Lynne's Kitchen

You don't have to be a professional chef to cook tasty meals

Thyme Seasoned Green Beans with Tomatoes

Green beans are a vegetable that I could eat all day long, next to broccoli. When I was younger, steamed green beans with soy sauce and fresh lemon were a favorite of mine! But trading in the soy sauce for olive oil, fresh tomatoes, and thyme has yet to disappoint the palate and this can be played up to accommodate many dishes by interchanging different spices or just simple salt and pepper is pleasing as well.

I grew up eating lots of vegetables and I can only hope that the same appreciation for the taste of them will transpire into my kids. I will admit that the kids aren’t completely won over with green beans (they’re green, remember?), but I still put it on their plates as they will still rip the beans open and eat the actual beans inside. I call it positive progression, hah.

This was originally from one of Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meal episodes years ago, but as I look for the recipe now, it no longer exists, hmmm…. I will approximate the ingredients, so please don’t hurt me if they’re off. All I can say is estimate to taste.

My Notes:

  • Ingredients have been approximated. My best advice is to add seasonings to taste.
  • Dried thyme can be used in place of fresh time. Fresh lemon and or lemon zest can be added for extra oompf!

Family Verdict:

The kids love ripping the beans open to eat the beans inside… so literally, they do eat the beans, lol. I have yet to fully win them over with the full bean itself, but I’ll get them eventually, hah. Hubbs likes this side dish and so do I. And although we’re halfway to hitting the top of the charts with this side dish, I will still continue to make it.

Recommended:

Yes, yes!

Thyme Seasoned Green Beans with Tomatoes
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Yield = 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of green beans, washed and end trimmed
  • 2-4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 – 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon (optional)

Directions:

  • Steam green beans in 1-2″ of water until crisp or fork tender. Drain.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, and toss with remaining ingredients.

Source: Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals (recipe no longer online)

April 30, 2010 Posted by | Green Beans, Side Dish | Leave a comment

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes

Now… say that 10x’s fast!!

This was a fabulous dish to say the least. Nothing is better than fresh basil pesto, asparagus, and pasta on a well-weathered Bay Area day! What I love about the basil pesto sauce is the freshness of it. I’ve bought ready-made packets and jars at the store before, and although its good for a quick pinch, when I can help it (and I have time for it), I like to make what I can from scratch. This sauce is great and although most recipes will call for pine nuts, I was inspired to use toasted walnuts instead. And it was complimented nicely by the Tomato Basil Bruschetta on cracked sourdough bread.

My Notes:

  • For the Basil Pesto Sauce, I substituted toasted walnuts for the pine nuts. I also dumped the entire Basil Pesto Sauce into the dish and may use less of it next time just so it doesn’t look so saturated – we’re talking SUPER GREEN. Depending on your personal preference, my advice would be to add half of the Basil Pesto Sauce to start off with and adjust to your liking as need be. But even at the full amount, it tasted fabulous and not overwhelming to the dish at all! (I sure wish I had some to warm up right now…)

Family Verdict:

‘Twas a good selection is what I interpreted from the “babe, this is good!” and the kids who came around when the pasta was finally addressed as “butterflies” with other methods of coaxing. The kids did an overall pass on the asparagus but managed to enjoy the pasta and chicken, although Little K did continue his food testing ritual of putting the asparagus in his mouth, chewing for a little bit, then spitting it all out. Coaxing was not as easy the following day on Little K (oddly enough he’s the kid that is more open to food in general); however, Big K did a wonderful job on cleaning his plate once he got into the groove that “green food is okay to eat”. Perhaps there are dishes kids consider one-hit-wonders?? Something about green food is just not appealing to kids.

I personally liked the added touch of the sundried tomatoes. I was getting a little obsessed in wanting to have one with each bite! Trader Joe’s has a really good one in olive oil, which was the one that I used for this recipe.

