour mixture into 3 equal parts.  Beat the eggs and set aside.  Steam the spinach for 5 minutes then drain well, press with paper towels to remove more of the moisture.  Cool and puree the spinach and set aside.  Drain the sun dried tomatoes, puree and set aside.

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In the bowl of a small food processor, combine 1/3 of the flour mixture and 2 tbsp of egg.  Pulse several times, adding 3-5 tbsp. ice water, 1 tbsp. at a time, just enough to bring it together into a rough dough.  Press it into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

Next, combine 1/3 of the flour mixture, 2 tbsp. of egg and 3 tbsp. of the sun dried tomato puree.   Add ice water 1 tbsp. at a time to bring the dough together.  You will need much less water (or none) depending on the amount of moisture from the tomatoes and oil. Press the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

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Finally, combine the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixture, 2 tbsp. of egg and 3 tbsp of spinach puree.  As before, pulse and add ice water 1 tbsp. at a time to bring the dough together.  You will need less water because of the moisture from the spinach.  Press the spinach dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.

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Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.  Lightly flour a large cutting board.  Working with one color dough at a time, divide the ball in half and roll each piece into a 1/2″ rope.

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Use a bench knife to cut the dough into 1/2″ pieces.

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Use the bench knife to roll each piece over a floured gnocchi board to create the ridges.

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Lay the cavatelli on a floured baking sheet.

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Let the pasta dry a little.  Be sure to follow food safety guidelines and refrigerate fresh pasta within one hour if you are not going to cook it immediately.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Add the pasta, stir and cover so that the water returns to a boil quickly.  Cook for just 3 minutes.  Set your timer, fresh pasta cooks very quickly, don’t overcook!

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Drain the cooked pasta and transfer to a serving platter.  Aren’t they beautiful?

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Top with your favorite marinara sauce and grated cheese.

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I must say this was one of my more impressive meals!  It was oh so delicious, a simple marinara was all it needed to dress these pretty dumplings!  I hope that you enjoyed this week’s Italian Sunday dinner.

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Italian Sourdough Loaf

Today’s bake is a gorgeous Italian Sourdough loaf.  Baking on very high heat creates the hard crust and soft interior, just like the loaves we would buy at the Italian bakery when I was growing up.  Just be careful you don’t set off the smoke alarm like I did!  Sometimes my baking can really cause a commotion!  Hubby was a little miffed about having his nap interrupted, but he soon forgave me.  I mean look at that loaf!  

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Baking with sourdough has become a passion of mine over the last few years.  Most of my bread recipes begin with this magical culture and similar ingredients.  The loaves take on their final form with different shaping methods, baking temperature and finishes.  Brushing the dough with water, milk or beaten egg will also change the color and texture of the crust.  

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This loaf begins with freshly milled whole grains. 1/3 cups each of white wheat, red wheat, spelt and khorasian wheat to yield 1.75 cups of whole grain flour.  To that we add 1.25 cups white bread flour for a total of 3 cups flour.

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The dough ingredients are kneaded for 5 minutes in a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  The dough requires a 2 hour first rise.  A stretch and fold is performed, followed by the final shaping.  After a 30 minute proof, it is brushed with beaten egg whites, sprinkled with sesame seed and with 1 long slash down the middle it goes into a 500º oven.  Yes, that’s hot!  After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 475º and continue baking for another 20 minutes.

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I have found that it is best to have the stove vent turned on high, doors open and ceiling fans running throughout the preheat and bake.  Otherwise prepare to fan that smoke alarm!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup white wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup red wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup spelt berries
  • 1/3 cup kamut berries
  • 1-1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp. softened butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 3/4 cups sourdough starter
  • 1-1/3 cups warm water
  • olive oil
  • egg white, for brushing
  • sesame seeds
  • cooking spray
  • cornmeal

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Preparation:

Mill the grain to yield 1.75 cups whole grain flour, or substitute your favorite purchased whole grain flour.  Whisk it together with the bread flour, salt, diastatic malt powder, and instant yeast.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter, honey and butter.  With the dough hook attachment, gradually add the flour mixture and warm water on low speed until combined.  Increase speed and knead the dough for 5 minutes.

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Transfer the dough into a large oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel, and let it rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size.

