Tuesday, November 3, 2015

5 Quick & Easy Weeknight Recipes

At this busy time of year I’m always hunting for recipes that come together quickly on chaotic weeknights.  Each of these recipes is a tried and true favorite in our home, and the kids actually eat them! Three of these recipes use apples as a key ingredient. This should clue you into the fact that my in-laws own an orchard, so we are blessed by lots of apples each fall. These simple recipes require ingredients easily obtainable when you live in an area with limited grocery shopping. They also all adapt easily to ingredient substitutions and omissions of a spice here or there. Each one serves 4-6.

Harvest Sausage Casserole 
(adapted from the Pampered Chef Stoneware Sensations cookbook)

1 pound smoked sausage or kielbasa (I usually use a turkey variety), sliced into 1/2" pieces
4 medium apples (Granny Smith preferred, but use what you have on hand), cored, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans (15 ½ ounces) great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup ketchup
½ cup maple syrup (you can substitute imitation syrup if that’s your family’s preference)
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 dashes cinnamon

(side note: do not use this nitrate free sausage. It was an experiment and was not a favorite of anyone in our home.)

1.      Preheat oven to 350°F. 

2.       Combine 1st four ingredients in Dutch oven. 

3.       Whisk ketchup, syrup, mustard and cinnamon in a 2 cup measuring cup.

4.  Pour sauce over Dutch oven ingredients and gently toss to coat.

5. Bake 40 minutes. Stir before serving. 

This is the first recipe I’ve ever photographed, which greatly amused my 11-year old. I’m still figuring out, learning to use, shooting everything on auto with the DSLR I inherited last fall, so as per usual excuse my image quality.  This meal comes together quickly, but obviously needs baking time, so works well for evenings when we don’t have activities, but are otherwise busy with homework, etc. It would convert well to crockpot cooking. We like to serve it with a green salad or some crusty bread.

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes 
(adapted from the Our Best Bites cookbook)

I can pull this one together in under 30 minutes, which makes it perfect for those truly crazy nights. I can’t recommend this cookbook highly enough, as well as the Our Best Bites blog. I have yet to make a bad recipe from them.

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper
8 ounces pasta (farfalle or ziti work well)
¼ cup pine nuts (optional)
½ cup prepared pesto
½ cup shredded Parmesan

1.      Preheat oven to 425°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. 

2.      Place tomatoes and mushrooms on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss. 

3.      Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast 12-15 minutes until tomatoes begin to split

4.     Cook pasta according to package directions.  
5.     Place pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat. Stir until nuts brown and appear glossy.  

6.    Toss drained pasta with pesto, Parmesan, tomatoes and mushrooms. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Orange and Herb Turkey Cutlets 
with Maple-sautéed Apples 
(adapted from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook)

Diet cookbooks are definitely not my speed, but I happened to glance through this one at the library a few years ago, and the recipes were so appealing that I later acquired my own copy. This is another rare cookbook from which I have never made a bad recipe.

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 clove crushed garlic
1 teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled
½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon + a pinch of black pepper, divided
1 pound turkey cutlets
2 large apples, peeled cored, and thinly sliced (gala work best, but use what’s on hand)
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

          1. Mix 1 T. of oil, 1 T. orange juice, garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, and ½ t.pepper and rub all over turkey cutlets. Set aside.

      2. Heat 1 ½ T. of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, turning often, for 9-10 minutes until tender. Add syrup, cinnamon, and remaining pepper. Toss and cook for 1
      minute longer. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm. Rinse and dry the skillet.

          3. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and cook, turning once, for 3 to 6 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a warmed platter.

          4. Add the remaining orange juice to pan drippings, and bring to boil, stirring to deglaze the pan. Pour the pan juices over the turkey and serve with the apples (to be honest I often skip step 4, and the turkey is still very moist and flavorful). 

Apple-Cheese Pancakes 
(from The Moosewood Cookbook) 

      My husband and I did not go on a true honeymoon. We were however, invited to visit a dear friend in Ithaca, New York a few months after our wedding. A highlight of that trip was visiting The famous Moosewood Restaurant. I picked up a used copy of their original cookbook while on that same trip. Since then I have collected several more of their newer volumes, and they are all filled with surprisingly simple recipes, with quirky ingredient combinations.

1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese (I’ve only ever used cottage)
1 heaping, packed cup grated apple (any kind but red delicious)
½ cup white flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon honey (maple syrup also works well)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
½ teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, separated
½ teaspoon salt

       1. Mix all incredients except eggwhites.

       2. Beat eggwhites until stiff and fold into batter.
       3. Fry pancakes in butter on both sides until brown.

            4. Serve with maple syrup or preserves.

Oregano Chopped Salad 
(adapted from The Mozza Cookbook)

I’ve switched up the ingredients in this one a bit to accommodate the grocery shopping limitations of my rural area.

Half of a small red onion (halved through the core)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 pint small sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ounces provolone, sliced into strips
4 ounces Genoa salami, sliced into strips
5 peperoncini, thinly sliced
½ t. oregano
Ken’s Steakhouse balsamic vinegarrette (or your favorite similar dressing)

           1. Thinly slice onion.

           2. Cut iceberg through core, discard core and outer layers. Chop lettuce leaves into ¼ inch strips. 

           3. Cut tomatoes in half. 

           4. Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing.

           5.Serve with crusty bread.

Please enjoy!

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