Friday, December 21, 2012

Honey Lime Chicken Fajitas

 I rarely go to Mexican restaurants anymore, because it is so easy to make delicious Mexican food at home. This recipe takes ordinary chicken fajitas over the top. The combination of the sweet honey with the zippy lime juice and authentic seasoning brings so much flavor to this chicken, which is made to be wrapped up in warm tortillas with sauteed onions and peppers. Don't forget the salsa!

Honey Lime Chicken Fajitas
A sweet and zesty marinade coats tender chicken.
Serves 4

1/2 cup lime juice, from about 4 limes
1/3 cup honey
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. cayenne
Salt & Pepper
1 T canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Flour tortillas, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, and sauteed peppers, for serving

Combine lime juice, honey, garlic and cayenne in a large bowl. Sprinkle in salt and pepper. Add chicken breasts and toss to coat. Marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oil in a grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken breast and cook on each side until done, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from pan and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice in strips. Serve with warm flour tortillas, cheddar cheese, sauteed onions, and sauteed peppers.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Year-Round Salsa

Salsa is so delicious in the summer when the tomatoes are ripe, but what about the winter? I still crave that fresh tomato taste of zesty salsa, but don't want to use bland tomatoes. The solution is in the pantry, as canned tomatoes are perfect for salsa! Break out your food processor, dump everything into the bowl, and blend it up. You'll have delicious, fresh salsa all year round, that tastes so much better than jarred!

Year-Round Salsa
Fresh and flavorful, and made with ingredients in your pantry!
Makes 3 cups

1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 of an onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeds removed (unless you want it spicy!)
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes

1 tsp. salt
2 T. lime juice (1 lime)
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. sugar

Put the cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeno and bell pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender, and pulse a few times to combine. Add tomatoes, salt, lime juice, cumin and sugar, and blend until totally mixed, about 10 seconds. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or sugar, if needed. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Monday, November 12, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Mashed Potatoes

There is nothing better on a chilly Sunday afternoon than firing up the slow cooker. The sumptuous smell of slow-cooked meat fills the house with an intoxicating aroma. Short ribs work great in a slow cooker because the meat becomes meltingly tender and luscious. The sauce of red wine and chicken broth gets a kick from balsamic vinegar, and reduces to perfection. There is a little bit of work involved to get this recipe ready for the slow cooker, but it is so worthwhile. Removing the meat and bones and heating the bones in the microwave first removes excess fat and increases the depth of flavor. Serve the meat and sauce over perfect mashed potatoes for a heartwarming winter meal.

Slow Cooker Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs
Tender meat in a rich sauce served over buttery mashed potatoes.

Serves 4
3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, meat and bones separated
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, chopped medium
1 carrot, peeled and chopped medium
1 celery rib, chopped medium
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups dry red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Arrange beef bones in a dish and microwave  until well browned, 10 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Dry short ribs with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12 inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown short ribs well on all sides, 5-7 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Add onions, carrot, celery, tomato paste, and thyme to fat in skillet and cook over medium-high heat until onions are softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in wine and vinegar, scraping up any browned bits and smoothing out any lumps. Bring to simmer and cook until reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir broth and bay leaves into slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Transfer short ribs to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil. Let braising liquid settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface using large spoon. Strain braising liquid, discarding solids, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon 1 cup sauce over short ribs and serve with remaining sauce.

Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Mashed Potatoes
You can't beat a classic! Buttery mashed potatoes are the perfect bed for short ribs.
Serves 4

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in even pieces
1 cup milk, roomtemperature
4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper

Place potatoes in pan and cover completely with cold water. Heat over high heat until boiling, boil for 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain, then return to same pot, cover and let sit (not on the heat) to dry, 5 minutes. Add butter and slowly add milk, mashing until it reaches the desired consistency. Serve hot with short ribs and extra sauce.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pasta with Homemade Pesto

I love making a big batch of pesto and keeping half in the fridge and half in the freezer. I use it all week as a spread on sandwiches, mixed into potato salad, smeared onto bruschetta, in soup, and  mixed with lemon juice for flavorful salad dressing. My all time favorite way to serve pesto is with pasta. When mixed with pasta water it creates a silky sauce that clings to the noodles and is loaded with fresh herb flavor. Here is my favorite pesto recipe. Make a big batch and enjoy!

