Friday, April 27, 2012

Apple Gorgonzola Salad

Have you ever said to yourself, “man, I could really go for some lettuce!?”  I didn’t think so.  Let’s face it - salads can be boring.  A bag of chopped iceberg.  Maybe some slivers of carrots.  Smothered in Ranch dressing.  No wonder we don’t crave them. 

Let me help reintroduce you to the composed salad.  My aunt Carrie once made a most delicious salad comprised of spinach, strawberries, nuts and poppy seed dressing.  A simple and beautiful combination of delightful and healthy flavors hiding amongst a spectrum of leafy greens.  I forgot all about those bags of shredded lettuce and branched out.  Dried fruit, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, cheeses, croutons, meat and even fish can transform and complete any bowl of lettuce or spinach or arugula.  Be creative and try something unusual.  You'll be surprised by how fresh and satisfying a bowl of salad can be. 

This salad is a simple version of what I see in restaurants all the time.  It’s fresh, sweet and exotic with just the right amount of umph.  To make this salad a meal, add some shredded chicken.  And please, throw away that bag of “garden salad” that you have in your fridge.  Right now. 

1 Fuji apple, very thinly sliced
Gorgonzola cheese
Candied walnuts
Mixed greens (the darker green, the more nutritious)
Marsala Vinaigrette, recipe follows

Place a handful of mixed greens on your plate and top with each ingredient.  Drizzle with vinaigrette. 

Marsala Vinaigrette: 
Marsala wine
Salt & Pepper

Wisk all ingredients together until thoroughly combined.  Season to taste.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spinach Balls

Balls.  Need I say more?  Yes, I probably should say more.  Spinach balls – that’s better.  It’s amazing, really, how many recipes I have that end up in ball-form.  Meatballs.  Cake balls.  Bitter-BALL-en (coming soon).  The size and shape are perfect for party food, snacks, portion control, etc.  Freud might have had something different to say about it.  But come on, how many of you can pass up ball-shaped food at parties?  ...  That's what I thought.  

Thank you to my friend Susan for inspiring this recipe.  A unique treat, these are soft dressing (stuffing) balls with a delicate green crunch.  They can be an appetizer or a side, or just a snack in front of the BALL-game.  Serve them with sour cream.

 2 T. Olive oil
1/4 C. onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 10 oz. Pkgs. Frozen chopped spinach
2 C. Stuffing Mix
1 C. Parmesan cheese, grated
6 Eggs, beaten
3/4 C. Butter, softened
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 t. pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Drain the spinach and set aside.  In a skillet, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the chopped garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add the spinach and toss to combine.  Remove from heat and place in a large bowl, allowing the mixture to cool slightly.  Add all of the remaining ingredients and toss until well combined.  The mixture will be wet.  Scoop the mixture into heaping tablespoons and roll into balls.  Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the balls are golden brown.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Asian Iced Tea

Sean is a coffee-addict.  Seriously.  But once in awhile, when his veins (and of course, mine, by mere proximity) are too full of coffee, we opt for Thai tea.  It can be found at any Thai restaurant worth its salt or at some indy coffee shops.  If you haven’t ever tried one, hunt one down immediately!  You’ll love what you find.  The way the cream clouds down through the orange tea is my favorite part.  This sweet drink will perfectly accompany your next spicy dish or replace your afternoon latte. 

2 quarts of water
10 packets of Asian or Thai tea (Masala works well)
1/2 C. sugar
Half & half

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan on the stove.  Add the sugar and dissolve.  Once the sugar has dissolved, add the tea bags and steep for about 5 minutes.  Allow tea to cool completely. 

Fill a tall glass with ice and pour the tea almost all the way up.  Top with a splash of half and half and let it cloud down. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wrapped Dates

Thank you to Kelly for this tantalizing party appetizer.  This is the EASIEST recipe you'll ever make that EVERYONE at your next party will rave over.  These date bites are sweet and salty and delectably addicting. 

36 pitted dates
12 slices bacon, cut in thirds
24 whole smoked almonds

24 toothpicks
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to Broil.  Cut each slice of bacon in half.  Stuff each date with an almond and wrap with a slice of bacon.  Skewer each date with a toothpick and place on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet.  Broil the dates on the middle shelf until the bacon is browned, turning every couple of minutes. 

*As an alternative, stuff the dates with goat cheese instead of an almond

Friday, April 13, 2012

BBQ Hawaiian Pizza

I love using Naan instead of regular pizza dough.  There is something very satisfying about the way the crust is chewy and crunchy all at once.  I found a similar pizza at a hole-in-the-wall joint in Anaheim, California on a college conference trip and couldn’t resist making it at home.  This mix of BBQ sauce, chicken and pineapple comes together to create a harmonious explosion of flavor that you'll want more of right away. 

4 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
2 grilled chicken breasts
Pineapple, in chunks, drained
BBQ sauce
Mozzarella cheese

In a skillet, cook bacon until very crispy.  Remove from skillet and drain.  Remove most of the bacon grease, leaving about 1 tablespoon.  Add onion to skillet and cook until caramelized.  Remove and set aside.  Cut the chicken into 1/4" slices.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Drizzle barbecue sauce on top of each piece of naan and spread to cover the bread.  Cover the barbecue sauce with mozzarella cheese.  Top with grilled chicken, caramelized onions, pineapple and bacon.  Bake in the oven until cheese is golden brown.