What's Cooking This Week?

Mmm that moussaka was delish - reminded me of the Greek Easters I would spend with the Greek part of my fam growing up. With some more of my favorite holidays coming up, I'm getting a bit homesick. And since I'm food-obsessed, this week I decided to lift my spirits by recreating a family fave; I'm putting my spin on the penne vodka from the old neighborhood joint I used to ride my bike to as a kid. RIP Attilio's Pizza on Rt. 9; you will always be remembered for your amazing Sicilian and the litters of kittens that hung out behind your dumpsters.

Here's what's on the menu:

  • Sesame Spinach & Shrimp w/ Brown Rice
  • Baked Chicken w/ Pears, Spinach, & Blue Cheese
  • Rigatoni w/ Vodka Sauce & Chicken
  • Sun-dried Tomato & Prosciutto Brown Rice
  • Chicken & Vodka Pizza

    Pantry Items Cooking oil (I prefer regular olive oil) Cooking spray Extra virgin olive oil Apple cider vinegar Sesame oil Canola oil Chicken broth Tube of tomato paste Parmesan cheese Flour Kosher salt Pepper Crushed red pepper Sesame seeds Low sodium soy sauce

    Grocery List - Amts based on servings for 2 people 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts ½ lb jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined ¼ lb thinly sliced prosciutto 1 small carton heavy cream 3 oz blue cheese 3 oz fresh mozzerella 1 bunch watercress 1 large bunch fresh spinach 1 small bunch basil 1 lemon 1 pear 1-2 heads garlic 1 bulb ginger 2 medium yellow onions 1 small red onion ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes 1 package whole wheat rigatoni 1 package brown rice Store-bought or homemade pizza dough ½ cup vodka (or a handle if you're feeling randy)

    Day 1 - Sesame Spinach & Shrimp w/ Brown Rice *Makes leftover brown rice for Sun-dried Tomato & Prosciutto Brown Rice *Save leftover spinach leaves for Baked Chicken w/ Pears, Spinach, & Blue Cheese

    Cook 1 cup rice according to package directions, substituting low-sodium chicken broth for water.*Save 1/2 rice for use in day 4

    Meanwhile, heat ½ tbsp canola oil and ½ tbsp sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add ½ tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and grated and ½ lb shrimp, cleaned, peeled, and de-veined, salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp turns pink, about 1-3 minutes per side depending on size of shrimp. Remove shrimp and add shredded spinach (add half the amount) and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Cook until spinach is wilted and sesame seeds are lightly toasted. *Save leftover spinach leaves for use in Day 2.

    Top sesame spinach with shrimp and serve w/ cooked brown rice and soy sauce.

    Day 2 - Baked Chicken w/ Pears, Spinach, & Blue Cheese (adapted from Whole Foods recipe) *Uses leftover fresh spinach leaves

    Season 2 chicken breasts w/ salt and pepper. Heat a skillet coated with olive oil over medium heat. Add chicken and saute until cooked through and browned on both sides, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside, covered.

    Using same skillet (add more olive oil if needed), add 1/4 cup diced red onion, cooking until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Add spinach leaves and toss. Season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and plate spinach mixture.

    Wipe pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar. Add 1 pear, cored and thinly sliced. Heat through until warmed.

    Slice chicken and place on bed of spinach. Top with dressed pears and crumbled blue cheese.

    Day 3 - Rigatoni w/ Vodka Sauce & Chicken *Makes leftover sauce to be used in Chicken & Vodka Pizza

    Cut ½ lb chicken into bite size chunks and sprinkle lightly with flour, salt, and pepper.

    Heat large saucepan coated with olive oil over medium heat. Add chunks of chicken, cooking until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside. Add 1 medium yellow onion, chopped, and cook until onions are translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add chopped garlic (as much or as little as you like; I like a LOT) and a few sprinkles of crushed red pepper, cooking for another couple of minutes. Add ½ cup vodka and allow the alcohol to cook off, about 5-7 minutes. Next, add 1 can crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to marry. Next, stir in 2/3 cup of heavy cream and chopped fresh basil and cook for 5 more minutes. Add chicken to sauce. *Set half the chicken and sauce aside and freeze or refrigerate for use in day 5.

    While the sauce is cooking, prepare rigatoni according to package directions (I always do one minute less b/c I finish the pasta in the sauce, but go ahead and taste as it's cooking so it's just right for you).

    Toss pasta in the saucepan with grated parm. Top with additional parm and more fresh basil if desired.

    Day 4 - Sun-dried Tomato & Prosciutto Brown Rice *Uses leftover brown rice & leftover fresh spinach *Save leftover prosciutto for Chicken & Vodka Pizza

    Heat large sauté pan coated with olive oil over medium heat. Add ¼ cup minced onion, 2 cloves garlic, minced and ½ the prosciutto, roughly chopped, cooking about 5 minutes until onions are translucent and prosciutto begins to crisp. Mix in 1-2 tbsp tomato paste and 1-2 tbsp water. Add leftover rice and stir to coat. Cook until rice is softened and heated through, adding more water if needed.

    Fluff rice with fork and toss with ¼ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh basil. Serve w/ watercress tossed with lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

    Day 5 - Chicken & Vodka Pizza *Uses leftover chicken and vodka sauce and leftover prosciutto

    If frozen, defrost vodka sauce.

    Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Coat sheet pan or pizza sheet with olive oil and roll out store-bought or homemade pizza dough.

    For a crisper crust, pre-bake the dough without toppings for 4-5 minutes.

    Spread the chicken and sauce evenly over the dough and sprinkle with a handful of grated parm and roughly chopped prosciutto. Top with thin slices of fresh mozzarella.

    Bake until crust is golden and cheese has melted, another 7-9 minutes.

    Top with fresh basil and enjoy!

    Note to self: Find ways to use leftover vodka...hmm...

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