Friday, April 30, 2010

Pizza Party! Prosciutto and Roasted Red Peppers with Gorgonzola and Spicy Sausage with Caramelized Balsamic Onions and Jalapenos

It's Friday night and we have no dinner plans- a perfect chance for a pizza party Kevin and Sarah style! Kevin's pizza of choice included spicy Italian sausage, caramelized balsamic onions and jalapenos. Sarah opted for a prosciutto, roasted red pepper and Gorgonzola cheese variety. Well, we both LOVED our pizzas! Kevin's had a fiery kick with the combination of spicy Italian sausage and jalapenos, but it also had a softer, sweeter side with the caramelized balsamic onions. Sarah's pizza was classic salty and sweet with the Gorgonzola cheese and prosciutto, complemented with mellow roasted red peppers. Homemade pizza is so fun and easy to make, just buy a couple crusts and load them up with your favorite toppings!

Pizza with Prosciutto, Roasted Red Peppers and Gorgonzola
Salty, sweet and delicious!
Serves 2-4

1 pre-made pizza crust, such as Boboli
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 slices prosciutto, cut into pieces
1/4 cup roasted red peppers, chopped
1/8 cup red onion, diced
1/4 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions. Spread sauce on crust and sprinkle with minced garlic and mozzarella cheese. Top mozzarella with prosciutto, roasted red peppers and red onion. Sprinkle crumbled Gorgonzola over top and drizzle with some EVOO. Bake 20-25 minutes until bubbling. Enjoy!

Pizza with Spicy Sausage, Carmelized Balsamic Onions and Jalapenos
Fiery hot and tasty!
Serves 2-4

1 pre-made pizza crust, such as Boboli
1/2 cup pizza sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
2 links spicy Italian sausage
1 Jalapeno, sliced
1 small onion, halved and sliced
2 T. balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt

Preheat oven according to pizza crust directions. Spread sauce on crust and sprinkle with minced garlic and mozzarella cheese.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and use a wooden spoon to separate into crumbles. Cook until sausage is almost cooked through then drain on paper towels. Add sliced onions to sausage drippings (add olive oil if pan is dry) and sprinkle in some kosher salt. Cook for 15 minutes until onions are softened and reduced in half. Add balsamic vinegar and stir for 2-3 minutes until coated. Set aside.

Add sausage and onion mixture to pizza. Cover with cheddar cheese, then add sliced jalapenos on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes until bubbly. Mmmm that's spicy!

Wine of the Night
Punto Final Malbec, 2008

This is a delicious malbec with 90 points from Wine Spectator for less than $15! It has a rich bouquet, lively mouth-feel, lingering flavors of red and black berries with undertones of black pepper and vanilla, and a velvety texture throughout. And it tastes great with pizza!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beach Party! Pina Colada Shrimp, Mango Salsa, Asparagus with Crab Salad and Veggie Pasta Salad

Last weekend wasn't beach weather, but that didn't stop Kevin and me from hosting a beach themed dinner party with our friends Zach and Natalie. Kevin stirred up Hawaiian Mai Tai's while I made mango salsa with pita chips and pina colada shrimp with jasmine rice. The mango salsa was SO easy and delicious. And it's super healthy! The pita chips are flavorful and special, and really make the salsa's flavors pop. The pina colada shrimp was insanely delicious. I loved the combination of shrimp with pineapple, and the coconut-rum sauce screamed "take me to the beach!" as it soaked into a flavorful bed of jasmine rice. Zach and Natalie brought the salad and side dish- a lovely crab salad with capers and lemon atop asparagus and a veggie pasta salad with zucchini and sundried tomatoes. After a night of catchphrase and mai tai's we knew this was a dinner party to remember!

