Thursday, July 24, 2014

Carrot & Sage Risotto

Yesterday I shared with you a simple and elegant recipe for chicken breasts seasoned (and decorated) with fresh sage leaves. Today, I wanted to share a delicious side dish that pairs perfectly with that chicken: carrot & sage risotto.


I have had so much fun experimenting with variations on my basic recipe, but this risotto is really different and wonderful. It has nice sweetness from the carrots and that deep flavor of fresh sage. These flavors work together really nicely to lighten up the risotto, which can often be a very rich dish. It's also super versatile, so this risotto makes a great side dish for virtually any protein, for some grilled vegetables, or on its own with just a little grated Parmesan.


It was fun to let the carrots shine here. They don't often get to be the star of the show, right? Usually you're throwing them into a soup or a sauce with celery and onions or adding them to a vegetable stir fry for a bit of color or to a slow cooker because they are one of the only veggies that can withstand several hours of slow cooking. In this risotto though, the carrots are the stars.


Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 10 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced and divided
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium fat free chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan heat 2 Tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and 1/2 of the sage and saute until tender (make sure they don't brown!), about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice and stir to coat with the onion mixture. Add the wine and simmer, stirring until it has almost completely evaporated, approximately 3 minutes.
 
Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and stir constantly until the broth has almost completely absorbed, for 2-3 minutes. Continue stirring the rice and repeat the process of adding 1/2 cup broth at a time. Allow each 1/2 cup of broth to absorb before adding the next. Continue stirring to cook until the rice is chewy and firm.

Remove from the heat. Stir in the remaining oil, reserved sage, grated Parmesan, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Pan Seared Sage Leaf Chicken Breasts

Sometimes the best recipes are the ones that happen by accident.


I have recently been on a risotto kick (see this recipe and this one too) and had tons of Arborio rice in my pantry that needed to be used up. Risotto, in my opinion, usually becomes the star of the show when you're serving it so I try to keep any proteins or vegetables that I serve along with it pretty simple. I had an idea for a summery carrot risotto and decided to quickly sear a few chicken breasts to serve with it. In the middle of my chicken prep, I noticed a few leftover sage leaves in my fridge and decided to add them to the chicken breasts. What a game changer!


Sage is one of the best flavors to add to poultry and when it's fresh, it's even better. A little butter, garlic, and white wine rounds is a classically simple and delicious flavor combination. In the cooking process the whole sage leaves basically adhere themselves to the moisture of the chicken breasts and they look so beautiful seared against the browned chicken. And the pan searing process helps the sage leaves to develop a deep herbaceous flavor.

Oh, and come back tomorrow for that carrot risotto recipe-- together it's a perfect meal!


Ingredients:
  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, thin or pounded thin
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add olive oil and butter to a cast iron skillet or other oven-proof pan. Melt over medium high heat and swirl to coat.

Season chicken breasts on both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Gently press 3 sage leaves into each side of the chicken breasts. The moisture from the chicken should fasten the leaves to each side pretty securely.

Add the chicken breasts to the pan and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Carefully pour the white wine into the pan and place the pan in the heated oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and wine has reduced.


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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Tastemaker Top 10 with Lauren of Lakeshore Lady

The Tastemaker Top 10 is a collection of 10 questions asked by me and answered by some of my favorite bloggers. Here they will tell you a little bit about themselves, their blogs, and of course, their favorite foods and restaurants. Today we are talking to Lauren of the lifestyle blog Lakeshore Lady. Like me, Lauren loves to cook and share recipes on her blog (especially Italian food!) and she's also one of a handful of fellow Syracuse alums living in Chicago. Go Orange!


Name: Lauren Nolan

Blog: Lake Shore Lady

Location: Chicago, IL

In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about your blog: Lake Shore Lady is my food and fashion blog. It showcases my personal style, favorite trends, and other inspirations. My easy and (mostly) healthy recipes come with step by step pictures, so you an easily recreate the dishes at home. I like to think there's something for everyone!


