Tag Archives: weeknight dinner

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Yes 40 cloves!  This beautiful French dish was one of my favorites as a kid – partly because of the novelty of how much garlic is in it and partly because its 100% delicious.  This is a great spring dish because its hearty but not heavy so no matter what the temps are outside its appropriate.  Please don’t be scared off by the garlic – this could even be a date night dish!  Once you have cooked the garlic it becomes totally sweet and not stinky at all.  Make sure to pick up some crusty bread to serve alongside so you can spread the melting garlic cloves on the bread and sop up all the sauce.  There are a lot of different versions out there so once again I went through and tried all of the recipes I could find and then combines the best of all of them to achieve this recipe.

Peeling the garlic can be a pain but I sort of find it therapeutic.  If you want to do it in advance and store in the fridge for a couple of days you can do that.  I use the palm of my hand to push down on the clove ever so slightly so that the skin separates from the garlic but not so much that it crushes the clove (also I won’t tell anyone if you buy already peeled garlic, just make sure its whole cloves not chopped).  I would say it takes about 7 minutes to peel so factor that into your cooking time.  This is such great comfort food – serve it with mashed potatoes or polenta (and don’t forget that bread!) along with a nice clean green salad.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 bone in skin on chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 40 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 3 teaspoons chopped tarragon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  In a dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat.  Salt and pepper the chicken pieces then cook in batches just so the chicken is nicely browned, about 5 minutes per batch.

When the chicken is browned reserve it on a plate.  Turn down the heat to medium and add the garlic.  Sauté the garlic for 5 minutes, turning down the heat if you need to so it doesn’t burn.  Add the white wine and deglaze the bottom of the pan getting up all the good brown bits.

Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up, and add the chicken stock.  Cover and place in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken and garlic to your serving platter and cover with foil.  Put the dutch oven back on the stovetop and cook down the juices over medium high for about 5 minutes until reduced a bit.  Stir in the cream and tarragon, taste for salt and pepper, then pour over the chicken and garlic.

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A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

I used to be able to travel back to Boston all the time for work.  It was great because I got to see family and friends and stay connected to my hometown in a way I can’t do now.  However, I would be lying if I said it didn’t also have to do with frequent stops to the Paramount, an awesome diner like place on Beacon Hill.  Open since 1937 this place is always packed but worth the wait.  My standard lunch order was the roasted turkey Rachel with sweet potato fries.  If you have never had a Rachel, its basically a Ruben sandwich with turkey and coleslaw instead of sauerkraut.  The mix of the tangy Russian dressing with the hearty turkey and the rye bread make me super happy.  Since I no longer get to fly up to Boston for one every couple of weeks I started craving it big time.  That’s when the idea to deconstruct the Rachel came to me – turn a lunch classic into a dinner staple.  In place of the rye bread I simply breaded turkey cutlets with breadcrumbs mixed with caraway seeds (the nutty yummy flavor you get in rye bread comes from those seeds).  Then the Russian dressing and coleslaw come together as a bed for the turkey cutlet.  To elevate this a bit I made my own Russian dressing and used bagged broccoli slaw which is much more crunchy and flavorful then the cabbage kind.  A bite of the cutlet with the slaw together and BAM you have a Rachel sandwich!  This dish will definitely get me through until the next time I can go to the Paramount.  Serve it for a totally outside the box Thanksgiving with some hoppy beer and I am sure your friends and family will flip.  Have a great holiday!!

A Deconstructed Turkey Rachel

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • 12 ounce bag of broccoli slaw
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

In a medium size bowl combine the mayo, Worcestershire sauce, chili sauce, apple cider vinegar, and hot sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the broccoli slaw making sure it is all combined.  This can be done several hours in advance, store in the fridge and just take it out 30 minutes before serving to take the chill off.  Set out three bowls for breading – one with the breadcrumbs and caraway seeds in it, one with the flour and one with the egg, beaten with a splash of water.

Set out a plate or cookie sheet to place the breaded cutlets on.  First tip each cutlet in the flour, shake off the excess, then dip in the egg, making sure to coat the entire thing and then finish in the caraway breadcrumbs, pressing them on to make sure they stick.

Once all the cutlets are breaded heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Once they are hot add as many cutlets as comfortably fit in.

Cook 3 minutes per side and remove, add the remaining butter and oil to the pan and cook the remaining cutlets.  Serve the cutlets on top of the slaw mixture.

Veal Saltimbocca

I often get in the trap of boneless chicken breasts, flank steak and pork tenderloin on repeat for weeknight dinners.  They are all quick, easy and pretty lean but when I saw veal cutlets or scallopini the other day I thought them perfect for a break in my routine.  These cook super fast so really the only hassle is “sewing” the prosciutto and sage to the cutlets.  Set up a little assembly line like below and  do it in the morning or the night before and then just dredge and cook, cutting the time to dinner even more.  This would be delicious all sitting over a bed of pasta or rice to sop up the sauce, or served with a green salad and some crusty bread (uh again to sop up that sauce).  I always order this when I see this on a menu but now I may just add it to my own weeknight repertoire!

Veal Saltimbocca 

  • 1 pound veal scallopini
  • 5-6 ounces prosciutto
  • several sprigs of sage
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • zest of lemon
  • juice of lemon

First prepare the scallopini – salt and pepper the veal then top with a slice of prosciutto (you may have to cut the slices to fit.  Lay several sage leaves on top.  Using a toothpick or small skewer (a regular skewer cut in half works as well) thread in between the veal and the toppings to affix them to each other.

Do this for each piece of veal – it doesn’t really matter what it looks like, just make sure the veal can lay pretty flat and that the prosciutto wont fall off the veal.  Dredge in the flour and shake off the excess.  In a large skillet heat over medium high 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add as many veal pieces that comfortably fit in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook for 2 minutes more.

Remove to a plate and repeat with the rest of the veal, adding more olive oil if needed.  Once all the veal is cooked reserve it on the plate covered with foil.  Add the white wine to the plan and deglaze any browned bits.  Swirl in the butter, lemon zest and juice and let cook together for about 3 minutes until it thickens a bit and comes together as a sauce. Carefully take out the skewers, pour the sauce over the veal and serve.

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Lemon Chicken

There was a time, that my family never lets me forget, that I basically only ate pasta with lemon.  I know most kids go through a “white food” phase but this was pretty specific and weird – I would bring in cold pasta and lemon wedges in my lunch box to school every day!  Luckily my palate has expanded since then but I must admit, a squeeze of lemon makes almost any dish better in my opinion.  I started making this dish back in college, looking for an quick dinner that didn’t require having a ton of ingredients on hand.  Make sure to get thinly cut chicken cutlets for this recipe or alternatively use your knife skills to cut a regular chicken breast in half or pound it out to an even 1/4 inch thickness.  You want to really quickly cook the chicken without it getting tough and then just zip up the quick pan sauce.

Lemon Chicken 

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets (i.e. thin cut breasts)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • splash of white wine, approximately 1/2 a cup
  • 2 lemons, one halved the other sliced thinly

In a shallow bowl mix the flour with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil.  Dredge the cutlets and add to the skillet (do in two batches if your skillet isn’t big enough).  Really make sure to shake off the excess flour so they are just lightly coated.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the chicken browns then flip for another 2 to 3 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove to a plate and keep warm until foil.  If you need to do a second batch add more butter and olive oil and repeat.

Once the chicken is all cooked add the lemon slices and cook for 1 minute until they get a little color.  Splash in the white wine and squeeze over the other lemon to deglaze the pan.  Add the chicken back in and cook all together for another minute.

Creamy Meyer Lemon and Fig Pasta

Oooooh figs!  I love their sweetness, their amazing color (inside and out), the way that they can go savory or sweet.  I love figs so much that I planted a fig tree in our backyard.  Allegedly it should produce fruit this year, fingers crossed, but in the meantime I scour the farmers markets when they are in season. Equally fleeting is the meyer lemon season.  If you have never tried one it’s like if a tangerine and a lemon had a baby.  The skin is ever so slightly more orange than a regular lemon and as you can see it’s smaller and smoother.  They have such a bright sunny flavor so I stock up as soon as I can get my hands on them.  If you can’t find meyer lemons or they aren’t in season you can use regular lemon, I would just omit the zest and have a lighter hand with the juice since it’s more pungent.  Paired together with creamy goat cheese, the fig and meyer lemon all come together for a super quick and delicious pasta dinner. This post is dedicated to my friend Ashley who is even more obsessed with figs than I am – if I get any figs this year I will make sure to send some to Denver Ash!

Creamy Meyer Lemon and Fig Pasta 

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 6 ounces dried mission figs, stems cut off and quartered
  • 1 pound short cut pasta
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon meyer lemon zest
  • 4 to 5 ounces soft goat cheese
  • the juice of 1 meyer lemon

In a large skillet heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  At the same time bring water to a boil and add the pasta and salt.  Add the shallot with some salt and pepper and cook for 4 minutes until softened.  Add the figs and cook for an additional minute.

Add the wine and zest and let it cook for about 3 minutes until most of the wine has cooked off but not all.  The pasta should be al dente now so drain, saving a cup of pasta water, and add to the skillet.  Toss the pasta with the wine, shallots and figs and cook for 1 more minute so the pasta can take on some of the wine.  Turn off the heat and crumble in the goat cheese.  Stir it around so the cheese can melt and become a sort of sauce.  Add some of the pasta water if you need to thin it out.  Squeeze the meyer lemon all over, toss and taste for salt and pepper.

Love is…Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

Valentine’s day has never been a big deal to me – probably because I was single for most of them. In fact one of my worst dinner parties was a single girl valentines dinner I made for myself and my friend Amy where I totally had to trash my first attempt at a new recipe and a cockroach crawled up the side of the wall as we were eating! Even after I found and married the love of my life Valentine’s day still didn’t really do it for me.  Sure the candy and flowers are nice but my hubby gets me flowers all the time and if I want candy I am not going to wait until February 14th to eat it!  So to me it’s really just another excuse to tell the person you love how much you appreciate them.  That’s why in the Costello household it won’t be truffles or pancakes in the shape of a heart.  The quickest way to my man’s heart is bacon jalapeno mac and cheese!  This recipe builds off of my Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese and adds two of Patrick’s favorite things in the world.  The bacon adds even more smokiness and the heat of the jalapeno cuts through the rich cheese sauce – perfection.  So cancel your reservation and stay home with your honey and this mac and cheese.

Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 3/4 pound shells or other short cut pasta
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 8 ounces smoked gouda, shredded

Turn your oven to 400 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Lay the 4 strips of bacon on the cookie sheet so they are not touching and roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  They won’t look super crispy but they are.

Put them on a paper towel lined plate to drain and set to the side.  Turn your broiler to high.  Cut the jalapeno in half and scoop out the seeds (plastic gloves are good for this).  Place both halves on a foil lined cookie sheet, skin side up and place in the broiler.  Broil for 3-4 minutes until the skin is blackened and blistering.  Place the jalapeno in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to trap the heat and moisture.  After 5 minutes or until cook enough to touch, peel off the skin and finely dice the jalapenos.

While you are cooking the bacon and jalapeno, cook the pasta in salted water for 10 minutes or so then – whatever time is indicated on the box – then drain.  In a large sauce pot melt the butter over medium high heat.  Add the flour and whisk both together until the flour has absorbed all of the butter (this is called a roux and the best way to thicken sauces).  Keep an eye on it and let it cook for a minute or so, whisking constantly until it darkens a bit and the raw flour flavor has been cooked out.  Really keep and eye on it or the butter will burn (like I did!  Eh, no biggie – just rinse out the pan and start again.  It’s only flour and butter).

Slowly add in the milk, whisking all the time to break up any lumps.  Raise the heat a bit and wait for the mixture to boil.  Once it has you can lower the heat to medium and let it simmer for 5 minutes or so.  Stir it occasionally so the bottom doesn’t burn and you can keep track of how thick it’s getting.  You want it to be able to coat a spoon.  Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese (best to switch to a spoon here otherwise the cheese gets stuck in the whisk).

The cheese should melt in effortlessly, season with salt and pepper.  Add in the pasta and return it to medium heat for a minute or two – just enough for the pasta to take on some of the sauce.  Fold in the half the bacon and half of the jalapeno.  Serve in bowls topped with the rest of the bacon and jalapeno.