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Stretch and fold the dough, then shape it into an oval.  Place the loaf in a baking pan or baking sheet that has been coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with corn meal.  Use parchment paper if you prefer, for easy cleanup.  Mist a sheet of plastic wrap with cooking spray and cover the loaf with the oiled side down (so it doesn’t stick) and proof for 30 minutes longer.  Preheat the oven to 500º.

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Slash the loaf down the center with a sharp knife, about 1″ deep.  Brush with the beaten egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake at 500º for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 475º and continue baking for another 20 minutes.

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The crust will be hard and sound hollow when you tap it.  Transfer the loaf to a rack and let it cool completely before slicing.

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Serve with a good olive oil for dipping.  Jazz it up with grated cheese and red pepper flakes.  I like to infuse my oil with garlic cloves and fresh rosemary leaves.

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Enjoy this loaf with your Italian Sunday Dinner, it’s great for dipping and soaking up sauce.  Try it toasted for breakfast, it’s divine!  You can store it at room temperature for 2-3 days, but it probably won’t last that long.  I hope you’ve enjoyed Today’s Bake!

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Bread baking 101 – How to Perform a Stretch and Fold

In many of my bread posts the directions include performing a “stretch and fold”.  This process encourages rising by redistributing the yeast in the dough.  If you have ever wondered about this technique here is a step by step picture guide.  Flour your hands and let’s get started!  This dough has been rising for an hour or more.

Gently deflate the dough and transfer to an oiled (or floured) cutting board.  Stretch and pat the dough into a rectangle.

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Now fold the left side over, like a letter fold, and use the side of your hand to press it into the dough.

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Fold the right side over and press.

Multigrain Sourdough Boule The Extruded Noodle 042aRotate the dough 180º, stretch and fold the dough again.  Here’s the stretch.

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And the left fold.

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And the right fold.  See how I tucked the ends in?

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Now turn the dough over seam side down and return it to the bowl.  Depending on the recipe you may perform one or more stretch and folds throughout the rising process.  The final dough is ready to be shaped into a boule or loaf.

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Ringed Loaves

Hello foodie friends and bread lovers!  This post is for you!  For Today’s Bake I will be showing you how to create these beautiful ringed sourdough loaves.  The dough is made with 60% freshly milled whole grain flour and 40% white bread flour.  I proofed the loaves in ringed banneton baskets to create the distinctive floured rings.  See how to make the dough, shape the loaves and bring it to the table.

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Ingredients:

  • 2/3  cup spelt berries
  • 2/3 cup kamut berries
  • 2/3 cup white wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup sorghum
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup sourdough starter
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray
  • cornmeal

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Preparation:

Be sure your starter is fully activated like mine (pictured above), all those lovely bubbles are a sure sign the yeast is ready to go to work.  Mill the grains to yield 2-1/3 cups of whole grain flour, or substitute an equivalent amount of purchased whole grain flour.  Make an autolyse by stirring together 3 tbsp. of the whole grain flour with 1/2 cup of hot (not boiling) water.  Cover and set it aside for 20-30 minutes.  Whisk together the remainder of the whole grain flour, bread flour, instant yeast, salt and diastatic malt powder.

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In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the starter, honey and the autolyse.  With the dough hook attachment, gradually mix in the flour mixture and warm water.  Use enough water to form a soft dough.  Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  It should form a ball around the dough hook but be elastic enough to stretch, like this.

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Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel and set aside to rise for 3 hours.

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After 3 hours, the dough has puffed up and doubled in size.

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Gently deflate the dough and turn out onto a floured cutting board.  Divide the dough in half with a bench knife.  Stretch and pat each piece into a rectangle.

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Do a letter fold.

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Now rotate the dough 90 degrees and fold it again.  Turn the dough over and shape it into a tight ball.

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When both pieces have been shaped, create the ring by pressing your thumb and forefinger into the center of each ball and rotating the dough in a circular motion.

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Here is the shaped ring loaf.

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I proofed my loaves in a ringed banneton basket.  If you don’t have one you can proof the loaves on a floured baking sheet with a small pyrex bowl in the center to maintain the ring shape.

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Cover with plastic wrap and allow the loaves to proof for 45 minutes.  They will nearly double in size again.   Preheat the oven to 425º.

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Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, mist it with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Carefully invert the loaves onto the baking sheet.  Try to do it all in one motion and give the baskets a sharp tap to release the loaves.  This one is perfect!

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Bake for 30 minutes at 425º.  Cool for 2 hours before slicing.

Ringed-Loaves-The-Extruded-Noodle-051I love making loaves like this when we have company.  For a nice presentation slice one loaf and bring the second loaf to the table on a cutting board.  I served the bread with a good olive oil that I infused with fresh garlic and rosemary sprigs.

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Everyone loved the bread!  We had a few leftover slices for breakfast and snacks.

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I hope you have enjoyed Today’s Bake and will stop by for more of my delicious breads and rolls!  I love creating breads in all shapes and sizes so there is something for everyone.

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Crock-Pot Rotisserie Chicken

Deliciously seasoned, falling off the bone tender chicken, just like the Rotisserie Chicken you buy at the market made right in your own kitchen!  This unbelievably simple recipe will give you the same moist flavorful chicken that everyone loves.  I used a 6 quart Crock-Pot to make this meal.  I had a family pack of 8 chicken leg quarters and not only was it very economical but I also ended up with 2 cups of chicken stock that I have frozen for making soup next month.  There are only 4 basic steps to the recipe.  Make the rub, prep the vegetables, cook in the crock-pot for 8 hours, then finish in the oven.  It doesn’t get any easier than this and you can plan it around your work day.  Wouldn’t you like to come home to this?

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Ingredients:

  • 6 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasosning
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dehydrated bell pepper
  • 8 chicken leg quarters
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Rinse the chicken, trim any excess skin and pat dry.  Whisk together the first 10 ingredients to make the rub and liberally coat both sides of the chicken.  Leave a little aside for finishing.

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Mist the crock-pot with cooking spray.  Chop the onion, carrot and celery and place it in the bottom.  Do not add liquid, the vegetables should hold the chicken up above any liquid that forms during cooking.

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Arrange the seasoned chicken on top of the vegetables.  I was able to fit all 8 leg quarters in my 6 quart crock-pot.

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Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, then reduce heat to low for 6 more hours.  It can go a little longer if you are running late.  About half way through, check for excess liquid in the bottom of the crock-pot and spoon some of it out if needed.  You do not want the chicken submerged in liquid.  If you like, you can strain and reserve it for soup stock as I did.  After 8 hours preheat the oven to 350º.  Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet, sprinkle with more seasoning and finish in the oven for 30 minutes.

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That’s it.  Dinner done!  I served it with a side of pasta shells and marinara sauce, family style for a late Sunday dinner that was better than any restaurant.  Everyone loved how moist and tasty the chicken was.  I will be making it again!

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Onion Focaccia on the Grill

It’s Sunday and I need my weekly bread fix, but today I’m doing something a little different by using the grill to make this delicious Caramelized Onion Focaccia.  I used an autolyse in addition to my usual sourdough starter to create the beautiful puffy dough.  You can see the air bubbles on the surface of the finished bread and it had a nice crispy bottom!  As always, I used freshly milled whole grains.  If you don’t have a grill or it’s winter in your part of the world you can bake it on a pizza stone.  Here’s how…

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup white wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup red wheat berries
  • 1/3 cup spelt berries
  • 1/3 cup Kamut
  • 1/3 cup sorghum
  • 1-1/2 cups bread flour
  • 3/4 cup fully active sourdough starter
  • 3 tbsp. garlic flavored olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • coarse salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • red pepper flakes
  • fresh rosemary sprigs cut into 3/4″ pieces

Preparation:

Mill the grain (1st 5 ingredients) to yield 2 cups + 3 tbsp. whole grain flour.  You can substitute an equal amount of purchased whole wheat flour or whole grain blend.

In a small bowl, stir together 3 tbsp. of the whole grain flour with just over 1/2 cup hot (not boiling) water.  This is called an autolyse, and it’s used to get a head start on dough development and create a dough with better texture, rise and flavor.  Stir and let it sit for 30 minutes.

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Whisk together the flours, salt, yeast and diastatic malt powder.    Be sure your starter is fully activated.  Here’s mine, looking lively!

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Combine the starter and the autolyse in the bowl of a stand mixer with 1 tsp. honey and 3 tbsp. garlic oil.

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Gradually begin kneading in the flour mixture plus an additional cup of water on low speed.  When thoroughly combined increase speed and knead for 5 minutes.  The dough will be very wet and elastic like this.

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Place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat.

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Cover with plastic wrap and a dishtowel, and let it rise in a warm place for 4-1/2 hours.