Now, tell us about your...

1. Favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
I grew up learning how to cook Italian food from my Mom and Nana, so I think that will always win, no matter what.

2. Least favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
Red meat and I don't get along anymore, but if we are talking about foods I don't actually like... I've never been able to get on board with mayonnaise or cold cuts. I was that kid who got a PB&J instead.

3. Favorite restaurant in your city:
 There are so many great restaurants in Chicago, but I think I have to give it to RPM Italian. I'm pretty sure anyone who has ever met me has heard me talk about their Homemade Ricotta. Plus the Lobster Caprese, Brussels Sprout Salad, Bucatini Pomodoro... it's everything my dreams are made of.

4. Favorite restaurant outside of your city:
  Westville in New York City. I get a Market Plate there every time I go back to visit NYC. If you are a fan of vegetables, this place is for you.

5. Favorite food memory: Almost every Thanksgiving I make Stuffed Mushrooms with my Mom, and I make them with my Nana almost every Christmas. Even when I make them myself, the smell of garlic and mushrooms sautéing brings me back to both of their kitchens.


6. Favorite guilty pleasure food: New York Pizza! But since that isn't as readily available to me in Chicago, wings are also up there. They're the perfect thing to eat while cheering on the Blackhawks!!

7. Favorite ingredient (something you love to cook with, or something you see on a menu and know you have to order): Recently, one of my favorite ingredients to cook with is kale. It's so versatile and also so good for you! If I'm at a restaurant, it's probably mussels. I'm a sucker for a pot of mussels.


8. Favorite kitchen tool, utensil, product, etc.: My Julienne Peeler! I get (embarrassingly) excited when I make Zucchini Noodles.



9. Favorite recipe: My family's Vodka Sauce recipe is killer. It's my favorite comfort food and it's super easy to make for a group.


10. Five favorite blogs/blogs that A Squared readers should know about: As for food blogs, I never miss How Sweet It Is, Oh My Veggies, Cookie and Kate, The First Mess, and Love & Lemons.


Thanks so much for your thoughts, Lauren!

Do you have a blogger that you'd recommend to be featured on the Tastemaker Top 10? Or are you a blogger that would like to participate? Email me at aasquaredblog@gmail.com and let me know!



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Monday, July 21, 2014

In My Lunchbox This Week: Brussels Sprouts Salad with Dried Cranberries & Walnuts

What a Monday. I am currently on my way home from a bachelorette party at the Jersey Shore and I am TIRED. The sign of a fun weekend, for sure, but also not an ideal way to start the work week. I'm in need of a few good nights sleep, a lot of water, and some healthy food... so, let's start with lunch.


You all know how I love a Brussels sprout salad. I have shared a few recipes here with you previously and I keep coming up with new and different ways to prepare them. Brussels sprouts make great salads because they are tasty, they're healthy, and more importantly, they're super hearty so they stand up to ingredients and can be prepped ahead of time without the lettuce or spinach soggy factor. And let's be honest, that's a good way to ruin a great salad.


This salad came about as a combination of a bag of Brussels sprouts and a bunch of other random ingredients that I had on hand in my fridge and pantry. I love the sweet dried cranberries and the nutty walnuts together-- it's a combination that reminds me of fall. Combined with crisp carrots and onions and tossed in a sweet and tangy vinaigrette, this is a great lunchtime entree salad or something you could serve as a starter at a dinner party too.

Personally, I like this salad after it sits for a bit. I'd recommend covering and refrigerating for at least one hour before serving, if you can. It also saves really well. I made a big batch, portioned it out in individual containers, and took it to work for lunch for a few days in a row.


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced or shaved
  • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted and rough chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar 
  • 1 tsp. dry chives 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup fresh Parmesan, grated or shaved

Combine Brussels sprouts and next 4 ingredients (through walnuts) in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and next 6 ingredients (through salt and pepper) until fully combined. Drizzle over the Brussels sprout mixture and toss well to fully coat.

Top with Parmesan cheese and serve.


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