Tartine Country Loaf Bread

This weekend I baked a Tartine style Country Loaf Bread.  It is a true sourdough, that means no commercial yeast at all.  Can you believe that a mere 1 tablespoon of sourdough starter will raise an entire loaf of bread?  I have never asked my starter to perform such a feat!  

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This is a 2 day process, so there was much anticipation about how the final loaf would look and taste.  I’m also showing the date/time of each step, so that you might envision how to fit this recipe into your busy schedule.  You do not need a stand mixer for this bread, although I used mine to mix the dough.  The dough is developed by a series of stretch and folds, rather than by kneading.  The loaf is baked in a Dutch oven, a heavy enameled cast iron covered pot.  

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Preferment:

  • 1 tbsp. active 100% hydration sourdough starter
  • 100 g. warm water
  • 50 g. all purpose flour
  • 50 g. white whole wheat flour

Final dough:

  • all of the Preferment
  • 350 g. warm water
  • 350 g. bread flour
  • 150 g. white whole wheat flour
  • 10 g. salt

Preparation:

Saturday 9:00 am – Stir together the preferment ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature 7 hours.  As the day goes on, it will become increasingly puffy and bubbly.

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Saturday 4:00 pm – Combine the final dough ingredients with the preferment in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  Mix just until combined to form a wet shaggy dough, do not knead.

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Transfer to a bowl (no oil), cover with plastic wrap and let it rest 45 minutes.

Saturday 4:45 pm – Set up a large cutting board, I rubbed mine with just a tiny bit of olive oil to help with sticking.  Use a bench knife to stretch and fold the dough, then return it to the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Repeat this step every 30 minutes until 8 pm.

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Saturday 8:00 pm – Here is my Tartine dough, 12 hours into the process.  It is fragrant, smooth and silky.  You can hold this dough in your hands and literally feel that it is alive.  Now it will go into the fridge overnight to be baked in the morning.

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Sunday 8:00 am – Good morning beautiful!  Here it is, a perfect ball of dough, full of air bubbles.  Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature while you preheat the oven to 500º.  Place the Dutch oven into the oven while it is heating for 1/2 hour prior to baking.

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Sunday 8:30 am – Sprinkle the Dutch oven with cornmeal and use a stiff spatula to carefully nudge the dough from the bowl without deflating the air bubbles.  Gently place the dough into the Dutch oven, cover and return to the oven.  Reduce the oven temperature to 450º and bake for 30 minutes.

 

Sunday 9:00 am – Remove the cover and continue baking another 15-20 minutes.

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Sunday 9:20 am – Look at this magnificent loaf of bread!  Now transfer it to a rack, it will need to cool completely before slicing.

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After all the anticipation, we could hardly wait for dinner.  The crust crackled when I sliced into it and the crumb was open and soft.

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I could have made a meal of just this bread with some dipping oil!  It reminded me of how good bakery bread used to taste back in the 1960′s.  Really.

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Sourdough bakers,  you must try this method.  I think this is one of the best loaves I have ever baked!

 

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Beef Tenderloin Steak with Scallops and Risotto

Mr. Extruded Noodle and I really do eat like a king and queen.  Even on week nights!  Who said you can’t make an amazing dinner when you get home from work?  Check out this lovely recipe that is easy to prepare and ready in under an hour.  For a special touch I used Prosecco as an economical alternative to champagne (we already splurged on the tenderloin and scallops!) it gives a nice flavor to the risotto and the butter sauce.  If you can’t find it use a white wine that you can drink with dinner.

Dinner for two

Ingredients:

  • 2 beef tenderloin steaks, about 4 oz. each
  • 12 sea scallops
  • steak seasoning (I like McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak)
  • 3 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 5 tsp. butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup Prosecco, divided (or substitute white wine, or champagne)
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup Vidalia onion, minced fine, divided use
  • 1/2 cup sliced white mushrooms (optional)
  • 1/2 cup Carnaroli rice (or substitute Arborio rice)
  • 4 cups fat free, less sodium chicken broth at room temperature
  • 1 large broccoli crown, cut into spears
  • chopped fresh chives for garnish

Preparation:

Start the risotto first.  Heat 2 tsp. of butter in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat.  Add 1/4 cup of the minced Vidalia onions (and mushrooms, if using), and cook until they release their liquid.  Stir in the rice and toss well to coat the grains.  Cook for 1 minute then add 1/4 cup of Prosecco to the pan.  Stir until the liquid is almost evaporated.  Use a ladle to add 1/2 cup of broth to the skillet, stirring continuously until the rice absorbs most of the liquid, then continue adding one ladle of broth at a time, stirring until almost absorbed before adding the next.  Taste after about 30 minutes.  You will likely need most, but not all of the liquid.  When the rice is ready, remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with chives, transfer to a serving dish, cover and keep warm.

