Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Orzo

I made this dish last week to go with a yummy pot roast and it made my meal feel festive. Now I'm not suggesting that you serve this at your Christmas dinner, but the colors just screamed Holiday and Christmas, so I gave it the name Christmas Orzo. And during this hectic time of year, isn't it great to put together a healthy, colorful side dish that's ready in less than half an hour? I certainly think so!

Christmas Orzo
Serves 4

1 cup uncooked orzo
1 T unsalted butter
1 T olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1-3/4 cups canned chicken stock or broth (low sodium, fat free)
1 T additional olive oil for sautéing vegetables:
1 red pepper chopped
4 oz cremini mushrooms chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 cups baby kale chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Herbes de Provence
1/4 - 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (optional)

Prep your raw vegetables.

And slice/chop the baby kale, which by the way is an excellent source of vitamins A, K and Folate. You can use more or less of the kale than I've recommended, but if you're not sure about the flavor (which is rather pronounced) go with a lesser amount. Here's the package I bought:

In medium size saucepan on medium low heat melt your butter and oil. Add the orzo and toast on medium heat for about 2-3 minutes until some of the grains become toasty and brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low (very low) and cook 12-13 minutes.

While orzo is cooking add your olive oil to a large sauté pan and heat on medium to medium low (my stovetop cooks hot). Add your prepped red pepper, mushroom and onion and coat with oil. Add a pinch more of salt and your Herbes de Provence. Stir to combine veggies and seasoning. After the vegetables soften (about 5 minutes) add your chopped kale. Cook another minute or so until the kale wilts.

Mix the warm vegetables into the cooked orzo and add some cheese if desired.

Serve alone or with anything your holiday heart desires. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Egg Nog and Bananas Foster French Toast

My fabulous cooking friend Kim has been posting "25 Days of Egg Nog Recipes" and she inspired me last night. Oh did she inspire me!!! I fed myself a decadent dinner and packed up the leftovers for friends at work today.  Who doesn't like French toast? And who doesn't want to jazz up this simple dish every once in a while? Well, the bananas in my fruit basket were calling my name and the egg nog was already in my fridge anticipating Kim's suggestions. I'm happy to share this simple, yet decadent recipe. Oh, and it's a one dish meal, how nice is that?
Bananas Foster French Toast
Serves 3
6 slices firm white bread
3 large eggs whisked
1 cup eggnog
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Banana Syrup/Sauce:
3 bananas sliced 1/4 inch
1/3 cup brown sugar
4 T unsalted butter
3-4 T water
Butter and Canola Oil for sautéing the toast
Ready for some simple instructions and mediocre pictures?
Combine eggs, egg nog, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk together until you have a smooth custard. Soak each piece of bread in the mixture.
I didn't let them get too soggy, and placed each piece of bread on a tray until I was ready to fry them. In large sauté pan, add some butter and canola oil and heat on medium low. I did not measure the amount, but you know me, I was pretty careful not to over do it. Now add your egg-noggy soaked bread and cook a few minutes until slightly brown on each side. I was able to cook 3 at a time.
Remove cooked bread from pan and set aside. Now it's time to cook the bananas. In same pan that you cooked the toast, add the butter and brown sugar and cook until they are combined. Now add the sliced bananas and let them caramelize in the sugary mix. I wanted to stretch the sauce, so I added some water which seemed to work fine for me.
I did a double decker plate for myself. I took one slice of toast and topped it with the bananas.
Then I added another slice of toast and topped it with more bananas. Of course I topped the whole shebang with powdered sugar.
How can you make this even better? Add a few slices of bacon. That would do it for me. Or a shot or two of whiskey or rum to the banana sauce. I love being decadent during the holiday season!