Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Summer Chicken Salad

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This salad with fresh seasonal strawberries turn this meal into a summer sensation!

Ingredients:

- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbs white balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme
- 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper, divided
- 1/4 tsp. salt, divided
- 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries, divided
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 2, 4 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 cups fresh lettuce (your favorite kind)
- 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

Combine 1 tablespoon oil, vinegar, honey, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and an 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk. Add one cup of the strawberries, blueberries, and pecans, tossing to coat. Set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt over chicken. Add chicken to skillet and cook 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from skillet and let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken into cubes. Divide lettuce between 2 plates or bowls. Add chicken to lettuce and top with strawberry-balsamic mixture. Add some of the remaining fresh strawberries as well, along with about 2 tablespoons of feta cheese on each plate. Enjoy! If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"Today, close the door to your past and open the 
door to your future." - Anonymous

Sunday, May 29, 2016

SOUS-VIDE COOKING - It doesn't get any easier than this!

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You may or may not have heard of sous-vide cooking. I know I hadn't until I attended a cooking class and the chef was demonstrating this method with an immersion circulator. It definitely had me curious, but not so much that I wanted to run out and buy one. Looked complicated. It is a machine afterall, I knew I'd screw it up. It intimidated me. And the list went on. However, after seeing an immersion circulator demonstrated at another cooking class I thought, "I might actually be able to work that thing," while my husband probably sat there thinking "I like the idea of my wife not overcooking my meat or fish any longer." So guess what I got for Christmas? :) Then my research began. What is it? How do I use it? And what all can it do? After five months of experimenting with my precision cooker, which has been renamed "my baby", the question is "what can it NOT do?" 

Sous vide, french for "under vacuum", is a cooking method that has been used for years. Food is placed in a vacuumed-sealed bag and submersed in a water bath that is temperature-controlled. Typically the food is cooked for longer periods at an accurately-regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, ensuring the food is cooked evenly on the inside without overcooking the outside. This method of cooking can be done simply by using a kettle on the stove. However, with a regular food thermometer, it made the task of regulating the temperature very tedious and left you standing guard, ready to adjust the heat if the temperature started rising or lowering. With the invention of immersion circulators, the painstaking task of keeping the cooking temperature held steady is eliminated!

There are several different types and brands of these immersion circulators on the market. The one that I received as a gift was the Anova Culinary Precision Cooker. A printable temperature guide allows you to forgo the stress of standing over the stove trying to cook your meat or fish at that perfect degree of doneness only to realize you have overcooked it... again! NO MORE OVERCOOKED FOOD! Instead, perfectly cooked, succulent, melt-in-your-mouth bites of food that have completely lead you to believe you are a very high-qualified chef, even if it's just in your own kitchen!

Once you start using the sous-vide method using an immersion circulator, it will be difficult to go back to standing over the stove calculating cooking times all the while knowing you still have several side-dishes to complete as well. Let the precision cooker handle the entree while you concentrate on your five-star side dishes. 

It has been so much fun trying new and different appetizers, entrees, and desserts with my precision cooker.  After seeing a video recently of a chef making one of my favorite desserts, creme brûlée, using the sous-vide method, I'm very eager to accept that next challenge to see if I can create that same delicate dessert. And since my husband recently bought me a kitchen torch, I've already gotten a head start! (note: do not have torch pointed toward a kitchen towel when lighting.) 

Whether you're a professional cook or an amateur, once you see how easy it is to cook with an immersion circulator, you'll want to keep trying new things for your family and friends to enjoy!

Below I have attached photos of just a few of our favorite dishes cooked the sous-vide method with my baby, the immersion circulator.

Sea Scallops - 123 degrees for 30 minutes

Swordfish - 130 degrees for 45 minutes

Poached Eggs - 145 degrees for 2 hours

3 lb. Turkey Breast - 145 degrees for 3 hours

Lamb Shoulder Chops - 132 degrees for 4 hours

2 1/2 lb. Pork Tenderloin - 144 degrees for 4 hours

4 lb. Brisket - 131 degrees for 48 hours

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Dr. Pepper Crock-Pot Pork Tenderloin

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A little sweet, a little spicy, and a lot of flavor make this a super pork supper! The Dr. Pepper adds flavor without creating a prominent Dr. Pepper taste. Great blend of seasonings and tender pork make this a meal worth repeating.

Ingredients:

- 2 lbs. pork tenderloin
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 cups chopped celery
- 2 cups diet Dr. Pepper
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 Tbs soy sauce
- 1 tsp. creole seasoning (or more if you prefer more spice)
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 2 Tbs flour

Add all ingredients, except flour, in the crock pot and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. Remove 1 cup of the broth from the crock pot and add to a small sauce pan. Heat broth, over high heat. When broth starts to boil, whisk in the flour and stir constantly until sauce thickens. Serve sauce over pork. If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"May your burdens be light and your coffee be strong." - Anonymous

Monday, April 25, 2016

Swordfish and Scallops with Creamed Purple Cauliflower

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Restaurant-quality food, easily made at home! This succulent dish will have your friends and family thinking they're dining at a five-star restaurant. The perfect dinner for that special someone, who will think you're a top chef! :) Pretty quick meal that tastes like you've been in the kitchen for hours! 

Ingredients:

- 1 small head purple cauliflower, chopped
- 2 Tbs half and half
- 5 Tbs butter, divided
- 2 tsp. grated parmesan
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 lb. fresh boneless swordfish
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- lemon zest from one lemon
- 1/2 lb. fresh scallops
- basil, tarragon, or parsley for garnish

Rinse cauliflower, chop, and place in a microwavable-safe bowl. Add 2 tsp. water and microwave, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove, let cool slightly, and transfer to a food processor. Add half and half, 1 tablespoon of butter, parmesan, salt and pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Process until smooth. Set aside. (You can quickly reheat if it cools off too much).

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of butter. Sprinkle swordfish with salt and pepper. Once butter starts sizzling and the pan is very hot, add swordfish and thyme sprigs and sear on each side for 2 to 3 minutes, while continually spooning the melted butter on top of the swordfish while it's searing. Remove from skillet to a plate and sprinkle with lemon zest.

In the same skillet, add last tablespoon of butter. Rinse scallops and pat dry. Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Once butter starts sizzling, add scallops to skillet and sear for 1 minute on each side. Remove to a plate. 

Plate your beautiful entree' with the creamed cauliflower, then swordfish, and then scallops. Garnish with parsley, basil, or tarragon. Enjoy!! If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"Until further notice, celebrate everything." - Anonymous 


Monday, March 28, 2016

Crock-Pot Rice Pudding with Fresh Peaches

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This creamy rice pudding gives a light nutty flavor by using basmati or jasmine rice. Very easy to make and quite a heavenly treat. Use fresh berries or fruit of any kind to top off your bowl of pudding!

Ingredients:

- 4 cups 1% milk
- 1/2 cup uncooked basmati or jasmine rice
- 1/2 cup sugar plus 2 Tbs sugar, divided
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- Cooking spray
- Peaches or fresh fruit
- pinch of cinnamon for the top, before serving

Spray a crock pot with cooking spray. Add milk, rice, 1/2 cup sugar, and next 5 ingredients (through vanilla bean) to crock pot. Stir well to make sure none of the rice sticks to the bottom. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 7 hours (depending how hot your crock pot gets), stirring occasionally. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the pudding and discard the shell along with the cinnamon stick. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Spoon mixture into small bowls or ramekins and garnish with fresh peaches and a pinch of cinnamon. Enjoy! If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"It takes courage to show up and become who 
you really are." - E. E. Cummings