Pasta with Homemade Pesto
A silky, fresh sauce that tastes great on everything!
Pasta serves 2, pesto makes 4 cups

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts- or you may use all walnuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz. pasta

Make pesto (4 cups):
Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 30 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is finely pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Reserve 1 cup of the pesto and save the rest in the fridge or freezer for another time.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta is almost done cooking use a liquid measuring cup to scoop out 3/4 cups pasta water from the pot. Drain pasta, then add back to hot pot. Stir in pesto and pasta water, 1/4 cup water at a time, until sauce coats pasta. Sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

This is a stunning, simple, and delicious salad that pairs beautifully with a meat main course, or can be served on it's own with a fresh baguette. The sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado, and vibrant onion flavor combine beautifully with the salty blue cheese dressing. With so few ingredients in this dish, make sure they're the best. In season tomatoes, ripe avocados and good quality blue cheese make a difference. And trust me on the baguette, you'll want to use it to sop up any extra dressing left behind!

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing A beautiful and simple salad that is sure to impress.
Serves 2 

2 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 avocado, flesh removed and sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 T. fresh parsley, chopped

Blue Cheese Dressing
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
4 oz blue cheese, crumbled
1 tsp hot sauce, such as Crystal or Tabasco
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 T. lemon juice (about half a lemon)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Arrange salad ingredients on a large plate or serving platter. Combine Blue Cheese Dressing in a medium bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour desired amount of dressing over salad. Top with extra crumbled blue cheese. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beer Battered Fish with Tartar Sauce

I am a sucker for a piece of moist, flaky fish coated in a crispy beer batter and dipped in cool creamy tartar sauce. But, I've always hesitated making it at home, as it involves "deep frying." Here's where I was wrong- you don't need a deep fryer to make this dish. All you need is a big pot (I love my Dutch oven) and enough oil to cover the fish, along with a simple thermometer. You simply coat the fish in flour, then in the beer batter, then back in the flour, and dunk it in the oil to fry until it's cooked through and moist on the inside, and crispy and flavorful on the outside. Served with lemon, tartar sauce, oven fries and cole slaw, this meal is a real crowd pleaser!

Beer Battered Fish
Crispy and flavorful, you don't have to go out to eat to enjoy this English staple!
Serves 4

3 quarts peanut oil (or canola oil), plus 1/4 additional cup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Table salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 pounds 1-inch-thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, such as hake or haddock) cut into eight 3-ounce pieces
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold

Whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in large mixing bowl; transfer 3/4 cup of mixture to rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to bowl and whisk to combine.

In heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts oil over medium heat to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in flour mixture on baking sheet; transfer pieces to wire rack, shaking off excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups beer to flour mixture in mixing bowl and stir until mixture is just combined (batter will be lumpy). Add remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until batter falls from whisk in thin, steady stream and leaves faint trail across surface of batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece fish in batter and let excess run off, shaking gently. Place battered fish back onto baking sheet with flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with remaining fish, keeping pieces in single layer on baking sheet.

When oil reaches 375 degrees, increase heat to high and add battered fish to oil with tongs, gently shaking off excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer fish to paper towels to drain. Serve hot with lemon.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated

Tartar Sauce
The perfect compliment to crispy battered fish.
Makes 3/4 cup

1/2 cup good mayonnaise
2 tablespoons small-diced pickles or cornichons
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper fitted with a steel blade and pulse several times until the pickles are finely chopped and all the ingredients are well mixed but not pureed.

Recipe by Ina Garten

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu

If you like Italian pasta dishes with rich, flavorful meat sauce, this dish is for you! The ground lamb is cooked with red wine, tomatoes, and spices until reduced and bursting with rich flavors, and then is tossed with tender pappardelle noodles. The finished dish is topped with a scoop of creamy ricotta cheese that melts into the sauce, and brings the whole dish to another level. My husband said this is one of the best meals I've ever made, and I loved it just as much as he did. You'll impress anyone with this dish!

Pappardelle with Lamb Ragu
A mouth-watering sauce with plenty of red wine and garlic and flavorful ground lamb, served with tender pappardelle noodles to soak up the sauce!.

Serves 6

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
1 celery rib, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground lamb
2 teaspoons ground coriander
3 teaspoons herbes de provence (a blend featuring thyme, rosemary, fennel, lavender)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
3/4 pound pappardelle
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup fresh ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped mint
In a large cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the carrot, onion and celery and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, 5 minutes. Add the garlic, lamb, coriander, fennel, cumin, rosemary and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the liquid evaporates, 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices, along with the stock and bring to a boil. Cover partially and cook over moderately low heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, 25 to 30 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, shaking well. Add the pasta to the sauce. Add the butter and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and toss over low heat. Serve the pasta in bowls, topped with the ricotta and mint.

Recipe adapted from Food and Wine

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicken with Herb-Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce

Everyone seems to have boneless, skinless chicken breasts on hand. Despite their popularity, I tend to shy away from cooking chicken because most recipes don't have the flavor I crave. Enter this recipe, and I'm changed. It is by far the best chicken recipe I've ever tried! The chicken is pan seared and roasted until tender and juicy. And the tomatoes, oh, the tomatoes! They take this dish to another level. Roasted with herbs until bursting with juicy flavor, then tossed in an easy sauce, I could eat them every day! Served with the chicken and fresh tarragon, it's a meal easy enough for a weeknight but delicious and impressive enough for company. Serve with warm bread on the side to sop up the extra sauce.

Chicken with Herb-Roasted Tomatoes and Pan Sauce
Tender chicken and flavorful roasted tomatoes in a gorgeous, simple sauce.
4 servings

1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes or other small tomatoes
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 small shallot, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves
3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves

Preheat oven to 450°. Combine tomatoes, 2 Tbsp. oil, and herbes de Provence in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large heavy ovenproof skillet until oil shimmers. Carefully add tomatoes to pan (oil may spatter). Transfer skillet to oven and roast, turning once, until tomatoes burst and give up some of their juices, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and drizzle with Worcestershire sauce.

Meanwhile, season chicken all over with 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Sear chicken on both sides until golden brown, 6–8 minutes. Transfer pan to oven and roast chicken until cooked through, 8–10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a cutting board and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

Add remaining 1 Tbsp. oil to same skillet; heat over medium heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Deglaze pan with vinegar, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan; add tomatoes and their juices and simmer until sauce is just beginning to thicken, about 1 minute. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Slice chicken; divide among plates. Pour the tomatoes and sauce over; garnish with herbs.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill

This is the perfect summer appetizer, and a wonderful way to use up that zucchini! These fritters are loaded with feta cheese, panko, and lemon to make a Greek-inspired appetizer that anyone will love. Served with a dallop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of dill, they are fancy enough for company, and easy to make ahead! They're also lovely served as a simple lunch with crusty bread and a side salad. Enjoy these fritters with your next summer meal!

Zucchini Fritters with Feta and Dill
An impressive and delicious summer appetizer!

6 servings

2  medium zucchini, trimmed
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup coarsely crumbled feta cheese
Canola oil (for frying)
Plain whole-milk or reduced-fat Greek-style yogurt (for garnish)
Additional chopped fresh dill (for garnish)

Grate zucchini on large holes of box grater onto clean kitchen towel. Sprinkle zucchini with 1 teaspoon coarse salt; let stand at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Wrap zucchini in towel; squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Place zucchini in medium bowl. Mix in green onions, 2 tablespoons chopped dill, mint, garlic, lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Gently stir in panko and egg, then feta. Using 2 tablespoons zucchini mixture for each, shape mixture into 1 3/4- to 2-inch-diameter patty; place on baking sheet. Chill at least 1 hour to firm.
Pour enough canola oil into heavy large skillet to reach depth of 1/4 inch; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add patties to skillet. Cook until golden and cooked through, adjusting heat if browning too quickly, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Using slotted metal spoon, transfer to paper towels.

Arrange fritters on platter. Top each with dollop of yogurt. Sprinkle each with dill. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Shrimp Tacos Gobernador

This is not a classic shrimp tacos recipe- this is comfort food. A smokey, Mexican-style tomato sauce makes the perfect bed for tender shrimp, and is bursting with flavor from the herbs and spices. Wrapped up in tender corn tortillas, these tacos are best served on a platter for guests to help themselves. The smokey and spicy tacos are perfectly complimented by a cool slaw or corn and avocado salad. Enjoy this different and delicious shrimp taco recipe!

Shrimp Tacos Gobernador
A smokey tomato sauce cradles tender shrimp in corn tortillas with melted cheese.
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, chopped
1 cup canned tomato puree
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
Lime wedges, for serving
Cilantro, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving

In a large heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bell pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree, oregano, bay leaf, and smoked paprika. Cook for 5-10 minutes until slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lay 2 tortillas, flat on the bottom of the pan, side by side. Put a small mound of cheese on 1 side of each tortilla. Wait until the cheese melts slightly, about 1 minute, and then add about 2 tablespoons of the shrimp mixture to each tortilla. Fold the tortillas over into half-moon shapes and cook to melt the cheese completely, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
Repeat with the remaining tortillas, cheese, and shrimp mixture. Arrange the tacos on a serving platter and serve with lime wedges, cilantro and hot sauce on the side.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Flatbread Pizza

When I am on my own for dinner my favorite food to make is an individual flatbread pizza. I whip up a quick homemade pizza sauce and load it up with fresh toppings. With a drizzle of olive oil and fresh basil flatbread pizza is my favorite summer meal. The key to any homemade pizza is the cheese. Do not use the pre-shredded stuff! It makes such a difference to shred your own. Or, you can buy a log of fresh mozzarella and slice it thinly. It melts so beautifully over the toppings it seems decadent without having to use a ton of cheese. And whatever you do, don’t forget a pinch of kosher salt and pepper on top of the pizza; it causes the veggies to burst with flavor. Enjoy this summer meal!

