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Classic Key Lime Pie

April 24, 2017

 

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Spring Break. Florida. Key Lime Pie. It’s tart, sweet, rich, creamy and perhaps the easiest pie you’ll ever make.  Top the pie with freshly whipped cream and garnish with strips of zest. Your first taste will have you dreaming of white sand beaches.

Classic Key Lime Pie

Crust

1 1/2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs (about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons  granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lime zest
3 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1 dozen tiny key limes or 4 regular limes)

Whipped Topping
3/4 cup (175 ml) heavy whipping cream
**1 to 2 tablespoons powdered or granulated sugar, to taste

**I left the whipping cream without sugar, I feel it balances the   sweetness of the pie.

Preheat oven to 350°

Make crust: Combine graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. Use the outer edge of a heavy measuring cup to press in neat, firm sides. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack while you prepare filling. Leave oven on.

Make filling: Zest limes into the bottom of a medium bowl until you have 1 1/2 tablespoons. Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more. Squeeze zested limes until you have 2/3 cups juice. Whisk into yolk mixture until combined. Pour into graham crust and bake pie for another 10 minutes, until set but not browned on top at all. Let pie cool completely before adding topping.

Make topping: In a medium bowl, beat cream (and sugar, if using) until soft peaks are formed. Spread over top of chilled pie. Ideally, pie should be chilled at least another 2 to 3 hours with the cream on top so that it can fully set before you take a slice.

Key lime pie keeps in fridge for about a week.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

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Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

April 15, 2017

 

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Deviled Eggs. What a throwback! Well, they’ve made a comeback of sorts. Traditional eggs barely need a recipe. Ingredients from your favorite salad can be used to create these tasty treats. The anchovies add a salty, briny flavor and the breadcrumb topping adds that garlic crouton flavor we love. Last year these eggs were a big hit.   To ensure the eggs will peel easily, make these perfect hard boiled eggs 2-4 days ahead.

Caesar Salad Deviled Eggs

Serves 6 to 12

6 large eggs
12 small romaine lettuce leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons mayo (or greek yogurt )
2 teaspoons smooth Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 anchovy fillet, minced (optional) (or 1-2 teaspoons of anchovy paste)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese or more to taste

Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once water begins to boil, reduce it to medium-low and simmer eggs for exactly 10 minutes. Drain eggs and cover with cold water. Sitting them in ice water will help the eggs chill more quickly.

Arrange 12 small lettuce leaves on a serving platter. Carefully peel the eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Clean the knife in-between each egg for a cleaner cut. Remove the yolks and place them in a small bowl. Arrange the whites on leaves. Mash the yolks with the mayo, Dijon, Worcestershire, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the parsley until smooth. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the filling aside.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the anchovy and garlic and cook, stirring, until the anchovy begins to dissolve into the oil, about 1 minute. Add the lemon zest and bread crumbs and saute them until golden, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in Parmesan and set crumbs aside.

When you’re ready to serve the eggs, spoon the yolk mixture back into the cavities of the egg whites. (You could pipe the filling with a star tip.) Sprinkle each egg with the crumb mixture. Make sure to sprinkle the crumbs right before serving to keep them crisp. Garnish with additional chopped parsley and serve.

**To help steady the eggs, you can slice a little piece off the bottom of   the egg. They will sit up straight.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

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Tomato Mint Quinoa

April 11, 2017

IMG_5772This Easter I’m grilling lamb chops, served with a mint pesto. I need a side. A gluten-free side. With family members needing to follow a strict diet, this recipe is the perfect companion for lamb. (If not using quinoa, I would choose Israeli Couscous). Served warm or at room temperature, the quinoa comes alive with the garlic, tomatoes, mint, red onion and feta.

Tomato Mint Quinoa

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cup quinoa
water
2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 14.5 oz can petit tomato diced
Salt and pepper
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, more for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Cook the quinoa according to the package adding a dash of salt and olive oil to the cooking water.
In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-high. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the chopped garlic. Cook for 1 minute or less and then add the canned diced tomatoes. (I didn’t add all the juice in the can for a dryer dish). Season with salt and pepper and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Now stir in the cooked quinoa. Once warmed through, add the chopped fresh mint. Stir to combine and remove from heat.
When ready to serve, transfer the quinoa to serving bowls topping each with a portion of the finely chopped red onions, feta cheese and more fresh mint leaves for garnish.

Adapted from: themediterraneandish

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One-Pot Lemon Scallop Pea Pasta

April 2, 2017

 

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Here’s a tasty one-pot meal. The buttery scallops, silky pasta and seasonal sweet peas combine with a delicate lemony sauce to have dinner on the table in just 30 minutes.

One-Pot Lemon Scallop Pea Pasta

Serves 3-4

1/4 cup olive oil

1 lb small scallops,  Frozen (thawed) scallops are perfect for this recipe
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 pound spaghetti
1 lemon, zested and juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)
3/4 cup peas, defrosted
1/4 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pat the scallops dry and season all sides generously with salt and pepper. Heat up a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat and cook the scallops until golden brown on both sides, 1-2 minutes per side. (My scallops did not brown up, I may have put too much oil in the pan. Do not over cook just to brown). Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook, stirring, until the garlic is slightly golden, but not brown, about 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and uncooked pasta. Bring to a boil and then turn down to low. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Remove the cover and simmer to reduce the sauce, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes (this step really does thicken the sauce). Remove from the heat and stir in the scallops, defrosted peas, lemon juice, lemon zest, and flat leaf parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. You could serve with shards of Parmesan cheese.

Adapted from: I Am A Food Blog

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Watermelon Radish and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

March 25, 2017

 

IMG_5622The star of this salad, watermelon radishes, are named for their vibrant pink centers. They taste like other radishes; slightly sweet and a bit peppery.  A mix of seasonal greens, english cucumbers and smoked salmon, along with the lemon dill dressing complete this colorful spring dish.

