Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grilled Cilantro Chicken with Tomato & Avocado Salsa over Mexican Rice

 This colorful recipe is full of fresh citrus and vegetable flavors.

2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Juice from one lime
2 tsp freshly minced cilantro
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked pepper

In a small bowl, whisk EVOO, lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper together. Marinate chicken in a bowl or bag for 30 minutes up to overnight. Grill chicken over medium heat until cooked all the way through; about 6-8 minutes per side depending on thickness. 

Avocado and Tomato Salsa:
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 ripe avocado, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp freshly minced cilantro
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients; season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to plate and top chicken.

Mexican Rice:
1 small onion, sliced
1 small bell pepper, sliced
½ can diced tomatoes with jalapenos, undrained
1 large garlic clove
1 cup rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt

In a small sauté pan over med-high heat, drizzle EVOO and sauté onion and bell peppers for about 4 minutes. Add  veggies to blender with canned tomatoes and garlic. Blend until smooth. Add mixture with rice, chicken broth, salt and a drizzle of EVOO to a rice cooker. Cook until rice is tender.

To serve, create a bed of rice, top with grilled chicken and spoon over salsa. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Baked Pesto Salmon

This dish was so easy and fast to make.
It was very delicious and I plan on making it more often.
Pesto Salmon:
2 salmon fillets
Salt & pepper, to taste Pesto sauce
1 ripe tomato, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees (I used my toaster oven).

Take a long piece of foil, drizzle with EVOO. Place salmon, skin side down on foil. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon pesto over salmon and top with tomato slices. Bring each side of foil together and crimp closed, to make a packet. Bake for 13 minutes. Let the fillets sit in the packet for 2-3 minutes before opening.

Mashed Potatoes:
2 large red skinned potatoes, quartered
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 green onion sprigs, sliced

In a pot of boiling water, cook potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes; Drain. Return potatoes to pot with butter and milk; mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in green onions.

Serve salmon over a bed of mashed potatoes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Queso Blanco with Homemade Tortilla Chips

I hope you enjoy this spicy Mexican white cheese dip with homemade tortilla chips.
Easy and cheesy!
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup jarred jalapeno juice (more or less depending on what you like)
1 ½ Tbsp butter
1 ½ Tbsp flour
½ cup shredded Cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Monterey cheese
1 large jalapeno, seeded, deveined, minced
1 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
In a medium sauce pan, bring cream to a boil; mix in sour cream and jalapeno juice. While cream is heating up, create a roux by melting butter over med-high heat and whisk in flour to create a paste. Whisk roux into gently boiling cream mixture. Whisk constantly for a couple minutes until it thickens.
Remove from heat. Stir in cheeses, jalapeno and tomato. Save a little jalapeno and tomato to use as garnish by sprinkling over queso. Serve warm.
Corn tortillas, cut into chip sized pieces
Vegetable oil
Sea salt

In a large frying pan, heat about ¾ inch of oil over med-high heat. Once oil starts to sizzle, add one layer of tortillas. When they start to bubble, turn them over and cook for about one more minute, or until they are dark to your liking. Remove chips from pan and to a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Sprinkle with freshly cracked sea salt while the chips are drying. Repeat with all the tortillas.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Asparagus Soup with Baked Caprese

A vegetarian Valentine’s Day dinner so tasty and filling that my hubby didn’t even notice the missing meat!

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 small potato, cubed
2 lb asparagus, cut into 1” pieces
2 garlic cloves
Freshly cracked black pepper
½ cup cream or dollop of sour cream (optional)

In a large pot, add broth and potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes. Add asparagus and cook for an additional 10 minutes. In batches, add mixture and garlic to a blender, puree until smooth. I like to save a little of the cooked potatoes and asparagus to add to the soup. Add soup back to pot over low heat and simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cream if you desire, or add a dollop of sour cream before serving.

Baked Caprese:
A loaf of crusty bread, sliced
Marinara sauce
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Red, ripe tomato
Fresh basil, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brush EVOO on one side of bread. Toast until oiled side is crispy.

Spoon sauce over each crusty side of bread. Top with a slice of tomato and mozzarella; bake for 15 minutes. Broil for the last 2-3 minutes until cheese is brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with basil and enjoy.

NOTE: I found if you skip the toasting with oil step, the sauce and juices from tomato make the bread very soggy after baking.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Shrimp Enchiladas in Jalapeno Cream Sauce

2 cup whipping cream
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp chicken base
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 cup jarred jalapenos juice
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a sauce pan over high heat, whisk cream to a boil then stir in sour cream. When sour cream dissolves, reduce heat to med-low. Stir in minced jalapeno, chicken base and jalapeno juice; simmer.

While cream is simmering, make a roux by warming butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until it turns into a paste.

Turn cream to high again and just before cream mixture is about to boil, whisk in roux until it is incorporated. Remove from heat and stir in minced jalapeno and shredded cheese. Set aside.

