Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pan-Fried Gnocchi with Golden Tomato Sauce

You can't help but be in awe of all the bounty that nature provides this time of year. Roaming the farmer's market last weekend I was taken back by all the beautiful colors. I especially loved the huge variety of beets and tomatoes.

                                                 


Cherry tomatoes are good, but there is something about the golden cherry tomato that makes my mouth water. It's so sweet! This past week I was testing recipes at my job and decided to make a dish that highlights their wonderful flavor.

Pan Fried Gnocchi with Golden Tomato Sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. golden tomatoes
1 lb. fresh spinach
12 oz. pkg whole wheat gnocchi
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 TB pine nuts, toasted

Method:
1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and saute until golden and fragrant then add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
2. Cook the tomatoes, stirring occasionally, until they start to "pop" then add the spinach. Turn the heat to low and let the flavors marry.
3. Heat a separate non-stick skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the gnocchi and spray the top of the gnocchi with cooking spray as well so nothing sticks. Cook the gnocchi 2-3 minutes on each side until crispy and light brown.

To serve:
Pour sauce on a platter. Top with pan fried gnocchi, parmesan cheese and pine nuts.




Friday, June 29, 2012

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

Last week I went to visit one of our local fish stores to pick up some quality seafood. I've always been a huge fan of everything from the sea, but especially salmon. It's super delicious but also supplies a huge number of health benefits including eye, skin/hair and cardiovascular health as well as cancer prevention. Wild salmon is the perfect healing food for people with diabetes. It's exceptionally high in omega-3's, essential fatty acids that are crucial for reducing inflammation and lowering blood sugar. I decided to make this dish for my dad who was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I can't tell you how many times he said the words "OUTSTANDING" when he tried this dish. An added bonus is that it's such an easy dish to prepare. I paired it with brown rice that I jazzed up with some fresh veggies. Enjoy!

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets (6-8 oz each)
1/4 cup dijon mustard
2 TB brown sugar
Salt/Pepper

Method:

Preheat broiler. Combine the dijon and brown sugar in a small bowl. Line a cookie sheet with foil or parchment and lay salmon fillets on it (skin side down). Season the fillets with salt and pepper and brush them with the mustard glaze until completely coated. Broil the salmon 3-4 inches from the heat for 8-10 minutes until golden (watch carefully). 


*Tip: I have also made this on the grill using cedar planks. You can buy these at any hardware store (like Home Depot or Lowes). Just make sure the planks have been soaking in water for at least 4 hours so that they don't burn. It's such a unique flavor!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Bow Tie Pasta with Balsamic Cream Sauce

Honestly, who doesn't love a good balsamic? My absolute favorite is the 18 year aged balsamic that my boyfriend and I bought when we were visiting Holland, MI last year. The oil and vinegar shop there was my absoute heaven. SO many flavors to choose from! I decided to take the vinegar (although completely wonderful all by itself) and it turn it into a sauce. This dish is definitely a treat since it's a little calorie dense with the cream, but it's so summery when you bulk it up with lots of fresh spinach and tomatoes. The key to the sauce is letting the onions get really nice and caramelized and giving the sauce time to cook so the flavors can marry. Give it a little love :) You won't be disappointed.

Bow Tie Pasta with Balsamic Cream Sauce

8 oz whole wheat bow tie pasta
2 TB olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, minced
2 TB good balsamic vinegar (as Ina Garten would say)
1 chicken boullion cube (could also use vegetarian)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese (or parmesan)
1 lb fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, julienne (could also use cherry tomatoes; I just love the sweetness of sundried)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and turn the heat to medium low; cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are almost dark brown (this will smell amazing).
2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and keep warm.
3. Add the balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook 1 minute longer; then add the boullion cube, milk and heavy cream. Cook on low heat for 3-5 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Season to taste.
4. Stir in the cheese, fresh spinach and sundried tomatoes and cook until the spinach wilts.
5. Stir in the warm pasta and toss to coat.

This would be good with grilled chicken for you meat lovers!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Chili Aioli

I'm crazy about sauces. It's the perfect tool to bring a dish together. I always choose a fish or shrimp taco if it's on the menu and it's normally topped with some sort of spicy mayo. I was at the Asian market the other day and bought some mae ploy sauce and decided to play around with it to make a good sauce. It was a success! Mae ploy is a slightly sweet chili sauce that is delicious on baked chicken, seafood and vegetable dishes. It's also a great dipping sauce. If you can't find mae ploy, you could also use siracha.

                                                   

Shrimp Tacos with Garlic Chili Aioli

Tacos:
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 lb cleaned, deveined shrimp
8 oz. bag frozen corn, thawed
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
6 corn tortillas

Aioli:
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3/4 cup mayo (light is ok)
1 TB mae ploy sauce (or siracha)


Method:
1. Saute garlic and onion over medium high heat for 2-3 minutes until onion becomes translucent; add shrimp and chili powder and cook 1 minute longer until shrimp is cooked through. Turn heat to low.

2. Heat a separate skillet over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Add the corn and spray the corn with cooking spray so that it doesn't stick. Let the corn cook 3-4 minutes (do not move it). After that time, stir the corn and cook until all the sides are golden.

3. Combine all the aioli ingredients in a small bowl.

To serve:
Warm tortillas in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Top with the shrimp mixture, toasted corn and shredded cabbage. Drizzle aioli over.

I served mine with lime tortilla chips and sangria :)






Monday, June 18, 2012

Kefir

I've always been a big fan of frozen yogurt but this year I discovered a store nearby that sells frozen kefir. It's delicious, but I never really took the time to actually discover what it is. After doing some research I found out why it really is a wonder food. This is what I found:


Kefir’s tart and refreshing flavor is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but it contains beneficial yeast as well as friendly ‘probiotic’ bacteria found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria and yeast in kefir combine symbiotically to give superior health benefits when consumed regularly. It is loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and contains easily digestible complete proteins.
Kefir can be made from any type of milk, cow, goat or sheep, coconut, rice or soy. It is made from gelatinous white or yellow particles called “grains.” This makes kefir unique, as no other milk culture forms grains. These grains contain the bacteria/yeast mixture clumped together with casein (milk proteins) and complex sugars. The grains ferment the milk, incorporating their friendly organisms to create the cultured product. The grains are then removed with a strainer before consumption of the kefir and added to a new batch of milk.

Roasted Grape, Fennel and Blue Cheese Flatbread

Summer is here! I love roaming the produce section at the grocery store this time of year because everything is at the peak of freshness. With that said, with all the ingredients available it's fun to play around with different flavors. I especially love combining sweet and salty components because it's a perfect balance. Pizzas can be topped with so many things but it's a good opportunity to think outside the box. In this case, I combined sweet roasted grapes with creamy blue cheese and caramelized fennel and topped it with fresh Italian parsley and lemon juice. Paired with a simple salad, it's a quick and super yummy dinner that's ready in no time.

Here's what you need:

8 oz. whole wheat pizza dough (or 1 ready made whole wheat pizza crust)
1 bunch seedless red grapes
1 bulb fennel, tops removed and cored, sliced thin
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped
Juice of one lemon
Olive oil

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. Place grapes on a cookie sheet with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15-20 minutes until they start to "pop". Remove from the oven and let rest. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fennel is slightly golden brown, stirring occasionally.
3. Roll out the pizza dough and lay on a pizza stone or a greased cookie sheet and bake 5-10 minutes (until just starting to set).
4. Brush the crust with olive oil and top with the roasted grapes, caramelized fennel and blue cheese and bake 5 minutes more.
5. Finish the pizza with chopped parsley and lemon juice.

YUM.