Categories
Main Dish

This dishy pizza bake can really wow a crowd

Deep dish pizza bake is a new take on pizza, using dinner roll dough and lots of great pizza toppings in a large pan to create a meal with leftovers for days or a great crowd-pleasing meal.

We have homemade pizza night most weeks at our house.

At this point, it’s down to a science. I mix up the dough while Joey sautes some veggies or debones a rotisserie chicken, and then we work together to assemble the pie before popping it in the oven.

It’s a quick, delicious meal, and with plenty of options out there for sauces and toppings, we never get bored with it.

That being said, Joey sent me a video not long ago of another type of pizza he wanted to try. It was from a creator online who often has to cook for a crowd, and since I was just gifted a very large baking pan, it was the perfect time to see if the recipe was as good as it looked.

This comes from Kevin Ashton, who is on Instagram @oldscoolkevmo. I changed his method a little on my version below.

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Deep Dish Pizza Bake

Deep dish pizza bake is a new take on pizza, using dinner roll dough and lots of great pizza toppings in a large pan to create a meal with leftovers for days or a great crowd-pleasing meal.
Course Main Course
Keyword basil pesto, breakfast casserole, crowd-pleaser, deep dish, easy dinner, fresh mushrooms, frozen rolls, green bell pepper, marinara sauce, meal for a crowd, mozzarella, onion, pepperoni, pizza, vegetarian

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 48- ounce bag frozen yeast dinner roll dough
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cups pizza sauce we used pesto
  • Your favorite pizza toppings precooked
  • 32 ounces shredded cheese we used a combo of mozzarella and Mexican blend

Instructions

  • Spray a large 12-by-18-by-2-inch pan with cooking spray. Spread the entire package of frozen dough evenly over the bottom and spray them with more cooking spray. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set it aside for the dough to thaw and rise. This will take about three hours.
  • In the meantime, cook any toppings that are raw (ex. hamburger, sausage, etc.) that you’ll want to add to your pizza bake, and set those aside.
  • When the dough is about doubled in size, remove the plastic wrap. Drizzle the rolls with olive oil, and then gently squish the dough to flatten it and eliminate seams. Add salt and pepper, to taste, since the bread has not been seasoned at all to this point.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Spread the sauce over the top of the dough. (You don’t have to avoid the edges. There is no “crust” with this.)
  • Add your toppings and any additional seasonings you like on your pizza, and finish off with a healthy layer of cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the bread is completely baked and everything is heated through.
  • Let the pizza bake rest for five to 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

This was really good. It was also a lot of bread, so if that’s not really your jam, I’d suggest only using half of the dough from the package instead of the whole thing. You can easily adjust all of this for a smaller pan, too, if you don’t want a huge one to eat on for several days. (Or, keep this in your recipe box for when you need to feed a big crowd.)

I can tell you, though, this reheated really well and was very nice for a week where we were meeting ourselves coming and going. Leftovers are a blessing for times like that.

It was kind of a deep dish pizza/casserole hybrid, which I really liked. We packed ours with sauteed onions and peppers, chicken, turkey pepperoni, fresh mushrooms and lots and lots of cheese, along with a pesto base.

I think this recipe will make it into the “pizza night” rotation every so often, although I’ll probably make a smaller version in the future. While I don’t really mind eating the same thing for several meals in a row, it’s better to mix things up. After all, variety is the spice of life.

This piece first appeared in print on June 6, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Hoi’ can’t recommend these Mongolian noodles enough

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.

In an interview with the Food Network, Chinese food expert Nadia Liu Spellman explained hoisin sauce, a condiment that is new to my refrigerator as of this week.

“I would call it the ketchup of Chinese cuisine, because it’s used as an ingredient but also as a finishing sauce and condiment,” Liu Spellman said in the interview. “Hoisin sauce looks like dark brown ketchup but not as viscous; it’s thicker and pastier. It’s sweet at the start and savory at the end.”

I purchased my first bottle of hoisin for this week’s recipe, and since I had not knowingly ever tasted it before, I was going in blind on what the flavor profile would be.

Of course, knowing that I like soy sauce, garlic and ginger didn’t hurt anything.

The good news is I really liked hoisin, and now I’m excited to see what other applications it has—although I’ll likely be using it to make this week’s recipe again, because it was great.