Pina Colada Shrimp with Jasmine Rice
A tropical treat made for the beach! 
Serves 4

1 pound raw shrimp
1 cup light coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup Captain Morgan rum
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup shredded coconut, lightly toasted
1 can diced pineapple in juice, drained, 1/2 cup juice reserved
1 T. cilantro, chopped
1 T. parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cup Jasmine rice, prepared according to package directions
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper

In a large skillet preheat 1 T. olive oil. Cook onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes until softened. Add rum and cook 1 minute while stirring, then add coconut milk, chicken stock, pineapple and pineapple juice. Bring mixture up to a bubble and simmer until reduced in half and slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 T. olive oil in another sauce pan. Season shrimp with salt and pepper and add to skillet. Saute 2-3 minutes until pink. Add shrimp to thickened coconut-rum sauce and stir to combine. Stir in parsley and cilantro and serve on top of Jasmine rice with a sprinkle of toasted coconut.

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray

Mango Salsa with Pita Chips
Fruity salsa and flavorful pita bring out the flavor of the Islands!
Serves 4-6

2 mangoes, peeled and diced
1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber
1 T. finely chopped jalapeno
1/3 cup diced red onion
1 T. lime juice
1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and pepper

Combine the mango, cucumber, jalapeno, red onion, lime juice and cilantro leaves and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

3 pitas
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix oil with seasonings and brush on pitas. Bake 12-15 minutes. Cut into chips and serve with salsa.

Asparagus with Crab Salad
Fresh stalks topped with creamy crab salad. 
Serves 4-6

2 small bunches of fresh green asparagus
1 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup minced onions
1 tablespoon minced shallots
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup pressed capers
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped chervil
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over for shells and cartledge

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Trim off about 2 inches from the bottom of the asparagus. When the water comes to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, (depending on the size of the asparagus) Remove the asparagus and place in a large mixing bowl of ice water. Leave the asparagus in the water for 2 minutes. Remove from the water and pat dry. In a mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, onions, shallots, garlic, capers, parsley, chervil and tarragon. Mix well. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add the crab meat and mix well. Reseason if needed. Arrange the asparagus on a platter and spoon the crab mixture over the center of the asparagus. 

Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

Pasta Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Zucchini
Fresh veggies in a flavorful dressing with pasta. 
Serves 8

1 lb. bowtie pasta
Fresh black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick discs
1 zucchini squash, sliced into 1/4-inch thick discs
1 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup fresh packed parsley leaves

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed with the side of a knife blade, and quartered
1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente and drain well. Toss with ground black pepper and olive oil.
For the dressing, add the vinegar to a blender and replace the lid. Turn on the blender add, 1 at a time through the feed opening, garlic, mustard, oregano, basil, salt, and black pepper. Leaving the blender running, add the olive oil in a slow thin stream.

Toss together the pasta, yellow squash, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and parsley with enough of the dressing to coat. Serve any additional dressing on the side. 

Recipe courtesy of Robert Irvine

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Grilled Tequila Lime Chicken and Steak Fajitas with Fresh Vegetables

The weather is warm - it's time to light up the grill! We recently had our first grill-fest of the season and the menu included tons of fresh vegetables tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper, and chicken and steak in a delicious homemade tequila and lime marinade. It was utterly delicious. The vegetables were crisp, slightly smokey and bursting with fresh Spring flavor. The meat was soaked in a Mexican spiced marinade that made it incredibly tender and juicy. I served the meal with warm tortillas, Spanish rice (with fresh tomatoes added in), homemade guacamole, cornbread with honey butter (soften butter on the counter and stir in lots of honey), tortilla chips and margaritas. With a menu this delicious and easy, there's no reason to wait any longer. Get grillin'!

Fresh Grilled Veggies
Flavorful veggies get even better on the grill! Mix and match your favorites.
Serves 4-6

1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
1 Zucchini
1/2 Bunch Broccoli Crowns
10 Asparagus
1 Red Onion
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Chop up veggies into strips. Mix with olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Place on a large piece of aluminum foil folded over in half and the edges crimped on the edge to prevent veggies from slipping out and sprayed with non-stick spray. Grill over low to medium heat 10-20 minutes until edges are charred, stirring frequently.

Tequila Lime Chicken and Steak
Meat gets a Mexican makeover with this delicious marinade! 
Serves 4

1 Lime
1/4 cup Tequila
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 T. Worcestershire Sauce
4 T. Mexican Hot Sauce
1/2 T. Kosher Salt
1/2 T. Taco Seasoning

1/2 lb. Flank Steak
2 Chicken Breasts

Zest and juice lime in a medium size bowl. Add other ingredients and whisk to combine. Place steak and Chicken in separate zip-lock bags and pour in marinade. Massage to coat thoroughly. Refrigerate 1-3 hours. Remove meat from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to grilling. Grill until chicken is just cooked through and steak is medium. Let rest for five minutes then slice into strips.

Recipes by Sarah Saubert

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pappardelle Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli

Alfredo sauce is a fantastic sauce to master. It's delicious and satisfying, and everyone seems to love it. But you don't have to do the same-old and serve it on fettucine. Sometimes the funnest way to freshen up a classic pasta sauce is to use a fun and different noodle! I chose pappardelle, a wide egg noodle that holds the Alfredo sauce and complements the rich creamy flavors perfectly. This sauce is not nearly as bad for you as what you might find in an Italian restaurant or a jar. Served with sauteed chicken and roasted broccoli, and complemented with flavorful onions and garlic, this is one pasta dish that you'll serve again and again!

Pappardelle Alfredo with Chicken and Broccoli
A creamy and satisfying sauce for any pasta! 
Serves 2

For the sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (I used skim!)
1 T. butter
1 T. flour
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese (or use all Parmesan)

Florets from 1 head of broccoli
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 chicken breasts, diced into 1 inch pieces
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
Kosher salt
Black pepper
8 oz. pappardelle pasta, or your favorite noodle

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread broccoli on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once, until beginning to brown on the edges. Remove and set aside in a bowl.

Set a large pot of water over high heat to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions to al dente.

Set a large skillet over medium heat with 1 T. olive oil. Sprinkle diced chicken with kosher salt and pepper and add to skillet. Saute for 8 minutes or until chicken is just cooked through. Remove into bowl with broccoli.

Add another T. of oil to the same skillet and add onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes until translucent, then add to bowl of broccoli and chicken.

To make sauce melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Once combined add cream and whisk to combine, then milk and whisk to combine. Let it bubble slightly for a couple minutes to reduce and thicken. Then add all of the grated cheese and stir. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Combine chicken, broccoli, onions, garlic, pasta and sauce in large bowl. Serve immediately with extra cheese.

Recipe by Sarah Saubert

Wine of the Night
Chateau St. Jean
Sonoma 2008
Cold Creek Chardonnay

This is a very special Chardonnay. Kevin and I tasted it straight out of the barrel when we were in Sonoma a year before it was complete. We liked it already, so we ordered half a case. We were so excited to get it in the mail one year later! It is a light and fruity Chardonnay with pineapple and coconut nuts. It's fantastic with light dishes and on warm evenings!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Food Spotlight: The Gale Mansion

Kevin and I are getting married at the Gale Mansion in October, and one of the reasons that we chose to have our wedding and reception there is all of the wonderful things we've heard about the food and Chef. I spoke with many brides who raved about the cuisine and the Gale Mansion's willingness to work with their clients to create the perfect menu. We love food, so this was great to hear! The event planner at the Gale Mansion is a certified sommelier, and Kevin and I attended a wine tasting a couple months ago. We are excited to serve some lesser-known but very high-quality wines with the amazing food! Here is a little sampling of the Chef's food, courtesy of the Gale Mansion. We have a private food and dessert tasting scheduled on June 1, and will know more about our menu then. For now, get ready to salivate!

Mesquitte Grilled Chicken and Pesto over Mushroom Ravioli

Sea Bass Provencal over Ratatouille and Farfalle Pasta

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sauteed Vegetables and Fresh Herbs
(We tried this and loved it! It's on our menu!)

