Saturday, April 20, 2013

Asparagus, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

Spring in Chicago is kind of terrible. I could really do without it. It's cold, it's rainy, and you get teased every other week with one really beautiful day that gives you hope that you can put away the parka and then next thing you know it's freezing again. This recipe for Asparagus, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad is perfect for at least making you feel like real spring weather is around the corner. It has to be right???

 Asparagus, Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

Serves: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes

10 spears of asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp honey
bag of mixed greens
handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup hulled and sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp freshly crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss asparagus pieces with 1 tsp olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lay out in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast until tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Combine the remaining 2 tsp olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey. Whisk until emulsified; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Toss the mixed greens with the dressing, and then gently toss in the sliced strawberries, asparagus, and fresh basil. Top salad with feta crumbles.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Turkey Meatballs with Apricot Marmalade Glaze

Nothing is worse then showing up at a party empty handed. We went to our friends' house for appetizers and drinks a couple weekends ago and I wanted to bring a small appetizer. Nothing fancy but something that would travel well and be a crowd pleaser. The below recipe for turkey meatballs is a great party recipe. They are super simple to make and don't require many ingredients. I am always a little leery of cooking with ground turkey. It has a tendency to dry out and well, just taste too healthy, but the apricot glaze lends tons of flavor and moisture to the meatballs.


Turkey Meatballs with Apricot Marmalade Glaze

Makes about 25-30 meatballs
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 egg
1/4 c.skim milk
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp pepper
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 T. olive oil
1 c. low sugar apricot (or orange) marmalade
1 T. white wine vinegar
pinch of red pepper flakes

Beat the egg and milk in a small bowl. Stir in the bread crumbs, salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Add the ground turkey, mixing well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Shape the meatballs into 1 inch balls. Heat oil in a large skillet and place the meatballs in a single layer. Cook until well browned on all sides. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set aside.

Mix marmalade, broth, vinegar, and red pepper flakes in a skillet over medium heat. Bring to boil and then reduce to medium-low. Return the meatballs to the skillet and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and the sauce has reduced to a glaze consistency.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Oven Braised Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Braising it a great way to get tons of flavor out of inexpensive cuts of meat. I have posted numerous braising recipes and the below recipe for chicken with lemon and rosemary is yet another keeper. We loved the tenderness of the chicken and the mushrooms, rosemary and lemons lend tons of flavor. Plus, how can you beat a recipe that involves one dirty dish?!
Yes, this chicken is still raw. I thought it looked really pretty pre-braising.
Oven Braised Chicken with Lemon and Rosemary

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 40 minutes

8 chicken thighs (I used boneless skinless)
6 whole garlic cloves
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 Cups Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
4 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
8 Lemon Slices, seeds removed
1 Dried Bay Leaf
2 Tablespoons Capers, drained
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt and Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch Oven heat olive oil to medium high.  Brown chicken pieces on both sides and transfer to a plate. Lower heat to medium and add garlic cloves, cooking until lightly golden. Add onions and cook until evenly browned. Add chili flakes and sauté for an additional minute.  Add mushrooms and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Return the chicken to the pot. Add lemon slices, bay leaf, capers, and rosemary sprigs.  Place lid over the pot and put into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is done. Carefully take the pot out of the oven. Remove rosemary sprigs, bay leaves and skim off and discard any fat. Season with salt and pepper as necessary.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Rigatoni with Asparagus-Pistachio Pesto

The below recipe for rigatoni with asparagus-pistachio pesto is another winner from Andrew Zimmern's food blog. He created the recipe while working at a French restaurant in Minneapolis years ago and apparently it helped win over his wife. It's easy to see why. This pasta dish was absolutely delicious. Brady did most the work so I can't talk about the labor that went into it but I can say that the pasta has tons of flavor. This recipe makes a lot so be prepared for leftovers, we were eating off it for a couple days. Probably not the best decision a few days before my final wedding dress fitting but luckily it still zipped!

Rigatoni with Asparagus-Pistachio Pesto
** adapted from Andrew Zimmern's blog

Prep/Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8

1/4 c. pine nuts
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium carrots, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 c. basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T. honey
2 tsp. thyme, chopped
1 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. olive oil
salt and pepper
1 pound whole wheat rigatoni
1/4 pound sliced bacon
1 c. chicken stock
2 T. butter
1/4 c. pistachios, finely chopped
1/3 c. parsley, chopped
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400. Toast the pine nuts on a baking sheet for about 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a food processor, combine the asparagus, carrots and shallots and process until chopped. Put the mixture in a baking dish, stir in the basil, garlic, honey, thyme, lemon zest, cumin and 1/4 cup olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes, stirring once, until the vegetables are soft and starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Set the pasta aside and toss with just a little olive oil to coat.

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain the bacon on paper towels and then chop.

In a large skillet or pot, combine the cooked vegetables with the stock and butter and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the pasta, pine nuts, pistachios, and the reserved pasta water. Cook until the sauce is thick and the pasta is coated. Stir in the parsley and chopped bacon. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve with grated cheese.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Asparagus Soup with Chicken Sausage

I've been very spoiled lately. Brady hasn't been traveling and he's been making dinner on nights that I get home later. It's been so nice! Brady made asparagus soup last week and it turned out great. I loved that the soup was rich and creamy yet it didn't have any butter or cream in it. It certainly doesn't look or feel like spring right now but this perfect spring soup has me hoping that it's right around the corner!

Asparagus Soup with Chicken Sausage

Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 T. olive oil
1 package of chicken sausage, cut into small cubes
3-4 green onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small red potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes
4 c. chicken broth
salt and pepper
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2 inch pices
6 oz. plain Fat Free Greek yogurt

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken sausage and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a plate and set aside. Add the green onions and garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and broth and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the asparagus and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In small batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the pot and stir in the yogurt and chicken sausage and season again with salt and pepper. Serve with a little grated cheese and warm bread.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pasta with Eggplant and Garlic Thyme Breadcrumbs

Pasta always seems like an easy option for Friday night dinners during Lent. Brady came across this recipe for pasta with eggplant and garlic thyme breadcrumbs recently and we gave it a try last weekend. We eat tons of vegetables but I tend to forget about eggplant. I think it's partially due to the fact that eggplant requires a little prep work. I also try to avoid heavy groceries when it's just me doing the grocery shopping! This dish reminded me though how tasty eggplant is and that it's completely worth the extra 30 minutes to let it soak in salted water to get rid of any bitterness. Luckily, the rest of the steps in this recipe are simple and the end result is delicious!

Pasta with Eggplant and Garlic Thyme Breadcrumbs

Prep/Cook Time: 45 minutes

8 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. tomato puree
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. olive oil
12.5 ounces whole wheat rigatoni or fusilli pasta
1 eggplant
1 T. capers
1 T. black olives, halved
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garlic Thyme Breadcrumbs
6 T. breadcrumbs
3 T. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp thyme

Preheat the broiler to HI.

Cut the eggplant into small cubes and put them in salted water for half an hour. After soaking, pat them dry and put them on a baking dish covered with a little cooking spray. Drizzle with a little olive oil and broil them for about 4-5 minutes, until golden and crisp. Set them aside.

Cook the pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, saute the garlic in a pan with 2 T. olive oil. Add the halved tomatoes, the tomato pure, a little salt and 3 T. of water. Let the sauce cook for 5 minutes on low. Add in the capers, olives and a little torn basil.  Add the baked eggplant cubes and mix well.

While the sauce is simmering and the pasta is cooking, combine the garlic thyme breadcrumb ingredients in a small bowl.

Before draining the pasta, put 2 T. pasta water in the tomato and eggplant sauce. Drain the remaining pasta water and then combine the pasta and eggplant sauce. Serve with grated cheese and the garlic thyme breadcrumbs on top. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pistachio Cranberry Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Last Sunday, Brady made a stuffed pork tenderloin for our pre-Oscars dinner. It was absolutely delicious. Brady loves pork tenderloin and I think everything tastes good with creamy goat cheese added to it so it was a win win. This is also a faux fancy recipe because the ingredient list is short, it doesn't take long to prepare, but the end result is something that you could easily serve to company and they would be impressed.

 Pistachio Cranberry Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

3/4 c. raw unsalted shelled pistachios
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 clove garlic, minced
4 ounces goat cheese
salt and pepper
1 1/2 to 2 pound pork tenderloin
2 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Toast 1/4 cup pistachios in a small skillet over medium high heat until slightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Side aside. Meanwhile, grind the remaining 1/2 c. pistachios in a food processor. Pour onto a plate and set aside.

Put the toasted pistachios into the food processor along with the cranberries and garlic. Pulse until the mixture is evenly grown. Add the goat cheese and pulse to combine.

Butterfly the pork tenderloin. Sprinkle the inside of the meat with salt and pepper. Spread the pistachio/cranberry/goat cheese mixture evening on the inside of the meat. Roll the tenderloin lengthwise and tie with butcher's string at about 2 inch intervals. Roll the tied tenderloin in the ground pistachios, pressing the pistachios onto the meat, until fully coated.

Heat the oil in an oven proof skillet. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and sear on all side 1-2 minutes or until browned. Place the skilled in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the inside of the pork is cooked through.

Remove from the oven, place the tenderloin on a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.