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Steam the broccoli while the meat cooks.  It will go very quickly!  Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium, swirl 2 tsp. olive oil and 2 tsp. butter in the pan.  Add the steaks to one side of the pan, and the scallops to the other.  Season lightly and cook 3-4 minutes, uncovered.

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Turn the steaks and scallops, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

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Remove the steak and scallops to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.  Add 1 tsp. each butter and olive oil to the skillet with the remaining onions.  Cook 1 minute, then add the lemon juice and the rest of the Prosecco.  Stir together and allow the liquid to reduce by half.

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Drizzle sauce over the steak and scallops.

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Garnish with fresh chives.  Doesn’t that look mouth watering?

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The Prosecco sauce is delicious with both the steak and the scallops.

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Serve with the risotto and broccoli.

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This elegant dinner is on the table in about 45 minutes.  It was absolutely fabulous!  Treat your someone special to a great meal tonight.

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Spring Onion Soup

Spring Onions have hit the markets, and they are so appealing to the eye with their pretty greens attached.  The onions come in red and white, and I love both.  You might think that you need to remove the greens and discard them when you get home, but did you know they can make a nice addition to your soup stock?  I have made this soup a couple of times and it has a nice “bite” thanks to the simmered onion greens.  If you have a cold I can attest that this soup will hit the spot!  It is a simple recipe, and will only take 1-1/2 hours to prepare.

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Ingredients:

  • 49 oz. can fat free less sodium chicken broth
  • 3 spring onions with their greens
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 carrots
  • Sage, thyme and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup of spelt orzo, or other soup pasta

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Preparation:

Remove the greens from the onions and wash thoroughly.  Dice the onions and set aside.  Add the greens to a large stock pot with the chicken broth.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes.

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Discard the wilted greens, then add the diced carrots, celery and onion to the pot.  Season with sage, thyme and fresh ground pepper.  Simmer for 30 more minutes or until the carrots are tender.

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You probably noticed that I did not add salt.  The onion greens, like all vegetables contain some level of salt, and I was surprised at how good the simmered broth tasted.  Maybe it’s the savory zing from the onions, but I thought the seasoning was just right.  You can adjust it to your own taste.

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Cook the orzo or other soup pasta in a separate pot to one minute less than package directions.  Drain and add to the soup.  Keep it on lowest heat until ready to serve.

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This is a nice light soup, and you can enjoy a cup with a sandwich or some bread on the side.  Even if it does not cure your cold, you will definitely feel better after a piping hot bowl of Spring Onion Soup.

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Banana Pumpkin Muffins

I  made a batch of muffins for our coffee this afternoon, and because I’m all about using things up I incorporated a couple of things that I had hanging out in the fridge.  A little pumpkin puree leftover from another recipe, a banana that is past its prime…  As a bonus, with such moist ingredients I knew I could omit the oil in this recipe.  The banana, pumpkin and eggs were enough to yield a nice moist muffin and we will save a few calories.  You will also notice that I didn’t overdo the sugar, and I used 1% milk.  I love to add just a pinch of cardamom to baked goods, it has a wonderful flavor and really brings out the sweetness.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of whole grain flour
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch (couple of shakes) of nutmeg and cardamom

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Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup 1% milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400º and mist a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray.   Whisk together all the dry ingredients in one bowl, and the wet ingredients, except for the milk in another.

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I milled 1/4 cup each of white wheat berries, sorghum and millet for my whole grain flour.  If you do not have a grain mill you can substitute any good quality whole grain flour such as Bob’s Red Mill.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients then add the milk.

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Stir and fold the batter together, just until moistened.  Don’t overwork it.

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Now spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan.

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You should have just enough to fill 12 muffin cups to within 1/2″ from the top.  Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.

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I can tell that they are done, but I always check with a toothpick to be sure.  I let them cool in the pan for 5 minutes then used a spoon to remove them.

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When the muffins have cooled you can cover them and store at room temperature for a couple of days.  They also freeze very well.  I wrap them 2 or 3 together in plastic wrap then store in a freezer bag.  They are delicious for breakfast on the go, lunches and snacks.

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Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Biscotti are the perfect dessert for every occasion.  They are a holiday tradition at our house.  There are so many variations of this twice baked Italian cookie, and Cranberry Orange is one of my favorites.  The flavors are perfect together and even better with the addition of toasted walnuts!

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Ingredients:

  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest (or 1/4 tsp. orange extract)
  • 2 tbsp. Triple Sec
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. milk
  • 1/8 tsp. orange extract

Preparation:

Toast the walnuts for 3-4 minutes on a baking sheet at 350º and coarsely chop.  Lower the oven temperature to 325º.  Give the cranberries 2-3 pulses in an electric chopper.  Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  In the bowl of a stand mixer with the beater attachment, cream together the softened butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, orange zest and Triple Sec.  Gradually add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time just until incorporated, and with the last of the flour add the cranberries and walnuts.

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Scrape the dough onto a cutting board and divide it in 2 equal parts.

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Press each section of dough into a long rectangle and roll it to an even 1/2″ thick.  Use a bench knife to even up the sides and the ends.  Lay each piece on a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving space in between.

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Bake for 25 minutes at 325º.

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Cool 10 minutes and cut into slices 1″ thick, using a bench knife or a serrated knife.  Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their side.

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Bake for 5 – 10 minutes more, depending on how crisp you like them.  I find 10 minutes is about right for me.  For a softer cookie 5 minutes is enough.  For a nice hard cookie go the full 10 minutes, then turn them over and bake another 5 minutes.

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Cool the Biscotti on a rack.  You can enjoy them just like this, give them a dusting of powdered sugar or give them a light glaze as I did here.  Place a sheet of waxed paper underneath to keep your counter clean.  Whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and orange extract.  Drizzle it over the Biscotti and let it set up for several hours at room temperature.  If you are in a hurry place them in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

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I love how fast and easy these Biscotti are to prepare, and everyone loves them.  They are made for dunking, so put the coffee on and enjoy!  I  If you liked this post, check out another favorite of mine, Chocolate Almond Biscotti.

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Posted in Baking, Desserts, Holiday Favorites, Under an hour | Tagged | 2 Comments

Garlic Butter

Foodie Friends, I know you love bread as much as I do.  This weekend I made a garlic butter to go with our sourdough and it was fabulous!  Just a few simple ingredients and you have a wonderful garlicky spread that is as delicious on warm bread as it is for basting vegetables and potatoes.  Try it and see how good it is!

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Garlic Butter

  • 2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. Garlic and Bell Pepper seasoning such as McCormick’s Perfect Pinch
  • pinch of crushed fennel seed
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano

Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over lowest heat.  You want the oil to be warm, but not bubbling.  I used a simmer mat to keep the temperature under control.  Cook the garlic cloves for 1 hour uncovered, turning every 10 minutes.  The cloves will be soft and just slightly browned.

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Remove the garlic, chop it then mash with a mortar and pestle.  You can also use a fork or the back of a spoon.  The oil left in the pan is delicious, be sure to reserve it for cooking.

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Combine the garlic mash with the softened butter and remaining ingredients.  I am partial to McCormicks Perfect Pinch Roasted Garlic and Bell Pepper blend.  I also add a little crushed fennel seed and oregano.

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Mix well to incorporate and let stand for several hours at room temperature, then place in a bowl or jar and refrigerate (or freeze) until ready to use.  You will want it to soften up before serving, so take it out 2 hours ahead.

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Everyone gave the garlic butter a thumbs up.  For more bread inspiration check out some of my favorite loaves at Today’s Bake.

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Roasted Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash is one of my favorites to prepare.  It’s smaller than butternut squash and that means a faster cook time and the portion is just enough for Mr. Extruded Noodle and I to have for dinner.  Roasting it in the oven means no struggling to peel the squash.  Simply cut in half, scoop out the seeds and bake.  The rest is a breeze.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Acorn Squash
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • cinnamon
  • candied walnuts for garnish

Preparation:

Cut the squash in half with a sturdy knife.  This is the most laborious part of the preparation.  Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds.

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Brush the squash with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

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Place both halves cut side down and roast for 50 minutes at 400º.

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When the squash is done, you will easily be able to pierce the skin with the tip of a knife.

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Isn’t that beautiful?  Let it cool for a minute then use a spoon to scoop out the meat.

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Place the squash in a mixing bowl and add the butter, brown sugar, pinch more salt and generous sprinkle of cinnamon.  Use an immersion blender to puree the squash until smooth.

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Transfer to a serving bowl and top with candied walnuts!

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It takes about an hour to prepare this side, but most of it is hands off while the squash is roasting, so you have plenty of time to put together the rest of your meal.  This is a favorite side dish for pork chops or chicken.  If you have shied away from Acorn Squash, try this preparation, and see how easy it really is.

