Thursday, January 24, 2013

Eggplant Panzanella Salad

Twelve hour work days outside of the house make for an interesting challenge when meal planning. With D and I working almost complete opposite schedules I never know what may or may not still be in the house to work with when I get home (often going straight for the pantry hoping to not kill a days worth of cautious eating in the process). By now you guys know that I always have a few ingredients almost always on hand--a few varieties of cheeses, a few varieties of vegetables, some basic starches (tortillas, pastas, rice)--and an imagination to continuously whip them up into all sorts of quick weeknight meals better than any drive-thru or take out menu can offer.

This ten minute dinner takes a few quick strokes of a chefs knife, a saute pan and an appetite for something delicious to stick to your ribs. Perfect for the vegetarian, budget cautious, or single girl trying to eat at home a few nights a week (go ahead, pour that glass of vino-you earned it!). 

*Panzanella salad is traditionally made with soaked stale bread and tomatoes tossed with oil and vinegar, often onions basil or other vegetables are added in. 

Eggplant Panzanella Salad
(serves one hungry working girl, but can easily be adapted for additional servings. Serves 2-3 as a side dish).
  • 1/4 eggplant, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper (or red bell pepper if you have it instead, or even sundried tomatoes), roughly chopped
  • ~1/2 cup chopped tomato (or 4-5 cherry tomatoes, quartered)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves finely chopped (I keep a hydro-plant on my windowsill, pick it up in your produce department for about $3.00 )
  • 1-2 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled with your hands--because that's the best way to do things. 
  • 1/4 baguette (I used this left over bread), cubed.
1. In a saute pan heat 1tbsp of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the eggplant, season with 1/4 tsp salt and cook 4-6 minutes until it begins to brown and soften. 

2. Add in the tomatoes and red pepper to the pan, stir and heat through, about 2 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper and garlic powder. Add in the bread and drizzle with additional 1 tbsp olive oil and cook another 2 minutes (the bread should mop up the juices and the oil and become soft). 

3.Turn off the heat, stir in the basil and crumble in the goat cheese. 

Best enjoyed with a glass of wine and guilty pleasure television.

follow me on instagram for quick shots of what I'm cooking up before they hit the blog @ktvcox & don't forget to follow Dressing on the Side (it's so easy!!)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Black Bean Taco Salad

Better late than never right? And what a perfect day for time to get away from me with this simple dinner that will have you from door to dinner in just about ten minutes. It's perfect for those of you that have resolved to cook at home more, eat a few more veggies or even eat a meal other than cereal when you know you are the only one that needs feeding (we've all been there at 8pm when dinner just seems impossible). Add whatever veggies and odds and ends you've got in your fridge--think of this more of a template than a full recipe.

Black Bean Taco Salad 
(serves 2 to 4 depending on additional veggies and appetites)
  •  one can black beans, drained and rinsed 
  •  1/4 onion diced, OR 2 tbsp chopped, dried onion
  •  bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce (such as Frank's)
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper(start with 1/8 and add more as needed).
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 large head Romain lettuce, rinsed and chopped
  • sour cream
  • tomato
  • avacado
  • 1/4-1/3 c water
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oil over medium heat in a deep skillet. Add the fresh onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook about 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the beans and corn and cook until heated through, about another 3 minutes. Season with the chili powder, cumin, pepper, cayenne, paprika and hot sauce. Add 1/4 cup of water (just enough to "loosen" the spices and make a thin sauce in the pan).

In a large bowl add a large portion of lettuce and top with beans and corn mixture plus any additional favorite taco toppings like tomatoes, avacado, sour cream, shredded cheese, olives and if you've got it, a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

What's your favorite go-to quick meal?

Coming Soon!!

Hi Friends! Things have been swamped around here, look for a quick meal idea coming later this afternoon (oh say around 4 or 5 pm). It will showcase an impressive, veggie packed meal that you can get together in just a few minutes--literally!! You won't want to miss it.

Until then, a few iPhone pictures of what I've been whipping up...(ps. have you followed me on instagram yet @ktvcox ). 

smitten kitchen's cinnamon squares

chicken and veggie mac and goat cheese

oatmeal raisin cookies in progress...

Friday, January 11, 2013

Easiest Weeknight Chili

So I know I spent some time in the last post talking about not rushing through the cooking process when time allows and using a low and slow technique to develop new, deeper, richer flavors--which is great when you have hours of time and leisurely afternoons to spend near the kitchen. But let's get real, that's a luxury that comes just a few precious times a month and there's still all those other days in between that require meals.

This chili recipe is fool proof and so simple to throw together after a long day of work or on a packed weekend when you've forgotten your husband has invited 10 of his buddies over to watch the big game. Substitute in any of your favorite chili ingredients (like extra veggies or corn!) and toppings or bake up this along side---whatever you choose,  in just about 30 minutes you'll have a pot full of huggable deliciousness to feed an army (or yourself for a few days).

Consider it for a chili bar (just set out the toppings and let everyone serve themselves) for the super bowl or for a Golden Globes get together this Sunday night.

Easiest short-cut Chili
  • 1 lb ground meat (beef, pork, turkey, chicken--you choose!)
  • 2 (14oz) cans light red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 (14oz) can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 standard size jar of chunky salsa of your heat preference (I like "medium" organic/low sodium varieties)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/8 and add slowly to adjust heat level)
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2- 3 1/2 cups low sodium original V8
**optional toppings, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, green onions, crushed tortilla chips, rice (1/2c per person will stretch your chili and make it heartier).  

Getting started:

Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Brown the ground meat until cooked through, then season with the garlic, cayenne, chili powder, cumin, paprika and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium and stir in the salsa. Add in the drained beans and mix well. Add the V8 until it covers all of the beans/meat. Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 15-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spoon over white or brown rice and/or top with favorite chili toppings. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

slow roasted tomato & goat cheese pizza

Happy New Year friends and welcome back from a much needed holiday break! This weekend I spent some time getting back into the kitchen and I couldn't have felt more at home--I love being in the kitchen when I still have some morning sun to work with and wish there were more days I could utilize the natural light that floods in before noon.

For 2013 I've resolved to continue to expand my culinary horizons, take some risks and when time allows--spend all day if needed to develop flavors unparalleled to anything I've ever created. I think we can all spend a little less time watching the clock these days.
I stared at some bulk tomatoes I purchased last week and just knew they were meant to be paired with goat cheese and basil and balsamic on the world's most delicious pizza.

Three and a half hours, a freshly organized closet, some cleaned floors, and a deep cleaned bathroom later , I had the sweetest most delicious roasted tomatoes that I want to prepare 100 different ways (roasted tomato jam I'm looking at you!). Side note: perfecting homemade jam is on my kitchen bucket list for 2013, along with a carry-over from 2012--cooking a whole pig.  Roughly chopped and paired with a generous schmear of goat cheese on homemade pizza crust, these babies were highlighted in all of their sweet delicious glory. The drizzle of a balsamic reduction (sounds so fancy, its not!) made this one of the most impressive dishes to date (think bite sized versions to serve as finger foods for your  friends to "ooh" and "ahh" and lick some plates in the most lady-like fashions)!

Deb, over at Smitten Kitchen inspired the most important components of this dish!

roasted tomato & goat cheese pizza 
(makes 1 12"-14" round pizza)

For the tomatoes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen) 
  • 6 medium roma tomatoes halved
  • ~1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ~ 1/2 tsp salt
  • ~ 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
Preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Place tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and seasonings and bake about 3 hours. For the pizza I wanted them to still have some juice to burst out so you don't quite want them all the way dried and chewy. 

For the crust:
Use Deb's recipe over here at Smitten Kitchen, OR hit up your local grocery store in the deli department and pick up a 16 oz ball of fresh pizza dough ( I won't tell if you won't tell).

For the reduction:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar brought to a low boil until reduced by 1/2 (and thickens to coat the back of a spoon). 

Additional Ingredients:
  • 6-8 oz goat cheese
  • ~1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • ~ 2-3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • ~ 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
Heat your oven to 500 degrees, yeah I know--just do it. 

Stretch your dough until even and thin and place on the back of a baking sheet, pizza stone, or pizza pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and evenly coat. Using a fork, poke holes all over the crust, then grate the garlic over the crust. Bake for 5-6 minutes.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the roasted tomatoes in thirds. Remove the crust and smear on the goat cheese in a thin, yet generous layer--the heat from the crust will make this easy to spread. 

(At this point, in a small sauce pan, heat your vinegar over medium heat. When it begins to boil, reduce heat and simmer until thickened). 

Top with the tomatoes (and any juices that were lost during the chopping). Bake an additional 5 minutes.  Top with the basil and bake another 2 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and drizzle with the balsamic and just the tiniest pinch of salt OR 2 tbsp finely grated parmesan cheese (trust me, it'll balance out all the sweetness from the tomatoes and balsamic and taste like heaven).