Friday, September 28, 2012

Baked Halibut over Mashed Carrots and Potatoes

I decided to switch things up with the mashed potatoes and used a Parmesan Basil Sauce instead of milk. It gave it a great extra flavor and I used up the extra sauce I had in the fridge from yesterday’s dinner.

2 Halibut filets (I bought one 1 lb piece and cut it in half)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Freshly cracked black pepper
2 large red skinned potatoes, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
About 10 asparagus spears
2 Tbsp butter, split into two slices
5 oz of Alfredo sauce (I used the Vons brand, Open Nature, Parmesan Basil Sauce), split into two

Marinate fish in EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper for about 30 minutes.

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil with potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add asparagus.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fish on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes, until flakes easily with a fork and is not longer translucent in the middle.

Using a slotted spoon, add carrots to a large mixing bowl with 1 Tbsp butter and about 2 ½ oz of Alfredo sauce. Puree or blend until smooth. Salt to taste. Spread a spoonful of carrots to each plate.
In the same mixing bowl, add drained potatoes with Tbsp butter and about 2 ½ oz of Alfredo sauce.

Puree or blend until smooth. Salt to taste. Spread a spoonful of carrots to each plate.

Top with asparagus spears and fish filets. Add extra salt and pepper, to taste.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Homemade Granola with Nuts and Dried Fruit

When my parents come to visit, it means we’re going to cook and eat…A LOT. Among the many things we cooked that week, we made a batch of homemade granola with toasted nuts and dried fruit. For breakfast every morning, my husband and I eat yogurt topped with fresh fruit and granola, so it was nice to create a batch of granola with the combination of flavors that we love. 

Mom & Larry making granola.

Whisk syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, salt and oil.
Fold in oats until coated.
Spread mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
Press down until mixture is compact and then it is ready to bake.
Serve over yogurt and fresh fruit.
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup almonds, roughly chopped
½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dried cherries  

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk syrup or nectar, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk in oil. Fold in oats and nuts until well coated.

Spread a thin layer of the mixture to the baking sheet. Press mixture down until compact. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown. Rotate rack half way through.

Remove from oven and let cool completely for about 1 hour. Break granola into desired pieces. Stir in dried fruit. Store into an airtight container.

Try these variations to create your perfect flavor combination:
·         Add dried apples
·         Add shredded coconut
·         Add 2 Tbsp orange zest
·         Add dried mango or pineapple for a tropical flare
·         Try a variety of nuts like hazelnuts or macadamias

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Brussels Sprout Sauté with Bacon, Pecans and Goat Cheese

My parents are in town, and you know what that means...good eats! Here's the side from our first dinner together. 

About 10 large Brussels Sprouts
5 strips of bacon, diced
1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed
¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans
Crumbled goat cheese (about 3 oz or to your liking)
Salt, season to taste
Prepare Brussels Sprouts but removing outer leaves and cutting in half. Steam for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan cook diced bacon until crispy. Add steamed Brussels Sprouts, garlic and pecans; toss, coating Brussels Sprouts in bacon grease. Season with salt, to taste.

Serve and top with crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy with grilled fish and garlic bread.

·         Substitute pecans for walnuts or pine nuts
·         Substitute goat cheese for feta cheese

Monday, September 10, 2012

Fried Polenta with Black Bean Salsa

A little bit of Italy with a Central American flare.
Polenta originates from Italy and is a porridge like substance made from cornmeal. It has a smooth, creamy consistency, similar to cream of wheat or grits. Polenta can be used in place of rice, potatoes, pasta or bread and served as an appetizer or as a part of the main dish.

2 servings

1-18 oz tube of precooked polenta (I used  a brand from Quinoa)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Black Bean Salsa:
1 can of black beans (I used ½ a can)
½ small red bell pepper, diced
½ small yellow bell pepper, diced
½ large avocado, diced
2 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
Juice from one lime
Salt, season to taste

Cotija cheese

Cut polenta into ½”slices. I cut 4 slices per person. In a frying pan over med-high heat, drizzle just a little EVOO. Cook polenta for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown.

In a small bowl, combine ingredients for black bean salsa. Carefully toss to combine without mashing the avocado.

Top fried polenta slices with black bean salsa. Top with crumbled Cotija cheese. Serve with grilled chicken.

Note: To prepare the chicken, I rubbed the chicken pieces with chili powder and salt, then drizzled with lime juice. Let marinate for 30 minutes and then grill until cooked through.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mediterranean Orzo Pasta Salad

Where the flavors of Italy and the Mediterranean meet and create happiness in your mouth.
1 lb dried Orzo pasta
1 cup mozzarella cheese pearls
½ cup sliced Kalamata olives
1/3 cup diced sun dried tomatoes
1 large bunch of basil, chopped
2 green onion sprigs, chopped
1/3 cup minced Italian flat leaf parsley
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Juice from one lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cook Orzo according to directions on packaging; cook until al dente. Set aside and allow to cool.
In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients and whisk together; set aside. 
Toss cooled Orzo pasta with remaining ingredients. Add marinade and mix together until well combined.
Helpful hint: For a more flavorful pasta, make this dish a day ahead to allow the flavors to marinate overnight. 
·         Substitute the sun dried tomatoes for halved fresh cherry tomatoes
·         Substitute the  marinade for a pesto sauce

Monday, September 3, 2012

Grilled Pork Chops with Sautéed Veggies over Mashed Potatoes

Nothing fancy, but tasty and filling.
Serves 2
2- 3/4" Pork chops
Lemon Pepper seasoning
Seasoned salt
¾ cup baby carrots, halved
1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise and cut into 1” pieces
½ small yellow onion, sliced
1 Anaheim pepper, sliced (you can use a regular bell pepper too)
1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp of freshly minced cilantro
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Mashed Potatoes:
2 large red skinned potatoes, cubed
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup milk (add more to get a creamy consistency)
Salt and black pepper, taste
Starting with the potatoes since they have the longest cook time, in a large pot of boiling water, cook cubed potatoes in salted water for 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain water and add back to pot. Add butter and milk and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Cover and set aside.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Season one side of pork with lemon pepper seasoning and the other side with seasoned salt.  Grill pork for about 4 minutes per side, or depending on thickness until no longer pink in the middle.
Lastly, prepare the veggies. In a frying pan over med-high heat, drizzle EVOO. Start sautéing with carrots first. Cook for about 2 minutes. Add zucchini , onion and peppers. Sauté another 3-4 minutes. Last, add garlic and cilantro. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until carrots are tender. 
Serve pork chops over a plate of mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies. Enjoy!
·         Grill chicken, fish or steak instead of pork chops
·         Pan sear the meat instead of grilling
·         Substitute any of the veggies by adding your favorites or removing those you don’t like
·         Add a variety of herbs to the veggies, such as rosemary, parsley and/or chives

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Meatball Stroganoff

A quick and tasty meal with a spin on the traditional beef stroganoff.
1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 small onion, minced
1 large garlic clove, pressed or minced
1 egg
¼ Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (if mixture is too wet, add more) 
4 large white or Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
McCormik stroganoff seasoning (yes, I'm cheating and using a packet...that's what makes it quick!) 
In a large bowl, mix ingredients for meatballs together until well combined. In a large frying pan over med-high heat and drizzle oil. Using wet hands, form walnut sized balls from meat mixture and drop onto frying pan. Fry all sides until browned. 
Add sliced mushrooms and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring around meatballs. Following the directions on the seasoning packet, add water mixed with seasoning to the pan with the meatballs and mushrooms. Before serving , stir in one cup of sour cream.  
Serve over egg noodles or rice. Garnish with minced fresh parsley or sprinkle with paprika and freshly cracked pepper.