Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cranberry Spring Salad

My beautiful and fantastic sister in law has a special word for your favorite treat to get before the meal. You know, the starter, the thing that satiates your appetite before the meal. The Appeteaser. You have to know my sister in law to fully appreciate how she goes about picking out her teasers. She drops coy and brilliantly placed hints so that you think you are the one who picked out the teaser. She is a genius. Well, this particular teaser that I created may not exactly fit her guidelines, it's more of a side, but it was just my style and simply delish.

I was able to use my indulgence, White Stilton with Lemon Peel, and make my own simple vinaigrette that brought out all of the fresh spring flavors. I suggest this salad as a teaser for any meal, especially because it combines healthy ingredients but tastes rich and sinful.

Spring Salad mix (I used spring romaine)
Dried cranberries
White Stilton with Lemon Peel; crumbled
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Lime Juice

1. Mix salad, cranberries and crumbled cheese in a salad bowl
2. Combine EVOO and lime juice 2:1 and whisk together
3. Drizzle dressing over the salad and dig in!

*For a special addition that I will add next time, sprinkle some pecans or slivered almonds on top

Tofu with Veggies

I may be a born and bred Midwestern Nebraska girl, but I have a soft spot in my stomach for tofu. Always have, always will. I remember the first time I tried the soybean curd. I was with Grandma at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant and she ordered the tofu with vegetables. I was pretty skeptical (I was only a ripe age of 12 at the time) but I bravely placed a chunk of the white spongy meat substitute in my mouth. It had soaked up all of the hot and spicy flavor from the brown sauce and vegetables and was bursting with seasonings that delighted all of my taste buds and left me wanting more.

I have since tried many different ways of cooking my own tofu that have resulted in both success and defeat. This particular dish I consider a success and I suggest all of you checking out your local grocer or specialty grocery store for their variety of tofu. I happened to find this pre-seasoned Cajun tofu and knew it would be perfect paired with bean sprouts, broccoli and rice with some extra Cajun seasoning I always have on hand.

This may not be quite up to the standards of PF Changs or even Grandma's favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be making it again and maybe even trying it with some tomatoes and edamame!


Cajun tofu block, halved
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup fresh or frozen broccoli
1 cup brown rice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Cajun seasoning


1. Heat EVOO in a cast iron skillet on Medium and add the tofu after seasoning it with Cajun seasoning.
2. In another skillet, saute bean sprouts and broccoli with EVOO and seasoning. Push around skillet so that all is evenly browned and heated through.
3. Cook rice as directed (I use instant. I get too impatient to let it soak and cook for more than 10 minutes)
4. Flip the tofu after browned and cook until both sides are even.
5. Cut the tofu into strips and serve with rice and veggies

Grilled Steak

It is finally spring in Nebraska and the grill is out! One of the things I love most about the place I live and the "Good Life" as we call it, is that we have amazing steak. I'm talking about farm raised, corn fed beef. It was a typical Sunday afternoon for me, spent at the grocery store relaxing and picking out what I needed for the week. Shoot, that sounds pretty lame, huh? I swear I am super fun and that Saturday night before, I totally went out all night (yeah, right). But I really do love going to the grocery store and my friends have told me they do too! Maybe our love of the grocery store stems back to the years spent in the sorority when our food was prepared for us by a lovely little lady who just happened to cook for the army before us. Not quite the person you would expect to cook for 100+ girls, most of whom are waistline conscious. Needless to say, I love the fact that I now shop for my own food and cook my own meals just how I want to!

Well, as I made my way to the back of the grocery store, there was a teaser stand set up with a woman grilling some steaks that were on special that week. After tasting her delicious fare, I knew that I would be firing up the grill and seasoning some meat for myself.

I didn't want to go too overboard with my seasoning, so I just stuck with a simple seasoning salt on both sides and let the coals do the rest. I knew that with my Midwestern steak on the grill, there was nothing to be worried about. It was my first time using this grill and I wasn't sure exactly how hot it would be or where the best place on the set up would be to cook the sirloin so I kept a close eye on my dinner. I was hoping for a nice pink medium rare and although I ended up with a medium finish, it was still absolutely scrumptious and hit the spot on that cool spring evening!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

White Stilton with Lemon Peel

So my Golden Birthday (I turned 23 on the 23rd) was yesterday, yep, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! And I decided to treat myself to a trip to my favorite food paradise, Whole Foods. As I perused each and every aisle (sometimes twice) I relished all of the colors that saturated the shelves and had thoughts swirling around in my brain of delicious and tasty meals that could be constructed from all of these ingredients. Then, I came upon the cheese section. Oh, how I love cheese. Although I sometimes think I may be slightly lactose intolerant (since it's self-diagnosed, I feel a little silly but I do LOVE chocolate soy milk) I can't help but drooling over all of the fresh mozzarella, parmesan, gouda and brie. As I was deciding which luscious gourmet cheese to indulge in, I spotted it. White Stilton with Lemon Peel. Ohmigosh. It was Heavenly. It was lemony, it was crumbly and cheesy, it was so good. This English cheese has whet my palate and I am obsessed.

