Friday, March 30, 2012

Retro Sunday Dinner: Beef Stroganoff

Last Sunday, Brady and I enjoyed a 1960's style dinner in honor of the return of Mad Men. I had fun researching retro dishes but to be honest, a number of them didn't sound very appealing (Chicken Kiev, chicken filled with clarified butter, no thank you!). I don't recall having traditional Beef Stroganoff but Brady was super excited about it and when I found a "healthier" recipe on Cooking Light I figured that it would be our best option. I thought it turned out pretty well. I overcooked our beef slightly but I thought the mushroom sauce turned out great. This is a hearty dish but it's under 350 calories and only has 11 grams of fat, not bad for a pasta dish with beef and sour cream!

I made a classic wedge salad to go with our Beef Stroganoff and in Mad Men fashion we planned on making martini's. Key word planned. We had a situation with the ice and apparently you can't make a martini without ice. A little sad but it was probably a good thing come Monday morning when I was getting up at 5:30am!

Beef Stoganoff
 ** adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 pound boneless sirloin steak
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 c. fat free, low sodium broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup light sour cream
8 ounces egg noodles (I used egg pappardelle from Trader Joe's)
3 T. minced parsley

Cut beef diagonally across the grain into 1/4-inch-wide strips; cut the strips into 2-inch pieces.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; sauté 2 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove beef from pan and keep warm. Add mushrooms and onion to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add mushroom mixture to beef and keep warm.

Heat a large pot filled with water. Cook the egg noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside. 

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add flour. Cook 1 minute, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute or until thickened and bubbly. Add beef mixture, sherry, salt, and pepper to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 30 seconds. Stir in sour cream.

Combine noodles and minced parsley. Serve beef mixture over noodles. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

Brady and I as Don and Betty Draper last Halloween.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cilantro-Pesto Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Poblano Peppers

It's great when you come across a new recipe that you like, but it's even better when it bakes all in one dish! The below salmon recipe is the perfect one dish meal. I loved the combination of sweet potatoes and poblano peppers and the cilantro-pesto coating on the salmon was full of flavor. This recipe is incredibly simple and very adaptable. If you don't like salmon you could easily use a different kind of fish or even chicken in it's place.

 Cilantro-Pesto Salmon with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Poblano Peppers
** adapted from Cara's Cravings

Serves 2
Prep/Cook Time: 45 minutes

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium poblano pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 salmon filets
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
juice from1 lime
1 clove of garlic, peeled
handful of cashews
dash of chili powder 

Preheat oven to 375. Arrange sliced sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, and onions in a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Drizzle with the honey and olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Roast for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and toss the vegetables around, then return and roast for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, season the salmon filets with salt and pepper.

In a food processor or blender, combine the cilantro, tomato, lime juice, garlic, and cashews. Pulse until smooth. Arrange the salmon filets on top of the roasted vegetables. Spread a layer of pesto on top of each piece of salmon. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until fish is opaque.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Olives and Rosemary

If you aren't normally a fan of cauliflower or you only like cauliflower when it's covered in cheese, this is a recipe that I guarantee will convert you into a cauliflower lover. This recipe is awesome.  It's so simple yet different from any other cauliflower dish that I've had. I would have never thought to combine dates and olives with cauliflower but it's genius in my opinion. The salty and sweet combo plus the savory rosemary equals pure cauliflower perfection!

** For a picture, see my recipe for Parmesan-sage pork chops.

Roasted Cauliflower with Dates, Olives and Rosemary
** from Running with Tweezers

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 medium head cauliflower, tough stems and leaves removed and cut into florets
2 T. olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 T. butter
10 dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
15 green olives, roughly chopped
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed and roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F. In a large roasting pan, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and ground black pepper. Roast the cauliflower for 20-25 minutes or until tender and slightly caramelized. 
About 2 minutes before you’re going to pull the cauliflower from the oven, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Allow to start to bubble and brown slightly. Toss in the chopped rosemary, dates and olives and saute until heated through. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle with the butter/date/olive. Season with salt and pepper as needed. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

The following recipe is going to be my new go-to pork chop recipe. Brady absolutely loved these pork chops and I couldn't agree more. Not only do they taste great, but this recipe is healthy and takes almost no time to prepare. Searing the pork chops on both sides and then finishing them in the oven is definitely the secret. A few minutes in the oven really seals in the flavor and keeps the pork from getting chewy. I served the pork chops with polenta and roasted cauliflower with rosemary and olives, two more great recipes that I will be sharing shortly.

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops
** adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4 but can easily be halved
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

1/2 cup Panko
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 T. fresh sage, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c. flour
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 egg whites
4 boneless thin-cut pork chops (you could also use regular boneless pork chops and just pound them out thin)
1 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Combine Panko, Parmesan, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Place flour in another shallow bowl. Combine mustard and egg whites in another shallow bowl.

Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off any excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture and then coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork chops.

 Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Put the skillet in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until pork chops are done.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

Last week Brady made sweet potato and sage risotto as a side dish and in my opinion it ended up being the star of the meal. The halibut that Brady made was great, but the risotto was so different than any I'd had before. I would have never thought of adding a dash of cayenne but it added so much flavor and strangely paired perfectly with the sweet potatoes and sage. I loved that the risotto tasted creamy and rich despite the fact that there isn't any butter or cheese in it. While the risotto has restaurant quality written all over it, the dish required minimal ingredients (and cheap one's at that) and was super simple to make. You really can't beat that! 

Sweet Potato and Sage Risotto

Serves 4
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 c. Arborio rice
5 green onions, chopped
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 bunch fresh sage
1 bay leaf
1/4 c. olive oil
2 1/2 c. water
2 c. skim milk
1 red onion, chopped
2 tsp. garlic salt
2-3 dashes cayenne

Microwave sweet potatoes for about 2 minutes in a microwave-safe bowl. They should be slightly firm, not mushy. Meanwhile, roughly chop about 6 sage leaves and set aside.

Heat olive oil and 3 T. water in a large saucepan or saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic salt, the chopped red onion, most of the green onions, a little bit of chopped sage, and the sweet potatoes. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

Add rice, cayenne, and a bit more sage. Cook for one minute, or until rice is slightly transparent. Add 1/2 cup milk and cook until absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 cup water and stir until absorbed. Repeat this process (alternate milk and water). Do not add the next portion of liquid until the previous liquid is absorbed. It is very important to stir and fold the rice mixture constantly. 

When all of the liquid has been added and absorbed your consistency should be similar to thick oatmeal. To serve garnish with remaining sage and chopped green onions.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Classroom Treats

I thought I would share pictures of a couple of my latest treats for my students. I recently read Charlotte's Web to the class. After we finished the book, we had a little party to watch the movie. I made Wilbur cookies that turned out pretty stinkin' cute in my opinion! I just made basic sugar cookies, frosted them and then used marshmallows as the nose, chocolate chips for the eyes, and strawberry wafer cookies for the ears. Super easy and 100% approved by 16 1st and 2nd graders!

Last week, we celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday. We had a fun-filled day of Dr. Seuss inspired activities. At the end of the day I gave the students Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes. I just made strawberry cupcakes with vanilla frosting. I really wanted to use blue cotton candy as the blue hair but I couldn't find it anywhere so blue icing worked in a pinch. The cupcakes were a huge hit as is but I'm totally keeping my eye out for blue cotton candy for next year!

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Pears, and Bleu Cheese

Last Friday, Brady and I made the below vegetarian pasta recipe. This was such an unusual combination for a pasta but we both absolutely loved how the recipe turned out. The original recipe calls for fresh or dried figs instead of the pear but I couldn't find either. I tried pears and I thought the pears worked great. The original recipe also suggests using some crumbled bacon on top as an alternative to the almonds and I'm sure that would be amazing too.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts, Pears, and Bleu Cheese
*** adapted from a recipe on Twenty by Sixty

Serves 4 
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 T. olive oil
8 ounces whole wheat pasta, any shape
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and roughly chopped 
4 ounces bleu cheese, crumbled
1 ripe pear, cored and chopped
handful of dried cranberries
salt and pepper
1/4 cup slivered almonds, for garnish

Heat the oven to 400°.  Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook it halfway through (about 6 minutes; it should still be quite firm). Add the Brussels sprouts to the pot and cook, until the pasta and vegetables are just barely tender, another 3 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and return the pasta and Brussels sprouts to the pot.        

Stir in the bleu cheese, pears, dried cranberries, 2 Tbs. oil, and a splash of the cooking water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss. Add more cooking water if needed. Pour the pasta mixture into the prepared pan. Bake, checking once or twice and adding a bit more of the cooking water if the pasta looks too dry, until the mixture is bubbling, about 10-15 minutes. Garnish with slivered almonds and a sprinkle of bleu cheese and serve.

** You could definitely skip baking the pasta and just serve as is. I'm not really sure how much of a difference baking the pasta made since it's not a particularly cheesy dish.