Friday, March 29, 2013

Sausage and Kale with Cheese

March is winding to a close. Spring is upon us, and little flowers are coming up all over. Only too be eaten by hungry bunnies.

But it is still chilly at times, and the gusty winds of March have softened, but not stopped. So I am warming up with some comfort food.

I chose to only warm up a little and used mild sausage for this and cheddar cheese. But you can turn the heat up as far as you like with hot sausage. And you can take my mother's suggestion and add in hot habanero cheese. Phew!

Sausage and Kale with Cheese Sauce

1 pkg Italian sausage, spicy or mild, your call
2-3 cups fresh kale, rinsed and roughly chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup shredded cheese, your choice
2 tbsp Italian Herb Olive Oil
pinch of cumin

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Skin the sausage and break it up into the pan. Saute, stirring occasionally, until it is just about done. This should be around 10-15 minutes, but just check to make sure that most of the pink is gone.

Add the kale and cheese, stirring to fully incorporate. Now add the cumin and salt and pepper. Cover and let cook until the kale wilts and the cheese is completely melted, 2-3 minutes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I love caprese salad, but even though it is getting warmer, the tomatoes are not at their best. Winter tomatoes are best for making sauce out of and cooking with. Fresh tomatoes are best for eating raw.

So I did what I could and took caprese salad in a different direction by stuffing it inside a chicken breast. It is a very pretty meal you can serve to guests and healthy enough to go into the family meals rotation too. And what can you say about melted cheese? I know that as a child whenever a meal involved melted cheese, I was ready to eat it, even if it involved tomatoes.

Tomato Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 chicken breasts
1 medium tomato
4 large basil leaves
       or a small handful of sage leaves (fresh only!)
Mozzarella cheese, 4 slices
     or Gruyere
4-6 tbsp Sundried Tomato Parmesan and Garlic Olive Oil, divided

Heat your oven to 350degrees.

You can buy your chicken breasts already cut in butterfly fashion, or you can pound them out very thin and just wrap them around themselves. I always spatter my whole kitchen with chicken bits when I pound them, so I butterflied them myself. Just be careful not to slice yourself up if you do it that way.

Now, this is unnecessary, but I did it anyway. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a pan on medium high heat. Place in the chicken breasts and brown on each side. 2 minutes a side.

Stuff them with a slice of tomato and the basil or sage. Really stuff the cheese in there too. If it sits too near the front, it all melts out the side. Brush 2 tbsp oil on top.

Arrange them in a well oiled casserole dish and cover. Place them in the oven and cook for about 45 minutes. If you didn't brown the chicken before hand, in the last five minutes, remove the cover and brush with the remaining olive oil.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Honey Sesame Pork

Sometimes olive oil just isn't what you need. This Asian-inspired dish really needs the toasty flavor of sesame oil. It is a good thing that it mixed so well with the flavors of our Honey Date Balsamic, or this would be a recipe for another blog!

Honey Sesame Pork

1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Honey Date Balsamic
1/4 cup vegetable stock
1 lb pork, sausage or ground
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
sesame seeds

Brown the pork in the sesame oil. Add in the vegetable stock and simmer, covered about 8-10 minutes. The liquid should be reduced and the pork should be cooked through.

Add in the Honey Date Balsamic, and the red pepper flakes and stir to coat. Use salt and pepper sparingly, if desired.

Cook for 2-4 minutes to let the Balsamic caramelize on the pork. Shake sesame seeds over the pan. You want a generous amount on there.

Serve hot. With rice or udon noodles.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Balsamic Apple Rings with Cheese

I wanted to serve an apple-something other than applesauce with pork chops the other day. This turned out so well, I'm going to serve it without the pork chops from now on!

Balsamic Apple Rings with Cheese

1 large sweet apple, cored and sliced
1 tbsp Zesty Lemon Balsamic
White Cheddar, sliced thinly
mint leaves

Heat a small, non-stick sauce pan to medium heat. Place the apple rings inside and cook for a little bit, maybe 2 minutes.

The slices should be getting a little soft and it should start to smell very apple-y. Add the Lemon Balsamic and turn the apple to coat. Continue to cook another minute, but be careful to keep your your heat to a medium, medium low so it doesn't burn.

Center a small slice of cheese on one apple slice and stack another apples slice on top of that. I try to make each stack no more than 3-4 sliced high, I can usually get two stacks out of one apple. Let cook until the cheese has melted.

Serve warm with some mint leaves for garnish.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pistachio Cheesecake 'Pudding'

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

For my green today, I used our Pistachio Cream. But this is a recipe where any of the sweet creams would work well. Just change up the garnishes. And I know that this isn't really technically a pudding. But pudding is closest in texture to what this is.

Pistachio Cheesecake 'Pudding'

8oz cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1/4 cup crushed graham crackers
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Pistachio Sweet Cream*
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2-3 tbsp crushed pistachios
whole pistachios for garnish

Stir everything together and chill. Garnish with whole pistachios and enjoy!

*Pistachio Cream avaliable in store or by phone only. Sorry!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pork Steaks and Fennel

The recipe is measured for one serving. Mostly because my husband gave me a funny look when I told him we were having fennel for dinner.

So he's having a frozen pizza. And I'm having tasty, tasty fennel. And pork steak! You can scale up the recipe with ease from here. If you don't have the Southwest Seasoning Blend, come see me at the store! Or just use a spicy oil, like the Chipotle.

But seriously, come see me at the store. This weekend is supposed to be beautiful!

Pork Steaks with Fennel

1 sirloin cut pork steak
1 large fennel bulb, cut into wedges
1 tbsp Southwest Seasoning Blend
1 tbsp Spanish Oil
1/2 cup vegetable stock, low sodium

Heat the oil to medium-high heat in a nice heavy bottomed pan. Rinse your pork steak and pat dry. Rub about 3/4 of the seasoning blend all over the pork and place it in the pan. Add in the fennel slices and sprinkle the rest of the seasoning blend over them.

Brown everything quickly, say a minute on each side, fennel too.

Now it is time for the vegetable stock. Gently pour the stock in the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to medium. Let it cook for about 10 minutes, flipping everything once.

I suppose that this is technically braising. I just cook things, I don't try to define them.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Beef and Mushrooms with Dill Sauce

This is not a creamy dill sauce like you would have over fish or chicken. If you want it to be thicker, you could use sour cream or a thick yogurt in place of the heavy cream.

You can serve this over rice or pasta, or by itself as an easy weeknight meal.

And a big THANK YOU to Unionville Winery! They were nice enough to let us come to their tasting room and set up a small selection of our oils and balsamics this weekend. I really had a great time. And I love their Revolutionary Red wine with this dish!

Beef and Mushrooms with Creamy Dill Sauce

2 tbsp Meyer Lemon Olive Oil
1lb ground beef
2 pints mushrooms, any kind
Sea Salt (I used our new sea salt from Crete!)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tbsp fresh dill, rough chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Heat the Meyer Lemon Olive Oil in a pan to medium high heat. Brown the beef, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

Rough chop the mushrooms and add them to the beef. Sprinkle with salt and saute about 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Stir in the cream, mustard, dill and red pepper, if using. Stirring constantly, cook 2-4 minutes until everything is well incorporated and the cream is warmed through.

Serve with a glass of wine  and have a good night!

Thanks again guys!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Mushroom and Artichoke Pasta

I have been cooking for my mother lately. She isn't as fond of cooking as I am, and since I see her at work all the time, I get to bring her lunch at least once a week. Now I'm sure that you have realized that I am a big fan of mushrooms by now. And she is a big fan of artichokes, so I decided to combine those too things into a really delicious meal that takes very little time to prepare.

It went over well.

Mushroom and Artichoke Pasta

1 lg onion, sliced thinly
3 tbsp Zesty Onion Olive Oil
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained
1 lb mushrooms, quartered
chopped fresh parsley
2-4 leaves chopped sage
1 pkg penne pasta, cooked
1/2 cup Port Wine

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute 5-7 minutes. It should be slightly caramelized by now. Add in the mushrooms and a little salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes then add the wine and artichokes.

Increase the heat to a simmer. Let it cook for another 5 minutes. Add in the parsley and the sage and stir to really pull it through everything. Stir the pasta in and make sure that everything is warmed through.

Serve with really good bread and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Truffled Mac & Cheese

This was another snappy meal.

My husband loves all kinds of mac and cheese. He picked up a little tub of it from Wawa on his way home last night. To make it extra special, I poured a tablespoon of White Truffle Garlic Olive Oil in it and stirred it up. It really took it up a notch.

He was very annoyed that I stole some of it to take pictures.

I did give it back.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Easy Chicken Alfredo

This chicken dish comes together very easily. The key is to have cooked chicken hanging around in your fridge.

It is a lightened up version of a classic alfredo sauce. You can always add more cheese and cream if you want it. You can mix up the types of cheeses too. Next time, I'll be adding more spice!

Easy Chicken Alfredo

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed
2-3 cups broccoli
2 tbsp Basil Olive Oil
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp black pepper
     or 1/4 tsp white pepper
1 cup chicken broth, low-sodium is better
1 cup thick yogurt, like greek
1/4 cup cream
1/2 cup shredded cheese, mozzarella is good
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Cook the rice according to the directions and set aside.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. You could use Garlic Olive Oil for this and skip the minced garlic, but I like the additional flavor that the Basil oil brings to the dish. Saute the garlic for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chicken broth and cream. When that is well mixed, add in the yogurt. You may need to use a whisk to incorporate it fully.

Add the spices and bring it to a simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes before adding the cheeses and the chicken.

Continue to simmer for about 5-8 minutes allowing everything to come together and the sauce to thicken.

Serve with the rice and extra Parmesan if desired.