Warm Spinach Breakfast Salad

Salad for breakfast?  Why not, my trainer says that before a workout, you should have a ton of protein and adding veggies doesn’t hurt.  I did look on the Internet for breakfast salads and there were some really great ideas.  Deciding to move forward with my own idea, I knew that my salad had to include an egg or two, some additional protein, and one of my favorite things on the planet….lightly wilted spinach enhanced with some lemon, garlic and balsamic vinegar.  OK pretty but not pretty enough, red is one of my favorite accent colors and I just happened to have half a red pepper left over from another recipe.

Bacon makes my mouth water but I tend to avoid it, so I decided that smoked turkey would be a great substitute and the dish would still have a nice hearty flavor.  To my surprise it worked beautifully.  If you’re a hardcore bacon fan, by all means go with that instinct and let me know what happens.

Warm Spinach Breakfast Salad

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1/2 sweet onion finely chopped

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (I like spicy)

1/2 large red pepper chopped

2 large portobello mushroom caps chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme

4 oz smoked turkey torn into small chunks

1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves

1-2 poached eggs

1/4 cup of parmesan or cheddar cheese grated

Carmelize the onions and garlic in the olive oil (medium heat about 1-2 minutes).  Add vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and pepper and stir into onion and garlic mixture (about 1 minute to blend flavors)

Add red peppers and cook until tender adding mushrooms while the peppers are still crisp.  Allow both to cook until tender but not mushy.  Add turkey and allow to warm.

Add fresh thyme and stir so that it’s evenly distributed.  Add spinach and allow leaves to wilt but not become mushy.

Top with a poached egg and grated parmesan or grated cheddar cheese.

This salad is colorful, nutritious and above all tasty!  Three of my favorite things in a dish!

Any special healthful breakfast recipes you want to share….I’d love to hear them!

Rack of Pork Roasted with Herbs, Vegetables and Potatoes


As of late I have been noticing a number of recipes for a Rack of Pork. I had never heard of this cut, but I love Rack of Lamb, so I found myself intrigued. While surveying the offerings at the Cotsco Meat Counter today, I decided to pick one up and give it a try.

In reading about the cut online, I discovered that it is simply a Pork Loin Roast, with the bones. Rave reviews described it as being infinitely more tasty and succulent than a traditional Pork Loin Roast, which can often be dry and bland. The more I read, the more excited I became to give this a try.

I actually cut my rack into three as it is only the Brit and I for dinner tonight. I do want to make something special for him, as this is his last night of teaching for this semester, so it is a call for a celebration of sorts. Anyway, I gave Margo one of the three Racks after self butchering, and I am anxiously awaiting her rendition of said Rack of Pork.

I began mine with a marinade:

Marinade Ingredients:


Whisk together:

1/3 cup Zinfandel Wine Vinegar

1 TbspDijon

¼ cup EVO

1 tsp Wildflower honey

1 sprig fresh Rosemary, pulled apart

1 sprig fresh, Thyme, pulled apart

Put the Rack of Pork in a Freezer Bag with the marinade and marinade at least 3 hours.

Vegetables & Potatoes:


You can really use any vegetables you think will roast well: Brussel Sprouts, Turnips, Fennel, Acorn Squash, Zucchini, etc. I also think Fingerling Potatoes would be fun and the multi-colored ones very pretty. I used Yukon Gold because I previously purchased a lifetime supply at Cotsco!

2 Potatoes, quartered

1 Parsnip, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch pieces

2 Carrots, peeled and cut into 3-4 inch pieces

¼ Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 3-4 in cubes

2 Beets, peeled

4PearlOnions

4 Baby Bella Mushrooms (again, these are a staple in my kitchen and I get a large basket each trip to Cotsco)

Preparation:


Preheat oven to 450. I used convection roast.

Toss the vegetables and potatoes with 1-2 Tbsp EVO, Sea Salt, Pepper, Fresh Thyme, Rosemary and fresh, shredded Sage leaves in the bottom of a small roasting pan.

Place the marinated Rack of Pork on top of the vegetables and potatoes. Set aside the bag with the marinade.

Finely chop 4-5 cloves of garlic and a 4 inch piece of peeled, fresh horseradish. Press this into the pork, both on top and on the sides. Some of this will fall off into the vegetables; this is ok.

Put roasting pan in oven and immediately turn oven down to 350. Roast for about an hour or until the internal temperature is 145. Remove from oven, transfer meat to a cutting board and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Remove vegetables and potatoes to a serving bowl and place roasting pan on stove top over medium heat. Deglaze pan juices with the marinade and reduce marinade by half. In a small saucepan, make a roux with 1 tbsp butter and 1 ½-2 tbsp flour. Add to reduced marinade and serve over meat.

So, everything they say about this cut of meat is true. The pork was flavorful, tender and moist. I like pork anyway, but I know I will lean towards a Rack of Pork from now on, in lieu of a boneless tenderloin. Yes, it is more fatty, but it is not terribly fatty and I would easily trade my portion of potatoes to enjoy this tasty treat.

As for the Brit….

Well, if the clean plate doesn’t say it all, I will quote him. “Probably the 5th greatest meal you have ever made me.” Considering I have cooked for him most nights for two years now, I’d say that’s pretty darn good!

Chicken Roulette’s with Bosc Pear, Smoked Fontina and Prosciutto in a savory Mushroom, Shallot and Vermouth Reduction

So Margo mentioned that she had a plethora of Bosc Pears left from her massive Cotsco pre-holiday shop yesterday. As we pondered the possibilities of recipes we could make to use up her pears, we also recognized that it had been quite some time since we had had ourselves a girl’s dinner. We had planned on getting together to work on this blog today anyway and it just so happens that the Brit is teaching tonight, so we decided to finish off our afternoon with kitchen experimentation culminating in a lovely dinner for two.

We had to run to Whole Foods to pick up some shallots and as we gathered the shallots, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted some parsnips that I had wanted to make a soup with later this week. As I approached the parsnips I noticed that in the neighboring bin was fresh horseradish root. I have never cooked with this before and thought perhaps we should try so I broke a 4 inch piece off of one of the rather large roots in the bin and tossed it in our cart.

Here’s what we came up with, and I must say, it was pretty darn good.

Chicken Roulette’s with Bosc Pear, Smoked Fontina and Prosciutto in a savory Mushroom, Shallot and Vermouth Reduction

Ingredients:

2 Organic Free Range Chicken Breasts (pounded until they confess or are ½ in thick, which ever comes first!)

4-6 Baby Bella Mushrooms, sliced

1 large Shallot, finely minced

1 Tbsp EVO

2 Tbsp Butter, divided

¼ Cup Flour, for dredging and thickening

2 Slices Prosciutto

About ½ Bosc Pear, thinly sliced

2 Slices Smoked Fontina

S&P

1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Thyme

1 Cup Low Sodium, no MSG Chicken Broth

½ Cup Extra Dry Vermouth

3 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 Convection, 375 if using traditional bake setting

Salt and Pepper breasts and then dredge with flour, shaking off excess. Top chicken breasts with a layer of sliced pear, then fontina cheese, and finally topping with prosciutto. Roll the chicken breast and secure with toothpick.

Melt 1 Tbsp Butter, with 1 Tbsp EVO over medium heat in a large skillet. Add chopped shallots and sliced mushrooms and cook until soft, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Add Lemon Thyme.

Add chicken to pan and brown on all sides, making sure to brown ends as well. I use a fork and hold the ends to the pan to accomplish this. Remove chicken to an oven proof pan. If using a convection oven, place on rack in the pan. Put chicken in oven.

Deglaze the skillet, scraping the bottom to get all of the browned bits dislodged and stir in chicken broth, vermouth and champagne vinegar. Increase heat to bring to a boil and then cover, decrease heat to low and simmer to reduce liquid by one half. This will take about 15 minutes.

Siphon about 1 Tbsp or so of the liquid from the skillet into a cup. Add about 1-2 Tbsp flour to make a thick roux. Add roux to the skillet and stir to combine and thicken the sauce. Once this is accomplished swirl in the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and season to taste with S&P.

Remove chcken from oven and reintroduce to the sauce in the skillet.

Serve and enjoy, being careful not to ingest the toothpick.

Asparagus steamed with Garlic and Lemon Rind

We used skinny Asparagus and trimmed the ends off. Place in skillet with about 1 inch of water. Add a smashed garlic clove and a piece of lemon rind. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Serve with melted butter or not!

 

Yukon Gold Smashed Potatoes with Ricotta and Fresh Horseradish

Ingredients:

4 Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8’s

2 Tbslp Butter

2 inch piece of Fresh Horseradish, peeled and very finely chopped

¼ cup Part Skim Ricotta (I used this because I had in the refrigerator. You can use this or cream cheese, or sour cream or milk or cream, depending on your preference or what you have.)

¼ cup Organic Half and Half

S&P

Panko, Mustard and Mushroom Crusted Rack of Lamb

The Thanksgiving rush is upon us now: menu planning, cooking, shopping, cleaning and yet life does not stop. All the more reason to find delicious, easy, fast non-poultry dishes to make.

So tonight, in between trying to figure out how to drive more traffic to this blog ( I need to believe that someone out there is reading this), preparing a dish for Saturday’s Environmental Learning for Kids Potluck and creating and procuring a list of things to bring for our Thanksgiving trip to Tahoe, I made this sumptuous Rack of Lamb:

Ingredients:

Rack of Lamb (mine was 1.2 pounds and was more than enough for two)

S&P

Bouquet Garni

3 cloves Garlic

3 Baby Bella Mushrooms, finely chopped

3 Tbslp.DijonMustard

½ Cup Panko (Japanese Bread Crumbs)

¼ Cup Grated Parmesan

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400- I set mine to Convection Roast

Rub Lamb Rack with Salt & Pepper.

Slice garlic into slivers (resembling slivered almonds) and with a small paring knife create slits into the lamb meat in which to insert the garlic slivers.

Heat a small broiling pan over medium heat on the top of the stove. Brown the garlic studded Rack of Lamb for about a minute or so on each side. Hold with fork to brown ends. Remove from heat.

In a small mixing bowl, mix Mustard, Panko, Parmesan and chopped Mushrooms. Sprinkle generously with Bouquet Garni (I probably used 2 tsp.) and mix to form a paste.

Cover the Rack of Lamb with the Panko, Mustard, Mushroom Mixture, pressing it lightly with your fingers to adhere and smooth.

Roast in preheated oven for about 20 minutes (will be medium rare)

 I served this with thick Eggplant slices, which I rubbed with EVO and Crushed Garlic and then sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese. I also roasted some Baby Beets, rubbed with EVO and sprinkled with Sea Salt and Baked Potatoes.

I put the potatoes in first, an hour prior to serving time, then put the vegetables in 20 minutes later and finally the Rack of Lamb 20 minutes after the veggies.

Delish….

Dreamy Spiced Pumpkin Soufflee

Finished Pumpkin Souffle

Last week on our Snow Day Margo and I went shopping for supplies. Upon entering my local King Soopers we were greeted by a large bin with my favorite sign: FREE!!  Low and behold we discovered a virgin blogger’s Mecca: the bin was filled with exotic organic squash and they were ours for the taking.

We filled our wagon with a couple of what looked to be large, white pumpkins, a couple of knarly green beauts labeled “Galeux D’Elysines” and a few petit, camel color pumpkins labeled Chirimen Squash. I say “labeled “Galeux D’Elysines” because when I looked them up online, all of the descriptions I read stated that they were pink, not green. Anyway, I digress.

Sunday, I cut this in half horizontally, turned each half pulp side down on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked at 400 degrees, until soft to the touch (about 1 hour, depending on size).


White Pumpkin

After cooling the pumpkin to touch, I scooped the pulp into and pulsed until I had a smooth puree. I stored this in Tupperware, in my fridge.

Today we made the most delicious soufflé, perfect as a side dish for Thanksgiving, or even a decadent Sunday Supper with a salad made of Arugula, Roasted Beets, Caramelized Red Onion & Feta.

Recipe

¾ Cup Pumpkin Puree

¼ tsp Ground Ginger

¼ tsp Allspice

¼ tsp Ground Cloves

½ tsp Cinnamon

1 Tblsp Molasses

¼ Cup Half and Half

¼ Cup 1% Milk

1 Tblsp Maple Syrup

¼ tsp. Salt

1 Tblsp Cornstarch

1 Egg Yolk

2 Egg Whites

½ Cup Flour

Butter, Granulated Sugar, Brown Sugar to prepare dish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400 and place rack 1/3 of the way down

  1. Blend Pumpkin, Spices and Molasses in medium sized bowl
  2. Stir in flour to blend
  3. In small saucepan bring Half and Half, Milk, Maple Syrup and Salt to boil, over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir Constarch into Milk Mix and stir to combine.
  5. Remove from heat,
  6. Stir in Egg Yolk, quickly to blend.
  7. Beat Egg Whites with Electric Beater until they form soft peaks.
  8. Fold Egg Whites into Pumpkin Mix
  9. Butter a small Souffle Dish or 2-3 Rammekins and Sprinkle with Granulated Sugar.
  10. Pour Souffle into Souffle Dish and Sprinkle with Brown Sugar
  11. Place Souffle Dish in Pan of Water
  12. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until puffy and browned

Pre-baked souffle

If making for Thanksgiving, multiply by 4 -6 depending on crowd size and extend cooking time to allow for larger dishes. I would assume that a large Souffle Dish could take 30-50 minutes.

Devilishly Delightful Pumpkin Stew

Saturday was a gorgeous day. The trees sported a vast array of vibrant colors: yellow, red, deep crimson, greenish yellow, burnt orange, amongst other hues. The sun radiated a pleasing 80 some-odd degrees and was juxtaposed against the snow-capped mountain range to the West of us.

When I had originally invited Jan and Mike (AKA: Jan’s Man) over for lunch I had mentioned that our pool was still open. Just the day earlier I had sat by the same pool with my girlfriend Deb. As we waded in, we discovered that the heat was in fact turned off. Today, I had awoken to discover the pool in the process of being drained. Oh well, it was still a lovely day to dine Al Fresco.

Jan’s man turned out to be quite the Mixologist. He arrived with Freshies Bloody Mary Mix, all kinds of spices and accoutrements and made the most mah-velous Bloody Mary’s to insure that we all drank our veggies:

I had assembled and cooked the stew and stuffed my pumpkin the day before. Said pumpkin had been seeded, scooped, oiled, salted and peppered and I had pressed fresh grated sharp cheddar into the bottom of my bright orange cooking vessel. The added bonus was when I tossed the rinsed pumpkin seeds with EVO and a little Green Chili Infused sea sat and roasted them for a snack!

I was making a small pumpkin as there were just four of us, but I have also made a much larger one at Thanksgiving last year. I used the version I found in Vegetarian Times, doubled it and it had made a lovely dish side dish & a main for the vegetarians at my table. This is my version of their recipe along side of theirs which was published in the Oct. 1, 2008 issue

Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin

(For Vegetarians, omit the pork)

 

Ingredients:

 

1 cup diced onion

2 Tbslp. EVO, divided

1 diced, boneless pork chop tossed in flour, salt & pepper

2 red Anaheim Chili’s (they suggest 1 red bell pepper), diced

4 cloves garlic minced (they use 2)

(my addition-1 Red Serrano Pepper, chopped, with seeds)

I used 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder, 1/2 tsp Chipotle, 1/4 tsp Habanera Infused Sea Salt; they used 1 tsp Chili Powder, preferably New Mexican

I also added about 2 Tblsp Fresh Chopped Cilantro

 Salt-not need if using my mixture of Chili Powders and infused salt

1tsp ground Cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

1 15 oz can Hominy, rinsed and drained

1 lb tomatillos, husked and quartered (about 11/2 cups)

1 3-4 lb pumpkin, either sugar pie, cheese, red kuri or kabocha

2 oz grated sharp Cheddar Cheese ( 1/4 cup packed)

1 cup water (I use 1 cup beer-what ever is in the house)

 

                                         (Pumkin stew slot 2-stuffed & ready)

 

Directions

 

If serving within a few hours, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 1 Tblsp EVO in a pot over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper or Anaheim’s, Serrano, pork chop (if using) and garlic. Saute until pork in golden and onions and pepper are soft, about 7 minutes. Stir in Chili powders, cumin, oregano and cilantro and cook an additional few minutes until the spices darken.

Add tomatillos, hominy, water or beer, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, partly covered, about 10-12 minutes or until tomatillos are softened.

Cut top off pumpkin, scoop out seeds and string, rub with EVO, S&P and press cheddar into the bottom

Fill pumpkin with stew and then place the top back on. When ready to bake place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours (bake longer if using a bigger pumpkin and doubling the recipe) or until the pumpkin flesh is fork tender. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.

Scoop stew, including pumpkin scraped from bottom and sides into bowls.

Delish!

I served this with a simple green salad made of butter lettuces, diced tomatoes, avocado, feta and onion and then tossed with EVO and Balsamic; a warm loaf of multigrain bread and Chocolate Zucchini Bread for desert. And yes, I am looking remarkably like a pumpkin these days!

 

 

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