Sunday, April 29, 2012

A different-yet-delicious take on lasagna

While grocery shopping the other night I passed by some rotisserie chickens that smelled particularly good. Before I knew it, I had tossed one in my shopping cart and started formulating a plan to make the following dish using meat from the ready-to-eat bird. Pesto makes everything taste better, including the jars of alfredo sauce that also ended up in my cart. The pesto and alfredo tasted so good together that I found myself sampling the sauce a few times (quality control, right?) while assembling what turned out to be quite a winner of a midweek meal.

Creamy Pesto Chicken Lasagna
2 15-ounce jars alfredo sauce
 ½ cup prepared pesto
 12 oz. bag frozen artichokes, thawed
3 cups cooked chicken meat, diced
9 lasagna noodles
1 bunch spinach, rinsed and chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 cup grated mozzarella (optional)

 Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water. Whisk alfredo and pesto together in a bowl. Pour ¼ cup sauce into 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish. begin layering remaining ingredients, starting with three lasagna noodles and continuing with chicken, spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms and sauce. Ingredients should be enough for two layers, topped with three final noodles and sauce. I noted that cheese is optional with this recipe because I think the lasagna has plenty going for it already without the cheese. If you want cheese, sprinkle it on top of the lasagna before covering the dish loosely with aluminum foil. Cheese or no cheese, you’re going to want to bake the lasagna for 30-40 minutes. Remove the lasagna from the oven and allow it to sit for a few minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Taking a bite outta Boston

Chris and I recently spent a long weekend in Boston. It was my first time visiting Massachusetts and I had an absolute blast exploring Boston. Please believe the hunt for restaurants began as soon as I booked my flights! Here are some of the highlights:

Redbones was packed Friday night but well worth the wait for delicious barbecue.

Chris ordered the ribs and I went for the “meat and three” because I’m a sucker for trying as many sides as possible. I’m happy I did because the macaroni and cheese, greens and corn pudding were all quite good, as was my barbecue chicken and the buffalo shrimp we got to start the meal.

We got our history fix by walking the Freedom Trail

and ended up at the delightful Neptune Oyster.

Chris enjoyed the raw bar’s finest

and I savored every rich, buttery bite of my first-ever lobster roll.

Great dim sum brunch at Myers + Chang, where offerings included crispy salt-and-pepper calamari with jalapeƱos,

lemony shrimp dumplings, chicken congee and dan dan noodles with spicy peanut sauce.

Dinner at Sportello was pure heaven from start to finish (had a couple cocktails at Drink, the bar downstairs, before dinner).

Pheasant soup

Strozzapreti with braised rabbit, picholine olives and rosemary

Veal loin with peas, fava beans and mint.

If you have a favorite restaurant in Boston please let me know, as I definitely want to go back for another visit!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Speedy soup is simply taco-licious

Not sure how I got it in my head that I wanted to make taco soup, but it’s been simmering in the back of my mind for a little bit. It’s a chili-like soup that gets its flavor from taco seasoning. After conducting a quick recipe search, I started building my shopping list.

One ingredient that kept popping up was ranch salad dressing mix, which upon first glance might seem a little off but I’ve tried it in chili before and was happy with the results, so there you go.

The majority of this soup’s ingredients are canned, and I must say it’s quite enjoyable to open up all those cans, pour them into a pot without draining anything, and being done with a good portion of the prep. The soup is super easy and cooks up in no time, making it the perfect weeknight dinner.

Taco Soup
1 pound ground turkey
1 white onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can kidney beans
1 15-ounce can pinto beans
1 15-ounce can black beans
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles
1 cup corn (I always keep a bag of corn kernels in the freezer)
1 packet taco seasoning
1 packet ranch salad dressing mix

Possible garnishes: grated cheese, green onions, tortilla chips or strips, sour cream, avocado

Brown ground turkey in large soup pot. Add chopped onion and cook for a couple minutes over medium heat, until onion is slightly translucent and fragrant. Add corn and pour contents of cans, without draining any of them, into pot. Stir in taco seasoning and ranch mix packets. Bring to a boil and then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Serve soup in bowls and top with desired garnishes.