Saturday, June 28, 2014

Spinach Strawberry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

 Last Year's Post: Chile Rellenos (Baked Not Fried)
Two Years Ago:   Grilled Chicken, Mushroom and Bok Choy Kababs

Summer is salad time, and nothing is more summery than a spinach and strawberry salad.  This particular version adds red onion, avocado, goat cheese, pecans and edamame to the mix for a very delicious and satisfying meal.  The fruity and slightly sweet raspberry vinaigrette ties everything together and couldn't be any simpler because it's just three ingredients:  olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and raspberry preserves.

The only cooking you'll need to do is to toast the pecans and cook the edamame, both of which can be done well in advance so this is a perfect fast and cool meal for a hot day. Did I mention that it was 110 degrees in Phoenix when I fixed this salad last night?  The edamame, pecans and avocado provide enough protein that this is truly a very satisfying entree without meat, but you could  always add some grilled chicken if you want.  It's healthy, pretty, fast, easy, delicious and slimming.  What more could you want?  My new favorite meal.

printable recipe
Spinach Strawberry Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette
Serves 2

For the vinaigrette:
¼ cup olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
Salt and pepper

For the salad:
1 bag baby spinach
6-8 strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup toasted pecans
½ cup cooked edamame
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup red onion, sliced
1 avocado, halved, pitted and sliced

In a small bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss the spinach with most of the vinaigrette, reserving a small amount.  Divide the spinach between two bowls and top with the remaining ingredients.  Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa

Last Year's Post: Farro, Kale & Smoked Mozzarella Salad
Two Years Ago:  Strawberry-Basil Lemonade

Who doesn't love cherries?  I was happy to see them back in the grocery stores (the season lasts from May to August) and immediately bought a big bag.

They're great for snacking, of course, but I wanted to find a new and different use for some of them beyond the normal ice cream topping or coffee cake.  This recipe for Chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa was really delicious, fast, easy and healthy which rates as a total winner in my book.  If you don't happen to own a cherry pitter (the mark of a true cherry lover) you can cut the cherries in half and take out the pit like an avocado, or you could simply cut the cherry flesh off each of the four sides leaving just the pit and stem.

After that, all you have to do in combine the salsa ingredients and cook the chicken however you want - the recipe calls for a quick pan saute but you could also grill or broil the chicken.  Serve with rice pilaf tossed with some toasted pecans and green onions for an impressive dinner any night of the week.

If you're interested in a salad recipe using cherries, check out wild rice salad with fresh cherries.

printable recipe
Chicken with Fresh Cherry Salsa
Serves 4

Note:  the chicken and cherry salsa is excellent served with rice pilaf tossed with toasted pecans and green onions.

1 pound fresh cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
½ cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large chicken breasts, cut horizontally into 4 cutlets
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Combine cherries, red onion, lemon juice, basil, balsamic vinegar, honey and salt in a bowl.  Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the olive oil.  Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, then sauté in the skillet for 3-4 minutes on the first side until lightly golden.  Flip, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook on the second side until cooked through, approximately 3 minutes.  Remove from the pan and let rest for a minute or two.

Serve chicken cutlets with salsa spooned over the top.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Breakfast Sandwiches with Canadian Bacon, Chipotle Cheddar and Guacamole

Last Year's Post: Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca
Two Years Ago:  Easy and Elegant - Summer Salad with Cheese, Fruit and Nuts

A while back I was making an open-faced egg sandwich and struggled using an egg ring (I wanted a nice round egg, I'm like that) because the egg stuck.  I was very happy, therefore, to discover this cute little egg frying pan in the grocery store and was even happier to discover that it's perfectly non-stick and the egg just slides right out.  It's probably not the right tool if you're making egg sandwiches for a crowd, but it's perfect for one or two sandwiches and it's just so darned cute.  I get happy just looking at it.

So anyway, to celebrate I decided to make breakfast sandwiches that would be more interesting than something you would pick up in a fast food restaurant, with Canadian bacon (when was the last time you had Canadian bacon?), Chipotle cheddar cheese, fresh tomato and guacamole along with the egg.  If you don't feel like making guacamole you could always use plain avocado slices or just leave them out entirely and substitute another slice of cheese, but I like the flavor and texture complexity that the guacamole adds.  You could also dial the spiciness up or down by substituting regular cheddar for Chipotle cheddar or by adding some jalapeno to your guacamole.

The sandwiches don't take long to make - you mash up the guacamole, brown up the Canadian bacon, melt the cheese on the English muffins, cook the eggs, and assemble.

It took me maybe 20 minutes and would be even faster with another set of hands helping.  The whole idea is to cook the egg until the white is done but the yolk is still runny so it can goosh (technical term) down the sandwich like a sauce, but if you're a little squeamish about runny yolks just flip the egg over and cook it a little longer.

The sandwiches are excellent but messy.  Definitely serve with a knife and fork plus lots of napkins.

printable recipe
Breakfast Sandwiches with Canadian Bacon, Chipotle Cheddar and Guacamole
Makes 2 sandwiches

Note:  if desired, sliced avocado or additional cheese could be substituted for the guacamole and the eggs can be cooked more if preferred.

For the guacamole:
1 avocado, halved and pitted
2 green onions, chopped
1/8 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper

For the sandwiches:
2 English muffins, split and toasted
4 slices Canadian bacon
2 slices Chipotle cheddar cheese
1 tomato, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons butter

Scoop the avocado into a small bowl and mash coarsely.  Add the remaining guacamole ingredients and stir well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

Heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, then add the Canadian bacon and cook for 1-2 minutes per side until lightly browned.  Set aside.

Place a cheese slice on each English muffin bottom half and melt in the microwave.  Layer each with 2 Canadian bacon slices and one tomato slice.  Season the tomato with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of butter in a small skillet and fry eggs for 2-3 minutes until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still runny.  Season with salt and pepper.  Place one egg on each sandwich, then spread guacamole on the top half of each sandwich and close the sandwich.  The yolk will probably (should) run down the side of the sandwich.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Grilled Lobster Cobb Salad

Last Year's Post: Lemon Polenta Cake
Two Years Ago:  Hoisin Burgers with Wasabi Slaw

It's definitely salad time of the year, and this salad is an interesting twist on the usual Cobb salad that has chunks of chicken; it substitutes lobster meat instead, and grilled lobster at that.  The cooking technique in itself is interesting - remove the lobster meat from the shell and par-boil for a minute, then place on the grill for a minute per side while basting with butter to give the meat a nice smoky taste.  If you really wanted to give the salad a pronounced grill character you could also grill the tomatoes (using something larger than cherry tomatoes) and zucchini as well.  Grilled lobster meat, yum.

I found some beautiful baby Romaine leaves at the store, but you could always used chopped regular Romaine instead.  You can use whatever cheese you prefer and can always substitute other vegetables to suit your choice in addition to using shrimp or crab in place of the lobster.

Other than the lobster, the only other cooked ingredients are hard-boiled eggs (cook in advance) and a little chopped bacon (can also be cooked in advance).  After that, it's really just a matter of whisking the dressing, prepping the other ingredients, and assembly.  Easy, delicious, healthy, and kind of special......a perfect summer dinner.

printable recipe
Grilled Lobster Cobb Salad
Serves 2

1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 ½ tablespoons walnut oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 (5-6 oz) lobster tails, thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 strips bacon, chopped
½ small zucchini, chopped
1 ripe avocado
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 heart baby romaine, trimmed and leaves separated
2 hard-boiled eggs, chilled and sliced
1/4 pound red grape tomatoes, halved
2 ounces your favorite cheese, crumbled or diced

Combine shallot, Dijon, and vinegars in a large bowl and whisk well. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the oils until incorporated into the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Preheat grill to high or preheat the broiler.  Remove the lobster meat from tail and parboil for 1 minute or until no longer translucent. Place lobster meat on the grill basting with butter just long enough to get a little grill flavor (about 1 minute per side). If cooking indoors, broil until lightly golden.  Remove lobster from the grill and cut into cubes.

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel lined plate and set aside.

Halve the avocado, discard the seed, score the flesh into chunks and scoop out into a small bowl. Toss with lemon juice.

 Arrange half of the romaine leaves on each serving plate and drizzle with some of the dressing.  Add the toppings in strips on top, starting on one end with the bacon, egg, tomato, lobster, zucchini, cheese, and avocado. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top.