Saturday, April 30, 2011

My New Favorite Turkey Burger

I love a good turkey burger whether at home or at a restaurant. I have a few recipes that I have tried but it always seems that my turkey burgers have a tendency to fall apart, be too dry, or just not have enough flavor. Last night Brady found this recipe and after reading the list of ingredients I knew that the burgers would have to be full of flavor plus I thought the addition of the bread crumbs would probably help the meat stick together. Talk about a good find, the burgers turned out perfectly!!  We both loved these and thought they were restaurant quality burgers. I am excited to pass on this recipe because it's a great burger recipe just in time for spring and the start of grilling season!

The picture is a little blurry because I forgot my camera and we had to use Brady's phone
Turkey Burgers
** adapted from Pixelated Crumb
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Serves 3-4
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 pound ground turkey breast
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped shallot
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon barbecue sauce
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Suggested Toppings:
1 onion- caramelizing instructions below
Gorgonzola cheese

In a large bowl combine the ground turkey with all of the ingredients listed above. Mix well and form into 3 or 4 patties depending on how large you like your burgers.

Heat a grill pan over medium heat and spray well with cooking spray. Once hot, add the patties to the pan and cook for about 6-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through. You could also cook these on an outdoor grill. Serve the burgers topped with caramelized onions and a sprinkle of Gorgonzola cheese.

** For the caramelized onions, thinly slice the onion. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add a little bit of olive oil. Once hot add the onions and about a 1 tsp sugar. Stir the onions occasionally, they will take about 10-15 minutes to brown so I would suggest starting them before you put the burgers on the grill pan.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Asiago, Arugula, and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken

The below recipe is one of my favorites from Cooking Light. I came across the recipe last year and I have made it on numerous occasions, a few of which were for friends and everyone loved the dish.  I love that the chicken is cooked in a saute pan first and then finished off in the oven. I think finishing it in the oven really seals in the juices and makes the chicken extra tender and moist. You  may be tempted to skip making the Caramelized Shallot Sauce that is served with the chicken but it is delicious and I think it really adds to the flavor of the dish.

All of the ingredients for this recipe are incredibly cheap. I typically just buy a couple of pieces of Asiago and prosciutto at the deli counter so I don't have to worry about tons of leftover meat and cheese. This recipe is incredibly quick and easy plus it's low in calories and fat, with 300 calories and 9 grams of fat this is the perfect healthy weeknight meal!

Asiago, Arugula, and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken with Caramelized Shallot Sauce
** adapted from Cooking Light
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Serves 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Chicken Ingredients:
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 slices prosciutto
2 slices Asiago cheese, you could also use Provolone
1/2 c. trimmed arugula
salt and pepper

Sauce Ingredients:
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 tsp tomato paste
1 c. dry white wine
1 c. fat-free, low sodium chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350.

To prepare the chicken, cut a slit 3/4 of the way through each chicken breast. Stuff each breast with a piece of cheese, prosciutto and half of the arugula. Season chicken with salt and pepper.** If the "stuffing" is coming out use a few toothpicks to hold the chicken together.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes on each side. ** You can leave the toothpicks in while cooking on the first side but remove prior to flipping, at this point the chicken should remained closed. Once chicken has been cooked on both sides, place chicken in a shallow baking dish; bake at 350 for 5-7 minutes or until done.

To prepare sauce, add shallots to a small saucepan or skillet; saute 4 minutes over medium-high heat or until browned. Add tomato paste; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 6 minutes. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half, about 6 minutes. Serve sauce drizzled over stuffed chicken.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Crusted Veal Chops with Balsamic Reduction

The other night Brady brought over ingredients to make Crusted Veal Chops with Balsamic Reduction along with a Spicy Green Bean side dish. Brady found both recipes on the Crepes of Wrath blog and we thought they both turned out great.

I am not sure if I have ever had veal and I have definitely never cooked with it but it was incredibly easy. In Brady's words "this is a sneaky fancy dinner" because the recipe requires limited ingredients and is quick to prepare but it honestly looks like something you would be served at a restaurant. Brady loved the dish. My cut of veal was a little fatty but the meat I had tasted great and I ended up making up for the lack of meat with large amounts of the spicy green beans which were delicious!

Crusted Veal Chops with Balsamic Reduction
** The Crepes of Wrath
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Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 veal chops, trimmed of excess fat
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 c. Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Balsamic Reduction
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot or 1/2 a red onion, diced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray. If you have a baking rack, place that on top of the baking sheet and spray that with non-stick spray-  this will allow chops to have a nice crust on them.

Combine the parsley, thyme, garlic, bread crumbs, salt and cayenne pepper on a large plate. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo and mustard and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Season the veal chops with salt and pepper on both sides, then place in the heated olive oil. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, until a nice brown crust forms. Remove to the rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before covering each chop with the mustard and mayonnaise combination, then coating in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the chops down into the bread to make sure that everything sticks.

Place the chops on the prepared baking sheet and cook for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through and a meat thermometer reads 140 degrees F. Cover and allow the chops to rest for 5-8 minutes.

While the chops are resting prepare the balsamic reduction. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots or onion and cook for a minute or so, until soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, turn the heat to high, and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-high and reduce by half, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. To serve, spoon a bit of the reduction over the chops.

Spicy Green Beans

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound green beans, cleaned
1 or 2 habanero chile peppers, minced (or jalapeno peppers)
pinch salt and pepper
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons water

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add in the diced onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until softened, then add in the garlic and saute for another minute, until fragrant. Add in the green beans, habanero peppers, salt, pepper, white wine, and water. Stir to combine, cover, and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, until the beans are tender but still slightly crunchy. **I had to add a bit more water after about 10 minutes because the green beans were still pretty crunchy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I used to love making sugar cookies when I was young. My mom had a huge basket full of seasonal cookie cutters and always let my brother and I help her make cookies for various holidays. I have been making sugar cookies ever since but never really had a recipe that was hands down the best. It seems that my dough is either too sticky or too dry, and is always a bear to roll out. I liked my moms Betty Crocker recipe growing up but it is a bit too crispy for me, I prefer a slightly softer cookie. I have tried so many recipes and I think that I have finally found the perfect sugar cookie recipe! Cake and Allie's sugar cookie recipe is by far the best I have come across. The dough rolled out beautifully and the cookies are the perfect combination of crispy outside and soft center.

I love the look of royal icing and have tried using it a few times now with mediocre results. My aunt Shelly makes the most beautiful sugar cookies with royal icing, honestly they would make Martha Stewart jealous. I need to spend some time in the kitchen with her and get a few pointers but until then I have been checking out the "how to's" on various blogs. My cookies aren't perfect but I thought they turned out pretty cute! Mastering royal icing and decorating the cookies definitely takes some patience, a steady hand and more patience! If you are considering making sugar cookies I suggest checking out the blogs I mention at the end of this post and following their directions on how to decorate with royal icing.

The sugar cookies after I have outlined them with the stiff royal icing

The sugar cookies after I have flooded the inside and added finishing touches with the stiff icing.

In preparation of my upcoming trip to France, Eiffel Tower cookies!!!
Sugar Cookies
** from Cake and Allie

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until soft and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat until combined. Add in the egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour and continue to mix till smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat over to 375. Line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

On a well floured surface roll out a third of the cookie dough at a time. Put the rest of the dough back in the fridge so it stays cool. Roll dough till it is about a 1/4 inch thick and cut out cookies using floured cookie cutters. Carefully transfer the cut out cookies to the baking sheets and bake for 6-8 minutes. Cookies should not brown, remove them before they start to get brown on the edges. Remove cookies from the pan and cool on a kitchen towel covered with wax paper. Let the cookies cool completely before icing.

Royal Icing

2 Tbs meringue powder (can be found at Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, or Hobby Lobby)
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbs water

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat frosting until matte and smooth, about 7-8 minutes.

*** For decorating instructions I suggest checking out Cake and Ella and Annie Eat's blogs- both give an excellent tutorial!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I recently picked up a couple of the Cook This, Not That cookbooks at the library. I have seen some of the cookbooks recipes featured on the Today Show and love that the dishes are all under 400 calories and require minimal ingredients.   I have sticky notes in about half of the cookbook because all of their recipes look so good and sound perfect for quick and healthy weeknight meals- I am thinking I should have just bought it versus checking out from the library!

The tortilla soup recipe in the cookbook really caught my eye. I had to bring out the Eddie Bauer parka yesterday so I thought this soup would be perfect for lunches this week. I am always a big fan of tortilla soup and this recipe didn't disappoint. It is incredibly basic, I have other tortilla soup recipes that are a bit more complex, but I love the simplicity of this recipe and I thought the addition of the lime juice at the end really added to the soup. Definitely take the time to bake the tortilla strips, they give the soup a nice crunch plus they make the soup look like something you'd have at a restaurant!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
** from the Cook This, Not That cookbook
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Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 T. oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (14 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
1 chipotle pepper (I used 2 for more heat)
6 c. chicken broth
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 corn tortillas, cut into strips
juice of 1 lime
avocado (optional)
fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 450. 

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the onion and garlic until soft and translucent and then transfer to blender. Add the broth, tomatoes with juice and chipotle pepper to the blender and puree until smooth. (I used my immersion blender which worked perfectly).

Return the soup to the pot and bring to a simmer. Season chicken with salt and pepper and drop the breasts in to the liquid. Poach the chicken in the soup until cooked all the way through, about 12 minutes. Remove the chicken and slice into thin strips. Add the chicken back into the soup.

Arrange sliced tortilla strips on a baking sheet and bake until lightly brown and crispy.

Season soup with lime juice; adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with diced avocado, fresh cilantro, and tortilla strips.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Seared Scallops with Spring Vegetable Risotto

I am going to begin this post with a bit of a warning, the recipe below is a bit labor intensive. I think the directions in the original recipe were a little hard to follow which may have been part of the problem. I am hoping that my directions below make a little more sense and make the preparation of the dish a little easier. The dish wasn't hard to make but it did require two cooks in the kitchen. If it had just been me cooking it might have been a little interesting.

That being said, I really loved the dish and thought that it was worth the time and effort. There are a lot of great flavors with the lemon, wine and the addition of the gremolata- which we forgot about at first but after we added it I thought the gremolata really made the dish. The risotto paired perfectly with the seared scallops but you could easily substitute chicken or shrimp or not mess with a protein at all.

Seared Scallops with Spring Vegetable Risotto
** adapted from Cook's Illustrated, Light and Healthy
 print recipe

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 T. minced fresh parsley, stems reserved
2 T. minced fresh mint, stems reserved
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and reserved, spears cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound leeks, greens reserved, white and green parts halved lengthwise, sliced thin and rinsed
4 c. low sodium vegetable broth
3 c. water
1 T. oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. frozen peas
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
1 c. dry white wine
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 T. butter
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

1 pound (about 8) fresh large scallops, patted dry to remove any moisture
salt and pepper

Combine the parsley, mint, and lemon zest in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine broth and water in a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Chop the tough asparagus ends and leek greens into 1/2 inch pieces and add to the broth, along with the reserved mint and parsley stems, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the asparagus spears that have been cut on the bias, 1/8 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper, and cook, stirring often until crisp-tender, about 4-6 minutes. Add the frozen peas, and continue to cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside.

Next, in a large skillet heat 1 teaspoon of oil. Add the leeks, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8-10 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Strain the broth, discarding the solids. Set over low heat and cover to keep warm.

Add the rice to the leek mixture and cook, stirring constantly until the ends of the kernels are transparent, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the wine, and cook, stirring often, until it has been absorbed, another 3 minutes. Stir in 3 cups of broth and continue to simmer, stirring every few minutes until the liquid has been absorbed and the bottom of the pan is almost dry, about 12 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup more broth every few minutes as needed to keep the bottom of the pan from drying out. Continue to cook, stirring often until rice is al dente, about 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a medium size skillet over high heat and add a bit of butter or oil. Add the scallops, about four at a time to avoid crowding, to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Remove scallops and repeat with remaining scallops.

Remove risotto from heat, and vigorously stir in the cheese, butter and lemon juice, then gently fold in the reserved asparagus and peas. Season with salt and pepper if necessary and serve served with seared scallops on top and garnished with gremolata.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze

It was so great being in Miami and having fresh fish each night. I wanted to continue the fish trend back here in Chicago so I picked up some fresh salmon last week. The salmon turned out great, sweet with a little bit of a smoky kick from the chipotle peppers. I loved that the glaze called for minimal ingredients, all of which I already had on hand, and the whole dish was incredibly quick and easy to prepare. The original recipe has the salmon served over hominy puree which sounds interesting and I think would be a good pairing with the fish. I will definitely be making this again and trying out the hominy puree next time!

Roast Salmon with Sweet Chipotle Glaze
** adapted from Eats Well With Others
print recipe

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

3 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle in adobo, minced
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 1/4 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 (6-7 oz) wild Atlantic salmon fillets

Preheat the oven to 450. In a small bowl mix chipotle chilies, apricot jam, red wine vinegar and cumin.

Coat a medium size baking dish with PAM. Arrange salmon in the baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread half of the glaze on each piece of salmon.

Roast until opaque, about 10 minutes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin

I have said this before but I love the convenience of a crock pot. This week I bought a pork tenderloin and planned to roast it for dinner. As I looked through recipes I realized that I wouldn't be home till 8pm and at that point I wasn't going to want to cook dinner. I decided to switch gears and began searching for a good crock pot recipe. I came across this recipe on Paula Deen's website and to my surprise it was actually healthy.  Anything that Paula makes I expect to be full of butter and oil but this dish has vegetables and no butter!! I thought it turned out great and was super simple. I threw everything in the crock pot in the afternoon and by 8pm I had a delicious hot meal!

Picture courtesy of  Paula Deen's website- my picture didn't turn out
Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin
** from
print recipe

Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6-7 hours

1 (2 pound) pork tenderloin
2 cups baby carrots
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 (18 ounce) jar apricot preserves (I used sugar free)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper

Line the bottom of the crock pot with carrots and onions. Season pork with salt and pepper and place on top of the carrots and onions.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix stock, apricot preserves, mustard and thyme. Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour glaze over the pork tenderloin. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours, or until tender.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food and Fun in South Beach

Brady and I went to South Beach this past weekend and it was the perfect getaway. 85 degree weather and relaxing with mojitos on the beach was a nice change from our busy schedules (more Brady's than mine) and the less than desirable spring weather we've been experiencing lately in Chicago.

A few highlights and recommendations if you are considering a trip to South Beach...

The Bentley Hotel
We stayed at the Bentley four nights and I thought it was a great hotel. Our suite was beautiful, with marble floors and a big wrap around balcony overlooking the ocean. The hotel has a full service Cuban restaurant, a beautiful pool surrounded by lounge chairs and cabanas as well as private beach access.
Champagne and cheese plate on arrival, can't beat that!
We ate at Prime One Twelve on Friday night and it was excellent. We started off with drinks at the bar and snacked on crispy bacon that they offered instead of the usual bar nuts. Great idea, although probably not the most Lenten friendly bar snack, oops! We were seated outside on the patio and had the perfect table for people watching. I was sure we'd see a celebrity because when we walked by the restaurant the night before Dennis Rodman was standing outside. Apparently, Prime One Twelve is the go-to restaurant for celebrities and athletes in South Beach, unfortunately no celebrities came in while we were there. 

The food and service at the restaurant was terrific. Brady and I shared a huge salad and then he had a steak and I had soy-marinated sea bass which was delicious. Unfortunately we were too full by the time the dessert menu came around but next time we go back I am skipping the salad and going for the fried Oreo dessert, it sounded amazing!

Saturday afternoon, after a great day at the beach, Brady and I headed to La Sandwicherie, a tiny open air sandwich bar that Brady's friend recommended. I loved it! It is so cute and I loved that they had misting fans which were perfect after our hot walk there. The sandwiches which are voted "Best in Miami" are enormous and cheap which is a rarity in pricey South Beach! Plus they offer black olives and cute mini French pickles as toppings, huge bonus in my book.

The Villa by Barton G (inside the Versace Mansion!)
The highlight of the vacation was a surprise dinner inside the Versace Mansion at The Villa by Barton G. Brady made reservations months ago and it was well worth the planning. I couldn't have been more surprised and excited. The experience was phenomenal. Not only was it awesome to go inside the Versace Mansion (it's closed off to tourists) but the food was excellent. 

There are two seating areas, the dining room which seats about 8 tables and the courtyard. Our reservation was for the courtyard but it turned out there was a wedding reception that evening. The dining room was absolutely beautiful, the walls are covered in pebble mosaics and the tables are set with Versace's personal china collection. Even though we couldn't eat outdoors as planned, I was able to sneak a partial peak at the gorgeous courtyard and garden area thanks to a nice bodyguard. Besides housing a restaurant, there are also 10 luxury hotel rooms available, including Gianni Versace's master bedroom (kind of creepy in my opinion). 
The Dining Room- check out the beautiful china! (photo taken from website)
The Courtyard (photo taken from website)
I think the thing that I loved most about the experience was the fact that the food lived up to feeling of luxury and glamor that you sense walking into the mansion. The food is deemed "refined continental cuisine" and had a touch of molecular gastronomy which was fun. Brady and I shared the Maple Glazed Barramundi and honestly if we had been anywhere else I would have considered licking the plate clean, it was amazing. For our main course Brady had the Rack of Colorado Lamb and I had Bread Crusted Diver Scallops. Both entrees were delicious. Eating at The Villa was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and one that you shouldn't miss out on if you are in South Beach!
In front of the mansion
Prior to our trip I asked friends for recommendations and drinks at the Delano Hotel was on everyone's must list while in Miami. Such great advice! The Delano is beautiful and turned out to be a great place for pre-dinner cocktails. The decor inside the hotel is very minimalistic with interesting pieces of furniture and artwork sporadically displayed. The real highlight is the pool area though surrounded by giant lounge beds and private and semi-private cabana's. I can definitely see why the Delano is on everyone's must list, it's swankier than places I would normally hang out but it was fun to pretend to be cool for the evening :)

Out by the pool at the Delano
I'm sad the trip is over, it was tough for us to come back to reality. I think the sign of a good vacation though is that you leave wanting to stay or at least come back soon and we both definitely felt that way!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Szechuan Noodle Salad

I made dinner for my brother this week and he requested that I make my moms Szechuan Noodle Salad. This was a recipe that my mom made quite frequently because it was always a huge hit in our house. The recipe calls for minimal ingredients and can be made ahead of time, plus it's served cold making for perfect lunch leftovers.

The original recipe uses ramen noodles which are not exactly healthy. My mom recently made the dish with whole wheat pasta so I decided to give it a shot and I thought it turned out great. Even my brother, who commented to my mom that he hoped I didn't change it to make it healthier, loved it.
Szechuan Noodle Salad

Serves 4-6
Prep Time: 40 minutes

1/2 box of whole wheat pasta (or 2-3 pkgs ramen noodles, chicken flavor)
5 T. vegetable oil
5 T. honey
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. grated ginger root
3 c. chicken, cut into strips
bottled teriyaki sauce
2 carrots, shredded
1 c. red cabbage, shredded
4 green onions, sliced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 c. dry roasted peanuts
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Marinate chicken strips in teriyaki for at least 30 minutes. Saute the chicken over medium heat in pan coated with PAM.

Cook noodles. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine oil, honey, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water.

In large bowl, combine noodles, chicken, and vegetables. Pour dressing over salad (start with half the dressing and add more if needed); toss to mix. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Vegetarian Pizza

I love a good vegetarian pizza. However, I haven't had the best of luck making my own in the past. I am not sure if it was the combination of vegetables I used or how I prepared them but my attempts at vegetarian pizza always seem to be a bit disappointing. Until now that is, Brady and I made a vegetarian pizza on Friday night that was awesome. It easily ranks right up there with my favorite pizza recipe for Sausage and Fig Pizza.  I loved the combination of the peppers and fresh basil and I thought the goat cheese was a great addition.

Vegetarian Pizza
** adapted from Food Network Magazine
print recipe

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
1 orange pepper, cut into thin strips
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sliced fresh basil
3 cloves garlic; 1 minced, 2 sliced
2 T. olive oil
favorite pizza dough

6 ounces mozzarella cheese,shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 ounces provolone cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cups)
2 T. pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 (or whatever pizza dough recommends). Toss the peppers, tomatoes, basil and minced garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper. Cook the sliced garlic in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat until golden, about 1 minute. Cool slightly.

Spray a baking sheet with PAM. Spread or roll out the pizza dough onto the pan. Drizzle with a little of the garlic oil. Top with the mozzarella, provolone and tomato-pepper mixture, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and sliced garlic.

Bake the pizza until the crust is golden and cheese is melted, about 15 minutes depending on what type of crust you use. Top with goat cheese before slicing.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie was one of my favorites when I was little. When my parents would go out on Saturday nights and we would have a babysitter we could sometimes pick a special dinner from the grocery store. "Special" meaning a TV dinner or my personal favorite, a chicken pot pie. Yes, most kids would probably pick frozen pizza but lets just say I had an adult palette at an early age, although I probably topped off my pot pie with a grape Shasta :) 

I have been talking about making pot pie for months now and recently bought the perfect pot pie size ramekins at Crate and Barrel. After taking an inventory of the produce in my refrigerator this week I realized that I had everything that I needed to make pot pie! As I made the pot pies last night all of the reasons why I love them so much came back to me. There is just something about pot pie, it's warm and hearty and the perfect comfort food.

Chicken Pot Pie
** adapted from Everyday Food

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 1 1/2 hours

2 T unsalted butter
1 medium onion, medium dice
1 large carrot, medium dice
1 large stalk celery, medium dice
1/2 c. mushrooms
1/2 c. all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
3 c. cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 c. frozen peas
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (usually takes about 45 minutes to thaw)
1 large egg yolk
salt and pepper

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onion, carrot, celery, and mushrooms until softened, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring frequently until mixture is pale golden and is the texture of oatmeal, about 5 minutes.

Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Divide mixture among four 12-ounce baking dishes; refrigerate until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry to an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 4 equal squares, 1 inch larger than dishes and place over the four baking dishes. Cut vents into the pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 tsp water; brush pastry with egg wash. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Place the four baking dishes on a large rimmed cookie tray and bake until pastry is deep golden and juices and bubbling, about 35 minutes.