Summer Flatbread Pizza

Simple and delicious pizza that lets summer’s bounty shine!
Prepared naan flatbread (I prefer Target’s Archer Farms garlic naan)
Pizza sauce, recipe follows
Fresh mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Garlic, thinly sliced
Onion, diced
Zucchini, diced
Tomatoes, chopped
Bell pepper, diced
Basil, julienne (thinly sliced)
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Top the naan with sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, and veggies, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and crust is crisp on the edges. Remove from oven, sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil and drizzle with olive oil. Cut into wedges and enjoy!

Pizza sauce
Makes about 2 cups, enough for 2 large pizzas

1 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. dried Italian herbs
Salt and pepper

Place olive oil, basil and herbs in a saucepan on low heat. Bring up to a sizzle until it smells fragrant but do not allow garlic to brown, about 5 minutes. Pour in crushed tomatoes, stir, and increase heat to medium. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and simmer until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Turkey Jasmine Burgers

I love lightening up traditional recipes with healthy ingredients that not only make you feel good, but taste amazing too. These turkey burgers are the best I’ve ever had. Lean ground turkey is jazzed up with Asian ingredients that lend tons of fresh flavor. The sesame oil especially gives it a delicious, salty bite, and the jasmine rice makes the patty tender and moist. The sweet and tangy cucumber salad and a smear of smooth wasabi mayo take this burger over the top. These ingredients may seem unusual for a turkey burger, but the combination is mouthwatering! Even my beef burger-loving husband ate every bite and asked for more!

Turkey Jasmine Burgers
An Asian spin lends loads of fresh flavors to a traditional turkey burger.
Serves 4

Cucumber salad
1 cucumber -- peeled and thinly sliced rounds
1/2 red onion -- thinly sliced
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1/3 cup steamed jasmine rice
1/4 cup panko
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tsp. Siracha or other Asian chile sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
4 sesame hamburger buns

Wasabi Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon peel

Cucumber salad: Toss cucumbers, onions, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Let it marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

Burger: Mix ground turkey, rice, panko, green onions, egg, sesame oil, soy sauce, Thai chile, and sugar very well. Make into 4 patties. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute burgers until cooked through, approximately 5 to 6 minutes per side (depending on how thick you make them). Or, throw them on the grill!

Wasabi mayonnaise: While burgers are cooking, toast buns, and mix mayonnaise, with wasabi powder, ginger, and lemon peel in a small bowl.

Drain cucumber salad well. Smear 1 tablespoon wasabi mayonnaise on toasted bun halves, spread with a layer of drained cucumber salad, then top with burger and cover with bun top.

Recipe adapted from Food Network

Monday, June 4, 2012

Spinach-Poblano Enchiladas with Chicken

I made these enchiladas for the first time a few weeks ago during a personal chef cookdate. They looked so delicious that I just had to create them at home. They were a huge hit! The filling is creamy and flavorful from the smoky roasted poblano peppers, loads of spinach, and Mexican cheese. As fantastic as the filling is, the sauce takes this dish over the top. If you've never made your own enchilada sauce get ready for a real treat! Yes, it takes some time, but it isn't difficult and the results are totally worth it. This sauce starts by roasting tomatoes, onions and garlic then blending the roasted veggies with Mexican chile peppers. Once blended you cook the sauce in a saute pan to bring the flavors together. It is incredible, so deep in flavor from the oven roasting and the authentic chiles. You'll never used canned sauce again! Make a double batch, this sauce would be amazing on any enchilada or other Mexican dish. After the enchiladas are assembled they are smothered in monterey jack cheese and baked until bubbling. Served with rice and guacamole, this is an unforgettable Mexican meal!

Spinach-Poblano Enchildas
A creamy filling topped with a smoky flavorful homemade enchilada sauce, this is my favorite enchilada recipe ever!

Serves 4

1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half and half
2 roasted poblano chiles, chopped (instructions follow)
1 16 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large chicken breast, cooked and diced (optional)                                
1/2 cup queso fresco (or other Mexican cheese)                                  
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice                                   
8 6" flour tortillas
2 cups Tomato Chile Sauce, recipe follows
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
2 green onions, sliced, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°

Saute onion in 2 T. butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, 3 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper; saute 1 minute. Add flour; cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Gradually add half and half, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Add poblano, spinach, and diced chicken; cook 5 minutes.. Stir in crumbled cheese and lime juice.

Assemble enchiladas. Warm tortillas in microwave until flexible (if needed). Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Dip tortillas in 1 cup chile sauce, fill each with 1/3 cup filling, roll, place in baking dish, and top with 1 cup sauce and shredded cheese. Bake enchiladas for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbling. Garnish with sliced green onions.

To make Roasted Poblano Chiles
, heat oven to broil. Place chiles on a sheet pan close to the broiler, and cook on all sides, turning occasionally, until blackened and blistered all over. Put in a plastic bag and seal. Let stand until cool enough to handle, at least 20 minutes. Remove chiles from the bag and rub to release the skins, discard skins and seeds. Chop chiles for recipe.
Tomato Chile Sauce
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (or water)
2 dried pasilla pepper, seeded*
2 dried guajillo chiles, seeded
2 cups onion, chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound roma tomatos, quartered
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring broth to a boil.. Pour over chiles in a bowl; let stand 30 minutes, or until soft. Drain; reserve broth.

Combine onions, garlic and tomatoes on a greased sheet pan. Roast in oven for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Combine chiles, roasted tomato mixture, oregano, vinegar, and salt in a food processor; pulse to chop. Add reserved rehyfrating broth to chile mixture; process until smooth.

Heat in a large nonstick over medium heat until hot. Slowly add sauce to pan and fry 1 minute. Reduce heat; simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

*Ingredient note: I found both dried pasilla peppers and dried guajillo chiles at my grocery store near the mushrooms in the produce section. They last forever and you'll use them again to make this sauce!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vegetarian Thai Curry

I love coconut curry, and it's so easy and delicious to make at home. I recently tried a new recipe for the classic Thai dish, and it is definitely a keeper. The curry is has a very gentle heat that warms the mouth but does not leave behind any lingering spice. The flavor is absolutely divine! This vegetarian version is loaded with fresh vegetables simmered in a coconut curry sauce sweetened with a touch of brown sugar. The sauce is so simple, and you can modify the recipe to include any vegetable you enjoy, or you can even add meat! Enjoy this meal with a side of fresh spring rolls and jasmine rice.

Vegetarian Thai Curry
A medley of fresh vegetables simmered in creamy coconut milk.
Serves 4

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon red curry paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
1 cup red potato, cubed
1 cup green beans, halved
1 cup cauliflower, florets
1 cup eggplant, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, torn
2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts, chopped
Whisk the coconut milk, water, sugar, and curry paste in a bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in the potatoes and coconut milk mixture; simmer 10 minutes. Add the beans and cauliflower, and simmer for 5 minutes. Then stir in the eggplant and bell pepper and simmer 5 more minutes, or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally.

Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish each serving with cilantro and peanuts. Serve with warm jasmine rice.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Peek Inside a Personal Chef Cookdate

I am blessed to apprentice with a local peronal chef who is teaching me all about the personal chef business. Now, I know some people might want to know- What is a personal chef? A personal chef is hired by individuals to go to their home and prepare wonderful meals in their kitchen, which are left in the refrigerator to be consumed when they wish.

Who hires personal chefs? No, not (only) rich people! Most of our clients are working parents with a family to feed and no time to spend menu planning and cooking. They want to eat wholesome, homemade food in their own home. This is a convenient and affordable way to eat delicious food made with love by trustworthy hands at home.

On our weekly cookdate my mentor and I normally prepare three to four entrees plus side dishes each serving four, which takes between 3-5 hours. I normally join my mentor at her clients' homes, but this week for the first time I did one all on my own. I provided a list of menu options and my client selected three entrees. I purchased the groceries and cooked the meal in their home. It was a joy to create this meal and felt so natural to plan my own cookdate. Here is a look at the menu they selected.

Fizzy Chicken with Lemon Vinaigrette
Served with sweet roasted carrots

Chicken breasts are pan seared then gently cooked in fizzy sauce made from club soda, butter, and red pepper flakes, and is served with a creamy lemon and chive vinaigrette on the side.  

Baby carrots roasted in the oven with walnuts, red onion and raisins, then tossed with dill and cilantro.

New Orleans Shrimp Creole
Served with basmati rice and French baguette
A thick stew made from seafood stock, tomatoes, veggies and shrimp, spiced up with hot sauce and cayenne pepper, served with warm baguette for dipping.

Basmati rice cooked with onions, butter, scallions and parsley is perfect atop the Shrimp Creole.

Indian Chicken Tandoori with Yogurt Sauce
Served with a feta, chickpea and veggie couscous salad
A creamy yogurt sauce full of delicious mid-eastern spices coats chicken thighs, served with a cool cucumber sauce with paprika and dill (not pictured).
A couscous salad tossed with lemon and olive oil and bursting with fresh veggies, chickpeas, herbs and feta cheese makes a refreshing and healthy side dish.
Once all these fabulous foods are prepared I package them in handy-dandy plastic containers, label, and place them in the client's fridge.

What will they eat first??
Then I leave re-heating instructions and well wishes for happy eating!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce

This is a quick and easy dinner that is impressive enough for company and simple enough for a weeknight. I combine store-bought mushroom ravioli with a delicious fire-roasted tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and portobello musrooms. A splash of balsamic vinegar and cream add luscious texture and flavor, and make this a truly special meal. Serve with lightly toasted ciabatta bread smeared with garlic. Enjoy!

Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce
A flavorful sauce surronds scrumptious ravioli and mushrooms.
Serves 4

1 package mushroom ravioli
2 15 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes
1 8 oz package sliced portobello mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 T heavy cream
1 T balsamic vinegar
Parmesan cheese, for serving
Kosher salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Heat a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet heat over medium high heat. Add mushrooms and allow to brown on both sides. Remove mushrooms to bowl and set aside. Add a splash of oil and the sliced onions. Saute until softened, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic. Stir for 30 seconds then add the fire roasted tomatoes. Sprinkle in salt and pepper and allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes until slightly reduced. Stir the mushrooms back into the sauce and add the cream and balsamic.

Cook the ravioli according to package directions. Do not overcook! As soon as the ravioli is ready add it to the sauce, and stir until coated. Add a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Serve with garlic bread.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Monday, April 23, 2012

Italian Stromboli

There are so many things I love about strombili. I love how the fresh pizza dough wraps around the delicious filling and bakes up in a neat package. I love choosing flavorful ingredients to stuff inside to accomodate whatever I'm hungry for and have on hand. I love slicing into it and serving the pieces to anxiously awaiting guests as the steam escapes and everyone ooohs and aaahs as the delicious filling is revealed. And I especially love that stromboli is not super common on menus or in cookbooks. Everyone loves it, but it is always a treat. Good news stromboli fans, this delectable meal is easy and fun to make at home! Just make a batch of pizza dough (or use your favorite store-bought kind), roll it out, load it up with toppings and roll it up. Then bake to perfection and serve with pizza sauce. Enjoy the ooohs and aaahs!

Italian Stromboli
Flavorful and fantastic for a crowd!
Serves 8

Basic Pizza Dough, recipe follows, or 2 rounds of your favorite dough
1/2 pound hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 cup sliced yellow onions
1/2 cup thinly sliced red bell peppers
1/2 cup thinly sliced green bell peppers
1 cup sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 pound sliced ham
1/4 pound thinly sliced pepperoni or salami
2 cups grated provolone
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 large egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water to make an egg wash
1 cup finely grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a large baking sheet and set aside.

In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until browned and the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper towels. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onions, bell peppers and mushrooms and cook, stirring, until very soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasoning and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool.

Punch down the dough and divide half. On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the dough to a large rectangle, about 10 by 14 inches. Spread half of the cooled sausage mixture across the dough leaving a 1-inch border. Overlapping slightly, layer half of the ham, pepperoni, provolone and mozzarella cheeses over the top. Using a pastry brush, paint the border of 1 long edge with egg wash. Starting at the opposite long end without egg wash, roll up the dough into a cylinder, pinching the edges to seal. Place on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining ingredients. Let the dough rise, 20 to 30 minutes.

Brush the top of each stromboli with egg wash. Bake until nearly completely golden brown and starting to crisp, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle each stromboli with Parmesan cheese and return to the oven until the cheese is melted and the dough is golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Slice thickly and serve with pizza sauce.

Basic Pizza Dough:
1 cup warm (110 degrees F) water
1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, sugar, and 1 tablespoon oil and stir to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until all the flour is incorporated but the dough is still slightly sticky. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.

Oil a large mixing bowl with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wedge Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese Dressing

There’s no better beginning to a steak dinner than a wedge salad. There’s a reason it’s is a top-seller in steakhouses across the country- cold, crisp lettuce is smothered in creamy blue cheese dressing and topped with smoky bacon and bright tomatoes. It’s one of those perfect salads where the flavors combine beautifully and you feel completely satisfied without feeling to full. Along with some grilled bread this salad could even be the star of the meal. Take a break from boring mixed-green lettuce and vinaigrette with this big, bold wedge salad!

Wedge Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese Dressing
A cool, crisp and flavorful salad.
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 cup coarsely crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 large head of iceberg lettuce, cut into 6 wedges, each with some core attached
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
Milk, optional

Mix first 4 ingredients in medium bowl. Add blue cheese and stir until well blended. If too thick, thin with milk by tablespoonfuls to desired consistency. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.)

Cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until golden brown and beginning to crisp. Arrange lettuce on plates. Spoon dressing over. Using slotted spoon, transfer warm bacon from skillet onto salads, dividing equally. Garnish with red onion and grape tomatoes.

Recipe by Bon Appetit

Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Orleans Menu: Gumbo, Shrimp Po-Boys, and Bananas Foster

I used to live in New Orleans, and it has inspired my love of food and cooking ever since. In New Orleans food is more than nourishment, it's family, life, passion. I love the Creole/Cajun style that centers on bold flavors and interesting ingredients. I recently hosted a dinner party featuring some of my favorite New Orleans foods- gumbo, po-boys, and bananas foster. The gumbo was bursting with flavor from the andouille sausage, chicken thighs, a ton of veggies, and Cajun seasoning. It's an unusual and unforgettable flavor that took me back to the Bayou. In this new rendition of shrimp po-boys I deep fried the shrimp, which became crunchy morsels coated in Cajun spice. It's truly my favorite sandwich! Bananas foster is the perfect end to this meal- hot, syrupy bananas soaked in a rum caramel sauce on top of vanilla ice cream. Throw on some jazz, pour a strong drink, and enjoy this New Orleans menu!

Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo
A hearty and flavorful New Orleans Stew.
Serves 8

1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 pound andouille or other spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" rounds
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium onions, finely chopped
4 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale parts separated from dark)
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
8 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 cups 1/2”-thick slices fresh (or frozen, thawed) okra, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce (preferably Crystal)
Steamed Rice, for serving

Combine 1 Tbsp. salt and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle all over chicken. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Working in batches, sear chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. (Once cooled down, shred chicken with two forks.) Add sausage to pot; cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to plate with chicken.

Strain drippings from pot through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup heatproof measuring cup; reserve 1 cup drippings, adding more oil if needed to measure 1 cup. Wipe pot clean; return drippings to pot.

Heat drippings over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Whisk constantly until roux is the color of milk chocolate, 15–20 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir in white and pale-green parts of scallions and next 3 ingredients. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 10 minutes.

Slowly whisk in broth. Add bay leaves, thyme, and reserved shredded chicken and sausage. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer gently, skimming fat from surface and stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup okra, Worcestershire, and hot sauce. Simmer until chicken is very tender and flavors meld, about 45 minutes. Stir in remaining 1 cup okra; simmer until okra is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Season to taste with salt.

Serve gumbo over rice. Garnish with dark-green parts of scallions.

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Shrimp Po-Boys
The perfect sandwich- hot crispy shrimp with cool creamy mayo.
Serves 6

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal
2 French bread loaves, each cut into 3 sandwiches
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste
2 cup shredded lettuce
2 large ripe beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
Sliced dill pickles
Crystal hot sauce, for serving
Potato chips, for serving, optional (recommended: Zapp's)

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or preheat a deep fryer to 360 degrees F. Season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the Essence, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne. In a medium mixing bowl combine the flour and cornmeal and season with the remaining 2 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.

Dredge the shrimp in the seasoned flour mixture, coating the shrimp completely. Fry the shrimp in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, until golden brown, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate. Season with salt and hot sauce.

Split the French bread loaves in half and brush both cut sides of the bread with some of the melted butter. Using a spatula, spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the bread, then sprinkle with hot sauce. Divide the shrimp evenly between the 2 sandwiches and garnish with the lettuce, tomato slices, sliced pickles and hot sauce, if desired. Serve with potato chips.

Recipe adapted from Emeril

Bananas Foster
A classic New Orleans dessert, rum-soaked bananas and ice cream.
Serves 6

 4 ripe bananas, peeled
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup dark rum
1 pint Vanilla Ice Cream

Cut the bananas in half across and then lengthwise.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the bananas and turning, cook on both sides until the bananas start to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Carefully add the rum and shake the pan back and forth to warm the rum and flame the pan. (Or, off the heat, carefully ignite the pan with a match and return to the heat.) Shake the pan back and forth, basting the bananas, until the flame dies.

Divide the ice cream among 4 dessert plates. Gently lift the bananas from the pan and place 4 pieces on each scoop of ice cream. Spoon the sauce over the ice cream and bananas, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Emeril

Friday, March 30, 2012

Garlicky Cappellini with Grape Tomatoes and Basil

I had the house to myself and anything I desired for dinner. So, I opened a bottle of wine and created one of the most delicious pasta dishes ever. It’s so easy to make, and stars fresh and flavorful ingredients. You simply heat extra virgin olive oil with garlic and onions and add beautiful grape tomatoes until they are warm and close to bursting. Then you toss the whole dish with al dente pasta, fresh basil, a splash of wine and Parmesan cheese. So easy! So amazingly good! Make sure to have some crusty bread on the side to soak up all the delicious garlic oil. This is a perfect summer evening dinner for your family, or just you!   

Garlicky Cappellini with Grape Tomatoes and Basil

Bursting with fresh flavors, this is a simple pasta that truly shines!
Serves 2

1/3 lb. cappellini, or other long skinny pasta
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes
½ onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Splash of white wine, optional
¼ cup Parmesan freshly grated cheese, plus more for topping
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Heat oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add grape tomatoes and cook until almost ready to burst, 5-10 minutes. Add a splash of white wine, if using, and let it slightly reduce.

Meanwhile, boil pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until al dente. When pasta is almost finished cooking use a mug to scoop out some pasta water. Set pasta water aside and drain pasta.

Add cooked pasta to skillet, adding pasta water if dry. Add the basil and Parmesan cheese, and use tongs to toss all the ingredients together in the skillet. Sprinkle with extra salt and pepper.

Serve in large bowls with crusty bread and extra Parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

Recipe inspired by Ina Garten

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mango Shrimp Spring Rolls

I love serving fresh spring rolls with Asian menus. They are so delicious and light, and you can fill them with a variety of ingredients. I recently went to a Thai restaurant where they served shrimp spring rolls packed with fresh mango and avocado. The combination is incredible. The creamy avocado with the bright, sweet mango pairs beautifully with the fresh shrimp. A sprinkle of lime juice and fresh cilantro brings the whole roll together. Much tastier than a salad, and just as light and healthy, these spring rolls are an Asian-menu staple!

Mango Shrimp Spring Rolls
Refreshing and figure-friendly, a delicious appetizer!
Makes 6 rolls

6 spring roll wrappers
15 large cooked shrimp, halved lengthwise
1 small avocado, sliced
1 small mango, sliced
1 cup cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced
Asian dipping sauce, for serving

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Place a spring roll wrapper in the bowl and allow it to soften, about 15 seconds. Remove from bowl and place on a paper towel lined plate. Blot up the excess  water, then place 3 slices of shrimp, 3 slices of avocado, 3 slices of mango, and a small bunch of cilantro in the middle of the wrapper. Sprinkle with lime juice. Fold the sides in then tightly roll. Repeat with remaining wraps. Store in fridge covered with a damp paper towel until ready to eat. Serve with your favorite Asian dipping sauce (I like teriyaki sauce or sweet and sour sauce). Enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup and Tomato Pesto Bruschetta

As much as I love high-quality meat, I try to make meat-free meals a few times a week. It's not only good for health, it's good for the environment. This is a flavorful and satisfying meat-free meal that would be excellent for a lunch of dinner. The Broccoli Cheese Soup is simple to prepare and tastes decadent due to the melted cheddar cheese, but it is made figure-friendly with  loads of broccoli, chicken stock and 1% milk. Served with pretzel bread for dipping you can eat it for days! On the side I made a delicious Tomato Pesto Bruschetta that is absolutely bursting with flavor. Enjoy this scrumptious vegetarian meal- I guarantee you won't miss the meat!

Broccoli Cheese Soup
A delicious way to eat your veggies!
Serves 4

2 cups chicken broth
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups 1% milk
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, preferably sharp 3 cups chopped, lightly steamed or blanched broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft. Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes. In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes. Add warmed chicken broth and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in seamed broccoli. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately in bowls or bread bowls, or keep warm over low heat on stove until ready to serve, stirring occasionally.

Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tomato Pesto Bruschetta
Fresh and flavorful any time of day!
Serves 4

4 roma tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
French bread, divided into12 slices (3 each)
1/2 cup pesto
Kosher salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated, for topping

Heat oven on broil. Arrange bread on a baking sheet and broil until slightly browned and crisp, about 2-4 minutes. Keep an eye on it to ensure it doesnt burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool, then spread some pesto on each slice.
Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar to a small skillet over medium-high heat. Allow it to gently bubble and reduce by half. Set aside.

Combine tomatoes, onions, and herbs in a bowl. Add an even amount of the mixture to each slice of bread. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle reduced balsamic vinegar over bruschetta, and top with grated parmesan. Enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang