Category Archives: Meals

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage

When Captain Crunch offered to cook us some sweet potato gnocchi before he left town, I was skeptical. I’d only had gnocchi once, in Italy no less, and it was nasty. Chewy, sticky lumps. But I trust the guy, and he didn’t let me down.

I’ve since tweaked his recipe and made my own, with the addition of some smoky mushrooms and pancetta to complement the slight sweetness of the gnocchi. Top it all off with Parmesan cheese, and you have a winner.

Many people like to combine sweet potato with sweet spices, like nutmeg and cinnamon, or maple syrup. I prefer to keep it savory– I think it’s more interesting. Additionally, this recipe calls for dried mushrooms, which are a great thing to have in the kitchen. They’re cheap, they keep forever, and when you prepare them you also get a nice mushroom broth, which can be used in other things.

The Gnocchi

1 sweet potato, well scrubbed

1/2 cup flour, or more depending on the climate

pinch of salt

Combine flour and salt in a bowl. Pierce the sweet potato with a fork and microwave until baked, perhaps five minutes. Using a fork, add the mushed flesh of the potato to the flour, discarding the skin. Mix the dough with your hands, adding just enough flour so the dough is workable. If you want to be fancy, roll the dough into a tube and cut pieces off, flattening with a fork on one end. I was feeling rustic so I just rolled the dough into teaspoon-sized balls.

Boil water, and add the gnocchi in manageable batches, stirring occasionally. The gnocchi are done when they rise to the top of the water, but make sure they aren’t stuck to the bottom. Drain in a collander, serve promptly with The Sauce and some fresh grated Parmesan.

The Sauce

1/2 cup dried mushrooms (I used oyster)

3 strips of pancetta

1/2 stick butter

1 tsp dried sage

Pour boiling water over the dried mushrooms and let sit ten minutes while you prepare the pancetta. Place pancetta in a pan and cook over medium heat until crisp. Drain off fat and wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to brown. Remove from heat. Crumble the pancetta and add it to the butter with the sage. Remove the mushrooms from the liquid (which can be used as a nice broth) and pat dry with paper towels, then chop into small pieces. Add to sauce. Stir sauce and pour over gnocchi, topping with fresh Parmesan.

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Curried Chicken Salad

This is an incredibly easy and versatile recipe that yields delicious, healthy results. You can use any kind of nut you like, add in some chopped carrots or onion, or swap the parsley for cilantro or basil for a new flavor. This chicken salad is high in protein and low in fat, thanks to the use of Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise. I like to eat this on toasted English muffins… or straight from the bowl.

Ingredients

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or any leftover cooked chicken!)

3/4 cup Greek yogurt (I use Fage 0%)

1 tsp honey

2 T curry powder

1/2 cup diced celery

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1 T chopped fresh parsley

pinch of salt and pepper

Make It:

Poach the chicken breasts in boiling water, then shred with your hands or two forks. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Check back on Tuesday for: Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pancetta and Sage

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Chicken Tagine

Oh yes, Moroccan food.  In a tagine I picked up in Marrakech for like $5, never mind how much they cost here. This is a Berber tagine, so it’s plain clay with that dip in the top. You can make this dish in a dutch oven, but if you are using a tagine, use a heat diffuser underneath and soak it (only before first use) in water overnight so it doesn’t crack.

First off, you need preserved lemons. To make these, you cut holes in lemons, stuff them with kosher salt, stick them in a jar with more kosher salt and lemon juice, and let them marinate in the fridge for a month. Worth it, I promise. Meyer lemons are even better.

Ingredients

2 chicken thighs

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp cayenne or white pepper

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 teaspoon ginger powder

4 T olive oil

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped into strips

1/2 cup green olives, pitted and chopped in halves

1 preserved lemon, flesh removed, cut into strips

1/2 cup water or chicken broth

fresh cilantro for garnish

Make It:

Combine dry spices with 2 T olive oil in a Ziploc bag, add chicken (skin removed) and let marinade overnight or for a few hours at least.

Put tagine with diffuser (or dutch oven) on stove on medium heat. Soak lemon and olives in water to cut salt content. Add remaining oil and onion to tagine. Cook until soft. Add garlic, cook until fragrant. Add chicken, browning on both sides for a few minutes.Add water or broth to chicken, along with apricots, olives, and lemon, and let cook over medium heat, lid on for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove lid. Cook until sauce becomes thick, sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve with cous cous and/or French fries. (I’m not kidding, it’s often served with fries.)

This recipe is a little tricky at first and has some unfamiliar ingredients, but I promise it’s delicious and easy to make the next time through. And you WILL want to make it again. Enjoy!

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Slow-Cooker Thai-Inspired Pork

I have a tiny slow cooker, which really only makes enough dinner for two people– maybe three people if Captain Crunch isn’t one of them. I’ve only really used it to make Carolina-style pulled pork, which wasn’t really good enough to share with you. (Just go to a barbecue joint. It’s worth it.) This, then, is the first real success I’ve had with it. Hopefully more will follow.

Ingredients:

1 lb pork loin, rinsed and patted dry, trimmed of any excess fat

1/2 cup teriyaki

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon chili oil

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup peanut butter

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 head of broccoli, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green onion

Make It:

Place the pork in a greased slow cooker. Mix the teriyaki, vinegar, oil, and ginger together, then pour over the pork. Cook on low 3-4 hours. Remove pork and shred with two forks. Stir peanut butter into remaining sauce, then return pork to pot along with vegetables. Let cook an additional 30-45 minutes. Serve over rice or noodles. Makes 4 servings.

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Easy Chicken Vindaloo

Captain Crunch and I are on a mission. We both love Indian food, but we want to be able to make it ourselves.  We’ve had mixed results, with a few successes I’m more than happy to share here. When we came across this vindaloo recipe, and found it both easy and delicious, we were thrilled.

Vindaloo is supposed to be spicy, but this wasn’t too bad. You could increase the heat by adding more chilies, or you could cheat and just add Sriracha. We ate this with peppers, but next time I think I’ll add some boiled chopped potatoes, too. We ate it with some delicious naan, a new recipe my dad sent me that I like even better than my old one. I’ll post it for you later this week 🙂

Ingredients

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1.5 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (use a cheese grater)

3/4 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 ground dried chilies (I just stick them in my pepper grinder, but you could also use about 1/2 tablespoon of flakes)

1 tablespoon black mustard seeds (not ground)

2 tablespoons oil (olive or mustard)

1 cup tomato sauce

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 cinnamon stick

1 onion, chopped

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite-size pieces. We used breasts, next time we’ll probably use thighs.

1 bell pepper, chopped

Make It:

Mix the spices and liquid ingredients together in a bowl, then add the chicken and combine. Let marinate in the fridge several hours, or perhaps overnight. When ready to cook, pour chicken and sauce into a large pan with onion and cook, covered and over medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and to ensure chicken cooks on all sides. Add pepper and any additional vegetables during the last ten minutes of cooking. Serve with rice or naan.

For Thursday: Even Better Naan

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