Friday, March 29, 2013

Italian Strata Muffins

There will be a future Italian Strata post, but this is a take off on that idea made into a muffin. This could be breakfast on-the-go or made into smaller muffin cups for an appetizer.

2 Italian sausage, casings removed
Italian Strata Muffins
1/4 cup onion, finally diced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
4 cups fresh baby spinach
4 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup half and half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
dash of hot sauce (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Grease 10-12 muffin cups.
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large skillet over medium heat cook sausage until browned. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until softened.  Add spinach, this will cook down quickly. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, half and half, cheese and hot sauce. Add skillet mixture and salt and pepper.
Pour into muffin cups about 3/4 full.
Cook until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20-25 minutes.
Remove from muffin cups and serve, can also be served at room temperature.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup with Shrimp

A great, creamy warm weather soup, especially if you take the time to chill it!
This comes from Martha Stewart recipes, so I am going to post it as it was written. The changes I made to the recipe were to use half low fat yogurt and half sour cream. I also found that it needed a little more acid so added a tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar. I cooked the shrimp in the oven at a 350F. temp.
added a clove of minced garlic and Alfies seasoning while it cooked and because the jalapeno was mild, added a little dusting of cayenne to the shrimp while cooking.

1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch cubes (about 2 cups)
2 avocados, pitted and peeled
Chilled Avocado-Cucumber Soup with Shrimp
1/2 cup low fat plain yogurt
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 minced small jalapeno chile (seeds and ribs removed for less heat, if desired)
1/3 cup sliced scallions
2 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 teaspoon olive oil
12 medium shrimp peeled and deveined

In a blender, combine half the cucumber and 1 avocado with yogurt, lime juice, jalapeno, scallions, 1 Tablespoon cilantro, 1 cup of ice water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Puree until completely smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
Cut remaining avocado into 1/4 inch cubes. Stir avocado and remaining cucumber into soup. Thin with 1/2 to 1 cup of ice water, as desired. Season again with salt and pepper.
Chill about 1 hour.
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook shrimp, turning once until opaque throughout 2-3 minutes. Ladle soup into bowls, garnish with shrimp and remaining tablespoon cilantro.
Serves 4

Monday, March 25, 2013

Grilled Chicken with Haricot Verts and Baby Potato Salad

This lemony based salad dressing would be also good with just fresh vegetables and with salmon in place of the grilled chicken.

Salad Dressing:
Grilled Chicken with Haricot Vert and Baby Potato Salad
1 small shallot, finely minced
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
6 Tablespoons olive oil

Blend all the ingredients together until incorporated. Set aside.

2 chicken breasts, marinated and grilled
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
few sprigs of fresh basil
In a glass pan, mix ingredients together and marinate chicken several hours or overnight in the fridge.
Grill chicken, seasoned with Alfie's seasoning, until cooked, let rest and then slice.

6 ounces of haricot verts, cleaned and trimmed
8 baby potatoes, cleaned and halved or quartered
8 cups butter lettuce
1 celery stalk, diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
Cook baby potatoes in boiling salted water, when done, drain and put in a non stick pan and heat on low, sprinkle with Alfie's seasoning and some thyme leaves.
Cook haricot verts and toss with 1 Tablespoon of salad dressing.
To put salad together, combine lettuce, celery and green onions in a large salad bowl and toss with salad dressing. Top with green beans, warm potatoes, and sliced chicken.
Serves 4.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Creamy Polenta

Creamy Polenta
When I think of comfort food, I think of creamy polenta. It is a wonderful base for any Italian sauce, grilled mushrooms or with braised short ribs.  Top this polenta with shrimp wrapped in bacon or a quick saute of scallops.

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup organic corn grits (polenta)
4 Tablespoons Mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese)
1/4 cup Parmesan-Reggiano cheese, grated
1-4 Tablespoons creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring stock to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Add grits in a slow stream, whisking for several minutes to prevent any lumps.
Simmer, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until all liquid is absorbed and polenta is soft and thick, about 30 minutes, add more stock or water if needed.
Remove from heat and stir in cheese, creme fraiche, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Correct seasonings if needed. Keep warm and covered.
Creamy Polenta topped with Grilled Bison 
Serve immediately

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Grilled Bison with Rosemary Butter

We ordered some grass fed Bison steaks from Tropical Traditions. Bison steaks are leaner than beef steaks and I learned that Bison should not be cooked past medium rare or there is a change in flavor.  These steaks were seasoned with Alfie's seasoning, grilled and left to rest for about 15 minutes, then topped with rosemary butter before serving.

4 Tablespoons butter, unsalted
Grilled Bison with Rosemary Butter
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon green onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
few grinds of fresh ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. On a small sheet of wax paper, spoon butter into the form of a log and roll wax paper around, twist end and refrigerate until ready to use.
Slice the chilled butter and top it on rested steak. Any remaining butter can be frozen for future use.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Avocado Feta Dip

After making this dip and serving it with corn chips and crudites, I thought it may be better as a stuffing for a whole tomato. Or if you choose to make it into a salsa, chop up tomato and add a splash of red wine vinegar to the dip.

Avocado Feta Dip
2 avocados, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon jalapeno, finely diced
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
fresh ground pepper, to taste

Puree all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth.
Check for seasonings, depending on how salty the feta cheese is, salt may not be needed.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salad

This is a spicy salad, I love it, you will too if you can stand the heat!
Alternately, this could be served in little shooter glasses with a smaller shrimp on top as an appetizer.

2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
Grilled Shrimp and Mango Salad
2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 red chili, thinly sliced into rings
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
2 firm ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced, seeds included

16 jumbo shrimp, shelled and de-veined

2 Tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Fresh lime wedges

In a large bowl mix together sugar and lime juice until dissolved.
Add the chili, shallot cilantro, mint, mango, and jalapeno. Toss gently to coat the mangoes, set aside.Skewer each shrimp to straighten with a small wooden skewer.
Whisk the oil, curry powder, and salt together and brush liberally over the shrimp.
Preheat grill or grill pan and grill the shrimp turning once halfway. Cook until just cooked through and slightly charred. Remove and allow to cool. Remove skewers.
Toss the mango salad again and divide among 4 plates, topping each salad with 4 shrimp.
Garnish with lime wedges.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Herbed White Bean Hummus

I found this in the book, Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and after reading his book I am adding even more vegetables to our meals.
This little dip would be great with raw vegetables, lettuce leafs or crisp wheat crackers.

2 cups cooked or canned white beans, drained and rinsed
Herbed White Bean Hummus
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Blend the beans, lemon juice, sesame seeds, vinegar, mustard, and water in a food processor until smooth. Add the basil and thyme and pulse briefly, you do not want to over process; the herbs should be visible in small pieces.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Roasted Haricot Verts with Citrus Hazelnut Butter

This dish holds well while preparing the rest of dinner. The heat from the roasted beans warms the butter and lights the citrus flavors.
Roasted Haricot Verts with Citrus Hazelnut Butter

1 pound haricot verts
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400F.

Wash and trim haricot verts and place on a single layer in baking sheet lined with parchment.

In a large serving dish, combine butter, shallots, garlic, orange zest, orange juice, salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook haricot verts in oven for 8-10 minutes until they are just tender. While still beans are still hot put into citrus butter and toss well.
Sprinkle roasted hazelnuts over top and serve.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kiwi Sunrise Smoothie

We make green drinks on a regular basis, and this is more fruit based. The fresh lime starts the morning with a little zing!
Kiwi Sunrise Smoothie

1/3 cup coconut water
1/2 of ripe avocado
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
2 kiwi fruit peeled and sliced
1 Tablespoon honey
handful of crushed ice

Place all ingredients in the blender in order.
Process until fully blended.
One- 8 ounce serving.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Crispy Kale Chips

These are not exactly like potato chips but they are tasty, light and healthy.

Crispy Kale Chips
4-5 cups kale, stems and center stalk removed
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 250F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or silpat liner.
Ensure the kale is totally dry and chop it into bite size pieces.
Drizzle the olive oil over the kale and rub it into the chopped kale leaves.
Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for about 20-30 minutes. The kale should be crispy but not browned.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce

I found this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine. It is quick and simple to put together. You could substitute penne pasta for the rigatoni and if you wanted to add some meat, Italian sausage would be a nice addition.

2 cloves garlic, minced
Rigatoni with Spicy Tomato-Vodka Sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes; more if spicier
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1- 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 Tablespoons vodka
1/2 cup Parmesan Reggiano, grated
1/4 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley
3 Tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound rigatoni
1/4 cup sliced basil leaves

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat garlic and red pepper flakes in the oil until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the tomatoes and vodka and bring to a boil,  reduce the heat to a simmer and cook to intensify the flavors and the sauce reduces by about 1/4, (10-15 minutes).

Puree the tomato sauce in the blender and return to the saucepan. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, the parsley, cream, salt and pepper. Simmer  to reduce the sauce slightly, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to low, cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 10-12 minutes).
Drain well and return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce and cook, stirring to let the pasta absorb some of the sauce. Serve immediately and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and top with sliced basil leaves.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chilled Artichoke with Onion-Caper Mayo

The artichokes were cleaned, prepped, and steamed the day before and chilled in the fridge overnight.
The mayonnaise dip can also be made several hours in advance.

Chilled Artichoke with Onion Caper Mayo
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon capers, drained and chopped
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
dash of fresh pepper

Mix all ingredients together and chill until serving.