Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sauteed Zucchini Medley

Today has been a big week for me/us. It's been a big change for me because I am no longer at the industrial heater company. I made a huge step into a new chapter of my life by leaving my comfortable, challenging, and financially stable job and diving into something completely different. I now have 2 part time jobs (barista at Starbucks and server at Nada - a high end Mexican fare restaurant), and am moving forward with my own small business. My business is called Stir Crazy Cuisine. It's a full personal chef service. If you're interested, please contact me and we'll be happy to provide more information! I am incredibly excited and slightly nervous about this extreme change, but luckily I have an amazingly supportive husband so it doesn't seem as scary. It's a big change for us because my work schedule is no longer  7:30-5 Mon-Fri. Now I have an unstructured 6-7
day/week sometimes evenings schedule.  In all honesty, I found myself pausing mid serving at the restaurant I work at and found myself saying, "it's 9 pm, I'm still at work, and I'm pretty happy". Who knew?!

With all that said, it is difficult to create day-of dinners. I am so busy, yet I refuse to allow my husband to eat the can of ravioli when I am capable of cooking. He's pretty easy going, but dinner is the last thing I will allow to go down the drain with my full schedule. I actually find myself doing for me what I get paid to do by others! I now cook my weekly meals on Sunday and leave minimal preparation required at the time of serving. It doesn't take me long and I find myself eating even better throughout the week than I used to.

Here is a healthy side dish that took no more than 15 minutes to make. It is great alongside poultry, red meat, and fish.

Ingredients
4 long zucchinis, washed well (scrub to remove sand) and sliced thin
2 tomatoes, sliced into thick fractions
1/2 onion sliced thin
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs butter (to make vegan, subsitute the butter for an extra tablespoon of olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste (start with a tsp of each)

Steps
1. Heat butter and olive oil in a deep pan on medium high until it shimmers
2. Lower the heat to medium and add the onions in the pan and cook until onions are translucent
3. Add the zucchini salt and , stir to coat it evenly, and cover the pan with a lid
4. Continue stirring every few minutes and once the zucchini becomes softer, add the tomatoes, stir once more, take off the heat and let it sit for a few minutes
5. Serve hot and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Seared Scallops atop Whole Wheat Pasta and Pesto Sauce

Today was an absolutely gorgeous day. Yes, it felt like the middle of summer, but who am I to complain? I've been complaining about the harsh winter air since December so I have to say "this is what I get!". On a day like today, I am in the mood for nothing but freshness. I decided to try to make pesto, and yes, it is my first time! I will be modest and say, "IT WAS SCRUMPTIOUS"!  Also, I think I spoke too soon a few posts ago saying that I wouldn't get as much use out of my blender as I thought. So far, I've used it twice in the last 20 days. That's a lot considering how heavy the base of it is.

Anyway, as I strolled around Findlay Market this past weekend, I saw the scallops (size 10-20) and I couldn't look away. If you don't like scallops, maybe you haven't tasted them cooked properly, or maybe it's the texture or even sweetness that has you scrunch your nose. Either way, I highly recommend you give them another "go", because they are fabulous with fresh sauces and whole wheat pasta!

Prep-time:10 minutes                    Cook-time: 6 minutes                       Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, plucked from the stems
1/4 cup pine nuts
5 cloves garlic
1/2 lb whole wheat thin spaghetti, or any other type you prefer
6 large (10-20 size) fresh scallops

Steps:
1. Heat a medium to large pot of water on high heat. Once water boils, lower the heat to medium and toss the pasta in the pot along with a tsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook without the lid
2. In a blender, toss in everything but the scallops and let it run for a few minutes. Pause the blender and use a spatula every so often to redistribute the sauce
3. In a medium sauce pan, heat 2 tbs olive oil until it glistens. Then place scallops in the pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Season scallops with fresh cracked pepper on each side.
4. Drain the pasta once it is cooked al dente and put in a deep smaller plate. Toss lightly with the pesto sauce and top it with scallops

Serve immediately.

***To save the remaining pesto sauce, put it in a tight sealed container/jar and pour a thin layer of olive oil at the top to preserve it.***







Thursday, April 4, 2013

Original Shepherd's Pie

I am watching Parks & Recreation as I type, and I can't help but think that Ron Swanson would be very pleased with my Shepherd's Pie. The beef was lean and tender, the vegetables had a bite, and the mashed potatoes were very thick and creamy. Wait a minute, Ron Swanson doesn't like vegetables. Well, I'm convinced that he would change his mind after trying this blind-folded. It is very flavorful and delicious.

In my opinion, that's enough said. So enjoy this fun, easy, and positively delicious recipe!

Ingredients

Mashed Potatoes
7 small-medium russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large fractions
1 stick butter
2 cups milk, I used 2%
1/4 cup mild cheddar cheese, finely shredded
salt to taste

Pie Filling
1 lb sirloin ground beef
3 stalks celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 15oz can cut green beans, drained
1 small to medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine or minced
2 tbs kitchen bouquet 
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp dried rosemary, pressed between fingers 
1 tsp sage
3/4 tsp thyme 
salt and pepper to taste

Steps
1. Place potatoes in a medium-large pot and fill with enough water to rise an inch above the potatoes. Heat on high until they boil then remove lid and lower to medium heat
2. Once you can easily poke the potatoes with a fork, drain the water, place potatoes back in the pot, and mix the rest of the ingredients. Use an electric hand or standing mixer. Put the potatoes aside
3.Preheat oven to 400deg F
4. In another pot, sautee olive oil, onions, garlic, carrots, and celery. Once onions are translucent, add the beef and let it brown by stirring frequently
45Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and let the stew cook for 10 minutes after the broth starts to simmer
6. In a 2 1/2 quart casserole/Corningware dish, pour the beef stew and spread it evenly
7. Top the beef with the mashed potatoes. Make sure they cover the beef completely. There is supposed to be a thicker layer of mashed potatoes, so don't be alarmed. 
8. Sprinkle cheese evenly over mashed potatoes
9. Place a sheet of parchment paper or aluminum foil to catch anything that spills over the dish (Yes, this will happen, don't test it). Also, be sure to place the oven rack in the middle of the oven

10. Place the pie in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Once finished, let it sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!