Friday, December 9, 2011

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This soup is adapted from a Food Network Magazine recipe.  

Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 cups half-and-half 
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 
  • 4 cups broccoli florets (about 1 head) 
  • 1 large carrot, diced 
  • 2 1/2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated sharp white and yellow cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish  
Directions

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then gradually whisk in the half-and-half until smooth. Add the chicken broth, bay leaves and nutmeg, then season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until thickened, about 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli and carrot to the broth mixture and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth; you'll still have flecks of carrot and broccoli. Return to the pot. (Or puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender.)

Add the cheese to the soup and whisk over medium heat until melted. Add up to 3/4 cup water if the soup is too thick. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Paleo Diet: Sundried Tomato Chicken Bake

This recipe is so easy. You just dump chicken in a dish and top with sliced garlic and a jar of sundried tomatoes, bake and you're done! I absolutely love sundried tomatoes, so this dish is right up my alley.

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in half
8.5 oz jar of julliane cut sun dried tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
2 tablespoons dried basil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Place the chicken breasts in a large glass baking dish. Sprinkle with the dry spices and mix well. Sprinkle the sliced garlic on top and spread the sun dried tomatoes and the olive oil that it’s in the jar over the entire dish. Seal tightly with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the tin foil and bake for another 15 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Paleo Diet: Cilantro-Pork Stir Fry

I used to hate cilantro, and now I am obsessed with this herb. So naturally I loved this dish. I do, however, hate ginger, so I left this ingredient out, but if you like it, go for it! I am always looking for new ways to cook pork and this recipe is a great solution to that dilemma. A squeeze of lime juice at the end adds a great freshness and acidity to this dish.

Ingredients
Fat for cooking;
1 lb tender pork, thinly sliced;
4 finally chopped garlic cloves;
1 tbsp finely chopped ginger;
1 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped;
1/4 cup olive oil;
2 onions, thinly sliced;
1 red or green bell pepper, thinly sliced;
1 tbsp lime juice;

Technique
Mix the garlic, ginger, half the cilantro and olive oil in a bowl, add the pork and put in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour or two. Heat your wok and stir-fry the pork. Remove the pork, add more cooking fat and stir-fry the onions for about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry for another 3 minutes, until soft. Return the pork to the wok with the lime juice and the other half cilantro leaves and cook for another minute while tossing to blend the flavors.

Paleo Diet: Hungarian Beef Goulash

This is one of the best goulash recipes I have ever made and it follows the Paleo Diet. I suggest making extra of the dish and freezing for leftovers. Grass-fed beef is suggested, but the dish will still be delicious if you use regular beef. Also, don't allow "bone stock" scare you. Just use beef stock, and the kind in a box is fine. Goulash is all about the paprika, so if you can find a good smoked or Hungarian paprika - even better!

Serves 2-3
Ingredients
Cooking oil (lard, tallow, or butter are three good choices)
1/2 Lb stewing beef, cut in cubes (choose grass-fed beef);
2 medium onions, sliced;
1 large garlic clove, crushed and minced;
1 bell pepper, sliced;
2 tbsp paprika (this can be adjusted to taste, don’t be scared to use a lot of it);
2 tsp caraway seeds;
1 can chopped tomatoes (fresh tomatoes is even better);
1 1/2 cups of bone stock (beef stock is best, but anything will do);
Chopped parsley for garnishing.

Technique
Preheat your oven to 350 F. You can also use a crock-pot, on low temperature.

Brown the beef cubes in a pot with the cooking oil.

Put the beef aside and now brown and soften the onions. Add the garlic and bell pepper and cook to soften about 5 minutes on medium heat.

Put back the beef to the pot and add the spices, tomatoes and stock.

Put a lit on the pot and transfer to the hot oven or put the preparation in your crok-pot.

Let it cook for about 2 hours to 2 1/2 hours, until the beef is fork tender.

Paleo Diet: Olive, Garlic and Lemon Chicken

I am trying to follow the Paleo Diet, but I am following it loosely because the Paleo Diet is a bit extreme - no potatoes, no pasta, no bread, no grains at all. But I have found quite a few good Paleo recipes that leave you satisfied. Even my husband has had no complaints. Here is one of those recipes. The recipe calls for chicken thighs, but if you're not a fan of dark meat, you can use bone-in chicken breasts.

Serves 4
Ingredients
1/4 cup butter (or ghee), tallow, coconut oil or poultry fat;
1/2 lb black olives (kalamata), cut in half;
8 chicken thighs, with bones and skin (or 4 bone-in chicken breasts);
3 cups onions, sliced thin;
30 gloves garlic, minced and smashed almost to a paste;
1/2 cup lemon juice;
2 extra lemons, thickly sliced (remove seeds with the tip of a knife);
1 1/2 cups chicken stock;
A bunch of picked thyme leaves;
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste;

Technique
Preheat your oven to 350 F.

Melt the first 1/4 cup fat in a large and hot pan and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. It will take about 6 minutes total. Set the chicken aside.

Cook the onions until soft, about 3 minutes, and make sure to scrape all the delicious chicken bits off the pan while doing so.

Add the garlic and cook for about a minute, until fragrant. You can season with salt and pepper at this point.

Add the chicken stock, thyme and lemon juice and return the chicken thighs to the pan, skin side up.

Bring to a simmer and put the pan, covered, in the hot oven for about 20 minutes.

Remove the lid, add the halved olives as well as the lemon slices and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes uncovered.

Serve the chicken with the olive, garlic and lemon sauce as well as with some of the lemon slices.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

I absolutely love this salsa. I could eat it by the bucket, my husband, too. This recipe is courtesy of Sara Moulton and can be found in her Everyday Family Dinners cookbook. I would double or triple this recipe because you're going to love it.

2 large tomatillos (about 6 to 7 ounces)
2 medium scallions
1 small jalapeno chile
1/4 cup firmly packed cilantro leaves and stems
2 Tbsps vegetable oil
2 tsps fresh lime juice
2 dmall garlic cloves
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Remove the papery husk, rinse and thickly slice tomatillos (about 1 and 1/2 cups). Trim and thickly slice the white and light green parts of the scallion (about 1/4 cup) and coarsely chop the jalepeno (about 2 tsps). Transfer the tomatillos, scallions, jalapeno, and cilantro to a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Add the vegetable oil and lime juice and press in the garlic (about 2 tsps).

Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped. Add the salt and pepper to taste. Trasfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Spice-Rubbed Pork With Quinoa

I love pork tenderloin. It is lean, tender and very forgiving if you overcook it. Here is another recipe from Food Network Magazine.

Ingredients
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Kosher salt
2 pork tenderloins (1 3/4 pounds total), halved crosswise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Freshly ground pepper
Jarred salsa verde, for serving, or you can make your own tomatillo salsa (optional)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Combine the paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin and 2 teaspoons salt in a shallow dish. Rub the pork all over with the olive oil, then roll in the spice mixture to coat. Transfer to a roasting pan and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 145 degrees F, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest, 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the quinoa and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and fluff with a fork. Toss with the corn, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. (If you're using a packaged quinoa, follow the directions on the bag.)

Slice the pork and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with the quinoa and salsa verde, if desired.

Glazed Salmon

This recipe is courtesy of Food Network Magazine.

Ingredients
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pan
2 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
4 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets (about 1 1/2 inches thick)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
Preheat the broiler. Lightly oil the broiler pan.

Whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, the honey, mustard and 1 tablespoon lime juice in a small bowl. Brush the tops and sides of the salmon with the glaze. Put the salmon, skin-side down, on the broiler pan and season with salt and pepper. Broil until the salmon is golden brown and just cooked through 5 to 7 minutes (mine was more like 9 or 10 minutes).

Whisk the remaining 1 tablespoon each olive oil and lime juice, the coriander, cumin, cinnamon, mint and almonds in a bowl. Add the carrots and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Serve the salmon with the carrots and lime wedges.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

This recipe is courtesy of Everyday Food. Serve over white or brown rice or Chinese noodles.

Ingredients
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons apple juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
Ground pepper
1 1/4 pounds flank steak, cut diagonally across the grain into 1/2-inch-by-3-inch strips
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 head broccoli, stems trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1/4-inch rounds, florets separated into bite-size pieces
Coarse salt

In a large, shallow bowl, mix soy sauce, apple juice, vinegar, sugar, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add meat; toss to coat. Let marinate 15 minutes. Transfer meat to a plate; reserve marinade.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. In two batches, cook meat until lightly browned, turning once, about 2 minutes per batch. Remove meat. Add 1/2 cup water to pan; stir up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Pour into marinade; whisk in cornstarch.

In same skillet, fry broccoli in remaining teaspoon oil over high heat until bright green and crisp, tossing often, 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water; cook until broccoli is tender, 6 to 8 minutes.

Stir marinade, add to pan, and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 30 seconds. Return meat to pan; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.


Fig and Rosemary Pork

I love figs and they are available for only a brief time each year, so you gotta jump on them while you can. And this week at my Publix, black mission figs (my fave) were buy one get one free - SCORE! The Publix Apron's meal of the week was this fig and rosemary pork recipe. Pork tenderloins were also on sale - DOUBLE SCORE! This recipe is definetly worthy for a romantic night or for guests.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped (I hate buying fresh rosemary, because I never use it all, so just use dried rosemary if you want)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
10 small fresh figs, coarsely chopped
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
4 oz Deli diced pancetta (or bacon)
1 cup fresh pre-sliced baby portabellas
3/4 cup Marsala wine
1/3 cup fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Season pork with rosemary, salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon oil; let stand 5–10 minutes to marinate. Preheat grill pan (or grill).

Place pork in grill pan (or on grill); grill 15–20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until 160°F (for medium). Let stand 5–10 minutes before slicing.

Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high 2–3 minutes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, then add pancetta, mushrooms, shallots, and figs; cook 2–3 minutes or until pancetta is golden and mushrooms are tender.

Add wine; cook 2–3 minutes, stirring often, or until liquid has reduced by about one-half.

Add broth; cook 2–3 more minutes. Remove pan from heat; stir in butter. Slice pork, then top with sauce. Serve.

I made mashed potatoes to serve with this dish.

Beer Braised Chicken

This dish tastes as good as it sounds. Bacon, beer and chicken, what's not to like, right? If you don't like dark meat, I suggest just using four chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken, quartered. I'll think I'll do that next time. I just recommend getting bone-in chicken breasts, otherwise the meat will just fall apart. Plus, the bone adds more flavor. This recipe is courtesy of Claire Robinson.

Ingredients
3 slices thick cut applewood bacon
1 whole chicken, quartered
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 fennel bulb, trimmed cored and thinly sliced
1 bottle dark beer (I like Newcastle Brown Ale, but use whatever dark beer you like)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until nice and crispy. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and crumble when cooled.

Pat the chicken dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Sear the chicken on all sides in the pan with the rendered bacon fat, until the outside is brown and crispy. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the fennel to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until caramelized and tender, about 10 minutes.
Add a little water if the fennel starts to burn. Pour in the beer and bring it to a simmer. Nestle the chicken and all resting juices, breast side down, in the fennel and beer. Cover and transfer the pan to the oven. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, flipping the chicken over after 20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and put over low heat. Remove the chicken pieces to a warmed serving platter. Add the vinegar to the sauce and simmer to reduce to a thicker consistency, about 5 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken pieces, top with crumbled bacon and serve immediately. If you want a smoother sauce, just strain the sauce after it has reduced.

Claire doesn't really specify what side dish she serves with this meal, but I made some egg noodles and then tossed them with butter and chopped parsley. I though it was a perfect match and a little of the beer sauce poured over the noodles was excellent.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Catering Job!

I was asked by my dear family friends The McIntosh's to cater their mortgage burning party. Yes, they have paid their house in full. A major accomplishment indeed. I was absolutely happy and honored to do it for them. We went with a Tampa/Florida theme for the food. Things like roasted pork, black beans and rice, key lime pie for dessert and Ybor City cigars and local beer from Cigar City Brewery. Everything was a big hit. Below is the menu with links to some of the recipes.

Snacks:
Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas with Toasted Cuban Bread
Roasted Olives
Chai Thai Meatballs
Bruschetta
Spicy Feta Cheese Dip
White Bean Dip
Stuffed Mushrooms

Main Dishes:
Roast Pork (I admit I went to an authentic Cuban place for this one - El Gallo de Oro on N. Armenia Ave. in West Tampa.)
Black Beans and Rice (I used my husband's grandmother's recipe, so sorry, going to keep this one in the family)
Cuban Sandwiches
1905 Salad
Plantains

Dessert:
Assorted Guava Pastries from Don Pan Bakery
Key Lime Pie
Cigars

Drinks:
Cigar City Brewery
Red Sangria
White Sangria
Pomegranate Martinis










White Sangria

Here's a sangria recipe if you prefer white wine or just want to try something a little different. Recipe courtesy of Ellie Krieger.

Ingredients
1 (750-ml) bottle white wine (pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup brandy
1/4 cup orange liqueur (Cointreau or triple sec)
2 tablespoons superfine sugar (you could use simple syrup instead)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup club soda
1 medium unpeeled orange, sliced
1 unpeeled lemon, sliced
1 unpeeled lime, sliced (I added this)

Directions
In a pitcher combine the wine, brandy, orange liqueur and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the orange juice and club soda. Add the orange and lemon slices, and chill. Serve over ice.

Pomegranate Sangria

This is my go-to red sangria recipe. It's always a big hit. This recipe has been altered from a Bobby Flay recipe. If you're making this for a party, I recommend making it a day in advance. All the flavors really combine well and the fruit can marinate.

Ingredients
1 bottle fruity red wine, such as a Rioja or merlot
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cup Triple Sec
1/4 cup simple syrup (equal amounts sugar and water, heated until sugar dissolves, cooled)
1 large orange, halved and thinly sliced
1 lime, thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced
1 cup red grapes, sliced in 1/2

Directions
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving. Serve over ice.

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta

This is a pretty classic tomato bruschetta recipe. What's great about bruschetta is that you can add pretty much anything you want. You could easily add feta cheese or mozzarella to this recipe if you wanted. I also like to spread a little ricotta cheese on my toast point and then add the tomato topping. Nothing is exact with this recips either. Use however much of the ingredients look good to you.

Ingredients
Plum tomatoes or vine-ripened tomatoes, seeded and chopped
garlic, chopped
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
basil leaves, chopped or julliened

Add the chopped tomatoes and garlic to a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the basil and stir to combine once again. Serve on sliced Italian bread that has been toasted in the oven.


Stuffed Mushrooms

There are a lot of fancy stuffed mushrooms out there, but these straightforward ones using just breadcrumbs, cheese and few herbs are delicious. This recipe has been altered from a Giada recipe. And if you're making these for a party you can prepare a day ahead and just bake off before your guests arrive.

Ingredients
1/2 cup Italian-style dried bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
28 large (2 1/2-inch-diameter) white mushrooms, stemmed

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Chop up the stems of the mushrooms in a food processor. Add the garlic and parsley and pulse until chopped and combined. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the bread crumbs, Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper, to taste, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium bowl to blend.

Drizzle a heavy large baking sheet with about 1 tablespoon olive oil, to coat. Spoon the filling into the mushroom cavities and arrange on the baking sheet, cavity side up. Drizzle remaining oil over the filling in each mushroom. Bake until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is heated through and golden on top, about 25 minutes. Serve.


Roasted Olives

Here's something you probably never thought of roasting, but turns out are super delicious. I found this recipe on Food Network. It said to use the olives with pits, but that is just stupid. No one likes to eat olives and then have to spit out the pits, especially at a party, which is what I made this recipe for.

Ingredients
3 cups mixed green and black olives
dried oregano
Thyme, chopped
4 whole cloves garlic, peeled
2 lemons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a small roasting pan, mix together the olives, herbs, and garlic. Slice the lemons in half and squeeze the juice over the olives; toss in the rinds. Pour over the olive oil and vinegar and give it a good stir. Cover with foil and bake for about 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Key Lime Pie

This was my first key lime pie ever (baking, of course, not eating. On my honeymoon in Key West I ate a piece every single day we were there). This recipe is courtesy of Joe's Stone Crab. In case you were wondering, the differences between key limes and regular limes are that key limes are smaller, more acidic, have a more tart flavor, a stronger aroma and are yellow compared to green.

Ingredients
Graham Cracker Crust:
1 paper-wrapped package graham crackers (1/3 of a 1 pound box) or 1 cup plus 2 1/2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar

Filling:
3 egg yolks
2 limes, zest grated (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (if you get Key limes, use them: otherwise use regular limes)

Topping:
1 cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled
3 tablespoons of confectioners' sugar

Directions
For the graham cracker crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch pie pan. Break up the graham crackers: place in a food processor and process to crumbs. (If you dont have a food processor, place the crackers in a large plastic bag: seal and then crush the crackers with a rolling pin.) Add the melted butter and sugar and pulse or stir until combined. Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, forming a neat border around the edge. Bake the crust until set and golden, 8 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the filling: Meanwhile, in a electric mixer with the wire whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and lime zest at a high speed until very fluffy, abut 5 minutes. Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thick, 3 or 4 minutes longer. Lower the mixer speed and slowly add the lime juice, mixing just until combined, no longer. Pour mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the filling has set. Cool on a wire rack, then refrigerate. Freeze for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

For the topping: Whip the cream and the confectioners' sugar until nearly stiff. Cut the pie in wedges and serve very cold, topping each wedge with a large dollop of whipped cream


This is how many key limes it takes to yield enough juice to make two pies.


