Saturday, August 27, 2011

July Archives

I have been traveling all day to visit my wonderful father in glamorous Alma, Georgia, and hurricane Irene is en route to my fabulous fan base [which I am fairly certain consists primarily of my loving friends & family in New Jersey & New York] which means I haven't cooked and no one is running out to the store for ingredients right now, so I have taken the time to compile July's recipes into one post for easy access once the skies clear and the sun is shining once again!

Smoky Chipotle Chicken Marinade
* this is my sister's favorite chicken recipe thus far, my favorite is the Balsamic BBQed chicken. Both yield an incredibly flavorful and juicy breast or thigh [we're still talking about food, perv.] as well as saving you an enormous amount of sugar and other empty additives and calories in bottled products and sauces.

Summer Pasta Salad
* sweet, oven-roasted grape tomatoes tossed with garlicked olive oil, basil, pasta and a splash of white Balsamic vinegar- an easy and impressive addition to any affair.

Oregano Chicken and quite possibly one of the best salad dressings you've ever whipped up from scratch
*  I don't like chicken and I prefer my salad on top of some meat, sandwiched between two buns, but both of these recipes displaced my "diet food" discriminations. In fact [don't judge me, Amara!], due to this dressing I have probably eaten more salads this past summer than I have in the past 10 years.

Asian Infused Pork Tenderloin with Shiitake & Grilled Scallion no-fry Brown Rice
* a versatile marinade suited for pork or beef coupled with high-fiber brown rice laced with nutty shiitake mushrooms & sweet, charred green onions.

Balsamic BBQed Chicken with Pesto Farfalle & Arugula
* better than BBQ sauce and only 5 ingredients [not including salt & pepper]

Healthy Ranch Dressing
* my greatest accomplishment yet! Creamy, tangy, and as flavorful as the crap in a bottle on the shelves... but without all of those nasty chemicals, stabilizers and whatever else is in there! 

Purple Kale, Chorizo & Baby Red Bliss Hash
* include this in your brunch menu or match it with seared Halibut or Scallops. I served mine for dinner with a couple of poached eggs. 

Sausage & Pepper Grilled Cheese
* elevate this favorite staple to the status it deserves: aged cheddar, crumbled sausage and sweet bell peppers trapped between slices of artisanal sourdough and grilled to ooey gooey perfection.

Friday, August 26, 2011

chunk of leaf

"Steak salads" really piss me off. A huge chunk of nutritionally void Iceburg lettuce, smothered in blue cheese dressing, with some bacon bits thrown on top... spare yourself the trouble of fighting that head of lettuce with a useless butter knife and just order a bowl of blue cheese dressing & bacon. You know thats the only reason you're ordering that salad anyways. I've taken it upon myself to re-invent the wheel and make a steakhouse salad that even lettuce loathers [such as myself] will be excited to cut into.

1 large head of Romaine lettuce, preferably organic or locally grown
1 Cup of my Good for You Ranch dressing
2 ounces cured Spanish chorizo, cut into small pieces
2 ears Sweet corn, kernels cut from cob
8 chives, chopped, for garnish
Cracked black pepper

1. In a small saute pan, render the chorizo over low-medium heat.
2. Once the chorizo is slightly crisped and has released most of its oils into the pan, raise the heat to medium-high and add the sweet corn kernels and a pinch of salt. Saute the corn in the rendered fat and cook for 1-2 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and cool.
4. Meanwhile, cut the lettuce in half, core intact, lengthwise. At this point it is your choice whether or not you want to cut the romaine into quarters, or just leave it cut in half.
5. Wash any dirt or grit from between the leaves and pat dry with a paper towel.
6. Place each wedge of lettuce on a plate. Drizzle with a hearty amount of ranch dressing. Top with corn and chorizo and finish with a sprinkle of chopped chives and a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper.
7. Indulge.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sunday Funday

Its Sunday. Easily my favorite day of the week. Today also happens to be the first Sunday where I have not had to worry about a quiz, an exam, readings, studying, or discussion board posts in FOUR MONTHS; this calls for the a celebration... or the standard Sunday Funday.

Typically I like to spend my Sundays in the close company of good friends, family, food and wine, but based upon this dreary weather and my ransacked house I think my day will be devoted to tidying up and cooking a lovely dinner for the man [local pork chops stuffed with sausage, celery, apple & arugula, brussel sprouts, and I really need to do something with the eggplant that is dying a slow death in my refrigerator]... oh, and enjoying some vino of course. I would also like to spend part of today wrapping up the ongoing "tea party" of blog entries, so let's just get that did right away.

