Posts Tagged ‘quick & easy’

14th October
written by Steph

Tiny morsels of food heaven!

Last night Tony and I went to a potluck dinner party held in celebration of our good friend Abby getting another year older. We were designated the hors d’oeuvres portion of the meal (as well as coming up with a suitably commemorative cocktail), and we knew that we needed to concoct something delightfully decadent for the occasion. We rarely host or attend dinner parties that are sufficiently fancy to call for hors d’oeuvres (I mean, just typing the word is trouble enough), but my mind immediately leaped to the idea of dates wrapped in bacon… which was fortuitous, because they happen to be one of Abby’s favorite indulgences! Now pretty much anything wrapped in bacon is going to make for a morsel of deliciousness, but you know Tony and I like to go big or go home, so we decided that we’d add a little something special to these little gustatory parcels to make them really memorable… Hence the addition of blue cheese and walnuts stuffed inside each date prior to being ensconced in bacon. This dish is so simple it almost seems like it doesn’t warrant typing out a recipe. But then again, it is so delicious and delectable, I figured it deserved a post. It only requires four ingredients but they combine to produce culinary magic that tastes far more complicated and satisfying than the effort involved to put these together. You’ll need:
  • Strips of bacon (preferably thick cut, and preferably hickory smoked!)
  • 1 box/container of pitted dates
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • shelled walnuts
9th August
written by Steph

Dijon Chicken with Bacony Peas

After a rather rambunctious weekend (comprised of late-night games of Scattergories and Moods accompanied by several gin and tonics), I had no desire to carry out our weekly grocery shopping yesterday. Choosing the path of sloth and Excedrin, I instead came up with a Sunday night dinner composed of things that we already had on hand and decided to leave the shopping for another, less hung over day. You know how it goes. Rather than feasting on tater tots smothered in canned chili with a side of carrot sticks and peanut butter, I actually managed to put together a well-balanced meal simply… and so can you! The glory of this meal is that it calls on things that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry, so it’s perfect for those days when you don’t have the time or inclination to shop for something special. Also, it comes together in a jiff and is also delicious. It’s so good no one would realize it was a meal inspired by desperation! 😉 (more…)
15th May
written by Steph

Spicy Mediterranean Pasta

This week has been ridiculously long, so I sent an email out yesterday afternoon to some friends suggesting a casual get together of cocktails and a light dinner. I thought it would be nice to catch up in a low-stress setting.  Now, the weather here in Nashville has been kind of wonky – chilly and brisk one day, only to be muggy and gross the next – and yesterday was definitely a case of the latter.  So I had to come up with a dinner that would be satisfying but not heavy and overly rich.  So, I came up with this spicy pasta dish, and it wound up being a huge hit.  As you can see from the pictures, it looks quite elegant and fancy schmancy if you plate it on a platter and serve it family style, but I promise it’s super simple.

Ingredients (serves 6)
  • 1 lb of skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • ground coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (not minced)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced into rounds
  • 2 small red peppers, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 16 oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 16 oz can of artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • ½ tbsp of smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 cup of vodka
  • zest and juice from ½ lemon
  • feta cheese
  • fresh basil
  • salt and pepper
  • spaghetti noodles (or other noodle of your choice)
9th January
written by Steph

The finished product

The finished product

I'm assuming that those of you who are smart enough to read this blog are also smart enough to assemble a pizza on your own (plus we've held your hand before), so this will be a bit of a departure from our normal recipe series in that I'm not going to walk you through the steps here one by one.  Instead, I'm going to tell you what toppings we put on this so-called "Supreme Pizza" and focus on one of the more important parts of this dish: the sauce.  You see, when it comes to pizza, I'm insanely picky - sure it's hard to screw up, but it's also hard to get REALLY good pizza - and more often than not I'm let down the sauce component.  Most pizzas are too saucy, or rely on sauces that are too thick and akin to tomato paste, both of which are sins that will have me turning up my nose.  My favorite kind of sauce is one that tastes like true tomatoes and that are light and liquid-y rather than goopy.  Turns out I'm in luck, because this type of sauce is actually really easy to make yourself (and will have you shunning all of that tinned/jarred sauce nonsense). (more…)
18th November
written by Steph

Thai Pork with Chiles & Basil and Coconut Rice

Here at Steph & Tony Investigate!  we’re pretty adventurous eaters and we just love trying global cuisines.  Of course, one of the tricky things about having a penchant for international food is that making it yourself is not always a winning proposition.  We love us some Vietnamese food, but that stuff takes ages to make on your own (though perhaps not now that we finally have a handy kitchen mandolin), and it never tastes quite like what we get at our favorite place (likely because we don’t have all the right spices).  Thai food is a little bit more successful for us, and while I don’t know exactly how authentic this recipe is, it definitely tasted really good!  For this dish, I followed yet another Martha Stewart recipe (can you tell that I’m obsessed?) to good results.  And even more shocking I pretty much followed the recipe as was to a T, with minimal changes on my part: (more…)
22nd March
written by Steph
Pasta alla Vodka

Pasta alla Vodka

Warning!  The following recipe (which I adapted from one posted over at The Pioneer Woman Cooks) is SO good that I cannot be held accountable if you should find yourself eating three times your regular portion size, simply because you can’t bear to stop tasting it, luxuriating in the tangy, creamy, slightly sweet sauce.  This recipe is quick, easy and oh so delicious… but it is quite rich, so while moderation is the key, I defy you to resist going back for seconds… or thirds!  [Simona, I fully expect you to try this recipe.  If anyone can be guaranteed to have vodka on hand, I am betting it is you! 😉 ] Ingredients
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 – 3 cloves (or tablespoons!) of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • 1 can of tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes, or even tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • salt & pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes  (they’re HOT, so add as many shakes as your mouth can take… we’re wusses, so I tend to just shake it 2 – 3 times over the pan, and call it a day)
  • ½ tsp of dried tarragon
  • ½ tsp of dried oregano
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan/Romano/Asiago (i.e., firm Italian cheese)
  • lots of pasta… probably the entire package/box (I finished off many boxes, using penne, rigatoni (or was it rotini?), and some spinach-stuffed ravioli)
15th February
written by Steph
Braised Balsamic Chicken

Braised Balsamic Chicken (served with brown rice & oven-roasted asparagus)

Holy moley, is this ever delicious, and the pictures don't do it justice.  Seriously, I think the simplicity of the individual ingredients involved belie just how frikkin’ good the final product is, because man oh man is this one ever good.  And quick to put together, too (no joke, this took all of 20 minutes to cook, if that)!  And appropriate for people on a tighter budget, because nothing all that fancy is needed, and in fact, not all that many ingredients are needed.  Oh, and it’s also healthy… And just so we’re clear: YUMMY.  I need to stop talking about it and just tell you how to go ahead and make it because it is so good and you don’t want to spend any more of your life without having tasted this chicken.  Let’s get to it! Ingredients (we’ll say for two, but you could probably add way more chicken, because we had a fair share of left-over veggies) •    2 skinless and deboned chicken breasts (we buy these mutant gargantuan (but organic!) chicken breasts at Sam’s club, so I just used one of these whoppers and cut it into 2 portions after the fact) •    ½ white onion, thinly sliced (not diced!) •    ½ red pepper, thinly sliced •    2 tbsp olive oil (or thereabouts, I never measure oil…) •    salt and pepper •    garlic salt* (this is for seasoning the chicken breast; feel free to use whatever you like to use → I actually used some garlic and herb seasoning I have) •    ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar •    1 can of diced tomatoes (I used a fire-roasted variety that I love because it gives them some extra flavor) •    1 tsp dried basil •    1 tsp dried oregano •    1 tsp dried rosemary •    ½ tsp dried thyme •    2 tbsp brown sugar •    fresh mozzarella cheese, or any other cheese you want for garnish (option) (more…)
11th February
written by Steph
Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

Steph's Take on Taryn's Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta

OK, here’s the thing: my friend Taryn has two Jamie O. pasta dishes that feature pretty prominently in her “cooking for company” repertoire.  The thing is, I think that over the years, I’ve slowly begun to amalgamate these two dishes, so that I’m no longer sure which ingredients belong in each dish independently.  Instead, I just chuck a bunch of things into a pan and call it a night.  A delicious night, but one that might differ significantly from what you’d get if Taryn were cooking.  So really, I guess this is Steph’s Take on Taryn’s Jamie Oliver Parsnip Pasta… But fear not!  Taryn is likely to comment on this post and point out all the ways in which I’m steering you wrong.  For what it’s worth, however, the way I made this dish was perfectly delicious so you could follow my directions and still be successful! So, parsnips in pasta.  You’ve probably never thought to do that, right?  Well, you really should try it because it’s really quite yummy.  Also, as is my M.O. when it comes to cooking, this recipe comes together really quickly, and is perfect for a weeknight meal. Ingredients (for 2 generous portions) •    2 – 3 Italian sausages, casings removed •    1 – 2 parsnips, peeled and thinly shaved •    6+ mushrooms, thinly sliced •    1 tbsp olive oil •    2 tbsp butter •    salt & pepper •    good quality flat “tangly” pasta (e.g., fettuccine or tagliatelle) •    grated parmesan or romano cheese, for garnish •    sprigs of parsley, for garnish (optional) (more…)
9th February
written by Steph
Shrimp with Snow Peas

Shrimp with Snow Peas

The title of this post is not technically  a misnomer, but it might be a bit misleading, as there is more to it than just shrimp and snow peas.  I often view the stirfry as a great means for cleaning out my crisper and using up veggies.  I figured, why use just snow peas when I also had some green pepper and mushrooms as well?  This meal is fantastic to prepare during the week, as the element of the dish requiring the most time was definitely the rice.  The rest of it came together in about 5 minutes!  And if you have a rice cooker that has a timer, as I do, then the cooking of the rice is not only a no brainer, but is also a non-issue.  For this dish, I essentially followed Rasa Malaysia’s recipe for Shrimp with Snow Peas (including her tips on getting crunchy shrimp!), but tweaked it a little bit.   Apart from adding in extra veg, I also doubled the sauce, while also adding a bit of hoisin sauce to it for extra flavor. Ingredients
  • 1/2 pound shrimp [I have no idea if I used this much; I used about 12 large shrimp]
  • 3 oz snow peas [Again, I just added in about 3 large handfuls and called it a day]
  • some canned straw/button mushrooms [I used fresh button mushrooms (about 6), chopped into quarters]
  • 2 teaspoons cooking oil [I used olive oil]
  • 1 green pepper, sliced into medium-sized chunks
  • ½ white onion chopped into chunks
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic [I use the stuff out of a jar because I am lazy]
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 8 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 2 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine (shaoxing or rice wine)
  • 2 dashes white pepper powder [I used black pepper]
  • 1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
6th February
written by Steph

Chilly Pheese Steaks

Or as I inevitably wind up calling them “Chilly Pheese Steaks”!  However you say it, I’ve been craving one for the past 2 weeks or so.  This is how I know I could never really be a vegetarian, as every so often I just get wildly intense cravings for red meat. I’ll admit that I cheated a little bit on this meal, using leftover fajita steak from a meal out at our erstwhile favorite Mexican restaurant rather than cooking the meat myself.  I had the best of intentions as I purchased a package of tenderized round steak at Publix the last time we went shopping.  But when I took it out of the fridge too cook (after just two days in the fridge) it didn’t look quite right.  It was a dark purple color that made us a feel a bit uncomfortable and we ultimately decided not to risk cooking meat that had potentially gone off.  So I used leftover steak instead.  C’est la vie.  The one bonus, it definitely cut down on the cooking time (though not massively, since this dish really takes all of 20 minutes to assemble). (more…)