24 March 2018

Weekend Cooking: 4 Easy Dinners & a Snack

4 easy dinnersIf you're not in the publishing business, you might not realize that late winter into spring is the busy time for copyeditors--at least it has been for me my entire freelance career.

From mid-February to mid-April, I work 10-hour days, 7 days a week. I'm okay with working hard at something I love, but it really does cut into my kitchen time. Regardless, I do my best to put a nutritious home-made dinner on the table every night.

This past week, I relied heavily on Cooking Light recipes, which are always reliable and easy to pull together on a busy weeknight. I also took some time to explore a new cookbook I received from the Abrams Dinner Party program.

sweet, spicy pecansFirst We Eat by Eva Kosmas Flores (Abrams, March 20) is a beautiful cookbook that focuses on seasonal, fresh foods that are perfect for casual entertaining. Once my days return to normal, I plan to dive deep into the recipes, starting with the summer dishes. After our farmer's markets open in May, I'll be turning to this cookbook for new ideas for cooking farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. In the meantime, I made the spicy, sweet pecans pictured to the left. They were perfect for pre- and post-dinner snacking with a glass of wine or a cocktail. I'm sharing the recipe (at the bottom of this post) and can attest to how tasty these are. I cut the recipe in half because I don't do much entertaining this time of year (for obvious reasons), and there are only two of us in the house. I plan to make a full batch of these nuts this summer; they'll perfect for a long evening on the deck with friends.

Here's what else I made this week (all recipes come from Cooking Light as does the photo). I've pinned them to my Recipes Tried and Liked Pinterest board, or you can click the links to find the recipes on Cooking Light.

  • 4 easy dinnersSmoky Farro and Chickpea Soup: Swiss Chard, chickpeas, farro, tomatoes, paprika, and garlic made for a hearty and warming soup. The recipe calls for vegetable broth, but I used chicken. Just what we needed to on a snowy March night. I had this on the table in about 40 minutes, and it made enough to last us two dinners.
  • Creamy Tuna Noodle Casserole with Peas and Breadcrumbs: This was another great comfort food recipe and was so amazingly quick to make. I made a couple of minor changes: I used whole wheat no-yolk egg noodles, whole wheat panko, and almond milk instead of cow's milk. We ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. Next time I might add some diced mushrooms, but it was really good just as it was.
  • Whole-Grain Mini Meat Loaves: These were my husband's favorite of the week. I did make one change because I forgot to cook the quinoa ahead of time. I substituted oatmeal for the cooked grain, which is mixed into the ground beef. These took a little more time to get on the table, but the results were worth it. Garlic, carrots, mushrooms, thyme, and goat cheese make these mini loaves really special.
  • Quick Chicken Piccata: This recipe took under a half hour and calls for chicken thighs instead of breasts. The only change I made was to use 6 thighs instead of 8. The flavors are classic: lemon, capers, butter, and parsley. This is one of those dishes that is so easy, I have to wonder why I don't make it more often.
If you're looking for healthy, quick, reliable recipes for weeknight cooking, Cooking Light (magazine, website, cookbooks) has your back.

And now for the promised pecan recipe from First We Eat (thanks Abrams for the review copy):

Sweet, Salty, Spicy Skillet Pecans
5 cups
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons kosher flake salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar-based hot sauce (Tabasco)
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and stir. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the mixture starts bubbling. Add the pecans and stir to coat.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the pecans are lightly browned and smell toasted, 10-15 minutes, taking care not to allow the nuts or sugar to burn.

Turn the pecans out onto the baking sheet and spread them evenly using a spatula. Immediately sprinkle with the salt, chile powder, and cayenne, and drizzle with the hot sauce. Allow to cook to room temperature.

Once cooled, break apart any large chunks and serve as a snack or a topping.
Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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rhapsodyinbooks 3/24/18, 6:58 AM  

The sweet salty pecans look beyond good! And I could really use the recipe for quick chicken piccata. Jim loves it, and it's so expensive at restaurants!

bermudaonion 3/24/18, 7:13 AM  

We love Chicken Piccata so I'll have to try that recipe out. The pecans look perfect for small holiday gifts.

Tina 3/24/18, 7:56 AM  

That Farro and chickpea soup sounds great. I love Cooking Light. Will certainly try that cookbook by Flores as well.

gluten Free A_Z Blog 3/24/18, 8:26 AM  

My mom used to make a creamy tuna noodle casserole as one of our staples- totally forgot about it but it brings back memories

Mae Travels 3/24/18, 9:25 AM  

Hello from Israel. I’ll have to look at those recipes when I get back to my kitchen!

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

jama 3/24/18, 10:04 AM  

I love spiced pecans -- and the other recipes look yummy. Now I'm craving tuna noodle casserole!

JoAnn 3/24/18, 11:02 AM  

Chicken Piccata is a favorite around here. I'll have to try that "thighccata" version!

Claudia 3/24/18, 11:15 AM  

I want to try that Chicken Piccata and the tuna noodle casserole - which I haven't made for ages, and it was also a favorite of my mom's.

Nan 3/24/18, 4:22 PM  

I am very interested in the farro and chickpea soup!

Deb in Hawaii 3/24/18, 4:50 PM  

The First We Eat cookbook looks great and I adore spiced nuts. I tagged that Smoky Farro and Chickpea Soup in the Everyday Vegetarian cookbook--it's by the editors of Cooking Light. I ended up making another soup from the book last week but I am glad to hear that one was so good and I'll definitely make it one of these days. ;-)

Unknown 3/24/18, 7:15 PM  

Those pecans sound dangerously addictive!!

Stacie 3/24/18, 10:47 PM  

My husband loves tuna noodle casserole and I haven't made it in forever. I'll have to add that into the rotation soon!

(Diane) bookchickdi 3/25/18, 9:34 AM  

I just posted about a new Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe I found too! And I love Cooking Light as well, I have gotten so many great recipes from them over the years.

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