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Posted in Dinner for two, Eat your Vegetables, Farmers Market Favorites, Side Dish, Under an hour | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Easy Candied Walnuts

Candied Walnuts are one of my favorite breakfast toppings.  I make a small batch every weekend for our Sunday waffles and sprinkling on yogurt.  Today I am using them as a garnish for Acorn Squash.  This is a fast and easy treat to prepare, just keep the heat on low and stir frequently so the nuts don’t burn.  You can double or triple the quantities for a larger group.  3 ingredients, 5 minutes.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp. walnuts, broken into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

Preparation:

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium low and melt the butter.  Add the walnuts and turn to coat.  Turn the heat down to low and cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Don’t walk away, nuts burn easily and there is no saving them once they get singed!

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Sprinkle the brown sugar over the walnuts.

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Continue stirring and cook one minute more, until the sugar melts.  Transfer to a serving dish.

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At our house we regularly enjoy a small portion of walnuts as part of a heart healthy diet.  Try a sprinkle of Candied Walnuts on waffles, French toast, oatmeal, ice cream, yogurt, squash, carrots etc…  Make extra for snacking, you will love them as much as we do!

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Multigrain Pilaf

Today I’m giving one of my favorite side dishes a healthy update using a blend of whole grains.  Pilaf is a grain dish that is cooked in a seasoned broth.  Whole grains are a staple in my pantry and now I’m breaking them all out to create a tasty combination with a nutty, chewy texture.  This is not your mother’s rice pilaf!  Check it out and maybe try some new grains in your menu.  Total time 50 minutes.  2 Servings.

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Each for a total of 1/2 cup

  • long grain brown rice
  • short grain brown and wild rice mix
  • long grain brown and wild rice mix
  • farro
  • whole grain spelt orzo
  • Italian couscous (Fregula)
  • rainbow quinoa

Other ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2-1/2 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • seasoned salt, to taste

Heat a saucepan over medium low.  Melt the butter, add the grain and turn to coat.  You can add all of the grain at once as I did here, or give the rice and farro a 30 minute head start then add the orzo, couscous and quinoa during the final 20 minutes of cooking.

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Add the seasoned salt and 1 cup of chicken broth.  Cover and bring to a low simmer.

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As the liquid is absorbed, continue adding the remaining broth 1/4 cup at a time.  Stir well with each addition.  Keep it on low heat and check every 5 minutes to be sure the bottom doesn’t burn.

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Continue until all of the liquid has been absorbed.  It will take about 50 minutes total.

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It’s ready to serve.

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This is a nice change from plain rice.  It goes well with just about anything; pork, chicken, fish.  I have made it several times now and everyone thought it was tasty, and different!

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Change up your side dish with a Multigrain Pilaf and try some new healthy whole grains.

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Focaccia with Spinach and Prosciutto

Look at this beautiful Focaccia bread, filled with baby spinach leaves and prosciutto!  It is a meal in itself, great for breakfast, lunches and snacking.  Learn how to make it here with step by step instructions.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole grain flour
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. diastatic malt powder
  • 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 3/4 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1-1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil, infused with garlic cloves
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, stems removed
  • 1 cup of thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces
  • coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • cornmeal

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Preparation:

I began with a fully active sourdough starter.  It has been fed and looks happy and bubbly.

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I milled 2 cups of whole grain flour from a blend of white wheat berries, red wheat berries, spelt berries and oatmeal.  It takes about 1-2/3 cups of grain to yield 2 cups of milled flour.  You can substitute 2 cups of a good quality whole grain flour.  A cup of bread flour is added for a total 3 cups flour.

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Whisk together the flours, salt, malt powder and instant yeast.  Add the starter and honey to the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.  On low speed, begin adding the flour and warm water until incorporated.  Increase speed and knead for 5 minutes.  This is a heavy wet dough and it will not form a ball around a dough hook.

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Use a stiff spatula to scrape the dough together.

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Coat a large bowl with olive oil, 1-2 tablespoons.  I infused the oil with garlic cloves for extra flavor.  Turn the dough to coat with oil.

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Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for 2-1/2 hours.

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Turn the dough out onto an oiled cutting board.  Stretch and pat the dough into a round, and top it with half of the spinach and prosciutto.

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Fold the dough over letter style.

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Stretch the folded dough into a rectangle and spread with the remaining spinach and prosciutto.  Fold it up again.

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Tuck in the filling and pinch the seams together, then turn the dough over and shape it into a boule.

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Oil a round stoneware baking pan with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Place the dough in the center of the pan, cover and set aside to rise again for 45 minutes.

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The dough will expand to fill the pan.

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Preheat the oven to 375º.  Now use your fingers to press dimples into the dough. Brush the top liberally with 1 tbsp. garlic oil, sprinkle with coarse salt and a little chopped fresh rosemary.

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Bake it for 45 minutes and cool in the pan.

