Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Quinoa Salad with Crispy Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot

Here is a delicious and nutritious salad or side dish you can serve with any meal! Heart-healthy quinoa is tossed with balsamic vinegar with oven-crisped kale and roasted sweet potatoes and carrots. The flavor is lightly sweet and earthy, and the colors are beautiful! Even if you're unfamiliar with quinoa, this salad is so simple and visually stunning. Enjoy!

Quinoa Salad with Crispy Kale, Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrots
A delicious and nutritious light lunch, salad or side dish.
Serves 4-6
1 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 cups kale
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place carrots, sweet potatoes and red onion slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss together and then put them on a large baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender. Stir a few times while baking.
Drizzle kale with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet. When the sweet potatoes and onions have been in the oven for 15 minutes, put the kale in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until kale is wilted and starting to get a little crispy.
While the vegetables are roasting, make the quinoa. Add quinoa, water, and salt to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Let cool quinoa cool to room temperature.
When the vegetables are done roasting, let them cool to room temperature. Chop up the red onion slices and kale. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, sweet potatoes, red onion, and kale. Drizzle the salad with remaining three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and add in the dried cranberries. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Recipe by Sarah Lang

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chicken Parmigiana with Pasta

Italian comfort food is one of my favorite cuisines to cook and enjoy. Chicken Parmigiana fits the bill in every way. Tender chicken breasts are coated in Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, lightly fried, and finished in the oven before being topped with oozy fresh mozzarella cheese. I whip up a batch of my red sauce that is tossed with fettuccini, and the chicken perfectly nestles on top of the pasta. It all gets showered with more cheese and fresh basil, and is one impressive family-style dish to serve. Everyone loves this dish!

Chicken Parmigiana with Pasta
Crispy chicken atop red-sauce pasta, it's an Italian comfort food classic!
Serves 6

6 chicken breasts, pounded to an even thickness, about 1/2 inch                                                                    
2 T olive oil                                                                       
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping 
2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)                                                                    
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 T. dried Italian herbs
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk                                                                     
6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
4 cups marinara sauce
3/4 pound pasta 
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped                                                                    

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet or cast-iron pan over medium-high heat.
Set out three bowls. In one bowl combine panko and Parmesan cheese, in another bowl place flour combined with Italian herbs, and in the third bowl beat eggs and milk to combine. Make sure chicken is dry and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Working with two pieces of chicken at a time coat chicken in flour, then eggs, then in panko mixture, pressing to adhere. Gently lay chicken  aside. Once coated, place in pre-heated skillet. You may need to do this in a couple batches.
After 3 minutes turn chicken over to brown the other side. Once chicken is lightly golden brown on each side place on a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack. Bake in oven for 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove chicken from oven and top with a spoonful of tomato sauce and two slices of mozzarella cheese. Return to oven to melt the cheese.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Combine with tomato sauce, basil and pasta and keep warm.
Serve chicken with pasta tossed in tomato sauce and extra Parmesan cheese and basil on top.
Recipe by Sarah Lang

Friday, January 10, 2014

Grilled Pork Steaks with Hot Link BBQ Sauce

For as many veggies as I eat, I love a perfectly cooked piece of meat as much as anyone. Pork is one of my favorites. It's leaner than steak, but so much more flavorful and juicy than chicken. Add a BBQ sauce, and I'm in heaven! This one is made with beer and hot links, adding complexity. The great news is it starts with bottled sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's) making it easy! Serve with cheesy mashed potatoes and roasted broccoli for a completely fabulous meal.
Grilled Pork Steaks with Hot Link BBQ Sauce
An amped-up sticky sweet BBQ sauce slathered on juicy pork steaks.
Serves 4
4 bone-in pork shoulder steaks: 12-16 oz. each                                                                     
Salt and pepper                                    
Olive oil                                    
1/4 cup butter
1 cup onions sliced
1 to 2 jalapenos sliced
1 T chili flakes
3 to 4 cloves garlic sliced                                                                      
1 smoked pork hot link roughly chopped into small pieces
2 cups sweet BBQ sauce with a high sugar content: important so that the glaze sticks to the steaks.
1/2 bottle beer
Juice of 1 lemon

For the sauce:
Melt the butter in a pan then sauté the onions, jalapenos, chili flakes, garlic and hot links over medium-high heat stirring frequently and until softened about 10 minutes. Add the beer, BBQ sauce and lemon juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thick and sticky. The sauce can be made up to a week in advance.
For the steaks:
Coat the steaks lightly with the oil of your choice. Season the steaks liberally with salt and pepper with an emphasis on black pepper. Grill the steaks over high heat until cooked medium- about five minutes. Start glazing the steaks with the thick and sweet BBQ sauce turning frequently to caramelize the sauce.
Serve the steaks with additional sauce on the side.
Recipe adapted from Butcher and the Boar, a phenomenal Minneapolis restaurant 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Cooking Demo- Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn Relish and Avocado Crema, and Sweet Potato Risotto Cakes with Seared Duck Breast and Shallot Jam

I had the pleasure of conducting a cooking demonstration for premium season ticket holders of the Minnesota Wild with Chef Jason Steidle of Levy restaurants. We demonstrated two recipes in front of a live audience, and had such a blast cooking and talking about food in front of a friendly crowd. Enjoy these delicious recipes and watch the video.  

Seared Scallops with Roasted Corn Relish and Avocado Crema
Tender scallops topped with fresh salsa and cool creamy avocado.
Serves 12
Roasted Corn Relish
Corn                                  2 cups
Red onion, small dice          ¼ cup
Red pepper, small dice        ¼ cup
Yellow pepper, small dice     ¼ cup
Roma tomato, small dice     ¼ cup
Olive oil                             ¼ cup
Rice wine vinegar               2 Tbl
Lime juice                          2 Tbl
Honey                                1 Tbl
Chili powder                       ½ Tbl
Coriander                           ½ tsp
Garlic, minced                     1 Tbl
Cilantro, chopped                ¼ cup
Parsley, chopped                 ¼ cup
Salt                                    1 tsp
Black pepper                      ½ tsp
Avocado Crema
Avocado, pureed                 ½ avocado
Sour cream                         1 ¼ cup
Cilantro                              1 ½ Tbl
Lime juice                           1 Tbl
Lime zest                            ¼ lime
Salt                                    pinch
Scallops                             30 pcs (depending on size)
Salt                                    to taste
Pepper                                to taste
Olive oil                              ¼ cup
Make the relish and avocado cream ahead of time. 
For the Roasted Corn Relish: Start with a little bit of oil in a pan, roasting the corn until some kernels start to brown. Add all other ingredients and stir to incorporate. Set aside to cool.
For the Avocado Cream:  Puree the avocado pulp and mix in all other ingredients until incorporated. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Scallops: Season your scallops with salt and pepper and get your pan nice and hot. Add your oil and sear each side of the scallop until it is golden brown. Cook just until the scallop starts to firm up, taking care not to overcook. You want the scallop to just be done, even with the smallest bit of clearness in the middle, that’s OK. If overcooked they will get rubbery.
Place scallops on a plate to serve and quickly heat a portion of the corn relish until warm. Top scallops with a small bit of relish and a little of the avocado cream.

Sweet Potato and Sour Cherry Risotto Cakes with Seared Duck Breast and Spiced Shallot Jam
Flavorful sour cherries and creamy sweet potatoes in pan-seared risotto cakes with duck breast and sweet and spicy shallot jam.
Makes 12-15 cakes
Risotto Cakes
Yellow onion, small dice         1/2 cups
Butter                                     1 Tbl
White wine                            1/3 cup
Arborio Rice                             2 cups
Vegetable Stock                       1 qt
Sweet potato, cooked/ pureed  1 cup
Kosher salt                             ½ Tbl
Black pepper                           ¼ tsp
Marjoram, fresh or dried           ½ Tbl
Parmesan cheese                   1/3 cup
Dried cherries, minced              ½ cup
Spiced Shallot Jam
Butter                                     2 Tbl
Shallots or red onion, minced   ½ cup
Sugar                                     ¾ cup
Cider vinegar                         1 ½ cup
Thyme, picked and chopped    2 sprigs
Cinnamon                                pinch
Nutmeg                                   pinch
Duck Breast
Duck Breast                         4 breasts
Salt                                     to taste
Pepper                                 to taste

Make the risotto and shallot jam ahead of time. 

To make the Risotto:  Sauté the onions in butter until translucent. Add the risotto and stir until toasty. Over medium heat, pour in white wine and slowly begin to add the vegetable stock in increments stirring after each addition. Do not add stock until the previous pour is absorbed into the rice. Season with salt and pepper and add the pureed sweet potatoes. After the last addition of stock, add marjoram, parmesan cheese and dried cherries. When the risotto is nice and creamy, pour into a greased baking pan or two to cool. The size of the pan will depend upon the height you want you cakes to be.
To make the Shallot Jam:
Sauté shallots in the butter over medium-low heat until they are soft. Add in the sugar and cook until combined. Pour in the vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the rest of the ingredients, continue cooking until syrupy and the mixture resembles a loose jam. You should have a little over ½ cup of jam. Set aside to cool.

To put it all together:  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take your pan of risotto and cut out cakes with a knife or a ring mold. Over medium-high heat, sear the cakes in a small amount of oil until brown on both sides. Place in the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cakes are hot throughout.

Score your duck breast in a crisscross pattern on the fat side cutting just down to the meat. Season with salt and pepper. Start a pan over medium heat and place your breasts in the pan. You will want to render some of the fat off of the breast before turning up the heat to medium high to crisp the fat. Take care when turning the duck breasts to sear the other side as there may be a good bit of grease in the pan from the skin side of the breast. Reduce heat slightly and cook until medium (or whatever degree of doneness you prefer).

Let duck rest for a few minute and remove your cakes from the oven. Thinly slice your duck (1 breast should top 3-4 cakes) and serve on top of risotto cake. Finish with a bit of shallot jam on top.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette

Roasted butternut squash is one of my favorite ingredients. Similar to sweet potatoes, butternut squash takes on a sweet, caramel-y flavor when roasted. It is delicious eaten on its own as a side, or turned into a starter course or light meal when tossed with spinach. I love to toss the squash with spinach while it's still warm so the leaves slightly wilt as the salad combines. Topped with crunchy toasted pine nuts and salty Parmesan cheese, this is a simple yet decadent salad. The balsamic-honey vinaigrette is my all-time favorite salad dressing. I whip it up anytime I make a salad, and even use it to marinate chicken. It's my go-to recipe and with only four ingredients, you'll be able to remember this one!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Spinach Salad with Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette
Fabulous as a first course or light meal, sweet squash and spinach tossed in my favorite dressing.
Serves 6

1 whole Butternut Squash                                  
3 Tablespoons Butter                                    
Salt And Pepper, to taste                                    
1/4 cup Freshly Shredded Parmesan (more To Taste)                                    
3 Tablespoons Pine Nuts                                    
4 cups Baby Spinach Greens
Balsamic-Honey Vinaigrette 
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Use a knife to lop off the top and bottom off the squash. Slice the skin off the sides, then cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into large pieces, cut the pieces into slices, cut the slices into matchsticks, then cut the matchsticks into a dice. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a small pan, or in a bowl in the microwave. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the butter into the bowl with the squash. Add salt and pepper and toss to combine. Pour the squash onto a baking sheet and spread them into a single layer.
Bake for 20 minutes, then crank up the heat to 425 and continue roasting for 15 minutes or so, until the squash is sizzling and golden brown around the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and set aside.
Grate the Parmesan and sprinkle it over the squash. Toss it quickly so that the cheese won't melt (it should only soften), then transfer the mixture to a plate.
Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Add those to the plate with the squash and toss to combine.
To make the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small dish. Pour over the spinach and toss until coated. You might not need it all. Arrange spinach on a large platter and add the roasted squash, pine nuts, and more Parmesan cheese.
Recipe by Sarah Lang, adapted from the Pioneer Woman