Creamy orzo with mushrooms and spinach

Super speedy one-pot stovetop pasta dish

I have been noticing a lot of one-pot dishes popping up on my social media feed lately. The funny thing, however, is that a lot of them aren’t actually one-pot meals. The meat and vegetables might get cooked in one pot, but then you have to prepare rice or pasta in a second pot to go with it. In the spirit of making a true one-pot meal, I turned to orzo, a small rice-shaped pasta that cooks very quickly and holds its shape. This dish reminds me of mac ‘n cheese, except it takes less time to prepare. Like many of my recipes, this one is absolutely customizable.You can use shredded kale instead of chopped spinach, but give it an extra minute to wilt. Glam it up by adding a little diced prosciutto along with the mushrooms, or by finishing it with a sprinkle of truffle salt or a drizzle of truffle oil. I love this dish because in my busy world, any dinner that is both delicious and ready in under 15 minutes is a real winner.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) orzo pasta
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) chicken or vegetable broth (use low sodium if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) milk
  • 1 1/4 cups (310 mL) coarsely chopped baby spinach leaves (stems removed if desired)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Method

  • Place a 2 quart (2 L) Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil and let it warm for a few seconds then add the onion and mushrooms then sauté until softened, 2 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute longer, then add orzo plus a few grinds of salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Pour in the broth and milk, give it a good stir, then let come to a boil.
  • Cover the pot, reduce heat to just simmering, and let the past cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. This will form a creamy sauce for the pasta.
  • Note that if the liquid has absorbed and your pasta isn’t quite done (this will depend upon the width of your pot and the intensity of the heat on your stove), you can add another few tablespoons of milk or broth until the orzo is al dente.
  • Sprinkle the spinach and half the parmesan cheese over top and stir. Let spinach wilt and cheese melt for one minute. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Serve immediately with remaining parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 3 – 4.

 

Posted in One dish meals, Pasta | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pork tenderloin in mushroom sauce

A fast, flavourful and make-ahead dinner

This is one of those dishes that isn’t a beauty queen, but what it might lack in looks, it more than makes up for in flavour. One of the things I love best about it is you can prepare it up to 48 hours ahead then pop the skillet in the fridge and reheat it just before serving time. I like to serve this tasty meal on top of something that can absorb the delicious sauce, such as rice, mashed potatoes or noodles. Add steamed green beans, carrots or broccoli and you’ve got a nutritious meal that I’m pretty sure everyone in the family will enjoy. If you’re not mushroom fans, consider substituting with thinly sliced squash or apples instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs (675 g) pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons (45 – 60 mL) olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup (250 mL) diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
  • 3 cups (750 mL / 12 oz / 340 g) sliced mushrooms (either white or cremini)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves or 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Method

  • Cut pork into 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick medallions.
  • Combine flour, salt and pepper in a small plastic bag.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil in a heavy duty, large frying pan placed over medium heat.
  • Shaking off excess flour, add pork pieces, a few at a time, to the bag of flour. Twist shut and shake well to coat pork.
  • Add pork pieces to the hot frying pan, taking care not to overcrowd the pan (you can cook them in batches if need be).
  • Cook the pork medallions until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook for 3 minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside on a clean plate.
  • Repeat with remaining pork medallions, adding a bit more oil to the pan as needed.
  • Once all the pork has been seared and removed from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil, then sauté diced onion, stirring often, for 1 minute.
  • Increase heat slightly then add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter, sliced mushrooms, thyme and a little salt and pepper. Cook till mushrooms have released juices, stirring occasionally (about 4 minutes).
  • Deglaze the pan by adding wine, stirring to loosen any delicious bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Allow to simmer until the wine is reduced by half then turn heat to low and put a lid on the pan.
  • To make the rest of the sauce, you can transfer the onions and mushrooms from the pan to a clean bowl and cook sauce right in the large frying pan then return the mushrooms, onions and pork to the pan BUT I actually find it easier to use a separate small saucepan for this. Begin by melting the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 – 3 minutes until smooth and thickened.
  • Return the large frying plan to medium heat and pour the thickened chicken broth mixture over the mushrooms and onions in the pan. Stir gently, then return seared pork medallions to the pan. Cover and cook for 3 – 5 minutes until pork is cooked through (145F on an instant-read thermometer).
  • Serve pork over hot cooked rice, noodles or mashed potatoes, garnished with chopped parsley.

Serves 4.

 

Posted in dinner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Powerful oatmeal breakfast bowl

A quick, protein-packed way to start your day!

I’ve been a fan of oatmeal or porridge since I was a little kid and only learned recently that my mother – who kindly made it for me whenever I requested it – can’t stand the stuff. To me, a piping hot bowl of oatmeal is as comforting as it is satisfying – no need for a midmorning snack on oatmeal days! This recipe includes quinoa flakes which add both protein and flavour to the bowl. (If you’re a fan of quinoa flakes, check out this great cookie recipe and this tasty applesauce loaf.) Cooking the oats in milk and adding nuts, seeds and yogurt on top also increases the protein. You can easily make this bowl dairy-free (it’s super yummy made with almond milk and coconut milk yogurt is also fabulous) and you can vary the toppings to suit your tastes – you can even use trail mix to make it super simple! I usually prep enough toppings for several days and then it’s really quick and easy to whip up this hearty, delicious breakfast to start the day off right.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup (90 mL) quick-cooking (not instant) rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) grated apple
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) plain or vanilla yogurt
  • Handful fresh raspberries or other fruit
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped nuts (pecans, almonds or walnuts)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped dried apricots or cranberries
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) shredded coconut, toasted
  • Drizzle of maple syrup, honey or agave syrup

Method

  • Place a medium pan over medium high heat and add oats, quinoa flakes, milk, grated apple and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until oats are cooked (about 3 minutes).
  • Alternatively, cook the oats, quinoa flakes, milk, apple and cinnamon mixture in the microwave in a medium-sized bowl medium-high power for about 2 minutes, pausing cooking once or twice to stir.
  • Spoon the cooked oat mixture into a broad bowl.
  • Arrange toppings over the oats in an attractive pattern, then drizzle with maple syrup, honey or agave syrup.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 1

 

Posted in bowl, Breakfast | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Chewy protein-packed chocolate chip cookies

Quinoa flakes a great alternative to rolled oats!

I have a secret weapon when it comes to a lot of my baking: quinoa flakes. They enhance the texture, flavour and nutritional value of baked goods, adding a nice protein punch at the same time. This is a really easy, not-too-sweet recipe that bakes up beautifully and freezes nicely too. I like to shape the cookies into balls using a small cookie dough scoop. Afterwards, I freeze most of them on a parchment-lined baking sheet then transfer to an airtight container. This way, I can pull a dozen cookie dough balls out of the freezer and bake them up fresh whenever we want the joy of warm-from-the-oven cookies and a great-smelling house.

Chocolate chip cookies with quinoa flakes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (30 mL) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chocolate chips (I like dark chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) quinoa flakes

Method

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Combine flour, baking soda and salt in medium bowl; set aside.
  • Beat butter with sugars in large bowl (use a stand or electric mixer if you have one). Beat in eggs and vanilla until blended. Gradually add in flour mixture; beat just until blended.
  • Add the quinoa flakes and chocolate chips and beat until evenly distributed.
  • Use a cookie scoop or two spoons to drop by tablespoonfuls on parchment paper lined baking sheets, 2 inches (5 cm) apart.
  • Bake 7 minutes or until edges are golden. Cool 2 minutes on wire rack; remove cookies from sheets and cool completely.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Posted in baking | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cheesy garlic rolls

The perfect pairing for soup, pasta and more!

Taking a few extra minutes to start your dough off by making a sponge is what sets these rolls apart. By combining the yeast, sugar, water and some of the flour, the yeast will activate fully so the product will rise better; in addition, the resulting dough will be more elastic, have better flavour and a vastly improved, fluffier texture and crumb. Using olive oil also helps to make the dough tastier and contributes to the smoother texture that makes these rolls so outstanding.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus a bit more for brushing
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley

Method

  • Make the sponge by combining the water, yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of flour a large bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest in a warm place for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Add salt, olive oil and egg to the sponge. Mix thoroughly then stir in remaining 1 3/4 cup flour. This will form a shaggy, somewhat sticky dough that can be pulled away from the side of the bowl.
  • Cover with the bowl with the same towel you used before and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • With your clean fist, punch down the dough and pull it away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle with more flour and shape into a rectangle. With your hands or a rolling pin, flatten the dough out into a rectangle approximately 10 x 12 inches (25 – 30 cm) in size inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) thick. Leaving a one-inch (2.5 cm) border on the long edge that is furthest away from you, brush the dough with melted butter; sprinkle with garlic, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese, pepper and parsley.
  • Starting with the long end that’s closest to you, roll the dough evenly into a log, pressing down at the end to seal the edge of the log.
  • With a large, sharp knife, cut the log into 12 rolls. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cut side up.
  • Brush each roll with olive oil. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Cover loosely with the clean towel and let rise 30 minutes then start preheating oven to 400F.

  • Bake in preheated oven until the tops are golden brown, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving. Rolls are delicious warm or at room temperature. Leftover (unlikely) can be frozen.

Makes 12 irresistible rolls.

Posted in Breads | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Instant Pot Swedish Meatballs

A fast way to make a family favourite

My mom makes the most amazing Swedish meatballs and the last time I enjoyed them I realized they would be a snap to prepare in an Instant Pot. It’s great to sear meat in the IP because its high sides keep the area around the pot from getting spattered. The pressure cooker function also means the meatballs are done in a hurry. I love to prepare big batches of meatballs and freeze them raw so I can just pull them out as needed and cook them up in a variety of different ways. If you’re a meatball fan like I am, you might enjoy my pizza meatball casserole, these Russian-inspired meatballs in cream sauce or these scrumptious smoked cheddar meatballs in cheesy beer sauce. For this recipe, if you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can simply bake the meatballs for 25 minutes at 350F on the parchment lined baking sheet. Make the sauce in a saucepan using 2 cups (500mL) of beef broth (not the 2 1/2 called for below) and when the meatballs are finished baking, add them to the sauce and simmer for a few minutes before serving.

Ingredients

Meatballs

  • 1 1/2 pounds (680 g) lean ground beef
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) panko or other fine bread crumbs
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped flat leaf parsley, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) cayenne powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil, to cook meatballs

Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) butter
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) flour
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, panko, shallot, 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the chopped parsley, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, allspice, cayenne, garlic powder, pepper, salt and egg. Mix until combined.
  • Using your hands or a small cookie scoop, shape into 30 small meatballs. Compress them just enough to hold together but avoid packing them too tightly as this will make them a bit tough in texture. Place the prepared meatballs on the parchment-lined baking sheet as you shape them.
  • Preheat the Instant Pot for a few moments using the Sauté function. Add 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the olive oil and let it heat up, then add half the meatballs around the perimeter of the pot. Cook, turning a few times, until browned. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and set onto a second baking sheet.
  • Repeat with remaining oil and meatballs.
  • When all meatballs have been browned, return them to pot and add 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) of the beef broth. Cover the pot and close the valve on the lid then press the Pressure Cook/Manual button or dial (High pressure), and then the + or – button or dial to select 4 minutes. When the cook time is finished, let the pot sit undisturbed for 6 minutes (6 minute natural release).
  • To speed things up, I like to make the sauce in a separate pot, but you can also remove the meatballs from the Instant Pot once they are cooked and make this in the pot with the Sauté function if you prefer, then return the meatballs to the pot.
  • To make sauce, in a medium size pot, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat then add 1/4 cup flour. Whisk continuously for 3 minutes until flour is cooked.
  • Slowly stir in remaining 1 cup (250 mL) beef broth and whisk until thickened. Add heavy cream, Dijon and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer then add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When the meatballs have cooked and the pot has depressurized, open the lid and add the sauce to the pot.
  • Press Sauté function and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring gently.
  • Serve meatballs over hot mashed potatoes or egg noodles, garnished with remaining chopped parsley.

Serves 4 – 6.

Posted in dinner | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Warm cabbage salad with bacon and apples

The Ropot makes this flavourful twist on coleslaw a snap to prepare!

I’ve been having a lot of fun lately playing around with a new kitchen appliance. Created by the same Ottawa-based key team members that garnered worldwide fame with their InstantPot, the new Ropot (think RobotPot; they call it “the intelligent robot cooker”) is quite different but equally versatile. It’s super pretty too – look at the image below! With eight pre-programmed modes plus a manual option, the Ropot is easy to use and remarkably efficient. I found the multipurpose cooker’s greatest strength to be the neat built-in stirring paddle in the non-stick inner pot so you can add ingredients and have them stir-fry without any manual intervention. With heating elements both underneath the pan and in the lid, food cooks very quickly and evenly. There’s also a neat filtering system that controls odors and the pot is super easy to clean after use. I’m looking forward to trying other modes, especially the braise/steam function and the roasting function and will refer to the recipes Ropot provides for technique tips to guide me as I develop more recipes of my own.  Note that you can easily prepare this salad in a conventional frying pan, although you will likely have to increase cooking time slightly, and you’ll need to stir frequently. If you want to switch things up a little, pears would be a nice substitute instead of apples.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 mL) uncooked, diced bacon (about 4 slices)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) diced onion
  • 1 apple, cored and diced (do not peel)
  • 3 cups (750 mL) chopped cabbage (1 inch / 2.5 cm pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) celery seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Method

  • Plug in the Ropot and allow it to complete the 3 minute preheat function.
  • Add diced bacon to the pot and press Function. The words “Stir Fry” will illuminate as the default cycle. Press the plus (+) sign to increase from the standard 3 minute setting to an 8 minute setting; this should be long enough to cook the bacon thoroughly.
  • When the bacon is crispy, drain off half the bacon fat. Add onion and apple to the pot and press Function again for a 3 minute Stir Fry cycle.
  • Add cabbage to the pot and press Function then press the + sign twice for a 4 minute cycle.
  • When cabbage has wilted after the 4 minute cycle, sprinkle the sugar, rice vinegar, celery seeds, salt and pepper over the bacon, onion, apple and cabbage mixture. Press Function then the minus (–) sign four times for a 1 minute Stir Fry cycle.
  • Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve warm.

Makes 4 servings as a side dish.

Note: I was provided a Ropot for testing purposes but, as always, all opinions expressed are entirely my own.

 

Posted in Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment