Sunday, January 29, 2012

Foodbuzz 24x24: Let's Make Burrata!

What could be better than fresh mozzarella encasing a luscious mixture of curds and cream?  In my book, not much! 

Burrata; which means “buttery” in Italian, was a hidden delicacy that only until recently was discovered, exported and incorporated into dishes in the United States.  Produced in the Puglia (Apulia being the Latin name) region of Italy, otherwise known as “the heel of the boot”, as a means of using curd leftover from making mozzarella, this amazingly indulgent cheese has a incredibly rich flavor that is wonderful not only on its own but, also when incorporated into other recipes.

Let’s Make Burrata!

In getting started with cheese making, particularly for Mozzarella, there are several components you need to make this recipe a success; calcium chloride (needed when using store bought milk), liquid vegetable rennet, and citric acid all of which can be found online or in culinary supply stores.  There are many recipes out there for mozzarella, I am using  Ricki Carroll’s 30 Minute recipe.

Ingredients

1 gallon whole milk
¼ tsp liquid vegetable rennet, diluted in ¼ cup water
½ tsp calcium chloride
1 ½ tsp citric acid, diluted in ½ cup water
1 tsp salt
1 to 2 tbsp heavy cream

1. Dilute the citric acid into the half cup of water 5 minutes prior, stir it into the milk [*When using store bought milk, add the calcium chloride when you put the milk into the pot.] and heat slowly to 90 degrees (F).  Remove the pot from the heat, slowly stir in the rennet, cover and let stand 5 minutes.  Check the curd, it should resemble the consistency of custard; if still too soft allow to stand a few more minutes.

2. Once the curd has developed the right consistency, cut it into roughly one inch cubes, making sure to cut through to the bottom of the pot, then place back on the burner and heat to 105 degrees (F) while slowly stirring.  Remove from the heat and continue stirring for 5 minutes.

3. Remove a third portion of the curd, break it into small pieces and set aside to drain, and once drained, mix in the heavy cream.  If making Sweet Burrata; add 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract and honey to taste.

4. Transfer the rest of the curd to a colander allowing the whey to drain off, you should notice the texture becoming firmer as this happens. Press the curd to help drain off as much whey as possible. 

5. Using a microwave safe bowl, heat the curd on high for 1 minute, pour off any whey that drains, knead the curd, then microwave another 30 seconds, repeating as needed until the curd reaches 135 degrees (F) continuing to knead.  At this point the curd should be almost too hot to handle.

6. When the curd is hot enough it will begin to stretch, continue kneading and stretching until you reach the consistency of mozzarella.  When this happens; knead it back into a ball, divide into desired portions, then flatten into disk shape.  Fill each disk with equal portions of the curd and cream mixture then pull the mozzarella up around, twisting at the top to seal.

7. Once shaped, wrap the purses with muslin and place in a strainer over a bowl in the refridgerator to allow any leftover whey to drain off.  If using right away, do this for about 20 minutes prior to use.   

Puglia on a Plate

For the January Foodbuzz 24x24; I wanted to demonstrate not only how easy it is to make Burrata but, also to show how it can be incorporated into dishes without them becoming too heavy.  For me, the perfect accompaniment to this buttery rich cheese is acidity, be it in form of fresh tomatoes, pasta served with a lemony wine based sauce or the tangy bite of balsamic.  I have come up with a menu of dishes that I feel, show off not only traditional ways of serving burrata but, my twist on these recipes.

Insalata Caprese
Silky burrata served with vine ripened tomatoes, fresh basil drizzled with balsamic.

One purse of fresh burrata
6 tomatoes sliced
Fresh basil leaves
balsamic

Simply slice the burrata layering between slices of tomato and fresh basil leaves.  Drizzle with balsamic, salt and pepper before serving.

Rigatoni con Spinaci e Burrata con Salsa Piccante al Limome Vino
Mezzi Rigatoni with spinach, artichokes, black olives and burrata tossed in a spicy lemon wine sauce.

The great thing about adding burrata in with a pasta dish such as this is that it melts beautifully with the sauce adding a creaminess you just cannot get with other cheeses.

One pound mezzi rigatoni
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup sliced artichoke hearts 
1/2 cup halved black olives
half an onion, chopped
Two minced garlic gloves
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 cup stock
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup burrata thinly sliced

In a pan, heat the olive oil, sauté the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes until fragrant, then add the wine and let cook for 2 minutes before stirring in the stock, bring the sauce to a simmer on medium, and add the spinach.  Cook the pasta in salted boiling water to al dente, toss in the sauce, allow everything to cook for a few minutes, then turn off the heat and let sit 10 minutes.  Thinly slice the burrata and toss in with the pasta, season with salt and pepper, top with grated parmesan and serve.

Pollo Braciole
Chicken cutlets stuffed with chard, herbs, sundried tomatoes & burrata, rolled, then slowly simmered in a light marinara.

Braciole; is an Italian dish, usually referring to thin sliced of beef fried in their own juices.  My version throws a twist on this classic, using chicken cutlets stuffed with a flavorful filling that is richened with burrata then simmered vibrant marinara; this is a light meal that showcases the burrata beautifully. 

Six chicken breasts
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
One purse of fresh burrata, thinly sliced
One bunch Swiss chard
Two cloves of garlic minced
28 oz can tomatoes, pureed
½ cup fresh basil leaves
One small onion
½ cup flat leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken stock

In a heavy bottom pan, heat about one tablespoon of olive oil on medium; sauté the onion until translucent, add the garlic and sun dried tomatoes, sautéing a few minutes until fragrant, then slice the Swiss chard into ribbons and add it into the pan, tossing to coat.  Allow the chard to cook until it begins to wilt, about 5 minutes, remove the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Sandwich each chicken breast in between two sheets of plastic wrap, and using a meat tenderizer pound each into a ¼ inch thick cutlet.  Season each cutlet with salt and pepper then set aside. 

Once the filling mixture has cooled, add two tablespoons of filling to each cutlet, top with a thin slice of burrata and roll using a toothpick to secure.  In the same pan that was used to sauté the chard; brown each rolled cutlet in a little olive oil, remove from the pan; pour in the tomatoes and stock, tear in the basil, season with salt and pepper, return the cutlets to the pan, cover and let simmer until cooked through about 20 to 25 minutes. 

Burrata Dulce
Burrata sweetened with honey, scented with vanilla, served with fresh berries and drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction.

One purse of burrata, prepared as specified above for the sweet version
¼ cup honey
½ cup balsamic
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups mixed berries
1 tsp lemon zest
2 basil leaves

In a sauce pan, bring the balsamic to a simmer, and let the mixture reduce slightly, stir in the honey and vanilla extract, then let reduce by a quarter, turn off the heat and let cool slightly.

Slice the sweet burrata and arrange on a plate with the mixed berries, drizzle with the balsamic honey mixture and tear the basil leaves over the top before serving.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Coq Au Riesling

Coq Au Riesling; so classically French, and so amazingly delicious, I think of this recipe as the Bourguignon of poultry dishes.  Traditionally, this is made with dark cuts but, giving it a lighter twist by using white meat while cooking it on the bone does not compromise flavor in the slightest.

This is a dish not to be intimidated by, while the end result is elegant, this is one of the simpler recipes to prepare when getting your feet wet in the world of French cuisine.  Being that the cooking time, in total, is only about 30 minutes, this recipe also makes for a quick weeknight dinner.  Or if you prefer coming home to a meal already prepared, this is a great slow cooker recipe, cook on low for six hours and you will come home to a melt in your mouth, delicious dinner ready and waiting.

There are several versions of this dish, in fact most Chef's have a twist of their own.  Some prefer to use butter while others use the oil from bacon, some like to use heavy cream as a thickening option while others prefer the tang of sour cream.  My variation uses very little oil, just enough to brown the chicken and saute the vegetables, then a little butter and lite sour cream to thicken which still gives a rich, silky sauce.  Riesling is the highlight in this recipe, and I feel finishing the sauce with too much cream, eliminates the crisp, refreshing integrity of the wine.

Ingredients

4 bone-in chicken breasts, free range, organic is best
4 shallots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups dry Riesling
2 tbsp cognac
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp lite sour cream
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 sprigs of tarragon plus, 1 tbsp chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered

In a heavy bottom pot; heat one tablespoon of oil, season the chicken with salt and pepper then brown, remove to a plate and set aside.  Next, saute the mushrooms until tender and brown, then remove and set aside as well.

Start the sauce by sauteing the shallots and garlic on low until tender, you are not looking to brown just sweat them until translucent.  When tender, add the cognac to deglaze, making sure to scrape all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add the tarragon springs, wine and stock, bring to a strong simmer allowing the alcohol to burn off, add the chicken back to the pan, cover, reduce the heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Once cooked through, set the chicken aside to allow to rest.  Increase the heat, and allow the sauce to reduce by half, then finish by stirring in the butter, sour cream, chopped tarragon and parsley.  Cut the chicken off the bone, slice and put back into the sauce, with the mushrooms tossing to make sure everything is evenly coated. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Strawberry Thyme Biscuits with Lemon Vanilla Glaze

The combination of fruit highlighted with fresh herbs is one of my favorites, from jams to baked treats all become something incredibly special when the two are combined.  My favorite herb without question is thyme.  I love the lemony fresh flavor it adds to dishes so adding it to this recipe was a no brainer.  Strawberry Thyme Biscuits with Lemon Vanilla Glaze make a wonderful accompaniment to breakfast with a mild sweetness that comes from fresh strawberries, a hint of earthiness from the fresh thyme which is brought out even further with a drizzle of lemony glaze.

Biscuits

1 cup chopped strawberries
1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ cup honey
6 tbsp butter
¾ cup part skim ricotta
¼ cup milk
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt

Glaze

¼ cup lemon juice
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

In a bowl, cream the honey, butter, ricotta, vanilla and milk.  Once combined, in two batches sift in the flours, baking powder and salt, stirring just until mixed and last fold in the strawberries and lemon zest.  Refrigerate the dough for thirty minutes, then roll out to ¼ to ½ inch thickness and cut into desired shape.  Lie on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated, 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden.  When finished baking let cool on a wire rack.

To make the glaze; squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl, add the vanilla bean paste and mix in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. 

Drizzle a teaspoon of the glaze over each biscuit and let set for 15 minutes, and then drizzle the rest of the glaze over each biscuit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Radicchio & Fennel with Lemon Tarragon Vinaigrette

Keeping things simple by limiting a heavy hand and putting the focus on showcasing amazing ingredients can make for a delicious dish.  Radicchio and fennel, lightly roasted to bring out their flavor, then tossed in a dressing of fresh lemon and grapeseed oil brightened with fresh tarragon.

Ingredients

Two fennel bulbs
One head radicchio
Juice from one lemon
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon
Fresh tarragon, leaves picked
Grapeseed oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Quarter the radicchio, and remove the fibrous outer layers of each fennel bulb, then slice quarter inch thick. Lightly toss the vegetables in a little oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in a preheated oven for 20 minutes.  For the dressing, squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl with the white wine vinegar, and Dijon, then while whisking, slowly drizzle in a quarter cup of oil.  When the vegetables are finished roasting, immediately toss with the dressing and the fresh tarragon leaves, season with salt and pepper. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Apple Pear Butter Ricotta Tartlets

This is a fantastic recipe to make when you have an over abundance of fruit, and even more so when it is a little too ripe for snacking on fresh.  My goal was to create a spread that actually tastes like the fruit in which it was made from so, I went light on the sweetener and used spices only to subtly enhance the natural fruit flavor.  In my house, we usually have more than one variety of apples and pears on hand so, I used a mixture of gala and granny smith, bartlett and d'anjou.

For the Apple Pear Butter you will need;

8 to 10 apples
8 to 10 pears
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup water

Quarter and roughly dice the apples and pears, remove the cores, then put them into a large pot with all of the ingredients and toss to mix.  Heat on low until the mixtures comes to a simmer, then cover and let cook until the fruit breaks down, this will take about an hour.  Once this happens remove the lid, continue to simmer, stirring often, for another hour until the liquid begins to evaporate and the mixture thickens.  When the texture is that of a thin applesauce, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly before pureeing it.  

Note: It is important to take caution when pureeing hot mixtures such as this, as steam builds and can result in not only a huge mess but, more important injury.  It is always a good idea to remove the pusher from your food processor, or center part of the blender lid.  Also, pureeing in batches is best, filling the cup no more than half full.  

