Soup and bread – two food soul mates. I for one know I don’t like a yummy bowl of soup without some delicious crusty bread. Now kick that up a notch with this Tuscan version of soup known as Ribollita or in Italian Reboiled that has delicious crusty bread in it. Yep…IN IT. I’ve never heard of this soup but when I saw it in the Cooking Light November issue I thought I would save it for a cold, blustery day. Well, it’s here, right now actually, swishing the trees outside our windows and is very brisk indeed. A Ribollita is nothing fancy, just vegetable scraps and day-old bread but it does take time to make – three days from what I could find in my research. This one only took a few hours for chopping, baking, and of course building the soup so eh, that’s not so bad.

Ribollita (Photo by John Autry)

Y’all, this soup was super gentle. The flavors of the kale, tomatoes, beans, carrots, potatoes, yadda, yadda, yadda and yes, my delicious bread made this SUPER hearty. This bad boy is packed with good-for-youness and it’s vegetarian. We loved this for a gentle lunch on such a cold, windy day. Tonight, it’s Scallops with Green Tea Cream if I actually get around to making them this time. I swear, aliens are going to abduct me to ensure I don’t. More on this issue later and oh! if you haven’t yet, be sure to become a fan of Cooking Inside the Lines on Facebook today. Warm reboiled hugs.

Eggs Poached in Curried Tomato Sauce

Mark Bittman, famous cookbook author and well-known food writer of his weekly food and recipe column The Minimalist in the The New York Times can also add Cooking Light contributer to his already impressive list of accolades. Since his debut in the magazine, I’ve wanted to try one of his recipes and his Eggs Poached in Curried Tomato Sauce was a must. I’ve always loved the traditional version of this Israeli dish known as shakshuka, but Mr. Bittman’s version looked out of this world in the flavor category. Get this, it calls for fresh ginger and garlic, jalepeno – for a spicy kick, cilantro, curry powder, coconut milk and of course, diced tomatoes. Flavor to the Nth degree if you ask me.

For some reason I thought this would take longer than it did but it came along in a New York minute. Follow his advice and make sure the sauce is wet before placing the eggs in to ensure proper cooking. I toasted the English muffins, chopped the green onions, plated and bam, an extraordinary and unique breakfast dish. I could have eaten that sauce on anything or just had it alone. I loved the ooey gooey egg sitting on top of the toasted muffin that soaked up the yolk and rock star sauce. Try this for an amazing breakfast treat, or heck, any time of day.

Eggs Poached in Curried Tomato Sauce (Photo by John Autry)

Happy Thanksgiving Lambs!

It’s Thanksgiving or as I like to think of it, the warm-up for my most favorite time of year…Christmas! We have plans to deck the halls until it looks like the holidays threw-up in here and since this week is wonky due to travel, games and mucho decorating, I menu-planned out this week and into next (I have issues I know). You may notice that all of these recipes are from Cooking Light. There’s no question that I love that magazine, but I typically mix up my recipe choices from all of my favorites as much as I can. But, given that this week I typically let my diet go to hell in a hand basket I try to kick-start my diet back on a healthy eating plan. What better way than to choose recipes that automatically lend themselves towards that? I’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming afterwards, scouts honor.

I hope you have a very, very happy and safe holiday week with your loved ones and oh, yeah, TEXAS FIGHT!

Parmesan-Sage Roast Turkey with Sage Gravy Recipes

Saturday: Oil-Poached Salmon with Fresh Cucumber Salad (Update: this dish was just fine…)

Sunday: Coconut Crusted Chicken with Cashew-Curry Sauce

Monday: Scallops with Green Tea Cream and Baby Bok Choy (I never got around to making this but make this I will)

Tuesday:  Roasted Red Snapper and Herb Pasta with Shrimp (not on the website, will post later!)

Wednesday: Grilled Flank Steak with Avocado Relish, Cumin Scented Potatoes

My (Sticky) Date with Dates

Every month Bon Appetit does an At the Market section highlighting a particular piece of produce or food item, in this case dates, that are at the peak of its season. One recipe that jumped off the page was the Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices. Isn’t she a beaut?

Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices (Photograph by Kiyoshi Togashi)

LOVE is the first word that comes to mind when I think about this dish. Holy smokes, I’m like Celine Dion pounding my chest saying “lurrrrvvee” loud and proud. This was quite simple to put together and the spices, oh my the spices, made this sauce absolutely incredible. The chicken was fall off the bone perfection. I loved the shallots, dates, cilantro and crunchy almonds. This was my first time actually cooking with dates and let me tell you those are sticky little suckers when I was pitting and cutting them but well worth it because it was an awesome addition to the dish.

I served this with mashed sweet potatoes and shazam, dinner was served. For the lurve people do not pass go, do not collect $200 just go to the store, get the ingredients and get home ASAP to make this. Hands down one of my favorites I’ve made on this blog.

Me with a Chance of Meatballs…or Bolognese?

So poodles, I tried one of my all-time favorites last night again, the Spaghetti and Meatballs All’Amerticiana (you should hear me say this out loud, it sounds like I’m having a seizure) from Bon Appetit . Now, I followed this recipe exactly as instructed again except we made the meatballs (as the recipe says you can do) the night before.

That’s it.

Spaghetti and Meatbals All'Amertriciana (Photo by Craig Cutler)

However our delicious meatballs as I cooked them fell apart and became a ground beef mixture with bacon paste…bacon paste, yes I’m still in awe thank you very much.

While this was good, it wasn’t as good as I recalled. I mean don’t get me wrong, it has delicious layers of flavor and the sauce rocked. I also noticed the marjoram this time around which gave it nice little floral notes if I do say so myself but it just wasn’t the same.

I’m getting all Sherlock Holmes about this because I can’t figure out why this failed this time. Could it be because I made them the night before? One would think that would hold them up even better due to the fridge/tightening up time. Could it be that I’m still practicing on the gas range and messed it up that way…most likely poppets. Either way it was delicious but in a less meatballish kind of way.

Oh well, onward and upward lambs, tonight it’s braised chicken with dates…fingers crossed!

Braised Chicken and Red Potatoes in Tarragon Broth

Talk about an Emily favorite. I have made this soup since it’s debut three years ago in the September 2007 issue of Cooking Light. To me, this is a bowl of comfort that I’ve turned to year after year say when I’ve got a cold, it’s gloomy and gross outside or your favorite team ever (rhymes with Fonghorns) gets dismantled again. Bleeb to the blarb.

The flavors of this soup with the tender braised chicken, soft red potatoes, shallots, and white wine are a perfect combo and the tarragon broth provides the perfect balance to make a beautiful soup. Ahhh, the smell of the broth hooks you before you even begin to eat. Plus it has a short ingredient list and is undeniably easy to make…see why I love it so?

I just ate this for lunch and now I’m all comfy and cozy at my desk.  Now if only I could be in my pajamas with my slippers I would be set…and then I would probably get fired…then I would just have to make more soup to comfort myself. Enjoy this y’all, it’s a good one.

Braised Chicken and Red Potatoes in Tarragon Broth (Photo by Lee Harrelson)

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops with Polenta

Oh sweet lambs in the morn…this dish was INCREDIBLE. You can tell I really like something when while eating it I repeat about 20 times how good it is and fill in the rest of my review with “mmmmmmmmmmmmomgmmmmmmmm.” Per my menu plan, I had a day o’cooking which was lovely in and of itself. I did make the Egg White and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata and Sweet Potato Biscuits, both were OK but we decided they were not really right for a Cooking Inside the Lines dish. If you want more details just ask me in the comments.

I also made the Braised Chicken with Red Potatoes and Tarragon Broth for our lunches today, and I’ll post my full review after lunch.

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops (Photo by John Autry)

Now, for the big winner here, the Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops with Polenta from Cooking Light. Let’s highlight why this recipe was perfection on a plate: (a) the rub was the perfect herbacious complement to the very simple balsamic glaze on the pork chops (b) the polenta…oh wow, the polenta with the cream cheese was out of this world delicious (c) this came together in no-time (d) it was also very wallet friendly and is a part of their “budget eating” section (e) this ROCKED.

One ingredient I changed was the whole milk. I only had reduced fat in the house but trust me after you put the cream cheese in the polenta, you won’t notice the absence of whole milk. I highly recommend this recipe and I think this will go on rotation in our house moving forward. Now tonight, one of my favorite recipes I’ve ever tried, Meatballs All’Amerticiana. Will it be as good as I remembered poodles? Will David think so too? Will I still be amazed by bacon paste? Tune in for more details this week.

Next Week’s Menu Plan

I’ve made the command decision lambs to start sharing with you my menu plans each week as I create them. Anyone who knows me knows that for some strange reason creating a menu plan is my moment of “zen” during the day. I’ve heard others say they would rather have a root canal so if this helps at all with your weekly planning let me know!

I like to balance my week out with a variety of proteins, cuisines and of course quick-cooking choices during the weeknight to keep our dinners something to look forward to each and every night. Plus I tend to think about leftovers factor so we can keep enjoying our delicious dinner while we pound away at our desks the next day – a bit of a gentle culinary break in the middle of our work day.

Since I had today off,  I went ahead and planned this Saturday through Wednesday’s menu plan. The reason why you don’t see Thursday on here (yet) is because each week we go to WAKA Kickball at Gillis Fields (Go Brown Chicken Brown Cow!) but you will soon once the playoffs are over:

Saturday: Egg White and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata (the rest of the day is filled with the UT vs OSU game, yes I know we are going to get pummeled :()


Breakfast – Leftover Frittata, Fruit Salad with fresh mint and poppy seed dressing

Lunch – Braised Chicken with Red Potatoes and Tarragon Broth with Sweet Potato Biscuits

Dinner – Balsamic-Glazed Pork Chops with Polenta (make meatballs tonight)

Monday: Meatballs All’Amatriciana (Squeal! Made this some time ago and can’t wait for David to try – I recall this being one of the best dishes I’ve ever tried)

Tuesday: Braised Chicken with Dates and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Wednesday: Scallops with Green Tea Cream and Sauteed Baby Bok Choy

There you have it my menu plan for the week. We will see how it goes and more updates to come…super excited about the scallops dish not gonna lie.

Coq Fight!

(Insert your best ring announcer voice here) In the blue corner we have the Quick Coq Au Vin  AKA “Quick Talons” from Bon Appetit weighing in at 371 calories per serving and a nine ingredient list, and in the red corner we have Easy Coq Au Vin  AKA “The Easy Breezy” from Cooking Light weighing in at 319 calories per serving with an 18 ingredient list.

Quick Coq Au Vin (Photograph by Jose Picayo)

The Easy Breezy comes out swinging with succulent chicken thighs that knocks Quick Talons’ use of chicken breast to the ropes but Quick Talons throws a powerful jab with its better use of bacon and less ingredients. Easy Breezy does a right hook with less calories and more veggie power. Quick Talons stumbles for just a moment and then comes roaring back with its great depth of flavor in the sauce. The jabs keep coming and it looks like folks we are going to a judges decision…who will win?

The judges take a look at both dishes flavor profiles and wish the fighters could combine The Easy Breezy’s chicken thighs with Quick Talons’ sauce but finally decide that…

The Easy Breezy is the winner in this highly contested fight! The crowd goes wild!

Check out Apron Adventure’s review of the same two dishes and see what she thought…great minds huh? http://apronadventures.blogspot.com/2010/11/coq-au-vin-off.html

Beef and Guinness Stew

Beef and Guinness Stew (Photo by Jonny Valiant)

Every month Cooking Light does their staff favorites of recipes from each issue, and while reviewing their choices I came across this Beef and Guinness Stew recipe. How I managed to miss this in the March 2010 issue is beyond me since I love a traditional Irish stew and come on, it’s a staff favorite. Shame on me and three whacks with a shillelagh.

It’s been a little chilly here so I thought a stew would be a nice belly warmer and since I was just coming back from one of the most Irish cities in the U.S. – Boston – I thought my timing was perfect.

You know a recipe is good when your signficant other mentions that this is one of their favorite stews they’ve had in a while – thank you Cooking Light, thank you! David liked this better than I did but I have to say it was a deliciously-perfect Irish stew that was uber savory and the layers of flavors were marvelous. Plus, I was just informed by David that leftovers of this were awesome and even better the next day. 

I followed this exactly except I didn’t include parsnips because our local HEB hates me and didn’t have any. There were also a little less onions than called for – oh not because I didn’t chop enough. I did in fact chop the right amount and then tripped, almost fell and knocked the bowl over with some of my precious chopped onions falling to the floor. Yeah, clumsytastic I know. Anyhoodles, give this a try on a cold wintry night, it is soooo super gentle!