First: Spinach, Parmesan & Pecorino Phyllo Cups

You will need:
1 package of Phyllo Cups [typically 15 per package. usually found in the "desserts" area of the freezer section, hidden amongst various puff pastries & pie shells]
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1- 10 ounce package of frozen, chopped Spinach. thawed and excess moisture squeezed out.
1 small onion, small dice
1/4 Cup non-fat Greek style yogurt
1/3 Cup grated Parmesan and Pecorino cheese blend [typically ambiguously labeled "Italian cheese blend"], plus 3 Tbsp or so for finishing touches.
1 Tbsp White Balsamic Vinegar
dash of Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper, as needed

Cooking & Assembly:
1. Add the oil to a saute pan that has been pre-heated over medium heat. Once the oil is hot [no more than 15-20 seconds], add your onions, chili flake and pinch of salt to the pan.
2. Allow the onions to cook until translucent and slightly golden, stirring often to avoid burning.
3. Once the onions are softened, add the spinach and a pinch of salt and saute with the onions. Let the spinach cook for about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Mix in the 1/3 Cup grated cheese and yogurt. Finish with the White Balsamic Vinegar.
5. Give the mixture a taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.
6. Transfer mixture to a plate and allow to cool.
7. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
8. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the phyllo cups on top.
9. Fill each cup with the spinach mixture [any leftover filling is awesome in scrambled eggs or tossed with hot pasta for dinner].
10. Sprinkled the reserved grated cheese over the tops of the filled phyllo cups and transfer to your preheated oven. Cook for 15 minutes or so, or until just golden. These can be served immediately or at room temperature.


Last: Bacon, Avocado & Tomato Sandwiches
because really- who needs the lettuce?

Soft Wheat Bread, 16 slices
2 packages of bacon, cooked and cut into thirds [only cut them if making tea sandwiches]
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 ripe Haas Avocados
1/4 Cup loosely packed fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1 ripe Lemon, juiced
Salt & Pepper, as needed
*if making tea sandwiches you will only need 1 package of bacon, 2 tomatoes, 1 avocado, and a pinch less basil.

1. Slice the avocados. Remove the pit. Cut each side of the avocado in half, then gently remove the thick skin.
2. Put the avocado meat in a medium bowl, add the lemon juice, a pinch of salt and the chopped basil- mash it all together. Taste & adjust the seasoning as necessary, but remember that the bacon will be somewhat salty so a mild avocado mash is just perfect.
3. Line up 8 slices of bread. Spread a layer of avocado on each, if making tea sandwiches this should be a thinner layer. 
4a. Follow the avocado with 2 thin slices of tomato, arranged to cover most of the sandwich.
4b. If making tea sandwiches: place one slice of tomato in the middle of each slice, and top the tomato with 4 pieces of cut bacon. Be sure to arrange it so that when you cut the sandwich you do not have to go through the trouble of cutting through the bacon and squishing your beautiful sandwich.
5a. Top the tomato with 2 to 2.5 slices of bacon. Finish the sandwiches by topping them with the remaining bread. Serve or wrap up for lunch or a picnic!
5b. If making B.A.T. tea sandwiches- cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich down the middle. Arrange on a platter and serve!


Tea parties are great and all, but I need a vacay from these light bites. Lets take a break from the dainty sandwich and discuss something we can really sink our teeth into:

The Jughead Burger.
Old-school style thin patties, double-stacked and finished with thin slice tomato, seriously sharp Cabot cheddar, Simply Heinz ketchup, Dijon mustard, mayo, and sliced kosher half-sour pickles. This is a seriously juicy, drippy, more than a mouthful, fit for a real woman, burger.

For the burger patties:
1 pound lean Ground Beef
1 small Onion or half of a medium-sized onion
Kosher salt

Cookin 'em up:
1. Chop up the onion in a food processor. 
2. In a medium sized bowl, mix together the onion, ground beef and about 1 tsp of salt.
3. Heat your grill or a griddle pan on medium-high heat. While the grill is heating form 6 thin [roughly 1/3" thick] patties with the ground beef.
4. Cook the patties for about 2.5 to 3 minutes per side, or until desired doneness is achieved.
5. Serve with preferred toppings [onion rings, cheese, tomatoes, pickles, whatever tickles your fancy].