This recipe was posted on Instagram by Kirk Muenzenberger. His page is @kirkscookingandcocktails, if you want to see the original. I added extra garlic and pasta in my version.

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Mongolian Beef Noodles

Mongolian beef noodles are easy to prepare and take fewer than 30 minutes from start to finish to get on the table. The addition of hoisin sauce gives it a sweet and savory flavor that makes seconds a must.
Course Main Course
Keyword 30-minute meal, fresh ginger, ginger paste, ground beef, hoisin sauce, minced garlic, pasta, quick meals, spaghetti

Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces long pasta I used whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sesame seeds and green onion for garnish

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup beef broth/stock
  • 5 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Boil the pasta according to package directions and drain.
  • While the pasta cooks, brown the ground beef in a large skillet over medium heat until it is cooked through. Strain off as much fat as possible, and add in the ginger paste and garlic. Saute for a couple of minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce. Add the sauce to the skillet, stirring to combine. (The sauce will look very loose at this moment. Don’t worry. It will thicken up.) Continue to stir until the sauce bubbles gently and begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the cooked pasta until it is well coated, and continue stirring until the sauce is thickened to your liking. Add additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Serve with sesame seeds and fresh sliced green onion, if desired.

I will absolutely be making this again. It came together in well under 30 minutes, all told, and it was just slightly sweet, a bit spicy and very good. The next time, though, I will dice up a red bell pepper and cook that down with the ground beef. I think it would be a great addition for flavor, color and vitamins.

And now that I have “the ketchup of Chinese cuisine” in my refrigerator, the world is my oyster.

Actually, I’m not sure it’s good on oysters. I might have to do some more research.

This piece first appeared in print on May 16, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Cheese, spinach are the stuff dinner dreams are made of

Spinach stuffed chicken features tons of flavor from feta and cream cheese, along with garlic and loads of herbs and spices.

On most days, Joey and I work in the same newspaper office or together from home. Every once in awhile, though, we go our separate ways.

Recently, when we had such a day, Joey shot me a text, “Hey, it’s been a really long day. Do you mind figuring out dinner for tonight?”

Challenge accepted.

We often cook together or take turns making meals, so I was happy to oblige. After a quick trip to the grocery store (and my Pinterest board), I landed on a recipe for spinach stuffed chicken breasts that I had my eye on for awhile.

This comes from the blog “Basil and Butter.” You can find the original post at https://basilandbubbly.com/spinach-stuffed-chicken-breasts/. I added extra garlic and extra seasonings to my version, along with adding filling ingredients.

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Spinach Stuffed Chicken

Spinach stuffed chicken features tons of flavor from feta and cream cheese, along with garlic and loads of herbs and spices.
Course Main Course
Keyword basil, chicken breasts, cream cheese, feta cheese, frozen spinach, minced garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, spinach, stuffed chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 12 ounces chopped frozen spinach
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Prepare the spinach according to the package directions and squeeze out as much moisture as you can from it.
  • Add it to a mixing bowl, along with the feta, cream cheese, garlic, onion powder, parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper, and mix well to combine. Set it aside.
  • Carefully cut a pocket into each chicken breast. To do so, place each breast flat side down on a cutting board, and press it down with a large spoon or spatula while you cut a slit lengthwise into the side, making sure not to cut all the way through to the other side. (Think pita pocket.)
  • Stuff each breast with as much of the filling as you can (if you have some left over, add it to a small, oven-safe bowl to make some fabulous cheese dip). Season each breast with salt and pepper.
  • In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat the olive oil over high heat. Once it’s hot, add the stuffed chicken breasts and cook for five minutes on one side. Flip them over, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, checking the internal temperature of the breasts after the first 10 minutes. Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees, remove it from the oven and serve. (If you made a side of the extra filling, just bake it until it’s hot all the way through and slightly browned on top.)

This was decadent and delicious. I will suggest that if you have a smaller chicken breast in the pan that comes up to temp before the others that you remove it from the oven so it doesn’t overcook and get dry.

Also, honestly, if you want an appetizer or something vegetarian, skip the chicken altogether, throw the entirety of that filling into a glass dish to bake, and serve it with some chips or crusty bread. It was absolutely delicious, and it reheated well as leftovers, too.

