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Grilled Pound Cake with Balsamic-Macerated Strawberries and Basil

July 21, 2017

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Pound cake refers to a type of cake traditionally made with a pound of flour, a pound of butter, a pound of eggs, and a pound of sugar. Yikes! The ingredients are the same but the amounts have been slightly altered. This cake is dense and makes the perfect canvas for creative toppings and glazes. In this interpretation, the cake has a bit of almond and vanilla. I sliced the cooled cake and grilled one side til grill marks appeared. This technique added a smokey note. Top with strawberries macerated in balsamic vinegar and sugar. To finish, the cake is drizzled with basil and freshly whipped cream. A perfect dessert for summer entertaining.

Perfect Pound Cake

Serves approximately 10

1 pound butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. (The butter will become a lighter yellow color; this is an important step, as the job of the mixer is to incorporate air into the butter so the cake will rise. It will take 1 to 7 minutes, depending on the power of your mixer.) Gradually add sugar, beating at medium speed until light and fluffy. (Again, the times will vary, and butter will turn to a fluffy white.) Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow yolk disappears.
Add flour to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Beat at low-speed just until blended after each addition. (The batter should be smooth and bits of flour should be well incorporated; to rid batter of lumps, stir gently with a rubber spatula.) Stir in extracts.

Pour into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan or in fills approximately 1 1/2 loaf pans. (Use vegetable shortening or butter to grease the pan, getting every nook and cranny covered. Sprinkle a light coating of flour over the greased surface.)
Bake at 300° for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

Slice the cake. Heat grill and spray with non stick spray. Grill til marks appear. About 2-3 minutes. Grill only one side.

To serve, place cake on plate with grill marks up. Place strawberries on top, add basil threads and top with whip cream or creme fraiche.

Adapted from: myrecipes

Strawberries

2 lb. fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick (about 4 cups)
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
8 to 10 medium fresh basil leaves

Whipped Cream

In a large bowl (or zip lock bag), gently toss the strawberries with the sugar and vinegar (I also added a pinch of freshly ground pepper). Let sit at room temperature until the strawberries have released their juices but are not yet mushy, about 30 minutes to one hour. (Don’t let the berries sit for more than 90 minutes, or they’ll start to collapse.)
Just before serving, stack the basil leaves on a cutting board and roll them vertically. Using a sharp chef’s knife, very thinly slice across the roll to make a fine chiffonade of basil. Top with freshly whipped cream.
Adapted from: Fine cooking

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Mexican Grilled Street Corn Appetizer

July 9, 2017

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Mexican Street Corn is a hit at every summer BBQ! Why not turn the traditional preparation into a flavorful appetizer? Start with sweet corn grilled to crispy perfection. Combine with a bit of mayonnaise, Cotija cheese, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro and finish with lime. Truth be told, sautéing frozen kernels in a cast iron skillet is just as tasty as the grilled corn on the cob version.

Mexican Grilled Street Corn Appetizer

Serves 4

1/3 cup  sour cream or Mexican crema
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup  finely crumbled Cotija, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon  smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup  finely chopped cilantro leaves, and extra for garnish
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
4 ears of corn
2 Tablespoons  olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
2 stalks of green onions, sliced thin
1 lime, cut into wedges

In bowl, combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cilantro and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

Grilled Whole Corn-On-Cob Option: Heat grill on high heat. Grill until nicely charred and tender all around.

(Sautéed kernels  (frozen kernels) Corn Option: Heat large skillet on medium high heat. Add olive oil, then add corn and green onions. Cook corn until slightly charred and brown, around 5 minutes, just until the corn is plump and cooked. Transfer corn to a large bowl and allow to cool.

Combine cheese mixture with corn. Add extra cheese for topping, paprika or chili powder. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Adapted from: WHITEONRICECOUPLE

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Tomato Salad with Basil Cream Dressing

July 2, 2017

 

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Keep it simple. Perfect seasonal tomatoes don’t need much fanfare. A drizzle of this basil cream dressing is easy to prepare and adds a fresh finish to a summer side. Eat up these jewels that possess amazing health benefits. Great source of vitamins A,K and B, along with the antioxidant lycopene. Use leftover dressing for a green salad at a later date.

