Friday, June 28, 2013

Roasted Kohlrabi

Roasted what? Kohlrabi is a vegetable that is part of the cabbage family and closely resembles a turnip. You can eat kohlrabi raw in a salad or cook it. When you dice it up and roast it, like I do here, it is very similar to a potato, and can substitute for your starches as a simple side dish. Kohlrabi is another one of those blessings that I have discovered as part of my crop share. I have never heard of it before now, but I am sure it will be a main stay in my house. With everyone always looking to watch their potatoes and carbs, kohlrabi is an easy side dish to any weeknight meal.

Recipe yields 4 servings

3-4 small kohlrabi (green or purple)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. If your kohlrabi came with the stems and leaves still attached (like mine in the picture above) you can cut those off and reserve them. You can cook the leaves just as you would collards or kale. Cut off both ends of the kohlrabi and peel them. You can choose to leave the outer leaves on, but they can be tough, so I prefer to remove them.

Once peeled, dice the kohlrabi and add to a bowl. Toss with the olive oil and garlic salt until all pieces are nicely coated.

Spread out the kohlrabi onto a baking sheet and place in the oven. Cook for 18-20 minutes and then shake up the pan to get all sides browned and crisp. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place in a serving dish. Just before serving, drizzle with the vinegar and give it a final toss. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Coconut Macaroons Drizzled with Chocolate

Coconut macaroons drizzled with chocolate are by far one of my all time favorite cookies. Wherever I go, if I see them, I must have one. They are so light and airy on the inside with a crispiness on the outside that is just unbeatable. Even without the chocolate drizzle, they are delicious. But lets be honest, a chocolate drizzle can only take something from delicious to excellent! These cookies are by far one of my most requested. Whenever I bring them around, people beg me for me. Little do they know, these come together in no time and couldn't be easier to make. With a few simple ingredients, you are on your way to heaven in no time. These cookies are the little cloud puffs that are going to take you there. Enjoy the ride!

Recipe yields about 21 cookies

3 large egg whites
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
14 oz sweetened, shredded coconut
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%)

Preheat the oven to 325F degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. In a small bowl, separate the egg whites from the egg yolks. I suggest doing this in a separate bowl, away from the rest of your ingredients. That way, if you get some yolk in the egg white, you don't ruin a bunch of ingredients, but rather just one egg.

Add your egg whites to a large mixing bowl along with the sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Using a hand mixer (or your stand mixer) whisk on high speed until the whites become light and foamy.

Add the shredded coconut to the bowl and gently mix into the wet ingredients with a spoon.

Using a cookie scoop, place mounds of the batter onto the baking sheets (about 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons each). Place the cookies in the oven for 20-22 minutes, or until the edges and tips are golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool for 5minutes on the pan before moving to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are cooling, melt your chocolate so it is smooth and dreamy. Drizzle the chocolate over the tops of the cookies. If your feeling really adventurous, dunk the whole top half right into the chocolate. Place the cookies back on the parchment paper and into the refrigerator for the chocolate to harden. At any point (even when the chocolate is still dripping off the edges), serve & enjoy!

These keep well in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to one week. However, I doubt they will make it that long without everyone around eating them up!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Grilled Chicken Caprese

Yesterday was 90+ degrees and today we are set for the same fate. On a day like that, who wants to be slaving away in the kitchen? Not me! This is such a quick and simple weeknight dinner that requires minimal heat and prep work. I threw my chicken into a frying pan, seeing as I still do not have a grill. Hopefully my backyard will be fixed and finished before the summer is over! If you can't bare the thought of turning on the stove, throw your chicken on the grill.

Recipe yields 4 servings

4 chicken breasts
1 tbsp chicken seasoning (oregano, salt and pepper, garlic powder)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 beefsteak tomato
1 bunch basil
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

(Ignore the egg and breadcrumbs - I originally planned to bread the chicken and switched to grilled chicken instead.)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Season the chicken cutlet with the spices. Place the chicken in the skillet and cook for 6-8 minutes then flip the chicken and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, slice the tomato, slice the mozzarella and remove the stems from the basil leaves. Be sure to wash your basil really well under cold water to remove any dirt or sand.

Plate the chicken cutlet and top with a tomato slice, a slice of mozzarella and 1-3 basil leaves (depending on their size and your preference). Drizzle each piece with about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Serve and enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cheesy Garlic Quinoa

Mac n' cheese is always a home run. It is delicious and can quickly become the perfect side dish for just about any meal. But for those of you who are trying to be conscious and eat healthier, mac n' cheese may not be an option. Insert quinoa n' cheese. The beauty of this dish is it has rich flavors and can easily substitute for mac n' cheese, but its lacking in the calories and carbs department. Now if a dish has to be lacking in something, carbs is always a good one! If you have that craving for mac n' cheese but don't want to throw your diet off track, try this recipe and I promise you won't even miss the macaroni!

Recipe yields 6 servings

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat your olive oil. Mince the garlic and add it to the pan. Toss to coat in the oil and cook for 2 minutes, continuously stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.

Add the quinoa and chicken stock tot he same pan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, shred the cheese into a bowl and set aside.

Once all the chicken stock has been absorbed, the quinoa should look plump and fluffy. Just like this:

Add in the cheese, basil, salt and pepper and give it all a good stir. Add more seasoning to your taste.

Remove to a serving dish and top with additional shredded cheese for presentation. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Braised Baby Bok Choy

Baby bok choy is a delicious and easy Asian vegetable. I was delightfully introduced to it in my crop share. To really highlight its natural flavor, I braised it with a hint of sesame oil. In no time, the baby bok choy is tender and ready to serve. It is great for adding to a weeknight meal to switch things around. If you always find yourself reaching for broccoli or spinach, next time you should pick up some baby bok choy instead.

Recipe yields 6 servings

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4-5 baby bok choy
1 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp sesame oil

Wash the baby bok choy and trim the rough ends off the bottom. Dry off the leaves.

In a deep skillet, heat the oil and add the baby bok choy.

Cook until the leaves begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Be sure to rotate the baby bok choy after the first minute.

Once the leaves have wilted, add the chicken stock and sesame oil. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Simmer for 5-8 minutes or until tender. Remove to a serving dish.

Bring the excess liquid to a rolling boil and cook until it has reduced and thickened.

Pour the glaze over the baby bok choy and serve hot. Enjoy!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mozzarella Pesto Chicken Bake

Remember the Arugula Pesto recipe I shared with you last week. Well check out this delicious use for it. This chicken recipe is quick and easy and it comes together in one pan. We always love making the smallest mess possible, don't we?! If you have some pesto on hand, the rest of the dish only requires two ingredients. The minimal ingredients really allow the pesto to do its work and shine through in this dish. With all the delicious greens and herbs at this point in the summer, I recommend making a big batch of pesto. Freeze some and get to work with the rest making delicious dishes like this one!

Recipe yields 8 servings

8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 cup Arugula Pesto
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. In a large baking dish, coat the bottom with 1/2 cup of the pesto. Arrange the chicken on top of the sauce and season with salt and black pepper.

Add another 1/2 cup of pesto to the tops of the chicken so they are all nicely coated. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

After 35 minutes, check your chicken. When it is just about done, take it out of the oven. You don't want it to be finished cooking at this point because we are going to be sending it back in. It is alright if it is still slightly pink in the middle and looking like it needs another 5 minutes or so. (Because we are going to give it the time it needs)

Sprinkle the tops of each piece with a handful of shredded mozzarella cheese and place the chicken back in the oven with no covering. Cook for an additional 5-8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and gooey.

Just like this.

Serve the chicken alongside some fresh vegetables and brown rice for a light meal. Enjoy!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pesto & Roasted Red Pepper Cheeseburgers

This is my version of the Italian cheeseburger. You start off with crispy ciabatta, spread it with fresh arugula pesto (check out my recipe HERE!), add some sliced roasted red pepper and mozzarella cheese and you are good to go. I cheated and bought jarred roasted red peppers, but check out this post for an easy way to make your own. This burger is two-hander with the best of them. Be sure to have plenty of napkins laying in wait for when that pesto comes dripping out.

Recipe yields 6 burgers

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp seasoned salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes (this adds a great kick to the burger itself)
1 loaf ciabatta bread (or any bread of your choice, you can also go with rolls here)
1/2 cup Arugula Pesto
6 slices roasted red peppers
6 slices mozzarella cheese

In a large bowl, mix together the ground meat with your spices. Mix with your hands to evenly distribute the spices.

Place the meat on a sheet of aluminum foil. Cover with foil and roll into a log shape. This will help to make all your burgers the same size!

Unwrap the foil and slice the log into burgers, about 3/4"-1" wide. Remember, the burgers will slim while they cook, so you might want to make them on the larger side. Helpful Hint: To prevent the burgers from bubbling in the middle, create a shallow dip with your thumb. This way, when the middle bubbles up, it will even out with the rest of the burger.

Add a drop of oil to a hot pan and add your burgers. Let them sizzle on high heat without moving them to get a nice char on the bottom before flipping them over and doing the same thing to the other side. Lower the heat and cook until the insides are done to your liking.

In the meantime, slice your mozzarella.

Once the burgers are done, remove to a dish and set aside until ready to assemble.

Slice open your bread and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes to get nice and toasty.

Once the bread is crisp, it is time to assemble. Spread one side of bread with the pesto. Place the burger on the other piece with a slice of cheese and a piece of roasted red pepper.

Top it all off with the pesto bun and you have a delicious burger packed with flavor and texture. Serve with fries or chips and enjoy!