Thursday, August 27, 2009

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli

I'm always trying to figure out new ways not to bust out the pots and pans.  And, I always like veggies when I'm preparing a meal.  I've done these as a side and I've also placed them on top of a salad for a nice crunch instead of using bread.
Preheat oven to 375.
Wash and cut brussel sprouts in half clean the broccoli.
On a large sheet pan, spread out the veggies and sprinkle with garlic salt, pepper and drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
Cook for 10-12 mins until they are golden  brown.  
Serve on top of salads, or as a tasty side dish.  I've even had success serving these to people who swore up and down how much they hate brussel sprouts.  You can even drizzle with balsamic vinegar and shaved parm for a different variation.

Fresh Corn Salad

Summer lends itself to fresh ingredients, so what better way to eat sweet corn on the cob than in a cool salad that you can pair with steak, chicken or fish?
3 ears of fresh corn, boiled and kernels removed from cob
1/2 c. fresh basil, julienned
1/2 purple onion, diced
olive oil
2 tbl. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
Add all ingredients together and place in fridge until you're ready to use.
Really, it's that easy. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Classic: Moist Banana Nut Bread

If you're like me, baking is a daunting task.  I love to cook, because I can add a dash of this a pinch of that.  Baking on the other hand, is a precise method of cooking.  I had some banana's that were going bad so decided to make banana nut bread.  Usually, it comes out like hockey pucks until I modified it and added a secret to make one of the moistest breads I've ever had.

3-4 Very Ripe bananas (the riper they are, the more moist the bread)
2 eggs
1.5 c. flour
1 and 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter (room temperature)
1/2 c. chopped nuts ( i like pecans)
1.5 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (use pure)
pinch of salt
1/3 c. sour cream (the secret ingredient)

Heat oven to 375 and place rack in the middle of the oven.  Spray 1-2 loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt and combine with a whisk.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas until it looks like baby food and then combine with the sour cream.

In another medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until it's well combined (30-45 seconds) add eggs one at a time and mix until it is all combined.  Add the vanilla.

With a rubber spatula add the wet ingredients with the dry.  Do not over mix at this point, otherwise you will begin to develop the gluten (WARNING:  Hockey puck bread can happen here).

Combine with chopped nuts and add to loaf pan(s).

Place in oven and set timer for 30 mins.  Start checking after 30 mins by placing a tooth pick in the center, if the toothpick comes out clean, its done.  My bread took about 45 mins.

Once you take the bread out of the oven, let it sit for about 10 mins and serve warm.

Chicken Orzo Salad

On a hot summer day, I hate to be a slave to my stove top.  My old boss had made a similar version of this salad and I modified it to my likes.  This is one of those "kitchen sink" recipes where you can do whatever you like with it and the best part is,  there's not a lot to clean up.

1 Grocery Store Rotisserie chicken, I use the breast meat only, but you can use it all if you like. (reserve the carcass to make stock)
1 c. orzo, cooked
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
1/2 c. feta (I like the kind in olive oil and herbs)
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/4 c. kalamata olives (pitted)
2 cloves garlic, diced fine
zest of lemon
juice of 1-2 lemons
olive oil
1/4 c. fresh parsley
4 sprigs fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
splash of red wine vinegar

Heat a pot of water, add salt and cook orzo till al dente (about 10 mins)
Drain and cool.

Chop and place all ingredients in bowl.  Top with zested lemon, garlic, olive oil (use some of the oil in cheese if using) red wine vinegar and season to taste.

Toss with arugula and serve room temperature to cold.

Remember that the longer it sits, the more the flavors will meld.

Pop open a nice bottle of chardonnay and Enjoy!

Recipe will serve 3-4 medium portions.

Or in the case of my household, me once, my husband 2-3 times.