Strawberry Quinoa Balsamic Salad

On February 18, 2015, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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“That’s the worst!  I will never ever eat that again in my whole life!”

Famous last words from my soon to be 9 year old son.  Oscar, our other child, didn’t like it either.  So this was a complete fail if you are going to try it on kids or at least my kids. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did at the dinner table. Fortunately, they had some “peace noodles” from Annie’s Organics. Oh well, we tried.

What they rejected my wife and I enjoyed.  This is light, summer dish made for a great tasting main course with some rustic bread we picked up from the South Pasadena Farmers Market. You can use this recipe for lunch, dinner and probably even breakfast. The combination of strawberries, cucumbers and spinach made for a light but filling meal.

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Combine it with some mozzarella cheese and you have an excellent way to enjoy quinoa, that is if you’re older than 10 and don’t think quinoa is the yuckiest thing on the planet.

The adventurous might also want to experiment with the dressing.  The recipe is a simple honey balsamic vinegar dressing.  A citrus based dressing would work will too and is something I will try next time when I make this again.  Considering it’s 80 degrees in Los Angeles in February, I won’t have to wait until summer…

Full Recipe: [Strawberry Quinoa Balsamic Salad]

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Balsamic Strawberry Chicken using a SousVide Supreme

On June 8, 2013, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Making a juicy grilled chicken is not an easy undertaking, even by someone with some serious grilling skills. It’s not difficult getting some great grill marks, but keeping the inside tender while the grill marks are forming often makes for a fairly dry chicken breast. This is where sous-vide cooking can add a guaranteed juiciness to your chicken grilling.

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Sous-vide cooking is a French method that slowly cooks vacuum sealed meat or vegetables in a water bath. It keeps meat nice and tender plus it allows for a wide range of cooking time to so the food can cook while you carryon about your day.  This worked really well for me this weekend as I spent most of the day at work. To come home to most of my meal already done was a nice way to enjoy the rest of my Saturday.

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The chicken and strawberries came from the South Pasadena Farmers’ Market. The strawberries are perfect right now full of rich redness and  I found an organic Fragaria Virginiana variety. These sweet, smaller species of strawberries have a much better flavor than what you find at most grocery stores.

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This is my second dish using the SousVide Supreme and I really do like how tender everything is that comes of out of it. The slow cooking water bath technique is simple. Cutting into tonight’s chicken, even after putting it on the grill to get some nice grill marks, I could see the juices run down the chicken after slicing each bite.  Combined with the rich flavors of the balsamic strawberry sauce the meal was easy to make after a long unusual Saturday at work.

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It only took about 20 minutes to sear the chicken and prepare the sauce. It looked like I spent a lot of time on the dish, but it didn’t take away time I want to spend with my wife and boys.

Later this month, I’m competing with several other BBQ bloggers at http://www.sousvidesupreme.com/sousvidebbq.htm. Check back after June 25 to see what recipe I decide to enter and send me a vote if you want. As a bonus, each person who casts a vote for their fan favorite will be entered to win a $200 gift certificate to www.sousvidesupreme.com.

DISCLAIMER: I was sent the SousVide Supreme to try as part of a blogger outreach program from the company.  The opinions are my own.

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken

Prep Time: 20 Mins Cooking Time: 6 Hours 30 Mins Total Time: 4 Hours 50 Mins

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in chicken breasts, skinless
  • 2 cups strawberries, halved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, mined
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup red wine, Chianti or Cabernet work best
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Seal chicken breasts in vacuum bag. Heat the vacuumed chicken in a SousVide Supreme at 146 degrees for 4-6 hours. 
  2. Heat the grill on high.
  3. In a small sauce pan on medium-high heat add olive oil, garlic and shallot and cook for about 4 minutes, careful not to burn. Add 1 cup of strawberries, thyme, bay leaf and balsamic vinegar for about 3 minutes reducing vinegar by half. Add red wine and chicken stock and reduce by half for about 7 minutes. Smash the strawberries in the pan using a potato masher or fork to crush strawberries while leaving some small chunks. Reduce pan heat to low.
  4. Remove chicken from SousVide Supreme and pour a small amount of balsamic strawberry sauce over breasts to coat before placing on grill.
  5. Grill chicken on each side for about 7 minutes each side to get some nice grill marks.
  6. While on grill, add the rest of the strawberries to the sauce and cook on medium heat for about 3 minutes before serving.
  7. Plate the chicken adding the rest of the sauce to the chickens.

Arugula Goat Cheese & Raspberry Salad

On July 15, 2012, in Featured, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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I headed out to La Canada this morning to checkout their Saturday Farmer’s Market. There were several organic vendors offering all kinds of fruits and vegetables plus I found a source for fresh sourdough bread and a small producer of goat cheese spreads called Soledad Goats.  The goat cheese spread I opted for includes black pepper and added some additional flavor to the salad I made this evening.

Sorry no cooking tonight in the hotel room. Instead I opted for something quick and easy with the fresh ingredients I found.  Of course this salad would be great with chicken or quinoa or both. Enjoy!

Arugula Goat Cheese & Raspberry Salad
Serves 1

Bunch of arugula, rinsed
1 oz of goat cheese spread
10 organic raspberries, rinsed
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Plate arugula and spoon out small scoops of goat cheese over salad.  Add some fresh raspberries and gently splash balsamic vinegar over salad.

Serve with fresh bread.

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Nespresso Marinated Steak

On April 12, 2012, in Featured, Food, Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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Last night I went to a food event with other writers and bloggers hosted by Nespresso USA (@NespressoUSA on Twitter.)  It was an event hosted at the popular Private Social restaurant here in Dallas, restaurant of Top Chef contestant Tiffany Derry.

There were several coffee inspired tastings being sampled that evening including an excellent halibut appetizer and an impressive fried green tomato snack too.  Of course there were plenty of drinks including a Chai coffee signature drink prepared and presented by one of the Top Chef hosts, Padma Lakshmi.

I should probably confess here that I’ve never watched Top Chef so I had no clue who Padma was until about the middle of the event.  Most impressive was hearing how she was married to writer Salman Rushdie.

Anyway, back to the food and coffee, since I’m obviously not a celebrity blogger and while Padma and Tiffany I’m sure are great people I really wanted to try some food and sample some drinks.

The event was excellent and it was great hanging out with some other food bloggers and writers.  Bonus is I came away with a beautiful Nespresso Pixie machine, a milk frother, and several other coffee accessories.

The coffee maker now sits in my office, affectionately known to all as my “Snobby Keurig.”  Before coming to the office, I decide to cook with some coffee and went with a rib-eye steak marinade. It’s fantastic and if you don’t have a “Snobby Keurig”, you should get one, but if that’s not an option replace the 2 tablespoons of espresso with 3 tablespoons of your favorite coffee.

Nespresso Marinated Steak
Serves 2

2 Rib-eye steaks
2 tablespoons roasted Nespresso espresso
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste

Mix the ingredients together and pour into a freezer lock bag or airtight container.  Add the steaks and seal.  Put it into the refrigerator for 4-8 hours, I do this before leaving for work.

Remove from the refrigerator and preheat grill. Cook on grill until desired rareness is reached and serve.

Serve with roasted potatoes, asparagus or other side dish.

Disclosure: Nespresso USA provided drinks, food, and gifts at the event I attended.  I did use the Nespresso Pixie coffee maker that was received by me at no charge for this recipe. Opinions are my own.

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Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

On May 27, 2011, in Recipes, by Chris Baccus
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In our family’s quest to try to eat 3 to 4 vegetarian dinners a week, I have turned to blogs like Emily Levenson’s {Custom Made} Life.

Tonight I attempted a rather peculiar recipe that uses a lot of balsamic vinegar and butter (in this case Earth Balance) to make a pasta sauce. Of course with any recipe that calls for balsamic as a key ingredient for success a quality balsamic vinegar is necessary. For tonight, I went with an Organic local selection that we found at the Addison Farmer’s Market late last year.

The balsamic vinegar is made by Texas Hill Country Olive Company. Their Terra Verde Traditional balsamic is a really fruity, rich, thick balsamic that has such an amazing sweetness to it that it really made for an excellent choice for this dish which calls for a 1/3 of a cup of vinegar. Plus Terra Verde’s vinegar is reasonably priced at $16 for a 250ml bottle and can be ordered online too.

The only change I made to Emily’s recipe was using lumaconi pasta shells instead of whole wheat penne which I thought I had, but did not. The shell shape of lumaconi did great and the thick syrupy sauce adhered to the noodles nicely, only downside is lumaconi means “giant snails” in Italian so that’s not so appetizing. Also, I recommend adding some imported Parmesan-Reggiano to add to the dish’s nutty, rich flavor.

For the Recipe: Pasta with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter