Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's For Dinner Wednesday: Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cipollini Onions & Prosciutto

Brussels sprouts are one of my favorite vegetables. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for my husband so I don't often get a chance to make them. When my girlfriends came over for dinner recently though, it was the perfect opportunity for me to create a new recipe with my favorite vegetable.


In my opinion, roasting is the best way to prepare Brussels sprouts. They take on this amazing sweet and crunchy caramelized quality.  I tossed these Brussels sprouts in a combination of balsamic vinegar, honey, and olive oil which creates a nice glaze for the veggies. I added in my favorite sweet cipollini onions and salty savory diced prosciutto to add a few different, but complimentary flavors.


This a great side dish for any number of proteins and main dishes. I served it with a sun dried tomato shrimp entree, but these would also be delicious as a side dish for a steak, grilled chicken, or even on your Thanksgiving table!


Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered
  • 8 oz. cipollini onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 oz. thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Add all ingredients to a medium bowl and stir well to combine.  Spread mixture out evenly on a large baking sheet and insert in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes and remove, stir, and place back in the oven. Roast for another 15 minutes until sprouts are browned and crispy and onions are soft.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Tastemaker Top 10 with Jenny of Honey and Birch

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. On the blog today, we've got Jenny from Honey and Birch. Over and Honey and Birch, Jenny features tons of great recipes with beautiful photos to accompany them. And I love hosting other Chicago area food bloggers here-- plus Jenny's take on fresh ingredients is right up my alley (as is her answer to #2)! Meet Jenny...



Name: Jenny Bullistron

Blog: Honey and Birch

Location: Chicago, IL

In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about your blog. Honey and Birch is a lifestyle blog focusing on recipes and food with the occasional DIY project and craft. I like to make food from scratch and try not to use pre-made ingredients so you'll find lots of homemade salad dressings, condiments and spice blends mixed in with baked goods, slow cooker dishes and appetizers.


Now, tell us about your...

1. Favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
I love spicy food so Mexican cuisine is top on my list.

2. Least favorite meal, food, or cuisine:
I strongly dislike clams and oysters - I can't get over the texture.

3. Favorite restaurant in your city: Uncommon Ground on Clark.

4. Favorite food memory:
Watching my grandma cook.  She would never allow us to write down her recipes - instead she wanted us to learn the recipes by watching her.  My memories of her inspire me to cook more each day.
 
5. Favorite guilty pleasure food: Doritos. I have to refrain from buying them because I can't stop eating them once I open up a bag. 
 
6. Favorite ingredient (something you love to cook with, or something you see on a menu and know you have to order): Arugula/rocket. It's a great addition to pizzas, breakfast sandwiches and just about everything else.

7. Favorite kitchen tool, utensil, product, etc.: My KitchenAid mixer is my most beloved kitchen tool.

8. Favorite recipe: Duck fat chocolate chip cookies.  A guilty pleasure - once I start eating them, I can't stop.

9. Favorite thing about blogging: Meeting new friends. Blogging has brought me in contact with people who enjoy the same things as me - writing, eating and taking photos.

10. Five favorite blogs/blogs that A Squared readers should know about:
Local Milk - http://localmilkblog.com/
Solid Gold Eats - http://solidgoldeats.com/
Dad Cooks Dinner - http://dadcooksdinner.com/
Seasonal and Savory - http://www.seasonalandsavory.com/
Love Bakes Good Cakes - http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com


Thanks so much for your thoughts, Jenny!

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, September 29, 2014

In My Lunchbox This Week: Sun Dried Tomato, Basil & Roasted Garlic Soup

One of my favorite things to make for lunch in the fall and winter is a good homemade soup. I make a huge batch on a Sunday afternoon, portion it out, freeze it, and then just pack one as needed-- it's one of the easiest ways to pack a healthy homemade lunch every day of the week.


