May 28, 2013

The Sundance Salad

Crumbled bleu cheese, pine nuts, red onions,dried cherries, poppy seed dressing.  It sounds  like an odd combination, especially the blue cheese with poppy seed dressing, but the two flavors actually compliment each other quite well.  Add that to some crunchy pine nuts, sweet plump cherries and crispy greens, and it's a unique salad next to a tender steak or for lunch with some grilled chicken breast.
Salad Ingredients
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce, washed, chopped and refrigerated for crispness
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 cup of dried cherries
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled bleu cheese  
  • 3 grilled chicken breasts, sliced 
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds 
  • Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.    
  • Plate the greens and place salad ingredients on top.  Toss with dressing.   
As a side salad, omit the chicken and serve with a nice piece of fish or a grilled steak, like a porterhouse or filet.  

May 23, 2013

Sausage Cream Sauce With Fried Sage

I learned to fry fresh herbs while teaching a basic cooking class a few years ago.  The first herb I tried to fry, was parsley. It was for a basic linguini dish prepared with fresh lemon, red pepper and fried parsley.    It caused the flavor to be so much more INTENSE.  It also added a nice unexpected crunch to the pasta. Sage and sausage go so beautifully together, I thought I would fry the sage to go with the cream sauce.  I don't think fresh chopped sage would go as well as the cooked,  it would be to soft and smooth.  The cream sauce is a base I usually prepare with chicken and pork, but it works well with crumbled sausage.  It is nothing like the "gravy" you would put over me.  This is much lighter and more elegant.   I served it over ravioli and then took it to the next level with the fresh sage that I fried in the sausage fat.  You can use this sauce on any of your favorite pasta.  The fried sage can also be used with other dishes like eggs (shown below) and potatoes.  
  • 1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 8-10 Fresh sage leaves, whole or chopped
  1. In large skillet, brown crumbled sausage, breaking it into small pieces while cooking it all the way through. 
  2. Add chopped garlic and red onion.  Saute for about 1 minute until tender. 
  3. Remove meat from the pan, reserving some fat.  
  4. Heat pan, adding some olive oil if necessary.  Add sage leaves.  Saute for about 30 seconds, just until crisp.  Remove carefully.
  5. Put meat back into pan.  Add wine and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium. 
  6. Continue to simmer until wine is reduced to  about half.
  7. Add cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a low boil and then simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes. 
  8. Use on your favorite pasta.  Garnish with fried sage leaves.  

May 21, 2013

May Secret Recipe Swap - Chocolate Malta BBQ Sauce

I participated in my second Surprise Recipe Swap.  My task was to visit Christie, who is the creator of Food Done Light.  I am always looking for a great sauce to use and came across her Chocolate Malta BBQ Sauce.  The directions were easy and the pictures well done.  I enjoyed my visit and got to know Christie a bit more by reading through a few posts.  It is nice getting to know the bloggers that we share so many recipes with.  It's like putting a name to a face and it makes our large community feel more intimate. The sauce was delicious and complimented grilled chicken and green beans perfectly. I used a non-alcoholic beer, but I think it would be even better with malta.   Go check out Food Done Light for more of Christie's health conscious recipes.  

Christie's Recipe:
1 (7 ounce) bottle malta or a non-alcoholic beer or coke
1 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tbsp. unsweetened dark chocolate powder
1/4 cup pineapple juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan.  Reduce the heat to simmer the sauce.  Simmer and let the sauce reduce until it is syrupy, around 15 – 20 minutes.  Makes about 10 tbsp.

Here are the SRS details:
Here is how it works:
  • Each month on the 1st you will be assigned to another participating blogger. You will then visit their blog and pick a recipe you want to cook or bake and post about it.
  • Posting day is always the 20th of the month!
  • You are not supposed to tell the blogger you are assigned to, that you are making something of their page.
  • Your post has to have the SRS posting format (very simple instructions will be send to you, once you get approved) and should include link backs to the original recipe, pictures and of course your own opinion!
  • You will be assigned to a new partner each month, so that you never have the same link backs.
  • If you would like to be a part of our journey, read the rules and sign up. I will get back with you shortly!
  • (Don't forget to check your spam folder)

May 16, 2013

Food Revolution Day 2013

Food Revolution Day on 17 May is a global day of action for people to make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills. It's a chance for people to come together within their homes, schools, workplaces and communities to cook and share their kitchen skills, food knowledge and resources. Food Revolution Day aims to raise awareness about the importance of good food and better food education for everyone by focusing on three simple actions – cook it, share it, live it. The first Food Revolution Day took place on 19 May 2012 with more than 1,000 events in 664 cities across 62 countries. Find out all about Food Revolution Day 2012 here.

"This Food Revolution is about saving America's health by changing the way people eat. It's not just a TV show; it's a movement for you, your family and your community. If you care about your kids and their future, take this revolution and make it your own. Educate yourself about food and cooking, and find out what your child is eating at school. Make only a few small changes and magical things will happen. Switching from processed to fresh food will not only make you feel better, it will also add years to your life."
In honor of Food Revolution Day, 2013 I am posting Jamie Oliver's speech from the TED award in 2010. There is also a petition to sign in support of getting fresh food back into our schools. You can also sign up to be a Food Revolution Ambassador on their Facebook page.  Check it out so you can be ready for next years Food Revolution Day and help spread the word. 
To learn more about the Revolution, visit their site!

Here is the petition to sign....Standing Up For Real Food!
Jamie's petition has gained over 795,000 supporters since March 2010; mostly from the USA and over 30,000 from the rest of the world. From September 1st 2011 we updated Jamie’s petition to show a global count of supporters. Signers are showing their support for the Food Revolution and standing up for better food at school, better health prospects and the need to keep cooking skills alive around the world. This is a move to highlight the global obesity epidemic: 1.7 billion people are obese or overweight globally including 200 million children, this is a global issue. The world wants a Food Revolution!

Sign the petition to get fresh food back in our kid's schools and our communities. Then download the toolkit we've created to help you make changes locally.

May 14, 2013

Tortellini and Basil Salad

The fresh basil is what makes this salad so amazing.  But it is the tomatoes with the basil that puts it over the top.  Yes, it is just tomato and basil...but the 2 together with the tortellini is such a flavor and texture explosion.  The olive oil makes it creamy and the optional salami gives it a bite of spice.  I love to eat this salad with a grilled steak or chicken.  You can also place on top of mixed greens.  I also make this as a hot pasta dish, omitting the salami.
  • 1 (16 ounce) package refrigerated cheese tortellini
  • 8 ounces shredded asiago  cheee 
  • 1 lb. container of grape tomatoes, cut in half,  the long way
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 cup of basil, chopped
  • 1/3 cup or more  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning or fresh oreganao
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Optional:  Add grilled chicken and or pine nuts
  1. Cook the tortellini according to package instructions, but just short 2 minutes of package time.  
  2. Drain in a colander set in the sink, and rinse with cold water.   
  3. Place the tortellini, tomatoes, garlic, seasoning and cheese in a large salad bowl.   
  4. Toss with olive oil and salt and pepper.    
  5. Top with basil.   
  6.  Gently stir to combine, and refrigerate  before serving. For even better flavor, let chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours, then SERVE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.

May 9, 2013

Steak with Balsamic, Port & Fig Reduction Sauce

2 lbs. flank steak or London Broil
1/2 cup olive  oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Reduction Sauce:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup fig preserves
1/4 cup port
salt & pepper to taste
1 -2 tablespoons cognac 
  1. In a large plastic bag, place meat and marinade ingredients.  
  2. Massage marinade into meat and place bag in the refrigerator.  
  3. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Prior to cooking, drain meat and pat dry.  Let it sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.  This ensures a even internal temperature of the meat.  
  5. Grill or cook the meat on medium high heat, searing both sides and turning several times throughout the cooking process to reach desired temperature and doneness:

Rare:120° - 125°
Medium-rare:130° - 135°
Medium:140° - 145°
Medium-well:150° - 155°
Well-done: 160° and above
  1. In small saucepan, place all ingredients except cognac.  
  2. Bring to boil.
  3. Simmer, reducing by half.  
  4. Remove from heat, adding cognac.
Serve with sauteed Portabello mushrooms and Tarragon Compound Butter.  

May 6, 2013

Chicken Pate with Mango Chutney

I have made this lovely sweet pate several times for gatherings and luncheons.   I recently made it for an intimate gathering to celebrate a college graduation, but my favorite way to present the pate is luncheon style,  individually plated with sliced grape tomatoes, red onion slivers, sliced cucumbers and a mini spring mix of greens, all separated and on the side with some good crackers.  Guests can build their own experience on top of the cracker.  I have always been able to find a box of Pepperidge Farm "Entertaining" crackers until recently.  My 3 major grocery stores DID NOT HAVE THEM.  I love to use the butterfly cracker and  place it , wing side in, on top of the pate with a spring of chives.  I will continue to search, and if I find them, I will update my picture. 
  • 2 large cooked chicken breasts, poached
  • 1/2 cup mayonaisse
  • 1/2 cup mango chutney
  • salt and fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Fresh cut chives, keep long, about 2 inches
  • Crackers (water, butter-crisps, and the above mentioned butterfly cracker are the best)
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Seedless cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • Red onion slivers
  • Spring mix
  • Vinaigrette
  • Fruit paste (I like pear flavor)
  1. Place chicken, mayonnaise and chutney in a food processor and process until sooth.
  2. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Plate pate, sprinkle with pecans, and place chive stalks in as a garnish.
  4. Lightly dress the greens with the vinaigrette.
  5. Serve with desired accompaniments.

May 1, 2013

April Foodie Pen Pal

 The Lean Green Bean
I participated in my second Foodie Pen Pal exchange.  Check out information regarding the program below.

This month I received a nicely made box from  Stephanie who lives in Kansas City, MO. For every item in the box, she put a cute sticky note explaining  why she sent that itemI loved that!  The box contained items I would really use and a nice bag of good chocolate that we opened right away!  There were healthier items to snack on and and a  few products to help with dinner or lunchStephanie also sent  along a post card of Kansas City  with some Kansas City style BBQ sauce.  I have used the sauce several times and even created a salad based on Kansas City which is nicknamed, "The Paris of the  Pains".  I would love to visit there sometime soon.  Thanks Stephanie.  I really enjoyed your thoughtful gift.  

Paris of the Plains BBQ Ranch Salad

Here’s a detailed explanation of the Foodie Penpals program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treatsThe spending limit is $15The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.
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