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Transfer to a rack until ready to serve.  Doesn’t that look great?

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Slice the Focaccia into wedges for serving.  It has a nice open crumb, and you can see the prosciutto and spinach in every slice.

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A closeup.


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Thanks for stopping by my page.  I hope you enjoyed today’s bake, and that I have made you just a little bit hungry!  Your comments are always welcome.

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Posted in Baking, Bread, Comfort Food, From Scratch, Sourdough, Today's Bake, Whole Grains | 1 Comment

White and Sweet Potato Gratin

Look at this beautiful Potato Gratin, perfect for a family meal and pretty enough for your Holiday table.  Alternating layers of white and sweet potato brushed with butter and layered with cheese, all baked to perfection.  I used a mandolin to create thin even potato slices.  A nice oval baking dish goes from oven to table.  6 Servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 russet potato
  • 1 sweet potato
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • seasoned salt
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400º and melt the butter in a small sauce pan.  Sprinkle the butter with seasoned salt.  Coat an oval baking dish with cooking spray.  Peel the sweet potato and leave the skin on the russet for a nice texture.  Slice the potatoes very thin, using a mandolin or sharp knife.  Begin layering the potato slices, alternating the white and sweet potato.  Brush each layer with the melted butter.

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Sprinkle shredded cheese between the layers.

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Continue layering until all the potatoes are arranged in the pan and finish the top with more shredded cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes at 400º.  Remove the foil and bake 20 minutes more, or until the top is nicely browned and the edges are beginning to crisp.

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And there you have it.  A most impressive side that tastes as good as it looks!  Even the most finicky eaters will like it!

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With just a few simple ingredients and easy prep, Potato Gratin is a nice addition to your holiday menu or family dinner!

 

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Posted in Casserole, Comfort Food, Holiday Favorites, Side Dish | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties

For years I have purchased breakfast sausage links at the supermarket, but not any more!  Homemade Breakfast Sausage Patties are the bomb!  I always say homemade is best   but why would you go to the trouble of making sausage patties?  For starters, you control the fat, you control the salt, no chemicals, no nitrites, no preservatives.  And with no casings needed they are easy to make.  You can buy breakfast sausage seasoning (The Spice House makes a good one) or make your own.  Experiment with different spice combinations to find the one you like best.  Be sure to use real maple syrup.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp. sausage seasoning mix (purchased or make your own)
  • 4 tbsp. maple syrup
  • fresh thyme sprigs, for garnish

Sausage Seasoning:

  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Combine the pork and turkey in a large bowl and blend together lightly with 2 forks.  Don’t compress the meat.

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Drizzle the maple syrup and sprinkle the seasoning over the ground pork, again using the forks to incorporate.

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Use a tablespoon to scoop 1.5 oz. balls, then press into patties.  You will have about 2 dozen patties.  Sprinkle with additional seasoning.

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Prepare the patties and refrigerate one day ahead for brunch.  The patties will keep for several months in the freezer,  freeze them on a baking sheet then transfer to a freezer safe bag.  I made this batch for a brunch but I like to have them on hand for hubby and I to enjoy on the weekend.

Cook sausage patties 4 minutes per side in a nonstick skillet, with the cover on.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs.

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For a healthy breakfast idea, serve one sausage patty with a whole grain waffle and fresh fruit.

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Or, how about with scrambled eggs and toast?  Our Saturday Morning breakfast just got a little happier!

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Add some homemade goodness to your family breakfast table with this easy recipe.  If you enjoyed this post, check out some of my favorite brunch ideas to feed a family or a crowd!

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Quick Soup!

Saturday started off so cold and dreary, and around mid-morning I decided that I wanted a nice hot cup of soup for lunch.  Fortunately, not all soup takes hours to prepare, especially if you have a well stocked pantry.  Here is a quick recipe that I threw together from ingredients I had in the house.  I always have carrots, onion, celery and garlic.  From my freezer I defrosted some stock that I had made a few months ago, and some frozen corn.  Rice and canned tomatoes are always in the pantry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into coins
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken or turkey stock
  • 1 cup tomato sauce, cooked down to 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 tsp. each sage and thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed

Preparation:

Heat a little olive oil in a medium stock pot.  Stir in the carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

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Stir in the stock, tomatoes, sugar, sage and thyme.  Simmer on low heat for 1 hour.

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While the soup cooks, prepare the rice according to package directions.  Add the cooked rice and corn to the soup.  Heat through and serve.

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Here is my lunch, it took about 90 minutes start to finish.  It will taste even better tomorrow!

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Braised Lamb Shanks

Today I’m making a hearty lamb stew, braised for hours in a covered skillet.  It is the kind of recipe that fits right into my busy day.  The entire dish can be prepared in one pan.  After some initial prep, the meal is pretty much hands off until dinner time.

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I used hulled barley in this dish, it is a versatile whole grain and a staple in my kitchen.  You can substitute any whole grain such as farro, spelt, or wheat berries.  Use a Dutch oven or a covered skillet that can go from stove top to oven.

Ingredients: (serves 2)

  • 1.5 lb. lamb shanks (1 large or 2 small)
  • 1/4 cup flour for dredging
  • salt and pepper
  • butter and olive oil for browning
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups low fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup hulled barley, rinsed

Preparation:

Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper then dredge in the flour.  Shake off the excess.  Heat a heavy skillet or Dutch oven and add 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter.  Brown the lamb on all sides and set aside.  Sauté the carrots and onion in the same pan.

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Return the lamb to the skillet with the vegetables and add the barley.

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Whisk together the wine, broth, garlic, rosemary and thyme.  Pour over the lamb and vegetables and add the bay leaf.  Cover and place in the oven for 2 hours at 350º.

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Add the peas during the last half hour of cooking.

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The braising liquid will create a rich and flavorful sauce while the lamb is cooked to perfection!

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Doesn’t that look delicious?  The meat is so tender and the vegetables are full of flavor.  Lamb is a special treat at our house and this is my favorite way to prepare and enjoy.

 

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Posted in Comfort Food, Dinner for two, Elegant Dining, Whole Grains | 2 Comments

Asian Shrimp with Spinach

For lunch today we are having a Shrimp and Spinach combo that is served over whole wheat farfalle pasta.  This recipe definitely has an Asian flair!  If you are not a fan of spinach this preparation may just change your mind.  I wilt tender baby spinach in a little bit of Mirin (rice wine) and it is mild and sweet tasting.  Mr. Extruded Noodle liked it a lot.  I thought the dish was light, delicious and dare I say healthy?  This lunch will not weigh you down!  Have all your ingredients ready because once you start cooking it will all come together quickly…

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Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz. (1-1/2 cups) whole wheat farfalle pasta
  • 2 tbsp. pignoli (pine nuts), toasted
  • 8 oz. (20-24) medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce, divided
  • pinch of cayenne pepper, garlic powder and ginger
  • 8 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup mirin (rice wine)
  • pinch of garlic powder, ginger and salt
  • 1-1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • 4 wooden skewers, soaked in water

Preparation:

Toast the pignoli in a dry skillet over medium low heat.  Stir constantly and don’t walk away, they burn easily.  Remove and set aside for garnish.

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Combine the shrimp, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, pinch of cayenne pepper, garlic powder and powdered ginger in a small bowl.  Let it sit for 15 minutes then thread the shrimp onto 4 skewers.

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Cook the pasta in 1-1/2 cups chicken broth for 2 minutes less than package directions.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed and the pasta will be coated with starch.  Don’t rinse!  Keep it warm while you cook the shrimp and spinach.

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Heat 2 tsp. of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium low.  Cook the shrimp skewers 2 minutes per side or just until they turn pink.  Remove to a plate and sprinkle with more seasoning.

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Wipe the skillet clean.  Combine 1/4 cup of Mirin, pinch of garlic powder, powdered ginger and salt.  Add the Mirin to the skillet and bring to a boil.  Add all of the spinach, cover and cook 1 minute, just until wilted.

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Divide the spinach and pasta between 2 bowls and toss well.  Top each bowl with 2 shrimp skewers, drizzle with 1 tbsp. soy sauce and 1 tbsp. pignoli.

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Our lunch was delicious.  The Asian inspired seasonings are perfect with shrimp and spinach.  The whole grain pasta and pignoli added great texture and nutty flavor.  Make it today for your favorite spinach lover!

 

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Posted in #dashdiet, 30 Minutes or Less, Asian Inspired, Dash Diet Friendly, Seafood, Whole Grains | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Spinach Mini Quiche

Let’s get the day started with an easy recipe that would make Popeye proud!  It is perfect for a casual breakfast or Sunday Brunch.  The recipe will yield about 16 mini quiches.  I used a 12 cup muffin pan and cooked the rest in small Pyrex custard cups.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 oz. baby spinach
  • 12 large eggs, beaten
  • 8 oz. mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 package of white button mushrooms
  • 1 package of baby bella mushrooms
  • 1-1/4 tsp. Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (I like the 25% less sodium blend)
  • cooking spray

Preparation:

Melt butter with the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes.

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Remove the mushrooms from the pan, drain in a colander and set aside.  Wipe the pan clean.