I sometimes forget how lucky I am to have a partner who is an excellent cook and has no problem shouldering the kitchen load with me. Hopefully, some tasty meals like this one let him know just how thankful for him I am.

This piece first appeared in print on May 2, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Prepare a honey of a meal for dinner this week

Honey garlic chicken is a great combination of just a little sweetness with plenty of savory flavor from chicken thighs, garlic and bell pepper.

One of the most popular questions I get from people when they find out I write a recipe column is whether I have had any food fails when trying new dishes.

The answer is a resounding yes.

And if you were to ask me what the biggest fail of all time was, I would, without hesitation, tell you about a honey lime crockpot chicken I made nearly a decade ago. It still haunts me.

It was so disgusting that Joey and I begrudgingly threw it out. There was no saving it. It tasted like somebody tried to combine candy and chicken into one dish. It was positively awful.

Since that experience, any time I see a recipe that has “honey” and “chicken” in the title, I get a little flashback and wonder if I will be making another huge mistake if I give it a try.

This week, I decided to take the plunge anyway. Thankfully, no chicken ended up in the garbage, and we ended up with a tasty dinner and some leftovers, to boot.

This comes from the blog “Kitchen Sanctuary” by Nicky Corbishley. You can find her original post at https://www.kitchensanctuary.com/honey-garlic-chicken/. I added vegetables and a ton of extra garlic to my version.

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Honey Garlic Chicken

Honey garlic chicken is a great combination of just a little sweetness with plenty of savory flavor from chicken thighs, garlic and bell pepper.
Course Main Course
Keyword bell pepper, chicken thighs, garlic, honey, minced garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil divided
  • 1 large bell pepper diced (any color)
  • 1/2 small yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, sliced into one-inch strips
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 8 to 10 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Cooked rice for serving
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds toasted (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes optional

Instructions

  • Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onions, and saute until they are cooked through.
  • Remove the peppers and onions from the skillet and place them in a bowl to the side.
  • While the vegetables cook, prepare the chicken thighs. Mix the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, and then add the chicken thighs, tossing until the cornstarch mixture is well distributed.
  • When the veggies are done, add the other two tablespoons of oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the chicken to the skillet, and saute until it is browned on all sides and fully cooked through (165 degrees internal temperature).
  • Turn the heat back to medium and prepare the sauce.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, chicken stock, rice wine vinegar and soy sauce.
  • Next, toss the butter and garlic into the skillet, stirring to melt the butter and saute the garlic. Once the garlic is lightly browned and fragrant, stir in the sauce and the peppers and onions. Let the sauce come to a low boil and then simmer for several minutes until the sauce reduces.
  • Serve over rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds and chili flakes.

This had a good savory sweetness that we really enjoyed. If you leave out the chili flakes, it has no spice whatsoever and should be a good crowd pleaser.

I made my white rice with chicken stock instead of water to add a little more flavor, and I even threw in both regular and black sesame seeds and sliced green onions to try to make it look fancy.

I was so glad this wasn’t a horrible sequel to my honey lime chicken experiment. I’m sure I’ll have a major kitchen fail again sometime in the future, but luckily, this wasn’t the time.

This piece first appeared in print April 25, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

‘Lei’ the foundation for a delicious grilled chicken

Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.

As soon as the weather starts to warm up, it’s time for Joey and me to start going through all the grilling recipes he sent me over the winter.

The first one up is this week’s recipe, which features a Polynesian-inspired sauce over a spatchcock chicken.

If you’re not familiar with spatchcocking, it’s a technique for cooking whole chicken that lets you flatten the bird out, and it cooks more evenly and quicker. It feels a little weird to do the first time—like you’re performing some sort of surgery—but after you cook a chicken that way the first time, you’ll be sold.

The recipe we tried comes from the Sanderson Farms company page and was created as a collaboration with a couple influencers, “The Grill Dads.” You can find the original recipe and their video at https://sandersonfarms.com/recipes/spatchcock-polynesian-chicken/. I added extra garlic in my version.

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Spatchcock Polynesian Chicken

Spatchcock Polynesian chicken can be made on the grill, in the smoker or in the oven and features a slightly sweet sauce that turns into a fabulous glaze.
Course Main Course
Keyword barrel smoker, brown sugar, ceramic grill, chicken, fresh garlic, fresh ginger, garlic powder, grill, ground ginger, honey, lemon juice, lime juice, pellet smoker, Polynesian, smoked meat, smoker, soy sauce, spatchcock, whole chicken

Ingredients

Chicken Ingredients

  • 1 whole frying chicken
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger grated (or ginger paste)
  • 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • To prepare the chicken, pat it dry with paper towels and then flip it to breast side down on a large cutting board. Using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors, starting from the tail side of the chicken, carefully cut out the backbone by cutting closely on both sides of it. Set the backbone aside for another use or discard it.
  • Flip the chicken back over, and using the heels of your hands, press down in the middle of the chicken, right on the breast bone, to make it flatten out. (You should hear a little pop.)
  • Place the chicken onto a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix the salt, sugar, garlic powder and ground ginger.
  • Rub the spice mixture over the whole bird, making sure to get in crevices and even getting some under the skin, if you can. Place the chicken, uncovered, in the refrigerator over night or for at least eight hours. (We want the skin to dry out a bit so it will crisp up.)
  • The sauce can be made now or while you wait for the chicken to cook the next day.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring the mixture to a low boil. Let it continue to boil for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Once the sauce is reduced, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
  • To cook the chicken, preheat your grill, smoker or oven to about 350 degrees. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, and then place it, breast side up, directly on the grate of your grill or smoker or on the rimmed baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 140 degrees.
  • Using a basting brush, coat the exterior of the chicken in the sauce, and continue to cook the chicken for about 15 more minutes, basting every 5 minutes, until the meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
  • Pull the chicken from the oven, and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. If you have leftover sauce, use that for serving, and serve the chicken along with the sides of your choice.

This was slightly sweet and had a nice, crispy skin on it from our smoker. Joey and I agreed that it would have been delicious out of the oven, too, though, so if you’re not much for outdoor cooking, definitely try it inside.

We ate our chicken with some brown rice, and it was really good. We also had plenty of leftovers, which was nice.

And now that it’s officially grilling season, I’ll have to go digging back through my summer recipes to see what other experiments I can sweet talk Joey into.

This piece first appeared in print on April 18, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Don’t be ‘alfredo’ trying from-scratch pasta sauce

Alfredo sauce is very simple to make with just a few ingredients and can go from the stovetop to the table in under 20 minutes.

It’s amazing what people will passionately debate about online.

Recently, I watched a video that started with two Italians explaining that they were going to show people how to make real alfredo sauce. The rest of the video was another creator trying out the dish, and from his reaction, I knew I had to give it a shot.

Of course, before that, I read some of the comments, and people were up in arms about whether or not fettuccine alfredo is really Italian or is an American invention.

I had to do some research, and I found an article by Francesco Dama entitled “Italian or American? The truth about fettuccine alfredo” that claims that the Italians created the dish and some American actors in the 1920s helped make it famous.

After reading the article, it was clear that the ingredients used for this particular recipe were, indeed, the ones used by the dish’s creator, aptly named Alfredo.

The recipe I tried comes from content creator Corey Bonalewicz. You can find his videos on Instagram @iamcoreyb. His website is coreyb.com. I added salt and pepper to my version and added the amounts for the ingredients.

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Alfredo Sauce

Alfredo sauce is very simple to make with just a few ingredients and can go from the stovetop to the table in under 20 minutes.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword butter, easy dinner, fettuccine, grated parmesan cheese, linguine, parmesan cheese, parmesan-reggiano

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces fettuccine or linguine noodles
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook your noodles according to package instructions. When they’re done, be sure to reserve a couple cups of pasta water.
  • While the noodles cook, spread the butter onto the bottom of a large serving bowl and grate your cheese.
  • When the noodles are done, put the hot, drained noodles into the serving bowl and mix until the butter is melted and evenly distributed onto the noodles. Next, stir in the cheese. Add about one-quarter cup of the hot pasta water and stir.
  • Add more water, a little at a time, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the consistency you want.
  • Serve immediately.

I made the rookie mistake of buying pre-shredded parmesan for this, and it was disastrously difficult to get it to smoothly melt into the sauce. It was still good, but I will definitely make this again with cheese I grate myself. If you’re not aware, pre-shredded cheese normally has an additive to keep it from clumping, which makes it tough to melt smoothly.

That being said, the flavor was on point for this, and I really enjoyed it. To make it a full meal, I sauteed some onions, bell peppers and spicy rope sausage to serve over the pasta, and it was great.

And whether you think fettuccine alfredo is a true Italian dish or something Americans came up with, it’s still delicious, and that’s really all that matters.

This piece first appeared in print on March 21, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

This flavorful vegetable pasta doesn’t ‘shrimp’ on flavor

Tuscan shrimp linguine is fairly quick to make but packs a lot of flavor from fresh vegetables. It would be a great summer dish, when gardens are in full swing.

Some wonderful friends of ours hosted Joey and me this past weekend while we were on a trip to speak to some college students.

We were treated to a great time, fabulous food and amazing company, getting to break bread with a lot of their friends while we were there.

Of course, we had to return to reality, and once we were back home late on Monday, work loomed, and our fridge was empty. Not feeling particularly sure I wanted to indulge in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after the culinary weekend we experienced, I went to my Pinterest board to see what I could make for a quick dinner with only a dash into the grocery store.

The recipe I decided on comes from the blog “Sweet C’s” by Courtney Odell. You can find the original post at https://sweetcsdesigns.com/tuscan-shrimp-linguine/. I added seasoning in my version and subbed in asparagus instead of broccolini.

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Tuscan Shrimp Linguine

Tuscan shrimp linguine is fairly quick to make but packs a lot of flavor from fresh vegetables. It would be a great summer dish, when gardens are in full swing.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Tuscan
Keyword 30-minute meal, asparagus, basil, broccolini, cherry tomatoes, fresh spinach, garlic, grape tomatoes, linguine, shrimp, spinach, vegetable stock, white wine, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1 pound linguine pasta
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 1/2 pound fresh asparagus cut into half-inch pieces
  • 10 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or dry white wine
  • 8 cloves garlic diced
  • 1 pound uncooked shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups loosely packed fresh spinach cut into ribbons

Instructions

  • Start boiling your linguine according to package directions to cook it al dente.
  • While the pasta cooks, in a very large skillet, heat the olive oil and one tablespoon butter over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the onion and asparagus, and saute until they are both almost cooked through.
  • Add in the tomatoes, continuing to stir until their outsides start to wrinkle a bit, and they begin to burst (you can help them out at this point by gently squishing them with your spatula).
  • Add in the stock, garlic and the other tablespoon of butter, stirring to combine.
  • Once the butter is melted and the stock is at a low simmer, stir in the shrimp, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, continuing to stir regularly until the shrimp is cooked completely (it should be a light pink and starting to curl on itself a bit).
  • Stir in the cooked linguine, coating it with the sauce. Once everything is well-combined, stir in the fresh spinach, letting it wilt, and then serve immediately.

This was really tasty, and I couldn’t help but think it would be even better for those of you who will have gardens bursting with fresh veggies this summer. It was a simple, but filling, pasta that wasn’t overly seasoned, so the taste of the tomatoes and asparagus came through well.

If you’re not a shrimp person, you could easily use some pre-cooked chicken instead or just double the vegetables.

Even though I still need to do a proper grocery store trip, the bags are unpacked, the laundry is done, and the we’re back to another week of putting out the paper. But I do feel a bit lighter after this weekend.

There are few things as good for the soul as a great meal and even greater people to share it with.

This piece first appeared in print on March 7, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish Soup

Don’t have time to get ’round to dinner? Make meatball soup.

Italian meatball soup makes for a really quick and hearty dinner. It would be a great companion to a grilled cheese sandwich or a thick slice of garlic bread.

I was in such a hurry this week, trying to toss together a quick dinner for Joey and I before we headed back out the door for more commitments.

In the moments before I headed home, I popped into the grocery store, a new recipe on my phone, grabbing quick ingredients before trying to get food on the table.

But being me, I strayed a bit from the ingredient list, adding this and that to my basket and internally planning the spice mixture I would throw into the soup I was going to make.

Even for a quick dinner, I just couldn’t keep myself from playing with the recipe.

The one I tried comes from the blog “Girl Gone Gourmet” by April Anderson. You can find the original post at https://www.girlgonegourmet.com/italian-meatball-soup/. I changed it quite a bit from the original, adding quite a few ingredients to my version.

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Italian Meatball Soup

Italian meatball soup makes for a really quick and hearty dinner. It would be a great companion to a grilled cheese sandwich or a thick slice of garlic bread.
Course Main Course, Soup
Keyword basil, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, frozen meatballs, fusilli pasta, garlic powder, grated parmesan cheese, Italian meatballs, marinara sauce, onion powder, oregano, paprika, parsley, quick dinner, quick soup, red pepper flakes

Ingredients

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 24 ounces marinara sauce I used a roasted garlic version
  • 26 ounces frozen Italian-style meatballs
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan cheese for serving

Instructions

  • In a large pot with a lid, add the broth, diced tomatoes (don’t drain them) and marinara sauce, over high heat.
  • Stir to combine the ingredients, and when they come to a boil, stir in the meatballs. Once the mixture comes back to a boil, add the pasta, parsley, oregano, basil, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and stir well.
  • Turn the heat to medium and place the lid on the pot, letting it simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove the lid and stir, and continue to let the soup cook at a slow boil for six to seven minutes or until the noodles are cooked to your liking.
  • If the soup is too thick, add additional broth or water until the soup reaches your desired consistency. When the soup is heated back through, serve topped with parmesan.

This turned out really well. It was thick, hearty and full of great Italian flavor. It was perfect for dinner, but it would have been a great option for lunch with a small cup of soup alongside a grilled cheese sandwich or a big slice of garlic bread, too.

I ended up leaving my soup a bit on the thick side, and as it cooled, it turned into more of a pasta sauce than a soup, so my leftovers will be getting more liquid when I reheat them.

But the main thing is that I managed to quickly get a hot meal on the table that we both enjoyed, even while I kept tossing improvised ingredients into the pot. Sometimes being in a hurry means eating something terrible for dinner, but every once in awhile, it makes for a great meal.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 15, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Chop, chop! It’s time for a fabulous pork dinner

Pork chops in creamy wine sauce looks, tastes and sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple to make and is a decently quick dinner, too. It’s really good along side mashed potatoes.

I was listening to a podcast this week about a scammer who managed to get millions of dollars out of his marks by pretending to be a Saudi Arabian prince.

In one case, he was found out because he ordered a dish with pancetta in it at a restaurant, and since his dining companion knew a devout Muslim would never eat pork, he started becoming suspicious.

I get it. There are certain dishes I think I would mindlessly order, too, even if I were trying to trick someone with a secret identity—especially if it had to do with chocolate. The temptation is real.

I was thinking about that story while I made this week’s recipe, and I can tell you this should be on your “must try” list, as long as you are able to eat pork products, because it was amazing and super easy to make.

This comes from the blog, “What’s In The Pan?” You can find the original post at https://whatsinthepan.com/pork-chops-in-creamy-white-wine-sauce/. I added a bunch of seasonings and extra garlic to my version.

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Pork Chops in Creamy Wine Sauce

Pork chops in creamy wine sauce looks, tastes and sounds fancy, but it’s actually very simple to make and is a decently quick dinner, too. It’s really good along side mashed potatoes.
Course Main Course
Keyword 30-minute meal, basil, boneless pork chops, chicken broth, chicken stock, garlic powder, heavy cream, lemon juice, minced garlic, onion powder, oregano, parsley, pork chops, thyme, white wine

Ingredients

Pork Chop Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 boneless pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons butter

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • leftover flour mixture from pork chops
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine I used pinot grigio
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock or broth
  • 1/2 heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • On a plate or in a bowl large enough to fit a pork chop, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Dredge each pork chop in the flour mixture, making sure to get a solid coating on both sides and the edges. (Don’t toss the flour. You’re going to use it for the sauce.)
  • Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the pork chops. Cook them on each side for about three or four minutes until they’re nicely browned and the internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees. Transfer the pork chops to a plate and cover them to keep them warm while you make the sauce.
  • For the sauce, melt butter over medium heat and add the garlic. Saute until it’s lightly browned and fragrant and stir in about one tablespoon of the flour mixture from the pork chops, or enough to soak up all the butter. Saute for one to two minutes to cook the flour, and then slowly whisk in the wine, 1/2 cup chicken stock and heavy cream, along with the lemon juice and seasonings. Continue whisking until the sauce thickens to your liking. If it gets too thick, loosen it up with a little more stock.
  • When the sauce is how you want it, reduce the heat to low and add the pork chops and any accumulated juices back to the pan, dousing them with the sauce. Once the pork chops are heated back through, serve immediately.

We enjoyed our pork chops along with mashed potatoes, and the wine sauce was amazing poured over the whole dish. I also added fresh basil to my sauce, because I happened to have some on hand, so if you want to kick yours up a notch, I highly recommend that, too.

The sauce was creamy and really flavorful, and I will absolutely make this again—hopefully soon. It’s one of those dinners that feels like it was a lot more effort than it really was. In all, I probably had dinner on the table in 30 to 40 minutes.

If you’re in the mood for something that looks fancy without being a pain to cook, make sure you keep this recipe on hand. Just remember not to make it in the case of certain scams you may be pulling; you don’t want to end up the subject of a podcast.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 8, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

Categories
Main Dish

Italian comfort dish ‘gnocchi’ed dinner out of the park

Gnocchi alla sorrentina is an Italian comfort dish that features gnocchi, lots of fresh basil and fresh mozzarella in a yummy tomato sauce.

Joey and I received an amazing opportunity last week to speak at the Kentucky Press Association’s winter conference.

We had a fabulous time with some really great people. My only complaint was the weather for our drive there and back heavily featured thick fog and switched between torrential downpours and drizzles.

By the time we came home over the weekend, I was thankful for some Kansas sunshine, but I also found myself really craving some comfort food to get the last bit of that dreary weather feeling out of my system.

I poked through some recipes for a bit and landed on a popular comfort meal from Italy, and even better, the version I decided to try comes together a lot quicker than more traditional versions of the recipe, which was a win-win after being away from home for several days.

This is from the blog “Girl Gone Gourmet.” You can find the original post at https://www.girlgonegourmet.com/gnocchi-alla-sorrentina/#tasty-recipes-13873. I added onion, red pepper flakes and extra basil, mozzarella and garlic in my version.

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Gnocchi Alla Sorrentina

Gnocchi alla sorrentina is an Italian comfort dish that features gnocchi, lots of fresh basil and fresh mozzarella in a yummy tomato sauce.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword basil, easy dinner, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, fresh garlic, fresh mozzarella, garlic, gnocchi, mozzarella, olive oil, parsley, potato gnocchi, red pepper flakes, tomato puree, vegetarian, yellow onion

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil I used extra virgin
  • 1/2 small yellow onion diced
  • 6 to 8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato puree I ended up using twice that, since I let my sauce reduce
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves loosely packed and torn into pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 16- ounce packages gnocchi
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced
  • parsley flakes for plating

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-proof skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and saute until it is cooked through.
  • Add in the garlic and saute for just a couple minutes until it is lightly browned.
  • Stir in the tomato puree, basil leaves, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper. Turn the skillet to medium-low and let the sauce simmer, stirring regularly.
  • Bring a stockpot of water to a boil. Cook the gnocchi until it rises to the top of the water.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the skillet, and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.
  • Lay the sliced mozzarella spaced evenly on the top of the gnocchi.
  • Turn the broiler in the oven on high and place the skillet in the oven, leaving it for a few minutes until the cheese is melty and the sauce is bubbling.
  • Let the gnocchi cool slightly, and serve, topped with parsley flakes, along with a thick slice of crusty bread.

I loved this one. It’s a vegetarian dish, but it doesn’t feel like it. The gnocchi and all the melty mozzarella kind of make you forget that there isn’t any meat on your plate, and the addition of fresh basil really kicks this up a notch to taste homemade, despite the main part of the sauce coming from a can.

Paired with a big slice of garlic bread, this was exactly what I needed to clear the rainy day doldrums out of my mind.

I hope we get a chance to go back to Kentucky again soon. It’s a beautiful state with lots of neat people. I’ll just keep my fingers crossed for a little better weather the next time around.

This piece first appeared in print on Feb. 1, 2024.

Spice Up Your Life is a weekly newspaper column written by Lindsey Young in south central Kansas. If you are interested in sponsoring this column, please contact us through the “Contact Lindsey” link at the top of the page.

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