Cantaloupe, Prosciutto & Arugula Salad

Cantalope-Salad-7576_0

It’s been TOO DAMN HOT to cook this week.  When not wearing out my #DoorDash app, I’ve been looking for as many cold dinner solutions as possible.  I found one I love on Emeril Lagasse’s website: www.emerils.com.

It’s quick & easy to throw together and pairs well with pre-cooked, chilled jumbo shrimp or  maybe a sandwich made from a leftover store-bought rotisserie chicken or deli turkey breast.  Add a glass of perfectly chilled Sauvignon Blanc with melon undertones, like the 2014 Westerly Sauvignon Blanc has, and you have a terrific weeknight meal!

Cantaloupe, Prosciutto, & Arugula Salad

  • 1/4 cup champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or vegetable-olive oil blend
  • 1 tablespoon minced mixed fresh herbs (such as basil, chives, and parsley)
  • 8 ounces fresh arugula, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 cantaloupe, halved, seeded, peeled, and cut into thin wedges
  • 6 to 8 thin slices prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces

In a mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, shallot, garlic, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to combine. While continuously whisking, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until completely incorporated. Whisk in the herbs, and set aside while you prepare the salad.

In a large bowl, combine the arugula and red onion. Drizzle in 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette and toss to combine. Add more vinaigrette to taste, if desired, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Arrange the cantaloupe wedges on a large serving plate, top with the arugula salad and the prosciutto. Serve immediately.

**Tip:  Any unused vinaigrette can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to flipflopwineglass2 days.

A nice big pile of this salad and cold glass of Westerly Sauvignon Blanc in my sassy Lolita wine glass is sure to make me feel instantly cooler! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken Saltimbocca with White Wine Sauce

chickensaltimbocaVery reluctantly, I’m back from my week of culinary indulgence. I gorged myself while sipping on every delectable wine I could in Napa and Paso Robles, so it’s back to the kitchen (& the gym) I go.

I adore veal saltimbocca, but have greatly cut back my intake of red meat, even the lighter pink/milky white young beef that is veal.  With this recipe, I’ve kept the flavors, cut some of the fat by using a lean chicken breast, and even snuck in some vegetables.

Some saltimbocca ([saltimˈbokka]; Italian for jumps in the mouth) recipes are fried in olive oil and rely only on pan drippings for their sauce, which I find to be too dry, while others are covered in a heavy creamy – lemony sauce.  I like to use a combination of the preparation methods and a make a lighter wine based sauce with just a kiss of  lemon and cream to make the whole dish a little less guilt-inducing. #GirlsGoneWine

Chicken Saltimbocca with White Wine Sauce

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 oz each)
  • 4-8 thin slices of Prosciutto ham
  • 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach
  • 16 whole leaves fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 TBLS all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1/2 ounce capers
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBLS butter
  • 2 TBLS fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  1. Pound the chicken breasts to flatten so they are all roughly the same thickness (3/8 to 1/2 inch).  Lightly salt and pepper.
  2. Squeeze the thawed, frozen spinach to remove the excess water.  In a small bowl, toss the spinach with salt & pepper and 1 tablespoon of oil to coat.
  3. Sprinkle flour on one side of first chicken breast and place flat on your work surface.
  4. On one half of the unfloured side of the chicken, spread 1/4 of the spinach in an even, thin layer. Sprinkle 1/4 of the Parmesan cheese over the spinach and fold the empty side of the chicken over the filled side. chickensamb
  5. Wrap the sliced Prosciutto around the floured side of the chicken, placing leaves of sage between the chicken and the ham as shown.
  6. Follow same steps with remaining chicken breasts until all 4 are ready to cook.
  7. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and cook just until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  8. Add the butter. When it melts add the wine and lemon juice and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
  9. Add the cream, chicken broth, artichoke hearts and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  10. Prepare your Angel Hair pasta while the chicken is simmering.
  11. Remove the chicken & artichoke heart pieces from the pan and cover to keep warm.
  12. Simmer the cooking liquid over high heat until it is reduced to about 2/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Season the cooking liquid with salt and pepper, to taste.
  13. Serve the chicken breasts on a bed of Angel Hair pasta topped with the reduced sauce and garnish with capers if desired.

