Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Muffuletta Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad:  

1 lb rotini
1/4 lb smoked gouda, cubed
6 oz. reduced fat, reduced sodium salami, diced
12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup sliced pimiento-stuffed olives
1/3 cup pepperoncinis, chopped
grilled vegetables (directions below)
salt and pepper
8 leaves basil, chiffonade


1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons pesto
1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
Whisk and set aside until salad is assembled.

Grilled vegetables: 

1/4 cup reduced fat Italian dressing
1 medium eggplant, peeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 small vidalia onion, 1/2 inch slices
1 medium yellow squash, 1/2 inch slices
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes

Grill over medium heat in grill basket sprayed with olive oil for about 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on how charred you want them, watch carefully.  Great way to serve vegetables any day, not just with pasta salad.  Can be oven roasted is well, if it's not good grilling weather.  Oven roast on baking sheet at 425 for about 10-15 minutes. 

While grilling vegetables, cook 1 lb. rotini noodles, drain and rinse with cold water.  Once vegetables are grilled and cool enough to handle cut into bite size pieces.  Toss grilled vegetables with pasta, cheese, salami, olives, pepperoncinis and tomatoes.  Pour dressing over pasta mixture and stir mixing everything together.  Add basil and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover and refrigerate for several hours before serving. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Caprese Salad

Nothing says summer like a Caprese Salad, and it couldn't be easier to put together with just a few ingredients.  So celebrate summer and whip one up today.  :)

2 medium sized, fresh tomatoes, sliced
1 8oz. ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
2 tablespoons pesto (jarred or use the following recipe if you've got
some basil to use up)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
fresh basil chiffonade
salt and pepper

Mix balsamic vinegar with pesto.  Fan tomato and mozzarella slices on a plate as illustrated above.   Drizzle pesto vinegar mix over the tomatoes and mozzarella, and top with fresh basil.  Salt and pepper to taste. 

Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh basil
¾ cups olive oil
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano
½ cup pine nuts
1-2 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
Wash and dry basil leaves, and toss all ingredients into food processor, and let her rip. There you have it. I like to have some pieces of pine nuts that are big enough to be recognizable, and add some more texture, so I leave some out of the food processor, and just lightly crush them, and add them to the processed ingredients.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lamb Chop Lollipops

My sister gave me this recipe for Lamb Chop Lollipops with her fabulous rub.  I added the Balsamic Reduction.  It adds a little wow factor in taste and presentation.   It's my husband's favorite!

1 rack of lamb, frenched (you can do this at home or have your butcher do it for you)

1/4 cup fresh, or 1 tablespoon dry Oregano
2 tablespoons fresh, or 2 teaspoons dry Rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon coarse ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil

Let rack of lamb sit at room temperature while you preheat the grill.  Mix the rub ingredients together, and cut your rack of lamb into individual chops, and slather each chop with the rub.  Grill over high heat for just a few minutes on each side. These chops will be small, so they don't need much time.   Drizzle the chops with Balsamic reduction and serve.

Balsamic reduction:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 cup Port wine
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter

Sauté shallots in olive oil.  Add balsamic and Port.  Reduce to ½ cup.  Remove from heat.  Whisk in butter. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wasabi Soy Cedar Planked Salmon

1 cedar plank soaked in water for at least 1 hour
1/2 pound wild sockeye salmon
1 tablespoon sesame oil or olive oil (sesame oil has a strong sesame flavor)
1 tablespoon prepared wasabi
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon fresh minced garlic
1 heaping tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (put in small skillet on stove at medium high heat for 1-2 minutes until starting to lightly brown and becoming fragrant)

Mix oil, wasabi, soy sauce, sherry, honey, garlic and ginger, and put aside until ready to grill.  
After cedar plank has soaked long enough, heat up charcoal or gas grill.  Allow salmon to sit at room temp for 15 minutes, and wipe cedar plank with olive or sesame oil.  Place salmon skin side down on the oiled side of the plank, and brush liberally over the top of salmon with the wasabi mixture.  (Do not be afraid, wasabi mix smells strong, and salmon smells strong, but it comes off the cedar very delicate and mild)
Place plank over direct heat on grill and depending on temperature cook 8-15 minutes.  Salmon should flake easily.  Use a spatula and slide under salmon leaving skin on plank.  Cut into two serving pieces. Top with toasted sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Depending on how charred plank is, can be washed and used again.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Egg in a basket

Below is a delicious breakfast for one, that's satisfying but not fat and calorie laden as in a breakfast casserole that would be too big.   If you want to make more than one, use a muffin tin and only 2 won ton wraps for each basket.  Bake for 15-20 minutes with the muffin tin in the regular oven at 375.  Then, you have enough to share, or cool and freeze for a quick warm up in the microwave on work mornings. 

4 wonton wraps
1 large egg
1 slice deli ham, halved
1/2 slice deli brick cheese, halved
2 teaspoons basil pesto

Preheat toaster oven to 375.  Spray a small pie tin with no stick spray and lay out the 4 won ton wraps to cover the bottom and sides of pan.  Place half the ham, half the cheese, 1 tsp of pesto on bottom on top of wonton wraps.  Break egg over ham, cheese, and pesto and top with remaining ham, cheese and pesto and bake for 15 minutes or until egg is cooked through.  Remove from tin and enjoy.

Calories:  224
Carbs:  17
Fat:  10
Protein:  14

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sweet and Sour Cashew Chicken

  • 1/4 cup cashew pieces
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or pork tenderloin
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sherry 
  • 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice from the can of pineapples
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup 
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions chopped 
Cut chicken into 3/4 inch cubes and toss with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon sherry.  Set aside.

Combine remaining cornstarch, soy sauce,vinegar, pineapple juice, ketchup and sriracha.  Whisk togehter and set aside.

Heat a wok with the Sesame oil.  Add chicken and stir for 3 minutes.    Add ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute, then add pineapple and bell pepper stirring for 3 minutes.  Finally add juice mixture, bring to boil and stir for 1 minute while it thickens.  Turn off heat and garnish with cashew pieces and green onion, serve over rice.  

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Low and Slow Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Karly Q Sauce

1 large rack of baby back ribs (mine was almost 4 lbs.  adjust according to what you need and what you can find)
Pork dry rub (it's easy to make your own, but if you are rushed and don't want to mess with it, store bought is fine, such as McCormick)
Apple juice in a spray bottle
Karly Q Sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)
Wood chips for smoking (chip of choice whether it's mesquite, hickory, apple or cherry)

Slather the rack of ribs with the dry rub, then cut rack in half down the middle for cooking.  Let the ribs sit and groove with the rub while you get the coals hot.  Get enough charcoal hot to heat one side of your grill and you will slowly cook ribs indirectly on the other side.  Start soaking wood chips at this time too.  Once coals are hot, add them to one side of grill, top with a handful of soaked wood chips and place the two slabs of ribs on the other side.  Every 20 minutes, spray ribs with apple juice, flip and spray again.  Add more wood chips at this time to, and check heat.  Add a few briquettes at these 20 minute check points if temp drops below 250 degrees.   Try to keep temperature between 250-300, checking every 20 minutes and smoke these babies for 5-6 hours.  I realize checking them every 20 minutes, spraying them etc. seems like a lot of work, but it's really not labor intensive at all, just requires your presence and attention every so often.  Once they are good and smoked after 5-6 hours, they will look like this...

Look at that bark baby! The apple juice caramelizes the pork, and the inside is so moist and tender it just falls of the bone.  Cut off servings with 3 to 4 ribs, and let the consumers experience the tenderness as it falls off the bone on their plates.  Serve with BBQ sauce on the table.  Karly Q sauce recipes is below, or use your favorite sauce.

Karly Q Sauce (Memphis Style)
1 can (8-ounce) tomato sauce
1 cup Ketchup

1 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

½ cup honey mustard

½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Olive Oil
2 tablespoon Brown Sugar

1 tablespoon Paprika

1 tablespoon Seasoned Salt

1½ tablespoon Hot Sauce

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

1½ teaspoon Garlic Powder

¼ teaspoon Chili Powder

⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper

⅛ teaspoon Black Pepper

1 heaping tablespoon Chipotle in Adobo sauce for some smoky heat. 
Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Makes 4 cups.

Once those ribs are slathered in your favorite sauce, they look like this: