Sunday, June 26, 2011

Steak Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

This weekend Brady and I had lunch at Feast, one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. A friend introduced me to Feast about 6 years ago when I first moved to Chicago and I have gone countless times since. The atmosphere at Feast is casual and unpretentious and a nice change from some of the other Gold Coast restaurants plus their food never disappoints.

I ordered a steak salad with a herb vinaigrette that was great. The salad was full of flavor, colorful and perfect for a light summer meal. I recreated the dish tonight for dinner and the result was incredibly close to what I ordered at Feast. I loved the cilantro vinaigrette and while I thought the flank steak was a nice change from  chicken and pork you could definitely skip the steak and add grilled chicken if you aren't a fan of red meat.

Steak Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 head romaine lettuce, washed, rinsed and chopped
1 Ib. flank steak
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
2 avocados, sliced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
3 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips

2/3 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 c. fat free plain yogurt
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 T. lemon juice
about 1/2 c. olive oil

Preheat broiler or grill. If using the broiler method, place the flank steak in a large baking dish and cook for about 15-18 minutes, turning once. Remove the meat and let it sit on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing thinly. If using a grill, cook the meat for 5 minutes on each side and then let rest before slicing.

Meanwhile, place all of the dressing ingredients except for the olive oil in a food processor and puree until smooth. Continue to process and slowly add the olive oil until the mixture is well blended. Cover the dressing and refrigerate until ready for use.

Roast the corn in the oven for 5-10 minutes. If using the broiler method just add the corn during the last 10 minutes of cooking. Set aside. While the corn is roasting, in a small skillet, heat 1 T. olive oil. Add the tortilla strips to the oil and saute them until crisp.

To serve the salad, combine lettuce, corn, tomatoes, avocado, and tortilla strips in a large bowl. Top with sliced flank steak and drizzle with cilantro dressing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cod Tostadas with Corn Relish

The below recipe is one that I had been wanting to try for months now, I was just waiting for summer to roll around to make it. As previously mentioned, I love good fish tacos. You can pretty much bet that if fish tacos are on a menu I will order then. This recipe is a great alternative to the typical fish tacos and one that wont disappoint. I made these cod tostadas two weeks ago and they were awesome. The fish is rolled in cornmeal and then cooked in a skillet so it has a fried-like appearance and texture but without all the calories. Plus the corn relish is delicious. Grab a few coronas and you have the perfect Mexican dinner!

Cod Tostadas with Corn Relish
** from I Just Love My Apron and Cooking Light

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes
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1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup green salsa
1 cup yellow corn kernels
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup diced peeled avocado
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 cod fillets, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
6 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 cup packaged angel hair slaw

Preheat broiler.

In a small bowl, combine sour cream and green salsa. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, and 1/4 tsp salt.  Saute about 5 minutes and then transfer to a medium sized bowl. Add in the avocado and lemon juice.

Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Place cornmeal in a shallow dish; dredge fish in the cornmeal.

Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish and cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily.

Coat both sides of a the tortillas with cooking spray or oil. Place on a cookie sheet and broil 2 minutes on each side, or until crisp.

Place tortillas on a serving plate, top with corn relish and garnish with the sour cream mixture.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Salmon and Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

I'm back to blogging after a very busy week. Unfortunately I didn't do any blog worthy cooking this past week but I am still catching up from the week before. As you can tell I love to cook, and I love to cook with Brady and my family, but sometimes its really nice to come home to a meal that has been prepared for me. Two weeks ago Brady made us an excellent dinner of salmon and pasta with a roasted red pepper sauce. I can't say anything for the preparation because I wasn't present but I loved the flavor of the sauce and the whole dish felt very healthy and perfect for a light summer dish.

Salmon and Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
** from
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Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 40 minutes

2 salmon filets
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons minced jalapeno peppers
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup chicken broth
1 (8 ounce) package angel hair pasta

In a small baking dish, arrange the salmon filets. Sprinkle the salmon with lemon juice and then tightly cover with foil. Bake at 450 degrees, about 12 to 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree red peppers, parmesan, cornstarch, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Add cilantro and chicken broth and blend.

Pour pepper mixture into a skillet. Stir over high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to keep warm. 

Cook pasta in boiling water, about 7 minutes. Drain, and return to pan. 

Stir juices from the baked salmon into red pepper sauce. Mix 1 1/2 cups sauce with pasta. Spoon pasta onto plates. Top with fish, and drizzle with remaining sauce.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites

If you are looking for a easy sweet treat that will really win over a crowd this is the recipe to try. There is nothing fancy about these peanut butter pretzel bites but they are perfect when you need a no-fuss dessert. I made them for a barbeque we went to this past weekend and they were a huge hit. I actually heard a guy say "who made these? God?" Yes, they are that good!

Peanut Butter Pretzel Bites
** from Sweet Pea's Kitchen
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Makes about 60
Prep Time: 1 hour (includes the time for the pretzel bites to set)

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural)
2 T. softened butter
1/2 c. powdered sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 bag of small pretzel twists
1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a stand mixer, cream peanut butter and softened butter. Add the powdered sugar and brown sugar and mix until combined.

Cover a large cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll the dough into small balls, use about 1 tsp of mixture per ball. Place the dough balls on the wax paper covered cookie sheet. Next sandwich each dough ball between two pretzels and place on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for about 30 minutes so the dough can harden slightly.

After the 30 minutes, remove the cookie sheet from the freezer. Melt a bag of chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat. Dip half a pretzel in the chocolate and then set it down on the wax paper. Once all of the pretzels have been dipped in chocolate put the cookie sheet back in the freezer for another 10-15 minutes or until the chocolate has set.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Easy Pulled Pork

I love a good pulled pork sandwich.  I had never even thought to make my own until my friend Kirsten invited me over for homemade pulled pork sandwiches a few years back. They were delicious and it turns out incredibly easy to make. I make this recipe quite frequently because it is perfect for a crowd or multiple dinners plus it requires very little ingredients and effort. I have passed this recipe on to numerous people and it always gets great reviews.

Thanks Kirsten for sharing your recipe :)

Hopefully the last of the camera phone pictures!
Crock Pot Pulled Pork

Serves 6
Prep/Cook Time: 8 hr on LOW

1 pound pork tenderloin
1 cup barbeque sauce
1 cup chili sauce
1 small can crushed pineapple with juice

Place the pork tenderloin in a large crockpot. Add the barbeque sauce, chili sauce and crushed pineapple with juice to the crockpot. Stir and make sure the pork is well covered. Set the crockpot to LOW and cook for 8 hours. After the 8 hours use the back of two forks to shred the pork.

Asparagus Soup with Goat Cheese

I have ordered asparagus soup at a couple different restaurants lately and have been wanting to make my own while asparagus is in season. I found the below Giada De Laurentiis recipe and thought it would be perfect for lunch during the work week. I loved how the soup turned out. It's light and health yet full of flavor and perfect for summer. The addition of the basil really adds to the soup and the goat cheese crumbles on top give the soup a little creaminess without making it taste heavy.

Asparagus Soup with Goat Cheese
** adapted from Food Network Giada at Home
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Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

2 T. unsalted butter
1 large leek (white and green part only), thinly sliced
4 c. low sodium chicken broth
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1/4 cup skim milk
salt and pepper

Suggested Garnish- crumbled goat cheese and chopped basil

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring constantly until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add the broth, asparagus, basil and skim milk. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with crumbled goat cheese and chopped basil.