Watermelon Radish and Smoked Salmon Salad with Lemon-Dill Dressing

Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoon chopped dill
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 cups baby spinach (7 ounces) or a mix of spring greens
6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch ribbons
1 medium English cucumber—peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
2 radishes, halved and thinly sliced  (only used 2 because of the size)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil with the lemon juice and dill and season with salt and pepper. *Add the spinach (and additional greens), smoked salmon, cucumber, watermelon radishes (slice with a mandolin if you have one) and scallions to the bowl and toss well. Transfer the salad to plates and serve.

*I preferred to arrange the salad on serving plates and then drizzle with dressing.

*Additional ingredients….soft cheese (goat) and capers.

Adapted from: Food&Wine

 

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Mini Guinness Chocolate Floats

March 11, 2017

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I love a full bodied stout. I love coffee. I love chocolate. These mini floats combine all those flavors in one or two tasty sips. The Guinness, with its rich, creamy notes, is the perfect partner for chocolate ice cream. Boozy whipped cream is a terrific topper. Take a look at additional ideas for St. Pats. Corned beef and Cabbage egg rolls. Flatbread. Corned beef and Guinness caramelized onions grilled cheese. St. Paddy’s Day stuffed potatoes.

Mini Guinness Chocolate Floats

Makes 6 shooter sized floats

1 – 12oz bottle Guinness Extra Stout
3/4 cup of chocolate ice cream
Whiskey Whipped Cream (recipe below) and Chocolate Sauce for serving

Place 2 tablespoons of ice cream in each of 6 small shooter glasses. Top each glass with 2 oz of Guinness Extra Stout and serve with whipped cream and chocolate sauce

Whiskey Whipped Cream
Makes about 1 cup of whipped cream

1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of Irish whiskey

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat heavy cream until thick and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and whiskey and beat until just incorporated. Extra cream can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Adapted from: Jelly Toast

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Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas With Pineapple Avocado Topper

March 5, 2017

IMG_5328This enchilada recipe will brighten up any winter day. Avocado, lime, pineapple and cilantro are tossed together for a crisp and flavorful topper. The filling: smokey chicken, poblanos, rice and cheese. It’s an easy one sheet pan prep. Simply mix, stuff, roll and bake and you’ve got yourself a healthier, easy enchilada.

Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas With Pineapple Avocado Salsa

Serves 6

1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders or small breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
1 poblano pepper
2 cups homemade (recipe below) or store-bought salsa verde
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
10-12 corn or flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup shredded pepper jack

Pineapple Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, diced or sliced
1 cup chopped pineapple
1 jalapeno, seeded + chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken on a baking sheet and rub with the olive oil, chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Add the poblano (de-seed and cut into slices) to the baking sheet. Transfer to the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Shred the chicken with two forks.

Add the shredded chicken and poblano in a bowl. Add 1/2 cup salsa verde, the rice and the cilantro, toss to combine. Pour 1/2 cup of the salsa verde onto the bottom of a 9×13 inch baking dish. Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for one minute. Spoon a little of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla, tuck and roll, placing the tortilla, seam side down, into the baking dish. Pour the remaining salsa verde over top of the enchiladas and then top with the remaining the cheese. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove and top with the Pineapple Avocado Salsa.

Pineapple Avocado Salsa

In a medium bowl, gently toss together all the ingredients. Keep stored in the fridge for up 2 days.

Salsa Verde (or store bought)

Yields: 2 1/2 cups

This salsa verde recipe is easy to make. Just roast the tomatillos and pepper(s) and blend with a few basic ingredients for a fresh home-made salsa verde.

1½ pounds tomatillos (about 12 medium), husked and rinsed
1 to 2 medium jalapeños, stemmed (omit for mild salsa, use 1 jalapeño for medium salsa and 2 jalapeños for hot salsa, note that spiciness will depend on heat of actual peppers used)
½ cup chopped white onion (about ½ medium onion)
¼ cup packed fresh cilantro leaves (more if you love cilantro)
2 tablespoons to ¼ cup lime juice (1 to 2 medium limes, juiced), to taste
½ to 1 teaspoon salt, to taste

Preheat the broiler with a rack about 4 inches below the heat source. Place the tomatillos and jalapeño(s) on a rimmed baking sheet and broil until they’re blackened in spots, about 5 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven, carefully flip over the tomatillos and pepper(s) with tongs and broil for 4 to 6 more minutes, until the tomatillos are splotchy-black and blistered.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine the chopped onion, cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt. Once the tomatillos are out of the oven, carefully transfer the hot tomatillos, pepper(s) and all of their juices into the food processor or blender.
Pulse until the mixture is mostly smooth and no big chunks of tomatillo remain, scraping down the sides as necessary. Season to taste with additional lime juice and salt, if desired. If you’d like to make creamy avocado salsa verde, let the salsa cool down before blending in 1 to 2 diced avocados (the more avocado, the creamier it gets).

Adapted from: RickBayless

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Sear-Roasted Halibut with Blood Orange Salsa

February 25, 2017

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Enjoy citrus as lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are at their peak right now. And blood oranges, with their beautiful pink/red color, create the perfect salsa to accent this flaky white fish. This dish is easy to prepare…start with a sear on the stove and finish in the oven for a crisp and moist winter entree.

Sear-Roasted Halibut with Blood Orange Salsa 

Serves 4

For the salsa

3/4 cup fresh navel or Valencia orange juice (from 2 medium oranges)
3 small blood oranges, cut into segments, segments cut in half
2 Tbs. minced red onion
1 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. finely grated navel or Valencia orange zest (from 2 medium oranges)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Halibut

1 tsp. finely grated navel or Valencia orange zest (from 1 small orange)
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 6-oz. skinless halibut fillets
3 Tbs. olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Make the salsa
In a small saucepan, boil the orange juice over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the reduced orange juice, blood orange segments, onion, cilantro, olive oil, and orange zest. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the halibut
In a small bowl, mix the orange zest, thyme, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Rub the mixture all over the halibut fillets. Heat the oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot, arrange the fillets in the pan. Sear for about 2 minutes without moving; then use a thin slotted metal spatula to lift a piece of fish and check the color. When the fillets are nicely browned, flip them and put the pan in the oven.