Enjoy with a chilled glass of the wine you used to make the sauce. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

I wanted to make something healthy for an impromptu, no occasion, mid-week family gathering but didn’t want to spend all day in the kitchen prepping.  I thought about a simple ground sirloin meatloaf and a salad, but meatloaf, even with ground sirloin, screams, “Boring!”.

Having just gone to the grocery store yesterday, I was SO not in the mood to go again today.  Thankfully a dive into the freezer led to a discovery of 2 pounds of frozen ground chicken breast and 3 pounds of handmade gourmet chicken sausage I’d had to freeze due to family drama derailing a dinner a couple of weeks ago!  A quick check of the pantry confirmed that I still had a jar of the amazing Gia Russa Hot Sicilian Marinara I’d come across at World Market, I always have pasta, Parmesan & mozzarella and the makings for a green salad, so dinner is handled!  Whew…

chixparmml3

Spicy Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil or butter
  • 2 pounds ground chicken breast
  • 3 chicken “Italian” sausages
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 – 14.5 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes, drained (these are a bit spicy, you can use diced tomatoes instead)
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1+1/2 cups marinara sauce (I use a spicy sauce)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

First Prepare the Sausages:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Place the sausages into a rimmed baking pan.
  3. Cook for 30-45 minutes (depending on how big the sausages are) until casings begin to brown.
  4. Remove sausages from the oven and set aside to cool.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F
  6. In the bowl of your stand mixer, with the paddle or dough hook attachment, combine the ground chicken, eggs, Panko, tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 Cup of the marinara sauce, and Parmesan cheese.
  7. Using a sharp / serrated knife, slice the sausage links into rounds.
  8. There isn’t much fat in the ground chicken breast, so, using about a tablespoon of le-creuset-heritage-covered-square-cherry-red-baking-disholive oil or butter, grease the bottom and sides of your chosen baking dish. NOTE:  I use a Le Cruset® square 3 QT Covered Baking Dish so I can keep it warm out of the oven and at the table.
  9. Take approximately 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce and spread it along the bottom of the pan then layer 1/2 of your sausage slices on top of the sauce.
  10. Mound 1/2 of your ground chicken mixture into the pan then layer the rest of your chixparmml1slices on top of that. (This is why I use the larger, square shaped pan.
  11. Mound the rest of the ground chicken mixture on top of the second layer of sausage slices then, using your hands (or a pair of rubber spatulas) shape the meat in from the sides to form a loaf mounding up towards the middle.
  12. Top the meatloaf with the rest of the marinara sauce allowing it to spill down the sides.  NOTE:  You can prepare up to this point, cover and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook.  If you are going to do that, allow to sit on the counter while you are waiting for the oven to preheat.chixparmml2
  13. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until chicken is cooked (insert instant read thermometer into the center of loaf should read 165°F).
  14. When done remove and add the mozzarella cheese on top.
  15. If you have extra marinara sauce, put into a small saucepan and warm to serve alongside slices if desired.
  16. Return the meatloaf to the oven until the cheese is melted.
  17. Remove from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
  • Prepare some wide egg noodles, fettuccini, angel hair, spaghetti, or spaghettini.
  • Drain.
  • Toss warm pasta with some butter or olive oil and grated parmesan cheese.
  • Pile some pasta in the center of the plate, then lay a thick slice of the meatloaf atop the pasta.
  • If you have warmed some of the extra sauce, ladle a bit of it on top of the meat and grate a bit more fresh Parmesan (or shake some out of the green can) cheese on top.
  • Toss a crisp green salad and dinner is served. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

The meatloaf came out moist and didn’t end up needing the extra sauce.  When I reheated the extra slices in the microwave the next day I added the sauce.

If you are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to like:  health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a community page on Facebook you can visit: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

stuffedWe have a lot of family celebrations that come in a very short time, which means a lot of heavy big dinners either out at restaurants or at one family gathering or another.  By the time we hit our wedding anniversary in late February (which is the same day as my sister-in-law’s birthday) and, a week later, my husband’s birthday, we are about food-ed out!

