Friday, August 30, 2013

Labor Day Ideas: Chipotle Steak Salad with Fig Vinaigrette



Labor Day is upon us and what better way to celebrate than to share good times and good food with friends and family.

I know it's "Burger Season" and I've been posting some great options which you can check out here...

The Best Stuffed Grilled Cheeseburger
Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers
Grilled Santa Fe Burgers
The Ultimate Burger Starter from Williams-Sonoma

But today I'm introducing a dish that is man pleasing (hence the steak) and woman pleasing as well (hence the salad).

Now my man is a rabbit by nature. He'll eat salad 10x more often than he eats steak. He can't get enough, so this dish was heaven for him. Actually the best of both worlds rolled into one.

The flavors of this dish are perfect. You have a spicy, touched with heat, chipotle rub on the steak. The salad is touched with the sweetness of fig jam and raisins, but also carries a touch of heat with the chipotle seasoning as well.



Flank steak was chosen because it cook's fast, and the result is tender, juicy steak.  Make sure to cut against the grain in thin slices to achieve tender pieces. 

I love Mrs. Dash's salt free seasoning blends. I think that rubs and marinades don't need all that salt, which is usually the first ingredient, that is put in most seasoning blends. To me, these are just perfect, and I can control the salt. So, I chose to use her Southwestern Chipotle seasoning in this dish. Perfection! You can certainly switch this up to a BBQ rub or other spicy rub of your choosing. 

So grill burgers if you like, but maybe on second thought try something different and make this salad.  Surprise everyone!  This dish is perfect for a party, and will be enjoyed by all!

Happy Labor Day!

Chipotle Steak Salad with Fig Vinaigrette


serves 6

1 – 1 ½ lbs flank steak
3 T chipotle seasoning (such as Mrs. Dash)
3 T fig jam
3 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
2 T raisins
1 t stone ground mustard
½ t chipotle seasoning
Salt & pepper
6 c chopped romaine lettuce
2 c sliced English cucumber
1 c shredded carrot
1 c red cabbage, shredded
1 c cherry tomatoes, halved
½ c cilantro, chopped

Rub flank steak with seasoning. Heat grill pan over medium high heat. If using a skillet add 2 T oil. Cook meat 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl add jam, oil, raisins, mustard, and seasoning. Whisk to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Combine lettuce, cucumber, carrot, cabbage, tomatoes, and cilantro in a large bowl. Toss with vinaigrette.

Slice steak thinly against the grain. Arrange salad on each plate and top with steak. Serve.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches


Today is all about one of my favorite sandwiches, the French Dip! 

I remember growing up and my mom and I would always go out to lunch and order a French Dip sandwich.  I always thought it was so fancy and different from regular sandwiches because you got to dip it in a wonderful beefy sauce.  Through the years I've had some very good French Dips and some bad ones.  But I never really thought about making one at home.

So I was feeling nostalgic the other day and decided  to cook a brisket in the slow cooker and make my favorite sandwich.  Nothing could be easier than making these in the slow cooker.  You just put in the ingredients and walk away.  When you come back 8 hours later you get succulent beef and a wonderful dipping sauce.  For flavoring I used an old trick that my friend Mary taught me for her pot roasts, using a dry onion soup mix.  I chose a beefy onion soup mix, but if you can't find that use the regular onion soup & dip mix.  It's easy peasy...and it tastes fabulous.



I served the sandwiches with the following salads and they were the perfect side dishes:
Artichoke and White Bean Salad

Asparagus Tabbouleh with Prosciutto





The sandwiches or either salad would be a great dish for the upcoming Labor Day! 
Hope you enjoy these as much as well did.  So many memories.  Plus the leftovers were even better!

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

serves 8

1 3 lb beef brisket
1 pkg dry beefy onion soup mix or regular onion soup mix
1 10.5 oz can condensed beef broth
8 hoagie or french rolls

Place beef in cooker. In small bowl, mix dry soup mix and broth; pour over beef. 


Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Skim any fat from the liquid in the cooker. Remove beef from cooker and place on a cutting board. Cut the brisket across the grain into thin slices.

Cut each sandwich roll in half horizontally.   Place sliced beef on bottoms of rolls and top.  Cut in half crosswise and serve with broth for dipping.
 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Asparagus Tabbouleh with Prosciutto


It's almost time to celebrate another holiday...Labor Day!

I wanted to bring you a couple of easy salad dishes to make for the holiday, or before summer ends.  Several days ago I brought you my Artichoke and White Bean Salad which is so yummy!  Today I want to bring in some Mediterranean flavors with a variation on the well known tabbouleh salad.

I was perusing one of my favorite cookbooks (Cuisine at Home Fast & Fabulous Mediterranean Menus) for a new salad.  Cuisine at Home has a wonderful knack for taking the familiar and putting a new twist on it.  Well, I found it.  This earthy tabbouleh is made with roasted asparagus and has crispy prosciutto and feta mixed in to the traditional ingredients.  Made from bulgur wheat this salad is light and fresh.  The lemon, parsley and mint give you the freshness but the added ingredients that make this unique and take this over the top!



Try something new this weekend and let me know what you think.

Enjoy!


Asparagus Tabbouleh with Prosciutto

makes 8 cups - serves 6

1 c dry wheat bulgur
3 oz prosciutto, diced
2 t olive oil
4 T olive oil, divided
1 t minced garlic
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
salt & pepper
1 c chopped fresh parsley
3/4 c chopped fresh mint
1/2 c chopped fresh chives
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c chopped pistachios
2 T fresh lemon juice
2 t Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Cook bulgur in a pot of salted water according to package directions, drain and rinse.

Cook prosciutto in 2 tsp. oil in a nonstick skillet until crisp, transfer to a paper-towled lined plate.

Combine 2 Tbsp of oil and garlic in a small bowl.  Place asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil mixture, and season with salt and pepper.  Roast asparagus in oven, until tender, 8 minutes; transfer to a rack to cool, then chop into 3 to 4 inch pieces.

Combine parsley, mint, chives, feta, zest, bulgur, prosciutto, and asparagus in a large bowl.  

Whisk together lemon juice and Dijon until emulsified.  Whisk in remaining 2 Tbsp oil, then drizzle over tabbouleh; toss to combine.  Garnish servings with pistachios.


Source:  Cuisine at Home Fast & Fabulous Mediterranean Menus


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Restaurant Review: Panini Cafe

MGG and I love to try new restaurants.  One weekend we happened to go to a relatively new place called Panini Cafe  over in Woodland Hills that serves Italian and Mediterranean food. 
WoooWee!  Did we hit the jackpot.  Their food is outstanding!  Let me say upfront that Panini Cafe isn’t asking me or paying me to say this.  They don’t even know about it!  These are purely our own impressions of their wonderful dishes! 
The menu is filled with wonderful items.  They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Breakfast specialties include scrambles and omelets, French toast, and oatmeal.  We haven’t had their breakfast yet but hear that it is delish! 
We've eaten here several times now and are addicted to some items.  Both times we have a late lunch or early diner after a long day of running around.  Each time we’ve chosen an appetizer that will knock your socks off.   We’ve had their fresh Tatziki with fresh pita bread…killer.  This time we chose their Humus Trio which consists of 3 varieties of humus (black bean, traditional, and edamame) and includes fresh pita and chopped tomatoes and greens.  The Edamame humus is my favorite.  Nice and light but with a zip of garlic.  As I was eating this I said…”I need to buy more of this and take it home!”  Just fabulous!   Just look at this appetizer plate.  It’s rather large and should be shared by several people, or you can try and eat it all yourself like I almost did.  

Now, on to the main course.  We've tried several of their dishes such as Mousaka and the Linguine with Grilled Vegetables and Feta.  Both were delicious!  But my hands down, flip your skirt up, favorite dish has to be the Charbroiled Chicken Skish kabob.  O..M..G!  Even the menu says “A MUST” next to the item…that says it all!
Just look at this baby.  A HUGE plate with wonderful, succulent, marinated chicken, and vegetables.  And that’s not all…it comes with your choice of grain and salad.  We chose the Basmati Rice and a Romaine Avocado Salad dressed with a light lemon vinaigrette.  HEAVEN!

This is my new obsession.  I can’t stop thinking about it.  So much so I think I will order some to take home for dinner tonight.

So if you get the change to try the Panini Cafe, please do.  The food is outstanding.  The atmosphere is nice.  It’s a family friendly place with excellent food.  Next time I’m not going to eat so much food so I can try one of their desserts…they look decadent for sure.
 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Artichoke and White Bean Salad


Summer is for salads!

During the summer I like to take some time on the weekend and make several different salads that we can munch on during the week. 

This salad with artichokes and white beans is super easy to put together and it tastes great.  The perfect side dish for any meal.  We ate this salad with a wonderful French Dip Crock Pot Sandwich I'll share with you later.  The flavors blended so well, and it's full of good for you ingredients.  



Since salads are loved by everyone this is a great dish to bring to potlucks or serve at a late summer party.  We ate this for several days and the texture stayed together well.  It's important when you only have a few ingredients in a dish that they are quality ingredients.  Either frozen or canned artichoke hearts work well, and a good quality bean such as Bush's will hold their shape well in this salad.  What a wonderful, light, refreshing salad!!



Enjoy!


Artichoke and White Bean Salad

serves 4

1/4 cup olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t Dijon mustard
1/8 t red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper


1 14oz can of artichoke hearts in water, quartered
1 14oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (recommend Bush's)
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 T fresh oregano, chopped 


In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the dressing stand for 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

In a large bowl, combine the artichoke hearts, beans, onion, celery and oregano. Add the dressing and toss to coat the salad evenly. If preparing in advance cover and refrigerate salad up to 24 hours.  Take out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.



Note:  This is not a sponsored post.  Recommendation of products are my preference.

Monday, August 19, 2013

World Grilling: Moorish Pork Kabobs


I just took another cooking class and boy was it fun!

The class held at Williams-Sonoma was a hands on class on World Grilling.  We made three different kabobs from various countries.  First off was a Greek kabob, then we made a North African kabob, and then the hit of the night (for me at least!) were the Moorish Pork Kabobs (Pinchos Morunos).

Now the Moors were Muslims and did not eat pork, so Christian Spain took the Arab seasonings traditionally used on lamb kabobs and applied them to their beloved meat, pork.  You could use the marinade on chicken just as easily and the results would be outstanding.


I just loved the savory flavors of the cumin, turmeric, oregano, and the kick of cayenne.  This is an excellent marinade!  It may be a little hot for the little ones, so leave out the cayenne pepper if feeding the kids.  

This is a definite winner, loved by all that tasted it!  So next time you grill try some flavors from around the globe.

Moorish Pork Kabobs

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbs. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lb. pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Lemon wedges for garnish 

Directions:

In a small fry pan, combine the olive oil, cumin, coriander, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, oregano, the 1 tsp. salt and the black pepper. Place over low heat until warmed through and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Place the pork pieces in a bowl and rub with the spice mixture. Add the garlic, parsley and lemon juice and toss well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat, or prepare a hot fire in a grill.

Thread the meat onto skewers and season with salt. Place on the grill pan or a grill rack and grill, turning once, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.
 
Serves 8.
 
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Spain & Portugal, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 2000).

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Nectarine-Blueberry Parfaits

 

It's summer time and the feeling is easy...
Sitting outside on these mild summer nights we've been having is just Heaven! Taking time out to relax with family after a meal helps to wind down the day and slow down the pace. 

We just love long summer evenings. To top of a scrumptious dinner I like to serve a light dessert with some kind of fresh summer fruit. Perfect for summer, and lighter and healthier than our standard ice cream cone! MGG is a fanatic for having a little something sweet, which is usually ice cream. Can't blame him, I'm right there with him too! 