Tomato Salad with Basil Cream Dressing

3-4 ripe tomatoes

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons warm water

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

pinch of sugar

8-10 basil leaves, chopped

Slice tomatoes and arrange on two plates. Place remaining ingredients in a small jar, cover, and shake until well amalgamated. Or blend in a food processor. Drizzle over tomatoes.

Adapted from: Lottie and Doof/Simon Hopkinson

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Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce

June 26, 2017

 

IMG_6120This marinated satay grilled chicken makes for a fun summer dinner. The peanut sauce needs a straw! It’s creamy, rich and has a spicy, sweet note. Food on a stick is just fun….don’t ya think?

Thai Chicken Skewers with Peanut Sauce

Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cut into 3/4 inch cubes
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons olive oil
metal or wooden skewers
cilantro for serving

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
6 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 tablespoons tamari (or soy sauce)
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil

To make peanut sauce, whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl until completely smooth. (Mixture will seize up at first, but keep whisking, it will smooth out.) Set aside.

Before making chicken, if you are using wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water for 30 minutes to prevent burning. To make chicken, toss chicken cubes with salt. Then mix together olive oil and tamari, and pour over top of chicken. Mix with hands to coat, and let sit for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
Thread chicken cubes on to the skewers. Turn grill (or indoor grill pan) to medium-high heat. Grill for 10-12 minutes, turning every 4 minutes so that all sides get a nice char. Test one piece of chicken to see if it is cooked all the way through. Then serve with peanut sauce drizzled and lightly brushed over the top. Sprinkle chicken with minced cilantro, peanuts and put extra peanut sauce on the side for dipping.

Adapted from: Amanda Paa

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Shrimp Roll

June 13, 2017

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Fresh cooked Shrimp Rolls with lemon, mayonnaise, tarragon and chives served on a buttery toasted roll will make for a quick and delicious meal.  The subtle tarragon flavor pairs so well with the sweet shrimp. New England-style split top rolls are not an easy find in the Chicago area. You can create your own by slicing the sides and a bit off the bottom of a brioche bun or oversized hot dog bun. This style allows the surface to butter and toast under the broiler.

Shrimp Rolls

Makes 6

Kosher salt
2 lb. large shrimp (31 to 40 per lb.) peeled, deveined
3/4 cup finely chopped celery with leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives
1 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice; more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
6 New England-style split-top rolls or make (slice) your own

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until bright pink and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces.

OR in a bowl, mix shrimp with a few tablespoons of olive oil and salt. Grill shrimp for 1-2 minutes per side.

In a large bowl, stir the celery, mayonnaise, chives, tarragon, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Stir in the shrimp and season to taste with more lemon, salt, and pepper.

Position a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Butter and toast both outside (I also did the inside) surfaces of the rolls under the broiler, about 1 minute per side. Spoon the shrimp salad into the rolls, using about 2/3 cup per roll, and serve.

Make it a lobster roll: Substitute 1-1/2 lb. (4 cups) cooked lobster meat for the cooked shrimp.

Adapted from: Fine Cooking

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Blistered Snap Peas With Burrata & Mint

June 3, 2017

 

IMG_6022Grilled sugar snap peas drizzled with lemon dressing make the perfect summer side dish.  A quick char will brighten their sweet flavor while maintaining a crunchy texture. Combining these legumes with mint and burrata will make a meal on its own or a lovely companion to grilled fish. They were delicious off the grill but we liked them even better cold the next day. Snap peas contain a wealth of vitamins and other nutrients; fiber, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, healthy fats, iron, potassium, magnesium, folic acid and antioxidants.

Blistered Snap Peas With Burrata & Mint

4 Servings

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt plus 1/2 teaspoon, divided

12 oz. snap peas, strings removed

1 cup lightly packed mint leaves

1 lb. burrata or buffalo mozzarella, cut into pieces

Lay a triple layer of heavy-duty foil over a baking rack and with a point of a scissors, poke 1/2 holes to form circles. (or use a lattice grill) Light the grill on high heat.

Whisk the lemon juice, honey, and mustard in a small bowl. gradually whisk in olive oil until combined. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the peas with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Spread the peas on the foil, grill until lightly charred, about 2 minutes. Stir until hot about 1 minute longer. Transfer the peas to a bowl and toss with mint and half of the dressing.

Arrange the peas on a platter. Spoon burrata on top of the peas and drizzle with remaining dressing.

Adapted from: Justin Chapple

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Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad

May 26, 2017

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Who doesn’t love a tasty summer BBQ? Burgers and brats make their long anticipated seasonal debut…but the sides could steal the show. You’ll have your usual standbys — fruit, broccoli, potato and green salads…all delicious. Of course, pasta salad will make an appearance, but this version (not from the local deli case), with classic Italian notes and an abundance of fresh, bright, balanced and light flavors, could be the star!

Easy Italian Spaghetti Pasta Salad

Serves 8

1 pound thin spaghetti
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 cucumbers, quartered and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
½ red onion, thinly sliced
10 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
8 ounces mini pepperoni
1 4-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning (combo of dried oregano, basil)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 garlic clove, pressed or finely minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the spaghetti according to directions in boiling water seasoned with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Drain, rinse and cool. Add the spaghetti to a large bowl with the cucumbers, red bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes, mini pepperoni, black olives and parmesan cheese. for the dressing, add the olive oil, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning, sugar, garlic clove, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well and pour over the spaghetti mixture and toss to coat. Add more parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 30 minutes up to overnight.

Adapted from: Foodie Crush

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Ed’s Grouper Sandwich

May 11, 2017

 

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This is one fish story you’ll want to hear and…ahem…with no exaggeration, may be the best sandwich you will ever eat. Commonly found in coastal Florida waters, grouper is a firm, meaty and mild tasting fish that holds up well as a sandwich. (Locally, available NOW at Heinen’s.) Keep it simple so the grouper shines…pair with a crusty roll, leaf lettuce, a slice of tomato and an easy home-made tartar sauce. This condiment is the perfect topper…..sweet, tangy and tart with just the right amount of dill. Thanks for the inspiration Ed….my number one fan!!!

Ed’s Grouper Sandwich 

Serves 4

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds fresh halibut, cut into 4 servings, 4 to 6 ounces each, 1-inch thick  (or any meaty white fish, halibut, cod, etc.)
Vegetable or olive oil, for drizzling
2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 lemon, juiced

Tartar sauce (This is an important component!!!!!)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 dill or half-sour pickle, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons fresh chopped dill
2 tablespoons fresh chives, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
Few drops cayenne pepper sauce, optional

4 rolls        (I love ciabatta rolls so all the yummy tarter fills the nooks and cranny’s!)
1 large ripe tomato, sliced
4 leaves green leaf or Boston lettuce
Preheat nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron grill pan over medium high heat. Drizzle Grouper with oil, then season with crab seasoning, salt and pepper. Grill on a hot pan 4 or 5 minutes on each side.

Place melted butter in a small dish and add juice of 1/2 lemon.

Combine all ingredients for the tartar sauce in a small bowl.

Lightly toast buns on grill pan after fish is removed.

To assemble, brush bun bottoms and fish with lemon butter. Top fish with tomato and lettuce and slather the bun tops with tartar sauce.

Serve with home baked sweet potato chips.

Adapted from: Food.com

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Herby Avocado Hummus

May 4, 2017

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Enjoy this quick and easy hummus that is a delicious change from the classic version. It’s extra creamy and rich in healthy fats….the perfect companion for veggies or chips. Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Herby Avocado Hummus

Makes about 2¼ Cups

½ large ripe avocado
1 15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed, drained
⅓ cup tahini, well mixed
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely grated or smashed to a paste with flat side of knife on cutting board
¾ teaspoon (or more) kosher salt
10 cranks freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup cilantro leaves with tender stems
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas; for serving)

Process avocado, chickpeas, tahini, lime juice, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, and 1 cup cilantro in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute. With the motor running, stream in 2 tablespoon of oil, then continue to process until hummus is very light and creamy, about 1 minute longer. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
Transfer hummus to a shallow bowl. Top with pepitas and cilantro and drizzle with more oil.

Do Ahead: Hummus can be made 4 days ahead. (I know, crazy!) If making this ahead of time, press plastic directly onto the surface before covering and chilling to prevent the mixture from turning brown on top. Use an airtight container.
Recipe by Claire Saffitz/ Bon Appetit

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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