Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Smoothie sensations

My mom recently gave me her old blender, which to me is like a little piece of heaven as I've been making smoothies/pesto/blending everything in my teeny tiny magic bullet up until now. Smoothies are awesome for breakfast, a snack, or a pre/post-workout protein boost and while I usually just throw whatever I can find in the fridge into the mix, here are my two favourites:

The Morning Punch: I love me a good morning smoothie. It's like yogurt and fruit, only I don't have to chew it, which is perfect for comatose early-morning Alicia. [Milk, blueberries, chopped pineapples, half an apple, one scoop plain protein powder]


Super Spinach Smoothie: Not gross I swear! Super tasty, super healthy, and great for a pre-workout snack. I make these before yoga so I'm not hungry through the class, but also not so full that it's hard for me to be all bendy. [1 cup spinach, half a banana, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup water, half a kiwi, 1 scoop protein powder, 2 scoops vanilla yogurt]

It may look a little weird, but it's delicious I promise. What are your favourite smoothie combo's?

Happy Tuesday!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Salmon with pea puree

Another gem from the kitchen of Giada! If you're anything like me, cooking salmon usually means using 1 of 2 things - teriyaki, or honey maple. While both are great for everyday meals (it's really hard to go wrong with salmon..) this healthy recipe gives salmon a fresh taste, packed full of flavour. AND it looks super fancy, great for impressing your guests at a dinner party! :)

What you'll need:

Lemon Brodetto:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, zested
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves

Pea Puree:
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup olive oil
4 (4-6 oz) pieces salmon
salt and pepper to taste

To make the Lemon Brodetto, warm the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the  shallots and saute until tender, about 7 minutes. Add the lemon juice, zest, and broth. Bring to a simmer, and keep warm, covered, over low heat.
To make the Pea Puree, combine the peas, mint, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor and puree. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a steady drizzle. Transfer the pea puree to a small bowl and stir in the Parmesan. Set aside.
I added the Parmesan into the blender right away, like you would do for a pesto
To make the Salmon, warm the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over high heat. Season the salmon pieces with salt and pepper. Sear the salmon until a golden crust forms, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side. Flip the fish and continue cooking until medium-rare, about 2 minutes more depending on the thickness of the fish.
My tiny kitchen stove pulled through with all of this cooking madness
To assemble the dish, add the tablespoon chopped mint to the Lemon Brodetto and divide between 4 shallow dishes. Place a large spoonful of Pea Puree into the center of each bowl. Place a salmon piece atop each mound of Pea Puree. Serve immediately.
Add the tbsp of chopped mint for added flavour
Pour the broth in each bowl
Add a large spoonful of pea puree
Add the salmon
And garnish with a mint leaf
This recipe was fairly easy and only took about half an hour to prepare. And how great does it look?! Seriously, it looks a lot more difficult to put together than it actually was. A word to the wise - concentrated lemon juice is NOT the same as squeezing a whole lemon, or at least it wasn't for me. I only had one lemon, and thought I could equal the 1/4 cup of  real lemon juice by adding 1/4 cup of bottled lemon juice. Wrong...the lemon flavour was REALLY overpowering and I wish I had just stuck with the one lemon. Oh well, something to learn for next time.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Lamb with mint basil pesto

Even though the warm weather doesn't seem to be sticking around juuust yet, I have already switched my mind into summer-food mode. And that means less thick and hearty, and more fresh and vibrant.  Summer makes me think of flourishing plants, which makes me think of my herb garden, which makes me think of - yep, you guessed it. Pesto! For all you pesto lovers, get ready for the ultimate combination - mint-basil pesto with a hint of lemon, atop a succulently seasoned rack of lamb. Drool. This recipe should be a staple for summer soirées, backyard barbecue's, and dock-side dinners. 

Taken from the kitchen of Giada (obviously)...

What you'll need
1 1/2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
3/4 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/3 cup, plus 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 (1 1/2 pounds each) racks of lamb, trimmed

What to do:

For the pesto: 
Blend mint, basil, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, 3/4 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper in a food processor until the herbs are finely chopped. With the machine running, gradually blend in 1/3 cup of oil until the mixture is smooth and creamy. 
1 1/2 cup mint leaves
3/4 cup basil leaves
2 tbsp Parmesan
2 tbsp lemon juice
Garlic cloves
Lightly toasted walnuts
Key word LIGHTLY, so they don't end up like this. Walnuts go from
toasted to burnt in the blink of an eye. They only need about 5 minutes.
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Blend together
Store in the fridge if you're not using it right away.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
Generously sprinkle the lamb racks with salt and pepper. 
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a grill pan or heavy large skillet over high heat. Place 1 lamb rack in the skillet and cook just until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the lamb rack meat side up on a heavy large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining 2 lamb racks.
Roast the lamb in the oven until cooked to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer the lamb racks to a work surface. Set aside for 10 minutes. Cut the lamb between the bones into single chops. Spread the pesto over 1 cut side of each chop. Arrange the chops, pesto side up, on plates or a platter, and serve.
Do-Ahead Tip: The pesto and lamb racks may be prepared up to this point 1 day ahead. Cover the pesto and lamb separately and refrigerate. Allow extra time for the chilled lamb to roast.
Pair with grilled vegetables, a green salad, and home made garlic bread.
And a beer. 
This was AMAZING, likely one of the best recipes I have tried in a while. The light, fresh pesto pairs perfectly with a tender piece of lamb. This is a great dish if you want something tasty to eat, but don't have the time to prepare an extravagant meal.  I actually made the pesto the night before and (since I didn't have 3 racks of lamb, only 1) I used the rest of it on sandwiches and in salad dressing for the next few days. So much better than a piece of meat slathered with BBQ, HP, Diana, or any other kind of artificially created sauce.  
Happy hump day!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Buona pasqua

..or Happy Easter for those not fluent in Italian. Spending the long weekend at home was a great way to relax, sleep, and eat my weight in carbs. For your viewing pleasure:
Halibut and grilled vegetables
Seafood linguine pasta
..and again
Mussels, monkfish, shrimp, and crab meat in a tomato sauce brine
Easter place settings with daffodils
Antipasti platter #1 - Capicola and cheese
Antipasti platter #2 - roasted red peppers, olives, artichokes, mushrooms
and bocconcini
Fritatta with sausage and cheese
Organic spaghetti with sausage, fennel, and leek
Lemon Cheesceake
I didn't even get to take photos of the sautéed mushrooms, scalloped potatoes, and enormous fruit platter because it was just getting too hard to stand up/move from my chair. Permanent food coma sets in.

Hope everyone had a joyous long weekend.

Happy Monday!

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