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While the dough is rising, make the onion topping.  Melt 3 tbsp. butter in a heavy skillet and add the onions.  Cook 25 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are turning a golden brown.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside until the dough is ready.

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Stretch, fold and shape the dough into a round, cover and let it rest for another 20 minutes.  Then pat and stretch the dough into a circle to fit a 12″ grill pan, pizza pan or baking stone.

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Brush with olive oil, then press oiled fingers into the dough to create dimples.  Spoon the caramelized onions over the top then sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper flakes and Italian seasoning.  Press the rosemary sprigs into the dough.

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Grill 15-18 minutes on medium heat, watching that the bottom doesn’t get singed.

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I was very happy with how the dough puffed up on the grill!  I thought that the center needed to cook a  little more, so I slid it onto a pizza stone and finished it off in a 400º oven for 5 minutes.  Cool slightly before slicing, if you can wait!

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Here’s a closeup of the crumb, it had lots of nice air bubbles!

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We devoured most of this in one sitting.  It won’t last long at your house either!

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I hope that you have enjoyed today’s bake!  Read more about my bread adventures here.

 

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Chicken and Rice Primavera

Chicken medallions, tossed with breadcrumbs and cooked in a heavy skillet with caramelized onions, carrots, zucchini and summer squash.  All served over a bed of brown and wild rice.  Sometimes it’s the little things that make a recipe.  In this case it’s the homemade breadcrumbs.  I bake bread every week and sometimes make my own seasoned breadcrumbs with the leftovers.  They are so much more flavorful than store bought!  This is a dish that you can make on a week night.  There is some prep work but you can still pull it together in under an hour.  It’s a great way to use up some of that zucchini and summer squash!

4 Servings.

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Rice Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown and wild rice
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 packet salt free chicken bouillon
  • seasoned salt, to taste
  • 1-1/2 cups water

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. boneless chicken breast cut into medallions
  • 2 cups homemade seasoned breadcrumbs (or use seasoned panko)
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 small summer squash
  • seasoned salt
  • 6 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth

Preparation:

Cooking the rice and caramelizing the onions are the most time consuming part of the recipe.  Once completed the rest of the meal comes together easily.  Plan on a 45 minute cook time for the rice and about 25 minutes for the onions.

Start the rice first, melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan, add the rice and stir to coat.  Toast for 1 minute then add the shallots.  Whisk together the water, bouillon and seasoning.  Pour over the rice, stir and bring to a simmer.  Turn the heat down to low, cover and cook 45-50 minutes.

While the rice cooks, add 3 tbsp. butter to a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and golden brown.  Transfer the onions to a bowl and keep warm.

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Slice or cut the chicken breast into 1/4″ medallions.  Place the breadcrumbs in a zip top bag with the chicken and toss to coat.  Wipe the skillet clean, add more butter and oil (about 2 tbsp. each) then add the chicken with all of the bread crumbs.  Brown the chicken on all sides, adding more butter if needed.

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Add 1/3 cup chicken broth or stock, stirring and tossing frequently so the breadcrumbs do not burn.  Transfer the chicken to a bowl and be sure to get all of the browned breadcrumbs up from the skillet.  Keep warm.

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Slice the carrots, zucchini and summer squash into 1/2″ match sticks.  Using the same skillet, add 1 tbsp. more olive oil and begin cooking the carrots, give them a five minute head start.  Add the zucchini and squash, sprinkle with seasoned salt and toss for 1 minute more.  I like the squash to be firm, but you can cook it a little longer if you prefer.

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Return the caramelized onions and chicken to the skillet, along with any breadcrumbs that have fallen to the bottom of the bowl.  Combine well and heat through.

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When you are ready to serve, spread the rice out in an even layer on a platter.

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Now spoon the chicken and vegetables over the rice for a beautiful presentation.  Scrape up any breadcrumbs from the bottom of the skillet and sprinkle them over the top.  Doesn’t that look delicious?  We polished off most of it in one sitting.

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Make this colorful plate, loaded with summer goodness for your family to enjoy this weekend!

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Spinach Fettuccine

Today I made my first batch of homemade Spinach Fettuccine.  The addition of spinach puree gives the dough a rich hue.  I have been wanting to try this for a while and wondered how the spinach would affect the dough.  I used tender baby spinach, stems and all (no trimming needed).  After boiling and draining it well, the spinach still had plenty of moisture, so only a tablespoon of additional water was needed to bring the dough together.  The noodles were delicious and no, they did not taste like spinach!  I used my KitchenAid® pasta press and cutter attachments to create this beautiful pasta from scratch.  I served the fettuccine in a very light tomato cream sauce tossed with caramelized onions and colorful squash.  Dare I say it was healthy?  We really did eat our vegetables!

3-4 Servings:

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Dough Ingredients:

  • 2 cups packed baby spinach
  • 4 cups water
  • salt
  • 100 g. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 110 g. 00 Flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1-2 tbsp. water if needed

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Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 small zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1 small summer squash, halved and sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 3 ladles of the pasta water (it will be nice and starchy from the floured pasta)
  • olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • coarse breadcrumbs for finishing

Preparation:

Boil 4 cups of water with a pinch of salt.  Measure a heaping 2 cups of baby spinach.  Cook the spinach for 5 minutes, drain and cool to room temperature.

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Puree the cooled spinach with the egg (be sure the spinach has cooled or the egg will cook).

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Transfer the spinach and egg mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer.

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Whisk together the flours and salt, add to the mixer bowl and combine using the paddle attachment.  Add 1-2 tbsp. cold water if needed to form a soft dough.  If your spinach has a lot of moisture you may not need the water at all.  Press the dough into a ball.

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Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest 20 minutes.  When rested, use a bench knife to divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.

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Set up 2 long sheets of wax paper sprinkled with flour.  Working with 1 piece at a time, flour the dough and press it into a disc.  Roll the dough out into a thin sheet.  I rolled mine out to setting #4 on my KitchenAid® pasta roller attachment.  Lay each sheet of pasta on the floured wax paper and cover with plastic wrap while you work with the other sections.

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Cut the pasta sheets into ribbons and hang to dry.  If you don’t have a pasta cutter tool, use a sharp knife.

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I let my pasta dry a little while I caramelized the sweet onions in 3 tbsp. of butter.  This takes at least 20 minutes of frequent stirring (don’t walk away!).  You want the edges of the onions just beginning to brown.

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Next I heated a large pot of salted water for the pasta.  It will cook in just 3 minutes so have the sauce ready.  For the sauce, heat a large skillet with a little olive oil, and toss the zucchini, squash and bell pepper with the caramelized onions.  When the pasta water is boiling add the pasta and set the timer for 3 minutes.  Next add the tomato paste to the center of the skillet, toast it quickly then add a ladle of the pasta water.

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Turn the heat down to low, add 2 more ladles of the pasta water with the half and half, and season with salt and pepper.  Gently remove the pasta with a spider strainer and add it to the skillet.

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Toss well then transfer everything to a serving platter.  Top with grated cheese and coarse breadcrumbs.

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Here is our beautiful, colorful dinner plate.  It was delicious and I will be making spinach pasta again soon.  This dish was vegetarian, but you could jazz it up with sausage, chicken or bacon.  I hope you enjoyed this week’s Italian Sunday Dinner.

 

 

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Posted in Comfort Food, Dash Diet Friendly, Eat your Vegetables, Farmers Market Favorites, fresh pasta, From Scratch, handmade pasta, Healthy Italian Favorites, Italian Sunday Dinner, Pasta | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Seafood Oriental

Seafood Oriental!  Today I’m making a seafood stir fry with an Asian flair!  The inspiration for this dish was a restaurant meal that I had while vacationing this summer.  A sweet sauce tops a generous helping of  shrimp, scallops and lobster over rice and it is loaded with healthy veggies.  I used a mandoline to slice everything nice and thin for quick cooking.  Canned baby corn can be found in the Asian section of the supermarket and really adds to the sweetness of the dish.

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Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. raw shrimp
  • 6 oz. sea scallops
  • 6 oz. lobster meat
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cabbage, shredded
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thin
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1/4″ pieces
  • 3/4 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 red bell pepper sliced thin
  • 1/2 can baby corn, drained and halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • toasted sesame oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 tsp. ginger
  • toasted sesame seeds

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Preparation:

I had a small lobster cooked at the market.  As soon as we got home I removed the meat, peeled the shrimp and rinsed everything off under cold water.

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The stir-fry comes together very quickly, so you will want to start the rice ahead of time, especially if you are using brown rice which takes at least 45 minutes to cook.  While the rice cooks, prep the vegetables.  I finished slicing everything in minutes with my mandoline.