Tomato soup is one of my old favorites. It's super easy to make and even easier to doctor up with a few new ingredients to turn it into a totally different soup. I love the fresh flavor of a good tomato soup, but I wanted to add some deeper flavors here. Jarred sun dried tomatoes have a super intense tomato flavor, so pureeing them into this basic tomato soup really amps up the flavor. I also love the  flavor of roasted garlic-- the flavor is richer, but less pungent than raw or sauteed garlic and works perfectly in this soup.


This soup comes together really quickly and tastes great garnished with a little fresh basil and/or grated parmesan cheese. It's a perfect lunch or also a great accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich for a more well-rounded meal. This soup is also vegan... can't often say that about an A Squared recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes with liquid *Use San Marzano, if possible
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes, plus 1 tsp. reserved oil from the jar *Halved or julienne cut will both work
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves *This recipe from Country Cleaver is super easy
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Pour olive oil into a medium stockpot and heat over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5-8 minutes, until softened, but not browned.

Add canned tomatoes, vegetable stock, sun dried tomatoes, reserved sun dried tomato oil, and garlic to the pot. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and continue to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add half of the sliced basil and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Remove soup from heat and allow it to cool closer to room temperature. Using a blender or a handheld immersion blender, puree the soup mixture until mostly smooth. I like to leave a few small chunks for texture. Return soup to the stockpot and heat. Season with additional salt and pepper as needed, garnish with remaining basil, and serve.


Friday, September 26, 2014

East Coast Eating: Falmouth [Cape Cod], MA

So, yesterday I shared some great Rhode Island restaurants with you. After a short meeting in Providence and an even shorter visit with my family, Alex and I drove up to Falmouth, MA for the weekend. Two dear friends got married in Falmouth and it was a great excuse to spend a crisp fall weekend in Cape Cod with a bunch of old friends. We had a lot of downtime to catch up with one another and spent much of that time doing a little eating and drinking around town. So, if you find yourself in Falmouth-- and I hope you do because it is a charming little town-- here are a few spots to check out:

Stone L'Oven

A handful of us arrived in Falmouth on Friday evening and being a food blogger, my friends assumed that I had done some research and left picking a spot for dinner up to me. Well, they were right and I had found a few good options, ultimately deciding on Stone L'Oven since we wanted good food in a casual atmosphere. This was the perfect place for a big group like ours to enjoy a few drinks and share a ton of food.

We started with a few appetizers: Sweet & spicy wings and the antipasti plate. I'm not a big wing fan so I didn't partake in those, but the rest of the group seemed to really enjoy them. The antipasti was definitely more my speed: An assortment of fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, roasted eggplant and red peppers, salami wrapped provolone, and prosciutto wrapped goat cheese with a little balsamic drizzle. These are a few of my favorite flavors and this was the perfect app for sharing-- there was something for everyone.


And speaking of something for everyone, let's talk about pizza. Stone L'Oven offers a pretty vast selection of pizzas-- from the basic pepperoni or four cheese to the more nontraditional Shrimp Scampi or Sweet Potato & Bacon pizzas. They all sounded really good and our group was hungry, so we ordered four small pizzas (they come in small and large) for the 6 of us. We only had a few slices left when we finished, so this seemed to be just the right amount.


We decided on the Meat Lover topped maple-fennel sausage, pepperoni, ham, and meatballs; the sweet and salty Scallop & Bacon pizza, the Fig & Prosciutto pizza topped with a fig & balsamic jam, prosciutto, caramelized onions, and a combination of mozzarella & gorgonzola cheese. Lastly, we ordered The Special, which included pepperoni, ham, sausage, caramelized onions, mushrooms, and black olives. The table loved the Scallop and Bacon pizza. It was light on the scallops, but the bacon was crushed small and evenly distributed over the pizza and totally made up for it. The boys loved the Special, but the ladies were all about the Fig & Prosciutto pizza. It was such a delicious sweet and savory combination. I'm considering recreating it on the blog sometime soon!

There was nothing fancy about this place, but the atmosphere was loud and fun, the beer and wine selection was great, and the food was really delicious.
Stone L'oven on Urbanspoon

Cape Cod Bagel Co.

I love a good bagel. I hardly ever eat them at home since they have no redeeming health qualities... but man, they are good! So when I am traveling it's usually something I treat myself with. And since I found Cape Cod Bagel Co. just down the street from our hotel, this was the perfect place to grab a quick Saturday breakfast while I waited for the rest of my peeps to wake up (I'm always the early bird on weekends). Cape Cod Bagel has a huge selection of bagels, cream cheese, sandwiches, muffins, and other great breakfast and lunch options. The bagels are fresh and chewy and the house flavored cream cheese are delicious. I ordered a wheat bagel for myself with their light scallion & chive cream cheese and it totally hit the spot. Two bonuses about this place: They have a huge outdoor patio! Perfect for enjoying your breakfast al fresco. Also, when you order a coffee they give you an empty cup that you can fill yourself and to my surprise, there were about a dozen varieties of coffee to choose from-- including pumpkin spice! And the good spiced kind, not that flavored syrup. I was a happy girl that morning.
Cape Cod Bagel Co on Urbanspoon

La Cucina Sul Mare

After a little shopping on Main Street, we met up with our friends for a little afternoon drinking, football watching, and catching up. One drink turned into a whole afternoon seated at the bar at La Cucina Sul Mare, an adorable little Italian restaurant right on Main Street with a fabulous staff. We had such fun with the bartender and she was incredibly patient with our big group! Since we were watching football, I ordered a (prosecco!) mimosa, because that's just what I do... Alex and a few other members of our crew ordered what ended up being the most popular drink of the weekend: Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale with a cinnamon sugar rim. It just tastes like fall.


We ended up staying here for a few hours and decided we might as well grab a late lunch at La Cucina Sul Mare before heading back to the hotel to get ready. The menu had a great variety of Italian-American classics and standard pub fare, with a healthy amount of seafood on the menu. Several of us opted for the lobster roll and it was a great choice. Like the roll I told you about yesterday, this one was also a Maine-style roll filled with a cold lobster salad (versus a Connecticut roll filled with hot buttered lobster). It had huge chunks of lobster with a little celery and red onion tossed in mayonnaise on a toasted buttered bun. I ordered my roll with their shaved sweet potato fries, which I absolutely loved! They were thin and crispy and topped with a little bit of grated parmesan.

This restaurant was quiet during the lunch hour, so it was really nice for us to have the bar to ourselves. I imagine that the crowds really pick up in the evening though, so give it a try for dinner-- the guys in our group loved the calimari and the pastas on the menu sounded delicious!
La Cucina Sul Mare on Urbanspoon

Maison Villatte

A fellow foodie and friend from high school (shout out to Shayna!) is familiar with Falmouth and had a few suggestions of where to eat during our visit. One that was highly recommended was Maison Villatte and we almost didn't make it there, but managed to make a quick stop on our way out of town Sunday morning. Clearly, everyone else in Falmouth knew that this was the place to be because there was a line of about 25 people snaking around the little cafe when we arrived. This place is a true French boulangerie with fragrant freshly baked breads, beautiful cakes and pastries, and a great selection of savory and sweet baked goods.


I could have stayed here all day, but we were anxious to get back on the road so Alex ordered a small raspberry tart and I opted for one of their individually sized quiches. They were offering a few varieties, but I opted for a goat cheese and spinach quiche and it was SO good! The crust was flaky and buttery and the filling was super creamy from the combination of egg and goat cheese... even though it was quite rich, I ate it embarrassingly quickly.

If we had been sticking around for a few days, I would have certainly picked up a few loaves of their fresh bread. Maison Villatte bakes a really interesting variety of breads with combinations of cheeses, fresh herbs, dried fruits, and nuts in them that sounded amazing. If you need a carb fix, a quality quick breakfast or lunch, or if you're packing a fancy picnic for the beach be sure to stop in here!
Maison Villatte on Urbanspoon



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