Sauteed Chicken Breast with Port Cranberry Cream Sauce, Wile Rice Pilaf, and Fresh Sugar Snap Peas with Pineapple Relish

Chicken Mikhani with Aloo Gobi and Basmati Rice (shout out to Indian food!)

Cheese and Bean Quesadillas with Rice, Carrots, Corn, Grilled Zucchini and Crema (a little Mexican fiesta perhaps?)

Sea Bass with French Lentils and Provencal Sauce

Spring Green Salad with Fresh Berries, Sliced Pear and Goat Cheese Fritter

Monday, April 12, 2010

Penne with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

The main reason I love pasta is the sauce. Oh, the variety! I usually prefer pasta sauced with red sauce instead of white, but it's easy to get tired of the typical tomato version. So instead of the same-old, I whipped up a fabulous red sauce of roasted red peppers made creamy with the addition of feta cheese, which is naturally lower in fat than most other cheeses. The sauce was creamy, smooth and intensely flavorful. I served the pasta with store-bought chicken meatballs, but it would also be delicious with sliced sausage, grilled chicken or even shrimp. If you'd rather not use pasta this sauce would also be amazing served straight up on a variety of meats.

Penne with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper-Feta Sauce
A healthy and creamy pasta sauce with unique Mediterranean flavors. 
Serves 3

1 T. olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 (8-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock (No stock? Use water with splash of vinegar or wine)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or a 3-ounce block
1/2 pound penne pasta (use whole wheat to up the fiber)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 T. chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Place mixture in the bowl of a food processor or blender with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Sauce should cling nicely to pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.

Recipe adapted from Ellie Krieger

Friday, April 9, 2010

Turkey Apple BLT's and Sweet Potato Fries

I love to make sandwiches when I don't really feel like cooking and want something easy and delicious for dinner. My favorite sandwiches incorporate both sweet and salty ingredients; you know, that magical combination that brings out the best in all the ingredients. (Prosciutto/Melon, Gorgonzola/Apple, Feta/Pear, Bacon/Grapes, Honey/Mustard you get it!) BLT's are a favorite, but I'm never quite satisfied with only three ingredients, so I always throw on extra meat and something special. This time, it was braeburn apple slices. The sweet-tart flavor of the apples contrasted beautifully with the smokey bacon, and the fresh and juicy crispness really elevated the texture. Alongside I made delicious oven-baked sweet potato fries. I always try to serve something warm on the side when I have a cold main course, and these fries were perfect! They are another example of sweet and salty, with a light cinnamon coating perfectly complementing the kosher salt and ketchup.

Turkey Apple BLT's with Honey Mustard
A delicious sweet and salty sandwich. 
Makes 2 sandwiches

2 small Ciabatta bread loaves, halved, or four slices of your favorite sandwich bread
8 slices smoked turkey
1/2 apple, thinly sliced
2 Roma tomatoes
1/4 c. thinly sliced red onion
4 slices bacon, cooked
Romaine lettuce
Swiss cheese, optional
Avocado, optional

Honey Mustard:
3 T. light mayo
1 T. dijon mustard
1 tsp. honey

Arrange the sandwich ingredients on the bread. Mix the honey mustard and spread on the top slice. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Fries
Healthy and delicious with just about anything!
Serves 2

1 large sweet potato (or 2 small)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel sweet potatoes and slice into wedges. Soak in a bowl of cool water for 10-20 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly. (This helps them cook through and crisp more quickly.)

Arrange on baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle salt and cinnamon to coat. Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning once, until slightly crisp and beginning to blister. Serve with ketchup.

Recipes by Sarah Saubert

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Food Spotlight: Guadalajara Mexico!

My parents, sister and I took a trip to Guadalajara to meet my sister's boyfriend Jaime's family. It was a wonderful vacation filled with good people, warm sunshine, bustling markets and fabulous food. Jaime's family truly enjoys good food, and they are amazing cooks! Here is a snapshot of some of the best things I ate. I am planning to incorporate many of these ideas into my recipe collection, so be on the lookout!

