Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli & Pine Nuts

A late meeting forced a late dinner this evening – and I didn’t feel like spending a long time cooking. So I threw together this quick chicken and pasta dish that’s surprisingly fresh and flavorful.

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Pasta with Chicken, Broccoli & Pine Nuts

  • 1 package angel hair pasta
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7-8 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 head broccoli, cut and steamed
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • juice of ½ a lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • shredded Parmesan cheese

Boil pasta according to package directions; drain and place in a large bowl. Separately, boil broccoli until just tender. Drain and rinse with cool water.

In a large skillet, sauté chicken pieces and garlic in olive oil. As chicken cooks, add fresh thyme. When chicken is cooked through, add butter and pine nuts. When butter is melted, add broccoli and lemon juice and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over pasta and stir to combine. Serve hot with shredded Parmesan cheese.

 

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Czech Apple Strudel

The recipe for this Old World delicacy has been in my family for more than 150 years. Like many dishes our grandmothers prepared, it’s labor intensive but worth every bit of effort.

Czech Apple Strudel is a stunning, memorable dessert, made with fresh apples and a stretchable dough. It takes patience to get the dough right, so don’t worry if the first strudel isn’t perfect. Practice will get you there. And your family and guests will love every bite.

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Czech Apple Strudel

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5-6 Tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1 egg white
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 2 Tbsp white vinegar

Filling

  • 2 lbs winesap or braeburn apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar
  • 1 cup breadrumbs, fried in 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup pecans, ground finely
  • 1 stick butter, melted, for brushing on the dough

In a small bowl, combine water, egg white, salt, melted butter, and vinegar.

Sift the flour onto a pastry board, make a hole in the middle, and pour in the egg white mixture. Work the dough with a broad knife. When all the ingredients are combined, work it with your hands. The dough should be shiny, not sticking to your hands or the pastry board. Knead for about 10 minutes. How the dough stretches depends on how it was worked.

Form the dough into a ball, cover it with a warm inverted bowl. Place a kettle of hot water on top of the bowl. Let the dough rest 30-60 minutes.

Place the dough on the floured board and roll it as much as you can with a rolling pin. Then pick it up and gently stretch it, starting in the middle and moving to the outsides. Allow gravity to help. Once the dough has stretched to a large rectangle, transfer the dough to a floured pillow case or old tablecloth and gently stretch it to approximately a 21 x 15 rectangle.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter all over the dough, and then generously cover  the dough with fried breadcrumbs. Next, cover the dough with sliced apples and then sprinkle cinnamon sugar over the apples. Top with raisins, ground pecans, and lemon zest.

Using the pillowcase, roll the strudel jelly-roll style, and press the ends together so the apples don’t fall out. Transfer the strudel to a greased baking sheet. Shape into a wide U. Brush the top with melted butter.

Bake at 350° for approximately 45 minutes, brushing with melted butter every 15 minutes. When baked, cover the strudel with paper towels and a kitchen towel to soften it.

When cooled, sprinkle with powdered sugar. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

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Blackberry Pancakes

Plain pancakes make a great weekend breakfast, but adding fresh fruit to the batter makes them even tastier – and a bit healthier, too.

These Blackberry Pancakes are a perfect mix of tart and sweet to start your day off just right.

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 Blackberry Pancakes

  • 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pint blackberries, chopped

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt to blend. In a medium mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, and oil.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and add wet, mixing just until blended. Add in blackberries, including any accumulated juices. Stir just until blended. Be careful not to overmix or the pancakes will be tough, not soft and fluffy.

Lightly grease a griddle or stove-top skillet. Cook pancakes on both sides until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve hot with butter and syrup.

 

Chipotle Cole Slaw

Here’s a quick and easy topping for tacos with a Mexican flare. Cabbage is a great complement to beef and brisket, so the next time you make tacos, consider ditching the lettuce and tomato for a little cole slaw with a kick.

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Chipotle Cole Slaw

  • 1 head of cabbage, chopped (or a small bag of cole slaw; save the mayo package for another day)
  • 3/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 2 chipotle peppers, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp Goya Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning
  • juice of ½ lime
  • sea salt to taste

Mix mayonnaise, chipotle peppers, and lime juice in a large bowl. Stir in cabbage and mix until blended. Season with sea salt. Chill; serve with tacos or alongside Mexican food.

 

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Salvadoran Rice

When I lived on the Texas-Mexico border, my dear friend taught me how to make Spanish-style rice from her home country – El Salvador. Like traditional Mexican rice, this dish complements Mexican food like tacos and enchiladas very well.

Salvadoran rice differs, however, from the El Chico mainstay in that it has no tomatoes or chilies. It has a much milder flavor, which complements Enchiladas Verdes perfectly.

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Salvadoran Rice

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 c. bell pepper, chopped (green or red)
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 2 c. rice
  • 3.5 c. chicken broth or water

Heat vegetable oil in large skillet; add onion and peppers and sauté until tender. Add in rice and stir to blend. Using a potato peeler, shave strips of carrot into skillet on top of rice, stirring to blend. (Don’t worry if you cannot use all the carrot.)

Add in broth, stir, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for exactly 20 minutes. Season with sea salt and serve.

 

Wicked Good Mashed Potatoes

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Of the thousands of dishes I’ve prepared, this one is my most requested. It’s my go-to for potluck dinners, team meals, and any large gathering – and folks always ask for the recipe.

These mashed potatoes are addictive. I hardly ever have leftovers.

They’re rich and creamy – with a little kick from roasted Hatch chilies. Wicked good.


Wicked Good Mashed Potatoes

For the potatoes:

  • 1 10-pound bag Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, rinsed, and quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 3/4 c. sour cream
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 2-3 roasted Hatch chilies, peeled and minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt

For the topping:

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 c. bread crumbs

For the potatoes:

Place quartered potatoes and garlic cloves in large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until tender. Drain. Return to pot or large mixing bowl.

Add the cream cheese, sour cream, butter, chilies, and salt to the potatoes and garlic. Mash until mixed thoroughly. Adjust salt, if necessary. Place mashed potatoes in greased 13×9 pan.

Preheat oven to 350F.

For the topping:

Melt butter in a small skillet. Add breadcrumbs and sauté until well blended. Place breadcrumbs atop mashed potatoes.

Bake uncovered for 40-45 minutes. Serve hot.

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Tortellini alla Panna

Way back in the 80s when I went to college in Rome (Italy), rather than having class in a traditional classroom, we studied on site at famous places like the Colosseum or the Imperial Forum. Then we’d break for lunch to eat a local trattoria.

My husband – who was then my fiancé – would often choose this rich dish, made with cheese tortellini, pancetta, and peas. I’ve Americanized this version, but it retains much of the authentic Italian flavor. Buon appetito!

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Tortellini alla Panna

  • 1 20-ounce package cheese tortellini
  • 1 12-ounce package thick-sliced bacon
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • a little milk, if necessary
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add tortellini, and boil until tender (they will float to the surface). Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, cut the bacon into 2-inch-long strips and fry in a Dutch oven. When cooked through, remove and drain.

Wipe the bacon fat out of the Dutch oven and add the butter. When melted, stir in the flour and then slowly add the cream. Stir to thicken the sauce, being careful not to let the cream burn on the bottom of the pan.

When sauce is warm, add in tortellini, bacon strips, peas, and parmesan cheese. Stir to blend. Add a little milk if sauce is too thick. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Transfer to bowls, top with additional parmesan cheese, and serve hot.