Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mushroom Ravioli with Spring Herb Pesto

This is what I like to call "lazy Sunday" food. It's hearty and comforting, and on a dark, rainy day like this one, it definitely hit the spot. The meaty mushrooms and lemony ricotta pair perfectly with the fresh herb pesto (and a glass of white wine).

If you want to make this dish for entertaining, I recommend serving it with grilled filet mignon or sirloin steak. Enjoy!


 (We're full...)

1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add minced mushrooms and cook 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Turn heat to medium-high and add white wine. Simmer until wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.


4. Turn heat off and add breadcrumbs, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, ricotta and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.


5. While the filling cools, combine pesto ingredients in a blender until smooth; adjust seasonings as needed, transfer to a bowl and set aside.


6. Lay 12 wonton wrappers on a cutting board or baking sheet and place a scoop of filling onto the center of each. Use your fingertip to run water around the edge of each wonton and top with another wonton, pressing lightly to seal.



7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook ravioli until cooked through (they will start to float). Drain.
8. To serve, spread pesto onto each plate and top with 3 raviolis. Finish with more grated cheese, if desired.

Mushroom Ravioli with Spring Herb Pesto
Serves 4

All you need:
Mushroom filling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. sliced portobello mushrooms, minced
8 oz. white button mushrooms, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/4 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/3 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
3 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

Spring Pesto
2 cups baby arugula
2 cups basil leaves
2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

24 wonton wrappers

All you do:
1. Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add minced mushrooms and cook 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Turn heat to medium-high and add white wine. Simmer until wine has evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Turn heat off and add breadcrumbs, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, ricotta and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside to cool.
5. While the filling cools, combine pesto ingredients in a blender until smooth; adjust seasonings as needed, transfer to a bowl and set aside.
6. Lay 12 wonton wrappers on a cutting board or baking sheet and place a scoop of filling onto the center of each. Use your fingertip to run water around the edge of each wonton and top with another wonton, pressing lightly to seal.
7. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Working in batches, cook ravioli until cooked through (they will start to float). Drain.
8. To serve, spread pesto onto each plate and top with 3 raviolis. Finish with more grated cheese, if desired.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Grilled Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps

I know what you're thinking - grilled lettuce? I made this salad last year for a news segment called "Backyard BBQ" and the crowd went wild. The reason being, this dish is so fun and absolutely irresistible (and unexpected).

Making Caesar dressing from scratch is much better for you than the bottled stuff. You may be tempted to leave the anchovies out, but trust me, they give the dressing it's yummy "umami" flavor. And the Parmesan crisps are slightly sweet and nutty - the perfect compliment to the smoky lettuce.

This dish can be served as an appetizer, side dish or light meal. Happy grilling!

1. Preheat oven to 400; preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silpat and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, placing the spoonfuls 1/2-inch apart (make 8 total). Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.


3. Pat anchovy fillets dry with a paper towel. Combine garlic cloves, anchovy fillets, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, salt and egg yolk in a blender; process until smooth. With blender running, add oil; process again until smooth.


4. Place lettuce, cut sides down, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes. Turn; grill 1 minute. Remove from heat.



5. Place 2 Parmesan crisps on each plate, top with grilled romaine, and drizzle with dressing. Serve with grilled chicken, if desired.

Grilled Caesar Salad with Parmesan Crisps
Serves 4

All you need:
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 canned anchovy fillets
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large pasteurized egg yolk
1/4 cup olive oil
Cooking spray
2 large romaine lettuce hearts, cut in half lengthwise

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 400; preheat grill to medium-high.
2. Pour a heaping tablespoon of Parmesan onto a silpat and lightly pat down. Repeat with the remaining cheese, placing the spoonfuls 1/2-inch apart (make 8 total). Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.
3. Pat anchovy fillets dry with a paper towel. Combine garlic cloves, anchovy fillets, lemon juice, mustard, pepper, salt and egg yolk in a blender; process until smooth. With blender running, add oil; process again until smooth.
4. Place lettuce, cut sides down, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes. Turn; grill 1 minute. Remove from heat.
5. Place 2 Parmesan crisps on each plate, top with grilled romaine, and drizzle with dressing. Serve with grilled chicken, if desired.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Chicken Quesadillas with Fresh Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema

I know it's still April, but when I saw sweet corn for sale in the produce department that actually looked decent, I had to pick some up for my sweet corn salsa. Instead of having the salsa with tortilla chips, I decided to scoop it into a quesadilla with pepper jack cheese. And because I love spicy food, I took it a step further and made a chipotle crema to go on top. If you aren't the biggest fan of hot food, just serve these with plain sour cream.

These quesadillas are delicious and super balanced (4 food groups!), making them great family meal.


1. In a medium bowl, combine salsa ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.



2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add taco sauce and stir to combine. Transfer chicken to a bowl.