There were so many things I could do with this cheese I couldn't stop thinking about the possibilities. I am looking forward to indulging in my White Stilton with Lemon Peel in any other way possible. Enjoy!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Indian Chicken

I consider myself fairly competent when it comes to simple mixing of flavors and spices and am comfortable enough in the kitchen to experiment with them. Well, I am not (yet) accustomed to cooking Indian curry dishes. I have tried my hand at a the mixing of the curry, cumin, yogurt, pine nuts, raisins and on and on. It never turns out quite right and although I am hungry by the time I finally finish that dang dish and eat the whole thing I know I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. As usual, Whole Foods has come to my rescue. I have found these simmering sauces by "Seeds of Change" that taste delicious, are not crazy expensive and add just the right flavor I have been trying to create. Although I do not plan on giving up on my Indian experiments, I am grateful for the quick fix found in a jar that helps me whip up just what I am craving. Until I find the perfect combo (I welcome any and all advice here) I will continue to use and love my Madras simmer sauce!

Boneless Skinless chicken breasts
Frozen peas
White onions, sliced into rings and cut in fourths
Brown or white rice
Madras simmer sauce (I used about 6 oz from the 12oz jar)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Prepare rice whether it be instant or long cook
2. Sweat onions in EVOO in a pan on Medium High heat
3. Add the chicken to the onions and sautee until no longer pink (about 8 to 10 minutes). Cover with Madras simmer sauce.
4. Toss in the peas and cook together for another 7 to 10 minutes or until peas are fully cooked and sauce has mixed throughout all of the ingredients
5. Serve chicken with rice on the side or scoop it on top of the rice and eat it all together!

Enjoy this super easy and fast Indian meal!

Madras Pizza

So, on a trip to Whole Foods with only one goal in mind: GET WINE; my friend Quinn and I decided to wander a little bit to enjoy our beautiful produce surroundings and just happened upon some Indian Madras simmer sauce that would make my Indian cooking oh-so much more simple. The sauces were on special buy one get one half off, so she and I each snatched up two jars! This sauce is so versatile that I made a dish the other night (coming soon) where I just sauteed up some chicken added veggies poured some Madras sauce on top and had a delish meal in 15 minutes!

I was really craving pizza after a trip to my favorite local joint in Lincoln, Yia Yia's, but wanted to cook at home. I had grabbed a couple of pre-made whole grain pizza crusts from my local grocery store, and some fresh vegetables that I knew I could dice up and throw on top to make something scrumptious. Originally, I bought some regular tomato pizza sauce, then in a wink, a lightbulb clicked on in my foodie brain and I remembered my Indian simmer sauce!

I scurried home, put away the rest of my groceries and got to work on my Madras Masterpiece. I have discovered that when making a pizza you can pretty much practice the "chop suey" method where you throw on anything you have in your fridge, top it with some cheese and crushed red pepper stick it in the oven and BOOM you have a homemade pizza that is probably better than anything delivery or frozen you would spend money on.

Remember, when making a pizza, be creative, use what you have and always top it with crushed red pepper!!


Pizza crust (go ahead and buy a pre-made or if you're feeling sassy, go homemade!)
Indian Madras simmer sauce (I used about 6oz of the 12oz jar)
Shredded Cooked Chicken
Sliced mushrooms
Fresh spinach
Chopped white onion
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Crushed Red Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1. Preheat your oven to 350°
2. Sautee chicken breast seasoned with a seasoning salt or Indian spices, shred when cooked
3. Brush your pizza crust with EVOO and spread with Madras simmer sauce
4. Top the pizza with all of your toppings (I spread them out evenly, because I can be kind of OCD like that, but you can just throw them on!)
5. Sprinkle cheese all over and if you want to sass it up, toss on some pepperjack or jalopeno cheese too!
7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes checking until the cheese is melted golden brown and the crust has a nice golden finish