Sunday, November 25, 2012

Braised Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

So this year, Thanksgiving turned into a two day event. The first day we had the traditional turkey dinner and sides which was delicious, but additional family members were coming to visit the next day and I wanted to cook something decadent but completely different. Braised short ribs are just that. The red wine sauce produced by cooking the ribs slowly in the oven is one of my favorites. Served on top of cheesy polenta, this dish is comfort food at it's finest.

                                                  

Braised Short Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

Serves 8

6 lb. beef short ribs
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 carrots, diced
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 bottle red wine
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
4 cups low sodium beef stock

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat in a large dutch oven. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and brown on both sides (do this in batches); transfer to a bowl once browned.
3. In the same pot, cook the carrots, celery and onion until tender (3-5 minutes), making sure to break up any brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Add flour and tomato paste and cook 1 minute longer.
4. Add the red wine and ribs back into the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 15 minutes.
5. Add the rosemary, thyme and beef stock. Cook 2 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, cook the polenta (recipe below).
6. Lay the ribs on a platter. Strain the sauce and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve over the ribs and polenta.



Cheesy Polenta

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (plus more if needed)
2 cups cornmeal
1 cup 2% sharp cheddar cheese
2 TB butter

Method:
1. Bring milk and chicken stock to a boil. Add cornmeal and bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat to low and simmer polenta for 20-25 minutes, stirring often with a whisk. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Once polenta is creamy and cooked through, add butter and cheddar cheese. Serve immediately.





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pumpkin Dip

Looking for a quick, delicious pumpkin recipe? This pumpkin dip is a sweet treat that is perfect served as a holiday appetizer or dessert. The bonus is that it's gluten free! I recommend serving it with gluten free gingersnaps or honeycrisp apple slices.

Pumpkin Dip

10 servings

1 8 oz package cream cheese (could use the lower fat kind if you like)
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 15 oz can 100% natural pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice
Juice and zest of 1 orange


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wilted Arugula Salad with Pan-Seared Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes

When you're craving a light meal, it doesn't mean you are tied down to a dish of steamed vegetables and fish. I say bring on the FLAVOR. And this dish screams flavor! Sundried tomatoes are always one of the my favorite ingredients to use because they add sweetness and a delightful chewy texture. Arugula adds a nice peppery note and the avocado provides that creamy, comforting mouth feel that we crave. Finishing the dish with lime juice brings it all together. Enjoy these leftovers for lunch as well (that is if you have any!).

                                                


Wilted Arugula Salad with Pan-Seared Chicken and Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 1-2

6 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup white wine
2 TB sundried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 TB balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups arugula
1/2 avocado, sliced thin
Juice of half a lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

Method:
1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a stainless steel skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board to rest.


2. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and sundried tomatoes. Cook 1 minute. Add the balsamic vinegar and bring the sauce to a boil. Once at a rapid boil, reduce to a simmer and cook 3 minutes longer.

3. Lay the arugula on a serving plate. Top with the avocado slices.


4. Finish with the chicken, sundried tomato sauce and lime juice.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Sides

It's almost Turkey time and that means it's time for me to once again re-vamp my Thanksgiving menu. I see this as an opportunity to let my creative juices flow and play around with different flavor combinations. The usual sides like mashed potatoes and stuffing are delicious, but why not think outside of the box (literally)? It's a good time of year to utilize seasonal ingredients like squash, potatoes, brussel sprouts and cabbage (just to name a few). Here are recipes for two side dishes that have become a staple on my family's Thanksgiving table. If you try them, please let me know what you think! Your family may just start to crave veggies (or at least that would be my hope). Enjoy!

Braised Cabbage and Apples

Serves 8-10

2 ounces bacon, diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 head red cabbage, sliced thin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cinnamon stick
2 tsp brown sugar
1 TB apple cider vinegar
1 granny smith apple, cored and diced

Method:
1. Heat 1 TB olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the bacon and cook 1 minute (until fragrant). Add onions and cook 1-2 minutes longer, until onions are translucent.
2. Add the cabbage and saute for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the the wine, broth, cinnamon stick, sugar and vinegar. Mix well, cover and braise until cabbage is almost tender, 35-40 minutes.
4. Add the apples; cover and braise 5 minutes longer.



Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Dijon Vinaigrette

Serves 8-10

1 1/2 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
Salt and pepper, to taste

Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 TB dijon mustard
1 TB apple cider vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Lay brussel sprouts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil and bake 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. While still hot, combine brussel sprouts with the dijon vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl. Adjust seasonings as needed.


Have a great holiday!