Thursday, July 25, 2013

Asparagus and Orzo

In my family, when we are talking about dinner and the subject of what sides we should have comes up we seem to stick with some favorites: roasted potatoes, stuffed potatoes, roasted asparagus or broccoli and hollandaise.  Not that there is anything wrong with these options but sometimes it is nice to think outside the box….to find something fresh and new that we haven’t been having for dinner since I was 6 years old.

My dad found this recipe but it called for broccoli and since we had just had that (shocker) we decided to substitute asparagus for broccoli but it is nice to know that either will be good in it!

Anyhoodles, I highly recommend this one and feel a whole lot more orzo in my future…it will probably be added to the rotation of usual side subjects!

Asparagus and Orzo

4.5 oz uncooked orzo pasta
2 cups of fresh asparagus, flash boiled
4 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 quarts chicken broth
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Trim stems off broccoli, cut into small pieces and season with salt. Steam covered with a little water until cooked, careful not to overcook. When broccoli is cooked,remove from pan and chop into smaller pieces.
Meanwhile, cook pasta in medium pot of chicken broth as directed for al dente.
Reserve about 1/2 cup liquid before draining. Drain orzo in a colander and add the oil to the pot. Saute garlic a few minutes until golden, add broccoli, season with salt and mix well. Add orzo and stir to combine all.

Add a little reserved liquid as needed so pasta isn't dry. Serve with freshly grated cheese if desired (I used parmesan and it was delicious).

Makes 3 cups.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Orange and Arugula Salad with Red Onion and Gorgonzola

This time of year everyone is looking for that perfect light salad to go with anything from ribs on the grill to a standing rib roast on a Sunday evening.  I am always looking for new salads (especially salad dressings) since I cannot stand the store bought dressings for the most part and have an aversion to using salad kits in a bag.

I once heard that someone opened a bag of "pre-washed" lettuce to make their salad and out jumped a frog as it had been in the since it was a tadpole.

Of course this is probably about as true as the stories of the hook man in Edwin Warner park but I have never recovered.....from either story!

In an attempt to keep the ease of a salad alive but with the flavor of something that has been in the works all day long I have been experimenting!

This is one of my newest finds and I loved it!  Happy eating and by the way, you probs shouldn't go into the park after dark....just sayin'!

Orange and Arugula Salad with Red Onion and Gorgonzola
As adapted from

1 small orange, peeled, and sectioned
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp honey
salt and fresh pepper, to taste
2 cups baby greens such as arugula and spinach
3 tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese (blue cheese works great too)
2 - 3 slices red onion (to taste)

Take 2 sections of the orange and squeeze into a small bowl, whisk in the balsamic, oil, honey, salt and pepper. Cut the remaining orange sections into bite sized pieces.Place the baby greens on a plate, then top with cut orange pieces, sliced red onion and Gorgonzola cheese.

Drizzle the vinaigrette over the top and enjoy!!
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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mustard Crusted Halibut in Butter Sauce

Fish presents somewhat of a quandary for me....I am terribly intimidated to cook it for several reasons.

1) How do I know when it is done without tearing it to shreds peaking inside?

2) I was born completely devoid of anything even resembling patience so when people say not to touch it until it doesn't stick to the pan to flip it, I cannot help myself, I have to scoot it, I have to flip it way too many times, I just HAVE TO!

3) No, that pretty much sums it up...

What brought me to try this recipe you might ask?  Well, first of all my dad had made it one night and claimed it was amazing so I had it in the back of my mind as something that would be tasty.

Also, the guy who works the fish counter at the farmer's market is quite possibly the most attractive man I have ever seen and I would have bought ANYTHING he was selling.

Seriously, my cousin and I were standing there basically with our tongues hanging out of our mouths drooling!  Sooooooo dreamy!  He claimed the halibut was great, so I was quickly begging for several filets, all the while throwing elbows at my cousin trying to get in front and saying loudly, and clearly, that the little boy hanging on to my leg was my NEPHEW not my kid!

Back to the fish....It's delicious....Period!

Mustard Crusted Halibut in Butter Sauce
1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
1/2 cup fresh Chives (chopped)
6 Halibut Filets (1-inch thick; skinless)
3 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/3 cup White Wine
6 tablespoons Butter (divided)
1 Orange (zest and juice)
3 Garlic cloves in their skins (smashed)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Mix the bread crumbs and chives together in a rimmed dish. Season with salt and pepper.
Season the fish with salt. Spread dijon mustard on the bottom (skin side) of each filet. 
Dredge the mustard-coated side in the bread crumb mixture.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high.
Melt 3 tablespoons of butter along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil. 
Once smoking, add the halibut breaded side down. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden. 
Gently flip and cook on the second side for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the white wine and garlic and reduce by a third.
Add the orange juice and zest and then add the remaining butter. 
Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
Serve the filet breaded side up with a drizzle of butter sauce.
Serve immediately.
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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

My favorite part of this recipe is the email I received from my sister-in-law that simply read 
"Have we made this? If not, WHY?"

That pretty much sums it up!

We made it for Sunday dinner and it was such a success that everyone wanted to take 
some home with them.

God bless the Pioneer Woman!  That woman just never misses!

Spinach Artichoke Pasta

as adapted from The Pioneer Woman

6 Tablespoons Butter
4 cloves Garlic, Finely Minced
2 bags Baby Spinach
2 cans Artichoke Hearts, Drained And Halved
3 Tablespoons Flour
3 cups Whole Milk
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1-1/2 cup Mozzarella Or Monterey Jack Cheese, Grated
1/2 cup Low Sodium Chicken Broth (less Or More)
12 ounces, weight Penne, Cooked Until Al Dente
1/2 cup Seasoned Panko Breadcrumbs
Crushed Red Pepper, To Taste
Preparation Instructions

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large pot or skillet. Add garlic and throw in the spinach.
Stir it around until it's wilted, about 1 minute. Remove spinach from heat and set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to the same pot and raise the heat to high. Throw in the halved artichokes and stir it around until they get a little color, 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the artichokes from the pot and set them aside.

Reduce the heat to low. Add 2 tablespoons butter to the pot. When melted, sprinkle in flour and whisk until it's combined.

Pour in milk and whisk to combine.
Let it cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to thicken. Add Parmesan, Mozzarella/Monterey Jack, salt and pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Stir to melt, and if it's overly thick, splash in chicken broth.

Add artichokes and pasta, tossing gently to combine.

Gently fold in spinach, then pour the pasta into a serving bowl. Sprinkle the top with crushed red pepper flakes and plenty of Panko breadcrumbs for crunch.

Serve immediately!
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Absolutely NOTHING says summertime quite like a watermelon.  It is hands down my favorite fruit, it evokes hilarious memories from my childhood watching my grandfather spit out the seeds and it seems to just get sweeter as the summer heat rises!

A few years ago a friend of mine gave me a recipe for a watermelon salad with feta and mint.  It was heaven!  I have made it for countless cookouts and backyard barbecues.

With that salad constantly in the back of my mind when watermelons finally come into season (and trust me I wait for it all year like a kid waits for Santa) I thought I would make it for dinner one night.  This plan was quickly thrown out when I went out to my garden and found 4 huge cucumbers on the vine that I knew needed to be picked and used.

Even though the delicious cucumber and onion salad is one of my favorites as well, I had my heart set on watermelon!  I wanted watermelon and I was fully prepared to pout about it!  Alas, my sister-in-law, Maggie, came to the rescue as she so often does when reason seems to be the last thing on my mind.

She had pulled this recipe from cooking light and it appealed to all my culinary needs!  I could have my watermelon (tell the kid to stop throwing a temper tantrum on the floor, she will have her watermelon), I could use the fresh cucumbers from my garden and all was right with the world!

In the end it turned out for the best as it combined two of my favorite summer salads into one that can only be described as a southern summer evening in a salad was perfection!

Watermelon Cucumber Salad
as adapted from Cooking Light

6 cups watermelon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup coarsely chopped watercress
1 thinly sliced vidalia onion
3 medium English cucumber, sliced (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine mint and next 3 ingredients (through oil) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add juice mixture and salt to watermelon mixture; toss gently to coat.  Sprinkle with feta; garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

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