Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Tribute to Pasta and Recipe Spotlight: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Spicy Sausage

Today I'm taking a reminiscent walk down a cobblestone lane to beautiful Italy, the land of pasta. Have you ever wondered how Italians can eat pasta every day but manage to stay so thin? The first reason is because they walk everywhere, which also happens to be the best way to view each city. The other reason is because they don't douse their food in fatty, greasy ingredients like American Italian restaurants do. The best Italian food features relatively few high-quality ingredients that make the main dish- the noodle- shine. There really is nothing better than a big bowl of fresh pasta tossed with perfectly ripe tomatoes, fresh slivered garlic, a splash of white wine and pure extra-virgin olive oil. Italian pasta e magnifico!

Pasta Bolognese from Trattoria Zaza in Florence. A rich, meaty pork ragu, garlic, and onions adorn fresh tagliatelle noodles for a bowl of warmth and comfort. 

My Easter lunch of Spaghetti allla Vongole at Trattoria Garibaldi in Florence was simple and delicious. Homemade spaghetti topped with steamed clams, cherry tomatoes, white wine and garlic. See how yellow the noodles are? That's fresh, chewy, flavorful homemade pasta made with egg yolks and lots of love!

A memorable meal at a local restaurant in the Cinque Terre village of Vernazza. The Cinque Terre region is known for pesto and white wine, I enjoyed both with this meal! The pesto was bright and creamy with hints of garlic and lemon, and the pasta featured fresh green beans and potatoes for an interesting and delicious twist. I ate every bite!

Recipe Spotlight: Spaghetti with Zucchini and Spicy Sausage
Creamy sauce, spicy sausage and fresh vegetables combined with hot pasta. 
Serves 2

1/3 lb. Spaghetti
1 1/2 c. prepared spaghetti sauce
1/2 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, sliced
1/2 pound Italian sausage
1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, optional
3 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. fresh chopped parsley, optional

Set large pot of water on stove and bring to a boil. Salt generously and cook pasta 1-2 minutes shy of package directions for "al dente." 

Meanwhile, preheat large skillet over medium heat. Remove casing from sausage and cook with crushed red pepper flakes until almost done. Drain on paper towels. Place skillet back on medium heat and add olive oil.

Add green pepper, onion, zucchini, salt and pepper to hot olive oil in skillet. Saute for 5-8 minutes until veggies are soft. Add drained sausage back to pan along with the spaghetti sauce. Lower heat to low and heat through.

Add al dente pasta to tomato sauce mixture and use tongs to combine. Place pasta on two plates and top with grated Parmesan cheese and parsley if desired. Serve with hot garlic bread. Dig in!

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

Monday, September 28, 2009

Food Event: Sushi Party!

I love sushi and would eat it every day if I could. However, there's one big problem with that- sushi is expensive, and I have a huge appetite! I can seriously take down 3-4 rolls by myself, which quickly adds up. So what's a girl to do? One of my friends, Elana, came to the rescue this past weekend and made... yes, you know it...  homemade sushi! I'd heard of people making sushi at home, but I never thought that I could pull it off. Those sushi chefs in Japanese restaurants are a bit intimidating! Elana and her husband Dan frequently make sushi at home, and she broke down the process for me. I was impressed by how affordable, simple and fun it was to make sushi at home. And the best part? You can eat as much as you want! Here are a few pictures from the evening. Thanks to Elana and Dan for the sushi feast!

Rolling the sushi. Place the rice on the nori (seaweed), top with fresh fish and veggies, and roll and tuck using the handy dandy sushi mat!

The finished rolls pre-cut. Rolls included veggie, spicy salmon, spicy tuna and marlin. The spicy mayo was HOT!

The finished feast! Delicious!

The meal was served with delicious Miso Soup, along with potstickers and edamame.

Wine of the night- Sterling Vineyards 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. The crisp, light, lemon flavors perfect complemented the fresh sushi and spicy sauce.

If you are interested in learning more about making sushi at home check out the following article: http://www.20minutesupperclub.com/article/homemade-sushi-for-dinner/.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Recipe Spotlight and Recreation: Sandwiches!

Ahhhh sandwiches. Just the name makes my mouth water. A simple word that encompasses endless deliciousness piled between two pieces of fresh bread. We all have that one perfect sandwich that we always get from a restaurant because we just can't make it as well at home. But that's not true! In today's blog I have showcased two of my favorite sandwiches from my favorite local cafe (Kafe 421) and have recreated the recipes so that you can try them at home. I've also included my favorite make-at-home sandwich, a big boy BLT that is so much more than just bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. I hope that you enjoy these delicious and easy recipes! Note- I love bacon, and all of the recipes below include it; however, the first two sandwiches would be yummy without it too!

Recipe Recreation: Turkey (Dance) Club
A classic delight bursting with flavors so good you'll want to dance!
Serves 1

4 deli slices roasted turkey breast
3 tomato slices
1/4 avocado, sliced
2 slices bacon
1/4 c shredded lettuce
1 slice cheddar cheese
Chipotle aioli (Mix 2 tblsp. light mayo with 1 tsp. lemon juice, sprinkle of salt, and 1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder or chipotle-flavored hot sauce)
2 slices whole grain bread

Lay the bacon in a cold non-stick skillet. Turn heat to medium. Fry bacon for 7-10 minutes until crispy, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels.

Toast whole grain bread in toaster oven. Place cheddar cheese on one slice immediately after it is out of the toaster. Spread chipotle aioli on other piece of bread. Top with roasted turkey, lettuce, tomato, bacon and avocado. Top with cheddar-cheese covered slice. Enjoy!

Recipe Recreation: Grilled Quattro Formaggio

A grown-up grilled cheese sandwich that oozes with gooey perfection!  
Serves 1

1 slice pepperjack cheese
1 slice cheddar cheese
1 slice provolone cheese
1/8 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
3 slices fresh tomato
2 slices bacon
2 tblsp. olive oil
Two slices Vienna or sourdough bread

Preheat panini press or non-stick skillet to medium high heat.

Lay the bacon in another cold non-stick skillet. Turn heat to medium. Fry bacon for 7-10 minutes until crispy, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels.

Brush one side of each piece of bread with olive oil. Arrange cheese, tomatoes and bacon on the non-oiled inside of one slice of bread.  Top with other slice, oil side out.

Grill in panini press until light brown and cheese is melted. If using skillet press sandwich down with another heavy skillet to grill. Flip after 3-4 minutes to grill other side. Serve with a bowl of tomato soup. Yum!!

Recipe Spotlight: Big Boy BLT
A BLT kicked up a notch with extra special ingredients and creamy yogurt-dill mayo. 
Serves 1

2 slices bacon
3 slices tomatoes
1/4 avocado, sliced
1/4 c shredded lettuce
4 thin slices red onion
1 tblsp. sprouts, optional
1 tsp. fresh dill, chopped
1 tblsp. plain yogurt
1 tsp. light mayo
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 slices whole wheat bread

Toast bread in toaster oven. Meanwhile, make yogurt-dill sauce by combining the plain yogurt, mayo, lemon juice and dill in a small bowl. Spread sauce on one side of each slice. Fill with all remaining ingredients. Dig in to your Big Boy BLT!

All recipes and photos by Sarah Saubert

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recipe Spotlight: Fettuccine Alfredo con Prosciutto, Italian-Style Salad and Bruschetta

I love to cook for friends, and last night I made dinner for two of Kevin and my's favorite people- Stefan and Zach. We enjoyed an Italian meal prior to watching Monday Night Football, and although the menu could not be less "football themed," the boys still loved it and ate every bite!

Our first course was an Italian-style salad, to which I added a special secret ingredient that the boys loved- jarred banana peppers. Many restaurants, such as Olive Garden, Topper's and Papa John's, add banana peppers to salads and pizzas to add a little flare, so I gave it a try. The spicy, vinegary crunch and background heat took the salad to another level. Don't like heat? Go for the mild ones- they still have the remarkable flavor and texture that is sure to prevent "boring salad" syndrome.

Italian-Style Salad
Fresh veggies and spicy banana peppers create the perfect starter salad. 
Serves 6

6 c. romaine lettuce
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
1/2 c. jarred banana peppers, chopped
1/4 red onion, sliced
1/2 pepper, any color 
1 carrot stick, shredded
1/2 cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
1/4 c. shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. Italian salad dressing, I like Wishbone Light Balsamic and Basil Vinaigrette

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss thoroughly with dressing and serve immediately.

Our appetizer was my classic bruschetta. As I was busy in the kitchen preparing the rest of the meal, I prepped the ingredients and had Zach assemble the bruschetta at the table. He appreciated the time and care that bruschetta takes; I believe that this appreciation makes food even more delicious. Maybe it's the anticipation that you're about to eat something tasty, perhaps it's understanding all of the ingredients that go into one dish, or perhaps it's just the time and attention spent on a project, but Zach sure did love the finished bruschetta and ate his share after the task was completed!

Zach having a blast while drizzling the bruschetta with the balsamic glaze. 

Delicious bruschetta made with love! See Sep. 10 post for recipe.

The main course was Fettuccine Alfredo, a dish that I don't make very often because, well, it's not good for you. Heavy cream, loads of butter and mounds of pasta are of course delicious, but something I try to save for special occasions. However, while browsing the Food Network website I found a recipe that is a lot better than others I've seen. It uses half and half instead of heavy cream and only two tablespoons of butter. And I was intrigued with using prosciutto instead of something "normal" like chicken. Not only is prosciutto delicious- creamy, sweet and salty- but it's already cooked! The addition of nutmeg also brought the pasta up another level and added a background warmth, which is ideal with cream sauces. The result was a tasty bowl of pasta that, served with veggie-filled salad and bruschetta, made for a well-balanced meal! (Recipe courtesy of Rachael Ray on foodnetwork.com.)

Fettuccine Alfredo con Prosciutto

Creamy fettuccine and salty prosciutto are a delicious combination in this classic Italian-American dish with a twist! 
Serves 4

1 (12 ounce) package egg fettuccine
1/3 pound prosciutto di Parma
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups half-and-half
1 cup (3 healthy handfuls) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 pinches ground nutmeg or about 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse ground black pepper
A pinch coarse salt

Bring salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta and cook to package directions for al dente pasta.

Slice prosciutto ham into thin strips across. Separate ham ribbons and loosely pile them up and set aside.

Preheat a large skillet over moderate heat. Drain the pasta. Add the butter to the pan and melt. Add half-and-half to the melted butter. Stirring constantly, add cheese and cook sauce 1 minute. Season with nutmeg, pepper, and a pinch of salt. Turn off heat under sauce and add pasta to the skillet. Toss pasta until sauce coats the noodles evenly. Add prosciutto ribbons and toss to evenly distribute them. Mangia!

Wine of the night

I enjoyed the meal with Albero 2006 Tempranillo, a Spanish red wine. I found that the light tannins perfectly balanced with the creamy fettuccine and feta cheese atop the bruschetta. It's neither too dry nor too sweet, and it becomes quite smooth if decanted or left in the glass for a while. And the best part? It's only $5.99 at Trader Joe's!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Football Feast: Slow cooker BBQ Pork Sliders and Veggie-rific Taco Dip

Kevin and I love football Sundays- he mostly for the games, me mostly for the food. Whether it's just the two of us or a houseful of guests we always put together a yummy food menu that lasts all day long. Last Sunday we used the slow cooker to make mouth-watering bbq pork sliders. These sandwiches are super simple and they make the house smell amazing, like a true home cooked meal. We combined the sandwiches with a fresh, creamy and surprisingly healthy taco dip served with yellow and blue corn tortilla chips. Perfect for football Sundays!

Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Sliders
Tangy BBQ sauce and soft shredded meat star in this delicious football treat. 
Serves 6 (two sliders each)

2 lb. pork shoulder or brisket
2 onions, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 1/2 c BBQ Sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is the BEST!)
1/2 c water
Juice of two limes
1 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. onion powder
12 Slider buns

Season the pork with seasoned salt, pepper, garlic salt and onion powder. 

Scatter one of the sliced onions and the green pepper on bottom of slow cooker and place the pork on top. Top with the second onion, a 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce, lime juice and a 1/2 cup of water. 

Slow cook on low for 6 hours. After 6 hours remove lid and shred meat using two forks. Add remaining two cups of BBQ sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 more hours.

To serve place meat on bun and top with pepperoncinis and pickles. Touchdown!

