Foodbuzz

Orzo and Scallop Bake

Orzo and Scallop Bake

Where have I been? Well, let me just say that Thanksgiving was a blur! I travelled to Indiana for Thanksgiving this year with my wonderful boyfriend to visit my family. It’s been a while since I’ve been there on a holiday and I felt that it was about time he experience all the deliciousness that is an “Abel Family Holiday.” We had a wonderful time with a lot of laughs and tons of yummy food! With all the excitement and socializing I did not get a chance to blog while I was there. Added to that, I didn’t even cook anything! I left that to the original masters of this holiday, my wonderful aunts and my mother.

 

After spending time in Indiana, I longed for more comfort food. The weather is getting chillier in California and I’ve been craving things that warm me from the inside. At the same time, however, I realize that I can’t eat chicken and dumplings every day and maintain a healthy lifestyle! So, I’ve been working on a few recipes that give that comforting feeling without being too heavy or unhealthy.

 

The first of these combines scallops with orzo pasta, tomatoes and thyme in a sumptuous casserole complete with a crispy topping. This can all be prepared ahead of time and put in the oven for a quick easy meal. Don’t like scallops? You can replace them with chicken, ground turkey or even leave them and the bacon out to make it a vegetarian delight!

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Roasted Sweet Corn Soup

Roasted Sweet Corn Soup

I love fresh sweet corn. Whether it’s steamed on the cob, creamed, roasted, or baked into corn cake, it’s just darn good. Hey, I grew up in Indiana. We lived and partied in cornfields. Therefore it’s kind of a prerequisite! My father grows the best sweet corn I’ve ever tasted. I dream about it. I even bring it back to San Diego whenever I can.

 

Sweet corn is best fresh and cooked within a day or two of picking. Each kernel should burst into a sweet and juicy flavor shot in your mouth when you bite it. When roasted, this delectable vegetable takes on a smoky rich flavor.

 

This roasted corn soup is accented by leeks and roasted pimento peppers for a tangy sumptuousness. Serve it with some crusty bread to soak up all the flavor or with a sweet corn muffin to balance out the smoky essence. Make it vegetarian by swapping out vegetable broth for chicken broth and make it vegan by also swapping out olive oil for the butter.

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Carrot Salad with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

Carrot Salad with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate Seeds

 

It’s Thanksgiving time! Time for getting together with family and friends, sharing good times and having a delicious hearty meal. I was invited to an early Thanksgiving potluck last Saturday with over 60 people in attendance. All the traditional tasty Thanksgiving items were there – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie and more! I wanted to make a healthy and flavorsome accompaniment to share with all the yummy, yet heavy food. This carrot salad was the answer.

 

The inspiration for this salad came from something I tried recently at a local Russian restaurant. It was mixed with beets and mayonnaise and flavored with dill and walnuts. My version uses light mayonnaise, hazelnuts, dill and parsley. The pomegranate seeds give it a delightful crunch of sweetness in every bite. This salad tastes light yet decadent. One bite and you won’t believe that it’s actually good for you!

 

Thank you to my friends Mary and Jackie who organized the potluck. It was such a wonderful evening full of smiles and heart-warming laughter!

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Coconut Curry Baked Chicken with Pineapple Brown Rice

Coconut Curry Baked Chicken with Pineapple Brown Rice

 

I purchased a beautiful free range organic chicken that I couldn’t wait to turn into a delicious meal. I was scanning my pantry for inspiration when I came across a can of light coconut milk. I kind of have a thing for coconut curry… Ok, so maybe it’s an obsession. I LOVE Thai food and coconut curry is my favorite. However, that thick, creamy, delectable sauce is not so friendly to my hips!

 

I decided to take all the rich delicious flavor of coconut curry and bake it into the chicken. This allows for a big punch of flavor with a small calorie count. Pineapple brown rice adds a sweet complement to the spicy moist chicken. This alternative to basic baked chicken will ignite your taste buds and leave a lasting impression on your dinner guests.

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Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Pistachio Pesto

Pork Tenderloin with Cilantro Pistachio Pesto

 

Too many people use store-bought pesto. Pesto is so simple to make and a well-stocked kitchen will have all the necessary ingredients to make it. All it requires is some fresh herbs, olive oil, salt & pepper and possibly some garlic, nuts and citrus zest. Blend together in a food processor and voila – fresh pesto! Trust me. You will never buy pesto in a jar again.

 

Although I’ve tried many combinations, one of my favorite pestos is made from cilantro and pistachio. If you don’t like or don’t have cilantro, use parsley. Or try your own combination of fresh herbs! Tarragon gives a light sweet flavor and sage will make a rich smoky pesto.

 

Pesto can be tossed with pasta, potatoes or veggies or even used as a sandwich spread. Here, I’ve used it to coat pork tenderloin. This pesto lends a bright and complex flavor to the juicy pork and presents itself beautifully. This is an easy to make dish that will make a big impression!

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Brussels Sprouts with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Brussels Sprouts with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

 

I never understand why the brussels sprout gets such a bad rep. Perhaps people have been turned off by a badly cooked sprout – one that has been boiled until dull green and mushy. I find this to be a travesty. The brussels sprout is a delight! It is versatile and can complement almost any cuisine. It is delicious whole, halved or shredded. Its flavor blooms when roasted, sautéed or blanched. Brussels sprouts are also an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fiber and antioxidants.

So why do so many people detest this wonderful vegetable? I believe it’s simply because they’ve never had it cooked correctly. The key to cooking brussels sprouts is not to overcook them when blanching or sautéing. They should only be cooked to the point where they still retain their bright green color. I encourage you to open your heart and your kitchen and experiment with these cute little veggies!

This recipe is a simple twist on sautéed brussels. The sun-dried tomatoes and basil add a sweet contrast to the mild bitterness of the sprouts. Try it with a little crisped prosciutto mixed in for a salty kick!

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About Me
Hi! I'm Barbara and yes, I cook! Welcome to my world of mouth-watering delicious food that you don't have to feel guilty about.
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