Crinkle-Cut Organic Carrot and Feta Salad

I just got back into town from being a bridesmaid in my father’s wedding. And, because my dad is a food fanatic, I gorged myself at the joyous event. I ate sushi, clams casino, tenderloin on crostini, flounder, scallops, lamp lollipops, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And that doesn’t even include the four course dinner or dessert extravaganza. Last night, I was at a massive, overwhelming, international Vegas buffet where two people happened to get married.

Now that I’m home, I want a simple, no fuss, healthy snack. I desperately need to go grocery shopping, so my fridge is pretty bare bones right now. But a girl’s gotta eat. And this girl’s resourceful. I have a bag of organic carrots and lots of cheese. We always have a ton of cheese.

I grabbed my new favorite crinkle cutter, my veggie peeler, two carrots, feta, and my shall-remain-nameless-always-perfect-for-emergencies Italian Dressing (geeeeeeeeeezfine, it’s Ken’s) , and made the perfect snack. I normally don’t write about quick snacks, but this one warrants a post.

To make this, peel and crinkle cut (or regular knife cut) two organic carrots. Fun colored ones would be great, too. Combine with two tablespoons of feta cheese, one tablespoon of dressing, a small pinch of sugar, and a couple grinds of black pepper. Toss and eat. How simple is that?!?!

The sweetness from the carrots, combined with the salty, tangy bite of the feta make the ideal scarfable snack. Plus, and I can’t ignore this, but the wavy crinkle cut shape is really fun!

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I’ll be enjoying this time and time again. I hope you give it try!

Quick Fix Dinner: Penne with Chicken, Cremini Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, and Chardonnay

Perhaps I should’ve put Chardonnay as the first word of this title. Although only a splash went into the dish, the flavor that came from it was outstanding and noteworthy. And, truth be told, I started cooking after just getting home from an overnight trip and drove through a torrential can’t-see-two-feet-in-front-of-the-car downpour on the highway; suffice to say, I was a little edgy. Mmmmmmm, wine.

So, we got home around 8 p.m. and were hungry. There was absolutely no way I was heading back out, so I scrounged the fridge. I had some chicken breast, cremini mushrooms, onions, garlic, Chardonnay (of course), leftover penne pasta, sundried tomato oil, and lemon. I couldn’t have planned this better myself! So I got to cooking. I made it up as I went along because I was too hungry and tired to think. The results were remarkable. (And I don’t believe that everything tastes good when one is hungry. I’m still picky, no matter the rumble in my tummy.)

So, I promise this’ll be good. Follow along…

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced thin
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced thinImage
  • Sundried tomato infused EVOO (garlic EVOO or plain would also be fine)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Good quality Chardonnay
  • Fresh lemon
  • 12 ounces of cooked (leftover if you’ve got it) penne or other bite-sized pasta

Once you’ve got everything prepped, this will go relatively quickly. Ready?

1. Add 1 tablespoon of your infused EVOO (or plain) to a large non-stick skillet and heat to medium-high.

2. Add the quartered cremini mushrooms and let them sauté for about a minute while constantly moving them around the pan (don’t let them burn!).

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3. Add all of the sliced onions, and give it a good stir.

4. Add a nice pinch of sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper to the pan.

5. Let this cook for 3-4 minutes while constantly moving the ingredients around the pan.

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6. Remove the mushrooms and onions from the pan and set aside.

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7. Wipe out skillet, and add 1-2 tablespoons of the infused EVOO again. Keep the the heat at medium-high.

8. If you haven’t alredy done so, season both sides of the chicken breast with sea salt and cracked black pepper.

8. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, add the paillards to the pan. They should make a nice sizzle.

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9. Turn the chicken after 3 minutes.

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10. Sauté for 3 minutes on the other side. It should be nice and golden brown.

11. Remove from the pan and set let rest for a few minutes.

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11. While the chicken is resting, feel free to pour a glass of wine, start cleaning up a bit, or set the table. You’ve got about three minutes of free time.

12. Thinly slice the chicken on a clean cutting surface.

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13. Add 1 tablespoon of the same flavored or plain oil back to the skillet and heat to medium-high again.

14. Add the sliced garlic and mushroom and onion mixture. Give it a good stir and let saute for 1-2 minutes.

15. Add the sliced chicken to the pan and mix it all together.

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16. Once this is good and sizzling, add about a 1/2 cup of good quality Chardonnay.

17. Let this cook down for about 30 seconds, and add a nice pinch of crushed red pepper flakes.

18. Add the cooked penne to the pan. Let this all heat through, and add half a squeezed lemon.

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19. Taste and adjust for seasonings.

NOTE: If I had fresh basil, I’d have added it at the very end. It would be a pefect addition.

20. Plate it up and add some fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese.

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Happy eating, everyone!

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Servings: 4

Black Bean and Chick Pea Salad: Protein-Packed and Delicious!


20130820-173456.jpgI’ve recently been eating a ton of legumes. I love how versatile they are and how easy they are to have on hand. I keep them dried in my pantry and even a few cans of organic, low-sodium options for when I’m in a rush. And, when it’s this stinking hot outside, a cold bean salad is a fantastic option for a light lunch or BBQ side dish. When I initially began throwing this together, I wasn’t sure I should blog it right away without getting feedback from my brutally honest friends. Well, it passed the test over the weekend, and I’ve even enjoyed toying around with the leftovers. Moral of the story? I’m now confident enough to share it with you today.

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 4 cups garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 green cubanelle or small green bell peppers, diced or julienned
  • 1 brightly colored bell pepper, diced or julienned (I chose purple)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño or other hot pepper, finely diced (remove ribs and seeds to keep heat down)
  • zest of one organic lemon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • few grinds black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic infused EVOO (use plain if you don’t have this)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon local honey
  • 1 minced garlic clove (if you haven’t used garlic-infused EVOO)

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl, fold gently, and let marinate for at least an hour before eating. This recipe should serve about 10 small portions.

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Tweaks for cheese and meat lovers:

I added a bit of feta cheese and though it was a perfect addition. My boyfriend had it with feta and grilled chicken and thought it made a perfect lunch on a hot day.

Happy eating!

 

Necessity is the Mother of…Chicken Sausage Meatballs

Meatballs are good. They’re great, in fact. But sometimes, I’m hungry and impatient. Going to the store is out of the question. What’s in the fridge and pantry is what’s gonna end up on our plates and in our mouths. Sometimes that leads to resourcefulness, wild abandon, and chicken sausage balls. And then we end up happy that we didn’t have ground beef in the house. Cue this amazing freshly ground, locally made, chicken sausage with fennel seeds, black pepper, and sea salt. I love it because it comes casing-free and, therefore, über adaptable. For this necessity-is-the-mother-of-yumminess recipe, we used:

1 pound ground chicken sausage
1 local, free-range egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

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As with any meatball, gently mix all the ingredients by hand.

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If the mixture feels too wet, the balls aren’t going to hold together and definitely won’t withstand frying. If this is the case, you can add more breadcrumb to counteract the moisture in the sausage. This is the ratio that worked for us, but you can adjust as needed. Once you’re happy with the consistency, try forming a ball.

TIP: moistening your hands with a bit of water will help the meatball rolling process. Dry hands will be sticky, and rolling a ball will be more difficult.

We made our sausage balls about 1″ in diameter, but you can choose the size you like best. Just be sure to make them relatively even in size for ease of cooking time.

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Heat a large non-stick skillet to medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Once it starts shimmering, it’s hot enough to start dropping the sausage balls. Be careful. Place them one by one into the pan without splattering hot oil on yourself.

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Once they’re all in pan, let them brown. Turn them with tongs (it’s easier than a spoon), but don’t squeeze them too hard as they’ll fall apart. See how nice they look?

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Brown them on all sides (as best as you can because they obviously roll around). The caramelization will be a bonus to your homemade tomato sauce as the intense flavor will permeate throughout. If you make homemade sauce like we do, this is the time to use it. But feel free to use any store-bought sauce you like. Ladle some warmed sauce over the browned chicken sausage meatballs until they’re just about covered. Add more if you’d like.

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Put the lid on your skillet and simmer the sauce and meatballs on low for about 20 minutes. This should be enough time for the sauce to adopt some of the flavor from the caramelization on the meatballs and vice versa. Boil up some pasta, get out the cheese, and get to eating.

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