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

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

I have a newfound love for pork chops. They're quick-cooking, lean, and easy to prepare in a number of styles. The most important thing about pork chops is the sauce. Similar to chicken breasts, they don't have a ton of flavor by themselves, making them the perfect backdrop for a fabulous sauce. Recently I made Italian-style pork chops with a delicious sweet and sour balsamic glaze. The balsamic reduced with honey and rosemary, creating a luscious syrup with rich flavor and a gorgeous sticky texture that adhered to the meat and made it shine. This recipe is quick and easy to prepare on a weeknight, but packs a punch in presentation with the gorgeous sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes (to sop up any extra sauce) and veggies for a complete meal. This sauce would also be delicious on chicken!

Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops
A sweet and sour glaze makes these chops shine!
Serves 2

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 T. honey
1 T. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 T. butter, divided
2 boneless pork chops sprinkled with kosher salt and pepper

Add the balsamic vinegar, honey and rosemary to a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced by half. Do not let it boil or it will become too thick. Stir in one tablespoon of the butter until melted. Pour the sauce equally into two small bowls and set aside. (This is done to prevent contamination when basting the raw meat.)

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining tablespoon of butter and, once melted, add the seasoned pork chops. Take one of the small bowls of sauce and baste the pork chops by brushing the sauce over it with a soft brush until saturated. After 4-5 minutes turn the pork chops, and continue to baste until cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

Remove the pork chops to a plate and drizzle with the second bowl of sauce. Serve with mashed potatoes and veggies.

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Grilled Chicken, Pesto and Sundried Tomato Paninis

Everyone enjoys a sandwich for lunch, but I never get too excited about the cold variety. My favorite sandwiches are Paninis, grilled Italian-style with melted cheese and flavorful fillings. This grilled chicken, pesto and sundried tomato Panini is bursting with flavor from the flavorful ingredients, along with good-for-you veggies and lean chicken. Lunch doesn’t get any better than this!

Grilled Chicken, Pesto and Sundried Tomato Paninis
Cheesy pressed sandwiches with fresh and satisfying flavors!

Serves 2
½ ciabatta bread loaf, halved lengthwise and cut in half (to make 4 pieces)
4 T. pesto
½ cup sundried tomatoes, drained
1 roma tomato, sliced
½ cup fresh spinach
2 slices provolone cheese
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and pepper
Olive oil

Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Place chicken breasts in a large plastic baggie and pound with a mallet or rolling pin until even in thickness, about ½ an inch. Sprinkle on each side with salt and pepper and cook in skillet 5-7 minutes per side until cooked through. Remove and set aside.

Heat a Panini press or large skillet over medium-high heat for sandwiches.

To assemble sandwiches spread pesto sauce on each piece of bread. To the bottom pieces add sliced roma tomato, chicken, spinach, sundried tomatoes and provolone cheese. Close sandwiches.

Spread Panini press or skillet with olive oil and grill sandwiches until warm and crispy. (If using a skillet press sandwich with another skillet while grilling.)

Cut in half and enjoy!

Recipe by Sarah Lang