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Menu Plan and Recipes

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asparagus cheese
Asparagus Gratin

stuffed chicken breast
Chicken Breasts Stuffed / Ham, Spinach, Cheese

potato oven fries
New Potato Oven Fries

lentils
Southwestern Lentils

 

Menu Plan for the week of May 10, 2013:  Saturday's Recipes

Asparagus Gratin
Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ham, Spinach and Cheese
New Potato Oven Fries
Southwestern Lentils

Cooking time:  45 minutes for menu     Cooking schedule: see below for instructions

        This is a a easy spring oven dinner..... You can relax while it roasts.  Do the potatoes on the same baking sheet as the chicken.

Asparagus Gratin                                                        Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
    Quickly blanched asparagus are finished in the oven with a light cheese sauce. Can be made ahead and baked at the last minute and easily doubled or tripled for a buffet or party.  I put them in small, individual casseroles.

10oz (350gr) asparagus spears
2 tsp butter
2 tsp flour
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) milk
1/3 cup (1.5oz, 45gr) Gruyère cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp paprika

Trim asparagus, trim to fit baking dish if needed. Bring a medium pan of water to boil and blanch the asparagus for 3 minutes, 4 minutes if very thick.  Drain and rinse with cold water. 
In a small saucepan, melt butter.  Add flour and cook, stirring with a whisk or fork.  Slowly add milk, stirring constantly until you have a thick sauce. Stir in mustard.  Remove from heat and add cheese, stirring well.
To finish:  Arrange asparagus in 1 or 2 baking dishes, just large enough to hold the asparagus.  Spoon the cheese sauce over the top, sprinkle with paprika and bake, 400F (200C) for 10 minutes, until the sauce is browned and bubbly. Remove and serve.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Ham, Spinach, Cheese                     Time: 40 minutes
     These are easy to make: slice a pocket, fill and tie.  They're baked with a drizzle of olive oil to make a crunchy crust.  I snipped the string in a few places to make it easier to remove but left it on when serving: they looked nicer! Get breasts that are on the large side.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1.5oz (45gr) Gruyère or other hard cheese, sliced
2 slices Prosciutto (about 2oz, 60gr)
6 - 8 small spinach leaves
1 egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
2 tbs Parmesan, grated
1 tsp plus 1 tbs olive oil
kitchen string

With a sharp knife make a long slit in the edge of the chicken breast - cutting horizontally and being careful not to cut through the other side.  Make the cut on the 'straight' edge of the breast.  You should have a pocket the shape of the breast with 1/3 inch of 'uncut' chicken around 3 sides.
Slice the Prosciutto and cheese to fit inside.  You will have 2 or 3 layers of Prosciutto, 1 or 2 of cheese, then the spinach on top of the cheese.  Wrap the entire breast with kitchen string to hold it together - and keep as much cheese inside as possible. 
Lightly whisk egg and put into a shallow bowl or deep plate.  Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan and put on to another plate.  Lightly oil the center of a baking sheet, a large enough place for both breasts with an inch or 2 in between.  Dip the tied breasts into the egg, coating all sides, then into the crumbs, coating all sides (use your fingers).  Lay on the oiled sheet.  Drizzle the tops with the rest of the oil and bake, 400F (200C) for 30 minutes, until the crust is golden and the chicken done.  Remove, snip the string in a few places, and serve. 

New Potato 'Oven Fries'                                 Preparation and cooking time: 35 minutes
     New potatoes are about the size of walnuts (or golf balls).  They are great braised or roasted whole, but get wonderfully crunchy with creamy interiors when cut in half and baked like 'Fries'.

10 - 15 new potatoes  enough for two people 
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper  sea salt if you have it

Cut potatoes in half.  Put oil, paprika and thyme into a large bowl and mix well.  Add potatoes and toss, coating thoroughly.  Arrange potatoes, cut side down, on baking sheet with rim (I use my trusty, round pizza pan).  Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Remove pan, turn potatoes cut side up (resting on their little round bottoms).   Return to oven and roast another 15 minutes.  When done remove from pan, sprinkle lightly with salt.  Serve.

Southwestern Lentils                                                 Preparation and cooking time:  40 minutes
   I had something similar to this in a restaurant in San Antonio, Texas.  I don't remember the name, and I never got the recipe.  This is as close as I get to a return trip.  Make them as hot as you like.  I use the tiny, green lentils de Puy, but you can use the larger brown ones.  Do not use the red ones, they get too mushy..

2/3 cup dried lentils
1 1/2 cups water and beef stock mixed - or whatever the package tells you
1 small onion
1/2 red bell pepper
3oz (90gr) cherry tomatoes  or 1 regular tomato
2 cloves garlic
4oz (125gr) chopped green chiles, drained - if you want something hotter... feel free
2 tsp chili powder
1 tbs olive oil

Cook the lentils in water and stock according to package directions until done.  Drain if needed. 
Finely chop onion, pepper.  Mince garlic.  Cut tomatoes into quarters.  Heat oil in medium skillet over medium heat.  When hot add chili powder and sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly - this releases more flavors.  Add onion, garlic and sauté a few minutes.  Add red pepper, sauté another few minutes, then add tomatoes.  Turn heat down to very low and sauté, uncovered, until all vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally - about 15 minutes. 
Add lentils, drained chilis and stir to combine. Taste.  This is where I stop but you may add more chili powder, chilies or hot sauce to taste.  Cover and let simmer over low heat for 5 minutes to let flavors meld.  Serve.

Cooking Schedule: 45 minutes for menu
Assemble all food, utensils and serving dishes
Utensils: measuring cups, spoons, knives,
scissors, large saucepan, small saucepan, whisk,
baking dish(es) for asparagus, 2 plates, baking sheet,
kitchen string, large bowl, small bowl, small saucepan
with lid, medium skillet

Turn oven on, 400F (200C), arrange 2 shelves
Start to cook lentils
Heat water for asparagus
Slice pocket in chicken
Slice Prosciutto, cheese for chicken
Grate Parmesan
Shred Gruyère for asparagus
Stuff chicken, tie securely with string
Mix crumbs, Parmesan, put on plate
Whisk egg, put on plate
Oil baking sheet
Dip chicken breasts in egg, crumbs, place on sheet
Drizzle with oil
Trim asparagus, cut if needed
Blanch asparagus
Wash new potatoes, cut in half
Mix paprika, thyme, oil, potatoes
Arrange potatoes, cut side down, around chicken

Drain asparagus. rinse with cool water
Melt butter in small saucepan
Add flour, whisk
Add milk, whisk
Add mustard, remove from heat, add cheese, stir
Arrange asparagus in dishes, spoon sauce over
Sprinkle with paprika
Bake asparagus, potatoes and chicken
Chop onion, pepper
Mince garlic
Cut tomatoes
Drain chilis
Sauté chili powder
Mind lentils, drain if done
Add onion, garlic to chile powder, sauté
Add pepper, sauté
Add tomatoes, reduce heat, cook
Remove Asparagus Gratin
Remove chicken and potatoes
Turn potatoes, return to oven
Serve asparagus
Relax, enjoy....... Done?
Add lentils, chilis to skillet, taste, adjust, cover, simmer
Remove chicken, snip string
Remove potatoes;  Serve all