Fresh salad with romaine lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, shredded carrot and kiwi. I loved the addition of the kiwi, its sweetness and texture combined with the creamy avocado and other fresh ingredients made dressing unnecessary!

Chicken Mole, served with rice. Mole is a Mexican specialty that I had never tried. It has lots of ingredients, including chocolate, and its depth of flavor is unforgettable. It is rich and succulent, and I can't wait to have it again!

Refried Beans with Mexican Queso. Did I really used to eat these out of a can? After having the homemade variety I don't think I can ever reach for that can again. Making them involves soaking the beans overnight, heating a skillet of oil and seasonings, then pouring in the beans, boiling them, and mashing them. Work? Yes. Worth it? YES!

Fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast. I have never tasted fruit or juice so good. I usually find melon bland and unappealing and oranges too acidic, but the fresh, ripe fruit enjoyed here was so moist and flavorful that it was unrecognizable. It's so easy to eat healthy when fruits and veggies are this flavorful!

Huevos Rancheros (front), Huevos Mexicanos (back left), and Chilaquiles (back right- more on these later). How could I have ever been satisfied with a bowl of cereal or frozen waffles for breakfast? This is breakfast! Farm fresh eggs with veggies and spices served with fresh tortillas and beans. So satisfying!

Micheladas- Sounds weird, tastes good! A large glass of ice cold beer with ice cubes, lots of lime juice, a dash of tomato juice and salt on the rim. SO refreshing on a hot afternoon!

Jaime's mom taught me how to make Chilaquiles, a Mexican breakfast specialty.  (The pan in the back is oil with sizzling peppers, onions and chillies, which are pulled out and the oil is used for the refried beans. Yum!)

1. Start with chopped up tortillas and cook them in vegetable oil until they soften and just barely begin to get crisp.

2. Once the tortillas are ready crack six eggs into the pan and stir while the eggs cook. Then pour in tomato sauce, made by blending fresh tomatoes and onions with salt.Cook the mixture for 10 minutes or so to combine flavors and reduce slightly.

3. Then add lots of crema! Crema is a Mexican cream that has the texture of sour cream without the sourness. I'm sure sour cream would work well here too!

Chilaquiles con frijoles... NOW THAT'S BREAKFAST!!

We had lunch at a Mexican "food court" in Tequila where little stands sold every type of local food imaginable. Here is Carne Asada with both pork and beef, topped with lots of fresh melted Mexican queso.

Torta Ahogado, meaning "drowned sandwich" is amazing French-style bread loaded with pulled meat and drowned in a rich red sauce. Delish!

Chicken Enchiladas as God intended. Fresh homemade corn tortillas wrapped around shredded chicken and smothered in a flavorful red sauce. Topped with lettuce, onions and fresh queso.

Sopes! Fried tortillas topped with refried beans, red sauce and fresh veggies and cheese. So fun and delicious to eat with your hands!

We enjoyed these amazing sandwiches for breakfast. The bread and flavorful meats were complimented with creamy sauces and fresh veggies. A wonderful and totally satisfying handful!

My strawberry smoothie, shown here with chocolate milk, was one of the best things I had all trip. The fresh strawberries were blended with yogurt and topped with fresh cinnamon. I don't have the words to describe how amazing this tasted!

Jaime's uncle grilled Carne Asada- thin strips of beef seasoned with salt and lime juice and wrapped in tortillas with fresh pico de gallo.

I make guacamole frequently and always thought it was pretty good... That is until I tasted Jaime's mom's. Her simple recipe is a testament to the value of fresh, ripe ingredients. This guac contains nothing but avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Heaven!!

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Guadalajara through the food! I know I will never forget it, and am so excited about all of the culinary inspiration it provided. Muchas gracias a la familia de Jaime por un viaje fabuloso! Te amo!