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Grilled Vegetable Lasagna

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Grilled Vegetable Lasagna (more…)


Curry Chicken Kabobs

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Time: 45 minutes active, 6 hours total. Approximately 20 minutes to make the marinade and cube chicken, 5-6 hours to marinate, and 25 minutes to skewer and cook.

Serves: 6-10

Inspired by: I’ve always loved a lot of Indian chicken dishes that use yogurt marinades to tenderize the chicken and various curies for fabulous flavors. I just started experimenting with various ingredients and have found that I like just about any similar combination. I took notes once so I could share this with friends.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ pounds skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch pieces
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder (mine is very spicy – select type according to how spicy you want it)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 lemon (add 20 minutes before cooking)

Preparation:

  • Cut the chicken into 1 inch cubes.
  • Mix all rest of the ingredients well (except lemon) in large bowl.
  • Add the chicken to the mixture and marinate in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours.
  • Put on skewers, and drizzle with fresh lemon juice about 20 minutes before cooking.
  • Cook on grill at about 400 approximately 5-6 minutes each side – you should see grill marks – check to ensure it is cooked through – with metal skewers and fairly high heat – it will cook fast.

Notes: This is even good warm or cold for a picnic with greek salad, and pita bread for sandwiches and yogurt dill sauce. It’s easy for dinner parties and super easy for larger parties as you can serve it as finger food with toothpics and the yogurt dill sauce for dipping.

Wine Suggestions: Spicy, medium bodied reds and off-dry whites.


Blackened Salmon

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Time: 15-20 minutes

Serves: 2

Inspired by: I can’t even remember the first time I had blackened fish, but it was one of the first ways that I enjoyed fish. This is so fast and easy and I love how crispy the outside of the fish gets, yet stays so moist inside. I also think this seasoning really enhances the flavors of salmon.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound wild salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or avocado oil is a good choice for high heat cooking)
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons of Spice it Up …by Karen™

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 7 minutes over a gas stove). Make sure you have a powerful hood/fan or you might set off your smoke alarms and get a visit by the fire department!
  • Coat the fish lightly in olive oil and sprinkle on the spice.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, let it heat up for about 30 seconds, and then place the salmon in the skillet.
  • Sear each side for 3-5 minutes until blackened, crisp and just barely cooked through. Alternatively, if you’d like a crispy exterior but not so black, the skin side and the top for about 2 minutes and then finish off in a 350 degree oven – approximately 10-12 more minutes. For thiner cuts or wild salmon that is lean, cut baking time to 6-8 minutes.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be perfect.  I’d recommend the same wines as suggested with the blackened chicken and because some salmon can be pretty fatty, I think that can also hold up well to some Bordeaux blends or other bigger reds that have softened with some age.


Baked Salmon all Spiced Up

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Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2 for a dinner main course

Inspired by: My love for eating a beautiful healthy meal even when I have minimal time to prepare something. I have even prepared this for a late breakfast/early lunch when I know I have a full day ahead and want a more substantial morning meal.

Ingredients:

Preparation: Preheat oven to 400 degrees or, if you can use a toaster oven, there is no need to preheat. Rub salmon lightly with olive oil, sprinkle spice over top. If you are cooking a fatty Atlantic Salmon, bake it for 12 minutes at 400 degrees and then broil for another 3-5 minutes to crisp the top. For a thin tail piece or for leaner Wild Salmon, drop the cooking time by several minutes.

Wine Suggestions: Red Burgundy is my favorite. A fattier salmon also holds up well to a medium bodied red as well such as as an aged Bordeaux, and of course any medium bodied spicy red such as a Grenache/Syrah blend or Syrah or Rioja – as long as it isn’t too big. I’ve also found that a high-acid white with beautiful aromatics such as a Condrieu, White Burgundy or Gruner Veltliner can be a nice combination with the salmon and spice.


Blackened Chicken

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Blackened Chicken

Blackened Chicken

Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

Inspired by: My love for spice and chicken that is cooked well, but still very juicy! I think this is one of the best ways to really sear in the juices and cook chicken fairly quickly.

Supplies: Cast iron skillet

Ingredients:

Preparation:

  • Heat your cast iron skillet so that it is searing hot (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Pre-heat oven to 375-400 or if you have a good toaster oven you can use that and skip the pre-heat.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise if they are too large for a single serving.
  • Coat the chicken in olive oil and roll it in the spice until it is completely covered.
  • Add olive oil to the hot skillet, heat for about 30 seconds, and place the chicken breasts in the skillet.
  • Sear each side for 3-5 minutes until blackened and crisp and juices are locked in.
  • Remove from skillet and place in oven.
  • Cook smaller breasts for approximately 15 minutes and larger ones for approximately 20.

Notes: Slice into strips and server over salad.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and a bit of spice on it would be perfect. We just had this last night with our friends Katie and Joe and drank a Southern Rhone blend – Chateau Pesquié Cotes du Ventoux Terrasses. It was fun because, coincidentally, they were at Chateau Pesquié last year. A spicier Rioja, Barolo or Zinfandel, or an off-dry white would be other great options.


Armenian Lentil Soup

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Armenian Lentil Soup

Time: Approximately 30 minutes of prep time and 3 hours of cook time.

Serves: 8-12

Inspired by: I’ve always enjoyed lentil soups and they can be so healthy. Many Armenian and Turkish versions of lentil soup include apricots. I love the concept of that, but often find they use too many and overpower the soup. After experimenting a bit, I like this version because it adds some depth and interest to the flavor without throwing it out of balance.

Supplies: Large soup pot

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions (2 small onions or one large onion)
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 medium tomatoes chopped (or 1, 28 oz can organic fire roasted diced or crushed tomatoes)
  • ½ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 cups lentils (any color)
  • 6 cups water to start (you may add another 3-6 cups while it’s cooking)
  • 1 teaspoon dried mint
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne (could use a curry powder instead or for part of this to change flavor a bit)
  • ½  teaspoon crushed ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Garnish – Finishing Touches:

  • Fresh parsley – chopped
  • Paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I typically add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt)
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice

Preparation:

  • Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until translucent.
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, apricots, water and spices.
  • Simmer for 3 hours, or until the lentils are completely soft. Add hot water as needed to keep the soup to your desired thickness.
  • Add additional salt & pepper if still needed.
  • When serving, squeeze some lime juice over the top, and garnish with paprika and parsley.

Note: You can of course skip the lime and the other garnishes, but I love lime juice drizzled on this lentil soup – I think it brings out a beautiful flavor.

Wine Suggestions: This soup has a spicy kick to it, but also a hint of sweetness. A medium bodied red with some nice fruitiness and/or a bit of spice on it would be perfect such as the 2006 Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel (45% Mourvedre, 28% Grenache, 22% Syrah, 5% Counoise) or a similar Southern Rhone blend. I’d probably also try a Rioja or a lighter-style Zinfandel (something like Hartford Court is nice). If you prefer white, the best match would be something off-dry such as a Kabinett Riesling. I had an inexpensive Riesling from Washington recently that was actually a very good pairing – Eroica from Chateau St. Michelle. What I enjoyed about this one is that it’s only slightly off dry. Eroica is the result of a winemaking collaboration between Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Bob Bertheau and famed Mosel winemaker Ernst Loosen.


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