08/24/16

Super Simple Broccoli-Tomato Salad

Super-Simple Broccoli-Tomato Salad

Sometimes you just need something simple, healthy, and fast, without all the chefy froo-froo. THIS, is one of those dishes. Crunchy and bright, sweet and tangy, this uber-easy salad is short on prep-time and big on flavor.

SO refreshing after a long, hot day!

TIP: Want to make it a meal? Grab a rotisserie chicken, allow to cool, and toss equal parts chopped thigh meat and breast into your salad (increase the amount of dressing by 1/3, if you do this).

Super-Simple Broccoli-Tomato Salad

1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup white sugar
3 Tbs. rice vinegar, unseasoned
1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
1 tsp. coarse black pepper

Combine broccoli, onion, and tomatoes in a bowl.

Whisk mayonnaise, sugar, oil, pepper, and vinegar together in a bowl until dressing is smooth; pour over broccoli mixture and stir to coat.

Optional additions:
1 cup craisins
8 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, salted

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
www.joinmykitchen.com

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12/23/15
Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Best Holiday Veggies on the Grill

 Grilled Sweet PotatoesGrilled Sweet Potatoes with Caramel Adobo Sauce

  • 2 lbs. medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for oiling the grill

Sauce:

  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 oz. butter, softened
  • 1 c. light packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. (to taste) chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 2 tbsp. water

Bring the sweet potatoes to a boil in a large pot of heavily salted water. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until a toothpick can easily be inserted into each potato, about 25 minutes.

Drain the sweet potatoes and let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and arrange in a single layer. Refrigerate until cool, at least 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients (only use the sauce from the chipotles, not the peppers themselves) in a small pot and bring to a slow simmer, stirring constantly.

Cook until slightly reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and keep warm.

Once the sweet potatoes are cool, pre-heat your grill to medium high (375°F) and oil the grates.

Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise. Cut the halves lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick wedges and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Place the sweet potato wedges on the grill in a single layer, cover, and cook until grill marks appear, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the wedges to the other cut side, and repeat.

Transfer grilled sweet potato wedges to a platter, and drizzle with Caramel Adobo Sauce.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

Grilling Asparagus

Simple Grilled Asparagus

3 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and peeled
12 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 teaspoon salt

Place asparagus on a plate. Drizzle oil and lemon juice over the asparagus and turn spears until they are coated. Sprinkle with salt and turn again.

Grill asparagus for 5 minutes on pre-heated grill racks. Each minute or so, roll each spear 1/4 turn.

Asparagus should begin to brown in spots (indicating that the natural sugars are caramelizing) but should it not be allowed to char. Dripping oil may cause flare-ups. Keep a glass, or spray bottle of water handy to spritz on coals, if necessary.

Remove from grill and serve immediately.

Okay, I’ll meet you halfway… here’s one of my favorite holiday side dishes that require minimum time outdoors, while still bringing tons of great grill flavor to the party!

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic Cranberry Brussels Sprouts

I tested this recipes on some friends recently, one of whom informed me that while she despised Brussels sprouts, she would “try one” for me. She made a point of telling me, after dinner, that she had gone back for seconds. If you know folks who’ve never met a Brussels spout they loved… this is a good one to introduce them to!

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts*
  • 32 oz. chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • 15 oz. jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 4 skewers, soaked
* For even cooking, try to pick Brussels sprouts of a uniform in size and shape

 

Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to simmer in a stock pot. Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any off-color outer leaves.

Best Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Add the Brussels sprouts to the chicken stock, return to a simmer (if necessary, add water until sprouts are just covered), and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often, until they are still firm, but you can poke a skewer through them.

Drain and allow the sprouts to cool until you can handle them. Skewer 6 to 8 sprouts onto each skewer, and brush with reduction sauce.

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Place the skewers onto the grill over medium heat. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the skewers over and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Serve as is or for an extra punch of flavor, remove the sprouts from the skewers, plate, and drizzle with remaining reduction sauce.

Serves 4

11/4/15
Butter Poached Garlic Recipe

The BEST Way to “Garlic Up” any Dish

Butter Poached Garlic Recipe

This is one of those little “Chef Secrets” that can elevate a great dish into the range of freakin’ amazing.

Slowly poaching the garlic cloves in butter adds an amazingly sweet, deep roasted-garlic flavor without the often accompanying hint of bitterness…and, of course, who doesn’t like garlic butter?

This is a key ingredient in many of my best recipes. I use this technique with mashed potatoes (just add warmed heavy cream), in poultry stuffing, to toss with fresh green beans, asparagus, or wilted spinach (with some fresh lemon juice), and it’s my go-to finishing ingredient to brush on steak or pork chops, just before serving.

And it couldn’t be easier.

For four servings of…well, anything…

Butter Poached Garlic
1 cube Sweet Cream Butter
10-12 fresh whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 tsp. fine sea salt

In a small pan, melt butter over medium low heat.

Add garlic and salt, and poach for 20 minutes, tossing occasionally.

When a fork or knife can pierce the garlic with absolutely no resistance, it’s done.

Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.

Add garlic and butter to a blender, or use a immersion blender or even a fork to mash and mix the garlic together into a smooth slurry.

Use immediately, or cover, store and chill for up to a week in the fridge.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
joinmykitchen.com

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08/4/15

Caprese Cherry Tomato Bites

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I love the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (a taste from the Italian region of Campania) in these bite-size appetizers. The juicy explosion you get when you pop one into your mouth is the genuine taste of springtime.

This is a new spin on a classic Italian dish, and no one knows how to showcase the tomato like the Italians. In Italy, unlike most salads, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish).

We made hundreds of these little suckers for our friend Dani’s wedding…and the still went fast! :)

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Caprese Tomato Bites
1 pint cherry tomatoes, about 16
2 mozzarella cheese sticks
16 fresh basil leaves, small
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Scoop out and discard pulp an stem of the cherry tomatoes.

Invert tomatoes onto paper towels to drain.

Slice each mozzarella stick into eight rounds.

Turn tomato halves over; drizzle with oil. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Wrap a leaf of basil around a slice of cheese (like a taco) and insert into a tomato.

Chill and serve.

Makes 16 single servings.

Note: This is the super-simple version, and it’s awesome, as is. If, however, you’d like to take this to the next level, replace the cheese sticks with some fresh mozzarella.

MY KITCHEN Outreach ProgramBy the way, if you’re enjoying this recipe, please subscribe to our free newsletter! We’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each Friday.

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07/30/15

Kale: 3 Ways

Kale is a form of cabbage, green or purple, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms, and is related broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, and brussels sprouts.

Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and reasonably rich in calcium. As with broccoli and other brassicas, kale contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties. Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steaming, microwaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss. Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.

Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leafed varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC.

Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.

Here are three of my favorite kale recipes from the hautemealz.com recipe box…Bon appétit!

-Chef Perry

Wilted Garlic Kale
Yield: Serves 2 Active Time: 10 Total Time: 5

1 lb of kale
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Rinse and dry the kale and remove from stem. Tear it up into roughly 3inch squares.

In a skillet, heat your oil to medium and roast your shallot, followed by your garlic.

Once shallots have softened, toss in your kale and drizzle with vinegar.

Cover and let wilt – about 5 minutes.

Toss, and serve immediately.

Kale “Chips”
Total Time: 45 min Prep: 25 min Cook: 20 min
Yield: 4 serving

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces.

Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt.

Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes.

Serve as finger food.

Kielbasa, Cannellini, Kale and Cheese Tortellini Soup
Yield: 2 servings Active Time: 10 min. Total Time: 30 min.

1 tsp. olive oil
4 oz. fully smoked kielbasa sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
3 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups chopped kale
1/2 can (15-oz.) cannellini (white kidney beans), rinsed, drained
1/3 package (9-oz.) cheese tortellini
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 6 ingredients and saute until vegetables are soft and kielbasa is brown, about 12 minutes.