These parfaits are the perfect solution to a light dessert. The creamy yogurt, crunchy granola, and flavors of nectarine and blueberries go so well together. It's a definite winner in my book! These would be wonderful for breakfast, or served at brunch. Kids love them too. You can also vary the fruit used. Peaches would be excellent and are so juicy right now.

What combinations would you choose?

Enjoy!

Nectarine-Blueberry Parfaits

serves: 2

2 6 oz cartons lite vanilla yogurt
1 cup granola
1 ripe nectarine, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries

Place 1/2 carton of yogurt into each of two dessert glasses or bowls; top with half of the granola Top with half of the nectarines, half of the blueberries. Repeat layers with the remaining yogurt, granola, nectarines, and blueberries.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Best Stuffed Grilled Cheeseburgers


Don't you just love firing up the grill and throwing on a couple of burgers for dinner?

We do!  There's not quite so traditional as having grilled burgers.  All American I would say and we usually have them for Memorial Day, or possibly 4th of July, or the upcoming Labor Day.  Sometimes we have them for all three holidays! 

Burgers are easy to prepare, quick to make, and they lend themselves to so many variations.  There are so many ways to top a burger that it's fun to just set out all the different toppings and let your family create their own masterpiece.  And let's not forget that they are great for summer parties!

Today's burger is what I call the BEST stuffed burger.  This is more of a technique rather than a recipe.  It's how you stuff this burger that makes it easy to create, and then it oozes out cheese after it's cooked.

You start off with a quality beef.  I always use ground sirloin for the flavor.  I know that everyone suggest using 20% fat ground chuck for a juicy burger, but I just can't do it...sorry.  Way too much fat for my liking and my burgers with 10% fat sirloin is plenty juicy.  Trust me...or not!  Your choice on the meat. 

Next you choose a cheese.  I chose a wonderful sharp cheddar cheese for an All American Cheeseburger.  Sliced them into 1-1 1/2" cubes.  Then it's time to make the stuffed patties.  YES! the cheese is on the inside of the burger.  Why?  because it oozes out when you bite it.  Excellent!  So here is where the technique comes in to play.  Typically you make two thin patties and put the cheese on one and top with the other patty.  Not anymore!  Make one medium large patty that is about 1" thick.  Make a well in the middle of the patty and place the cheese cube inside.  Then you just pinch the tops of the meat together to cover the cheese.  Sort of like making a bundle, but you want to smooth out the top and make sure all the cheese is covered up.  That's it!  And it's perfect, and easy to do.



Pick your favorite toppings, and add a nice kaiser roll for the bun.  The rest is history!  Promise you'll try this technique the next time you make burgers...ok?



The Best Stuffed Grilled Cheeseburgers

serves 4

1 1/2 lbs ground sirloin
1 T plus 1 t Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 ounces cheddar cheese cut into 4 cubes 
4 kaiser rolls or buns, split and toasted

Heat grill to medium-high. In a large bowl, gently fold together beef, Worcestershire sauce, and season with salt and pepper. Divide meat into 4 equal portions.

Shape cheese into 4 equal 1" thick patties Press a small well in the center of each beef mound. Place cheese in well; wrap beef around cheese, pinching to seal.

Oil heated grates. Place burgers on grill; cover. Cook until grill marks are visible on first side, about 5 - 6 minutes. Turn burgers and an additional 5 - 6 minutes until cooked through.  Toast split buns. 

To assemble place cooked burgers on each toasted bun.  Top with your favorite toppings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Simple Blueberry Muffins


I'm just a sucker for Blueberries.  

I love them plump and hot from the oven in some baked goodies!  I think that my all time favorite blueberry item has to be Blueberry Muffins!

I've already posted a basic low-carb version of a blueberry muffin several years ago.  Today I wanted to bring you just a plain simple blueberry muffin recipe.  A go to version.



These produce the most tender, succulent muffins, bursting with blueberry flavor.  Your gonna love them!


