Sunday, April 26, 2015

Crostini w. White Bean and Artichoke Puree, Roasted Broccoli, & Balsamic Syrup

  
When I think of Las Vegas eating, I tend to think of carnivorous overindulgence: giant, sizzling steaks; buffets with piles of fresh crabs' legs; platters of gorgeously cool sushi. In fact, there's something for everyone in Vegas—even if you're a vegan.

Yup, it turns out that the Wynn Resort has teamed up with renowned vegan chef Tal Ronnen to create vegan and vegetarian menu items at every restaurant at The Wynn. Of course, not everyone can just jet off to Vegas for a meal. So Vegas.com challenged select bloggers to create our own takes on some of the dishes offered on The Wynn's specialty menus. (This is not a sponsored post and I received no payment of any kind for participating in this challenge.)

I didn't get a recipe or photos of dishes—all I had to go on was this:



I ended up choosing the first menu item listed and recreated it as crostini because, well, I just love everything in crostini form. I used slices from a large, rustic loaf; these are meal-sized crostini, not cute little appetizers (although you could certainly use baguette slices instead).


Ingredients
yields 8 crostini; 1 or 2 crostini per person
  • 1 head of roasted garlic
  • 1 15-oz can white kidney (aka cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 12-oz jar marinated artichokes, drained
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons + 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small heads of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 slices rustic Tuscan/country bread
  • balsamic syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

To roast the garlic, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut about 1/4-1/2" off the top of the garlic bulbs (so that the tips of each clove are exposed), drizzle with some olive oil, then wrap in aluminum foil. Roast for 1 hour. Let cool.

Drizzle the slices of bread with a little olive oil and place on a baking sheet in your oven, until they are golden and crispy, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven.

Turn the oven up to 450 degrees.  Toss the broccoli with 1/4 cup olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Roast, tossing a couple of times, for about 15-20 minutes, until tender and charred lightly.

While the broccoli is cooking, squeeze the soft, caramelized garlic out of its paper and into a food processor. Add the beans, artichokes, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. Pulse until smooth, adding salt to taste.

Then, on each crispy slice of toast, simply spread the bean and artichoke puree, followed by a couple of spoonfuls of the roasted broccoli, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and then a drizzle of balsamic syrup to garnish (and to add a lovely acidity).

Although it has a lot of different components, this is quite a simple dish to put together. It's also an incredibly satisfying dish, with its combination of filling protein, carbs, and fiber. I served these with a green salad on the side and I was full for hours after dinner! Also, although I've made these as vegan crostini, if you're a vegetarian you can certainly top these toasts with shaved parmesan, or crumbled feta, or a poached egg. Mmmm....

Now, who's springing for tickets to Vegas? TAKE ME WITH YOU.

*****

Looking for more crostini ideas? Here's my Roasted Cranberries, Ricotta & Honey Crostini...






Saturday, April 25, 2015

Salami Crisps w Guacamole



These salami crisps are one of those things that's more about a technique than an actual recipe. You'll find this alternative to standard chips makes for a great low-carb, high-protein snack; it's also unusual and striking enough to impress friends at a cocktail party or book club.

Here, I've paired these crisps with a quick guacamole—the fresh, fruity avocado plus the acidity of the lemon balance well against the rich and salty salami. Another great alternative is to dip these chips into a grainy mustard.

I used an uncured salami from Applegate Farms (this isn't a sponsored post, I just like their products). Whatever salami you choose, make sure it is sliced very thin, to ensure that they crisp up well.




Ingredients
  • 4 ounces thinly-sliced salami
  • 1 small avocado
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • one or two Tablespoons of minced red onion
  • Tabasco, to taste (optional)
  • salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place salami slices in one layer (no overlapping) on one or two baking sheets; I used my Mario Batali Cast Iron Pizza Pan. Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, keeping an eye on the slices to make sure they don't burn. They're ready when the slices are evenly browned, beginning to curl up, and crisp. Remove from the oven and transfer to a plate covered in paper towel. Let the slices drain; they'll crisp even more as they cool.

While the salami cools, mash the avocado with the lemon juice, onion, Tabasco (if using) and salt in a small bowl. Or just use your favorite guacamole recipe!


Place a small dollop of guacamole onto each crisp. Top with some additional minced red onion.



If you want to make only a few of the salami crisps (great for crumbling on a salad or baked potato), you can just bake them in the toaster oven!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Lemony Quinoa Tabbouleh


Now that the weather has (finally!) started warming up, I'm craving fewer bowls of hot soup and more cool salads. I've been especially jonesing for tabbouleh and knew I needed to make up a batch. I love traditional tabbouleh made with bulgur wheat; I love it even more when it is made with quinoa.

It seems like quinoa is everywhere these days (restaurant menus, Pinterest boards, lunch boxes) and that's because it is is both nutritious and versatile. Its nutty flavor and delicate texture are great matched with the bright and fresh ingredients in this salad. Quinoa is also a great source of protein—so this can easily go from a side dish to a main meal just by changing your portion size.


Notably, quinoa is a seed, although it's often used as a grain. It's a fabulous ingredient for people on grain-free or gluten-free diets. There are lots of different types of quinoa; I used an organic white quinoa from Trader Joe's.

Pompeian sent me some of their Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and that's what I used in this dish. It's got a great herbaceous flavor that works especially well with the parsley and mint.


Ingredients
serves 6 to 8
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 1/2 lemons)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 whole scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped, flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint
  • 1/2 large seedless English cucumber, diced
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, diced
  • sea salt




Put the quinoa, water, and a couple pinches of salt into a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes—until all the liquid is absorbed.

While the quinoa is cooking, put the lemon juice and olive oil into a bowl. As soon as the quinoa is finished, put it into the bowl with the lemon and oil and another pinch or two of salt and stir; the heat will help the quinoa absorb the dressing.

Once the mixture has cooled a bit (either to warm or to room temperature), fold in the rest of the ingredients. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. The salad is ever better after a day or two!





Thursday, April 16, 2015

Wood-Smoked Pork Shoulder, Arugula, & Mushroom Pizza



My buddy, Terra, is an amazing cook, food blogger, and now a contemporary romance novelist! She's published two books that are full of romance (obviously) and also some fantastic original recipes. As part of a fun Recipe Book Blog Tour, I got to check out her latest book as well as one of its recipes:  "Alyssa's Favorite Pizza: Wood-Smoked Pork Shoulder, Arugula and Mushroom Pizza." How lucky am I?


Now, this is a bit of a tease...you'll have to buy the book to get the full recipe. The great news is that the e-book for Need You (The Winters Family Series: Book 2) is now only $2.99 on Amazon! Here's a taste of the main ingredients. Get a napkin ready, because you just might drool:



Here's a picture of when I was putting it all together; I wasn't even done assembling it and it already looked AMAZING:


The combination of ingredients was just wonderful. I wish I'd taken a video of how it looked when I pulled it out of the oven, all bubbling and cheesy and golden brown. Positively swoon-worthy. I'm glad I had guests over to share in the indulgence! We all really enjoyed it.


If you're intrigued by this dish or by romance or by both, please do check out Terra's books! Here's a little more about them:


Book One of the Winters Series is Catch Me

Catch Me - Terra Kelly 
 

“Sweet, Sexy, and Didn’t Disappoint!” “A Modern Parable of Bliss!”

Isabel Sloane grew up in suburban Philadelphia, and recently relocated to the North Carolina coast, renting a little cottage by the beach and working as a reporter. Her history with men, nothing to write home about. Drew Winters is a firefighter, who has spent his entire life in Wilmington, NC. After several failed relationships, he’s sworn off women altogether. When Isabel meets Drew, something’s going to give.  Can Drew convince Isabel he is not like the other men she has dated? Can Isabel prove to Drew that she’s not self-absorbed like all his past relationships. Will they be able to get beyond their chemistry for each other, and finally use the “L” word.


Recipes included in this book are:

Connie’s Bourbon Lemonade Cocktail

Melt in Your Mouth Sweet Rolls

Cherry Limeade {Please Forgive Me} Cheesecake

Roasted Vegetable Chicken Salad

Roasted Vegetable Swirl Egg Bread
  


Book Two of the Winters Series is Need You


“Heartwarming love story about new beginnings.”  “Chemistry at its best!”  “Makes you believe in love at first sight.”

After Alyssa and her daughter experience a horrible tragedy, she realizes a change of scenery is needed to help move on from the past. She ends up in Idaho, opens a cafe, and continues to live life in the past for the next two years.  Until Alex arrives in Boise. Alex is the youngest Winters brother, a chef in Los Angeles. When he loses his job, he decides it’s time to leave the big city behind. He finds a job opening in Boise, Idaho for an Executive Chef position. He lost his job and girlfriend in the same day, now it’s time to just focus on work, or so he thought.  With so much sadness, can Alex show Alyssa it’s okay to love again? Will Alyssa realize she needs Alex to help her let go of the past?


Recipes included in this book:

Alyssa’s Favorite Pizza: Wood Smoked Pork Shoulder, Arugula & Mushroom Pizza

Kitchen Sink Beef Brisket Chili

Aunt Anna’s Special Apple Pumpkin Strudel

Lexie’s Favorite Strawberry Cheese Danish

Lexie’s Special Mac ‘n Cheese Pizza with Beef Brisket and Vegetables

Pulled Pork Mac ‘n Cheese



Books are available in paperback and e-book.

Find Terra on her author page at


 and her food blog at

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Mango, Peach, Clementine, Arugula Green Smoothie

Happy Sunday! Just a quick post to share my morning smoothie. It was a great post-workout meal (yes, I went to the gym early on a Sunday morning because I'm awesome like that; yes, I just did a brisk walk on the treadmill and watched an episode of "Parenthood" because I'm tired, as well as awesome).

I've recently joined Instagram and am having so much fun with it! I often post my meals and snacks there—which means I share lots of my smoothies. I'm trying to be better about actually blogging the recipes for them, so here I am with this delicious combo.

Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 2/3 cup frozen peach slices
  • 1 clementine
  • 2/3 cup mango yogurt
  • handful of baby arugula
  • 1 Tablespoon of hemp hearts
  • about 1/2 cup water

Blend until smooth and drink up!

If you're on Instagram, I hope you'll follow me. And let me know you're one of my blog readers—that would totally make my day!

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