Add broth and bring to boil. Stir in kale and cannellini. Reduce heat to low and simmer until kale is wilted, about 4 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead.

Cool slightly; cover and refrigerate. Bring to simmer before continuing.)

Add tortellini to soup. Simmer until pasta is just tender but still firm to bite, about 5 minutes.

Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.

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05/28/15

What kind of onion should you use?

All about onions and shallots

Onions…

I love them all – whites for my pico de gallo, yellow for caramelized onions, red for pickled onions, and shallots for…well, everything!

Which is YOUR favorite?

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

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03/16/15

How long to cook Veggies

Wondering how long to cook those veggies? Here’s a great chart to keep on hand to make sure they always come out right!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Veggie Cooking Chart

(By the way, be sure to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk and foster teens!)



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12/20/14

How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven

How to Roast Chestnuts in the Oven

Let’s roast us some chestnuts!

Chestnuts come from the European Chestnut tree, which is related to oak and beech trees, and we’re all familiar with Nat King Cole’s Christmas song about roasting chestnuts on an open fire.

Roasting chestnuts is something I’d never done until yesterday…turns out I’ve been missing out on something completely awesome!

By the way, “water chestnuts” are a completely unrelated food that comes from a water-based plant.

Chestnuts have an amazing food history, but I want to keep this video short, I’ll just say, if you want to read about them, go type “Chestnut” into Wikipedia.

The flavor of these oven-roasted chestnuts is very mild, slightly sweet, and completely addictive.

Oven Roasted Chestnuts
2 pounds fresh un-shelled chestnuts
2-3 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons (or more) kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat you’re oven to 425 degrees, and give the chestnuts a quick rinse.

SCORING

Cut a little X on the round side of the husk, and I like to use a small serrated knife for this.  this is called “scoring”, which will let steam release during the roasting process. Set each chestnut flat-side down, and just cut a shallow X across the top.

I’m use a small hand-towel or bar-mop down on my cutting board, this can help keep things from sliding around while you’re cutting.

The chestnut doesn’t really have a shell, per say, buy more like a thick outer skin, and a thinner inner skin.

SOAKING

Next, soak your chestnuts in a bowl of very hot water. This will softens the husk some, and add some moisture for the steaming process.

By the way, Chestnuts are much lower in calories that other nuts, they have no cholesterol, are very low in fat, and they’re gluten free! They’re also the only nut that contains vitamin C, and lots of it.

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

SPICES

Place your scored chestnuts in a large bowl and, for two pounds of chestnuts, pour in 1 stick of melted butter.

Remove the leaves from 2-3 sprigs of fresh rosemary, and add to the bowl.

Next, sprinkle with two teaspoons of salt and one teaspoon of pepper. If that seems like a lot of salt, remember that most of it is going on the husks, which we’re going to remove.

Mix well to combine the seasonings and evenly coat the chestnuts with butter.

ROASTING

Next, we’re going to pour out our chestnuts in a SINGLE LAYER (that’s very important) on a foil-lined baking sheet. Gather up the edges of the foil, on all four sides, leaving a small opening in the top for steam to escape.

Roast between 45-60 minutes, until the cut edges of the husk begins to curl up, and then remove them from the heat, and let them rest another 15 minutes, still covered in foil.

PEELING

Once the edges have curled up, they shouldn’t be TOO difficult on the thumbs to peel. I’m not going to lie to you, the husks toughen up while roasting, and those edges get sharp. It might not be a bad idea to wear some kitchen gloves for this part.

After you’ve removed the husk, and the inner skin, everything left is sweet, edible meat.

Transfer your chestnuts to a plate or platter, use a spatula to scrape in any butter and spices left in the pan over them, season with more salt, if desired, and toss them a bit to coat.

Serve hot or warm.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

11/10/14

Pretty Honey Ginger Carrots

Honey Ginger Carrots

Looking for something to fancy up the table, or just add some simple veggies to your new meal plan?

These beautiful whole carrots (either orange, like these, or the multicolored heirloom variety) are as pretty to look at, as they are delicious to eat. Plus it’s a fast and super-easy recipe to add some veggies to dinner!

They’d make a great addition to the holiday table, as well.

Not looking for something this upscale? The recipe is just as yummy with your regular bag ‘o organic baby carrots, as well.

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans.com

Honey Ginger Carrots
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs grape-seed oil
2 Tbs. fresh ginger
4 Tbs. honey
8 whole organic heirloom carrots
1/2 cup hot water
Sea salt and pepper

Mise en Place

Peel and mince ginger. Peel carrots, leaving stems and leaves on, trimming to fit the pan.

Preparation

Melt butter oven medium heat in a small sauce pan. Add the ginger and stir in honey until dissolve. Set aside and keep warm.

Honey ginger carrots

Pour water and 1 tsp. of salt into a large, shallow skillet. Cover and bring to a low simmer.

Lay the  carrots in the pan, and roll to coat. Stir occasionally and allow to steam 4-5 minutes until just getting tender.  Pour off any remaining water, and drizzle carrots with the butter/ginger/honey mixture.

Honey ginger carrots

Roll the carrots around to evenly coat and continue to cook until glazed and tender to your liking (remember, they’ll keep cooking for a few minutes, so you’ll actually want to take them off the heat just before they’re done to your liking.)

Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and serve on a warm pretty platter (or not) drizzling with a little pan sauce.

Honey ginger carrots

(By the way, if you’re enjoying this article, you may want to subscribe to our free meal planning newsletter; we’ll send seven amazing dinner recipes and a shopping list to your inbox each week. Plus, you’ll be helping us feed the hungry, and teach nutrition, shopping, and hands-on cooking classes to at-risk teens!)

 

10/30/14

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Are you enjoying your free weekly meal plans?

Here’s another new recipe I whipped up (pun intended) in my New Ninja Duo Blender. If you like rich, creamy soups, this one’s for you…a perfect bowl of warm awesomeness for a cold fall night!

butternut squash recipeI’ve made butternut squash soup a number of times, but was pairing this one with a Mexican dinner, and it turned out to be the best version I’ve ever made. Most of these ingredients you probably already have in your cupboard.

If you want a lighter version, use 2% instead of heavy whipping cream (but…I’d recommend the cream.)

Enjoy!

Chef Perry
SimplySmartDinnerPlans

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderSouthwestern Acorn Squash Soup
Total Time: 1 hr 30 min
Prep: 30 min
Cook: 1 hr
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

1 whole butternut squash
2 shallots, diced and divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
3 tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp pepper
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. chile powder
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 stick butter
1 1/2 cups chicken stock*
Dash of cayenne (optional)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

*I like Better Than Bullion’s Organic Chicken Base.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut a flat spot on bottom of each rounded  end so the squash will sit flat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the squash, cut side up.

Roasting butternut squash

To the squash halves, spread half of the shallot, and half the garlic on each.

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Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and season with 1 tablespoon each of the salt and freshly cracked pepper, and half of each of the cumin, chile powder, and paprika.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Roast in the hot oven about an hour, until the squash is very tender and the surface is starting to caramelize and collapse.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

Allow to cool (make a few cuts to help cooling), and then remove the skin.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderIn a large sauce pan, heat the butter and remaining olive oil over medium-high heat and when melted, add the remaining diced shallots and saute until they are starting to caramelize, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock and stir.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja BlenderReduce the heat to medium-low and add in the reserved squash and  the remaining chicken stock. Stir, and then pour into your Ninja blender and hit the “puree” button. (Or, do the same in your blender or food processor.)

The puree will be very thick. Stir in the cream and Worcestershire sauce.

Taste, and add in the remaining spices to your liking, and heat slowly over medium-low heat.

Southwestern Butternut Squash Soup in the Ninja Blender

When the mixture comes to a slow simmer, mix again with a whisk and turn heat to low.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro.