February 29, 2012

Smokey Red Pepper Frittata

I guess I am on a Spanish-flavor kick! Here's a frittata I made for breakfast that was adapted from a recipe by Bryant Terry. Enjoy!

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon coarsely chopped oregano leaves
3 large eggs
3/4 cup egg whites (or whites from 3 eggs)
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper

In a 10 or 12-inch, ovenproof (nonstick recommended) skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the diced onion, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder and a large pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until the onion is browned, about 10 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme, oregano, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir in the shredded cheese.

Preheat the oven to 350⁰ F. Whisk the eggs with the milk. Pour in the beaten eggs and stir lightly to mix them with the vegetables. Season with black pepper. Cook the frittata until the eggs have almost set, about 8 minutes. Put the frittata in the preheated oven broiler until just set and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the warm frittata with slices of hearty toast.

February 27, 2012

El Conquistador Burger

A tribute to Florida's Spanish Heritage this burger melts in your mouth. It is low in saturated fat and high in flavor. Enjoy!

1 lb extra lean ground beef (96/4)
½ chopped mixed oil cured olives
¼ cup roasted red peppers chopped
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 cloves garlic, minced 

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl; divide into four even portions and form the burger patties. Cook  in a non-stick skillet over medium heat for approximately 6-8 minutes on each side or until the centers are just lightly pink and the juices run clear when the burger are gently pressed. If you prefer your burgers medium or medium rare, reduce the cooking time accordingly. Serve on a hearty whole wheat or sourdough bun.  

February 25, 2012

Spanish Breakfast Scramble

This is something I came up with that is loosely based on a recipe by Neal Fraser that he called Spanish-Style Scrambled Eggs. Enjoy this simple, quick version for a hearty, healthy breakfast.

1 tbs olive oil
1 link turkey chorizo sausage, casing removed
3 cups frozen hashbrowns
2 tbs to 1/4 cup roasted red peppers, diced
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 eggs
1/2 cup egg whites (whites from 2 eggs)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add chorizo; cook thoroughly, about 8 minutes; remove from the pan and set aside. Add the hashbrowns to the hot pan adding more oil if needed. Cook till golden brown and crispy, 10-15 minutes. Return the chorizo to the pan with the hashbowns and add the red peppers and paprika stirring to combine. Whisk together the eggs and egg whites; add to the hashbrown mixture and cook, stirring frequently. Once the eggs are fully cooked the scramble is ready to serve. I recommend serving it with crusty bread. Serves 2-3. 

February 23, 2012

Maple Syrup vs. Pancake Syrup

When I was younger I hated the taste of real maple syrup. It had a strong, overpowering flavor that I did not like with my breakfast items - it could easily take over the taste of my french toast. I also thought it too thin to put on ran all over my plate and made them soggy. As I looked to start eliminating manufactured food products such as high-fructose corn syrup my traditional syrup had to go (sorry Log Cabin).

It took a bit of getting used to real maple syrup, but its all I use now. I still find a few brands to have an overwhelming flavor and some to have a bitter aftertaste. I typically prefer a Light Amber syrup, but based on the taste test results in the article linked below it seems that the taste of the syrup has more to do the brand than the grade. Hopefully you find this article helpful next time you are standing in the breakfast aisle at the market wondering which type of syrup to buy.

February 19, 2012

Farm Fresh? Cage-Free? Organic? What type of eggs to buy?

Many times I find myself overwhelmed with choices when it comes to buying eggs. The choices used to be simple - medium, large, extra large or jumbo, but now...Do I buy the cage-free because it's a bit more humane or the vegetarian fed with omega-3s because they provide more nutritional benefit to me???

The link below is to an excellent article on the difference between the myriad of eggs now available on the market. Their test results look at both taste and performance for various applications. Hope it helps you feel a bit less overwhelmed the next time you go to buy eggs.

February 18, 2012

Village Pizzas by Emma - Sarasota, FL

Great, fresh pizza from a local establishment. The veggie pizza comes topped with the traditional items, but they add slices of fresh tomatoes and banana peppers...yum. Can't beat the $7 large pepperoni on Mondays. My only "negative" comment is that the dough is a bit heavier and chewier than I prefer, but it was still really good. I look forward to going back here and can't wait to try their Hawaiian! 

Village Pizzas by Emma on Urbanspoon

February 17, 2012

DaRuMa Restaurant - Sarasota, FL

Food, atmosphere and server is great, but everything is overpriced (food and drinks). We started with the Tempura appetizer which included four small shrimp and four pieces of vegetables served with a mild sauce. The vegetables were surprisingly very greasy which I did not expect ($7.95). Their Asian beers started at $6 for 12oz so we passed on ordering one of those and went for a fancy martini instead ;-0

For dinner my husband had the Teriyaki Filet which came cut up into thin strips (maybe 6 oz) and smothered in sauce - while the dish was flavored very well the sauce seemed to overwhelm what should be a really nice cut of meat ($19.95); rice, vegetables, soup and salad also came with the meal. I ordered sushi - yellowfin and salmon sashimi and a Mexican roll ($20 total). The sashimi was wonderfully fresh and the Mexican roll flavorful and spicy. Since I really enjoyed the sushi I would go back for it, but I will likely not return for anything else.

DaRuMa Japanese Steak House and Sushi Lounge on Urbanspoon

February 16, 2012

Cinnamon Polenta Pancakes

Delicious! The cornmeal adds a nice crunchiness and gives them a slightly nutty taste. They are full bodied pancakes - not flat or chewy. I topped a few with blueberries and toasted sliced almonds just to mix things up and add some additional nutrition.  Super quick to whip up and a nice change from your standard buttermilk pancake. Recipe by Marisa May with Food & Wine Magazine. 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk (see note)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water

1.   In a bowl, whisk the flour with the cornmeal, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the eggs, olive oil and water. Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients, leaving small lumps.
2.   Set a griddle or skillet over moderate high heat and spray it with vegetable oil spray. When the pan is hot, spoon on the batter by the 1/4-cup. Cook the pancakes until the bottoms are browned and bubbles appear on the surface, 2 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes longer. 

Note- if you don't have buttermilk on hand you can mix 1 cup milk with 1 TBS lemon juice or vinegar; let it stand a few minutes before mixing it into the batter. You can also use plain yogurt cup for cup, but I prefer the milk mixture.

February 11, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Pine Nuts

Love these little cookies from Giada - they are like chocolate shortbreads with rich little bites of pine nuts and chocolate chips. They aren't too sweet, but are very rich. Super quick and easy to make. I would recommend toasting the pine nuts to really bring out their flavor. Enjoy!


February 8, 2012

Meaty Lasagna

This recipe is adapted from Paula Deen's recipe called "Lots O' Meat Lasagna."  Its really moist, meaty and full of flavor. Delicious!

1 pound lean ground beef (I used 92/8)
3/4 pound ground Italian sausage (I used hot, but you could use sweet)
1 onion, chopped
cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground oregano
1 teaspoon ground basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano (I prefer petite cut tomatoes)
1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce 
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
2 cups small curd cottage cheese (I would suggest using 3 cups)
3-4 ounces grated Parmigianno-Reggiano 
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves or 2 tsp dried parsley
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
9 oven-ready lasagna noodles
3 cups shredded mozzarella 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat until meat is browned and crumbled (drain if a lot of fat is in the pan). Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine cottage cheeseParmesan, parsley, and eggs. Spoon 1/4 of sauce into bottom of a 13 by 9 baking pan. Place 3 uncooked lasagna noodles on top of sauce. Do not overlap noodles. Spread 1/3 of cottage cheese mixture over noodles, top with 1/4 of sauce and 1/3 mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce, reserving 1/3 of mozzarella cheese.

Bake 45 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

February 7, 2012

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread

This recipe was adapted from one shared with me by a former coworker. It has a great corn  flavor, with a chewy, yet slightly crunchy texture (due to using course ground cornmeal) and a bit of heat. It is not sweet, so if that is the type of cornbread you prefer I would suggest adding some sugar to taste or serving it with honey.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
2 1/2 cups cornmeal (I prefer course ground meal for this recipe)
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups milk
3 eggs
1 can of cream-style corn
1 cup extra sharp cheddar, grated
1 red onion, grated (or finely chopped)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped (can use fresh if preferred)

Preheat the over to 400 degrees, then turn down to 350 degree once you put in the bread. Combine the dry ingredients and mix well. Combine the wet ingredients and mix well. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated (don't over mix). Pour into a greased 9"x13" baking pan or casserole dish. Bake at 350 degree for 30-45 minutes or until golden brown on top and a when toothpick, inserted in the center of the bread, come out with just a few crumbs attached. 

February 6, 2012

El Greco - Sarasota, FL

I used to really like El Greco and still enjoy some of their food, but the quality seems to have decreased over the years.  The pizza and calzones we ordered were loaded with toppings, though they were a bit overcooked.  The Greek Salad that comes with the Gyro Platter was large and tasty with all the toppings you would expect. However, the gyro meat itself was dry and the rice accompaniment was quite lacking in flavor (not to mention rice really doesn't go well with a gyro in my opinion). Furthermore, this used to be my go-to place for baklava in Sarasota, but what I received during my recent visit was really dry. We may go back for a pizza or I might give the baklava another try in hopes that I just had a bad piece, but I won't be running back very soon. 

El Greco Cafe on Urbanspoon

February 5, 2012

Chicken and Vegetable Pot Pie

I love this pot pie recipe because it is not laden with butter or fat. I typically only use one onion and swap out the pie crust for puff pastry since I more often have that on hand. You can use shredded rotisserie chicken instead of freshly cooking the chicken breasts to speed up the prep time if you are in a hurry. To mix it up a bit you can add curry powder to the filling, one teaspoon to one tablespoon depending on your palate. Enjoy!

February 4, 2012

Simple Tomato Sauce by Giada

Easy to make and better than any store bought marinara/sauce. I ended up using 2 1/2 TBS of butter to balance out the acidity. You could add a bit of sugar instead of the butter or to reduce the amount of butter, but still achieve balanced acidity.

February 3, 2012

Stonewood Grill & Tavern

Good food and atmosphere, though overall I felt it was a bit overpriced for what we ordered. We had a great, friendly server - one of the friendliest and most polite server I've had in a long time. All entrees come with an assortment of interesting breads that are served as the first "course" - it was fun to share the four different ones. The pretzel bread was especially good; the others were nothing extraordinary.

I ordered a sirloin steak that was served a bit under-cooked and unevenly cooked. The peppercorn sauce that was served on it was supposed to be on the side, but was poured over the steak and didn't lend much flavor to the dish. The sides, fresh seasonal vegetables and mashed potatoes, were well prepared and offered a nice accompaniment to the steak. 
Stonewood Grill & Tavern on Urbanspoon

February 2, 2012

Square One Burgers - Sarasota, FL

Great selection of interesting burgers - both meat and toppings. The fries were cooked just right - golden brown, not too crispy, and seasoned only lightly with salt. For the burger itself, I was not impressed. My BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger was good, but over salted, a bit on the small side for the price and also a bit over cooked (I asked for medium well and it was on the dry side). The beer is extremely overpriced at $6 for a pint of Jai Alai from Cigar City Brewing (which by the way tastes nothing like an IPA). So...I will not be returning to Square One Burgers in the near future, not because it was bad, but there are other places in Sarasota that I have had better burgers.

Square One Burgers & Bar on Urbanspoon

February 1, 2012

Slower Cooker Cacciatore

Hearty and flavorful, but not a traditional style cacciatore. The addition of the paprika makes it take more like paprikash. Its still very good, just not what I was expecting. I used red bell pepper instead of the green and  boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of the thighs. We served it over wide egg noodles.

Hope you enjoy this easy, hearty meal.