Once pureed, push through a strainer this will remove any extra bits of skin.  Then put back into the pot and reduce on low, for 30 minutes.  The Apple Pear Butter will naturally thicken as it cools.  This recipe yields about 2 cups, and tastes wonderful served warm, room temperature or cold, and can also be stored in the freezer.

Apple Pear Butter Ricotta Tartlets
These are so easy to make, taste delicious, and are a great option when needing to put together a quick dessert, or like in my case, to satisfy a sweet tooth!

One sheet of puff pastry
1/4 cup Apple Pear Butter
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Ricotta

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Using a round cookie cutter, at least a quarter of an inch larger than the size of a mini muffin tin, cut twelve rounds of puff pastry, then press each into the mini muffin tin to form tartlet shells.  Prick the bottom of each shell with a fork, this will prevent them from puffing up too much, and bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

In a bowl, whisk the vanilla into the ricotta then using a half teaspoon measure, evenly distribute the ricotta mixture into each tartlet shell.  [The Apple Pear Butter offers plenty of sweetness but, if you prefer, you can also sweeten the ricotta by adding honey or agave.]  Using a quarter teaspoon measure, add the Apple Pear Butter on top of the ricotta and swirl using a tooth pick.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

In my search to find ways of making my favorite dishes more healthful, I wanted to come up with a recipe that offers the comfort of lasagna without the overload of calories.  What did I come up with?  A vegetarian alternative that puts the focus on the ingredients, not masked by tons of cheese.  By using part skim ricotta, and only half of a cup, I was able to cut down calories and fat, without compromising flavor.  

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna; tender layers of zucchini, acorn squash, eggplant and bell peppers, slow roasted with basil and thyme then layered with a light marinara, roasted garlic, mushrooms and ricotta.  The vegetables eliminate the need for pasta sheets, lightening the dish, with a little indulgence that comes from the creamy ricotta, no over load here! 

Serves 4

Two zucchini
Once acorn squash
One eggplant
Three red, orange or yellow bell peppers
1 cup cremini mushrooms (also known as baby bella mushrooms)
Two heads of garlic
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried thyme
28 oz crushed tomatoes
One bunch fresh basil
Three garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
1/2 cup low fat ricotta
Olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Thinly slice the zucchini, acorn squash, egg plant, mushrooms and bell pepper, drizzle with just enough olive oil to add moisture, season with salt and pepper, dried thyme and basil, slice off the top of the heads of garlic just enough to expose the cloves, then toss and spread evenly onto a cookie sheet or roasting tray.  Cook until tender about 45 minutes to an hour.

Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees.

In a deep pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil, add the garlic cloves and allow to lightly fry for a few minutes, then pick the basil leaves and add them as well.  Once fragrant, pour in the tomatoes while stirring, let the sauce cook, simmering, for 20 minutes then remove from the heat.  Allow the sauce to cool slightly before blending it in a food processor.  Season again with salt and pepper to taste.

In a bowl, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves, smash, mix into the ricotta, then chop the roasted mushrooms and fold them into the mixture as well..

To assemble the lasagna; start by adding a little sauce to the bottom of the dish, layer the eggplant slices, then top with enough sauce to cover and one fourth of the ricotta mixture, alternating through the remaining vegetable slices, ricotta and marinara leaving a enough to top off the last layer last, then bake until bubbling.  Before serving; allow the lasagna to sit for at least 15 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Apple Cinnamon Honey Oat Muffins

Whole wheat oat muffins baked with fresh apples, sweetened with honey, spiced with cinnamon and cardamom. 

The benefits of incorporating whole wheat into our diets are so vast that I try to use this mindset with baking whenever possible.  Some people believe that the use of whole wheat flour means heavy texture, lack of taste so, proving this theory wrong by making healthful recipes that taste delicious is a challenge I am always excited to take on.  While there are a lot of ingredients, the finished product tastes amazing and is guilt free.  I change up the flavors, adding dried fruit in place of fresh or leaving out the fruit all together.  These muffin always come out tender and moist, no fail! 

Apple Cinnamon Honey Oat Muffins

1 cup oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all purpose flour
2 egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ cup honey
½ cup low fat plain yogurt
½ cup 1% milk
½ cup applesauce
½ cup chopped apple
1 tsp lemon zest

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a large mixing bowl, mix the honey, yogurt, egg whites, vanilla bean paste and applesauce together until smooth.  Then sift in the flours, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, baking powder and soda in two batches to ensure it is evenly absorbed.  Last, lightly stir in the oats [holding back a little to sprinkle on top of each muffin], apples and lemon zest combining just until mixed.  The batter does not have to be smooth, a few lumps is fine as it is important not to over mix the batter.  Divide batter into muffin tins and bake in for 15 to 20 minutes.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spicy Garlic Prawns with Vegetables

When I am looking for something quick and healthy, a stir-fry is the way to go.  They are so simple and so versatile.  You can create an amazing dish by throwing together the things you have on hand, or by randomly picking items that look great in the market.  The possibilities for sauces are virtually endless, and coming up with new combinations allows for the opportunity to explore new ingredients.  Tiger prawns coated with garlic chili sauce, broiled and served over a stir-fry of fresh green beans, carrots, baby corn and water chestnuts.  

Ingredients

1 pound tiger prawns, shelled
15 ounce can baby corn, sliced in half
8 ounce can water chestnuts, sliced
half pound fresh green beans, trimmed
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup stock
3 tbsp garlic chili paste
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 inch piece ginger, minced
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/4 rice vinegar
1 tbsp cornstarch

Evenly coat the shrimp with chili paste, and, if possible, allow them to marinade 30 minutes.  When ready to cook lay them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cook by broiling for 15 to 20 minutes, or until pink.  [I cooked the prawns under the broiler setting in my oven.  As many ovens, and broilers, temperatures vary it’s a good idea to check these often to avoid over cooking.  After all, no one likes a rubbery prawn!]

For the veggies, throw the green beans into a steamer  and cook about 8 to 10 minutes.  In your wok, sauté the carrots and ginger until tender, add the stock, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and whisk in the cornstarch, bring sauce to a simmer, then stir in the green beans and shrimp.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Citrus Saffron Yogurt Cake

If you've never tried yogurt cake before you have got to try this recipe.  Unlike traditional spongy loaf cake, yogurt cakes have a smooth, almost custard like texture.  My version is heightened with the flavors of saffron and citrus, lightened with the use of egg whites in place of whole eggs, and given a subtle sweetness with the addition of honey.  

Ingredients

¾ cup plain yogurt
1 ¼ cup flour
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
4 egg whites
2 tsp saffron
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
½ cup Motts Natural Applesauce
¾ cup honey
1 lemon, zested & juiced
1 orange, zested & juiced
¼ tsp salt
Sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Start by creaming the yogurt, zest, saffron, egg whites, vanilla bean paste, honey and applesauce together until smooth, then mix in the juices, salt, baking powder and flour, stirring just until combined.  Pour into a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan, sprinkle the top with sliced almonds, and bake in a preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Makes one loaf.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Cauliflower, Eggplant, Chickpea Curry

Chickpea curries come in many forms, usually served in a robust sauce spiced with cinnamon and chillies, this is an excellent vegetarian option for a light meal, or side dish.  Taking this dish a step further, I add roasted cauliflower and eggplant which provides heartier portions.  Eating healthy doesn't meant you have to sacrifice flavor and I love using spices as a way of proving this concept.

Ingredients

15 oz chick peas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 cups cauliflower florets
2 Japanese or Italian eggplants, cut into medallions
3 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
3 ripe tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mustard seeds
3 Serrano chillies, pierced
juice from half a lime
fresh chopped cilantro
2 tsp vegetable oil

In a large pan, heat one or two teaspoons of oil until glistening, then add the cinnamon, allspice and cardamon pods, once fragrant (about one minute), add the chillies and chopped onion, cooked until the onions are soft and begin to brown.  Next, in a food processor, blend the tomatoes, ginger and garlic until smooth, then pour into the pan, mix in the tamarind paste (or lime juice), turmeric, garam masala, eggplant and cauliflower, bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the vegetables are tender, then stir in the chick peas allowing to heat through and served with a sprinkling of cilantro.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Roast Vegetable Chicken Salad


Not all chicken salads are created equal, and while I adore the creamy variety, I think I have found a new favorite with my Roast Vegetable & Chicken Salad.  For this recipe; white meat chicken tenders are coated with basil and thyme, then roasted along with a mixture of fresh vegetables including; zucchini, portabella mushrooms, red peppers and garlic.  I then toss everything together, with a sauce created from the roasted vegetable juices, and mixed with the roasted garlic cloves, creating a light dressing that enhances the natural flavors of the ingredients.  



Ingredients

8 skinless chicken tenders
three zucchini
two red (or yellow, or orange) bell peppers
one head of garlic, separated
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp dried thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
Feta cheese (optional)
Asparagus (optional)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Season chicken tenders with salt and pepper, coat with the basil and thyme, and then drizzle the vegetables with just enough olive oil to evenly coat, season with salt and pepper, and then roast in a preheated oven until tender.  Cook the vegetables about 30 to 45 minutes and the chicken tenders for about 20 minutes.  Squeeze and smash the roasted garlic cloves into a bowl with the sliced chicken tenders and roasted veggies, making sure to get all of the juice into the bowl, toss everything together and serve.  This is delicious warm or cold.  When using as a filling for wraps I like to add a few pickled asparagus and top with a sprinkle of feta for tang.  Enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cracklin' Oat Bran Bars

I am always looking for easily accessible snacks, especially throughout the work week, and sometimes I find that it can be a little too easy to reach for the unhealthy variety.  So, I wanted to come up with a healthful option that I could turn to when I need to fight a craving brought on by my sweet tooth, need a quick breakfast go to, or even as a mid-day pick me up.

Cracklin’ Oat Bran adds heartiness, while the addition of cashews and almonds offer the benefits of protein, vitamin E and iron, and delicious Pomegranate Juice Infused Craisins add a cholesterol and fat free, fiber sourced boost of energy.  Super easy to make, no baking required, this recipe yields 24 bars.

Ingredients


½ cup toasted cashews
½ cup toasted almonds
½ cup Gihrardelli® 60% Cocao Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
¾ cup honey
¼ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
Zest of one lemon

In a sauce pan, on medium heat, melt the honey, molasses, vanilla, brown sugar, salt and peanut butter until smooth, turn off the heat and allow to cool 10 minutes.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cereal, craisins, cashews, almonds, lemon zest and semi-sweet chocolate chips, then slowly pour in the honey mixture, stirring until everything is evenly coated.  Pour into a 13 x 9 inch parchment lined pan, cover with another sheet of parchment and allow to cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour before cutting.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pumpkin Pecan Oatmeal

A comforting way to spice up your oatmeal.  Taking inspiration from Aarti Paarti I have created a lighter version of this wonderful recipe!  Slow cooked oats infused with the warming flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamon, set off with a crack of black pepper, and then ever so lightly sweetened with honey and a sprinkling of brown sugar and toasted pecans.

Ingredients

4 1/2 cups 1% milk
3 cups steel cut oats
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 crack freshly ground black pepper
15 oz pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup honey

Topping
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans
3 tbsp brown sugar

On medium heat, bring the milk, spices and honey to a simmer, stir in the oats and allow to cook 20 to 25 minutes, stirring frequently.  Toss the brown sugar with the toasted pecans together and serve on the side for topping.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lemon Steamed Tilapia Served Over Green Beans with Roasted Bell Peppers, Garlic and Mushrooms

Happy New Year!!  In keeping things healthy, especially after all those rich holiday indulgences, I wanted to keep this dish light, and to show ways you can showcase flavor without loads of butter and oil.  Don't get me wrong, I am not at all shy in displaying my adoration of butter but, sometimes I think it is a little too easy to turn to these flavor enhancers, rather than taking a little extra care to enrich meals with the natural flavors of the ingredients we are using.

A vegetable I love is freshly green  beans, steamed crisp tender so, as a side dish for my Lemon Steamed Tilapia, it was a no brainer that my Green Beans with Roasted Bell Peppers, Garlic and Mushrooms would be perfect.   

My favorite seasoning for fish is with a mixture of spices I feel resembles the flavors of OLD BAY® which I do not always have on hand.  By lightly seasoning each fillet before steaming them over a bed of lemon slices creates amazingly flavorful fish without over powering the natural flavor of the tilapia.  


Ingredients

2 fresh tilapia fillets
one lemon, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp pimenton
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Start by lining your steamer with lemon slices, spreading them out to ensure the tilapia fillets will sit evenly on top.  Mix together the spices and sprinkle evenly on each side, then lay them on top of the lemon slices and steam until cooked through and flaky, about 15 to 20 minutes.