Recommended:

Definitely! We will be making again!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Basil Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus and Sundried Tomatoes
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield = 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 cup of Basil Pesto Sauce (recipe to follow)
  • (1) 12 oz. box of Farfalle (bow-tie) noodles
  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, washed and cut into 2″ lengths
  • 1/3 cup of sundried tomatoes

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Grill or using a skillet using medium-high heat. Cook until done. Slice into thin bite-size pieces.
  • Steam asparagus over 1″ of water and cook until fork tender. Salt, optional.
  • Toss pasta, chicken, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, and Basil Pesto Sauce together in a bowl. Start out with 1/2 cup of the Basil Pesto Sauce and add sauce to your liking.

Basil Pesto Sauce
Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts (toasting is optional)
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
  • Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
  • Set aside.

Source: Adapted from Erin’s Food Files, who adapted from All Recipes

April 30, 2010 Posted by | Chicken, Pasta | Leave a comment

Blackberry Scones

Morning times go by so fast for us that I’ll hardly ever make time for a breakfast that requires more effort than microwaving, toasting, scrambling eggs, or ready-made waffle/pancake mixes… there’s my morning secret. But for this past week, I’ve been wanting to challenge my morning cooking ritual to infuse something different.

I had found a recipe entitled “The Best Blackberry Scones” and to my disappointment, it was anything but “the best”. So on my search for a better recipe, indeed I found one whose results delivered.

This was also a great way to get the kids in the kitchen to help! Ice cream scoops not only help keep your hands mess-free, but it’s plenty fun for the kids also!

My Notes:

  • I used fresh blackberries instead of raspberries (3/4 cup)
  • I sliced the butter thin rather than grating
  • Used teaspoon scooper for bite-size scones

Family Verdict:

The boys really enjoyed these! Big K didn’t care much for the fruit, but did manage to eat the non-stained parts. I did have some that didn’t have any fruit in them and he dusted those off pretty well. Little K ate the scones pretty happily. Once the Hubbs gets back from school, I add his review here…

Recommended:

Yes! If you don’t have time in the morning, make them the night before and freeze them either on the baking sheet or in an airtight container so you just have to transfer them to the oven.

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Blackberry Scones
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 12 scones

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries
  • 1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons (10 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater or cut into small pieces

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and set aside.
  • Stir the eggs and buttermilk together and set aside.
  • Whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Using a box grater, quickly grate the butter until all is shredded and add to the dry ingredients, using your fingers to quickly incorporate the butter and flour mixture. If you don’t have a box grater, you can also simply cut the butter into small pieces and quickly rub the butter into the dry ingredients until it is pebbly.
  • Pour the egg and buttermilk miture over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Add the berries.
  • Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand or turn it with a rubber spatula about 8 to 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press the dough until you have a circle that is about 1 1/2-inches thick. Use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to portion out 12 scone dough balls. At this point the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking, just add about 2 more minutes to the baking time.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and col for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.

Source: adapted from Joy the Baker

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Blackberry, Breakfast, Fruit, Kid-Approved | 1 Comment

Chicken Tortilla Casserole

All I can say is… where has this recipe been all my life?!

This dish has AMAZING flavor! Those chipotle peppers in adobo sauce really do bring out the wow factor – and I mean WOW, WOW, WOW!! Served this with some warmed up pinto beans, but one could easily use black beans. If there is one recipe that needs to be added to your list of things to cook, by golly, this is the one!

My notes:

  • Omitted the shallots (never have any in the kitchen… because I don’t ever buy any, hah)
  • Used one chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (kid-friendly)

Family Review:

Not only did Hubbo go a-scarfin’, but Big and Little K did their due diligence on their plastic little plates! If there is any of this delicious meal remaining, leftovers will taste twice as good. I’m sad that our leftovers have already been demolished because I would love to warm some of this up right now – can you tell how much I LOVE this dish?

Recommended:

ABSOLUTELY!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Chicken Tortilla Casserole
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 halves total)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1¾ cups chicken broth
  • 5 cups tortilla chips, broken into large pieces
  • 2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

  • Pat the chicken breast halves dry and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a 10-12 inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides (chicken does not need to be fully cooked at this point.)  Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remaining oil, shallot, garlic, chipotle, and ¼ teaspoon of salt.  Cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chicken broth, scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir in half of the tortilla chips.  Nestle the chicken into the broth and cook over medium-low heat until cooked through (reading 160° F on an instant-read thermometer), about 10 minutes.  Transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces when it is cool enough to handle.
  • Return the shredded chicken to the skillet with the tomatoes, ½ cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro.  Stir in the other half of the tortilla chips until they are incorporated and moistened.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and place the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and browning, about 2-3 minutes.  Top with remaining cilantro and serve, allowing the casserole to cool 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Annie’s Eats, who adapted from Pink Parsley, who adapted it from Cook’s Illustrated

April 23, 2010 Posted by | Casserole, Chicken, Kid-Approved, Main Meal | 1 Comment

Baked Ziti

Baked Ziti is one of those “comfort food” type dishes for me that when I make this for dinner, I can literally eat this all day long! I personally like my cheese baked a little longer creating that delicious smoked-type cheese flavor. Not to mention the top layer of crispy noodles that result as an innocent by-product. If you are an “edge” eater, I highly recommend letting it hang out a little longer in the oven.

My Notes:

  • Substituted ground beef for Italian Sausage (didn’t have any on hand)
  • Omitted salt from the sauce as well as when cooking the ziti noodles since the mozzarella and Parmesan cheese are plenty flavor for this dish and the canned tomatoes have a decent amount of salt already.

Family Verdict:

The best thing about this dish is that my 4- and 2- year old ate their plates clean! Well, aside from Big K who left the tomatoes to congregate, but when resistance is minimal during any meal, I’ll take it! This is an all-time favorite with Hubbo.

Recommended:

Yes, yes, yes!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

Baked Ziti
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound dried ziti pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups Quick Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, half cut into 1/2-inch cubes and half thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt generously, and boil the pasta until al dente, tender but still slightly firm. Drain.
  • Toss the cooked pasta with the marinara sauce, cubed mozzarella, half the Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and pepper flakes.
  • Transfer the pasta to an oiled 9 by 13-inch baking dish.
  • Cover the top of the pasta with the sliced mozzarella, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
  • Bake until lightly browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

Quick Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sweet and or spicy Italian sausages (casing removed and crumbled) or ground beef
  • 1/4 medium onion, diced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups whole, peeled, canned tomatoes in puree, (one 28-ounce can), roughly chopped
  • Sprig fresh thyme
  • Sprig fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Cook the sausage/ground beef until beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.
  • Add the onion and garlic, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes and the herb sprigs and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the herb sprigs.
  • Stir in the salt and season with pepper, to taste.
  • Use now or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Source: Adapted from Food Network

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Kid-Approved, Main Meal, Pasta | 1 Comment

Welcome to Lynne’s Kitchen

Hi! I’m Lynne and welcome to my kitchen!

My kitchen is a place I spend a lot of time in. Whether it’s to cook a meal, grab a snack, wash dishes, or fill toddler cups with milk, I find myself retreating to the kitchen nearly as much as the word “the” or “and” is used in a sentence.

I’m not a professional chef, so the kitchen is not only a place where I have my moments of amateur culinary success, but it is the same place where I will burn my toast, over-boil my water, and be attacked by fierce cooking oil. I am by no means an Iron Chef and am definitely not ready for a Bobby Flay Throwdown.

I’ve been asked here and there for different recipes on some of the meals that I cook, so I thought what better way to share it than on a blog! So, bookmark the page and visit often as I continue to build my culinary skills and try out new recipes.

Thanks for stopping on in!

Bon appetit,
Lynne

April 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment