Friday, October 24, 2014

Roasted Lamb Chops

I don't even know where to begin to explain this recipe. It is by far a favorite in our household and we melt into our chairs every time we take a bite. I've tried preparing lamb other ways and David gets upset when I don't prepare it in this style.

It's fat free, calorie free, and sugar free. YEAH right. This sinful dish is so full of flavor you won't even know what to do with yourself. And for those of you that claim you "don't like lamb" I promise this will change your opinion. The lamb taste isn't overwhelming and with the mixture of rosemary and balsamic it is the perfect balance. So let's open a bottle of red and and go to flavor town!!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

1 Rack of lamb, about 6-8 chops (I buy mine from Costco, butcher is expensive!)
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
Salt & Pepper (about 1 teaspoon of each)
1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Shallot, chopped
1/2 Cup chicken broth
1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon salted butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, prep your rack of lamb. It's important that you buy the rack intact and not the little individual chops. Little chops cook very quickly by themselves and we want to roast them in the rack so all the flavors stay intact.

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat with olive oil. Rub salt, pepper, and rosemary on both sides of the lamb rack. Then put the rack top side down in the saute pan. Make sure the pan is hot as you want a good sear on it. Sear both sides of the rack about 4 minutes each. Just enough to get a good browning sear.

Take the rack out of the saute pan, throw on a cookie sheet and toss in the oven for 15 minutes. SAVE the saute pan and do not wash it out. Lower the heat on the stove to medium and add in the chopped shallot. You want all of the lamb fat rosemary goodness to infuse into the glaze. Cook shallots for about 1 minute and add in balsamic vinegar and chicken broth. Reduce to medium low and just let that simmer and reduce by half, about 10 minutes. After it is reduced, swirl in a Tablespoon of butter.

The sauce will reduce down to a glaze. If it’s too watery just give it more time and if it’s too sticky just add a little more balsamic to water it down a bit. Take the lamb out of the oven and let it SIT for 5 minutes. If you serve it immediately all of the juice (aka flavor) in the lamb will spill all over your plate.

Cut the chops off the rack individually and spoon the glaze over the top! I normally serve with mashed potatoes or cauliflower puree. Bon appetite!! 

(PLEASE NOTE: The above preparation is medium rare for the lamb. If you like it more well done just add on 5 more minutes in the oven)

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fish Feast

I have to admit I never used to cook fish at home, or was much of a fish eater in general. I eventually figured out that my bad experiences were because the fish wasn't fresh. Now I only buy fresh fish and it's worth the extra pennies.

I can't take credit for this recipe, this was a dish I had over at Michael and Sarah Paskin's house for dinner one night during the week. My seabass recipe from earlier in this blog is similar in concept, but I just love that this whole meal is in one packet! Literally takes 5 minutes to prep, and walk away for 30 minutes. Tons of flavor, very healthy, and it has become a staple in my weekly line up!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes

2 Salmon filets (I normally get about 1 pound and split it in half)
2 Whole carrots, peeled and cut into little half moons
2 Green onions, chopped
10 Cherry tomatoes, washed and left whole
Brown rice, steamed
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Dry Dill
Parchment Paper

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. I also normally start my rice cooker as soon as I turn the oven on. If you don't have one they're about $20 and worth it for perfect cooked rice.

Lay down a sheet of foil and then put a sheet of parchment paper on top. Do this twice. You want each fish to have its own packet. Put half of the carrots, green onions, and cherry tomatoes on each sheet. Lay the salmon on top of the veggies. Grind salt and pepper on top of each, and then sprinkle about 1/4 teaspoon dill on each fish. Then drizzle each fish with about 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Wrap the parchment paper around the fish (doesn't need to be pretty). Then wrap the foil around the parchment package trying your best to seal it up. DONE!

Throw it in the oven for 30 minutes and walk away. Once the fish is finished, pull out the packets and unwrap carefully. The fish should easily flake with a fork. Put steamed brown rice in the middle of a plate and slide everything in the packet onto the plate.

Bon appetite! (preferably with a nice glass of white wine :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Arugula Salad

I'll say it once and I'll say it again...I LOVE ARUGULA. I could eat it every day! This salad is fresh and brings a few textures together to make it a delicious entree.

I've never been a huge "eat salad every day" fan so I'm always trying to find new ways to make salad interesting and full of flavor. This is also a great salad to pre-pack for your lunches all week.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 Cup farro
1 Cup water
1 Bag arugula, about 4-5 cups
24 Red grapes, halved
Salt & Pepper

1 Lemon
3/4 Cup olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of farro to a pot. Bring to a boil, and let simmer off the heat about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl juice the whole lemon and discard the seeds. Stream in the olive oil and beat the mixture with a whisk. Salt and pepper to taste. Make sure you taste as you go because you may want to add more olive oil or lemon depending on your preference.

Assemble the salad with arugula on the bottom, grapes, farrow (fluff in pot with a fork), and toss with dressing. Then sprinkle bits of parmesan on top.

DONE! So easy, healthy and packed with a ton of flavor!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fish Tacos with Tropical Salsa

Yes, I realize that I have been off the grid for a while! These past few months have been pretty busy, and I apologize for not posting many recipes. I will do the best I can!

Who doesn’t like fish tacos?? Tis’ the season for fresh ingredients so there’s no reason anyone should be making spaghetti out of a jar. Living in Santa Barbara, tacos are a daily meal around here. I know a lot of you live in areas that don’t have amazing Mexican restaurants but there’s no reason you can’t turn your kitchen into a taqueria! So let’s start mixing those margaritas (let’s be honest, you already have one in your hand) and get started!

Servings: 4 (3 small tacos per person)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Fish Tacos
1 Pound whitefish (mahi mahi, swordfish, anything firmer in texture)
2 Limes, 1 for fish and 1 for garnish
12 Small soft taco tortillas, corn or flour
Salt & Pepper

Tropical Salsa
¼ Fresh pineapple, chopped
1 Mango, peeled/pitted/chopped (omit if you can’t find)
¼ Red onion, chopped
½ Red pepper, chopped
1 Avocado, peeled/pitted/chopped
½ Jalapeno, seeded/deveined/chopped (omit if you don’t want spicy!)
3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, about 1.5 limes

Start pre-heating your grill to medium high heat. Make sure you clean your grill and rub with olive oil. *Helpful hint-Take an onion, slice it in half and rub it with olive oil. Then rub it on the grill!*

Prep your fish by rubbing salt and pepper on each side. About 1 teaspoon of each. Then squeeze 1 lime over both sides. Throw on the grill! Cook for about 9 minutes each side until done depending on the type of fish. *Important* Don’t buy a flaky fish like sea bass or cod, it will fall apart on the grill! If you don’t like fish, chicken or shrimp works fine too. (shrimp, only cook 2 min each side until pink!)

While your fish is cooking, prep the salsa. You want to make tiny little cubes of the pineapple, mango, red onion, red pepper, avocado, and jalapeno. If the pieces are too large they will fall off the taco easily. Toss together in a bowl. Squeeze lime juice and salt to your taste. Keep tasting as you go, it’s all personal preference!

Once fish is done, put on a plate and cover with foil. Grate the grill and brush with olive oil once again. Throw your tortillas on the grill. DO NOT leave! Max 20 seconds per each side and you’re done!

Serve tacos with a scoop of fresh salsa and 2 lime wedges per person. Enjoy this fresh and easy recipe during the week or on the weekend! Now…where is the Patron… 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Caprese Salad

I have had people ask me multiple times if I cook every day. In all honesty, I probably do some sort of cooking every day but it is not complicated. Sometimes assembling random things that don't require cooking can make the best dishes.

This recipe is something I would make during the week when I was tired from work, and didn't feel like doing much. It's healthy, fresh, and will fill you up for the night!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: NONE, except toasting bread

2 Large tomatoes, I used Heirloom from TJ's but use whatever!
10 Grape tomatoes (optional)
2 Burrata balls (burrata is a creamier version of fresh mozzarella…use either!)
2 Handfuls of arugula
4 Slices bread
Olive oil
Balsamic glaze (optional)
Salt & pepper (to taste)

First, pop your bread into the oven or toaster until toasty brown (about 3 min). I actually sat my bread on top of my gas burner grate to get a char, but any of those ways work.

Meanwhile, slice your heirloom tomatoes and place on the plates. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the grape tomatoes, handful of arugula, and the burrata balls. (Burrata can be found at Trader Joe's in the cheese display right next to fresh mozzarella. It's creamier and spreads like butter on bread!)

Drizzle olive oil over everything. Then put some balsamic glaze on the side of the plate that you can dip into. (also found at Traders) You don't want to put it on top of everything because it's pretty concentrated, just dip! If you don't have glaze, regular balsamic vinegar works too.

Add in the bread and you're done! Pairs well with a nice Sav Blanc or Pinot Grigio!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

I made this recipe when the temperatures dipped to a balmy 60 degrees in Santa Barbara. This chili is a great way to warm up on those cold nights and tastes even better the next day for leftovers.

I baked a skillet cornbread to go with it, but if you don't have time tortilla chips work too!

Don't get scared about the 6 hours cooking time, do it in the morning before you leave and it will be fine if it's left longer.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours

1 Pound, ground turkey
1 JalapeƱo, seeded and chopped (use 2 if you want spicier)
1 Yellow onion, chopped
1 Green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Can crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
1 Can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
2 Cans northern white beans, drained (15 oz. each) OR any canned bean! (pinto, kidney, etc)
2 Tablespoons hot sauce (you can omit if you want)
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Teaspoon salt (add more to taste if needed)
1 Teaspoon pepper

Optional Toppings: Cheddar cheese, and sour cream.

Turn your slow cooker on low. Meanwhile, cook the turkey in a pan over medium high heat. It doesn't need to be cooked all the way through, only about 4 minutes until it is light brown/pink.

Throw the turkey into the slow cooker. Then add everything else! It doesn't matter in what order, literally throw it in the pot. Only thing to mention is make sure you add everything for the canned tomatoes. (juice, etc) With the beans, just drain the can (don't wash them off) and throw them in. Mix everything together and you're DONE.

Cook on low for 6 hours. If you're going to be gone longer, you can probably get away with "warm" for 8-10 hours. If you are around, go ahead and stir it every couple of hours but no worries if you can't.

Serve in bowls and add toppings of cheddar cheese, and sour cream for a little extra flavor. Bon appetite!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Rosemary Potato Chips

This is a fun and quick way to make your own potato chips. I had some potatoes laying around (you know...couch potatoes, ha ha!) and needed to get rid of them.

I used a mandoline (buy here) to get them this thin, but you can definitely use a sharp knife to slice thinly. Watch those fingers. It's a great snack that will disappear fast!

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

6 Small gold potatoes (use whatever you like, it's what I had)
Olive oil
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
Parchment paper

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. The oven needs to be hot otherwise it will take hours to bake these and they won't be crisp.

Meanwhile, slice all of your potatoes (skin on) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You don't have to use the parchment paper, but I think it helps with the grease. Once on the paper, drizzle with olive oil and season with rosemary, salt, and pepper. There's no specific measurements for this, just do enough to coat everything.

Bake for 20 minutes until crisp and brown around the edges. Timing may vary for different ovens, so just keep an eye on it. That's it! Very simple, fresh and easy!

WARNING: Since there are not any preservatives in these, they are best enjoyed the first day. With each day their crispness goes away.