Chicken Caesar Salad

It’s been hot.  Too hot to cook.  Too hot to plan menus and write a shopping list.  Too hot to bother photographing my dinner before sharing it with you.  Here’s my easy version of Chicken Caesar Salad.  Not quite as easy as opening a pre-made bag and assembling but not much harder.

Ingredients:

  • the smallest package you can find of chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts
  • a baguette
  • Romaine lettuce (yes, I bought the bagged pre-washed, pre-cut lettuce.)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Salad dressing:
  • one lemon
  • a few anchovies or a squirt of anchovy paste
  • mayonnaise (a large dollop)
  • a shake or two of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Instructions:

1) Preheat the oven to 375.

2) Coat the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some dried herbs. (I used Italian herb mix, but then I use Italian herb mix on everything.)  Bake chicken for about 15-20 minutes, depending on thickness.  I used chicken tenders, which cooked pretty quickly.

3) Cube the baguette – as much as you want for croutons.  I used about 2/3 of the baguette and turned the remaining third into garlic bread.  Toss the bread cubes with olive oil and salt, spread onto a baking sheet lined with foil, and bake for about 10 minutes until croutons are dry and slightly crunchy.

4) Make the salad dressing.  Combine all the ingredients except olive oil in a measuring cup or bowl and whisk to combine.  Whisk in olive oil.  How much, you ask?  Just start with a little, and add until it’s the right consistency, then taste and add more if needed.  Adjust seasoning to your taste.

5) When chicken is cooked, slice into bite-sized pieces.

6) This is how I assemble.  Put the lettuce in a bowl and add the sliced chicken.  Add dressing and toss.  Then I add the croutons so they don’t get soggy.  Last, I grate the Parmesan cheese onto the salad, and serve.

Magic Pasta

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This recipe has been making the internet rounds.  And for good reason.  I love making this pasta because it is SO EASY.  And good.  This is my go-to recipe when I don’t feel like cooking.

Magic Pasta, adapted from everywhere on the web

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz pasta (the pasta pictured below comes in 12 oz. bag if you’re a Trader Joe’s shopper)
  • one package of cherry or grape tomatoes
  • one onion
  • a few cloves garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • a few sprigs of fresh basil or dried herbs of your choice (I use Italian herb mix)
  • 2-3 T. olive oil (otherwise known as a glug or two)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 1/2 c. water
  • Parmesan cheese

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Instructions:

1) Put the dried pasta in a large pan.  Just do it.  This is magic pasta, remember?

2) Cut the tomatoes in half and add to the pan.  Slice the onion (that’s right, no chopping, just slicing!) and add to the pan. Chop or press the garlic and add to pan.

3) Add the rest of the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese.

4) Bring to boil, and boil for 9 minutes, stirring frequently.

5)  That’s it.  Really, that’s it.  The water gets mostly absorbed and turns nicely saucy, especially when you add Parmesan cheese.  (Add the cheese to individual servings.  No sense in getting the pan gummy.)

before

before

during

during

 

after

after

 

 

Mac and Cheese

Image

No, this is not a photo of mac and cheese, nor is the even the type of pasta I use for mac and cheese.  This is a placeholder photo so I could post the recipe per my daughter’s request without having to shop for ingredients, make the dish, and photograph it.

There are so many mac and cheese recipes and I haven’t found “the best” one yet.  My daughter doesn’t like baked mac and cheese so this is her favorite version.

Macaroni and Cheese, adapted from Everyday Food

Ingredients:

  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/3 c. flour
  • salt
  • 4 c. whole milk
  • 1/8 t. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 lb. small shells or macaroni (that’s what the recipe says.  are you kidding me?  just throw in the whole bag of pasta)
  • 4 c. grated sharp cheese (your choice.  Cheddar is the obvious choice but sometimes I throw in some Pepper-Jack for extra bite.)
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce

Instructions:

1) Boil water for pasta and cook pasta according to package directions.  If you’re like me, you’ll cook the pasta in your large Dutch oven, then while the pasta’s draining in the colander, make the sauce in the same Dutch oven, add the pasta back in, and voila – a one pot meal.  Unless you count the colander.

2) Prep work.  Chop your onion.  Grate your cheese.  Measure out your milk.  Yes, you can buy pre-grated cheese — the Good Enough Gourmet will never judge you for finding a shortcut.  But I don’t like the  weird coating on the pre-grated cheese, plus you can buy higher quality cheese if you grate it yourself.  Once I even bought horseradish cheddar – yum!

3) Melt the butter over medium heat and add the chopped onions.  Cook until softened, then add the flour and 1/2 t. salt.  Stir until flour thickens and the mixture turns a golden color and smells slightly nutty.

4) Add milk (2 cupfuls at a time, particularly if you have a 2 cup measuring cup!) and cayenne, whisking until smooth.  Cook until boiling, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce is thick (about 10 minutes).

5) Remove sauce from heat.  Stir in cheese, mustard, and Worcestershire.

6) Add pasta to the cheese sauce, stir to coat, and reheat if necessary.

As a side note, I bet the pasta in the picture would be delicious in mac and cheese.  Plus it comes in a 12 oz. bag instead of 16 oz., so I use it for all my recipes that call for less than a pound of pasta.

Fudgy Brownies

This recipe is for my daughter.  She’s away at college and asked me for my brownie recipe so I thought I’d share it with everyone at once.

Fudgy Brownies, adapted from Everyday Food

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 c) unsalted butter
  • 8 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate (I use chocolate chips)
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 c. walnuts or pecans (optional.  Yes, I remember you don’t like nuts in your brownies!)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Line an 8×8 pan with foil.  The original recipe says to butter the foil but I use Reynolds’ nonstick foil, which is the greatest thing on earth.  (No, they’re not paying me, although they should!)

3. Put butter and chocolate in a bowl and microwave on low power for a few minutes until melted.

4. In the bowl with the melted butter and chocolate, stir in the sugar and salt, then add the eggs.  Gently mix in the flour and stir until smooth, but don’t overmix.  Stir in the nuts if using.

5. Spread the batter in the pan.  Bake for 45-50 minutes.  If you test for doneness with a toothpick, moist crumbs should stick to the toothpick.

6. Let cool completely in pan.  Remove foil and cut into pieces.