Friday, September 30, 2011

Corn Salad with Grape Tomatoes and Cucumbers

Since it is the fall, and the grocery stores and farmer's markets are filled with delicious sweet corn, I decided to post yet another corn salad recipe.  I posted a corn salad recipe earlier this summer and it was good, not great.  I decided to take the elements I liked from that recipe and combine it with a different recipe that I tried sometime last year.  I have to admit--the latest version is much better.  It also helps that corn is at it's best this time of year. 

6 ears of sweet corn, boiled and cut off the cub
8 oz of grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 english cucumber, seeded and cut into small chunks
6 oz. of feta cheese (or goat cheese if you want something milder)
3 Tbs. of EVOO
3 tsp. of white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. of dijon mustard
2 tsp. of fresh thyme
salt & pepper to taste

1) Mix the EVOO, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a small bowl and set aside.
2) In a large bowl, stir the sweet corn, tomatoes and cucumbers until mixed well.  If the corn is still warm from cooking, set aside until cool. Once the corn is cool, add the cheese too.
3) Once the corn is cool, drizzle the dressing over the salad until coated thoroughly.  Use as much of or as little of the dressing as you prefer.  Salt and pepper to taste.  This salad can be served at room temperature, but do refrigerate if you don't plan on serving it for awhile.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zucchini Carpaccio

This is hands down my favorite zucchini recipe! Zucchini is cheap and abundant right now and I have several of them in my fridge and am always looking for new ways to use them.  This recipe took zucchini to a place I did not know it could go.  It was light, tangy and full of a lot of different flavors.  The lemon gave it some zing, the olive oil gave it body, the dill made it fresh, and the pine nuts added a welcome crunch.  The original recipe came from Epicurious and I made a few variations.  This recipe works as a side for two or an appetizer for a few.  Double it if you want to serve more.

1 small zucchini, sliced very thinly 
2 Tbs. EVOO
2 tsp of fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbs of pine nuts
1 Tbs. of fresh dill
kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

1) Cover a plate with the zucchini slices. 
2) In a small bowl, mix the EVOO and lemon juice and drizzle it over the zucchini slices. 
3) Sprinkle with salt, pepper, pine nuts and the dill.
4) Let marinate for 10-20 minutes and serve. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tomato Balsamic Salad

Tomatoes are the star in this recipe--and this time of year, they should be! In just a month or so, we will once again be subjected to chemically ripened tomatoes from the grocery story, so enjoy the locally grown real tomatoes while you still can.  This recipe is simple and I don't have the most exact instructions for it. My mom always sort of measures things with her eyes like a lot of good cooks do, but I will do my best to recreate it so you can too.

2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion (optional), sliced very thinly
1/4 cup basil (cut chiffonade style)
2 oz. crumbled feta, blue or goat cheese
1 Tbs of capers or chopped kalamata olives
2 Tbs of EVOO
2 tsp of balsamic vinegar
kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) On a large plate, drizzle the EVOO and balsamic vinegar.  Tilt the plate until the plate is covered with the EVOO and balsamic vinegar.
2) If you are using onion, cover the plate with the onion slices.  If you are not using onion, then cover the plate with the tomato slices. 
3) Sprinkle the tomato slices with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the kaper/olive, basil and cheese evenly over the tomatoes.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes before serving.  The longer the tomatoes sit in the oil and vinegar mixture the better they will taste.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Rocco's Sweet Ginger Chicken--My Version

This recipe is based off the one in Rocco's Now Eat This Diet cookbook. This recipe was very flavorful, delicious and filling and I never once felt like it was diet food. It just felt healthy and nutritious and probably contains somewhere between 240-300 calories. I changed a few things in this recipe. I marinated the chicken and therefore made a bit more of the stir fry sauce. I added carrots, onions, Trader Joe's sweet chili sauce, sriracha sauce, and minced garlic.  This is a really easy week night meal that I highly recommend trying.

1 lb boneless chicken breasts
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups broccoli
3 carrots, shredded
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 cup of quinoa (dry)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup Simply Fruit Apricot Jam
1 Tbs minced ginger root
1/2 tsp Trader Joe's sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp Sricha
1/2 tsp minced garlic

1) Mix the marinade/stir fry sauce by combining the soy sauce, jam, ginger, chili sauce, srircha, and garlic.  Whisk until blended well. Set aside.
2) Chop the chicken into large chunks and put into a ziploc bag and pour in 1/2 the marinade. Let marinate in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
3) Microwave the broccoli for 3 minutes and set aside.  Also start cooking the quinoa at this point.
4) Heat a large pan under medium heat. Add the EVOO, let it warm, then add the chicken. After a few minutes add the onion and shredded carrots. When the chicken is nearly browned add the remainder of the stir fry sauce and the broccoli.  Cook for about 2 minutes and then serve over a bed of quinoa.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Busy Busy--But Still Cooking!

