Thursday, June 25, 2015
Holy cow it’s been 2 months since I last posted?!? Needless to say May & June are pretty busy months for me. May is the month of Elliott’s birthday and then I have a big work project that ramps up and ends mid-June. I always feel I need a week or two to catch up and recover from it. Once my busy time is over, I feel like summer is just beginning, and then next thing I know it’s almost 4th of July. I’m sporadic at posting as it is, but as always I’ll try to do better.
Back in mid May we got invited out to have dinner with friends who were grilling an Asian flavored meal. I offered to bring a side, and I knew I wanted to use the perfect, fresh green beans from my Green Bean delivery bin I’d received just the day before. I wanted a simple, light side that made the beans the star, and this was it. The dressing was simple to prepare, and the dish tasted great. I loved that the beans still had their crunch from just a quick boil. This time of year with fresh vegetables the simplest preparation is often the best!
Green Bean Salad with Asian Style Dressing
Pairs perfectly with an Asian flavored grilled shrimp or steak.
3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
a 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, soy sauce, garlic, ginger root, and sesame oil. Add canola or vegetable oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk until emulsified. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
In a small dry skillet toast sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until golden and transfer to a small bowl.
In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook beans until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer beans to a colander and rinse under cold water. Drain beans well.
In a large bowl, combine beans, sesame seeds, and dressing and toss well. Serve salad chilled or at room temperature.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Nothing groundbreaking here, just a delicious meal that comes together pretty easily. I had some chicken tenders I scored on sale, and sugar snap peas in my Green BEAN delivery.
We really enjoyed this meal. As I was prepping the ingredients I realized we were out of rice, so I used some rice vermicelli I randomly had in the pantry. As I said, I’m trying to get more of my quick meals on the blog for easy access, and this one fits the bill as something that comes together quick with a tasty kick.
Do you have any favorite quick fix meals to share? If it’s an original recipe, you should enter it in Grean BEAN’s #PlateProud contest. They are giving away $1200 worth of prizes spread out through 5 categories. Each category will have a winning prize pack, and a $50 runner up prize. Some of the categories include Grilling, Kid-Friendly, and Veggie Side. You have until May 22th to enter. You do NOT need a blog to enter!! For all the details, check out the contest page!
Sesame Chicken with Sugar Snap Peas
Yield: 4 servings
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into thin strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. sesame seeds
3 Tbs. peanut oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
1/2 lb. sugar snap peas
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup chicken broth
3 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Serve with steamed rice or cooked rice noodles.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the sesame seeds, coating the meat evenly and patting firmly so they adhere.
In a wok or large fry pan over high heat, warm the peanut oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring often, until golden and nearly cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the bell pepper, sugar snap peas and garlic to the pan and stir-fry until the vegetables are barely tender-crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pan and add the broth, soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.
Divide the chicken and vegetables among shallow bowls, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Friday, April 10, 2015
Here at my house we rarely eat ground beef. Instead I opt for ground turkey, chicken, or bison. Ground bison can be pricy, but we love the flavor & health benefits of it. We have a deep freezer, so whenever I catch ground bison on sale I buy a couple packages. I gotta admit, more often than not this is what I do with it! I’ve made this burger recipe so many times because it’s SO easy, and incredibly delicious. My goal is to get more of my go-to easy dinner recipes on the blog. I already have a lot on here that I make over and over, but because it’s so hard to find time (& daylight!) to snap a picture, there are a lot of recipes that aren’t on the blog yet. I’m slowly working to change that!
This recipe calls for so few ingredients. Just ground bison, a can of diced green chills, pepper jack or monterey jack cheese, salt + pepper, & buns. That’s it! For little effort you get a lot of flavor. You can make this with ground beef or turkey, though I haven’t tried it. We’ve cooked these on the grill, as well as in a cast iron skillet.
This time I served the burgers with corn on the cob I bought at the store, and green beans from my most recent Green BEAN grocery delivery. You still have time to use my coupon code bc6effi to save on your first order. It expires May 10th. Also, Green BEAN announced they are extending a discount to former Plumgood grocery delivery customers. If you used Plumgood and are interested in the Green BEAN service click here.
Green Chile Bison Burgers
Yield: 4 burgers
Prep Time: 5 min
1 pound ground bison or lean (90% or leaner) ground beef
1 4-ounce cans diced green chiles, drained
1/4 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
4 slices pepper jack cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 additional can of diced green chills, drained
Preheat grill to medium-high (or see Stovetop Variation).
Place bison (or beef), 1 can drained chiles, 1/4 cup cheese, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Gently combine without overmixing. Form into 4 patties, about 3/4 inch thick.
Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the burgers, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 155°F (165°F for beef), 4 to 5 minutes per side. Top each burger with slice of cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute more.
Optional toppings: If desired, top with sliced red onion & extra can of diced green chiles. I think the green chile flavor is strong enough without, and I don't like raw red onion on my burgers so I did without these.
Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)
Stovetop Variation: Coat a nonstick pan, preferably cast-iron (or a grill pan), with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Add burgers, reduce heat to medium and cook, turning once, until an instant-read thermometer registers 155°F (for pork and bison) or 165° (for beef or chicken), 4 to 5 minutes per side.
Per serving: 349 calories; 15 g fat (6 g sat, 5 g mono); 75 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrates; 3 g added sugars; 31 g protein; 4 g fiber; 678 mg sodium; 596 mg potassium.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
On one hand I’m giving you this cake recipe really late (as in I made this cake in March of 2014), but on the other hand I’m giving it to you just in time for all your St. Patrick’s Day-Guinness beer fueled celebrations. Nathan turned 40 in March of 2014 and wanted an epic birthday. We did a fabulous fancy affair catered by Karl of Biscuit Love, with a whole hog, spicy greens, & roasted potatoes with Alabama white sauce. Of course an epic dessert is needed to top off that fantastic meal, and this cake was it. In case you don’t remember me mentioning it, Nathan is a “craft beer nerd”. Sometimes I feel like our lives revolve around beer. I refer to myself as a “craft beer widow”. His party was a huge, hours-long craft beer tasting party. So the cake needed to be beer themed. Using recipes from various sources I put together this cake and I must say I was quite proud of my newest cheesecake cake!
The cake itself was not too sweet, which served as a good counterpoint to the rich cheesecake, light & sweet frosting, and dark, rich ganache. The Guinness flavor is subtle, and is perfect for an adult palate. It was a certain hit at the party! If you’re unfamiliar with these cheesecake cakes, I’ve been doing them since 2010. I figured out that if you make the cheesecake ahead of time & freeze it, it’s easy to transfer & assemble between the cake layers. They aren’t necessarily difficult, but they are time consuming. I like to make the cheesecake the weekend before and freeze it. Friday night I make the cake. Then Saturday all I need to do is make the frosting and assemble. (That’s assuming you’re going to serve it on a Saturday.) Breaking up the components into different days makes it much less daunting. I love coming up with new combinations & variations. The possibilities are endless!
Here are a few of my past ones:
Lincoln’s Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake Cake
Oreo Cheesecake Cake
And, my friend Jen at Beantown Baker has done some awesome variations after trying mine. Here’s some of hers:
Neapolitan Cheesecake Cake
Carrot Cake Cheesecake Cake
Some tools I find helpful for making cheesecake cakes (and cakes in general):
Wilton Bake Even Strips
Nordic Ware Cheesecake Springform Pan
Wilton Angled Icing Spatula
(Click Read More for the recipe!)
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
From my house I can see both a grocery store AND the Farmer’s Market. And yet… I’ve really been slacking about buying and cooking vegetables. I can blame it on the fact that I have two kids, I can blame it on the fact that one kid hardly eats vegetables, I can blame it on poor planning, work/life in general, etc. But it’s time I get back on the veggie train. I have always loved eating vegetable filled meals, so I’ve really been missing out. Recently I got the offer to try a new grocery delivery service, Green Bean Delivery. It came highly recommended from a foodie friend who has the service in her area.
Green Bean Delivery is one of those services that deliver a box of customized items to your door. Unlike the clothes or beauty products service, this is a bin YOU can completely customize before each delivery. You can schedule & skip deliveries at your convenience. There’s no sign-up/membership fee, delivery is free, and they offer high quality, local when they can, organic stuff. Here’s a great info page.
And, here’s a promo code for your first order: bc6effi It expires 3 months from today so you have until May 10th to use it!
I was actually home on the day & time my first delivery came. I was so excited! When I opened up my first bin I was quite impressed with the quality of all the produce. Everything was picture perfect and tasted great! Our first night we roasted broccoli. Roasting is my default for veggies. There’s a rare vegetable that doesn’t taste delicious with a little EVOO, salt + pepper! I had to steam a few stalks of the broccoli for my picky 2 year old, BUT HE TOOK 3 bites! Monumental. Also of great success were the rainbow baby carrots. I took them out to show my husband, not expecting Elliott to care, and both guys were quite excited about them! Elliott even ate a baby carrot. Seriously, the kid rarely eats vegetables and already he’s ate two from my bin! Nathan even said “If you kept these on hand, I’d snack on them during the week.” So there you have it, I’m sold.
(Most produce came wrapped in paper bags, I unwrapped everything for this “display” photo)
In my first bin I also had a wide selection of fruits, including bananas, pears, apples, oranges, kiwi, avocado, and more vegetables like bok choy, green beans, as well as grocery items like bulk organic rolled oats. I eat a lot of oatmeal, and I like to buy it in bulk when I can. I was also really excited to see they had some Bourbon Barrel Foods items on sale the week of my first bin. I love their bourbon barrel soy sauce, so I was excited to purchase some bourbon barrel vanilla and bourbon barrel smoked sea salt. This KY-born girl was happy.
My offer to review this only included my first bin delivery, but I enjoyed it so much I’ve decided to continue the service. In this week’s bin I’ve ordered more of those baby rainbow carrots, along with brussels sprouts (a favorite for us!), and even a loaf of bread from Nashville’s Provence bakery. What works best for me & my family would be a delivery about every other week. That’s how I’ve done CSA’s in the past. One big difference between this and a CSA is that I can suspend deliveries at any time.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE COUPON CODE! ENTER bc6effi to get $15 off your first order.
And now for this super easy appetizer recipe! This past weekend was the Nashville Food Bloggers potluck party. In thinking about parties from years past, I remember lots of desserts, and lots of rich, savory bites. Therefore, I thought I might try to contribute something light & fresh. I knew I had some pears from my Green Bean Delivery, and I wanted to utilize those. I ended up on this incredibly simple & tasty appetizer. All it includes is a slice of pear, a slice of brie cheese, and some arugula lightly dressed with a lemon thyme vinaigrette wrapped up in a slice of prosciutto. Seeing as I’m often hard-pressed for time these days, the simpler the better! While these are simple, they are quite flavorful. I got a lot of compliments, and this is a crowd that knows food!
Pear Prosciutto Bundles
Yield: 16 appetizers
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
1 bunch arugula leaves
2 ripe bosc pears
4oz brie cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped OR 1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
16 slices prosciutto di Parma
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl whisk together extra virgin olive oil, thyme, the juice from one and a half of the lemons (reserve the remaining half), and salt & pepper. Add in the arugula leaves and toss to combine.
Quarter the pear lengthwise and remove the core. Cut into quarters and then in half again. Squeeze the remaining lemon over the pears.
To assemble lay down a piece of prosciutto followed by a pear slice, a slice of brie (about equal in size to the pear slice), and top with the dressed arugula. Roll up tightly. Repeat steps for remaining ingredients. Top with a sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper.