Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

On a recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, hubby and I visited a fun little store called Olive & Kickin’.  It’s a vinegar and olive oil tasting room, and we had such a good time tasting all the different flavors. By the time we finished tasting (and buying), we ended up shipping a full box back home! One of my favorite vinegars I purchased was the Cranberry Pear White Balsamic, and I couldn’t wait to get back home and figure out a way to use it!  I found a roasted squash salad by Giada De Laurentiis that happened to call for a white balsamic vinaigrette to be drizzled over hot roasted squash.  It sounded delicious, so I decided that would be my experimental dish for my new vinegar. I made several changes to the original recipe, but in the end, it was not only a beautiful salad, but delicious as well. There are so many varieties of white balsamic vinegars to choose from out there, and they would all be good on this salad.  I’ve used a peach flavored one that was excellent!  Experiment and see what you like best!

Roasted Butternut Squash with Cherries and Pistachios

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

 

Peeled and sliced butternut squash ready for the oven!

Peeled and sliced butternut squash ready for the oven!

 

YUM!

YUM!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Cherries & Pistachios

Adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis

Vinaigrette:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • pinch of salt

Salad:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ½ cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup roasted pistachios
  • Crumbled gorgonzola cheese (to taste)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400°.

For vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together in large bowl, and set aside.

Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or foil for easy clean up.  Place sliced squash on the pan and drizzle with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, tossing well. Arrange the squash in single layer, and roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, and immediately drizzle with about half of the vinaigrette allowing it to cool and absorb the flavors.

Combine the arugula, cherries and pistachios with the remaining vinaigrette tossing to coat.

To plate, put marinated squash slices on platter and top with dressed greens.  Sprinkle with additional cherries and pistachios if desired and top off with gorgonzola cheese.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

While perusing the internet, I ran across this chipotle-pomegranate glaze over on Simply Scratch.  She had roasted a pork tenderloin in the oven and glazed it with this sauce.  It looked and sounded delicious, but I had salmon out to cook that evening and wondered how the glaze would pair with my salmon. Just when I thought I had eaten salmon every way possible, I tried this and loved it! The smokiness of the chipotle chilies combined with the sweetness of pomegranate juice is just a party in your mouth!

Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

 Smokey Chipotle-Pomegranate Glazed Salmon

Adapted from Simply Scratch

Ingredients:

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for searing
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (from a can), roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the can of chipotle peppers)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • ½  teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  •  juice of half a lemon
  •  salmon filets (6-8oz each, skin off) **See Liz’s Tidbits**

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add minced garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about a minute, taking care not to let it burn. Add chopped chipotle peppers and adobo, tomato paste, dark brown sugar, dried mustard, molasses and pomegranate juice to the skillet stirring to combine all ingredients. Simmer, and let reduce for 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in lemon juice.

Heat an oven proof, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly brush tops of salmon filets with olive oil, and season with salt & pepper. When skillet is hot, add about a tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, put in salmon seasoned-side down, searing until a light brown crust forms, 2-3 minutes. Turn filets over, and immediately place into the preheated oven. Roast 3-5 minutes or until cooked to your preference.  Remove from oven, and top with glaze.

Any unused glaze can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • This would also work as a glaze for a whole side of salmon either roasted or grilled.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils…Great for Lentil Salad!

I continue to be amazed and thrilled at the products carried by Trader Joe’s. Every time I visit, I make it a point to leave with several new things to try, and, soon I’ll post a complete list of my favorite items.  Today, however, it’s all about their “ready-to-eat” steamed lentils that are in their produce section.  I’m a huge fan of lentils, and while they’re not difficult to cook, its just so darn convenient to buy them ready to go! These lentils come vacuum-packed and ready to use! I love keeping protein packed salads in my fridge for a quick lunch, and this was an instant favorite the first time I made it. Quick & easy, full of flavor and healthy, too! It’s a win/win in my book!

Lentil Salad

Lentil Salad

Trader Joe's Ready to Eat Lentils

Trader Joe’s Ready to Eat Lentils

Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ⅓ cup green onions, diced
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice or more to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper and set aside. Put lentils, red bell pepper, celery, green onions and parsley into large bowl. Add dressing and combine well.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • I like using the rainbow colored carrots when I can find them at Trader Joe’s. They add such pretty color to the salad!
  • Feel free to add or delete veggies to your taste.  Sometimes I’ll add diced cucumber if I have it, or I’ll use red onion in place of green onion.   I’ve also thrown in some baby arugula which was delicious!  Use your imagination and make it your own!  🙂

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Broccoli-Apple Slaw

 

Every once in a while, I try a recipe that becomes a family favorite and joins the ranking of those that get made over and over again! I found the original recipe for this salad in the “Cooking Light” magazine and made some changes and additions that I thought would be good.  This dish has already graced my table several times in the last couple of weeks, and it will be added to my repertoire of quick and easy weeknight dishes. Except for the bagged broccoli slaw that is readily available in the grocery store, I’ve always got the rest of the ingredients on hand. The dressing is sweet and tangy at the same time, and I love all the crunchy texture.
The original recipe did not call for raisins or pecans, but I thought they’d be a good addition. It DID call for slivered red onion, but I chose not to use it. Make this recipe your own by using ingredients you like! Try dried cranberries or cherries in place of the raisins or use walnuts instead of pecans. Or just leave them out if you prefer! Hope you like this as much as we did!  🙂
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Broccoli-Apple Slaw

adapted from Cooking Light magazine

makes about 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t prepared horseradish
  • 1 ½ t sugar,
  • ¼ t salt
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, diced
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 (12 oz) pkg broccoli slaw

Preparation:

Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, horseradish, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add slaw, apple, raisins and pecans.  Toss to coat.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

When the weather turns cold, it’s time to put on a pot roast! It’s comfort food, plain and simple. Brown up your meat (I like to use Chuck Roast), then slow cook it in liquid in a covered dish. Slow cooking tenderizes the fibers of the meat, and the liquid exchanges its flavor with that of the beef. The result is fork tender, succulent meat surrounded by a rich gravy. Can we say YUM?
I’ve tried lots of different recipes over the years, and while they are all good, my family agreed that this one stands out as one of the best we’ve had!  A whole head of garlic (not just a clove, but the WHOLE head) gets browned up along with veggies and tomato paste (don’t skip the rutabaga and parsnips…they add a wonderful sweetness). Then the meat is added along with red wine, broth and herbs. Simmered together, they create an infused gravy that is worthy of a big loaf of french bread to soak it all up! Stay warm, and eat well everyone!
Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

First, get a good sear on your meat… I like to use Chuck Roast!

 

Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

Veggies and gravy are ready for the meat!

 

Pot Roast w/Root Veggies

Adapted from the New York Times

Ingredients:

  • 3 pound boneless beef chuck roast
  •  Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 red onions, quartered
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 12 to 16 pieces, about a pound
  • 8 cremini mushrooms, halved
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 WHOLE head of garlic, top cut off to expose cloves
  • ¾ cup tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 ½ cups red wine, preferably cabernet
  • 4 cups beef broth

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season meat generously with salt & pepper. On stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch oven, or other heavy roasting pan with a lid, over medium-high heat. Sear the meat until a dark crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove meat to a plate, reduce the heat to medium, and add butter to the pan. Melt the butter, add the whole head of garlic along with vegetables, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot until the vegetables start to color, 8 to 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens slightly, about 5 minutes. Add bay leaves & rosemary along with the wine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a thick gravy consistency, 5 to 7 minutes. Return meat to the pot, add the broth, then cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook until meat is fork tender, checking after about 2 and a half hours. Discard bay leaves and rosemary stems. Squeeze any garlic cloves remaining in their skins into the stew and discard the skins.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • When cooked the full length of time, the veggies do become soft.  If you prefer them not so soft, you can brown them them up and add them later in the cooking process, maybe an hour or so before it’s ready.
  • This can also be cooked in a slow cooker. On the stove top, sear meat in pan. Transfer to the slow cooker, and using the same pan, follow all instructions through reducing the gravy.  Add back into slow cooker with the meat and cook on low setting for 5-6 hours or until fork tender.
  • As an alternative to the stove top, the meat can also be browned in a 450° oven for about 7 minutes each side.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Chocolate Truffle Tart with Kahlúa Whipped Cream

If there’s one dessert that’s most often requested from me, it’s this one.  A simple crust of chocolate wafers filled with a creamy dark chocolate ganache then glazed with a layer of more chocolate and Kahlúa makes for a showstopper of a dessert!   I like to top it with Kahlúa whipped cream, but it could also be served with fresh berries or even a white chocolate cream sauce.  This is a chocolate lover’s HEAVEN!  Think DARK, RICH VELVET-Y CHOCOLATE!  Your guests will be amazed.  🙂

 

Chocolate Truffle Tart with Kahlúa Whipped Cream

Chocolate Truffle Tart with Kahlúa Whipped Cream

Chocolate Truffle Tart with Kahlúa Whipped Cream

Crust:

  • 32 chocolate Nabisco wafers, finely ground
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces (1 1/2 cups) bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet baking bars)
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 13/4 ounces (1/3 cup) bittersweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Kahlúa

Garnish:

  • Kahlúa Whipped Cream (recipe follows)
  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans

For Crust: Heat oven to 350°. In medium bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, butter and sugar until moistened. Press evenly onto bottom and up sides of 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Place tart pan on baking sheet and bake until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on rack for 15-20 minutes.

For Filling: In small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in medium-sized bowl and pour hot cream over chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir mixture until smooth. In separate bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, espresso powder and salt. Stir egg mixture into chocolate mixture.

Pour filling into cooled crust. Bake until filling is set about 3 inches from edge but center is still wobbly, about 20-25 minutes. (The filling will continue to set as it cools). Cool completely in the pan on a rack for at least 1 hour.

For Glaze: In small saucepan, bring cream to a boil. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Stir in corn syrup and Kahlúa.

Pour glaze onto cooled tart, tilting and rotating so glaze evenly coats the top. Allow tart to stand until glaze is set, about 1 hour.

For Garnish: Garnish with rosettes of Kahlúa Whipped Cream and chocolate-covered coffee beans if desired.

Kahlúa Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Kahlúa

Chill mixing bowl and beaters. Add cream to chilled bowl and whip with powdered sugar until soft peaks form. Add Kahlúa and combine.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Tart can be chilled up to 3 days. Cover loosely after tart is completely chilled (covering before may cause condensation).
  • Crust, without filling, can be made 1 day ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.
  • If you like a really dark bitter chocolate, then use a higher percentage chocolate.  I’ve used up to 72% with success, but I’ve found the 60% bars to be the most widely available and to most chocolate lovers’ liking.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

Tuscan Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

 

The holidays are a special time of year, and, for me, it’s a time to pull out all the stops and splurge on a nice beef tenderloin.  I love this particular recipe, because the “red and green” filling is just perfect for a beautiful Christmas presentation!   I’ve always roasted mine in the oven and it’s turned out perfect, but this year, we decided to try it out in our Traeger smoker.  It was fabulous!  Either way, you’ll want to have a good meat thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook it.  Medium rare is 145°.  I served it with scalloped potatoes and a Fresh Pear and Candied Walnut Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Happy Holidays, everyone!  🙂

 

Tuscan filling

Tuscan filling…sauteed onion, spinach, sundried tomatoes and parmesan cheese

 

Tuscan stuffed tenderloin

Stuffed, tied and ready to cook!

 

Tuscan Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

Tuscan Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

Tuscan Stuffed Beef Tenderloin

Ingredients

  • 1  onion, diced
  • 2  tablespoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  pound  fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • 1/3  cup  shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup drained and chopped sundried tomatoes in oil
  • 1  (4-pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed

Preparation

Sauté onion in oil in a large skillet over medium heat until translucent. Add spinach, salt & pepper, and sauté 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese and sundried tomatoes.

Cut tenderloin lengthwise down center, cutting to, BUT NOT THROUGH, bottom. Lay flat, and spoon spinach mixture down center of tenderloin. Fold tenderloin over mixture, and tie with string at 1-inch intervals. (Tenderloin won’t completely close.) Chill 2 hours, if desired. Place, cut side up, on a rack in a roasting pan, and cover exposed filling with a strip of aluminum foil.

Bake at 425° for 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion of tenderloin registers 145° (medium-rare). Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Alternatively, if you have a smoker, it gives it a wonderful flavor. My Marlborough Man smoked ours at 375° for about 45 minutes, then turned up the heat to high for the last 15 minutes.

If you like this recipe, feel free to Tweet it, Facebook it, or just email it by clicking the “share” button below. 🙂

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