The last two weeks of my life have been pretty crazy. However, rather than making a lot of new things that I can blog about, I have been relying on some tried and true favorites.  Here is what I have been up to:

A couple weeks ago I celebrated my birthday. I spent the afternoon with some fantastic friends at Surlyfest, where I enjoyed some great beer and a delicious lobster roll.  After Surlyfest, I had a barbecue with friends where I served these ridiculously easy pork chops and a corn salad which I will blog about. My boyfriend surprised me with a delicious layer cake from Queen of Cakes, straight from Edina, where by default, they do cake best. I highly recommend Queen of Cakes for your next special occassion.

Just a few days after my birthday, I left for the 'burbs to stay with a couple of teenagers while their parents are out of the country. One of the teenagers is very busy with athletics, so I had to figure out how to get dinner on the table between running her all over the Twin Cities and working full time. It actually went pretty well and we did crock pot meals on two nights--Greek Chicken and Chicken Adobo, which they enjoyed.  We also did homemade pizza, fresh ravioli from Bon Giorno, and Italian chicken soup. 

I am planning on some normal recipe posts in the near future--including my version of Rocco's Sweet Ginger Chicken, a fantastic tomato salad, a corn salad and deviled eggs.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lund's/Byerly's BOGO Sale

This week (9/8-9/15) it is Lund's Buy One, Get One Free sale. I love this semi-annual sale and use it to stock my freezer.  I managed to get (2) two-pound pork tenderloin roasts, 8 boneless pork chops, two pounds of ground turkey, two containers of cottage cheese, two huge jars of pickles, and two fantastic looking asparagus bunches (I know it is a spring veggie, but I couldn't resist!) all for $40. 

My vegetarian roommate is probably worried I will break out in meat sweats after my trip to Lund's today, but I do freeze it and use it through the fall.  More than likely you will see a couple crock pot recipes featuring the pork tenderloin.

Anyways--if you are in the Twin Cities definitely check out this sale.  There are lots of different items at a pretty decent price. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hamburger Rice Hot Dish--The Healthy Crock Pot Version

 My mom used to make this when I was a kid.  It is a pretty simple no fuss casserole--easy to make ahead of time and easy to serve kids.  However, when I started to search for recipes, I realize all of them call for condensed cream of mushroom soup. In fact--a lot of recipes that are easy to prepare and taste good contain this soup. While I realize it can add a lot of flavor to meals, it is antithetical to the way I like to cook.  It is very processed and contains lots of ingredients that seem more like chemicals to me. 

I used google to find a replacement, with no luck.  I thought about why these creamy soups are used--for flavor and for consistency.  I decided to try Greek yogurt (yes I am obsessed with it) with some chicken broth and fresh mushrooms.  I ran this idea by my mom--and I have to admit her skepticism scared me a bit, but I decided to proceed.  I also decided to try this recipe, which my mom did in the oven, in a crock pot because my lifestyle sort of needs that convenience right now.  The verdict--it was great. It was just like I remembered as a kid. The texture was fine and the flavor was good. It was the no fuss meal that I remembered.  In the future--I am going to try to replace more "cream of mushroom" type soups with Greek yogurt.

 (image courtesy of Google images because let's be honest, does anyone really need to see a picture of hot dish?)

1 lb. ground turkey (instead of hamburger)
1 cup brown rice (instead of white)
2 cups of non-fat Greek yogurt (to replace 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup)
1 3/4 cups of low sodium chicken broth (instead of water, if you don't use the crock pot, use about 1 1/4 cups of broth)
8 oz of mushroom, sliced
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cups of spinach (new ingredient for added nutrition)
salt & pepper to taste

1) In a frying pan, brown the turkey for 5-7 minutes.  After about 3 minutes, add the onions, celery and mushrooms.  I did the step the night before since I decided to cook this recipe in the crock pot. Set aside when turkey is browned and the veggies are cooked.
2) In your crock pot (or dutch oven) add the yogurt and the chicken broth. Whisk until they are blended together well. Add the turkey, browned veggies and fresh spinach. Add the rice and set the crock pot to low and cook for at least 3-4 hours. I actually let it cook for the entire work-day on low and it was just fine.  If you use an oven it should cook for 1 1/2-2 hours on 350.  Add salt & pepper to taste.

P.S. Gina--pretty sure this is gluten free as long as you use chicken broth and yogurt without gluten.