Sunday, July 28, 2013

protein bowl

This dish is packed with tasty protein like quinoa, shrimp, black beans and avocado. Even the goat cheese is a bit higher in protein than a cow's milk cheese. The recipe makes a large portion of the quinoa/wheat berry salad, and then I made just enough shrimp for two people. This makes a great side or even a vegetarian entree (sans shrimp).

1/2 cup wheat berries (dry)
1 cup quinoa (dry)
1 can black beans, rinsed
16 oz small tomatoes (assorted varieties), halved
1 cup of corn kernels
1 avocado
crumbled goat cheese (for topping)
romaine lettuce
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup EVOO
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of a lime
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
few dashes of Tabasco
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Prepare wheat berries and quinoa according to packages and allow to cool to room temp. Mix wheat berries, quinoa, beans, tomatoes, and corn together in a large bowl. Whisk together the dressing in a bowl and pour over quinoa mixture, mixing well and ensuring the salad is dressed well enough. If topping with shrimp, melt butter in saute pan, add garlic and cilantro. Sautee shrimp for about 5 minutes  until pink. Assemble protein bowls layering lettuce, quinoa mixture, sliced avocado, goat cheese and shrimp. 

I bought an assortment of small tomatoes at a farmer's stand yesterday and they are all so good. Last night, we had roasted tomato and basil risotto. The recipe is really simple (but risotto is a labor of love). Prepare risotto (you can just follow the Aborrio rice package recipe) and roast tomatoes in some EVOO and S&P for about 7-8 minutes at 400 degrees. When risotto is ready remove from heat and add in 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1/4 chopped basil and fold in tomatoes. 
Enjoy these tasty dishes with a basil lemonade.
Basil simple syrup - 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water - boil in a sauce pan with about 1/3 cup loosely packed basil leaves. After sugar is dissolved (simple syrup will appear yellow in color when ready), remove from heat and cool. In a shaker over ice, pour about 2-3 tablespoons syrup, juice a lemon and add chilled water. Shake well. This is also delicious with club soda instead of flat water (just don't shake club soda in shaker). 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

when life gives you lemons...

you can make a smorgasbord of food! Strawberry-lemon beverages, lemon-almond pesto, lemon spring risotto, lemony hummus and tonight's dinner - roasted lemon basil chicken. This recipe is adapted from the Dr. Oz show. 
4-5 pound chicken (cook for about 18 minutes per pound)
1 cup fresh basil
2 lemons (will need zest and juice)
1 nice size bunch thyme (I used lemon thyme from my friend Suzanne's garden)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat oven to 350. Wash and pat chicken dry. Place in roasting pan and salt and pepper well. In a bowl combine lemon zest, juice. EVOO, softened butter, honey, chopped basil, garlic, about a teaspoon of thyme leaves, teaspoon salt and half teaspoon pepper. Rub mixture all over chicken (both sides, covering whole bird). Pour any excess mixture in the cavity of the bird and place remaining bunch of thyme and halved lemon remains inside as well. Tie legs together to hold in filling, S&P the chicken once more. Our chicken was about 5 pounds, and I roasted it for just under 90 minutes, basting occasionally. Allow chicken to rest for 10 minutes. There will be a fair amount of juice in the pan that is delicious. I sauteed some zucchini and squash with a bit of the sauce and served it over bow-tie pasta along with the chicken. This chicken is juicy and full of flavor - enjoy!

saturday night cocktail

Gin Martini
Chill glass with ice and water. Swirl dry vermouth in chilled glass and pour out excess. Strain very chilled gin in glass and garnish with an olive, cocktail onion or a twist of lemon rind.
Classic martini - Saturday night in a glass. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

summer in a glass

Lemon Strawberry Zazzle
4 lemons
12 oz (about cup and a half) strawberries
1/3 - 1/2 cup honey
Juice lemons, remove greens from strawberries, slice in half. Place lemon juice, strawberries and honey in blender and liquify until smooth. This recipe makes a small pitcher of lemon strawberry mix. In a shaker over ice, shake half 2 shots tequila with 2 shots strawberry mix. Pour over ice in salt or sugar-rimmed glass and float a bit of club soda on top. This cocktail is delicious and the club soda lightens it up. You could also mix with vodka or rum. Or for a great strawberry lemonade, take the blended mix and stir in some chilled flat or sparkling water.

Monday, July 8, 2013

summer bounty

watermelon, basil, tomato - all fresh and for the eating in July! Tonight I made a tasty new beverage - the watermelon-basil fizz.