Veggie-rific Taco Dip

Creamy cheese topped with fresh veggies is a perfect (and surprisingly guilt-free) game day snack!
Serves 6

3/4 c. low fat sour cream
3/4 c. low fat cream cheese
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 c. shredded lettuce (romaine or iceberg)
1/4 c. onion, diced
1/2 c. green pepper, chopped
1/4 c. frozen corn, thawed
1 tomato, chopped
3 tblsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Yellow and blue corn tortilla chips

Combine sour cream, cream cheese and taco seasoning in a bowl. Spread on the bottom of a 9x9 inch dish. Top with veggies and cheese and serve with tortilla chips. Shout out to Jenna for inspiring this recipe!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recipe Recreation: Mediterranean Veggie Wrap and Strawberry Spinach Salad

One of my favorite lunch spots in the Twin Cities is Kafe 421, a Greek restaurant that features a variety of healthy sandwiches, salads, pastas and Mediterranean entrees. Last week while having lunch with my friend Meredith I had a meal that I can't get out of my head- a Mediterranean veggie wrap with a strawberry spinach salad. The meal was vegetarian, healthy and delicious! I've created the recipes below based on this meal. They would make a perfect light dinner or healthy lunch! www.kafe421.com

Mediterranean Veggie Wrap
Creamy hummus and crunchy veggies wrapped up in a fresh tortilla. 
Serves 1

One large flour tortilla
1/4 c prepared hummus (more info below)
1/4 c prepared babaganoush, optional (more info below)
1/4 c fresh spinach leaves
2 slices cucumber
2 slices tomato
4 slivers red onion
1/4 sliced green pepper
1/8 c sprouts, optional

Spread hummus on one half of wrap and babaganoush on other half. Pile fresh veggies in the center, and roll up wrap as you would a burrito. Slice in half and serve.

About hummus: Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip or spread made from mashed chickpeas. It is commonly found in grocery store refrigerated sections. Or, to make it at home, try this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/hummus-recipe/index.html.

About babaganoush: Babaganoush is a Middle Eastern dip or spread made from roasted eggplant. You can find it in some specialty grocery stores, such as Trader Joe's. Or, you can make it at home, as it uses many of the same ingredients as hummus. Recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ellie-krieger/babaganoush-recipe/index.html.

Strawberry Spinach Salad
Baby spinach topped with sweet strawberries, tart pears, candied walnuts and blue cheese. 
Serves 1

2 c baby spinach leaves
5 ripe strawberries, sliced
1/2 pear, sliced
2 oz blue cheese
1/4 c walnuts, candied if available
1 tblsp dried cranberries
3 tblsp vinaigrette salad dressing (I like Ken's Steakhouse light raspberry walnut vinaigrette) 

Combine ingredients and toss with vinaigrette of choice. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Tribute to Italian Pizza and Recipe Spotlight: Prosciutto and Veggie Pizza

Pizza has always been my favorite food. In 2006 I was fortunate enough to live in Italy for four months, and ever since I truly appreciate just how amazing authentic Italian pizza really is. Instead of the thick crust, greasy, fatty, carbo-load pies often found in American pizzerias, Italian pizza is light, thin and chewy, topped with the freshest premium ingredients and cheese. And the best thing? It is culturally accepted to order a whole pizza per person- YES! Today's blog is a tribute to the perfection that is Italian pizza, followed by a recipe for a delicious make-at-home version. Mangia!

The Quattro Staggioni (4 seasons) pizza at Antico Borgo in Florence (across the river in the Oltrarno)- Prosciutto, artichokes, olives and mushrooms.

The pizza marinara at La Mangiatoia in Florence Oltrarno was my favorite cheap lunch. Along with a delicious glass of the house red wine it was only 5 euro. The pizza is super simple with san marzano tomatoes and slivered garlic, but oh so tasty. 

Fresh pies at Il Pizzaiuolo in Florence show off Naples-style crust and fresh toppings. Here is a fresh sausage, basil and garlic pizza and a marinara pizza. My dear friend Liza and I would split these in half so that we could have some of each!

I love Florence, but there is nothing better than real Naples pizza. A group of friends and I went here for dinner and feasted on the best in the world. I had a roasted vegetable pizza with fresh mozarella.

More Naples pizza. The crust is to die for- chewy, subtly creamy, light and airy, with deeply charred spots that intensify the fresh dough flavor. Sopping up extra virgin olive oil with the crust is heaven on earth.

Pizza in Venice was a nice mix of the thinner Florentine-style and the thicker Naples-style. This pizza features prosciutto, capers and olives. A salty combination that is purely addictive!

More Venice pizza. This one featured charred tomatoes and goat cheese. Delicious, creamy and fully satisfying.

Hungry yet? Here is a recipe for homemade pizza that is sure to satisfy. Remember, homemade pizza can be made with anything you have on hand- I make it weekly and never make the exact same pizza twice. Use seasonal ingredients for a special treat- Zucchini and tomatoes are perfect right now.

Fresh Prosciutto and Veggie Pizza
Crunchy veggies and salty prosciutto combine for an instant classic. 

Serves 2-3

One thin-crust premade pizza dough (I recommend Boboli or Archer Farms (Target brand))
1/2 c. tomato or marinara sauce
6 slices prosciutto
1 tomato, sliced
1/2 zucchini,chopped
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. shredded cheese
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spread pizza sauce evenly on crust. Top with sliced prosciutto to cover majority of sauce. Top proscuitto with shredded cheese, then arrange veggies on top of cheese. Place tomatoes on top and season pie with garlic salt and oregano.

Bake in oven for 20 minutes until edges are browned and cheese is bubbling. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Recipe Spotlight: Greek Pasta Salad

Pasta salad sometimes gets a bad rap. It can be bland, boring, overcooked or just plain unappetizing. But pasta salad can also be delicious, healthy, exotic and, most importantly, convenient! I like to make a big batch on the weekends and bring it to work for a filling, healthful lunch. And for those of you who don't have a lot of time to grocery shop or make nightly dinners (Daner!) pasta salad can easily be a delicous make-ahead weeknight meal when paired with a tossed green salad and garlic bread or bruschetta (see apple and brie salad and bruschetta recipes below). Today I decided to give pasta salad another chance with Greek-inspired ingredients that I had on hand. I hope you enjoy the recipe!

Greek Pasta Salad

Al dente pasta tossed with chewy sundried tomatoes, sweet kalamata olives and tangy feta in a light vinaigrette. 
Serves 5 as a side dish

1/2 pound penne pasta
1 cup kalamata olives, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup oil-packed sundried tomatoes, slivered (Roma or cherry tomatoes work here too!)
1/2 bell pepper, any color, chopped
2 green onions, white and green parts, chopped (any onion will work)
1/2 cup prepared Italian or Vinegarette salad dressing (I like Wishbone Balsamic and Basil Light Vinegarette)

Cook pasta until al dente in a large pot of boiling water. Drain and cool.

Meanwhile in a large bowl combine all remaining ingredients except salad dressing. Add cooled pasta and toss to combine.

Add salad dressing and stir until combined. Top with cracked black pepper and serve with extra feta cheese if desired.

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Joys of Summer: Farmer's Market and Vegetable Dill Sandwich

Lately I've become obsessed with veggies, and I think I've discovered the reason. I have an enormous appetite and enjoy eating so much that I sometimes overeat. However, if I'm eating a vegetarian meal full of healthy and delicious vegetables, I can eat as much as I want without the guilt! I especially love eating extra veggies for lunch, because I know I get my required nutrients during the day, leaving more flexibility for dinner (pizza anyone?). I am not a vegetarian, but I think I could be.

Below is a salute to farmer's markets, a true joy of summer, with unlimited fresh veggies at low prices! Every time I go to a farmer's market I try to bring home something new to try. Recently I've fallen in love with a fabulous herb- dill. Dill is sweet, aromatic and earthy without being overpowering. My favorite way to use dill is to flavor creamy dressings, such as in mayonnaise on a sandwich or in salad dressings.

Minnesota Farmer's Market
The farmer's market at the University of Minnesota has many local garden-grown vegetables along with fresh fruit, flowers and honey. A weekly tradition!

Venice, Italy Farmer's Market
This is another farmer's market- Venice style. The city in the sea has no roads, so vegetables are brought in on gondolas and sold to customers right out of the water. I was intrigued by this concept and had to snap a picture!


Florence, Italy Farmer's Market

I loved this mini Farmer's market in Florence outside of a wine shop. The vibrant colors of the fruit could be seen from blocks away, and the fruit was so fresh and pure it could be eaten straight out of the bin. I once bought an apple and asked if I could use the sink to rinse it off. Well, the shopkeeper looked at me as if I was crazy and said "È pronto a mangiare ora!"- It's ready to eat now! I guess that's what it's like not to worry about pesticides on fruit!

Enjoy the fresh bounty of your local farmer's market with this delectable sandwich. I served it at a picnic on a hot summer day and it was light and refreshing. A perfect take-along sandwich that is not only delicious but also good for you! (Courtesy of Food&Wine Magazine)

Vegetable Sandwich with Dill Sauce
Crunchy veggies, tangy sauce and healthy multigrain bread makes the perfect lunch! 
Serves 4

  1. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
    3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
    1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 tablespoon cooking oil
    1 teaspoon wine vinegar
    Fresh-ground black pepper
    8 thick slices multigrain bread
    8 lettuce leaves
    1/2 pound sliced provolone
    2 tomatoes, sliced
    1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
    1 small red onion, sliced very thin
    1 ripe avocado, preferably Hass, sliced
    1 cup alfalfa sprouts 

    In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, dill, mustard, oil, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

    Spread a tablespoon of the dill sauce on one side of each of four slices of bread. Top each slice with lettuce, provolone, tomatoes, a sprinkling of salt and pepper, the cucumber, onion, avocado, and sprouts. Drizzle another tablespoon of dill sauce over each sandwich. Cover with the remaining four slices of bread. 
Recipe Author: Food and Wine Magazine

Recipe Spotlight: Bruschetta

Of all of my personal recipes bruschetta is always the most requested. From New Orleans to Wisconsin to Minnesota, my friends across the country rave about it! The beauty of bruschetta (like pasta and pizza) is that it can be topped with anything you have on hand. I've tried dozens of combinations, and this one is the BEST! Enjoy!

Sarah's (almost famous!) Bruschetta

Chewy garlic bread with fresh veggies, creamy avocado and tangy feta cheese drizzled with sweet balsamic glaze. Perfection in every bite.
Serves 4

French baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, halved
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
¼ c. red onion, diced
1 T. Fresh parsley, chopped
Crumbled feta cheese
1/2 ripe avocado, diced
¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
½ c. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to broiling. Drizzle sliced baguette with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Broil for 2-3 minutes until tops are browned and crisp but still soft in the middle. Remove from oven and immediately rub garlic clove over slices to impart fresh garlic flavor.

In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, red onion, splash of olive oil and herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan over medium heat simmer balsamic vinegar until it is reduced by one-half. It is done when it becomes syrupy and coats a spoon. Do not let it become too thick.

Top bread slices with tomato mixture, avocado and cheese. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Recipe Spotlight: Cheesy Meatball Subs, Apple & Brie Spinach Salad, and Crispy Parmesan Oven Fries

Last night I made one of our favorite dinners- cheesy meatball subs with sauteed onions and peppers! We enjoyed the subs with a brie and apple spinach salad and crispy Parmesan oven fries. The wine of the night was Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon, a gift from our good friend Stefan for my birthday.

Apple and Brie Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
The creamy brie and crisp apples mingle beautifully with the sweet vinaigrette and fresh spinach. 
Serves 2

3-4 handfuls fresh spinach, or your favorite salad green
2 oz. triple cream brie, rind removed and separated into chunks
1 small green apple, chopped
1/4 c. vinaigrette salad dressing (we love Ken's Steakhouse reduced fat raspberry vinaigrette)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well. Top individual serving bowls with fresh cracked pepper, if desired.

Cheesy Meatball Subs
Classic meatballs smothered in cheese, topped with sauteed onions and peppers and served with marinara sauce- an Italian-American favorite. Serve with crispy Parmesan oven fries (recipe below!).

Serves 2

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and heat 1/4 c. olive oil in in large skillet over medium-low heat. 

For the meatballs:
1/2 lb. lean ground beef
1/4 c. Italian seasoned dried breadcrumbs
1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg, whisked
1 tblsp. dried oregano
1 tblsp. minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
1 tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbslp. kosher salt
1 tbslp. pepper
1/4 onion, finely minced

For the sub:
1/2 onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, sliced
4 slices fresh mozzarella cheese, or your favorite melting cheese
2 tblsp. olive oil
Pinch salt
2 hoagie buns, sliced lenghwise
1 c. prepared marinara sauce, warmed in microwave or on stovetop

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Gently work with hands until combined. Separate into golf-ball sized balls. Place in skillet and cook 3-4 minutes on all sides until cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat small skillet with 2 tblsp. olive oil over medium heat and sautee onions and peppers for five minutes until softened. Salt will help bring out the moisture to soften them quickly. Reserve. 