Seafood-Oriental-The-Extruded-Noodle-010aHeat a large skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil.  Add the onions, peppers and carrots.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Toss for 1 minute and add the seafood.

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Toss 30 seconds and add all of the cabbage.

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Drizzle with sesame oil and a little soy sauce.  Add the baby corn, cover and cook 5 minutes.  Whisk together the cornstarch, broth, soy sauce, Mirin and ginger and pour it over the skillet.  Toss and stir well as the liquid thickens.

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To serve, spread the rice out on a platter.  Top with the seafood and garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds.

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The verdict, I came close to matching the restaurant version with less salt and more veggies.  That’s what I call a success!  It was a nice change from our usual and I will be making it again before the summer is over.

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Jambalaya Pasta

Fra Diavolo meets Cajun!  Today I am cooking up a spicy pasta dish with a southern twist, delicious and a little different than my usual.  Cayenne pepper gives it a real kick, and it can be anything from a modest pinch to a generous shake, you decide.  I borrowed smoky Andouille sausage and shrimp from traditional recipe, along with the “trinity” of pepper, onion and celery.  I finished it with a tomato cream sauce but instead of rice I served it over penne, I love my pasta!

Dinner for 2

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz. Andouille sausage, cut into coins
  • 6 oz. large raw shrimp (about 12), peeled and deveined
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into florets
  • 1 cup green bell pepper, diced (I used Italian peppers that we had on hand)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • olive oil, about 2 tbsp.
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp. half and half
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • sea salt
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 6 oz. penne pasta, cooked 2 minutes less than package directions
  • 3 ladles of the pasta water

Preparation:

Once the veggies are prepped, this meal comes together in about 15 minutes.  Cook the pasta to 2 minutes less than package directions, reserving 3 cups of the pasta water.  Heat a large skillet with olive oil.  Add the onions and sausage and cook 1 minute, then add the broccoli, pepper, celery and garlic.  Season with salt, Old Bay and cayenne and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and tossing continuously.

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Make a space in the center of the skillet and add the tomato paste.  Let it toast for 1 minute, pushing it around with a spatula then toss it with the sausage and vegetables.

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Add 1 ladle of the pasta water with the shrimp.  Season with more Old Bay, salt and cayenne, and continue cooking just until the shrimp turns pink.  Add 2 more ladles of pasta water with the half and half.

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Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss well for another minute or 2.

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Transfer to a platter and dinner is ready.  It smells so good, I hurried through the photo shoot so we could dig in!

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Hubby loved this dish and so did I.  The Andouille and shrimp were perfect together, the veggies cooked just to crisp tender.  I went easy on the cayenne this time, but the heat was definitely there.  I will be making it again soon!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Pasta, Skillet Dinners, Stir Fry | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Blueberry Banana Bread

Foodie friends, the inspiration for this beautiful quick bread came from one of our weekly “use it up” challenges.  We had 2 pints of blueberries in the fridge plus an overripe banana that had been calling out to me, and here is what I made.  Perfect with our afternoon coffee, it was delicious and not overly sweet.  Best of all I used only 1/4 cup of butter and no oil in this recipe.  The banana, ricotta and blueberries keep the crumb nice and moist.  I also baked it in 12″ x 3″ tea loaf pan for smaller, diet friendly slices.

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Dry Ingredients:

Whisk Together

  • 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/8 tsp. ginger

Wet Ingredients:

Whisk Together

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • half stick of butter (1/4 cup), softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup 1% milk
  • 6 oz. low fat ricotta

Preparation:

1. Preheat the oven to 350º.

2. Rinse and dry 1 cup of fresh blueberries.  Make sure they are completely dry.  Take 1 tbsp. of the flour mixture and toss the blueberries in it.  Flouring the blueberries will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the batter.

3. Blend the wet ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth.

4. Switch to the beater attachment, add the flour mixture and blend just until moistened.

5. Gently fold in the floured blueberries with a spatula.

6. Mist a 12″ x 3″ loaf pan with cooking spray. (Note: You can bake this in a 9 x 5″ loaf pan, just increase the baking time by 10 minutes.)

7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread it evenly with a spatula.

8. Bake 55 minutes at 350º.  Cool in the pan for 20 minutes then transfer to a rack.

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Just look at the rise on this quick bread!  The ripe banana and brown sugar give it a beautiful coloring.

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This slender loaf yields about 16 slices.  You will definitely want more than one slice each!  I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to give it a try.

 

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