Liquify a watermelon quarter with about 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil and 2 pinches of Kosher salt. Over ice, fill the glass half way with watermelon basil mixture and top with club soda, garnish with a basil leaf. This beverage is refreshing and makes a great snack - it has a bit of weight to it. This recipe makes enough for 2-3 beverages.  Clearly, this would be delicious with some vodka too.
store bought or home-made pizza dough ball
3/4 cup spinach (I used frozen/thawed/drained)
2 Italian sausage links, cooked out of casing and crumbled
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
S&P to taste
1-2 tablespoons EVOO
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 ounces (bit less than a cup) shredded mozzarella cheese
flour and corn meal for dusting
Preheat oven to 450 degrees with pizza stone inside. When stone is hot, remove from oven and sprinkle with corn meal. Roll out the dough over some flour and assemble on stone. Lightly coat the pizza crust with a bit of EVOO. Mix cream cheese and tomato paste together and spread all over crust. Toss tomatoes with balsamic and S&P and layer spinach, dressed tomatoes, basil leaves, shredded mozzarella and crumbled sausage. Baked in the oven for about 12 minutes until crust is golden. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

4th of July

We had a great 4th of July at our friends Jill and Ethan's house. They made delicious turkey burgers, sausage 'n peppers, and coleslaw. I brought pasta salad that has a bit of zip to it.
box of tricolor pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 and 1/2 cans black beans, rinsed
1 cup corn (frozen/thawed or fresh/blanched)
2 poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1 (rather large or two small) avocado, cubed
1/2 sweet onion, diced and lightly sauteed until soft
1 small cucumber, diced
3 teaspoons lime zest
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoon cider vinegar
4 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil 
2 cloved garlic, minced garlic
1-2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Cook pasta according to directions (about 11 minutes) and set aside to cool. Whisk zest, juice, vinegar, EVOO, garlic, S&P, and cilantro and set aside. When pasta is cool, add vegetables, onions and beans - toss lightly. Drizzle dressing over pasta (try about half at first). This recipe may make a little more than you need, but it's nice to have some extra to toss in just before you serve. You may wish to wait to add the avocado until just before serving so it doesn't brown. This pasta salad has a little kick from the poblanos. With some grilled chicken or shrimp this would make a great summer dinner.
New favorite beverage alert! Watermelon lime margarita.
For a pitcher of watermelon lime juice you will need about half a small/medium watermelon, half cup fresh lime juice and 1/4 cup simple syrup. Scoop out the watermelon (removing seeds) and place in blender. Puree watermelon and drain over a mesh colander. Place the juice in a pitcher and add lime and syrup. This mix is light and refreshing and makes a great margarita (especially with some salt on the rim) or you could add white rum or vodka. 
Hope your 4th of July was great!

Friday, July 5, 2013


In preparation for an upcoming busy fall, I'm filling our freezer. I wanted to make a healthy soup without pasta so instead I used quinoa.
10 cups chicken stock
2 cups raw quinoa
4 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, diced
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
3/4 teaspoon chili flakes
2 clove garlic chopped
2 cans chopped tomatoes with juice
about 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
16-20 oz frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2-3 teaspoons salt  
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

Put the stock in a large pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly. Add the quinoa and keep the broth at a simmer. In the meantime, heat a medium skillet to medium heat. Drizzle some EVOO and add the onions, saute for about 3 minutes, transfer the onions into the broth. Add a bit more EVOO if needed, then add the zucchini to the skillet along with the oregano and chili flakes, continue frying for 2 minutes, and then add the garlic. Cook until fragrant, stirring regularly, it should be about 3 more minutes. Transfer this to the broth as well.

Once the quinoa has been cooking for at about 15 minutes, add in the tomatoes.  Add the chicken, spinach, parsley.  Simmer everything together for 10 minutes. Add salt and freshly ground pepper and taste for seasoning. 
This recipe makes A LOT so feel free to half it!

Monday, July 1, 2013

basil anxiety

I got hit with a bout of anxiety Saturday afternoon at the sight of my basil plant. The big leaves needed some serious harvesting. I love having fresh herbs, but when the growth really takes off it can be a bit stressful to use the plant before it dries up or gets attacked by insects or some other likely threat. I took about 2 cups of leaves and pureed them with some white wine, olive oil and salt pepper. This quick basil base will be frozen and when thawed, I can add some Parmesan cheese, garlic, sun dried tomato puree, etc.
My other dish was an almond & lemon pesto. We had roasted salmon with this nutty citrus spread. The pesto recipe makes quite a large amount (enough for about 6 people). Pesto is great thing to stick in the freezer.
3/4 cup toasted almonds
1 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 juice from a lemon
1/2 zest from a lemon
3/4 cup EVOO
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
In the food processor, pulse the almonds until they make a medium meal. Add the basil, garlic, juice, zest and salt and pulse. While processing, slowly add the EVOO - taking a break after a few seconds to see how it is incorporating. This pesto will be quite thick, so if you like it thinner, add a bit more EVOO.
I prepared our salmon (about 3/4 pound fillet for 2 people) in a tin foil pouch in the toaster oven (trying to keep the kitchen from over heating by not using the big oven!). Set the temperature to 425 degrees. Rinse and dry the salmon, coat foil with a drizzle of oil. Assemble salmon, pesto sauce and a few slices of tomato, squash or zucchini on top. Fold the foil over the fish, making the seams tight. Roast fish in foil for 15 minutes on a metal tray. Remove from oven and rest for 3 minutes. 
This fish is light and delicious! We enjoyed it with Parmesan and parsley cous cous and a salad. Enjoy!