Skillet Ham and Cheese Gnocchi

ham and cheese gnocchi Skillet Ham and Cheese Gnocchi

I used to make quite large batches of meals so that I had leftovers and didn’t have to cook every night. The only problem was that I often went back for seconds and while I didn’t have a whole second meal, I ate more than I should of – which might explain my previous weight gain.

Monitoring my calories helped with cutting back on my seconds. But now that I am maintaining my weight and not watching my calories so closely, I have not been cooking large batches to keep away the temptation of seconds.

But life has been a bit crazy recently and both Lara and Tash reminded me that leftovers are not only good for not having half used tins of things but are also great time savers. So I have been keeping my eye out for recipes that I thought would make good leftovers.

This skillet ham and cheese gnocchi works perfectly for this purpose and has the added bonus of being super quick to make in the first place and only uses one pot as you cook the gnocchi in the skillet as long as you use a pan that can also go under the grill (for broiling).

ham and cheese gnocchi 2 Skillet Ham and Cheese Gnocchi

It isn’t a super gourmet meal, but it is a good work day meal that is comforting pasta and beautifully cheesy with ham to add the saltiness. Plus it contains vegetables including one of my favourite vegetables – peas so no sides required. I know some people may be put off by the use of frozen peas. But you shouldn’t be. There is quite a bit of evidence out there that frozen vegetables have the same levels of vitamins and minerals as the fresh stuff, if not more, especially if you buy from a supermarket where the produce may have been sitting around for a while.

It is also one of those dishes where it tasted better the second day. But then doesn’t most food taste better the second time around?

I made enough for two meals using the following ingredients:

  • ½ tbs of butter (the original recipe says unsalted but I only had salted in the house)
  • ½ a brown onion, finely chopped
  • ½ a cup of broccoli, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 110g of cubed ham – I bought ham that was already chopped – not the best quality I know but the supermarket often only has sliced ham as an alternative and that wouldn’t work that well in this dish.
  • ½ cup of chicken stock – again no low salt for me (yes I am a salt fiend)
  • 220g of potato gnocchi
  • ¾ cup of frozen green peas
  • 1 tbs of low fat milk and 1 tbs of cooking cream (instead of half and half)
  • ¼ cup of sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tbs of parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I followed the recipe as given with no changes. The main thing is to watch when you are grilling (broiling) the dish to make sure it doesn’t burn. I cooked the onion and broccoli for about 3 minutes in the first step and the ham took about 3 minutes to lightly brown. I cooked everything on a medium heat – the lower of my two medium settings. It is the setting on my stove where the onions go translucent rather than frying and going brown.

ham and cheese gnocchi 3 Skillet Ham and Cheese Gnocchi

Using pre-cubed ham, the prep time for this recipe is 5-10 minutes – depending on whether you buy grated cheese or grate yourself. I grate myself as it tends to be cheaper and I can buy the amount of cheese I need. The bags of grated cheese tend to be more than I need.   And cheese in the house, especially a good cheddar can mean expanding hips. Cooking time is 20 minutes, so you can have this on the table in about 30 minutes.

There are about 453 calories in each serve. Which I think is good for a pasta dish that is a complete meal.

 

 

Spicy New Orleans Shrimp

spicy new orleans prawns 2 Spicy New Orleans Shrimp

One of the reasons I set up this blog was to have an incentive to try new recipes and foods.  Last year, I got in to be a bit of a rut and was eating the same meals very frequently.  This blog has been great in getting me to try new recipes but I have felt recently that I have started to make meals that are quite similar.  I haven’t shared them all yet but I have made quite a few Italian inspired chicken recipes recently.

our growing edge badge Spicy New Orleans ShrimpSo late last week when I received an email from Genie from Bunny Eats Design inviting me to take part in the link up party Our Growing Edge, I knew it was just the nudge I needed to get me to look at trying out new foods.   Our Growing Edge is a linked up party to inspire trying new foodie things. This month is hosted by Corina of Searching for Spice.

I have been meaning to try out liquid smoke for a while now since seeing it in the local Asian grocery.  Not very Asian I know but the little grocery has started expanding its range to include more American/Tex-Mex ingredients.  I love smoked meat so was intrigued by the idea of being able to add that smoky flavour without needing a smokehouse etc.  There is definitely a trend here in Australia of American and Mexican ingredients becoming much more readily available.  I was a bit flummoxed at the shops when I found out the liquid smoke came in different flavours.  I went with hickory but there was also mesquite and applewood.  Do any liquid smoke experts have thoughts on which one would have been best for this recipe?

spicy new orleans prawns long Spicy New Orleans Shrimp

I had a poke around pinterest to find a recipe to try out the liquid smoke.  Most of them were very smoked pulled pork or smoked beef ribs neither of which I am very fond of.  I am not a big pork fan (unless it is minced in sausages, dim sum etc) and I am not keen on meat on the bone – I get in to way too much of a mess.   Then I came across this recipe for spicy New Orleans shrimp.  It looked delicious and I have previously made this sesame garlic chicken by Jo from jocooks.com and loved it – one of my favourite chicken recipes.

The recipe is very easy to make and aside from needing to marinate for 4 hours, the recipe is fairly quick in terms of hands on cooking time.  My prep time was about 10 minutes – mainly pulling things from the cupboard but I did use deveined prawn meat (shrimp) so if you buy your prawns any other way the prep time will go up.  The original recipe called for white tiger shrimp but the shop didn’t have them so I went with ordinary prawn meat (shrimp).

I was a bit worried about the liquid smoke when I opened the bottle.  It does have a powerful smoky smell.  I thought it might overpower the shrimp but it mellowed surprisingly well in the cooking process so that there was just a lovely hint of smokiness in the dish.  I’ll definitely be trying it out in some other recipes.

spicy new orleans prawns 3 Spicy New Orleans Shrimp

This is a delicious recipe but I did feel like the sauce was perhaps a bit too strong for the prawns and the fishy element that I love about prawns was a lost a bit.  I think next time I would make this with chicken.  I just love the natural taste of prawns too much to have them hidden by sauce.

I also didn’t get as much sauce as the original photos suggested I would, which was a bit of a shame as the sauce is fabulous.  I had the recipe with bread as suggested and the best bit of the whole meal was mopping up the sauce at the end with the bread.  Just scrumptious.  When I was marinating the sauce looked very sparse but in the cooking process quite a bit of liquid came out of the prawns to add to the volume and flavour of the sauce.

To make this for one I used the following ingredients:

  • 200g of prawn meat
  • ½ tbs of unsalted butter
  • ½ tbs of olive oil
  • ½ tbs of sweet chilli sauce
  • ¼ tsp of Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ tsp of chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp of liquid smoke
  • ¼ tsp of smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp of dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp of sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic (equivalent to 1 clove)
  • ½ tbs of lemon juice
  • ½ tbs of parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I followed the recipe as given.  I did let the sauce cook for 10 minutes but next time would look at cutting that down by a few minutes to make sure it didn’t reduce too much.  I cooked my prawns for 15 minutes and that was just a tad too long – I would do a check after 10 minutes and see how everything is looking.

spicy new orleans prawns 4 Spicy New Orleans Shrimp

The calories in the meal are about 330.  I don’t think you could get these down very much as the olive oil and butter are needed for the sauce.

And yes I would use the liquid smoke again but probably with a different meat.  It would be delicious with chicken or maybe a meatier fish like trout.  It is such a clever idea to be able to put the taste of smoke in to a liquid.

 

Quick Chicken Piccata

chicken piccata 3 Quick Chicken Piccata

My best friend is about to head off to Italy with her family and I am so jealous.  I haven’t had a holiday this year and it has been a crazy few months.  I would love a break.  Plus Italy! (sigh)  I will have to live vicariously through her photos for now.  And of course eating Italian food.

When I think Italian, pasta and pizza immediately springs to mind but of course that is doing Italian food a major disservice.  It is a much more diverse cuisine than was perhaps suggested by Italian restaurants in the 1970s but it is hard to move on from those childhood memories.

But this recipe for chicken piccata will certainly help with moving those memories on.  It is an adaption of two chicken piccata recipes, a super healthy version from 100 Days of Real Food and a much more buttery one from Red Shallot Kitchen.  I made both of these original recipes before coming up with what I think is the middle ground.  The super healthy version was delicious but after tasting the full butter version, I just felt it was lacking a little something (ie fat…)  The buttery version was very tasty but at about 510 calories shows off its buttery roots. I figured if I could trim so calories while not losing the flavor I thought it would be worth the effort.  The super healthy 100 days of real food version has only about 260 calories so I thought a compromise would be possible.  Without too much effort I got it down to 405 calories.  Not super low but when served with a small salad or jacket potato, not horrendous.

chicken piccata 2 Quick Chicken Piccata

Oh and did I mention that it looks like a fancy pants recipe that you can use to impress but is surprisingly easy and quick to make?

It is a reasonably salty dish thanks to the capers but the chicken broth and the chicken make sure this is not overpowering.  The lemon juice adds an extra depth to the flavours that I love.  You first get a hit of caper and then it mellows with the cream and chicken and then the lemon just cleans off the palette.  Perfect!

Quick Chicken Piccata

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 1 serve

A quick Italian chicken dish with loads of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 130g of chicken breast, skinless and boneless
  • 1 tbs of plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tbs of olive oil
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/2 tsp of minced garlic (about half a clove)
  • 1/2 tbs of capers, drained
  • 2 tbs of dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup of chicken stock
  • 1 tbs of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. The first step is to flatten your chicken breast so that it is about 1 cm thick. To do this, I wrap my chicken in cling wrap (plastic wrap) and then use a rolling pin to flatten it. You can use a meat tenderizer but I do this so rarely I don't want an extra thing cluttering up my kitchen and the rolling pin works fine.
  2. Pop the flour in the bowl with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Dredge the chicken in the flour until it is coated all over, shaking off any excess flour.
  4. Melt half a tablespoon of olive oil and half a tablespoon of butter in a skillet in medium high. Make sure the pan isn't too big so you have a nice coat of oil and butter to fry the chicken.
  5. Pop the chicken in the pan and fry until the chicken is cooked trough and lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes each side.
  6. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
  7. Add half a tablespoon of butter to the skillet along with the garlic and capers. Add the lemon juice, white wine and chicken stock and deglaze the pan. You want to make sure you get up all the crispy chicken bits that have stuck to the pan and mix them in.
  8. Bring everything to the boil.
  9. Return the chicken breast to the skillet and cook until the sauce has reduced by about one quarter - a couple of minutes
  10. Have a taste of the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. Once cooked transfer to your plate and garnish with the parsley.
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 Quick Chicken Piccata

chicken piccata 5 Quick Chicken Piccata

 

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