Sunday, July 25, 2010

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

"How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways."  Elizabeth Barrett Browning said it right but I'm sure she wasn't talking about broccoli.  I mean who says love and broccoli in the same sentence?  Not many.  Broccoli is so great for cooking because it's so versatile.  It can be broiled, roasted, sauteed, steamed, stir-fried, pureed - not to mention the health benefits it provides.  I think most of us steam it, add a little olive oil or butter and serve it up.  How would you like to taste broccoli that has been slightly caramelized so it has a touch of sweetness, offset by a slightly salty bite with Parmesan, a zing of lemon juice, and last but not least the crunch and creaminess of pine nuts.  For once you'll enjoy eating your vegetables.

I'm always searching for great, easy vegetable dishes.  Vegetables can get very boring.  Especially if we get in a rut and fix them the same way every day.  We've all heard it many times - we've got to eat our vegetables.  Unfortunately, many vegetables don't have a lot of flavor unless they're straight from the garden.  For those of us that don't have a garden, we have to improvise.  This means dressing them up by adding flavor with spices, fresh herbs, cheese, roasting, and grilling.  Did I mention cheese?  Whatever it takes.  

This recipe comes from Ina Garten who as I may have mentioned before is one of my favorites cooks.  Her recipes are always delicious.  I came across this recipe one day and tried it out and since then it has become a household favorite.  If you're having something simple like grilled chicken or fish, it can really add a nice touch to the plate and palate.       

Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

2 large heads of broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet until slightly browned
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (about 12 leaves)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Place the broccoli on a baking sheet.  Toss the garlic and drizzle about 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss the broccoli to evenly coat and spread it out in an even layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 20-25 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan and basil.  Serve hot.

Adapted from the barefoot contessa cookbook, back to basics

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Tad's Fabulous Fish

For me a vacation is all about the food.  Did I say that out loud?  It's true.  I have convinced myself that I can eat anything I want on a vacation no matter how crazy the price is or how much it's going to increase my ever expanding waist line.  On our recent vacation to Maui, we had some of the best tasting fish due to this recipe from Tad.  "Tad as in tadpole," said the captain of our fishing boat as he introduced himself to us.  I actually remembered his name.  Tad helped us catch two fish which we promptly cooked up with the captain's recipe that night and boy was it good - just as memorable as Tad.

Our trip to Maui was all that you'd expect from a tropical paradise.  Snorkeling and swimming in clear blue water, lounging on beautiful sandy beaches, walking to a waterfall in a downpour with water dripping from our noses.  Experiencing foods of the island like Opah (moonfish), which is a traditional Hawaiian fish and really nice.  Purple heart sweet potatoes, which are denser and richer than the sweet potatoes we commonly eat.  I loved seeing the natural state of the fruits like bananas growing on the tree, sugar cane in the raw, the taro root plant (sometimes eaten like a potato chip here), avocado and mango trees so large that you have to squint to see the fruit.

And then as if we snapped our fingers, the vacation is over.  How come they go by so fast?  Back to the craziness of life as we know it.  Back to waking up to the alarm clock, paying bills, doing laundry and the never ending daily question, what's for dinner.  Cooking fish for dinner is a great alternative to meat in that it's quick and easy.  I try buying fish that is abundant in nature and low in mercury.  I usually follow the rule of 10 minutes of cooking for every inch of thickness. You can always just stick your fork in it though and tell if it's flaky or not.  The recipe below is quick, easy and full of flavor.  If you like fish, you'll love this recipe.  It's great for fish that might dry out during cooking or for a more meaty fish like Mahi-Mahi, Cod or Halibut.


Tad's Fabulous Fish

1 lb fresh fish, cleaned and cut into large pieces
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
Seafood seasoning or salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix mayonnaise and Parmesan together in a bowl.  Make sure fish is washed and dry.  Sprinkle both sides of fish with seasoning.  Place in a baking dish.  Divide the mayo mixture up between the filets and spread evenly over the top of each fish filet.  About 1-2 tablespoons per fish.  Sprinkle dill on top of each fish.  Place in oven for 15-20 minutes or until flaky.  Bake 10 minutes per inch of thickness.  You can also cook the fish on the grill by placing it in foil and cooking it on medium heat for the same amount of time.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Calypso Chicken Salad

Do you like chicken salad?  A good chicken salad is creamy, a bit sweet, a bit salty, has some crunch in it and must have really tender chicken.  One of my favorite chicken salads was served at a place I used to work and it was mayonnaise based with cashews.  Yum - it brings back fond food memories.  The reason I am sharing this recipe with you is because this chicken salad has all those components and more.  The pineapple and grapes add sweetness, the green pepper and almonds add crunch and the curry powder gives it all a nice flavorful twist.  Not to mention that it came from a dear friend of mine.

My friend Judy gave me this recipe.  Judy is a mother, grandmother, golfer, volunteer, friend to many and from what I hear a very successful retired executive administrator.  She is what I call a whipper snapper in that she says what she thinks and doesn't appear to be afraid of anything or anyone.  She has more energy than I do and can definitely beat me at golf.  I feel blessed to have her in my life and I know first hand that she is a wonderful cook.  She made my husband and I the best Eggs Benedict that I have ever had one morning at her beach house.  I hope this Calypso Chicken Salad is one of many recipes that she shares with us.  Thanks Judy!

This is a great salad for a party - showers, luncheons or just as a lunch for yourself.  There are many ways you can serve this too - as a sandwich, on lettuce, or even on crackers.  A lovely side or garnish would be some watermelon or strawberries.  

Calypso Chicken Salad

1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon minced onion, dried or fresh
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 lb chicken, about 2-3 cups cooked and cubed chicken breast
1 cup green grapes
1/2 cup diced green pepper
1 8-oz can pineapple chunks, drained
1 small jar chopped pimentos, drained (optional)
1 cup slivered almonds (I didn't have slivered on hand so used sliced)

Combine the first six ingredients (the dressing) in a bowl.  Add chicken, grapes, pepper, pineapple and pimentos.  Mix and then cover to chill overnight.  When ready to serve, mix in 1/2 cup of almonds and sprinkle remaining on top.  I sprinkled a bit of parsley on top as well.  Serves 6.
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Roasted Chicken Breasts (if you feel like roasting your own)

3 bone-in, skin on chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place chicken breasts skin side up on a baking sheet.  Rub with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes or until cooked through.  Internal temperature should be 165 degrees.  Let cool and then remove meat from the bones.  Slice or shred the chicken into bite size cubes.  Make about 4 cups.  

Roasted Chicken Adapted from Ina Garten
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