Roast until the halibut is just cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the halibut to serving plates. Spoon some of the salsa over each fillet.

Serve with a simple green salad and rice.

Adapted from: Fine Cooking

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A Simple Carrot Soup

February 18, 2017

IMG_6564This is the simplest of carrot soups. It has 5 ingredients….onions, carrots, curry paste, coconut milk and lime. Saute and puree. To finish be creative. I topped with a squeeze of lime, cilantro, roasted chickpeas and a few dollops of chili oil. Enjoy a bowl of warm, cozy, healthy and healing soup.

A Simple Carrot Soup

Serves: 4 large bowls

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin coconut oil

1 onion, chopped

1 tablespoon red curry paste, or to taste

2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped – 1/2-inch chunks

1 14-ounce can full-fat coconut milk (for us I used lite) don’t skip for entertaining

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste

1 1/2 cups water, or to cover

1 lime

Garnish: micro greens OR cilantro; toasted almonds OR roasted chickpeas, chili oil.

In a large soup pan over medium-high heat add the butter and onion. Stir until the onions are well-coated, and allow to saute until translucent, a few minutes. Stir in the curry paste, and then the carrots. Allow to cook another minute or two, and then add the coconut milk, salt, and water, adding more water to cover if needed. Allow to simmer until the carrots are tender, 10 – 15 minutes, and then puree using a blender or hand blender until the soup is completely silky smooth.

Next (with any soup) – you need to make adjustments. Add more water if the consistency needs to be thinned out. Taste for salt, add more if needed. Next season with a squeeze of lime juice.

Garnish to your desire. I think a squeeze of lime, cilantro (adds a ton of flavor), dollop of chili oil, and chickpeas are the PERFECT garnish.

Serve with toasted pita wedges (to toast, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar).

Adapted from: 101 Cookbooks

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Spiced Pepita Brittle

February 11, 2017

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This decadent dessert is simple to make and requires just a few ingredients. It can be made in advance of the big night and promises a creamy and chocolatey end to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner. The pepita brittle complements the panna cotta, offering a smokey and salty side. Chocolate’s not your jam? I’ve also made this version. If you are looking for entree choices check out my Shrimp Capellini post.

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Spiced Pepita Brittle

Serves 5

1¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup 2% milk
½ cup sugar
1 (3.5oz) slightly over 1/2 cup, high quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp (1 packet) Knox unflavored gelatin
¼ cup cold water

Pepita Brittle

Vegetable oil or spray
3/4 cup salted roasted pipitas (sunflower seeds)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Sprinkle the gelatin over ¼ cup cold water; allow to gel up for about 10 minutes.
Put the cream, milk, and sugar in a pan. Cook on medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and vanilla extract. Mix until melted.
Add gelatin and mix until dissolved.
Strain the mixture with a fine mesh strainer. Then pour the mixture into individual molds or ramekins. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.

Run a knife around the panna cottas and invert onto plates. Garnish with shards, malden salt and whip creme if desired.

Make Ahead: The panna cottas can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. The pepita brittle can be stored in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or lightly oiled parchment paper. In a small bowl, toss the with the cinnamon and nutmeg. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 3/4 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of water and cook over high heat, swirling the pan gently, until a medium amber caramel forms, about 6-10 minutes. Remove from the heat and swirl in the butter and spices. Pour the brittle onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it in a very thin layer. Add the pepita’s quickly as the caramel sets quickly, top with malden salt. Let cool completely, about 20 minutes, then crack it into shards.

Garnish the panna cotta with shards and sprinkle loose pipitas on top. Add additional salt if desired. I also passed a freshly whipped bowl of creme.

Adapted from: FoodandWine

 

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Creamy Avocado Spinach Pesto

February 3, 2017

 

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Do not go to the Dr. two weeks after the holidays! Randy came home from a physical with a slightly elevated cholesterol number. What!? The blogger wife needs to step up her Dr. skills. High cholesterol is one of those health issues that can sneak up on you. We really do try to eat healthy with a few hick-ups now and again. Many of my posts that are sweet or fatty are typically for entertaining, not our regular fare. So to get us on track, I’ve collected a good list of cholesterol-slashing superfoods from nutritionists with science on their side. The list consists of oats, red wine, salmon, nuts, green tea, beans, dark chocolate, garlic, olive oil, spinach, avocado, apples, strawberries, red grapefruit and artichokes. Incorporate these healthy foods along with 8-10 hours of sleep and exercise and those numbers should decrease.

When I found this pesto recipe that included many of the above superfoods I had to make it for my sweetie!

Creamy Avocado Spinach Pesto

Serving 4
1 clove garlic
1 avocado
1 cup fresh spinach
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3/4 to 1 cup pasta water (I used olive oil to right the consistency)
salt and pepper to taste

10 oz spaghetti or fettuccine (best if gluten-free) OR

*A filet of meaty white fish, like cod or halibut

If your cooking pasta, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
While pasta is cooking, add the rest of the ingredients to your blender and blend until it turns into a smooth sauce. Start with 3/4 cup of pasta water and add more as needed to get the consistency you want.
Toss the pasta with the sauce in a bowl and serve immediately.

*if you’re entree is Cod, now is the time to sauté the fish. Place in on top of a smear of pesto. Top with shredded basil and toasted pecan pieces.

This sauce is best served the day it is made, as it uses avocados which will turn a brownish.

