Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blood Orange and Pear Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

 Winter calls for winter fruit.

Luscious oranges and pears call my name as I walk through the fruit stands.  Yes, I miss the fruits of summer.  I surely do, but I'm happy to substitute what's in season until they return.


So it's time to make a winter citrus salad.  A Blood Orange and Pear Salad to be exact.  Sweet and tangy come together to form a flavor profile that is bright and light during the winter months.  What better way to use winter fruits, especially since I love them in salads.



This is a simple salad where the fruit is the star.  Even the vinaigrette is the same fruity theme using lemon as the acid.  What a great way to dress this salad!



Blood Orange and Pear Salad

serves 2

1 large Bartlett pear
2 Blood Oranges
3 cups mixed salad greens
1/3 cup shredded carrots
Lemon Vinaigrette

Peel and slice the pear in half and remove the core.  Slice pear into thin wedges.  Remove peel on oranges with a knife.  Cut oranges crosswise to make orange circles.  

In a large bowl add salad greens and carrots.  Toss with several tablespoons of lemon vinaigrette.  Arrange the pears, and oranges on top of the greens.  Sprinkle with more vinaigrette if you desire.

Lemon Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 fresh chopped thyme
salt & pepper

Combine first four ingredients in a mason jar.  Shake to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Slice of Southern's Best Game Day Snacks



Are you looking to score big with your game-day crowd? Enjoy the party with these festive foods and savory snacks.

Everybody loves what may be deemed as 'game food'.  Snacking food, finger food, pub food, and hearty stick to your ribs kind of grub!

These are the 10 most popular dishes (chosen by you) that are the perfect choice to make a touch down at your party.

Moroccan Flavored Meatballs with Pita, Tomatoes, and Cucumber

BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Chunky Guacamole

Sweet Onion Salsa

Cherryade

Vermont Cheddar Popcorn

Simple Perfect Chili

March Madness Pizzas

Latin Empanadas

Creamy Dill Dip


The Super Bowl is known as the 2nd most "eating" day of the year.  Can you believe that?  Whether you grill or make a big pot of chili, feeding a crowd is always part of the fun.  Make it easy on yourself and choose some items you can make ahead so you enjoy the game as well.  Low stress entertaining is what it's all about!

How do you celebrate game day?

 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Szechwan Beef and Vegetables

Time for a quick and easy meal?

When that's what I'm looking for I turn to stir frys instead of take-out.

Quick and easy to make you can have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes.  Don't you just love that?  And what's even better is this particular stir fry, Szechwan Beef and Vegetables has been made lighter to keep the waistlines in tact!


This dish carries a little heat, being Szechwan and all....so if you want to tone that down a bit to make it more kid-friendly just dial back on the amount of red pepper flakes you use.  Me? I'm all about the heat baby!

Using lean sirloin help keep the calories down and instead of frying this I marinated the meat to infuse flavor and tenderize the meat.  The result?  succulent beefiness...yum!  For veggies I used a combination of cut of bok choy, broccoli, and snap peas.  Lots of greens = lot of nutrients!


All this in a wonderful spicy szechwan sauce...heaven in 20 minutes.

Enjoy!





Szechwan Beef and Vegetables

serves 4
 
1 lb lean sirloin, cut into thin slices
1 T sherry
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1 t minced ginger
2 t cornstarch
2 T water
1 T oil
1 lb chopped mixed vegetables like bok choy, snap peas, broccoli
1/3 c whole cashews
1 t minced garlic
¼ c beef broth
2 t hoisin sauce
1/8 t red pepper flakes

Place meat in a bowl and add the sherry, soy sauce, and ginger.  Toss until well coated.  Set aside.

In another small bowl whisk together the cornstarch with 2 Tablespoons of water.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium high.  Add oil to the skillet.  Add half the beef and stir fry quickly until no longer pink.  Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining meat.  

Add vegetables to the skillet and stir fry until tender crisp.  About 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cashews, stirring to toast.  Add beef back to the skillet.  Add beef broth, hoisin sauce, and red pepper flakes.  Stir to coat.  Add cornstarch mixture and stir until sauce thickens.  

Serve over rice.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

I have a confession.

Biscuits are my favorite breakfast item.  I mean my f a v o r i t e ! ! !

Mom made great ones growing up and she had a treasure trove of old biscuit recipes hidden in her favorite recipe box.  You know the "one" where you keep you most favorite, tried and true, "secret" recipes?

Well I found this one in there...



So glad I snatched this recipe up.  It's a keeper for sure.  Soft, flaky biscuits with that tangy buttermilk singing through.  And the rise on these babies....wonderful!  That may be due to the wonderful new baking powder I've been using lately.  Bakewell Cream is a popular baking powder in New England, know for it's superior raising properties.  So far so good, I'd say!



These biscuits come together quickly and turn out light, moist, and flaky.  So I'm on a quest to make every biscuit recipe that my mom stashed away....hope you don't mind.  My taste buds and tummy are thanking me right now!

Here are some other biscuit recipes I've made:
Buttermilk Biscuits by Clinton St. Bakery
Old Fashioned Biscuits
Cornmeal Biscuits
St. Patrick's Day Cheddar Biscuits


Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold and cut into chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or two forks cut in butter. (Butter should look like small peas.) Make a well in the center and add the buttermilk.



Mix until combines. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Pat the dough into a rectangle and fold the dough into thirds (like a book) , turn the dough 1/4 turn and pat out again. repeat folding process several times. Roll dough into a round about 1/2' thick. Cut out biscuits and place on a baking pan.

Brush the tops with a little buttermilk. Bake for 12-15 min or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Serve with butter and jam.

 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Apple Cider Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

Every year I buy a BIG jug of apple cider because I just love apples.

We have a wonderful local farm that presses their own apples and makes the most wonderful cider that I just can't resist.  We will have hot apple cider on cold nights with a cinnamon stick swizzle or cold cider for breakfast.  Just about any way we can get it.  The trick comes in when we haven't made a very large dent in the jug of cider! 

That's when I get creative and start dreaming up uses for it in other dishes.  I've tried a cider sauce with pork chops...yum!  Cider muffins with nice big apple chunks which were delishhh.  And today I'm making Apple Cider Waffles, a little jazzed up with a Cinnamon Honey Butter.  Ahhh! the flavors of apples, fall, and comfort food all rolled into one.

This was rather easy to do.  I just tweaked one of my favorite waffles recipes to include the apple cider and some fall spices.  Then I decided on a special butter, a compound butter.  Have you ever made one?  They sound complicated but trust me...they are not.  Simple to through together and any leftovers keep in the frig for quite awhile.  Doesn't get much better than that!



I hope you enjoy your weekend waffles.  Put a little apple in your life.  Oh! and make sure to come back and tell me how they turned out!

Apple Cider Waffles with Cinnamon Honey Butter

serves 4-6

Butter:

1/2 stick or 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 
1 tablespoons honey
a pinch of ground cinnamon 



Waffles:

1 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 egg

1 cup apple cider

Combine the butter, honey, and cinnamon, in a bowl. This may be served at room temperature. To save butter place on a piece of plastic wrap and shape in the form of a log rolling up the butter in the wrap. Twist both ends to tighten and continue to twist so that the butter compresses into a log. Butter may be stored in the refrigerator.


To make the waffles, preheat your waffle iron and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add the egg and apple cider and mix to combine.  Batter may be a little lumpy.  Pour batter into waffle iron and cook according to waffle iron manufacturers directions.  Remove from waffle iron and serve warm topped with cinnamon honey butter and syrup.



 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

 I love salads that are born out of "kitchen sink" items that turn out spectacular!

This is what happened with this salad.  A little rummaging through the refrigerator and I came up with some leftover cooked green beans, a sweet potato, and some carrots.

So let's make a salad!  But this one is special.  Why?  The roasted, caramelized sweet potatoes lend such a great warm comforting feeling to this salad.  Not to mention the wonderful sweetness!  I used an actual sweet potato, which you will notice is more of a white color.  You could use a yam, which are orange fleshed.  That would certainly make the color pop, but the taste will be the same.  



The green beans were leftovers, which I kept at room temperature for this salad, giving a nice crunch.

So taking simple ingredients that are fresh, make for a spectacular salad!  Topped with a simple yogurt dressing that is tangy, yet light.  The perfect lunch if I do say so. 


I hope you find this inspiring enough to make your own comforting salad.  Please come back and let me know what you think of it once you try it.

Enjoy!


Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

serves 4

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into 1" chunks
8 oz of green beans, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
1/2 c shredded carrots
mixed spring greens

Dressing:

1 c plain low fat yogurt
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 garlic clove minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place potato chunks on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, tossing to coat.
Spread potatoes in a flat layer.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring half way through.

Meanwhile, prepare dressing in a small bowl or mason jar.  Add all ingredients and shake until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Assemble salad by placing  equal parts lettuce on each plate.  Top with potatoes, green beans and carrots.  Drizzle with dressing.  Serve.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, and Noodle Stir Fry


How are everyone's New Year's Resolutions doing?

I always vow to eat healthier in the new year and I think each year I get better at it!  It's certainly not easy when it's cold outside and all you want is some comfort food.

So, the other day I treated my self to one of my small vices.  Buying a cookbook!  My new thing is to go to the bookstore and browse through the Special Interest Publications in the the magazine section that are filled with recipes...no adds. Yeah!

I'm really loving these lately.  It gives me my recipe fix without buying a whole book, although I must say I'm getting quite a collection of them.



The one I picked up was BHG's Eat Well, Lose Weight.  Sounds good right?  Just in time for my resolutions. So I spotted a recipe for a Brussels Sprouts stir fry with noodles and got inspired to create my own stir fry.  I rarely use noodles in my dish, but thought, why not?  I like them, they're easy, and they absorb flavor well so they taste great.  You can break up spaghetti in to 1 inch pieces, or you might just find some already broken sold in the pasta aisle, like I did.  How easy is that?

I had left over chicken breasts which I shredded and added to the stir fry of veggies.  I also added some cashews for crunch.  All in all this was a wonderful dish that both MGG and I enjoyed very much.  You get lots of veggies in this dish that are great for you.


Another satisfying dish to stay on track this coming year.  I will make this over and over again!

Enjoy!


Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, and Noodle Stir Fry 

adapted from BHG's Eat Well, Lose Weight

serves 4-6



3 ounces thin spaghetti

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium red onion, fine dice

3 cloves garlic, minced

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 cup shredded cooked chicken breast

¼ cup cashews

1/4 crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

1/2 cup shredded carrots

Garnish with chopped cilantro



Break spaghetti into 1-inch pieces.  Cook according to package directions and drain.  Return to the hot pan, keep warm.  
  

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, add oil.   Add onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often.  Add the Brussels sprouts, ginger, chicken, cashews and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring for about 3 minutes.  Add the broth and soy sauce.  Allow to boil and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2-3 minutes (stirring occasionally). Remove from heat. 


Stir in cooked spaghetti and carrots, stirring to combine.  Top with cilantro before serving.


 

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