Simple Blueberry Muffins
 

serves 12

2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spray muffins tins with cooking spray.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup flour over blueberries, and stir to coat berries thoroughly.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream margarine, and gradually mix in sugar. Beat eggs, and stir into creamed mixture along with vanilla. Add milk and combine to blend. Add flour mixture stirring just to combine. Fold in berries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake for 20 - 22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Pigs in a Blanket




As a throwback for breakfast or brunch who doesn't love sausage wrapped in a pancake?

These are not your little hot dog wienies wrapped in a cresent dough...no sir!  These are good old fashioned pancakes with a breakfast link sausage inside.  Like the kind you used to get at a road side diner when you were traveling with your family.



Hard to resist these little babies for breakfast, and the kids love 'em!  I woke up this weekend and had a hankerin' for some so I decided to whip them up.  It's really simple to so.  These would be the perfect slumber party breakfast, summer brunch, or weekend family breakfast!

You should note that you need to have the sausage links cooked first before you start the pancakes.  You want a fluffy tender pancake that will easily roll around the sausage.  Make sure to roll them up while they are still fresh and hot so they mold around the link.



Hope you enjoy some comfort food this weekend!



Pigs in a Blanket

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 eggs, lightly beaten

1 c plus 2 T buttermilk
2 T cup vegetable oil

8-9 pork sausage links, cooked


In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Combine eggs, buttermilk and oil; blend into dry ingredients.


Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a lightly greased hot griddle; turn when bubbles form on top of pancakes. Cook until the second side is golden brown. Roll each pancake around a sausage link
Serve topped with your favorite syrup.



Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chicken Francaise




One of the good things about working from home is that I get to turn on the TV in the background for some noise.

It's amazing that I can start watching General Hospital again after after all these years, and Luke and Laura are still on there!  Man, things haven't changed much.  Or have they?

One good thing I found this summer was a wonderful show called "The Chew".  Have you heard of it?  It's a talk show/food show and it's fabulous! Plus Mario Batali and Michael Symon are both on it.  Iron chefs galore!  

So one day I was working with The Chew on in the background and I heard Michael talk about an easy chicken dish that I hadn't seen done in a long time, Chicken Francaise.  So I quickly went over to the TV and watched him try to beat the clock and complete this dish!  What got me was the method.  You actually dredge the chicken in flour and then dip it in egg and then pan fry it.  That is unusual.  Most breaded or battered chicken is flour - egg - flour (or bread crumbs).  I new right there I had to make this.



And I did!  This turned out so scrumptious!  Just look at this dish.  Big pounded pieces of chicken came out golden brown and fluffy, and then to put icing on the cake you make a wonderful lemon, wine, parsley sauce to pour over the chicken. I bought chicken that were pounded thin and sold for Milanese.  Served with some lemon rice, or cilantro rice is the perfect compliment.

Just HEAVEN!  Thank you Michael Symon.  I'm so glad I started watching the show.


Hopefully you will be inspired by this dish as well.  Here's the recipe:

Chicken Francaise

adapted from Michael Symon - from "The Chew"



1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Flour for dredging
Salt and Pepper to taste
3 Chicken Breasts (boneless skinless; pounded to 1/4-inch)
2 Eggs plus 2 tablespoons Water (whisked)
2 Garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup White Wine
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1 Lemon (zest and juice)
6 tablespoons Parsley (roughly chopped)
3 tablespoons Butter


Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. 

Season the flour with a generous amount of salt and pepper and whisk together in a baking dish. Lightly coat the chicken breasts in the seasoned flour and then dip in the egg wash. Gently place in the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes or until golden brown. Flip the breast and fry for another 2 minutes until golden. 

Add the garlic to the pan and cook for about 20 seconds. Deglaze with the wine, scraping up brown bits with a wooden spoon. Stir in the broth, and lemon juice and allow to reduce for 1 to 2 minutes. 

Add the lemon zest, parsley and butter and swirl to emulsify. Plate the chicken with the sauce and serve.
 

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