3. In a blender, process chipotle peppers and sour cream for 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl.


4. Coat a griddle with nonstick spray (or a large skillet). Place 2 tortillas on the griddle and top with a sprinkle of cheese, followed by a scoop of chicken, a scoop of salsa and another sprinkle of cheese. Top each with another tortilla and spray tops with more cooking spray.



5. Turn heat to medium-high and cook quesadillas for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cheese and is melted. Transfer quesadillas to a platter and make the remaining 2 quesadillas.

6. Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve with a side of chipotle crema for dipping.

Chicken Quesadillas with Fresh Corn Salsa and Chipotle Crema
Serves 4-6

All you need:
Salsa 
1 1/2 cups sweet corn (from 3 cobs)
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound chicken breast tenderloins, diced
2 tablespoons taco sauce

2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup light sour cream

8 oz. shredded pepper jack cheese
8 (8-inch) multigrain tortillas
Salt and pepper, to taste
Nonstick cooking spray

All you do:
1. In a medium bowl, combine salsa ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add taco sauce and stir to combine. Transfer chicken to a bowl.
3. In a blender, process chipotle peppers and sour cream for 30 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl.
4. Coat a griddle with nonstick spray (or a large skillet). Place 2 tortillas on the griddle and top with a sprinkle of cheese, followed by a scoop of chicken, a scoop of salsa and another sprinkle of cheese. Top each with another tortilla and spray tops with more cooking spray.
5. Turn heat to medium-high and cook quesadillas for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cheese and is melted. Transfer quesadillas to a platter and make the remaining 2 quesadillas.
6. Cut each quesadilla into quarters and serve with a side of chipotle crema for dipping.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Coconut Shrimp Salad with Orange and Avocado

I enjoy anything coconut, but coconut shrimp are one of my absolute favorite appetizers. The nutty, toasted outer coating paired with the flavor of sweet shrimp is a perfect combo. I decided to make this dish quite a bit healthier by baking the shrimp instead of frying. It doesn't get quite as crispy, but pretty darn close. And the flavor is spot on.

While these shrimp would be perfect on their own with a dipping sauce, I decided to put them on a salad with some fresh clementine segments and diced avocado (because why wouldn't I put avocado on there?). Finished with a citrus vinaigrette, this salad is a perfect appetizer or light meal.


1. Preheat oven to 500.
2. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
3. Combine egg whites, Dijon and honey in a small bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, combine panko and coconut. Transfer to a plate.

5. Dip each shrimp in the egg mixture, then the panko mixture; place on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes per side or until golden brown.

6. Meanwhile, process the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.

7. Place spinach onto 6 plates top with clementine segments, diced avocado and crispy shrimp. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

Coconut Shrimp Salad with Orange and Avocado
Serves 4

All you need:
3 egg whites
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
24 shrimp (peeled, deveined and tails removed)

Citrus Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 shallot, minced
1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper, to taste

1 (6 oz.) bag baby spinach
3 clementines, peeled and sectioned
1 avocado, peeled and diced

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 500.
2. Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper and coat with cooking spray.
3. Combine egg whites, Dijon and honey in a small bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, combine panko and coconut. Transfer to a plate.
5. Dip each shrimp in the egg mixture, then the panko mixture; place on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes per side or until golden brown.
6. Meanwhile, process the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl.
7. Place spinach onto 6 plates top with clementine segments, diced avocado and crispy shrimp. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Smoky Baked Beans 'N Greens

My parents are in town this weekend and it's crazy that I would make beans because they used to be my least favorite food growing up. We used to sit at the table and cry because my dad wanted us to finish our beans (these were canned beans though...).

Now my taste buds have matured and I absolutely love making baked beans from scratch. They are the perfect sweet and savory side. Me being the fiber queen, I also decided to add some leafy greens for added nutrition. Pair with grilled chicken or ribs and you've got a wonderful springtime meal!



1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.


3. Add the yellow onion and garlic to the bacon drippings and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the Swiss chard and ginger to the onion mixture and cook until chard is wilted, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.


5. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, bbq sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, paprika and orange zest/juice.


6. Pour sauce over the vegetable mixture and simmer for 5 minutes.

7. Add beans and reserved bacon and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a 13x9 pan (coated with non-stick spray). Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours or until desired consistency. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.



Smoky Baked Beans 'N Greens 
Serves 4

All you need:
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices smoky bacon, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard, de-stemmed and chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup bbq sauce (choose your favorite)
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon paprika
Juice and zest of 1 orange
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper, to taste

All you do:
1. Preheat oven to 325.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel and set aside.
3. Add the yellow onion and garlic to the bacon drippings and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add the Swiss chard and ginger to the onion mixture and cook until chard is wilted, about 2 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.
5. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, bbq sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire, mustard, vinegar, paprika and orange zest/juice.
6. Pour sauce over the vegetable mixture and simmer for 5 minutes.
7. Add beans and reserved bacon and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a 13x9 pan (coated with non-stick spray). Bake uncovered for 1 1/2 hours or until desired consistency. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.