Chicken Marsala Risotto

One pot dishes are made for the winter time – they are so warm and comforting (and easy cleaning goes with every season).  I love a good risotto but it can seem like a lot of starch to constitute an entire meal so I decided to think of a way to incorporate some leftover chicken I had.  By using marsala wine instead of the normal white wine and adding in sautéed mushrooms, this easy weeknight risotto becomes plenty filling.  The basics are all the same (in case you need my risotto rules again here they are).  One deviation is stirring in some extra marsala at the end of the cooking.  I found that too much of the flavor was lost when you just use it at the start and by adding a dash at the end you get that sweet savory wine flavor burst.  And remember, don’t scrimp on the fresh grated parmesan at the end!!

Chicken Marsala Risotto 

  • 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup aborio rice
  • 1 cup marsala wine
  • 6 cups chicken stock, warming over low heat
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 roasted chicken breasts

Over medium high heat in a large saucepan melt the butter.  Add the mushrooms and season with pepper (but not salt).  Cook for 5 minutes or so until the mushrooms have softened and are beginning to brown.

Spoon out the mushrooms and set aside.  Add the olive oil to the same pan and heat over medium.  Add the rice and stir it around until all the grains are coated in the oil.  Reduce the heat to medium low and add 1/2 cup of the marsala wine.  Use your spoon to stir the rice as well as deglaze the bottom of the pan.  Once almost all of the marsala wine has cooked off you can start ladeling in the stock.  Add 1 ladelful at a time, stirring near constantly.  Once the rice starts looking dry add in another ladelful.  After about 25 minutes, add the mushrooms and chicken to the pot and start checking the doneness of the rice.  It will probably take another 5 minutes to cook.  Once the rice is done (it’s tender with just a little bit of bite to it) stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of marsala and cook it for 1 minute more so most if not all of the wine is absorbed.  Take it off the heat and stir in the parmesan.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed and serve immediately.

Thai Chicken Curry

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Patrick and I are like Goldilocks when it comes to heat levels – most places don’t add enough spice no matter how much you ask for it and many have so much heat that you can barely taste the flavors of the food.  I realized the other day while eating Thai takeout the only way to get it juuuuuust right is to make it yourself!  You are in control here so you can make it for any spice tolerance level.  I add sliced hot peppers in the end but if that’s not your thing leave them out entirely.  The addition of sweet basil is a traditional one and a great way to smooth out the spice – unfortunately the last time I made this I didn’t have any basil so if you are looking for it in the pics, you got me!  However, if you do have it on hand I highly recommend adding it.

There are a lot of Thai curry pastes out there, Thai Kitchen is the most ubiquitous one found at most grocery stores.  If anyone has one they like please chime in as I am still searching for the perfect one.  Using the paste takes all the guesswork out of this recipe since all the great Thai flavors are right in there, lemongrass, ginger, garlic etc.  That means buying a tiny little jar that lasts forever in your fridge,  versus a whole bunch of fresh ingredients.  I also generally use the light version of coconut milk but if you like the full fat version that works too.  Served with white rice or over a bed of rice noodles this is the perfect way to spice up a weekday without having to resort to dialing for dinner.

Thai Chicken Curry 

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 6 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 to 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 1 to 2 fresno or jalapenos, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped basil

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, turning the chicken occasionally so all sides are browned.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add additional oil if needed.  Cook the onions and green beans, still over medium high heat, for 3 to 4 minutes until softening and starting to brown.  Add in the brown sugar and the curry paste and cook it for another minute, stirring constantly so the paste doesn’t burn.

Wisk in the coconut milk, deglazing the pan as you do.  Add the chicken back and allow the whole thing to simmer for 5 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked through and the flavors have melded.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the sliced peppers and basil.

Short Rib Nachos

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These are O.M.G good.  Life changing.  You can also make them in less than 10 minutes, give or take grating cheese time.  How is that possible you ask?  Your best friend the freezer.  Remember these amazing short rib tacos from a couple of months ago?  Well you made a big batch like instructed and froze a bunch for later.  Now is the time to dig them out of the freezer and spread them all over a huge mound of chips and cheese.  Seriously, if you are going to take the time to make a slow cooked item like short ribs, it takes the exact same time to cook enough for 4 as it does for 6 (or 10 for that matter) so go ahead and make way more than you need.  Then when Thursday night football rolls around and you realize you don’t have a fabulous football meal planned for mid-week you can absolutely kill it with these nachos.

If you don’t have those short ribs tucked away in your freezer go ahead and throw some shredded chicken on here – really this is just a method.  Swap out cheddar for jack cheese or red salsa for green – it’s a great way to get rid of stuff hanging around in your fridge.  One pro tip courtesy of my husband – make sure to take the extra step of tossing half the chips and cheese together before topping with the rest.  That ensures you don’t just end up with one layer of cheese, neglecting lots of the chips.  This made the perfect football dinner (yep just for two people, no judging) but it would also make a great appetizer for Fiesta Friday.  I went ahead and just ate these babies straight off of the cookie sheet because I didn’t want to waste time transferring them to something nicer but for a dinner party just use two spatulas to transfer, should happen pretty easy with all that cheese acting as glue!

Short Rib Tacos 

  • 10 ounces of tortilla chips
  • 8 ounces of grated jack cheese
  • 1 to 3 fresno chilis (or jalapenos) thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups leftover short ribs (or other shredded meat) – room temperature or rewarmed
  • 4 tablespoons salsa verde
  • 2 scallions, green and white part, chopped
  • sour cream to serve

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  On a cookie sheet spread half of the chips and half of the cheese and toss together.  Top with the rest of the chips, then evenly distribute over top the rest of the cheese, the chilis, the short ribs and the salsa.  Bake for 6 to 7 minutes until all the cheese is melted.  Sprinkle with the scallions and dollop on the sour cream or serve on the side.

Swiss Chard Pasta

Pasta and cream – oh you are so yummy but oh so bad for me.  Honestly any kind of carb covered in any kind of cheesy or creamy sauce is something I can get on board with, but know I should limit.  So what if you add a ton of dark leafy greens and lean white meat chicken to the mix?  Still not healthy?  Ok fine maybe not healthy but this one pan meal is super satisfying, delicious and not nearly as bad for you as it tastes.  A scant 1/2 cup of cream for 4 servings means only 2 tablespoons of cream per person, which is the smae amount you probably sloshed into your morning coffee anyway.  My mom passed this one down to me (though I have taken some creative liberties) and I loved it from the first time she made it for me.  If you have never cooked with swiss chard before it’s that beautiful green you may have seen at the market with the vibrant red or multi colored stalks.  Most recipes will tell you to just use the leafy parts and cut out the tougher stems but I love their flavor and the bite they give to this pasta.  If you want to mellow them even more you can add the stems first and then the leaves later so you cook them down more.  The red from the chard stems also turns the onions pink which is just fabulous in and of its self.

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The key to chard or really any green is making sure its nice and clean.  Grit can easily find its way into greens and the last thing you want to do is chew down on sand when you are eating.  Prewashed and bagged greens help with this but for all other greens I really like a salad spinner.  It’s an easy way to get them clean and can double as a storage vessel for greens in the fridge.  When you come home from the store just wash the greens, run them through the spinner (I have and really like this one) and then keep in the fridge, they will last a lot longer and be ready to use when you want them.  For this and most recipes where you want to wilt down greens I also like to leave just a little water still clinging to the leaves – this will help create some steam in the pan and move along the wilting process.  This is a really fast dinner, made more substantial by the addition of chicken but it could easily fill vegetarian folks up without.  And the smell of the onions cooking in butter…mmmmm so good.

Swiss Chard Pasta 

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large bunch of swiss chard, cleaned and chopped
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 8 ounces penne or other short cut pasta
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1 to 2 rotisserie chicken breasts, chopped or shredded into bite size pieces (optional)

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet.  While butter is melting also bring a pot of water to boil for pasta and cook the pasta while making the sauce.  When the butter is melted add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Start adding the swiss chard in handfuls, tossing with tongs if necessary to wilt the greens and get them all to fit.

Season with salt and pepper.  Cook the chard down until wilted, about 5 minutes, then throw in the white wine and allow it to all cook out, about 2 to 3 minutes.

When the pasta is ready toss it in the pan along with the red pepper flakes, the nutmeg and cream (and chicken if including it).  Toss the pasta and sauce together and let cook together for a couple of minutes more allowing the cream to coat the pasta and the flavors to meld.

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