Baked Gnocchi with Keilbasa, Spinach and Herbs and some Fresh Mozzarella

Trying to get creative with cooking lately sometimes leaves me stumped… because I feel like I’ve tried to cook just about everything. My husband has even gifted me with cooking classes here locally so I can learn how to make dishes that are a bit ambitious for me… so I can learn how to do it correctly… and it was so fun! I learned how to make risotto! I even ventured and made a jambalaya risotto. Now, that will be on a blog at a later time, it is probably one of my favorite ways to make it! For my birthday this year, he is going to go to a cooking class WITH me! Some of the things I still want to learn how to perfect are: Salmon, homemade pasta (of all kinds), bread with a starter, fish (other than salmon), bone broth, homemade tortillas, paella, a perfect poached egg, and homemade mayonnaise… just to name a few! I thought I was over learning new things… but I seriously cannot stop watching videos and cooking shows and Netflix shows about cooking. I love to learn new techniques and methods and recipes!
One of my FAVORITE shows is Chef’s Table on Netflix. I watch the show with a notebook sometimes, writing down ideas that I want to try… or a type of food that I want to research and attempt recipes of. Is it just me that does this, or does anyone else? The more that I cook, the more that I want to know. Especially cooking for my husband… he makes me feel like a James Beard award winning chef! He is my love… and he makes me feel so adored, that I would cook every day if he was the only person that ever noticed or loved it. He is my person.
Because he is so special, I had to make a special recipe for gnocchi!
This recipe came from the fact that I was at Aldi, and walked past a package of gnocchi and my mouth started watering… so I bought it. HA! When I got home later, I realized that I didn’t want to do just anything with it, or what I have done before… I wanted to do something NEW. There’s a few things that you can do with gnocchi, but it’s usually pretty traditional. I have a certain way I wanted to make it, and had to get a bit creative with the ingredients and the way I prepared it so that I could get it just how I wanted it. Luckily, it turned out DELICIOUS!! This dish will seem like it is a lot of steps, but they are QUICK steps, and won’t take as long as it seems like it will… and all of the steps are worth it, for the end result. It felt rustic, and like comfort food.

Ingredients:

1 package of gnocchi (I used Aldi Priano Gnocchi – I will post a picture)
1/2 (to a whole, depending on how many servings you want) turkey Kielbasa (you can also use Aidells andouille sausage) sliced into bite size pieces and set aside
1/2 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
1 ball of FRESH mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine (you can use chicken broth instead, just use 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 to 3 TB butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 sweet yellow onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried thyme
dash of dried red pepper flakes

Honestly, not the prettiest dish to photograph… but can you imagine the taste of that stringy, melted FRESH mozzarella over the crispy gnocchi?!?!?!?!

Directions:

Start by bring a large sauce pan full of water to boil with a dash of salt in it. Cook the gnocchi based on the instructions on the back of the package. Once cooked, strain and leave in a strainer and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, chop your onions, kielbasa, and spinach.
Heat a skillet, or dutch oven on the stove with 2 TB butter in it. Heat it at medium so you do not burn the butter. Take the onions, and put into the butter and start to saute. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and evenly space them so none is overlapping. Let simmer and crisp on the one side for about 2 minutes until they are slightly crisp and golden brown. Flip and do the same on the other side. Once browned on both sides, add the kielbasa, garlic, and seasonings and wine and chicken broth. Give a good stir to combine. Add the chopped spinach and stir until it just starts to wilt. Flatten out a bit and top with the sliced mozzarella, evenly spaced, and then sprinkle with a bit of the parmesan. Put into the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly and slightly browned.

Makes 4 servings.

Then, SERVE!

This dish just warmed me through, I felt like it was a dish I would crave in the winter when I just needed some comfort food to warm the soul. My husband ate the leftovers for 2 days! I love the crisp on the gnocchi, where it’s soft and pillowy inside, but has a nice crunch on the outside… PERFECT!

One of my new favs ūüôā
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Baked Chicken and Gnocchi

Oh Mondays….

Yes, today is Monday. And today, we had homeschool group. My 3 year old son… MILDLY behaved and reminded me of the previous week.

So, last week.. here’s the situation: my son thinks that he can be independent and make his own decisions. As his mother, it is my job to teach him that mommy knows what’s best and if he refuses to do what I say, consequences will follow. The problem? When we are in the car, driving 60+ mph down the freeway, it is VERY hard to discipline a little boy. So, we leave our homeschool group, and he’s tired and hungry. I hand him a baggie of veggie straws (Like… potato straws, but made from veggies… very chip like). 3 seconds later, he LOUDLY proclaims that he’s “ALL DONE!”. I, at that moment in time, cannot reach back and grab the bag from his grimy little hands. I tell him, “hold on to the bag for a minute until mommy can grab the bag”. He then proceeds to start to chuck the veggie straws AT MY HEAD! Yes, yes this is true. I am yelling “No, mommy will take the bag”, as well as telling him consequences that will happen from these bad choices. I start trying to get the bag from him and trying to grab at any part of his body that I can reach, and he stealthily, like a tiny ninja, somehow completely evades my reach! I cannot turn around to see how this is happening, as we are STILL on the freeway. He then starts throwing them all over the car, one at a time and starts yelling “na-na-na boo boo”. Yeah. That happened. By the time we got home 30 minutes later I was fuming and he was asleep. Ugh. I carry him inside, and do NOT put his cars in bed with him like he requested before he fell asleep… (that sure told him!)… and proceed to take my dog out to eat all of the veggie straws from the van floor. Whew! What’s a mom to do? Cry and an call her husband, pray that the next day will be better, and figure out how to properly discipline in the car… working on it… I think I will be a consistent work in progress.

So today… another Monday, another homeschool group day. This evening, I feed my kids their meal (rice and beans with a smoothie… easy.. so very easy) and was going to have that for me and my hubby… then I see the package of gnocchi in my fridge and just HAVE to have it tonight. So, I proceed to start cooking and then go out to my detached garage where I keep all of my meat in our deep freeze. I then find out that for some reason our lock is broken. The key gets STUCK in the door. I literally cannot get into my garage until 1.5 hours later when my husband gets home. So… dinner was late. But whatever, it was good!!!!! Gotta be honest… Mondays are always a bit rough!

So, here’s my craving meal for tonight…. cuz I needed a bit of comfort food!

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Baked Chicken and Gnocci!

And, I gotta say, it’s a comfort food and I will definitely be craving it in the future!

Inspired by: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/baked-gnocchi-with-chicken.html?soc=sharingpinterest

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely diced onions
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (unsweetened, unflavored)
1 cup low-sodium free range, fat free chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 cups diced chicken. I used 3 large chicken tenderloins seasoned, cooked and diced (Orig. recipe called for leftover rotisserie chicken)
1 17 .5-ounce package potato gnocchi
1 1/2 cups loosely packed baby kale
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce)
1/2 tsp cumin
dash cayenne pepper
2 TB lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
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Directions
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, but do not let burn. Transfer to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium heat; add the flour and cook, whisking, 3 minutes. Add 2 TB lemon juice and the lemon zest. Whisk in the milk and chicken broth until smooth; simmer, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 teaspoon salt and the nutmeg, cumin and cayenne.

Add the chicken, onions and garlic back in, and the gnocchi and kale to the sauce and stir until coated and the kale wilts. Sprinkle with the parmesan, transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Turn on the broiler; broil until lightly browned on top, about 3 more minutes.

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I definitely kept to a smaller portion with this one, because of the yummy creaminess… but it was DELICIOUS! I liked the uniqueness that the cumin and cayenne added, but you do NOT have to add those spices… that’s my addition. This one you can definitely play around with.

Well, my day is done, I have enjoyed an evening of Bachelor watching with my friends, and now I’m gonna kiss my hubby and babies goodnight! Have a good one!

And for the quote of the day:

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Creamy Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

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Yes, some could call this a copycat recipe of the famous Olive Garden Chicken and Gnocchi soup! I, personally, think it tasted quite similar, but it wasn’t quite as salty… which I liked! I also didn’t use heavy cream, so it probably cut down on the calories as well. This one was DEFINITELY a winner! We had plenty of leftovers so my husband gets to enjoy this one for lunch for the next few days! He’s excited! ūüėČ

So, here is the recipe! Enjoy, and slurp up this awesome soup as the weather turns more and more chilly outside! It’ll keep you warm inside!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 TB butter
  • 3/4 lb chicken tenderloins cooked and chopped (about 6-7 chicken tenderloins chopped… makes 1 or 1 1/2 cups chicken)
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth (1 32oz. box)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 stalk of celery finely chopped (or more if you prefer… I like to go light on celery)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 2 TB white whole wheat all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1 cup rough chopped (or whole, with stems removed) fresh baby spinach
  • 2 TB parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup half&half

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Instructions:

1. Cook your chicken in 1 Tb olive oil, about 4 minutes each side, and sprinkle garlic salt on each side as cooking. Remove from heat and chop into 1/2 inch pieces and set aside.
2. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium heat and then add the celery, onion, carrots and garlic and stir for 3-5 minutes, or until the celery starts to soften.
3. Whisk in the flour, then add the chicken broth slowly while stirring.
4. Next. add the chicken, nutmeg, thyme, and sage and stir well. Increase heat to bring to a boil, then reduce to let simmer for 15 minutes or so.
5. Bring to low heat so no longer bubbling, and SLOWLY add the half&half so as not to curdle the milk. Then, add the spinach, gnocchi and parmesan cheese. I use fresh gnocchi, so it only needed to cook for 2-3 minutes after, and then it was ready to serve!
6. If needed (I did!), add equal parts corn starch and cold water in a separate bowl, stir, and then slowly incorporate it into the soup as a thickener.

DELICIOUS!!!!!

And now, for the quote of the day:

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