Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sweet Potato and Sausage Breakfast Hash

Perfect Pairing:  Eggs
I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!  I was lucky enough to spend it with loved ones.  Unfortunately, there was a lot, and I mean a lot, of rain throughout the weekend.  We definitely made the most of it and still had a great time.  It is all about the company!

There are so many good things about this recipe including sweet potatoes, sausage, caramelized onions, it is made ahead of time, and is versatile.  I figured out the versatile thing firsthand. 

The hash component is made the night before and stored in the refrigerator overnight, so it lends itself to quick prep in the morning.  I made this when I was home for Easter and the plan was to cook it for breakfast in a 9x13 baking dish in the oven.  When I woke up that morning I realized the ceiling fan had stopped, the clock was dark, and the house was very quiet.  The power was out and we did not know when it was coming back on.  Fortunately, my parents had already made coffee!

We moved to plan B and cooked the hash in a pan on the grill.  It was a happy accident because I loved the crispiness and grill flavor. 
The hash would be great as a breakfast/brunch side dish (actually, it would be good at any time of the day) but it is made into a complete meal by cracking eggs on top. 
I can’t say enough about this meal.  It was so good.  The combination of spicy sausage, sweet caramelized onions and sweet potatoes, and a slightly runny egg was divine.  I can’t wait to make this again! 

We only used a portion of the recipe in the skillet since it makes a large batch.  The leftovers were fabulous.  For the leftovers we cooked the hash and eggs in the oven in individual ramekins. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup and a little bit about the Chicago Bears

Perfect Pairing:  Garbage disposal cleanup          
Chicago was at its finest this weekend!  The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and I think that puts everyone in a fabulous mood.  I had a great weekend with friends and family.  On Saturday I made my annual trip to Gethsemane, an extraordinary nursery that spans an entire block.  I have written about my garden woes in the past.  I am determined to make things grow this summer.  We took home our fair share of flowers and herbs!
Saturday night I was lucky enough to attend my 4th Chicago Bears Care Gala at Soldier Field.  This was the 18th year, and they have earned over $10 million towards cancer research.  The gala is always fantastic.   This year was certainly no exception!  Everything including the food, entertainment, and auction is flawless.  Getting solo access to the field is pretty amazing too.
jay and linz-001
I was lucky enough to go on a private tour of the locker rooms with some of the players.  Here are some of the highlights!
locker room-001
Entering hallowed ground....
Martellus Bennett was kind enough to act as our unofficial tour guide.  He was great!  He definitely had everyone laughing.
training room-001
I don't think I look like a natural in these things.
I can always count on my mom to promote my cooking blog.  When Martellus talked about cooking, my mom was all over it.  He was kind enough to act interested and even asked me to email him the site!  Just another one of the highlights of my night!
I think it is safe to say we all geeked out over meeting Brandon Marshall!
I even walked away with some game gloves! 
Obviously, it was a pretty special night and I feel so honored to be a part of it.  
Anyway, back to the soup!  About a year ago I wrote about this Thai Chicken Noodle Soup. 
My original plan was to make that soup again but it evolved into this Red Curry Chicken Noodle Soup.  They are very similar, except this version does not use coconut milk, so it is a bit lighter.  It would be a great soup for summer.  It is spicy and full of bright flavors.
You will have a few juiced limes after making the soup, so toss them in the garbage disposal to clean it a bit.  I think this is a pretty common trick but I am always surprised at how much it freshens it up. 
The perfect pairing from the coconut version works here as well.  Use tongs to pick up the noodles after they have cooked and snip with kitchen shears to make the soup easier to eat. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tuna Hummus Melts

Perfect Pairing: Sabra hummus
My typical Saturday morning ritual is to clean my place with the Food Network on in the background.  If I glance up and see something interesting I will shut off the vacuum and tune in.  On one such morning I saw my favorite cook, Barefoot Contessa, make a tuna salad sandwich and she served it over a layer of homemade hummus.  Brilliant!  I loved that idea.  Of course, she made her own hummus and the tuna salad still had full fat mayonnaise in it, but it gave me a great idea.  Why not substitute hummus for mayonnaise in the salad?  Even though hummus still has some fat from the tahini it is a much healthier option. 

I made Tuna Hummus Melts for a small get together at my house and I really liked them.  You truly don’t miss the mayonnaise.  I used rye bread, a few slices of tomato, and havarti dill cheese melted on top.  My favorite brand of hummus is Sabra.  The classic variety was perfect in this recipe but you could use one of the flavored versions for an added kick.

There was quite a bit of leftover tuna after the party so I made my own version of tuna noodle casserole.  I made a basic white sauce, stirred in some cheese, cooked pasta, the leftover tuna, and frozen peas.  Voila!  It was quite tasty.  Just something to keep in mind if you have some leftovers!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Un-Recipe Files – Simple Lemon Green Beans

I have been guilty of overcomplicating menus.  I think I am finally learning to focus on a few special items and keep the rest of the menu simple.  If I try to make everything fancy and special it rarely comes out the way I intended it, and I become a little overwhelmed.  These simple lemon green beans make a great side dish that is super easy to prepare.

I buy the pre-trimmed thin green beans (also called haricot vert) from the store and steam them until they are crisp tender.  I love to use my silicone steamer, which I wrote about on my ham, cheese, and asparagus croissant post. Once the green beans are cooked I toss them with a bit of olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Fresh and delicious!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Greek Turkey Burgers

Perfect Pairing: Tzatziki Sauce
Back in early December Chicago had a freakishly warm day in the upper 60s.  It was the perfect day to put up my outdoor Christmas lights.  I figured since I was going to be outside all day I should finish the day with something on the grill.  I bought flank steak and let it marinate all day.  I was feeling pretty good about myself. I had spent about 90 minutes untangling lights and was up and down the ladder approximately 40 times before it was all said and done.  Everything looked great and I was excited for the programmable timer to kick in so I could see everything twinkling. 

When I tried to light my grill for dinner, nothing happened.  I let out a very loud sigh and hightailed it to Home Depot for a new gas tank.  I got the new tank on the grill and tried to light it again.  Nada.  It was right about this time that my nifty programmable timer should have been kicking on.  Nada squared.  Oh I was in a state.  I was dangerously close to having a super girly meltdown in my front yard. 

I pulled myself together and figured out the timer and enjoyed the lights for a moment before moving to the grill.  I spent about 30 minutes trying to get it going but had no success.  I gave it up in fear of blowing something up by leaving the gas on too long, and made flank steak on my grill pan inside.  I think that might be one of the most frustrating things to have a dinner planned on the grill and it will not work.

When my parents came for a visit in March I gave my dad the job of fixing this faulty grill.  I was convinced I was going to be buying a new one.  Nope.  My dad spent 20 seconds outside and got it going.  Farmers, they can fix everything.  I don’t even care now what happened, I’m just so glad it works! 

Now that we are entering grilling season, and I have an operational grill, I was excited to start cooking outside again!  My first spring dinner was Greek Turkey Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce and grilled vegetables.  It was outstanding, if I do say so myself!  The burgers are made with lean turkey (I used 93% lean), frozen chopped spinach, and crumbled feta.  They are so flavorful and healthy! 
Rather than topping the burgers with the standard ketchup and mustard I whipped up a tzatziki sauce with fat free Greek yogurt.  It was the perfect accompaniment!  I will totally be making these again on my fully functional grill this summer. 

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