Despite that, I make a big to-do and tonight, am making a new recipe I’ve been playing with for a dish I had made for me at my post-Christmas birthday at one of my favorite restaurants, The Winery in Tustin, CA.   I’m good enough in the kitchen to be dangerous so I’ve gathered the ingredients and am giving it a go tonight! If it sucks I can always order pizza, right? #ThisGirlLovesToEat

First a tip:  Start this recipe either the day before, early on the the day, or at least 2 hours before you want to eat.  You’ll want to prepare the short ribs first so that you’ll have the broth left from cooking them to use for the risotto.  Trust me on this. It makes a huge difference.

Short Rib Mushroom Risotto

Making the Ribs

  • 8-10 Strips Thick Cut Bacon – cut (with kitchen shears) into 1/2 – 1″ chunks
  • 3 to 4 Lbs Bone-in Short Ribs
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom Broth (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 1 TBLS Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 tsp Ground Cloves
  • 1 TBLS Dried Herbes De Provence (McCormick)
  1. Set the Pressure Cooker to the brown setting with the lid open.
  2. Cut the bacon and cook it in the pressure cooker (with the lid open) until it just starts to get crisp. Remove and set aside.
  3. Put short ribs into the pressure cooker in the bacon grease, brown on all sides, in batches if needed, until all are browned.
  4. When all ribs are browned, put all back into the pressure cooker fattiest (if any) or bone side down.
  5. Put garlic, brown sugar, and broth into the spaces between the ribs.
  6. Sprinkle ribs with black pepper and lightly with ground cloves and Herbes De Provence.
  7. Add bacon and mushrooms on top of the ribs in the pressure cooker.
  8. Secure lid and set to pressure cook on high for 40 minutes.
  9. Let pressure release naturally for 10 minutes then do quick release.
  10. Remove ribs from the pressure cooker to a covered pot, and as you are moving them remove the bones – they should pull right out.
  11. When all ribs are deboned, use 2 forks and shred the meat while it is still hot.
  12. Add about 1/2 cup of the reserved broth from the pressure cooker to the meat and cover to keep warm and moist.

Making the Risotto

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil + 1 TBLS Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Butter (1/2 Stick)
  • 1/2 Medium Yellow Onion Chopped
  • 1 – 8oz Pkg Sliced White Mushrooms (chop them)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 TBLS Minced Garlic
  • 1 Cup Mushroom (Sprouts carries this) or Low Sodium Beef Broth
  • 2 Cups Arborio Rice
  • 2/3 Cup White Wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 1/2 – 5 Cups Beef Broth (use the reserved strained drippings/broth from the short ribs and add enough stock/broth to make up the total amount)
  • 2/3 Cup shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Using a fat separator, pour the remaining liquid from the pressure cooker through the strainer top and allow to slightly cool.  Once cooled pour off the broth only into a 6 cup measuring cup.  Discard the fat.
  2. Add enough broth (mushroom or low sodium beef) to equal 5 cups. Then put in a pan to simmer.
  3. In heavy gauge saucepan heat olive oil + 1 TBLS butter until melted.
  4. Add rice.  Cook and stir about 3 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. To prepare the mushrooms, clean the mushrooms by brushing them off (do not wash if possible) and roughly chop (stems may be left on).
  6. Sauté onions, garlic and butter in heavy gauge saucepan over medium-high heat until onions are translucent about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft (about 4 minutes)
  7. Add the browned rice to the vegetables and stir to combine.
  8. Pour in the white wine and allow the liquid to boil and be absorbed into the rice. Then pour in 1/2 cup of stock to the rice, stirring constantly. (If necessary, adjust the heat under the pot – you want a medium simmer.)  Add more stock 1/2 cup at a time – adding more just as most but not all of the liquid is absorbed before adding in more stock.)
  9. Stir the rice and stock together in this manner for approximately 25 minutes or so – until the rice is tender but not mushy. Stir about 1/2 Cup of the shredded short ribs into the risotto with the final addition of broth.
  10. Turn the heat off when there is still some liquid remaining in the rice and stir in the Parmesan cheese.
  11. Remove from heat and cover.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

TIP:  Risotto may be reheated by adding in some additional mushroom or low sodium beef stock and stirring to incorporate into the risotto.

To serve:  I toss some fresh spinach in olive oil over medium heat until wilted, lay a small bead in the center of the plate then mound some risotto atop the spinach, pile some shredded short rib on top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and add a slice of french bread with some butter for sopping up the juices.

My husband said it was better than The Winery!  Sorry Chef Yvon Goetz. 😉

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Mushroom & Chicken Risotto

mushroom-and-chicken-risottoI am a sucker for a thick, creamy risotto, but hate the time it takes to stand by the stove and stir in the liquid it takes to get it that way. This recipe, from Food & Wine Magazine satisfies my need for a speedy prep without sacrificing taste or the texture I love!  An added bonus, for anyone who has an intolerance, it’s Gluten Free!

Mushroom and Chicken Risotto

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, cut into thin slices
  • 2/3 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 5 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or homemade stock, more if needed
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. In a large pot, heat the butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook until the chicken is just done, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer.
  2. In the large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir until it begins to turn opaque, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the wine and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt to the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until all of the wine has been absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and cook, stirring frequently, until it has been absorbed. The rice and broth should bubble gently; adjust the heat as needed. Continue cooking the rice, adding broth 1/2 cup at a time and allowing the rice to absorb it before adding the next 1/2 cup. Cook the rice in this way until tender, 25 to 30 minutes in all. The broth that hasn’t been absorbed should be thickened by the starch from the rice. You may not need to use all the liquid, or you may need more broth or some water.
  4. Stir in the chicken and mushrooms, the Parmesan, and the parsley and heat through. Serve the risotto with additional Parmesan.

SUGGESTED WINE PAIRING

The sweetness here will be nicely mirrored by an off-dry, aromatic white wine, such as Chenin Blanc, Riesling or Gewürztraminer from California.

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Valentine’s Day Quick Carnitas Tacos

fullsizerender-3On a whim, I decided to make carnitas tacos for Valentine’s Day dinner at home.  I didn’t have to worry about not thinking ahead because my pressure cooker would cook the meat even if it wasn’t all the way thawed in time.  Whew!

Thankfully I’d thrown a pork shoulder in the freezer when they’d been on sale at the grocery store, so I’d just have to rummage through the refrigerator and cupboard to see what I could cobble together to make a meal.

Appetizer:  Spicy Pickled Carrots & Jalapenos

  • 6 Carrotsfullsizerender-4
  • 2 Large Jalapenos
  • 1 Medium Yellow Onion
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 2 tsp Whole Peppercorns
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 Cups Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Water

Boil the water and apple cider vinegar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  When at a full rolling boil shut off the flame and immediately add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir once and let stand for about an hour.  Serve at room temperature, or if you have time, refrigerate to bring out even more flavor.  Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator and eat within a week.

Now on to the main course.

Pressure Cooker Carnitas

  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 3 Pounds Pork Shoulder
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Sliced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic Peeled
  • 4-6 Sprigs Fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Large Fresh Lemon
  • 1 Jalapeño Sliced in Half
  • 1 1/3 Cup Chicken Broth

Preparation

  1. Set the pressure cook to brown setting
  2. Pour the oil into the pressure cooker
  3. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and cloves on all sides of the pork
  4. Place the pork in the pressure cooker and brown on all sides
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemon over the pork, add the onion, garlic, cilantro, halved jalapeño, the squeezed lemons and the chicken broth
  6. Cover the pressure cooker, lock on the lid, and bring to high pressure
  7. Cook pork at high pressure for 45 minutes
  8. Turn off and allow pressure to release naturally
  9. Transfer pork to a baking sheet
  10. Preheat the broiler to high
  11. Shred pork with two forks on baking sheet
  12. Broil until the pork starts to crisp, about 3 minutes.
  13. Serve with warm corn tortillas, sliced avocado, shredded cabbage, pepper jack or cojito cheese, hot sauce and wedges of lime

A can of refried beans, a couple of street tacos and a beer and it’s a meal!

If you use Facebook and are interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: things like health articles, my favorite recipes, fun drinks, food facts, nutritional information, restaurant reviews, photos and other things that make my mouth water, I have a very active page on Facebook you can visit too: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood