Monthly Archives: February 2015

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon

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What a wonderful combination of flavors!! Small bites of tender, perfectly seasoned sweet potatoes in 30 minutes. I changed the original recipe, by seasoning the cubes with salt and pepper prior to adding them to the honey mixture. I also sprinkled them with cumin once they had been placed on the baking sheet. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes and . . . magic!


ROASTED SWEET POTATOES WITH HONEY AND CINNAMON (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling potatoes after cooked
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Spray baking sheet with olive oil.
  2. Peel and cut the sweet potatoes in 1″ cubes. Season with salt and pepper, toss. Combine the oil, honey and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add sweet potatoes and toss until coated. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with cayenne and roast for 25 to 30 minutes in oven or until tender.
  3. Take sweet potatoes out of the oven, toss them with any of the remaining honey mixture and transfer them to a serving platter.

Fennel-Orange Butter

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Orange and fennel is a great flavor combination. The fennel brings the flavor of anise and the orange adds a zesty citrus aspect. This butter is wonderful added to greens (collards, spinach), vegetables (carrots) or fish dishes. I was able to use one of my new kitchen tools for this recipe — herb shears. They feature a five blade construction allowing you to quickly and efficiently chop or mince fresh herbs directly into soups, salads, on roasts, and more. They were perfect for use on the fennel fronds.  I am also sharing with you one of my favorite kitchen hacks — using leftover herbs in butter preparations and freezing them. I use an ice cube tray to freeze them and then store them until needed. You can at anytime have a basil, garlic or tarragon butter for veggies, a blue cheese butter to place under a steak, or a fennel-orange butter to perk up some shrimp. A really quick, nice, easy way to bring flavor to dishes. Served here on top of Matchstick carrots with pork tenderloin  and Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower.


FENNEL-ORANGE BUTTER (Yields 8 Tablespoons)

Ingredients

  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • Sea salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fennel fronds
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Directions

  1. To make the butter (up to 3 days ahead): Using a mortar and pestle or the side of a knife, mash the garlic with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste.  I cheated here and used 3 cloves of roasted garlic with a little salt added.) Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Add the butter, fennel, tarragon, orange zest and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. To freeze: Drop about 1 to 1-1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture into an ice cube tray. Freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Pop them out and store in a freezer proof container. Use anytime to add a little extra something to your dish.

 

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Sugar Snap Pea Salad

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REVISED87This recipe is a bit of a cross between a vegetable salad and a slaw. It begins with beautiful fresh vegetables — juicy Cherry tomatoes and crisp Sugar Snap Peas. The addition of shredded carrot and chopped onion are ingredients of a traditional slaw combination. Finish it off with a mayonnaise-based dressing full of herbs and spices and you have created a hybrid salad/slaw. Such a wonderful mouthful of freshness . . . perfect to take along to upcoming cookouts.


SUGAR SNAP PEA SALAD (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 pinch salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Cut pea pods in half on the diagonal, and place peas in a salad bowl with cherry tomatoes, carrots, and red onion. Combine mayonnaise, oregano, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper together. Add to vegetable mixture and toss to combine all ingredients and coat with dressing. Gently stir in Parmesan and refrigerate salad for at least 1 hour before serving.

Cannellini Beans and Italian Sausage

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The Clean Plate Club has voted this ‘Recipe Most Likely to Please’. The cannellini beans are first soaked then cooked with tomato and sage leaves until tender. An assortment of finely diced/minced vegetables are sautéed then seasoned and combined with the beans, and crushed tomatoes. They are heated through until the flavors are combined and finally a creamy cheese is added to finish and round out the flavors in a dish. Serve these with some beautifully browned Italian sausages on top and there you have it . . .


CANNELLINI BEANS AND ITALIAN SAUSAGE (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 2 (19 ounce) packages Johnsonville® Mild Italian Sausages
  • 2 cups dried cannellini beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 7 cups water
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, divided
  • 1 medium Roma tomato, cored and cut in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup Mascarpone cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, pour the beans, add water to a level of 3 inches above beans and soak for 6 hours or overnight. Drain. Place beans in a soup kettle or Dutch oven; add 7 cups of water, 5 sage leaves and tomato. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1-1/2 hours or until beans are almost tender. Drain and reserve beans; discard liquid, sage and tomato.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic, remaining sage, onions, carrots, celery, red pepper flakes and saute until tender. Add beans, crushed tomatoes, stock, salt and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low, continue to cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, prepared sausages according to package directions. Drain. Cut sausage links into thirds. Just before serving, gently stir mascarpone cheese into beans. Spoon prepared beans into individual bowls and top with sausage pieces. Garnish with additional fresh sage. Serve.

Spiced Pork Chops

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REVISED80This recipe is perfectly suited for your favorite cast iron skillet. Chops are coated in spices and browned to perfection before the sauce is added and finished in the oven. The chops came out delicious and juicy. However, I personally felt that the sauce was a little too sweet. My “Carolina Taste Buds” crave a little more acidity. I think the next time I prepare this I will reduce the amount of water and brown sugar used and add some vinegar and lemon juice. Served here with Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower.


SPICED PORK CHOPS (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  •  Pinch pepper
  •  4 pork loin chops (3/4″ – 8 oz. each)
  •  1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil   
  •  1 cup ketchup
  •  1 cup water
  •  1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Directions

  1. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the first 10 ingredients. Add pork chops, a few at a time; seal bag and toss to coat.
  2. In a large skillet, brown chops in oil on both sides. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, water and brown sugar; pour over chops.
  3. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 145°. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Yield: 4 servings.

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Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

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An entire head of cauliflower encased in a delicious spicy crust. The cauliflower is trimmed and then dipped in a batter of yogurt, lime, and spices. Roast in the oven until beautifully browned on the outside and tender on the inside. It comes out of the oven steaming hot so make sure you let it cool for about 10 minutes so that the crust has an opportunity to set properly. Cut it in wedges to serve up a little slice of heaven.

Final Note: I had a great deal of the batter left over after preparing the cauliflower for cooking. In the future I would reduced the ingredients by 1/2 to 1/3 and use a brush to spread the mixture evenly over the cauliflower head.


SPICY WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° and lightly grease a small baking sheet with vegetable oil. Set aside.
  2. Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper.
  4. Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over its surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish or other veggies.)
  5. Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, 30 to 40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.
  6. Let the cauliflower cool for 10 minutes before cutting it into wedges.

Caramelized Fennel

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Fennel is an interesting vegetable. Crunchy like celery, slightly sweet, with hints of licorice or anise. It grows as a bulb with stalks topped with feathery fronds — all of the parts edible. In this recipe we are using the bulb, while retaining the leaves for some Fennel-Orange Butter and the stalks for a vegetable stock. Easy to make and seasoned lightly, this fennel made a great addition to our leftover Quinoa Salad.


CARAMELIZED FENNEL (Serves 4)

Ingredients

  • 2 Large fennel bulbs
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon pepper
  • ½ Lemon

Directions

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom from the fennel bulbs and then remove tough or bruised outer layers. You will end up with a bulb about the size of your fist.
  2. Slice the bulbs in half and then remove the cores from the fennel. Then cut the fennel lengthwise into 1/8 inch slices (it is ok if a little thicker).
  3. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the olive oil and then the fennel slices. Spread the fennel out in the pan to encourage browning.
  4. Cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping the fennel slices every few minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove the fennel from the pan and drain off any excess oil. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste.