Friday, June 24, 2011

Bison Burgers & Oven Fries

In our efforts to maintain a relatively healthy regime, we regularly integrate protein alternatives into our meals. In lieu of steak, we have chicken. We always have ground turkey on hand instead of ground beef. A lean option that we hadn't explored in our home kitchen: bison. But during a recent grocery trip, we spotted some and thought that bison burgers would be a lighter alternative to the beef burgers we love so much (seen here, here, and here).

I viewed several recipes (although considering that bison seems to be gaining popularity, there aren't as many as you'd think). Before forming patties, I added some smoked paprika, grated onion, crushed garlic, S&P to the meat. The burgers turned out deliciously moist due to the recommended cooking method from this recipe. (Because bison is so lean, they suggest covering the burgers to prevent them from drying out.) Topped with some swiss cheese, tomatoes, and Cabernet carmelized red onions, these bison burgers were stampede-worthy.

To go along with our adventurous burgers, I served up some carrot and parsnip fries. I had just seen the recipe on Mad Hungry earlier in the week (one of my new favorite cooking shows) and had been awaiting an opportunity to try them out. If you've never cooked with parsnips (which I hadn't before today), they are similar to carrots. Fibrous and a bit sweet, parsnips are perfect as a potato alternative for some oven fries.

I love exploring new foods to satisfy some good ol' fashioned culinary curiosity. Is there anything you've tried making recently that was new for you? Or is there something you are thinking about trying? Do tell!

Happy Searching!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sensational Strawberry & Chicken Salad

When summer rolls around (and you are trying to prevent your own rolls from being around), it's all about lighter meals. But as you know, the hubs and I share the food philosophy that it's possible to eat healthy, nutritious meals without sacrificing flavor or satisfaction.

My ideal salad has lots of different flavors and textures to satisfy all of my senses (I mean, if you're going to eat a salad, that's the least you can do for yourself, right?). So, this salad totally hit the spot.

Tender grilled chicken, sweet sliced strawberries, crunchy toasted almonds, thinly sliced red onion, greens lightly tossed in a homemade balsamic vinaigrette...sensationally satisfying.

What's in your favorite salad?

Happy Searching,

Friday, June 10, 2011

Let Him Eat Cake

Dessert isn't a daily ritual for us. Thankfully, I have more of a salty tooth than a sweet one (although the hubs has enough sugar cravings for the both of us). Every now and then, usually for a special occasion, we indulge and have something sweet to finish the meal.

One of the hubs' favorite desserts is this cake from Ina Garten. The cake itself is moist and intensely chocolatey, but what really makes it is the frosting. A thick layer of rich, chocolate buttercream adorns the spongey delight inside.

I've only made it a few times, but there are never any leftovers. And since it's such a rare occasion, I say let him eat cake.

Happy Searching,

p.s. If you feel like to drooling a bit, here's the video to see the full process.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cool as a Cucumber

While making one of my favorite salads the other day, I realized that I've never shared it with you! It's certainly deserving of its 15 Minutes of Fame (or however long it takes you to read this post).

Cucumber and Tomato Salad has been a favorite of mine since my early childhood, when I would help my mom pick the cucumbers and tomatoes right from our garden. It is such a summer staple, and can be adapted to make a thousand different versions depending on what you have in your fridge or what you're in the mood for.

But the basic recipe is so simple and delicious on its own, I often find myself just sticking with the classic.  I'm sure you've made or eaten something's the version I grew up with:

Cucumber & Tomato Salad
Whisk together equal parts olive oil & red wine vinegar, garlic salt, pepper, dash of sugar, dried Italian herbs (parsley, oregano, etc). Most dressing recipes call for 1 part acid (vinegar) to 2 or 3 parts oil, but I like mine pretty adjust to your taste.
Toss peeled and sliced cucumbers, sliced tomatoes (grape, cherry, or vine-ripened are the most flavorful), and thinly sliced red onions with dressing. Best when refrigerated for 30 minutes, but I can't always wait that long.

You could add corn, avocado, bread to make a panzanella, or some nice salty olives. As for me, it's usually just the essentials. Cool, crisp, bright...a happy little bowl of summer.

Happy Searching,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I Will Eat Them Anywhere...

Growing up, my family always enjoyed a good, hearty breakfast. And when I say hearty, I mean that it usually included eggs of some sort: fried eggs, scrambled eggs, green eggs and ham (okay, not really). One of my favorite childhood egg dishes is still one of my favorites today: soft-boiled eggs with toast.

They are so easy to make, and feel so luxurious in spite of their simplicity. The trick is to get the time right so that the eggs are perfectly cooked (according to your taste, of course). To me, perfect soft-boiled eggs have runny yolks but whites that are semi-firm.

So here's how it goes: put the eggs into a pot, cover with cool water, and bring to a boil. (This is also the point where I put some bread in the toaster). Set the timer once the water begins to boil; for my "perfect" eggs, the timer is set for three minutes. When time is up, turn the heat off and run cold water over the eggs to stop the cooking. I use the back of a butter knife to give them a good crack, open them up, and scoop out the liquid gold inside.

Sprinkled with a little salt and freshly cracked pepper (and a smidge of butter if you're feeling indulgent), this breakfast warms your belly and your soul. I will eat them here or there, I will eat them anywhere.

Do you have any childhood favorites that you still love today?

Happy Searching!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Three Pizzas

Pizza is my favorite food, hands down. There are numerous close seconds, but I would be lying if I said there was anything else in the top spot.

So the other night when we had shrimp, a few whole wheat tortillas, and nothing else planned for dinner, we ended up with shrimp pizzas! (Three delicious shrimp pizzas, if I do say so myself). We had several topping possibilities in the fridge, and since I really couldn't narrow it down to just one theme, I ended up making three different pizzas.

Spicy Thai Peanut with Cilantro & Carrots

The first thing I did was roast a pound of shell-on, deveined tiger shrimp (that I had tossed with olive oil, S&P, and a crushed clove of garlic) in the oven at 400 degrees. I took them out just before they were fully cooked since they were going back in the oven atop the tortillas (rubbery shrimp=opposite of delicious). Then I peeled them, sliced them in half so they would lay flat, and prepped all the other tasty toppings.

Roasted Pepper, Arugula, & Goat Cheese

Here are the topping deets:

Spicy Thai-julienned carrots, chopped cilantro & scallions, sesame seeds. This sauce totally made it (I tossed half of it with the shrimp and then used the other half to drizzle after it baked): equal parts soy/lime juice, a bit of toasted sesame oil, a smidge of peanut butter and a dash of chili garlic paste. Added some chopped peanuts and a bit more cilantro...Thai heaven.

Roasted Peps-leftover roasted yellow peppers and red onions, crumbled goat cheese, and arugula (tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, S&P and was added right when it came out of the oven). Buonissima!

BBQ Blue Cheese-carmelized red onions, blue cheese & bacon crumbles, and shrimp tossed in BBQ sauce (store-bought...I think the brand is Bull's Eye) before baking. Again, it was all about the sauce: equal parts BBQ sauce/ranch dressing, dash of chili powder, cayenne pepper, and some salt. Ooowwweeee, so yummy.

Blue Cheese Barbecue, Bacon, & Carmelized Onions

After assembling each pizza, I put them back in the oven at 450 for a few minutes until everything was melted and warmed through. I think my fave was the Thai while the hubs favored the blue cheese & bacon. Really, not a bad one in the bunch.

I mean, what's better than a customized pizza? Um, three of them!

Happy Searching!
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