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Add the spinach with 1/4 cup water.  Cover and cook 1 minute, just until the spinach is wilted.

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Drain the spinach well and pat it dry with paper towels.

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Preheat the oven to 375º and coat the muffin tin with cooking spray.  When the mushrooms and spinach have cooled to room temperature, whisk the eggs in a large bowl.  Stir in the cheese, mushrooms, spinach and seasoned salt.

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Spoon the mixture into 16 muffin cups, to about 3/4 full.  Bake 25-30 minutes until set.  The quiche will puff up during baking and may deflate a bit when removed from the pan.

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Carefully scoop out the quiches with a spoon and transfer to a rack.  They should slide right out.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

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This is a very easy recipe that you can double or triple to feed a crowd for brunch.

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I made a meatless version but you could easily jazz it up with bacon, sausage or prosciutto!  Be sure to pin this easy and delicious recipe for your next Sunday brunch!

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Rocky Point Red Clam Chowder

I was born and raised in RI and have lived here for most of my life.  This post celebrates a Rhode Island icon of my youth, Rocky Point Park.  The amusement park, which closed over 20 years ago was a favorite childhood destination for its incredible thrill rides.  Shore Dinner Hall at Rocky Point was the place to go for clam cakes and chowder that were famously served to thousands at a time.

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Copycat recipes abound for Rocky Point Red Clam Chowder.  Here is my rendition, and I think it is a fitting tribute to the original.  Try the recipe and let me know what you think!  You don’t have to be a local to love this chowder, it is fabulous!

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Fresh clams are always available in RI, but if you don’t want to do all that prep, frozen raw clams are a great alternative.  They are so much better than canned, and worth seeking out.  Remember, clams cook quickly and should only be added to the chowder during the last 5 minutes of cooking.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. salt pork
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 bottles (16 oz. total) clam juice
  • 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
  • 16 oz. container raw chopped clams, thawed
  • 1 can (10.75 oz.) condensed tomato soup
  • 1-1/2 tsp. paprika
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation:

Dice the onions, peel and dice the potatoes, and dice the salt pork into 1/2″ pieces.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot over medium low heat.  Add the salt pork and cook for 10-13 minutes, stirring constantly until browned.

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Remove the browned bits of salt pork, drain on paper towels and set aside to serve with the finished chowder.  Reserve the fat in the pan.

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Add the onions and cook 5 minutes.

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Add the potatoes, clam juice, water and Old Bay seasoning.  Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes.

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Add the clams, tomato soup and paprika.  Cook 5 minutes longer (a simmer, not a rolling boil), season with black pepper and remove from the heat.  Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

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Serve in shallow bowls and top with a few of the reserved bacon bits.  For a little something special, be sure and check out my Homemade Oyster Crackers.

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The bacon bits really make the flavor pop!  And how about those Oyster Crackers? Yes, they are from scratch and they are wonderful!

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Fellow Rhode Islanders, I hope you have enjoyed this bit of local nostaglia.  Foodies, wherever you are, this one is a must try!

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Posted in Seafood, Soup | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Homemade Oyster Crackers

Oyster Crackers.  Those cute little crackers that restaurants give you with chowder and soup.  Some are round and some are hexagon shaped.  Yes, you can buy them, but what am I doing today?  Of course I am making them at home, from scratch!  We had a snow day this week, and you know what happens when I am home and looking for something new to try!  Everyone thought the Oyster Crackers were excellent.  We were snacking on them right out of the oven!

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-085B My Oyster Crackers tasted like the original, but had far less salt.  They were crisp and held up well in soup!  I didn’t have a mold to cut the little circles or hexagons so I made mine in a diamond shape. The dough handles very much like pie dough.  The trick is to keep it cold.  Here’s how to make it…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. very cold butter
  • 1/3 cup ice water

Preparation: Cut the butter into small pieces and refrigerate it (keep it cold) while you gather the other ingredients.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Pre-heat the oven to 375º.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-025 Whisk together the dry ingredients and place in  small food processor or mini chopper.  Add the butter and pulse a few times to form a coarse dough.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-027a It will look shaggy, like pie dough but it will hold together when you give it a squeeze.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-031a Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Then roll it out between 2 sheets of waxed paper to about 1/8″ thick.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-063a Use a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 3/4″ diamonds.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-076a Gently lift the crackers with a thin spatula and place them on the parchment lined baking sheets, don’t let them touch.  Put the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking.  Don’t skip this step!  The dough needs to be cold going into the oven.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-082a Bake 15 minutes on the middle rack (not too close to the bottom or they will get singed).  See how the crackers puff up and retain their sharp edges?

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-085a Cool the crackers in the pan.  Then lift the edges of the parchment paper and slide them into a bowl for serving.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-100a Curious about the bacon bits?  I made them to top off  a delicious red clam chowder, so you won’t want to miss the next post.

Homemade-Oyster-Crackers-The-Extruded-Noodle-121a I was very proud of my little snow day experiment.  We had enough for about 8 servings.  The next time I will make a double batch, so we have extra for snacking.  Yes, they were that good.  Check out the next post for a very special chowder recipe!

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Butternut Squash Risotto with Shrimp and Roasted Vegetables

The inspiration for this recipe was an entrée that I enjoyed at a new restaurant a few weeks ago.  When I took the first bite, I just about swooned!  From that moment I knew that I had to try making it at home.  It is an elegant dinner for two that is both comfort food and fine dining, all rolled into one meal!  The steps are easy to follow and the results are impressive.  I put this together after work one night, and although it took a little longer than my usual weeknight dinner it was well worth waiting for.  Make this for your someone special.

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2 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/3 cup sweet onion, cut into small dice
  • 1-1/2 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered
  • 1-1/2 cups cauliflower, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 1/3 cup warmed butternut squash puree (reserved from another meal)
  • 1/3 cup Carnaroli rice (or substitute another short grain rice such as Arborio)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • 3 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-1/3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth, warm or room temperature

Preparation:

Chop the Brussels sprouts and cauliflower into small uniform size pieces about 1″.  Rinse, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 425º for 20 minutes.  There should be just a bit of browning around the edges.

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Heat a heavy nonstick skillet with 1 tbsp. butter.  Add the shrimp, and sprinkle with Old Bay.  Cook the shrimp just until they turn pink, then remove from the pan and season again.

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Carnaroli rice is widely regarded as the best for making risotto and it is worth seeking out if you can’t find it at the grocery store.  It is a high quality short grain rice with a wonderful texture that is perfect for making risotto that is creamy but firm.  If your risotto turns to mush you must try this rice.

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To get started, wipe the skillet clean, then melt 1 tbsp. butter and add 1/3 cup Carnaroli rice.  You may be thinking this will not be enough to feed 2 people, but just wait and see  how the rice absorbs several times its own weight in liquid!

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Stir the rice to coat with butter, cook for 1 minute then add 1/4 cup white wine to the pan and stir it in.  When the wine is nearly evaporated add the onions.

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Begin adding the chicken broth 1/3 cup at a time, stirring frequently.  When the broth is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup.  Continue this process until the rice is cooked.  It will take about 30 minutes and you will use about 2-2/3 cups of broth total.  When the rice is done, finish it with 1 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese.  See how the risotto has filled the pan?

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Next, stir in the butternut squash puree (be sure to warm it first).

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Fold in the Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and shrimp with 2/3 cups more chicken broth.  Heat through, about 2 more minutes.

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Now it’s time to pour wine and light the candles.  Transfer the risotto to a serving platter for a nice presentation when you bring it to the table!

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Look at that, I think it was even better than the restaurant version!  Mr. Extruded Noodle loves risotto and he was impressed.  I will definitely be making this again!  What a great meal for date night.

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Posted in Dinner for two, Elegant Dining, Seafood, Skillet Dinners, Under an hour | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mediterranean Chicken

Mediterranean Chicken dinner checks all my boxes for an easy weeknight meal.  It’s on the table in 30 minutes, so you can throw it together when you get home from work.  It’s comfort food.  It’s loaded with healthy veggies and whole grains.  And there’s pasta. ♥  The evening is off to a great start!  4 Servings.

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 Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. boneless chicken tenders
  • whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/2 cup broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 lb. whole wheat fusilli
  • olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 pkg. mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • flour
  • seasoned salt

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Preparation:

Cut the chicken into 1-1/2″ chunks and toss with the breadcrumbs.  Heat a large skillet over medium low.  Brown the breaded chicken in olive oil, then add the broth and stir until absorbed.  Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.  Cook the pasta 2 minutes less than package directions.  Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Add more oil to the skillet, toss with all of the vegetables and season to taste.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and return the chicken to the skillet, turning and tossing well to heat through.  Sprinkle with flour to thicken the liquid in the pan.

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Add the drained pasta and toss well to coat with sauce.  If needed, add a little of the reserved pasta water.  Season to taste.

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Transfer to a platter and serve with grated cheese.

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Skillet dinners like this are so fast and easy.  You can vary the recipe to use veggies you have on hand, use sausage instead of chicken, etc.  Click here for more 30 minute meal ideas!

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Posted in 30 Minutes or Less, Chicken, Chicken Dinner, Comfort Food, Pasta, Skillet Dinners, Whole Grains | Leave a comment