1 small red bell pepper, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut in thirds
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
About 10 corn tortillas
Shredded Monterrey jack cheese

In a medium sauce pan over high heat, drizzle EVOO and sauté peppers and onion for about 3-4 minutes. Remove veggies from pan and set aside. In the same pan, add shrimp and garlic; sauté until shrimp turns pink and remove from pan immediately.

Wrap tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave for one minute to soften. Spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish. Fill tortillas with shrimp and veggie mixture; roll up and place seam side down in dish. Spoon cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, then broil for last 2-3 minute until cheese is brown and bubbly.

Serve and garnish enchiladas with minced peppers.

NOTE: Enjoy the Jalapeno Cream Sauce as a dip for chips too!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Biscotti with Cherries and Almonds

Biscotti are twice-baked biscuits originating from Italy. They are pretty sturdy cookies so I thought they’d be the perfect treat to make and mail to my parents for Valentine’s Day.
2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¾ stick of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
Zest from one orange

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, or Kitchen Aide, beat butter and sugar together. Beat in eggs until combined. Stir in flour mixture until it forms a stiff dough. Stir in chocolate chips, almonds, cherries and orange zest.

With floured hands, create two flattened logs from dough onto baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let biscotti cool, leaving oven on.

Cut biscotti into ¾ inch slices. Arrange cut side down and bake for 9 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake another 7 minutes.

Cool completely and enjoy with coffee. Store extras in an airtight container.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Loaded Potato Cakes

A crispy spin on loaded baked potatoes!
4 slices of bacon, chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, pressed
¼ cup sour cream (use low fat to reduce calories)
¼ cup chicken broth
¾ cup fresh bread, diced (I used a crusty artisan bread that was about to go stale)
2 green onions, finely sliced
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 cup of Panko bread crumbs

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook potatoes until fork tender, about 20 minutes; drain and set aside.

In a large frying pan over med-high heat, cook bacon until crispy. Remove from pan and transfer to a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil. Use the bacon grease to fry the potato cakes, or wipe out the bacon grease and replace with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, or your Kitchen Aid, combine all ingredients except Panko bread crumbs. Once combined, make potato cake patties with your hands. I was able to make 8. Dredge patties in Panko bread crumbs.

Make sure the oil in the frying pan is still hot and cook the potato cakes on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until crispy and brown. You will probably need to cook them in several batches to give them enough room to cook and so you can flip them.

Enjoy your potato cakes with a grilled steak and veggies.

NOTE: I froze some of the potato cakes to use for a future breakfast in place of hash browns. Yum!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Shrimp & Asparagus Pasta with Goat Cheese

 About 3 servings

½ lb medium shell pasta (go for the whole grain to add fiber!)
5 strips of bacon
1 large leek, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
5large asparagus spears, sliced into 1” pieces
6 oz herbed goat cheese
½ cup dry wine or chicken broth
1/3 cup of fresh mixed herbs, minced (parsley, thyme, basil and chives)
1 tsp butter
½ lb uncooked shrimp, deveined with tails on

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to directions. While pasta is boiling, cook bacon.

Once bacon is crispy, move to a paper towel lined plate to soak up excess oil; set aside. Coarsely chop when bacon has cooled.

In a small bowl, combine herbs. Set aside.

In a medium sauté pan, heat a couple drizzles of EVOO over med-heat. Sauté leeks until tender. Add asparagus, season with salt and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in goat cheese and wine. Stir in chopped bacon and herbs. Save a couple teaspoons of herb mixture for shrimp.

In a small sauté pan, heat butter over high heat. Add shrimp. Sprinkle with extra herbs. As soon as one side turns pink, turn shrimp and sprinkle other side with herbs. Once both sides are pink, remove shrimp from heat immediately, to prevent over cooking.

Once pasta is al dente, drain and mix directly into vegetable goat cheese mixture. Plate in a shallow bowl and top with shrimp. Serve with garlic bread.

NOTE: Make sure there is no dirt in the leeks, by slicing then soaking in water with a couple extra rinses.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Vegetable Pesto Alfredo Pasta

1 small red bell pepper
1 medium zucchini, peeled and diced
5 sun dried tomato slices (jarred in oil), diced
1-2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1.6 oz package of Knorr Alfredo sauce
1 ¾ cup milk
1 tsp butter
2 Tbsp Classico Basil Pesto
freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta according to directions on package.

In a medium sauce pan, heat EVOO over med-high heat. Sauté peppers, zucchini and tomatoes for about 5 minutes until tender. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan over high heat, combine Alfredo sauce mix, milk and butter; whisk for 2 minutes until thickens. Remove from heat and whisk in pesto sauce; stir into sautéed vegetables.

Drain pasta and plate into a shallow bowl. Top with vegetable pesto Alfredo mixture. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.