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Archive for the ‘Weeknight Dinners’ Category

Shrimp, Chilis & Ginger with Avocado

I have a confession to make…. I started Besotted with more than just the goal of jotting down my favorite recipes and rambling about my culinary experiences. I desperately want to get people back into the kitchen, and for them to do more than peel back the plastic on a microwaveable meal or ‘add water’ to make a meal magically puff up before their eyes.

 

It’s an absurd quest in our multi-tasking, over-taxed, over-stressed world, but I’m taking it on, and if there’s one recipe in my arsenal to battle the delivery-guy, grocery-store-prepared-foods, and the like, it’s this one, because it takes 15 minutes from grocery bag to table. Not only is it easy and quick, but the flavors – fresh chilis, ginger, garlic, and lemon – will instantly remind you why fresh always tastes best.

 

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It's not the prettiest dish, but it smells and tastes fantastic.

It's not the prettiest dish, but it smells and tastes fantastic.

 

I am not a fan of ‘cooking-lite.’ If I’m going to do something, I want to do it right, even if it means carrying around a little extra junk in my admittedly full trunk.

 

Now, this doesn’t mean that I have a total disregard for health or that I’m cramming slices of bacon and hunks of cheese into my mouth all day long. Quite the opposite, it’s just that I would prefer a smaller portion of something that tastes fantastic than a heaping plate of something that tastes so-so.

 

That being said, scrolling through Besotted, I did notice that there were an awful lot of bacon-y, cream-laden, cheesy, and chocolate-y recipes. At the same time, the seasonal winter-weight-gain has had my pants fitting a bit snugly, and I thought it was time to include a completely healthy, but still rock-your-world delicious Weeknight Dinner recipe.

 

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It's ironic.... this may be the worst picture I've taken, yet it's of one of the most delicious desserts.

It's ironic.... this may be the worst picture I've taken, yet it's of one of the most delicious desserts.

 

Each culture has its ‘thing’ that it does far better than the rest. Jews? We save money better than most. The Swiss? Nobody dots their i’s and crosses their t’s like the fastidious Swiss. The French? They have an uncanny knack for self-preservation when it comes to international conflicts. The Italians? Nobody does simple, rustic food as spectacularly as the Italians.

 

While I would most likely tip my hat to the French for overall cuisine, Italian food wins the award for turning a handful of plain, every day ingredients into something drool-worthy. The culture that brought us thin-crust pizza, Linguine alla Carbonara & Cannolis must be applauded for its prowess in turning the simple into something sublime.

 

While Italy has many popular culinary claims to fame, one of my favorite Italian dishes is the little-known Affogato.

 

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A perfect Spring Italian dinner that is surprisingly filling without being heavy,

A perfect Spring Italian dinner that is surprisingly filling without being heavy,

 

 

If you are at all familiar with Michael Pollan, author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, you’ve likely heard his mantra, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It is a shockingly simple prescription for health, and its efficacy can be assumed by applying the proof of contradiction principle or inverting the mantra: If one eats a diet of processed food products, a tremendous amount of them, and little produce, the health picture looks grim.

 

It seems unlikely that someone who regularly extols the virtues of beef ribs, sausages, and a perfectly medium-rare steak would adhere to this maxim, but I am a firm believer that 1 or 2 mostly veggie dinners each week stabilizes weight – or, at least, prevents it from reaching gargantuan proportions. Veggie dinners make me feel, in mind if not in body, more healthful, and they are so agreeably easy and quick to make on a frantic weeknight.

 

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Ricotta Stuffed Chicken Breast with Grapefruit & Spinach

 

 

I know what you’re thinking…. that picture above is NOT a Week-night meal, but bear with me….

 

This ricotta-stuffed chicken takes about 1 hour from grocery bag to dinner table, and half of that time it’s in the oven, while you can unwind from the day, grab a glass of wine, surf Facebook, or do any of the other rituals that cue the end of the work day, and that are so essential for our nightly relaxation.

 

For me, I would typically come home from work and begin the dish almost as soon as I walked in the door; once in the oven, I would go take a nice hot shower to relax, and by the time I got out, the chicken was just about ready to come out of the oven. It was perfect.


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Fettuccine with Creme Fraiche Sauce

Have you ever considered how nearly impossible it is to do all of the things that we should/want/have to do in any given day? Most of the people I know dedicate 10-12 waking hours each workday to their profession, including travel time. Assuming 6-8 hours of sleep, that leaves precious little else for personal hygiene, eating, exercise, staying current on world affairs, having a hobby, talking to your significant other, etc. And, what’s even crazier, is that I’m here beseeching you to make homemade meals, buy local & organic, and add other inconveniences to your life in the name of good eating. It’s madness, but I will try to rectify the situation.

 

The ‘Weeknight Dinners’ category contains recipes that can generally be prepared – soup to nuts – in a half hour or so and require few, if any, ingredients that would warrant a trip to the store. Today’s recipe, however, is the mother of all lazy day dinners. Born from the remnants of the Beef Tenderloin with Crème Fraîche Sauce recipe, it is essentially the crème fraîche sauce over pasta.

 

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Linguine alla Carbonara

Several years ago, I went to an inexpensive Italian restaurant in London. I had made the foolish mistake of trying to do a very expensive city on the cheap, whereas, in my old age, I’ve learned to do inexpensive cities very grandly, and end up with a much better experience. But I digress…

 

This restaurant offered Linguine alla Carbonara on the menu, and, as it is one of my favorites and so rarely on a restaurant’s menu, I decided to try it. The offending dish came out as I should have expected, with cream used to bind the delightful, fresh flavors, and subsequently drowning their freshness in its leaden heaviness. I ended up with a less-cheesy alfredo – not terrible to eat, but not the carbonara I was hoping for.

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