Adapted from: Jocooks

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Simple Beet, Arugula and Feta Salad

January 28, 2017

 

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I love beets. But even if you’re a hater PLEASE give this simple (15 minutes, 4 ingredients) garnet-hued salad a try. The beets are raw and take on a completely different flavor. This salad is earthy, bitter, savory and sweet…with a crunch.  This will be part of my Valentine’s Day menu. Additional salad ideas…..Beet and Goat Cheese Napoleon Salad or Blood Orange and Fennel.

Simple Beet, Arugula and Feta Salad

Serves: 2 entrée size or 4 small

2 tablespoons pipitas or pistachios, toasted
2 medium red beets
Handful arugula, roughly chopped
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (or goat)

Balsamic Dressing

2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed

In mixing bowl measure honey, mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar and crushed garlic. Stir to combine. Slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.

First, toast the pepitas in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant and making little popping noises, about 5 minutes. Transfer and cool.

Peel the rough skin from the beets with a vegetable peeler. If you have a mandoline, use it to slice the beets into thin match sticks. Or slice with a knife into VERY thin rounds. Working in batches, stack a bunch and  slice them into long, thin match sticks.
In a medium-sized serving bowl, combine the beets, arugula, crumbled feta and pepitas. Drizzle in just enough dressing (you will have a least half left over for another salad) to lightly coat the salad once tossed.

Adapted from: cookieandkate

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Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin & Fennel

January 22, 2017

 

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Pork and fennel are a distinctive pairing. It works. When the fennel roasts it takes on a subtle, earthy, caramelized flavor. It’s an easy one (sheet) pan dinner. Celery root puree is the perfect accompaniment to this meal.

Honey-Glazed Pork Tenderloin & Fennel

Serves 4

1 1/2 Ib. (or close) pork tenderloin (have your butcher trim it up)

1/3 cup cider vinegar

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 medium fennel bulbs or 1 large, trimmed into wedges, fronds reserved

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a baking pan with foil. Place the pork in pan and season with salt and pepper, both sides.

For glaze: in a small bowl whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard and garlic. Then slowly whisk in olive oil. Chop reserved fennel fronds (up to 1/2 cup) into glaze.

Pour glaze over pork. Add fennel wedges to the pan, toss glaze that collects in the pan until wedges are coated. Roast 30-35 minutes or until pork is done (145 degrees). Cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Top with microgreens or fronds. Serve over celery root puree.

Adapted from: BHG

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Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry

January 15, 2017

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Do you have any left over red pepper jelly from the holidays? I did… thanks Biz. That single ingredient was the inspiration for this Asian inspired dish. Why order carry-out when this delicious low-calorie meal is ready in 15 minutes. You will likely have most of these ingredients in your pantry. Sweet and sour with a kick. When a recipe makes your rotation list, you know it’s a winner!!  Serve over brown rice.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Stir-Fry

Serves 3-4  (or two hungry people)

1 tbsp canola oil
2 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped pineapple
*1/4 cup red pepper jelly
*3 tbsp lemon juice
*2 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp hot-red-chili-flakes
1 green onion, thinly sliced

HEAT a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high. Add oil, then chicken. Stir-fry chicken for 3 to 4 min. Add pepper, pineapple, red pepper jelly, lemon juice, soy and chili flakes. Cook until pepper is tender-crisp, about 2 to 3 more min. Sprinkle with green onion. Serve over rice.

*The second time I made this I doubled the sauce. (jelly, lemon juice and soy) LOVE how it soaks up the rice.

Adapted from: Chatelaine

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Greek Salad with Marinated Flank Steak

January 11, 2017

img_4900-2Healthy Mediterranean cuisine for a perfect and refreshing weeknight salad. All the classic Mediterranean ingredients are present…kalamata olives, cherry tomatoes, seedless cucumbers, green peppers and Feta cheese on a bed of Romaine lettuce. Adding flank steak makes for a hearty entree but feel free to swap out for a couple of chicken breasts. I like adding Tzatziki, with its bright flavor, as a schmear for the flatbreads and an accompaniment to the vegetables. This hearty salad holds up nicely for leftovers.

Greek Salad with Marinated Flank Steak

Serves 4

1 flank steak
4 Flatbreads (store-bought)

Marinade / Dressing
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked pepper

Tzatziki 
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 Lebanese cucumber, peeled, deseeded and grated
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt

Salad
3 Lebanese (or English) cucumbers, halved lengthways and sliced thick
8 oz cherry tomatoes
1 green pepper, sliced
½ red onion, sliced thinly
7 oz marinated Feta cheese, cubed
½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

Romaine lettuce, sliced (optional)

Whisk together the marinade / dressing ingredients in large, shallow dish. Pour out ⅓ cup to use as the dressing. Add the flank steak to the marinade and evenly coat; cover and allow to marinade for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

While steak is marinating, prepare tzatziki. Combine tzatziki ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Toss salad ingredients together and divide between four plates.

Heat a grill pan / skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the steak  from the marinade and add to the pan. Sear until the steak is cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of the steak).
Remove steak from the pan, allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and arrange on salad. Slice the flatbread and arrange on salad plates. Drizzle with the reserved dressing and serve with the tzatziki.

Adapted from: Cafe Delites

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Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

January 2, 2017

 

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Here’s a quick and easy skillet dinner to start off the New Year. You simply brush a mixture of olive oil, thyme, fennel seeds, salt and pepper on the chicken and place them on a bed of lemon slices and onions. A splash of wine while cooking turns the juices into a creamy sauce for a memorable one-pan meal.

Skillet-Roasted Lemon Chicken

Serves 4-6

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup good olive oil
1 lemon, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 yellow onion, halved and sliced 1⁄4-inch thick
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees

Place the thyme, fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a mini food processor and process until ground. Pour the olive oil into a small glass measuring cup, stir in the herb mixture, and set aside.

Distribute the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and distribute the onion and garlic on top. Place the chicken, skin side down, on top of the onion and brush with about half the oil and herb mixture. Turn the chicken skin side up, pat it dry with paper towels and brush with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan (not on the chicken) and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers to 160 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the oven, sprinkle it with the lemon juice, cover the skillet tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, and serve hot with the pan juices, cooked lemon, and onion. Serve over brown rice.

Make-ahead tip: Assemble the chicken in the pan and refrigerate for a few hours before roasting.

Adapted from: Ina Garten
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Mushroom Lasagna

December 17, 2016

img_4854You’re in menu planning mode for the holidays. Do you go with the usual beef tenderloin and all the perfect sides or shake it up??  THIS decadent lasagna just might be the answer. Pasta sheets layered with a simple mushroom ragout, nutty Parmigiana-Reggiano, and a creamy, rich béchamel sauce.  Serve with a Christmas salad and crusty bread.

Mushroom Lasagna

Serves 6

Salt
Olive oil
3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cremini or portobello mushrooms
1 cup freshly grated parmesan (I added more)

Preheat your oven to 375°F. Bring a large, wide of water to boil with salt and a splash of oil, that will help keep your noodles from sticking together as they drain. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Make béchamel: Bring the milk and garlic to simmer in a saucepan, or heat it in your microwave, and set it aside. Melt 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons or 1 stick) butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for one minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour in the hot milk, a little at a time at first and stirring until combined. Once you’ve added half of it, you can add the second half all at once, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring or whisking frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until thick. Set aside.

Prepare mushrooms: Discard portobello mushroom stems and/or trim the ends of the cremini stems. Slice mushrooms 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter over medium in the bottom of the large, wide pot you used to cook the noodles earlier, or in a large sauté pan. Cook half the mushrooms with a couple pinches of salt for about 5 minutes, or until they are tender and release some of their juices, tossing to make sure they cook evenly. Repeat with additional oil and butter, and remaining mushrooms.

Assemble lasagna: Spread some sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 12 or 9 x 13 baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce (about 1/4 of what remains), 1/3 of the mushrooms and 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Repeat two more times then top with a final layer of noodles, your remaning sauce and last 1/4 cup of parmesan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until top is browned and the sauce is bubbly. Let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. To freeze, cool completely and wrap two to three times in plastic wrap before freezing.

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

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Dark-Chocolate Bark with Dried Cranberries, Candied Ginger and Pepitas

December 6, 2016

img_4805Christmas bark is a great option for a quick and tasty hostess gift. It requires only a few ingredients that you most likely have on hand. Making bark can be as creative as you want to make it and NO BAKING REQUIRED. I chose sweet cranberries, candied ginger and pepitas…sweet and salty with a kick.

Dark- Chocolate with Dried Cranberries, Ginger and Pepitas

1/2 cup of salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons finely chopped candied ginger

The above measurements can be adjusted to your taste.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper. In a glass bowl, heat two-thirds of the chocolate over simmering water once melted add the remaining chocolate. (OR in a microwave oven at high power in 30-second bursts until just melted. Stir until smooth. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until melted). Scrape the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and spread it into a 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Place your cranberries, ginger and pepitas over the chocolate. Gently press down the ingredients with the back of a spoon. Refrigerate until firm enough to cut (about 30 minutes).

Cut the bark into pieces and transfer to a plate. Serve cold or at room.
The bark can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days or refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

When melting chocolate in a microwave oven, be sure to give the chocolate a quick stir between each 30-second burst to prevent it from scorching.

Be creative and combine any of the following for sweet and savory combinations.

Dried and candied fruits and peels
Nuts: raw or toasted and plain, or seasoned with sweet or savory spices or herbs
Trail mixes or other salty snack mixes
Cookies or pretzels that you can chop or crumble
Toasted seeds or grains
Coconut flakes

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Baked Egg Boats

November 18, 2016

img_4730Baked Egg Boats. Hollow out a baguette, pour in a tasty mixture of egg, pancetta, green onions and cheese, then bake. It’s that easy. Serve with a side of pancetta wrapped asparagus or fruit.

Baked Egg Boats
Makes 4

4 demi sourdough baguettes
5 eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
4 ounces pancetta, finely chopped and fried until crisp
3 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
2 green onions, thinly slicedsalt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut a deep “V” through the tops of each baguette until about a 1/2 inch to the bottom. Unstuff the baguettes.
Place the eggs and cream into bowl and lightly beat together. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and lightly season with salt and pepper.
Divide and pour the mixture into each baguette boat and place onto a baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown, puffed and set in the center. Season with salt and pepper.
Cool for about 5 minutes, cut and serve.

Adapted from: Spoonforkbaconimg_4722img_4720img_4725img_4732

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Roasted Acorn And Delicata Squash with Pomegranate & Parsley

November 10, 2016

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This is a perfectly simple way to prepare the season’s premier harvest. Acorn and delicata squash are drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper then roasted at 425 degrees for 30 minutes. The result is a tender, sweet and nutty side for your holiday table. To finish top with pomegranate arils and fresh parsley. This squash dish is not only delicious but offers a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, beta-carotene as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C and B, magnesium, and manganese.

More ideas… Crusted Butternut Squash that incorporates fresh herbs and parmesan cheese…..and Roasted Butternut Squash Salad, Quinoa and Acorn Squash Salad, Butternut Squash Soup.

 

Roasted Acorn and Delicata Squash With Pomegranate & Parsley

Serves 8

Olive oil cooking spray
2 medium acorn squash or delicate squash (or both)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup pomegranate arils

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly spray two rimmed baking pans with cooking spray. Cut squash crosswise into 1-inch slices.
Use round cookie cutter or small can or jar to remove seeds from middle of each slice. Place slices on prepared pans. Lightly spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Transfer to oven and roast 30 minutes or until golden brown and tender, turning once halfway through.
Transfer squash slices to serving platter drizzle with olive oil,  sprinkle with parsley and pomegranate arils.
Adapted from: Foxeslovelemons

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Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

November 3, 2016

 

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A seasonal salad chock-full of ingredients we love this time of year. By roasting the carrots, they don’t just become tender, they become sweeter with delicious caramelized edges. The carrots are sliced diagonally to give them more surface to caramelize. Adding maple syrup sweetens them to the next level. Adjust the syrup to your liking. The flavors of orange and cranberry shine in this simply prepared dressing.

Maple Roasted Carrot Salad

Serves 4 as an entree,  6 as a side dish

2 pounds carrots, preferably with leafy tops
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup pure Grade A maple syrup (optional per preference)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
3 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane
6 ounces baby arugula
6 ounces goat cheese, such as Montrachet, medium-diced
2/3 cup roasted, salted Marcona almonds, or slivered

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Trim and scrub the carrots. Try to buy carrots less than 1″ in diameter. Cut the carrots in diagonal slices 1 inch wide × 2 inches long (they will shrink when they roast) and place in a medium bowl with ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Toss well and transfer to two sheet pans. They need to be single layer to roast properly. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing once, until the carrots are tender.

**** Add this step if   1. You like the flavor of maple syrup. 2. Want the carrots sweeter. Transfer all the carrots to one of the sheet pans, add the maple syrup, toss, and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are caramelized. Watch them carefully!

Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, then set aside for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, garlic, and ½ teaspoon salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the arugula in a large bowl and add the carrots, cranberries (with their liquid), goat cheese, almonds, and the vinaigrette. (Do not over dress). Toss with large spoons, sprinkle with salt, and serve at room temperature.

Adapted from: Ina Garten

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Apple Pie Pancakes

October 18, 2016

 

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Apple Pie Season. Take advantage of those iconic flavors and create these delicious pancakes. Yep, take all the ingredients, add grated apples and you’ll have your go-to autumn breakfast. I’ll be replacing my traditional pumpkin pancakes with apple for the morning after this year!

Apple Pie Pancakes

Makes 7 or 8 pancakes

Dry Mix
1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/8 teaspoon salt

Wet Mix
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix
1 cup grated medium apple
Butter or vegetable oil for skillet

Vanilla Maple Syrup

1/2 cup maple syrup, warmed gently
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the scrapings of 1 vanilla bean

I suggest adding whip cream to top.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

Use a small bowl add milk. Then add the remaining wet ingredients and mix til combined.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined. The batter will have some small to medium lumps, it’s OK.
Gently fold in the grated apple.
Preheat your skillet over medium heat and brush with 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.

Using a 1/4-cup measure, scoop batter onto warm skillet. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until small bubbles form on the surface of the pancakes, and then flip.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook on the opposite side for about 1 minute, or until golden brown.
Transfer cooked pancakes to a baking sheet and place in a preheated 200 degree oven to keep warm.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more butter or oil to the skilled when needed. Serve immediately.
Vanilla Maple Syrup – Stir together the syrup, vanilla, and serve over pancakes.

I like to serve these pancakes with whipped cream.

Adapted from: Averie Cooks.

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Spaghetti with Warm Bacon-Mushroom Vinaigrette


October 9, 2016

img_4515A KEEPER!!!!  Smokey, earthy, savory and a touch of sweet. Did I forget anything? I used thick cut Applegate bacon which set the tone for this amazing dish that pulled together in less than 30 minutes. This pasta would make a nice appetizer or serve as an entrée with a simple side salad of arugula drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Spaghetti with Warm Bacon-Mushroom Vinaigrette

Serves 6

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 large onion, finely chopped
8 ounces mixed mushrooms, such as cremini and stemmed shiitake, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons finely grated garlic
Kosher salt and pepper

1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 pound spaghetti, thick
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup thinly sliced basil, plus basil leaves for garnish
White truffle oil, for drizzling (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and the fat is rendered, about 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic, season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Add salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water. Return the pasta and water to the pot. Add the bacon-mushroom vinaigrette and the ½ cup each of grated cheese and sliced basil and toss over moderate heat until the pasta is evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to plates and garnish with additional cheese and basil leaves. Drizzle with truffle oil if desired and serve.

Adapted from: Food and Wine

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Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Chutney

September 28, 2016

img_4553There’s a chill in the air, a hint of autumn….roasting season. Time for “pork chops and applesauce!” This recipe highlights how well pork plays with autumnal fruits. I’m using a leaner, flavorful, inexpensive cut of meat…pork tenderloin. The tenderloin cooks quickly, about 20 minutes, which makes it perfect for a weeknight dinner.

The recipe calls for rubbing the loin with herb and then wrapping it with a layer of prosciutto. Adding the apple chutney gives a subtle, sweet, tartness with a bit of a kick (from the ginger) to the savory pork.

Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Apple Chutney

Serves 6-8

2 pork tenderloins (2½ to 3 pounds total)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Good olive oil
10 to 12 slices prosciutto, sliced thin

Apple Chutney (see recipe below)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the tenderloins on a sheet pan and pat them dry with paper towels. Combine the rosemary, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Rub the tenderloins all over with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle all sides with the herb mixture. If there is a thinner “tail,” fold it underneath so the tenderloin is an even thickness throughout. Wrap the tenderloins completely with a single layer of prosciutto. Tie in several places with kitchen string to hold the prosciutto and the “tail” in place. (I just tucked the prosciutto tight in place and didn’t need to string.)

Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, (start checking at 20…the tenderloin will continue to cook as it rests, I suggest 20 minutes) until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle of the end of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees for medium rare and 145 degrees for medium. Cover the tenderloins tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes. Slice diagonally in thick slices and serve warm with the Apple Chutney.

Apple Chutney

**(Makes 5 Cups)

1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 tablespoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (4 oranges)
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and ½-inch-diced
¾ cup raisins
Combine the onion, ginger, orange juice, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seeds, red pepper flakes, and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Add the apples, adding them as you chop to keep them from turning brown. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the raisins and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.

