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Broccoli and Cauliflower Stir Fry

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Broccoli and Cauliflower Stir Fry

Broccoli and Cauliflower Stir Fry

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2-4

Inspired by: I’ve had overcooked broccoli covered in fake cheese and as gross as it was, I knew that it would be awesome if it was cooked perfectly and sprinkled with a really nice hard salty cheese. I’ve since found that pan-frying gives it an extra depth of flavor when you can brown the veggies a bit. I love this – this past winter it has been one of my favorites to make with scallops or any other fish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 cups of broccoli crowns cut into small pieces
  • 3-4 cups of cauliflower crowns cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup parmesan or asiago (or other hard salty cheese) finely grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

  • Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to large sauté pan on medium-high heat.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for about 5 minutes – edges should start browning.
  • Add broccoli and another tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper – toss well and cook for another 7-8 minutes or until as cooked as you’d like – I prefer the edges browned and almost a bit charred but the veggies not too soft.
  • Put into a bowl, toss with the cheese and serve.

Notes: I love this with just about anything, but it’s really nice having hearty, hot vegetables in winter and I especially love this dish with seared scallops.


Balsamic Ravioli

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Balsamic Ravioli

Balsamic Ravioli

Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4-6 as a main dish for dinner

Inspired by: Rachael Ray. I don’t watch much TV so I miss a lot of the great cooking shows – although I may want to start watching more of them. Caught some snippets once of Rachael Ray making this a couple of years ago and tried it and loved it and everyone else seems to love it too. This may not be her exact recipe, but it’s very close.

Ingredients:

  • Two packages of fresh ravioli (I like “The Pasta Shop” Porcini & Truffle or Butternut Squash or Sweet Onion and Red Chard or any of those fancy, fun fresh raviolis). The size and shape do not matter. The packages I buy say that they serve 2-4 people.
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons salted butter

Preparation:

  • Heat a large pot of water for cooking the ravioli. Add some olive oil so the raviolis don’t stick to each other.
  • In a large sauté pan, on medium to medium-low heat, drop in 2-3 tablespoons of very cold butter and let it melt and brown.
  • While you are waiting, it’s a good time to wash, destem and chop your parsley and grate your cheese.
  • When the water boils, cook your ravioli according to instructions (usually about 6-7 minutes). Stir now and then so they don’t stick to each other. Drain in a colander when done.
  • Put the ravioli in the pan with the browned butter, turn up the heat to medium high and toss in the butter.
  • Add the balsamic – it will sizzle. Toss the ravioli in the butter and balsamic and watch it begin to caramelize. If you want your raviolis to get a bit crispy you can turn up the heat even more – just toss them often so they don’t burn. This process takes about 5 minutes or so.
  • In a separate bowl, toss the ravioli with the parsley and Parmesan and serve.

Notes: Using fresh ravioli with a yummy filling is key, but the browned butter and caramelized balsamic is also what makes these awesome. For parties, you can let these cool to room temperature and then line them up on a plate and serve with large toothpicks or skewers. They are good hot, warm, room temperature, and even cold out of the refrigerator the next day (if they last that long!).

Wine Suggestions: I like these with a high-acid, crisp white wine such as a Chablis, White Burgundy or Gruner Veltliner. But if I do them with a Porcini filling, then a yummy Red Burgundy is fabulous!

Balsamic Ravioli for Parties

Balsamic Ravioli for Parties


Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

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Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 12-15 as an appetizer / party finger-food

Inspired by: I’ve always liked crispy chicken tenders/nuggets/strips, but wished there was a non-greasy version that had real chicken inside that was safe to eat. I thought it might be fun to use my blackening spice for this and try making them for a small party. I love the crispiness, and the spice gives them an awesome kick!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) of crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of Spice it up …by Karen™ or your favorite spice blend

Preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or if you have a good toaster oven, there is no need to preheat, but you will need to cook these in batches)
  • Get a non-stick cookie sheet or rub a bit of olive oil on a cookie sheet so your chicken will not stick as it cooks
  • Lightly beat the eggs with a fork or whisk, and mix with the olive oil in small bowl
  • In a low, wide bowl (such as a soup bowl), mix the bread crumbs well with the spice
  • Cut chicken into strips – approximately 1.5 inches wide by 3 inches long
  • Dip the chicken into the egg/olive oil mixure to coat and then roll in the breadcrumb mix
  • Lay the chicken strips a half inch to an inch apart on the cookie sheet
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown

Notes: Because these are getting so much more surface area covered with spice than making blackened chicken with whole or half chicken breasts, these can get pretty spicy – so if you like spice, but not too much, I suggest using a bit less spice and a bit more of the bread crumbs. For parties, I have prepared these on the cookie sheet early in the day and kept them refridgerated and then took them out to bake when ready to serve. You can bring them to room temperature first, but it really isn’t necessary.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and spice on it would be perfect. A Syrah or Southern Rhone blend, Zinfandel or a spicy older Barolo. Off dry whites are often a fantastic pairing for spicy foods such as a Riesling or Viognier/Condrieu.


Lemon Pepper Quinoa

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Lemon Pepper Quinoa - Red

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

Inspired by: I started making my fiesta couscous with quinoa occasionally because it’s healthier and started thinking that it would be nice to have a savory version of the quinoa as well. I add the below ingredients and loved it! I’ve decided that I prefer quinoa in a savory dish than a sweet one.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups quinoa (any color, but I prefer white to red or black)
  • 2 ½ cups water (I always use 1 1/4 cup water for 1 cup quinoa)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2-4 teaspoons olive oil
  • freshly zested or grated lemon peel from 2 lemons
  • juice of those 2 lemons (or more if you love lemon)
  • 1 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 bunch finely chopped kale or spinach or both (optional – when using kale I usually remove any tough veins)
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)

Preparation:

  • Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve – run under cold water until water runs clear.
  • Transfer to medium saucepan, add 2 ½ cups water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon olive oil.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer; cook until water is completely absorbed – about 20 minutes.
  • While it is cooking, zest and juice two lemons (I like meyer lemons). Add to that 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and the black, white and cayenne peppers.
  • Remove from heat and add the above lemon juice/zest/oil/salt and pepper mixture and combine well.
  • Add parsley and any other greens, toss well and put the lid back on for another 5 minutes so the greens can wilt.
  • Toss again until well combined.
  • Season further to taste.

Notes: This is good hot or at room temperature so it’s easy to make ahead for dinner parties. It’s great as a leftover and heated up the next day too.

Lemon Pepper Quinoa - White

Lemon Pepper Quinoa - White



Armenian Rice Pilaf – Stove Top

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Armenian Rice Pilaf

Armenian Rice Pilaf

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4 as side dish

Inspired by: My Armenian grandmother and my mom always made this when I was growing up. The family loved it. We still love it. I believe the only things that have changed in the recipe is that the amount of butter used has probably decreased a bit and I’ve begun using Basmati rice because it’s more flavorful and aromatic than the long grain white rice I grew up with.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup vermicelli noodles broken into 1 inch pieces
  • ¾ cup uncooked Basmati rice
  • 1 small can organic chicken broth (get regular – not the low salt stuff)
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon salt (optional – depends how salty you like it)

Preparation:

  • Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and lightly brown vermicelli noodles (about 5 minutes).
  • Combine with all other ingredients and bring to a boil.
  • Then remove from heat or keep on a very low simmer for about 20 minutes or until moisture is absorbed and rice is consistency you like.
  • Just before serving, you can add just a bit of very hot water or additional chicken broth to make it juicier.

Notes: For making larger quantities and for easier prep for parties, check out my baked rice pilaf recipe. This is great with any meal, but nice to incorporate into a Mediterranean-themed meal such as hummus or baba ganoush as a starter, and served with lemon-herb chicken kabobs and Greek salad.

Wine Suggestions: This is a fabulous enhancement to a meal if you are serving a high acid white wine or a red wine with some tannins because of the salt and butter. For those who enjoy a rich, buttery, California chardonnay – that could be a very complimentary pairing as well.


Kale & Portabella Mushrooms

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Time: 20-25 minutes

Serves: 6-8 as side dish

Inspiration: Amazing musician and artist in the kitchen, Tony Khalife, exposed me to a few super healthy foods I’d never cooked before, such as kale. He whipped this up one day and I loved it so much I’ve been making it ever since.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small white or red onion
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 2-4 portabella mushrooms (shitakes work well too)
  • 1 small Japanese eggplant (optional – I love the sweetness and texture that this brings to the dish)
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • Wash kale and mushrooms.
  • Cut the onion in half, and then slice thin.
  • In a large skillet or wok, sauté the onion with olive oil until it is caramelized (about 10 minutes).
  • Slice the mushrooms and add them to the onions.
  • Cut the tough ends off the kale, hold all the leaves together on a cutting board and begin slicing thin strips.
  • Add the kale to the skillet once the mushrooms have softened, and cover for about 5 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste – continue cooking – covered or uncovered until done.



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