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Huevos Rancheros

July 21, 2014

DSC_0418The British Open and a festive breakfast was the start to a Funday Sunday. We decided to invite friends over early to watch golf, enjoy Huevos Rancheros, Bloodies…..and then play a round!!! (O.K. so this meal may have been more successful than my golf game!) Mexican fare is my go-to order for breakfast out, so I wanted to find an easy and delicious recipe for my fav…here it is!! The black bean and salsa components are as simple as adding a few ingredients into a processor. Lightly toast the corn tortillas, fry up your eggs and assemble. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, avocado and a few cilantro sprigs. A platter of watermelon lightly salted, a few lime wedges and cilantro, rounds out your meal.

Huevos Rancheros

Makes 4

3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 corn tortillas

1 cup black beans (from a can, drained and rinsed)

2 clove garlic

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

1 cup salsa (store-bought or home-made)

4 eggs

2 Tablespoons sour cream or more

Fresh cilantro, for garnish

Avocado, sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Guacamole

In a food processor, add the beans, garlic, cumin, chili powder, a teaspoon of oil (or until desired consistency), salt and pepper. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and set it on a low heat. Heat through. Remove from heat.

Put a skillet over the burner and add a bit of oil. Lightly fry each tortilla until slightly browned and bubbly. (or toast over gas flame) Transfer to a plate.

Add a teaspoon of oil and a little butter to the skillet and crack your eggs. Continue to fry the eggs (medium-low heat) until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

In the meantime, spread the bean mixture over each tortilla, followed by the salsa. Then top each with an egg. Dollop with a little more salsa, fresh cilantro sprigs, salt and pepper.

Make ahead: You can make the salsa and bean mixture the day before. Warm up before assembling.

Adapted from  Bev Wiedner

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Steak Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing

July 13, 2014

 

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Dinner in 15 minutes! I think you will find the combination of fresh greens and a hearty flavorful steak spiced with an earthy dressing, the perfect weeknight meal. While the steak is cooking, assemble your salad and whip up this easy topping. Make it your own by adding additional ingredients….radishes and cherry tomatoes.

Steak Salad       Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

Serves 4

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 (10-12 ounce) boneless strip steaks, 1 inch thick, trimmed

Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 romaine lettuce hearts, torn into bite size pieces

1 beet, trimmed, peeled and grated      (while this is a quick option, I will cook and cube the beets next time I make this…..or pick up a few from the salad bar at my local market!  They have more flavor.)

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Start your grill or heat oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Pat steaks dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add steaks to the skillet and cook until well browned and meat registers 120 to 125 degrees (medium- rare) 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to cutting board, tent with aluminum foil, let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk sour cream, lemon juice, chives and horseradish together in large bowl.

Slice steaks thin. Add lettuce, beet, and walnuts and dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide salad and slice of steak evenly among plates and serve.

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Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Relish

July 6, 2014

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In anticipation of a bumper crop of red peppers, I have been searching for recipes….and this is a beauty! The Mediterranean overtones of this simple relish pair perfectly with a hearty white fish or grilled chicken. Serve over a bed of nutrient packed micro-greens simply dressed with a touch of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Pepper Relish            (Adapted from Fine Cooking)

1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved

1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro, rough chopped

2 tablespoons scallions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon capers

1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon jalapeno, minced

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus a squeeze of lemon

Salt and pepper

Prepare grill. Place whole peppers on grill or cut the tops and bottoms from the peppers and cut the peppers into 3 or 4 flat pieces. Grill the pepper sides and bottoms skin side down until blistered and charred all over, 6 to 8 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with a plate. Let sit until cool enough to handle. Peel the charred skin and discard. Cut the peppers into bite-size pieces or wide strips.

Put the pepper pieces in a medium bowl and add the remaining ingredients, stirring well and seasoning to taste with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

The relish keeps well in the refrigerator in a sealed container for at least a week. It’s best to make it a couple of hours ahead to allow the flavors to develop.

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Roasted Carrot and Avocado Salad

June 28, 2014
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One of my most popular posts to date is the Marinated Mozzarella appetizer, inspired by my favorite blog Lottie and Doof. I returned to this award-winning site in an anticipation of a bumper crop of carrots, (fingers crossed Sil and Courtney). For this recipe I par boiled carrots earlier in the day which made for a quick side to a grilled pork tenderloin. Not only is this dish a show stopper, the flavor profile of cumin, thyme, garlic and a hint of citrus work well with the carrots. The dollop of sour cream will surprise you and there are lots of alternatives for this tasty topper.   Check out the Lottie and Doof site where they highlight this recipe (and the beautiful Public House Hotel) that appears on the Pump Room Menu.
Roast Carrot and Avocado Salad 
Serves 4                                                                       
Adapted from Lottie and Doof, and ABC Kitchen
1.5 pounds medium carrots, peeled
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2-1 teaspoon red chile flakes, to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 orange, halved
2 lemons, halved
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1/3 cup sour cream  (or Greek yogurt)
micro greens
¼ cup sunflower seeds, toasted
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted
¼ cup white sesame seeds, toasted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the carrots and cook until just barely tender, about 10 minutes.
With a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, cumin, thyme, chili, 1½ tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper until crushed and pasty or in a blender.
Add the vinegar and ¼ c. of the olive oil and continue pounding until well-mixed. (Or a food processor until pasty.)
Drain carrots and arrange in a single layer in a medium roasting pan. Spoon the cumin mixture over, toss to coat. Cut the whole orange in half. Arrange the 2 orange halves and 2 of the lemon halves over the carrots, cut-side down. Roast for 25 minutes or until carrots are golden brown.
Carefully transfer the carrots to a platter. When cool enough to handle, squeeze 2 tablespoons  juice each from the roasted orange and lemon into a small bowl. Squeeze in 3 tablespoons juice from the remaining uncooked lemon halves. Whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to emulsify. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle over the carrots to your liking, reserving some for the next step. Arrange the carrots on a serving platter. Arrange the avocado and sprouts on top. Drizzle with reserved sauce. Dollop sour cream or yogurt over the top, then sprinkle with toasted seeds. Serve.DSC_0293
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Lobster Mac N Cheese

June 19, 2014

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A very special side dish or a decadent entree…you choose. I’m pairing this rich, indulgent dish with BBQ’d Ribs. The tender chunks of fresh lobster are king here mixing well with the combination of Gruyere and cheddar cheese. Like I said, this is a very special meal for the MVP of our family…Dad! We can talk healthy food tomorrow!! Today I feel we should spoil the man with comfort food…after all he has kept us all comfortable for years.

Lobster Mac N Cheese

Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
12 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (4 cups)
8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat
1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Boil water in a large pot and generously salt. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it. In a large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. Still whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, the pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and lobster and stir well. Place the mixture in 6 to 8 individual gratin dishes or a casserole dish.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Adapted from Food Network/Ina Garten

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Strawberry And Rhubarb Compote with Pork Tenderloin

June 14, 2014

 

 

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A match made in heaven. Strawberries and Rhubarb. Typically, this combination is seen on the dessert table. I like the idea of a savory dish and am pairing this seasonal side with pan seared pork tenderloin. The flavor components work well with pork (or chicken) and kumquats add a punch of citrus. This recipe yields about 2 plus cups of compote……leftovers…always a nice topping for vanilla ice cream.

Compote

Serves 6

2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2″ pieces

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cumin

1 sprig of rosemary (optional)

1 cup kumquats (about 10), cut in half OR 1 Tablespoon orange zest

2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin (about 2 tenderloins)

Mix all ingredients (first 11) together in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and then simmer for approximately 15 minutes until thick. (Remove rosemary sprig) Using a “smasher”…smash away!

For the pork, cover with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 150°F, turning pork occasionally, about 8 minutes longer for medium tenderloins and 10 minutes for large.

Transfer pork to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut pork crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; arrange on platter. Serve with Compote.

Adapted from Bon Apetit

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Squash Blossoms Stuffed With Ricotta And Goat Cheese

June 9, 2014

 photo (1)Squash blossoms are the beautiful, yellow edible flowers that grow with zucchini and a variety of summer squash. They have a subtle flavor and make the perfect vessel for delicious fillings. Squash blossoms are a seasonal treat and sadly, hard to find in traditional grocery stores due to how incredibly perishable they are. Search for these blossoms at your farmers markets. These beauties came from my garden (yep, I have a garden!!!) that I’m sharing with friends, Sil and Courtney (@alifefromscratch). Courtney researched how to harvest the flowers and discovered you only pick the male flower as the female flower produces the fruit. (Who knew??) Once picked, they are best used within a few hours to a day or so. These delicacies not only make a pretty appetizer they are also high in calcium, iron, vitamin A and C. I filled the flowers with a combination of ricotta and goat cheese and paired them with a tomato dipping sauce. YUM!

Squash Blossoms

Tomato Sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pound plum tomatoes, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cook garlic and red pepper flakes in oil over medium heat, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, water, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, simmer until thickened, about 25 minutes.
 Squash Blossoms
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta
1/2 cup goat cheese
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup basil, finely chopped
2/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
12 to 16 large zucchini squash blossoms
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chilled seltzer or club soda
About 3 cups vegetable oil for frying
Squash Blossoms

Stir together ricotta, goat cheese, egg yolk, basil 1/3 cup parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

Carefully open each blossom and fill with about 2 rounded teaspoon ricotta filling, gently twisting end of blossom to enclose filling.

Whisk together flour, remaining 1/3 cup parmesan, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and seltzer in a small bowl.

Heat 1/2 inch oil to 375°F in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Meanwhile, dip half of blossoms in batter to thinly coat. Fry coated blossoms, turning once, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain. Coat and fry remaining blossoms. (Return oil to 375°F between batches.) Season with salt. Serve with tomato sauce.

Adapted from Epicurious

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Watermelon Feta and Prosciutto

June 5, 2014

DSC_0101 Here’s a variation of one of my latest posts. No cooking. No baking. Shop, slice, plate and go!!! We all have busy summers and last minute get-togethers…..this will make an impressive and delicious appetizer.

Watermelon Feta and Prosciutto Platter

Prosciutto slices, best quality (about 2 slices per person)

2 large slices feta  (about 1″ thick, cut in about 1/2″ cubes)

Seedless watermelon cut into cubes

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon pepper, or more

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Oregano sprigs for garnish

Place the feta slices in a zip lock bag. In a small bowl combine oregano, zest, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Whisk together and add to feta. Marinade for 1 hour or longer. Cut watermelon into cubes. Cut feta into cubes. Arrange prosciutto, feta and watermelon onto platter. Garnish with oregano sprigs. Serve with picks.

Grilled Steak and Fondue Sandwich

May 30, 2014

 

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Looking for an alternative to a hamburger this grilling season? I think flank steak is a perfect and affordable lean option. Marinating in garlic, red chili peppers and “porcini dust”…and thinly slicing against the grain makes for a tender piece of meat. And fondue…just the mention brings a slew of great memories, not the least, our first date at Gejas’s. Topping this tasty sandwich with a combination of Parmesan and Fontina cheese sauce pretty much puts this over the top. This recipe pulls together quickly for a weeknight dinner or a casual evening with friends.

Steak Sandwich

Serves 6

2 pounds Flank Steak

4 tablespoons Porcini Mushroom Powder (Dried Porcini finely ground)

3 Garlic Cloves (smashed into paste)

2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper

Olive Oil

3 cups Baby Arugula

2 cups Frisee Lettuce (I used red leaf)

Balsamic Vinegar

Parmesan Fondue

3/4 cups Heavy Cream (start with 1/4 cup at a time for desired consistency, add  more if needed)

3/4 cup Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

3/4 cup Grated Fontina Cheese

Pinch of Nutmeg

Pinch of Salt

Season the Steak with salt. Stir together **Porcini Powder, Garlic, Chili Flakes and season with pepper. Drizzle in enough oil to form a loose paste. Rub on both sides of the steak and place in a resealable bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for a least one hour and up to overnight.

Remove Steak from refrigerator 20 minutes prior to cooking. Heat a grill to medium-high. Place the steak on the grill and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes and cook through more than halfway. Flip and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes. (Approximately 125 degrees for rare to medium rare). Remove from grill and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, slice open the baguette and place on the grill, cut side down, and toast lightly.

For Fondue: Heat the cream over a double boiler. Stir in the Cheese until melted. Season with Nutmeg and Salt. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In a large bowl, toss together the arugula and frisee with a few tablespoons of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt to taste.

Slice the Steak and place on the baguette. Drizzle on the fondue and top with the dressed greens. Cut into sandwiches and serve warm or room temperature.

**Use any kind of dried mushrooms for the powder, if porcini can’t be found.

Adapted from Mario Batali

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Melon Mozzarella Prosciutto Appetizer

May 23, 2014

 

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This is a fresh interpretation on a classic Italian antipasto using melon and prosciutto. Simple yet elegant…..refreshing with sweet and savory flavors. Don’t skimp on the cured ham….buy good quality. And as for the mozzarella, I found these tiny mozzarella balls which really were the inspiration for this appetizer. Use with picks and grab mozzarella, a melon ball, and then wrap with a slice of prosciutto. I have also served this on a bed of arugula as a family style salad drizzled with a basil vinaigrette.

Melon, Mozzarella and Prosciutto Appetizer

Serves 8 (Fills a large platter)

12 pieces prosciutto, good quality

1 cantaloupe, balled

1 container of mozzarella balls

2 tablespoons basil, chiffonade (or more)

1 tablespoon mint, chiffonade (optional)

Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon and 1 tablespoon juice

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Drain mozzarella and place the balls in a plastic bag or container to marinade. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, basil, mint and salt and pepper. Marinade for 30 minutes or longer. Cut cantaloupe in half, scoop out seeds and using a melon baller, make balls. Arrange prosciutto on platter, top with melon and mozzarella. Garnish with basil. (A drizzle of balsamic glaze would also be great)

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Greek Feta Burger

May 15, 2014

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Who’s bucket list doesn’t include Greece?? Those colors…cobalt blue seas and dove white buildings. Those flavors…salty, briny, and fresh herbs. This Big Fat Greek Burger contains cucumber, feta, onions, salt and pepper. Top with a tangy, creamy tzatziki sauce, the iconic Greek condiment, and you’ll have a little taste of the Mediterranean.  (Randy, the trip is still on the list!)

Greek Feta Burger

Makes 4

6 ounces nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 English cucumber DIVIDED (unpeeled), coarsely grated; (about 1/2 cup/ for sauce) plus (about 1/2 cup diced for burgers) more for slices on the burgers

1 clove garlic, crushed to a paste

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 pound lean ground beef (90 percent)

1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta

1/3 cup finely diced red onion; plus slices to top burger

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1 jar (7 ounces) roasted red peppers, drained (I grilled fresh)

4 sourdough rolls, split, grilled

Top burger with:

Shredded romaine

Sliced cucumber

Sliced tomato

Sliced red onion

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cucumbers, garlic and juice; set aside. (Start with half the amount of yogurt and add all other ingredients and then add remaining yogurt til desired consistency; I like a chunkier sauce) In another bowl, mix beef, feta, onion, cucumber, marjoram, salt and pepper. Form beef mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties. Coat a grill pan or grill rack with cooking spray. Grill patties over medium-high heat, flipping once, about 5 minutes each side, until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Divide roasted peppers evenly among bottom roll halves; top with 1 burger, 1/4 yogurt sauce and lettuce and cucumber.DSC_0778

 

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Honey Lemon Chia Muffins

May 9, 2014

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Lemon and Ricotta….fragrant and fluffy. Spring. Add poppy seeds and you have one of my favorite muffins. Ingredients like olive oil, ricotta, honey, and chia seeds make a lighter version. Chia seeds……another super-food on the block are rich in omega-3s, help reduce inflammation and cholesterol and are high in fiber and antioxidants. Give these tasty muffins a try and welcome Spring into your kitchen!!!

Honey Lemon Chia Seed Muffins     (Adapted from Cooking Light)
Makes 12 muffins
1 3/4 cups flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
2½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup part-skim ricotta cheese
½ cup water
¼ cup olive oil
Zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 egg
2 tablespoon. chia seeds
2 tablespoon honey, melted
Cooking spray
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners and lightly spray them with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta, water, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and egg.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients into the middle then mix. Add the chia seeds then gently fold into batter.
Evenly divide batter into prepared muffin pan.
Bake for 16 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let cool for 5 minutes then with a pastry brush, gently brush melted honey onto the tops of the muffins. Cool completely.
Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
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Chicken-Apricot Skewers

May 2, 2014

 

DSC_0863Apricots…this is the season for those small golden jewels with velvety skin. Packed with fiber and vitamin C, these smooth and sweet stone fruits pair beautifully with chicken. Add a few skewers and some creamy peanut sauce and you have yourself a lovely entree. I like the idea of using double skewers to make turning on the grill easier. Serve over brown rice.

 Chicken-Apricots Skewers    (Adapted from Bon Appetit)

6 servings

3/4 cup canned light unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup smooth peanut butter

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)

2 teaspoons light brown sugar

2 garlic cloves

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning

1/4 cup cilantro leaves plus sprigs for garnish

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped jalapeño (about 1 large)

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into twenty-four 1″ chunks

12 firm ripe small apricots, halved, pitted

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Lime wedges

Purée first 6 ingredients and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth. Add 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and jalapeño and blend briefly to combine. Transfer 1/2 cup marinade to a small bowl; cover and chill for serving (return to room temperature before using). Place remaining marinade in a resealable plastic bag; add chicken, seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Light grill to high. Holding 2 skewers parallel to each other and 1/2″ apart, thread 1 piece of chicken onto skewers, then 1 apricot half. Repeat with 1 more chicken piece and 1 more apricot half. Repeat with remaining skewers, chicken, and apricots for a total of 12, each holding 2 pieces of chicken and 2 apricot halves. Season with salt and pepper. Brush apricots with some marinade from bag; discard remaining marinade.

Grill skewers on one side until chicken is well browned, 3-4 minutes. Turn and grill until other side is well browned, 3-4 minutes longer. Move to a cooler part of grill. Cover grill and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a serving platter; sprinkle with cilantro sprigs and peanuts and drizzle with reserved marinade. Serve with lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.

 

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St. Germain Cucumber Cocktail

April 26, 2014

 

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California dreaming! Last week while visiting my daughter in warm, sunny LA…I came across a refreshing, flavorful cocktailI’m not a sweet drink kinda girl, however this liqueur paired with muddled cucumbers, lemon and vodka had me…curious. What was this flavor I could not decipher??? St. Germain is a French liqueur made of hand-picked elderberry flowers with a flavor profile of peach, pear, orange and grapefruit. Once our server gave us the “secret ingredient”  I was off and running. I think the key to making this cocktail is to muddle the lemons and cucumbers in a martini shaker then add vodka (or gin) and strain  into your glass. Next add ice and top with soda.  *If you prefer gin ….I would use cucumber based Hendricks.

3 cucumber slices, without the rind

2 slices lemon, without the rind

1 teaspoon sugar ( I omitted the sugar)

1.5 ounces gin or vodka

.5 – 1 ounce St-Germain (or a bit more to taste)

Club soda

Ice

In the bottom of a shaker or heavy glass, muddle (or crush) the cucumber and lemon with the sugar. Add the vodka and St-Germain and stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice and then stir again. Top with club soda. Taste and add more St-Germain to adjust the sweetness as desired.

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Crispy Smashed Potatoes

April 17, 2014

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Only four ingredients for a fabulous side. Really?? These smashers have the creaminess of mashed potatoes and crispy exterior of a fry. The concept is simple….par-cook, let cool slightly and then smash until flat but still intact…about 1/2″ thick.. Use Yukon’s that are approximately 2″ in diameter. Once smashed, the spuds are covered in olive oil, salt, pepper and herb of choice. (Thyme and rosemary hold up best when roasted). This is an impressive side for entertaining that can be prepared early in the day then, before dinner, popped in the oven to roast. I paired these crunchy browned spuds with grilled lamb chops and a tomato, red onion, feta, basil and mint salad. Yum.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes      (Adapted from Pioneer Women)

Serves 4-6

12 yellow Yukon potatoes (or small red)

3 Tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 Tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Add the potatoes to a medium pot with enough salted water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes (do not overcook or potatoes will not stay together). Drain and let potatoes cool until they are easy to handle. Pat very dry with paper towels. Smash each potato on a cutting board with a small glass to make it flat (or the palm of your hand).

Spread out the potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt &  pepper, chopped rosemary until evenly coated. Roast until the potatoes are crispy and golden, 20-25 minutes. Serve warm. These could also be served as a hearty appetizer…garnish with sour cream, crumbled bacon and chives.

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Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Compote

April 12, 2014

DSC_0657 When you think of ricotta…what comes to mind? Yep, me too…lasagna. However, ricotta’s creamy light texture suggests many other applications. Try lemon and ricotta. This classic combination is a perfect pair when whipped together in a pancake. Combining whipped egg whites, flour and Meyer lemon creates delicate, souffle-like cakes. Meyer lemons are soft-skinned, sweeter, less acidic with a floral aroma and pair perfectly with these pancakes. Top the stack with this easy blueberry compote. Leftovers????…you may want to save a few for a quick dessert. Re-heat with a bit of butter to crisp up and top with lemon ice cream. Garnish with zest and few berries.

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Pancakes  (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Makes 8-9 pancakes

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

big pinch of salt

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/3 cups firm ricotta

4 eggs, separated

3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest (roughly 2 lemons)

2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice

butter for frying the pancakes

Preheat your skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks and then add the ricotta, juice and zest. In another bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks. Fold the cheese mixture into the flour and stir just until combined. Then gently fold in egg whites, making sure they are evenly mixed into the batter. Heat your oven to 200 degrees. Add a pat of butter to the skillet or griddle, and pour 1/3 cup of batter for each cake. Cook the cakes for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Place the cooked cakes in the oven until you are ready to serve. Serve the pancakes dusted with confectioners sugar and blueberry compote.

Blueberry Compote  (from Epicurious)

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

2 strips of fresh lemon zest

2 cups blueberries

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Boil water, sugar, and zest in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered, 5 minutes. Discard zest. Stir in blueberries and simmer, stirring occasionally, until blueberries begin to burst, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Serve warm or at room temperature.
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Artichoke Soup with Crispy Salami and Lemon-Parsley Quinoa

April 4, 2014

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It’s artichoke season. As much as I love a braised artichoke, enjoying every leaf until I can get to that coveted heart.this soup is one more way to enjoy this healthy seasonal vegetable. Studies show that artichokes have more antioxidants than any other vegetable, aid in digestion, are great for liver health and are high in fiber. Bring ‘em on!!! Garnishing with lemon-parsley quinoa and crispy salami compliments the great flavor and texture of this soup. While cooking for just the two of us, I lighten up this recipe by using only broth and a touch of cream. For entertaining, don’t skip it……the cream creates a luxurious texture. 

Artichoke Soup with Crispy Salami and Lemon-Parsley Quinoa  (from Sunday Suppers)

Serves 4

2 (14-oz.) cans artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 tsp fennel seeds
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp. lemon zest (from about 1 lemon), plus 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 large thin slices genoa salami

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, add the artichoke hearts, the garlic, half of the chicken stock and half of the cream; cook over medium heat until warmed through. Add the fennel seeds and season generously with salt and pepper; turn off the heat. Using a blender, puree the mixture until almost smooth. Gradually add more stock and cream as needed to achieve the consistency you want, continuing to puree with the blender until the soup is very smooth.

Place the salami slices on a baking sheet and cook until crispy all over and browned on the edges, about 10 minutes. Remove, drain and cool on paper towels. Roughly chop.

Cook the quinoa according to package directions, or a little less than suggested for a crunchier consistency. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl, then mix in the lemon zest and juice, parsley leaves, and salt, pepper and olive oil to taste.

Quickly reheat the soup if needed. Top each with a generous spoonful of the quinoa mixture and sprinkle with the crisp salami.

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Crispy Salmon with Leeks and Beurre Blanc Sauce

March 29, 2014

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Last week my neighbor, Courtney, asked me to guest blog on her fabulous site, A Life from Scratch. Of course, I was honored!!! While she was on spring break I decided to think spring. I know Courtney loves salmon and this Thomas Keller recipe may seem steppy and a bit fancy, but it pulls together quickly with amazing results. Perfect recipe for a spring dinner party! The leeks are boiled and then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking and to retain the beautiful green color. Then the delicate soft leeks are reheated in stock which adds a perfect composition of flavor. The salmon is simply cooked skin side down to create a salty, crisp texture. And THAT SAUCE is simple and divine. It’s really just chopped shallots, cooked in white wine and then, when the wine has reduced quite a bit, you whisk is some butter (OK maybe it’s more than some) then add the aromatic herbs. Serve with a mixed green salad and some crusty bread to soak up that sauce!

Crispy Skin Salmon, Leeks, Fines Herbs Beurre Blanc  (Adapted from Thomas Keller)  Serves 4

For the Leeks/Beurre Blanc

8 large leeks (I used 5)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1 large thyme sprig
1 large Italian parsley sprig, plus 1 t minced parsley
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
2/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
8 oz. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and chilled
2-3 T chicken stock
1 t minced /tarragon/chives/parsley

Salmon

4 6-oz pieces of center-cut salmon fillet, skin and bones removed
kosher salt and white pepper
canola oil
1/2 cup chicken stock

**To make this recipe easier to get through I “stepped it out”! Have all your ingredients prepared and this pulls together quickly.

 

Leeks
1.Use only the light green sections of the leeks. Cut the light green sections into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.

2. Place the rounds in a large bowl of warm water and swish them gently to remove any dirt, being careful not to separate the rounds. Lift them out of the water.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare an ice bath.  Add half the leeks to the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until tender.

4. Transfer leeks to a colander or strainer and plunge them into the ice bath for no more than 15 seconds.

5. Drain and repeat with the remaining leeks.

6. The leeks can be prepared to this point up to a day ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator

Beurre Blanc

1.Put the shallots, thyme, parsley sprig, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and add the white wine and champagne vinegar.

2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 1 Tablespoon.  Remove from heat.

3. To finish, add the heavy cream to the reduction, place the pan over medium heat, and simmer to reduce the liquid by half.  The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

4. Begin adding the butter one piece at a time, whisking constantly to keep the sauce emulsified.  Add a new piece of butter before the previous one has completely melted.

5. The sauce should remain warm to the touch but not be simmering.  When all the butter is incorporated, strain the beurre blanc into a small saucepan.

6. Stir in the stock and keep in a warm place.

 Salmon

1.The thinnest part of the fillet should not measure less than 1/2 inch thick.  If the salmon is cold, let it stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes before cooking.

2. Season the skinned side with salt and white pepper.  Season the other side with salt only.

3. Heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a large nonstick skillet.

4. When the oil is hot, place the salmon skinned side down in the hot oil and cook on one side only for about 5-6 minutes.  Regulate the temperature, turning it down as necessary to keep the edges from browning too quickly.  The fish is done when the bottom is crispy, and the fillet is cooked about halfway up the flesh.  The top should still be rare.

***If this is your only take away from this recipe… TAKE-IT! Favorite way to cook skin on salmon.

 To Finish

1.Put the leeks in a medium saucepan, add the 1/2 cup stock, and heat over medium heat until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Gently warm the beurre blanc and stir in the minced parsley, tarragon, and chives.

3.  Divide the sauce among serving plates, place the leeks in the middle of the plate, and top with a salmon fillet.

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Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout

March 22, 2014

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This is a Mario Batali classic…fresh seafood accompanied by very soft polenta. Hard to believe that this Italian porridge, staple of Northern Italy, was once thought of as food for peasants. Now this versatile gluten-free ingredient can be found in many healthy dishes. The ragout pulls together quickly and has a rich tomato base with a fresh note of lemon. If you are looking for a comforting meatless meal….you’ve found it!

Soft Polenta with Rock Shrimp Ragout       (from Mario Batali)

Serves 6

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup quick-cooking polenta (6 ounces)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 1/2 pounds shelled rock shrimp

1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a boil with the sugar. Whisk in the polenta in a thin stream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt. Press a piece of parchment or wax paper directly onto the surface of the polenta and keep warm.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the scallions and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and 1/4 cup of water and simmer over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the shrimp and simmer, stirring, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Stir in the parsley, lemon juice and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Rewarm the polenta over moderately high heat, whisking constantly. Spoon a pool of polenta in the center of 6 shallow bowls. Spoon the shrimp and sauce over and around the polenta and serve right away.

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Corned Beef and Cabbage Flatbread

March 13, 2014

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When you think of Irish cooking, a notable classic of corned beef and cabbage may come to mind, accompanied with a pint of Guinness…of course! Celebrating St. Paddy’s Day with a crowd can be festive and simple. While I can appreciate the traditional feast of  corned beef, veggies, bread, potatoes and cabbage served on large platters family style …I’m all about the twist. How about taking those unique flavors of briny meat, punchy horseradish cream, and caraway to create a flatbread??!!! Last year this came out of St. Paddy’s Day leftovers and was FANTASTIC!! THIS year I am skipping the family style dinner and going casual with this as my entree. A quick trip to the deli saves you 4-5 hours of cooking and satisfies all your SPD cravings. For additional leftover ideas try corned beef and cabbage egg rolls and breakfast hash.

Corned Beef And Cabbage Flatbread

Store bought pizza dough

2-3 Tablespoons horseradish cream, store-bought or this (look down the sight for the recipe), plus a few more for salad

9 slices of Swiss cheese

2-3 Slices of corned beef, about 1/4″ thick, cubed

1/2 cup (or more) Irish cheddar cheese, shredded

3 slices of cabbage, thinly sliced, plus more for a salad to place on top

2 Tablespoons caraway seeds, plus more for salad

1 carrot, shredded

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out pizza dough. Sprinkle sheet pan with corn meal and place dough on pan. Spread dough with horseradish cream and layer swiss cheese. Sprinkle on beef, then cheese. Lightly arrange cabbage on top and finish with drizzled caraway seeds. Place in oven and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes, until cheese browns and the crust is crisp.

In a small bowl combine sliced cabbage, shredded carrots, caraway seeds, horseradish cream (add a bit at a time, you don’t want it too creamy) and mix until combined. Place on top of flat bread or as a side salad. For dessert serve this!!

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Guinness Chocolate Cake

March 9, 2014

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I’m not a baker but look what happened!!!! This single layer cake with its frothy crown of frosting is so easy to pull together and the results so delicious…it’s a must try. The signature bitterness of Guinness disappears and leaves a moist dense cake. Guinness works well with desserts due to its distinct chocolate and coffee notes. A perfect ending to your St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Slainte!!

Guinness Chocolate Cake   (adapted from Inthekitchenwithkatie)
1 Cup and 2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 Cup Guinness
3/4 Cup Dutch process cocoa, sifted
2  1/4 Cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 Teaspoon baking soda
2 Cups sugar
2 Eggs
2/3 Cups sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Frosting 
1  1/3 Cups cream cheese
1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar, sifted
2/3 Cup cream, whipped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add butter, cocoa and Guinness to a saucepan. Warm over a medium heat and stir until melted. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to cool slightly.
Add flour, baking soda and sugar to a large mixing bowl and mix together well. Pour in the Guinness/cocoa/butter mixture, lightly combine, add the vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat everything together until well combined. The batter should be thick and dark chocolate in color.
 Pour into a greased and lined 10″ angel food pan or springform and cook in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake. This cake is very moist inside, so use your judgment regarding the skewer test. Do not leave in the oven until the cake has totally dried out — cook long enough so there is no uncooked cake on the skewer but there may be a few moist crumbs sticking to it after 45 minutes of cooking. 
 Leave to cool before frosting.
Frosting
Place the cream cheese into the bowl of a mixer and beat on a low-medium speed using a whisk attachment. Whisk until the cheese is smooth and there are no big lumps remaining.
 Gradually add in the sifted powdered sugar and beat to combine.
 Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold in the whipped cream.
 Place cooled cake on a serving platter and add the frosting, spreading out just to the edge without going over the side until the cake resembles a pint of Guinness! 
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Spicy Asian White Bean Dip

March 7, 2014

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The title of this recipe says it all. Spicy. Asian. White bean. Dip. I saw this on one of my favorite blogs, Whiteonricecouple. The combination of flavors not only intrigued me…I had all the ingredients on hand (and you probably do too). This creamy dip is so simple and fresh and with all the layers of flavor…might just be your go-to appetizer. Serve with toasted baguette slices or a variety of vegetables.

Spicy Asian White Bean Dip

Adapted from WHITEONRICECOUPLE

Serves 3-4

1 15 oz can of white beans (rinsed)

1 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Teaspoon sesame oil

2 Teaspoons soy sauce ( or to taste)

2 Tablespoons sriracha hot sauce, start with one teaspoon at a time…to taste

1 Large clove of garlic

1/2 Teaspoon curry powder

1/4 Cup of water (additional water for desired consistency)

1 Tablespoon lime juice

Crackers, toasted baguette OR celery, carrots and sliced cucumbers

Use a blender to combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth.

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Potato Leek Soup

March 1, 2014

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YEP….still making soup. Yep, it’s still winter. To us the perfect meal…healthy, hearty and easy!! Potato leek soup is naturally creamy with a velvety texture. This humble soup calls for only 4 ingredients plus a bit of half and half ….I opted out of the latter for a lighter version. Last year we made this soup on St. Paddy’s Day and to finish… I drizzled with a bit of Jameson’s and… I must say that was brilliant! White wine or a drizzle of olive oil will do the trick as well. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of chives.

Potato Leek Soup

Serves 4

2 leeks, white and light green part chopped

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt

3 medium, Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

1 garlic clove, smashed

1 quart vegetable broth

3/4 cup 1/2 &1/2 (or more for desired consistency)

Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 slices of proscuitto

Sour cream

Chives, chopped

Jameson’s Whiskey

Chop leaks. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks and a heavy pinch of salt. Sweat for 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are tender, approximately 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic the last 2 minutes.

Add the potatoes and vegetable broth, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and gently simmer until the potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.

Turn off the heat and puree the mixture with an immersion blender (or blender) until smooth. Stir in the 1/2 & 1/2, and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Garnish sour cream, chives, proscuitto* and drizzle with Jameson’s Whiskey.

* crisp proscuitto in a 350 degrees oven for approximately 10 -15 minutes.

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Ricotta Gnudi

February 22, 2014

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Gnudi (nudi) is nudi to me!! Gnudi refers to pasta like dumplings that are “naked” of their pasta wrappers. My plan was to make gnocchi in the next week or so (with Courtney) and then…..this happened! I was intrigued by the use of ricotta and parmesan to form these delicious clouds of ricotta heaven. While gnocchi is potato based and time-consuming (I heard) gnudi is lighter and easier to prepare. The method is simple. Mix ricotta, flour, cheese, egg and seasonings together, then boil. Success!! I loved the dense somewhat chewy texture of the gnudi smothered by a simple, yet full flavored sauce. Although any shape will work, it was fun to try the “two tablespoon” football shape. This meal has a rustic charm that pairs well with an arugula, lemon/olive oil splashed salad.

Ricotta Gnudi       (recipe by Sara Jenkins/Bon Appetit)

Makes approximately 20

16 ounces ricotta (about 2 cups) Set ricotta in a strainer to remove any excess liquid for about 10 minutes

1 large egg, beaten to blend

1 large egg yolk, beaten to blend

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more

1/2-3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more

Garnish: basil and additional parmesan

3 cups Quick Pomodoro Sauce     (see below)

Mix ricotta, egg, egg yolk, pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl until well combined. Add 1/2 cup flour; stir just until combined and mixture forms a ball (mixture will be soft and moist with some bits of ricotta remaining; add more flour by the tablespoonful if it feels wet).

Dust a rimmed baking sheet generously with flour. Using 2 large soup spoons, shape heaping tablespoonfuls of dough into football shapes; place on baking sheet and dust with more flour.

Cook gnudi in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and tender, 5-6 minutes (gnudi will quickly float to surface; continue cooking or gnudi will be gummy in the center).

Using a slotted spoon, divide gnudi among bowls. Top with Quick Pomodoro Sauce and more Parmesan and ribbons of basil.

Pomodoro Sauce

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 cup olive oil

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/4 teaspoon sugar

Kosher salt

Pulse tomatoes with juices in a blender to form a coarse purée. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée and sugar and season with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until sauce is slightly thickened, 10-15 minutes. DO AHEAD: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and chill, or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

February 16, 2014

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Pretty enough for a dinner party…easy enough for a weeknight dinner. These flavors work sooo well together…..sweet dates, tang from the orange, heat from the pepper, crunch from the walnuts and fresh herbal notes with the cilantro.

Pork Tenderloin with Date and Cilantro Relish

Serves 2-3

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)*

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup Medjool dates, cut into small pieces

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice, and zest of half an orange (save some zest for garnish)

1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced

2 tablespoons walnut, toasted, finely chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro ( OR parsley) plus leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, 6–8 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook pork until thermometer inserted in thickest the part registers 140 degrees, 10–15 minutes. Transfer pork to a cutting board and let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing, set aside pan drippings.

Toss dates, orange juice, reserved pan drippings, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, orange zest, jalapeno, walnuts and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper. Spoon relish over pork and top with cilantro leaves. Pair with mashed potatoes and arugula salad.

Relish (without pan drippings) can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Add pan drippings just before serving.

* most single pork tenderloins are just over a pound. Adjust….mine took about 9 minutes in the oven to get to 140 degrees. This size serves 2-3 people depending on amount of side dishes.

Adapted from Epicurious

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Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

February 8, 2014

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By now we all know the incredible health benefits of kale. Why not change up your classic Caesar salad with this super food and partner with a creamy bold dressing that holds up to this hearty green? I pre-tenderize the greens by massaging with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and let sit for 30 minutes. This technique allows the fibrous, chewy green turn to a tender-crisp texture. Add grilled chicken or shrimp for a complete meal. Bonus… the dressed salad stays crisp for up to 3 days!!

Tuscan Kale Caesar Salad

Serves 6

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, zest of 1/2 the lemon
2 garlic cloves
1/4  cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
2 cups crusty bread crumbs
5 radishes, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
14 ounces** Tuscan kale, center stalks removed, thinly sliced crosswise (about 8 cups)
**Tuscan kale—also called cavolo nero or Lacinato—has long, narrow, bumpy dark-green leaves.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a food processor, chop bread in to peas size crumbs. Toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake until crispy. approximately 20 minutes.

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a blender; purée until smooth. With machine running, slowly add 3/4 cups of oil, to make a creamy dressing. Add 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and chill.  Dressing can be made 2 days ahead. 

Remove middle stalk of the kale leaves and chop. Toss kale with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Massage oil into leaves and let sit for approximately 30 minutes. Arrange kale on your serving platter. drizzle with dressing. Top with remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, crouton crumbs and radish slices.

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Reuben Meatball Sliders

January 31, 2014

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Game Day. Fall off the resolutions if just for today and enjoy a twist on a Reuben Sandwich. These sliders offer all the flavors of your deli favorite…savory, spicy and topped with a tangy, sweet dressing. Other game day ideas… Wingless Buffalo Chicken Flatbread,  Crab Cakes with Lemon Aioli, Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn, Asian Meatballs with Hoisin Sauce, Fig and Prosciutto Flatbread, OR Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Game on!

Reuben Meatball Sliders

Makes 12 sliders

2 pound ground beef, chuck

1 cup shredded Swiss
1/2 cup toasted rye bread, processed into fine breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
2 large eggs
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 cup 1000 island dressing
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
12 slider buns, buttered and toasted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the beef, cheese, breadcrumbs, caraway seeds, salt, pepper, eggs and parsley in a bowl until uniform but not overworked. Scoop out a 1/4 cup of the mix and roll into a ball. Repeat to use all of the meat.

Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat add the oil. Fry the first side of the meatballs, in batches if necessary, until golden and crusty, 7 to 8 minutes. Flip and place in the oven to finish cooking, until no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 more minutes.

Heat the kraut in a small saucepan and mix in the 1000 island dressing. Place a meatball on the bottom slider bun, top with the sauce mixture.

Adapted from, (Food Network, Jeff Mauro)

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Braised Beef Shank

January 27, 2014

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Baby it’s COLD outside. No… I mean really really cold outside. -4 degrees with a wind chill of -30 to -40!!!!!!! These extreme conditions are perfectly suited for slow braised meats. This peasant-style cooking is sure to create a food flashback from your childhood (mine….dressed like Ralph in Christmas Story). The inexpensive, incredibly delicious beef shank will fill your home with a warm, comforting aroma in no time. Braising is nothing more than cooking the meat over low heat in a small amount of liquid, into which herbs and vegetables have been added. The result is a tender and flavorful fall-off-the-bone bowl of YUM, perfect for a cold winter’s night. Serve with celery root mashed potato puree.

Braised Beef Shank

Serves 4

3 tablespoons olive oil

3-4 pounds beef shank

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 onions, chopped

2-3 medium carrots, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 thyme sprigs

2 rosemary sprigs

3 bay leaves

2 cups red wine

2 cups beef stock

1- 150z can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes with juices, chopped or  blended

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Put the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add meat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrot and celery, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minutes.

Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add stock and tomatoes.  The braising liquid should come about halfway up the sides of the meat.  Raise the heat and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat begins to get tender approximately 4 hours. The braise is done when the meat is very tender and almost falling apart.

Take the shanks out of the pan and set aside. Discard bays leaves and sprigs. Bring braising liquid to a boil and reduce for approximately 15 minutes. Plate with potato puree, top with shank and sauce. Garnish with chopped parsley.

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Chickpea Bowl

January 24, 2014

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You should have seen the face my husband made when he heard what’s for dinner. :( You should have seen the face my husband made when he took his first bite ……….. :) ! His words… sweet, spicy with great texture. I will add …the bowl has quite a kick from the sriracha but the yogurt cools the palette. Randy then asked if I’ve been hangin’ with Raj again? No, this recipe did not come from Raj it came from Fauxmartha, a clever informative blog containing creative recipes and helpful hints. She refers to this recipe as a pantry meal….and was correct in this case…..every ingredient was in the house. It’s a quick, flavorful and healthy meal that comes together in *no time.

*thinking of my college age nieces and nephews during finals week…..easy and protien packed!!!

CHICKPEA BOWL
Serves 3-4
Rice
2 cups water
1 tbsp. butter (optional)
Salt
1 cup basmati rice (I used brown)
Chickpea Sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. (heaping) curry
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. coriander
1 large can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained
1/3 c. half and half (or coconut milk) I used coconut milk. YUM
Salt
Garnish: plain Greek yogurt, cilantro, lime, sriracha
RICE: In a small saucepan, bring water, butter, and salt to a boil. Stir in basmati. Cover and turn heat to medium low. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, keep lid on, and continue steaming until serving.
SAUCE: In a large skillet, heat olive oil until warm. Add in onion and garlic, sautéing until translucent, about 5 minutes. Season with salt.
Stir in spices and toast, about 1 minute. Add in tomatoes, chickpeas, and half and half (or coconut milk). Season with salt to taste. Cook for another 15 minutes or so to allow flavor to develop.
GARNISH: Serve chickpeas over rice. Top with fresh lime, yogurt, cilantro, and sriracha.
Adapted from Fauxmartha
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Chicken Tortilla Soup

January 17, 2014

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Short of soaking in a warm bubble bath, not many things can warm you to the core like a great bowl of soup. This tortilla soup with its bold southwest flavors and spicy, smokey notes will no doubt do the trick. Make this bowl of comfort your own and garnish with any variety of toppings….avocado, sour cream, tortilla strips, cilantro and/or squeeze of lime.  Let’s celebrate “soup month” with this hearty and healthy soup.

Chicken Tortilla Soup     (Adapted from Ina Garten)

Serves 6-8

4 split (2 whole) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on

Olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

2 cups onion, chopped (2 onions)

1 cup celery, chopped (2 stalks)

2 cups carrots, chopped (4 carrots)

4 large cloves garlic, chopped

2½ quarts chicken stock

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes in puree, crushed

2 to 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander seed

¼ to ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

6 (6-inch) fresh white corn tortillas

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until done. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, using two forks, shred the meat. Cover and set aside. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery, and carrots and cook over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes with their puree, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the cilantro, if using. Cut the tortillas in half, and then cut them crosswise into ½-inch strips and add to the soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the shredded chicken and season to taste. Serve the soup hot topped with sliced avocado, a dollop of sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, and broken tortilla chips or (*baked). *Brush tortilla strips with olive oil and sprinkle kosher salt. Bake in a 325 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, until they start to crisp.

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