Assemble subs: Place 3-4 meatballs on bottom half of each hoagie.Top with a generous spoonful of the marinara sauce, veggies, then cheese. Place on a cookie sheet and cook in oven for 3-5 minutes, until cheese is melted. Keep an eye on it to ensure bread doesn't burn. (If you like a crispy sandwich place the top half in the oven with the bottom. Otherwise leave the top half out so it remains soft.)

Serve subs with a side of warm marinara sauce and crispy Parmesan fries.

Crispy Parmesan Oven Fries
An Italian-style steakhouse classic served with warm marinara sauce and extra Parmesan cheese. 
Serves 2

2 medium potatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tbslp. dried oregano
1/2 tblsp. kosher salt
1/2 tblsp. steak seasoning
Warm marinara sauce, for dipping
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with cookie sheet inside. 

Slice potatoes in half, and slice each half lengthwise into four fries. If potato is large slice each fry lengthwise again. Combine fries in bowl with all remaining ingredients except marinara and Parmesan cheese.

Carefully remove preheated cookie sheet, coat it with non-stick spray, and arrange fries on it cut side down.

Bake in oven for 30 minutes, turning once, until crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Top immediately with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with warm marinara dipping sauce.

All above recipes written by Sarah Saubert

Canyon Road Cabernet Sauvignon- an affordable, smooth, easy-drinking weekday wine with lush berry flavors and a hint of vanilla.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Recipe Spotlight: Shrimp Po-Boy

In reverence to my New Orleans post, here is a recipe for an easy to make shrimp po-boy, a little bit of New Orleans right here in Minnesota! I created this recipe for my boyfriend Kevin and he said it was one of the best things I've ever cooked! (And little does he know... it's easy and healthy!)

Shrimp Po-Boys
A soft roll filled with crispy shrimp and fresh veggies with a tangy and spicy Creole mayonnaise.
Serves 2

For the shrimp:
1/2 lb. raw shrimp (shelled, deveined and tails-off)
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. dried breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tblsp. milk
2 tblsp. cajun seasoning
1/4 c. oil

For the Creole mayonnaise:
Crystal hot sauce (or your favorite brand) to taste (I like 1 tblsp)
2 tblsp. mayonnaise
2 tblsp. yogurt
Dash fresh lemon juice
1 tblsp. fresh dill

For the sandwich:
2 hoagie rolls, halved lengthwise (the softer the better)
Shredded lettuce
Fresh sliced tomatoes
Slivered red onions

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. 

Prepare Shrimp: Place three bowls on counter with , 1) Flour plus 1 tblsp Cajun seasoning, 2) Egg and milk combined with whisk, and 3) Breadcrumbs plus 1 tblsp Cajun seasoning. Working with a couple shrimp at a time, dip in flour, then egg/milk, then breadcrumbs. Place in oil and fry 3-4 minutes per side until brown, crispy and cooked through.

Prepare Cajun Mayonnaise: Combine all ingredients and spread on top half of hoagie roll.

Prepare Sandwich: Place shredded lettuce on bottom of roll, top with crispy shrimp, tomatoes and onions.

Po-Boys are excellent served with coleslaw and a fruit salad. Geaux NOLA!

Recipe Author: Sarah Saubert

To kick things off... New Orleans at its BEST!

I was lucky enough to have lived in New Orleans in 2007-2008, and my favorite thing about the city was the food! To kick this blog off, take a look at some of my favorite foods from my time in New Orleans- the most fantastic city in the U.S.!

Beignets at Cafe du Monde- What's not to love about French doughnuts smothered in powdered sugar! And at only a few bucks for three, it's a steal!

Potato crusted gulf fish smothered in crawfish etoufee at New Orleans' BEST restaurant- Jacque-Imo's Cafe.

Jambalaya from Jacque-Imo's, an incredible appetizer that is in fact an entree... Unless you're in New Orleans!

Another Jacque-Imo's appetizer- crabmeat stuffed shrimp!

More Jacque-Imo's Cafe... Three best friends and a table full of food and wine.

Hurricanes- a sweet fruit punch laced with Puerto Rican rum at Pat O'Brians in the Quarter.

And finally, the best sushi I've ever had from Rock 'n Sake in the Warehouse district. From left- Hawaii 5-O (coconut shrimp wrapped in mango and avocado), LSU (tempura shrimp wrapped in fresh tuna and avocado) and Hawaiian Sunset (spicy snow crab wrapped in fresh mango and salmon). I ate this entire plate for lunch! YUM!