**I halved this total recipe (for 2). We gobbled up the pork but had at least 1 cup left of the chutney. Randy’s suggestion is a topping for vanilla ice cream…..brilliant!!!

Adapted from: Ina Garten

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Panang Curry

September 26, 2016

 

img_4482This recipe is being added to our weeknight repertoire! The rich, creamy sauce has a subtle coconut flavor with a kick from the curry paste. A squeeze of lime adds a bright finish. Serve over brown rice. For a lighter version use Lite Coconut Milk.

Panang Curry

Serves 6

2 cans full fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons thai red curry paste
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
2 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
2 red peppers, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
For serving:  brown rice, fresh lime wedges

For the sauce, in a pot whisk together the coconut milk, paste, lime zest and juice, fish sauce and red pepper flakes. Simmer over medium low, stirring often, until thickened….approximately 20 minutes.
In a large saute pan melt the butter and saute the onion for a few minutes. Add in the chicken until browned on both sides and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken and most the onions to a plate and saute the red peppers until they are slightly browned, about 5 minutes.
Once the sauce thickened, add in the chicken, onions, and red peppers. Stir in the basil and simmer a few more minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Serve over rice (we like brown) with more fresh basil and lime wedges.
Adapted from: A Life From Scratch

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Pear Almond Tart

September 17, 2016

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This Pear Almond Tart allows the seasonal pear to upstage that pumpkin and apple. The combination of flavors is a natural. A sweet crust is filled with a golden brown buttery almond cream and sliced poached pears. For serving, drizzle with caramel sauce, top with salted caramel ice cream, a dusting of powdered sugar or just enjoy as is.

Pear Almond Tart

Sweet Tart Crust

Makes enough for one 9-inch tart crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in — you should have pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulse about 10 seconds each until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Just before you reach this stage, the sound of the machine working the dough will change; heads up. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and, very lightly and sparingly, knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Chill the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, for about 2 hours before rolling.*

To roll the dough: Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Roll out chilled dough on floured sheet of parchment paper to 12-inch round, lifting and turning dough occasionally to free from paper. Using paper as aid, turn dough into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom; peel off paper. Seal any cracks in dough. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang in, making double-thick sides. Pierce crust all over with fork.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

To fully bake the crust: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. (Since you froze the crust, you can bake it without weights.) Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon (or prick it with the tip of a small knife). Bake the crust about 10 minutes longer, or until it is firm and golden brown, brown being the important word: a pale crust doesn’t have a lot of flavor. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool the crust to room temperature.

Storing: The dough can be wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 months. While the fully baked crust can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months, the flavor will be fresher bake it directly from the freezer, already rolled out–just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.

* Alternate press-in technique: If you want to use the press-in method, you can work with the dough as soon as it’s processed. Just press the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Don’t be too heavy-handed; press the crust in so that the edges of the pieces cling to one another, but don’t press so hard that the crust loses its crumbly texture.

Pears

4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 medium-size firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled

Almond Filling
2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract or 2 teaspoons brandy (optional)

1 sweet tart shell, baked (recipe above)

For pears: Bring 4 cups water, sugar, and lemon juice to boil in large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add pears. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until pears are very tender, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in syrup. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For almond filling: Finely grind almonds and flour in processor. Mix in 7 tablespoons sugar, then butter and flavorings (if using). Blend until smooth. Mix in egg. Transfer filling to medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 3 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread almond filling evenly in baked tart crust. Stem pears and cut each in half lengthwise; scoop out cores. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each pear half to fan slices but keep slices tightly overlapped. Slide spatula under pears and arrange atop filling like spokes of wheel with narrow ends in center.

Bake tart until golden and tester inserted into center of filling comes out clean, about 55 minutes. Cool tart in pan on rack. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan. (Can be made 8 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Cut tart into wedges; sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

 

Adapted from: Dorie Greenspan

 

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Balsamic Glazed Caprese Chicken

September 11, 2016

 

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I’m savoring those last flavors of summer with this Balsamic Glazed Caprese Chicken. Another thirty minute meal in one pan. Simply saute your chicken, create a quick garlic balsamic glaze and then reunite the chicken with the sweet sauce. Add garden fresh cherry tomatoes and sliced mozzarella. Top with fresh basil chiffonades. Tender. Sweet. Delicious.

Balsamic Glazed Caprese Chicken

Serves 6

6 skinless, chicken thighs
1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
Cracked black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil (or a light spray of cooking oil spray)
2 tablespoons minced garlic
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2½ tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes, divided
8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 6x ½-inch slices**
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Balsamic Glaze: (Optional To Serve)
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

Preheat oven to 410 degrees.
Season each chicken thigh with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper.
Heat the oil (or cooking spray) in a large oven-proof pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken on both sides until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side. Transfer chicken to a plate; drain most of the excess oil, leaving about a teaspoon worth.
Return the skillet back to the stove; add garlic and cook til until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the vinegar and brown sugar; stirring to combine while heating through. Bring to a simmer, while stirring occasionally, until glaze has thickened (about 5-6 minutes).
Return the chicken to the pan, turning in the glaze to evenly coat. Add 1 cup of the tomatoes, whole, around the chicken and place the chicken into the oven. Bake until the chicken is completely cooked through (about 30 minutes). Top each chicken with a slice of mozzarella cheese; return back into the oven for a further 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
Slice the remaining ½ cup tomatoes in half; place them on top of the cheese; pour over some of the balsamic sauce from the pan and garnish with basil. Serve immediately.
Optional:
If wanting to serve with extra balsamic glaze, make your glaze while the chicken is in the oven. Combine the vinegar and sugar in a small pot and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, allowing to simmer while stirring occasionally, until the glaze is thickened and reduced by half (about 5-6 minutes). Drizzle over the chicken when ready to serve.
Adapted from: Cafe Delites

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Mesa Grill’s Hatch Chili Cheeseburger

August 31, 2016

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A fantastic cheeseburger to celebrate Hatch Season and a food flashback!!! After reading this recipe I was quickly reminded…I have had this burger before!! First bite put me at the dining table of Tom and Maureen a year ago. The chatter began around the table…..”best burger I have ever had,” X 10!!! Five essential ingredients  — a juicy hamburger, lots of cheese (queso sauce), pickled red onions, crumbled tortilla chips AND New Mexico hatch green chiles. Keep this on your top “1″ for your next BBQ.

Mesa Grill’s Green Chile Cheeseburger

Serves 4

Queso Sauce
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup whole milk
12 ounces Chihuahua or Monterey Jack cheese, coarsely grated
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly grated pepper, to taste…needs more salt than you think

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, increase the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese until melted; add the parmesan and season with salt and pepper. ***Keep warm. The sauce can be quickly pulled together while the burgers are cooking. (I had success, re-heating, microwaving , slowly, until warmed and creamy.)

Green Chile Relish
1 medium poblano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly
2 Hatch chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
1 **serrano chile, roasted, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

**I used a jalepeno pepper, serrano peppers are VERY hot

Combine the poblano, Hatch, serano, vinegar, honey, olive oil and cilantro in a bowl and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving. The relish can be made 1 day in advance; bring to room temperature before serving.

Use gloves when handling peppers.

Pickled Red Onions
1½ cups red wine vinegar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 medium red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

Bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Put the onions in a medium bowl, pour the vinegar over, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 48 hours before serving.

Burgers
1½ pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 hamburger buns, split and lightly toasted
12 blue or yellow corn tortilla chips, coarsely crushed

Heat your griddle or large sauté pan over high heat. Add the oil and let heat until it begins to shimmer.

Shape the ground beef with your hands into 4 round patties about 3/4″ inches thick and season each burger on both sides with the salt and pepper. Cook the burgers until golden brown on both sides and cooked to medium, about 8 minutes.

Place the burgers on the buns and top each with a few tablespoons of the queso sauce, chiles, onion and chips.

TO GRILL: Grill 3/4″ burgers 3 minutes on the first side and 5 minutes     on the second side for medium. Let the burgers rest for a few minutes.

Adapted from: Bobby Flay….with 1st taste inspiration from “Master Burger Maker,” Maureen.

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Hatch Chili Chimichurri

August 27, 2016

 

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The 2016 harvest of New Mexico hatch green chiles has arrived…a big deal for you pepper lovers. These peppers are only available once a year, harvested exclusively in Hatch Valley New Mexico August thru mid October. Hatch Valley provides the trifecta of soil, climate and altitude for these southwest jewels to thrive. The chilis are roasted, peeled, diced and added to virtually everything imaginable. The smokey, spicy flavor works well  in condiments, soups, breakfast dishes and can be frozen til next year’s harvest. I’m using them in this recipe to make hatch chili chimichurri. It takes only 10 minutes to prepare and sides well with with your grilled meats. Give it a try before Hatch Chili Season ’16 comes to a close. ***For you locals this is the roasting weekend at Heinen’s!!***

Hatch Chili Chimichurri
Serves 6

½ cup packed cilantro
½ cup packed flat leaf Italian parsley
2 medium size Hatch Chilies, roasted, peeled, stems removed
2 garlic cloves
2 Tablespoons capers
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
⅓ cup good quality olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until all of the ingredients are chopped and well combined. Do not over process or the herbs may turn black.
Adjust consistency with more olive oil for a looser sauce.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Serve at room temperature over meat, fish, shellfish, or vegetables.

Adapted from: Chef Louise AND  thanks to Carol for my introduction to this pepper!!!

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Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

August 21, 2016

 

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There are those rainy summer days that call for a cozy dinner away from the grill. This is it. This season’s harvest is coming to an end and this recipe incorporates all those farm stand favorites. The vegetables are roasted, giving them a rich flavor and the lasagna is assembled with a simple, rich bechamel sauce. Top the lasagna with shredded basil.

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Bechamel Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
4 cups milk
some grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1 chicken bouillon cube (amount that you would dissolve in 1 cup water)
note: if you are using Knorr bouilloncubes, remember they are for 2 cups of water – just cut them in half (so not skip this step…adds a rich layer)

Vegetables to Roast
Any combination of zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, 3 garlic cloves  (chopped up fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes and onion?)
Lasagna noodles for one 13×9 inch baking pan (Don’t use no bake)

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Basil, thinly sliced for garnish

For the Bechamel:
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for just a minute or so. Slowly add the milk and keep whisking. Add the nutmeg, white pepper and bouillon cube and whisk. Cook for a few minutes, whisking, until the bechamel has thickened slightly. Set aside to cool. Stir it once in a while so a skin doesn’t form.

For the vegetables:
Chop vegetables. Mince garlic. Combine half the mixed vegetables on a baking sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for several minutes at 400 degrees. Stir. Roast for several minutes more until vegetables are soft. You can roast a little longer, if you like them to be slightly caramelized. Repeat with remaining vegetables. Set aside to cool slightly.

Cook lasagna noodles for 5 minutes, until soft. Shock in a bowl of ice water, lay on towels to dry.

Cook lasagna noodles for 5 minutes, until soft. Shock in a bowl of ice water, lay on towels to dry.

Spray a 13×9 baking pan cooking spray. Spoon some bechamel thinly on the bottom of the pan. Start with a layer of noodles, a layer of bechamel, some vegetables, and then a layer of a parmesan and mozzarella. Repeat layers until you have 6 layers of noodles. On top of the last layer (no veggies) with  some bechamel and the remaining cheeses. Cover tightly with foil.

Can be refrigerated for a day. When you are ready to bake, bring to room temperature for an hour and then bake for 50 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove foil. Bake for a little longer until top is slightly golden. Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing.

Adapted from: The Italian Dish

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