Finished product

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ravioli with Tomato Sauce

This recipe from The Food Network Magazine was delicious and a big hit with my husband. Their recipe calls for spinach ravioli, but you can use whatever frozen ravioli you like. I just used a regular cheese ravioli. Spinach would be good though and that is what I was going for, but my grocery store didn't have it.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ounce Italian salami, finely diced, or pulsed in a food processor
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained, juices reserved (I love, love, love San Marzano tomaotes and use them all the time now.)
5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds frozen spinach-and-cheese ravioli
1 ounce ricotta salata or parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salami and garlic and cook, about 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes into the pan with your hands and cook until slightly dry, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved tomato juice, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to high and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer while you cook the ravioli.

Add salt to the boiling water, then add the ravioli and cook as the label directs; drain. Divide the ravioli among shallow bowls, spoon the sauce on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Garnish with more basil.

Per serving: Calories 482; Fat 20 g (Saturated 7 g); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 1,007 mg; Carbohydrate 54 g; Fiber 7 g; Protein 25 g



In the background you'll see the delicious roast garlic I made to spread on good Italian bread. To roast garlic into spreadable yumminess, preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top of a garlic head off, so that the top of the cloves are exposed a bit. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast in the oven for 30 minutes.

Panko-Crusted Salmon

This is one of the best salmon dishes I've had in a long time. It must be something about the Panko bread crumbs that keeps the salmon super moist. This recipe is from Ina Garten's How Easy is That? cookbook.

Ingredients:
2/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
2 Tbsps minced fresh parsley
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 (6 to 8 ounce) salmon fillets, skin on (For the record, I remove the skin. I just don't like to deal with it. You can also ask your seafood department to remove the skin for you.)
2 Tbsps dijon mustard
2 Tbsps vegetable oil
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.

Place the salmon fillets, skin-side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron or oven-proof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3-4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin. (If you decide to remove the skin. Skip this searing process. Just place the prepared salmon fillets on a pan and place in the oven.)

Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temerature with lemon wedges.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Shrimp and Chorizo Tapas

My friend Rachel gave me this recipe. She had made it at an "Around the World" party she hosted. It is really delish. I made it tonight for Cinco de Mayo. Although I think this dish is Spanish, not Mexican. But oh well, it's good nonetheless.

Ingredients
1 tablespoon, plus 1/4 cup Spanish olive oil
1 pound chorizo, sliced on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup dry (fino) sherry
1 tablespoon Spanish paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined raw medium shrimp
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley leaves
Crusty bread, for serving

Directions
In a large skillet or cazuela, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and saute the sliced chorizo until it begins to brown around the edges, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are caramelized around the edges and softened somewhat, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup of the sherry and cook for 1 minute. Add the shrimp, paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until pink and cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sherry and 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice, parsley and remainder of the salt and pepper; stir to combine and remove from the heat. Serve immediately, on small plates with any accumulated cooking juices spooned over the top. Pass the bread at the table.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Slow Cooker Brisket Sandwiches

I have had this recipe in my arsenal for awhile, but I've been waiting for brisket to go on sale at my grocer. Well, it finally did, so I busted this dish out yesterday. This might be my new favorite slow cooker dish, even ahead of the pulled pork that I make. This recipe is courtesy of Food Network Magazine with a slight change in the directions from me. The serving size is surprisingly low in calories. Check out the nutritional details below.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 5-to-6-pound first-cut or flat-cut brisket, cut into 3 pieces (5-6 pounds is huge and if you are feeding more than two people, by all means get a big one like that. But since it is just me and my husband, I bought the smallest one I could find, about 3.5 pounds and I cut it into two pieces.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 12-ounce bottle stout beer (I like Guiness Stout)
4 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
2 brioche or other rolls, split open and toasted
Coleslaw, for serving (I just bought a creamy store-bought brand, like Marie's)

Directions
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the brisket with salt and pepper, then brown on all sides, about 10 minutes, adding the garlic in the last 2 minutes.

Transfer the meat and garlic to a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker. Pour the beer into the skillet and simmer 30 seconds, scraping up the browned bits from the pan; add the beer mixture to the slow cooker.

Nestle the celery around the meat. Stir together the brown sugar, tomato paste, vinegar, mustard, soy sauce, bay leaves and paprika. Pour over the meat, then cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes, then thinly slice.

Serve on brioche halves with coleslaw; drizzle with the cooking liquid.

Per serving: Calories 474; Fat 16 g (Saturated 7 g); Cholesterol 128 mg; Sodium 265 mg; Carbohydrate 18 g; Fiber 0 g; Protein 61 g

Monday, March 28, 2011

Turkey Burgers with Guacamole and Bacon

These burgers were so delicious. Bacon, pepper jack cheese and guacamole. What's not to like?

Ingredients:
canola oil
1 package ground turkey
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1-2 Tbsp grill seasoning (like McCormicks)
1 scallion, sliced
4 slices of cooked bacon
4 slices of pepperjack cheese guacamole, see this recipe to make your own
mixed greens
4 whole grain hamburger buns

In a medium mixing bowl, add a little canola oil and the ground turkey. To the turkey, add the poultry seasoning, grill seasoning and scallions. Mix together and form into four patties.

Preheat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the burger patties and cook on both sides for about 6 minutes per side. Once cooked through, add the sliced cheese, put a lid on the skillet so the cheese melts. Turn off the heat.

Add a slice of bacon to the bottom hamburger bun (I broke the bacon in two). Place the burger patty on top of the bacon. Then add a spoonful or two of guacamole to the patty, add some mixed greens and the top hamburger bun.

Quinoa Salad

You might be asking, "What the H is quinoa?" No worries, until about 6 months ago, I had no idea what it was either. Quinoa is a grain. You cook it like rice, but to me, it has the texture more like couscous. Some people even compare it to a cereal like oatmeal. It's a great alternative if you are gluten intolerant or trying to avoid other grains like wheat, barley or pasta.

This was actually my first time making quinoa, but I loved it. Even my skeptical husband enjoyed it. Look for more quinoa recipes in the near future. This recipe has been altered from an Ellie Krieger recipe. I prefer craisins to the raisins she calls for, but use whichever one you prefer.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 and 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth (water is fine, but I like the added flavor of using a broth)
1/4 cup pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup craisins
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:
Place the quinoa in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add the olive oil and garlic to the skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer the garlic to the plate, reserving the oil.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork. Add the pine nuts, garlic, reserved oil, parsley, craisins and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and toss.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blueberry Crumble

With blueberries being on sale every week, I have stocked up, but I needed to make something that would use them all. So, I decided to make a blueberry crumble. This recipe is a mix of two. The filling is from one recipe I found on FoodNetwork.com and the crumble topping is Ina Garten's from her Barefoot Contessa cookbook because I love hers and have made it before.

Ingredients
Filling:
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
2 pints blueberries, or any other berry
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Crumble Topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 quick cooking oats
1 stick unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

For the filling: In a bowl, add the blueberries, sugar, cornstarch, cider, and vanilla, Carefully mix the ingredients together with a spatula, leaving the blueberries whole. Set aside while you assemble the topping.

For the topping: Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oats, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea sized and the mixture is crumbly. (See the pictures below.)


Pour the filling into an 8-inch square baking dish and evenly distribute the topping over the fruit. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling. Cool slightly and serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Tilapia with Tomato Cream Sauce

Here is another great recipe I received from one of my iVillage daily emails. The recipe is from Eating Well magazine and actually calls for cod, but tilapia is nice swap out. What I really like about this dish is that it's healthy and has only 227 calories. This would be a great meal to serve for a small dinner party. Serve this over farro, rice or barley and make a simple mixed green salad to accompany it.

Ingredients:
1 lb tilapia or cod fillets, cut into four pieces
3 tsps chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup cream or half-and-half
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Season fish with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme; cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, about 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and the fish to the pan; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until the fish is cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the fish to a large plate; keep warm.

Whisk cream and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to the pan, along with the remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Divide the fish and sauce among 4 shallow bowls.

(This obviously isn't my picture; it is from the magazine, but mine turned out just like this.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Maple-Mustard Pork Chops

Here's a recipe that I tweaked from one of my iVillage daily food emails. The original recipe called for a whole loin that you marinate and wrap in bacon before cooking, which don't get me wrong, sounds delicious. My grocery had pork chops on sale this week, so I decided to go with those and just improvise. The result was pretty damn good.

What You'll Need:
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 Tbsps. pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary
3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled, sliced
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 pork chops, about 1/2 an inch thick

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the mustard, maple syrup, hot sauce, chopped rosemary, garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the pork and turn to coat; refrigerate overnight.
When ready to cook, heat a nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Remove the pork chops from the bag, wiping off excess marinade and the garlic slices.

Place the pork in the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes per side.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cuban Flank Steak

This slow cooker recipe is a real winner. Possibly my new fave and definitely will be added to the rotation. It's from one of my Betty Crocker emails (with a couple of my own changes).

Ingredients:
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into strips
1 beef flank steak (2 lb), cut into 8 pieces
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 1 lime
1 can Progresso® beef broth (low sodium)
2 cups uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1 can (15 oz) Progresso® black beans, drained, rinsed

Spray 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In cooker, place onion and peppers. Top with beef. Sprinkle with chili powder, oregano, garlic and salt. Drizzle with lime juice. Add broth.

Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

About 20 minutes before serving, cook rice as directed on package.

Remove beef from cooker; place on cutting board. Shred beef with 2 forks; return to cooker and mix well. Stir in black beans. Cover; cook about 20 minutes longer or until thoroughly heated. Serve beef and sauce over rice.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Raviola with Arugula, Tomatoes and Pancetta

I saw Giada making this recipe on her show the other day and it looked so yummy and easy I just had to try it.

Ingredients
1 pound cheese ravioli (Just use a fresh, store-bought like Buitoni)
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained (I like to use the no salt added variety)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
3 cups arugula
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, divided
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Directions
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli and cook for 7 to 9 minutes until tender. Drain.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add the pancetta and cook stirring frequently, until crispy, about 8 minutes. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add the tomatoes, olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 2 minutes until tender. Add the arugula and 1/4 cup basil and cook until wilted, about 30 seconds. Stir in the butter and melt. Add the ravioli and cooked pancetta and toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the ravioli to a large serving bowl. Garnish with the remaining basil and serve.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cran-Pistachio Biscotti

Who doesn't love biscotti with their morning coffee or tea? My parents sure love it. I made them some of this biscotti at the holidays. You probably think making biscotti is difficult, but it's really not. You just have to bake them twice, which is what biscotti means. First you form the dough into a log and bake and then after the log cools you cut slices and bake those again. This recipe originates from Giada De Laurentiis. You could melt white chocolate and dip half the finished biscotti into the chocolate, but I have done it before and it is really a pain in the ass, so I skipped it this time.

What You'll Need:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet.


Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

A Tale of Two Quiches

My hubby likes quiche so I have made a couple recently. The popular quiche Lorraine that has ham and cheese and for Christmas brunch at my parents' I made a very yummy broccoli and cheese quiche. Both were delicious and don't have to be limited to just breakfast. Pair with some potatoes or a side salad and you have lunch or dinner. Both recipes are below.

Quiche Lorraine:
1 pie prepared pie crust (I like Pillsbury)
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Dash ground nutmeg (optional)
3/4 cup chopped cooked ham
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese, I like the combination of cheddar and provolone (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Directions
Prepare and roll out Pastry for Single-Crust Pie or unroll refrigerated pie crust according to package directions. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Trim; crimp edge as desired. Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of foil. Bake in a 450 degree F for 8 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 4 to 5 minutes more or until pastry is set and dry. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees F.

Meanwhile, in medium bowl stir together eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in ham. In a small bowl toss together the cheese and flour. Add to egg mixture; mix well.

Pour egg mixture into hot, baked pastry shell. (If it overflows some and goes under the crust, don't worry. It turns out fine.) Bake in the 325 degree F oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
1 prepared pie crust
1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (cheddar and provolone again are my fave)
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, drained
4 eggs
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
salt and pepper

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and prepare the pie crust the same as above. Reduce temperature to 325 degrees.

Sprinkle half of the cheese evenly onto bottom of crust. Top with broccoli and remaining cheese.

Beat eggs and half-and-half with wire whisk until well blended; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over ingredients in crust.

Bake 40 to 45 min. or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 10 min. before serving.