Tag Archives: creamy

Playing catch-up!

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I have gotten quite behind on posting and a lot of my recipes fell to the wayside, so today is catch-up day. There are a lot of recipes, so bear with me. For my vegetarian readers, I am trying to make this blog more vegetarian friendly so look for the stars (***) under each recipe for my recommended alterations to make the recipe veg-friendly. I have to admit, I haven’t cooked a ton of vegetarian food so please comment and add your suggestions for veg-friendly swaps.

And now…away we go!

During the last week, The Boyfriend and I bought ingredients to make Thai basil chicken. This recipe was great for a couple of reasons: The Boyfriend and I are notorious for not eating leftovers so the fact that this recipe made just enough for 2 was great. The only problem with that was that it was so delicious! We enjoyed it so much that we wound up making it three times in a week! This recipe was easy and quick and I could eat it again this week in a heartbeat.

Thai Basil Chicken Recipe
Adapted from a recipe at Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 10 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 big bunch basil leaves, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • 1-2 tsp dried mint
  • 2 dashes ground white pepper

Directions:

1) Heat a wok or a heavy skillet over medium high heat until very hot.

2) Add the oil and garlic and stir fry until the garlic is very fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3) Add the onion and Sriracha and continue stir-frying until the onions have wilted, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the chopped chicken and fry until the chicken is cooked, about 5-7 minutes.

5) Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and white pepper; continue cooking until most of the liquid is gone.

6) Add the basil and toss a couple of time until the leaves are wilted and bright green. Serve immediately.

We used regular basil and dried mint instead of Thai basil, partially because we found beautiful basil at the farmers’ market and partially because The Boyfriend and I both find Thai basil a bit too strong in flavor for our tastes.

Lovely green basil from the farmers’ market!

***I’m not sure what you could sub the chicken for here to make it tasty but still vegetarian friendly; maybe extra-firm tofu that’s been marinating in a teriyaki sauce? Or perhaps portobello cap that has been sliced?***

We served it with jasmine rice. We have been without a rice cooker for a few months now and because of that, we’ve been laying off of the rice.

Chicken over rice

But since I discovered a (nearly) foolproof way to make jasmine rice on the stove, we have been eating a ton of it.

Jasmine Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • 1 ½ cup water

Directions:

1) Rinse rice in a colander until water runs clear; drain.

2) Add rice and water to a pot; cover.

3) Cook on high until water starts to boil; turn down to simmer and cook covered and undisturbed for 15 minutes.

4) Move pot off of hot burner; let rest for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork.

After repeated rice-making-fails, this one is a winner. I think we have made it successfully 5 times in the last 10 days. Yay!

Ok, another recipe from last week: chili rellenos. Since our deep-fryer is currently empty, we decided to take the opportunity to healthify the recipe by grilling the peppers. I sort of hodge-podged together two different recipes and the result was a success. Let’s start with ranchero sauce:

Ranchero Sauce

Adapted from a recipe at Closet Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • ½ small onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ½ jalapeno (seeded and diced)
  • 1small handful cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Puree the tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a pan.
3. Add the tomato mixture, chicken broth and cumin and season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.

Healthier Grilled Chili Rellenos

Adapted from a recipe at Once Upon a Plate

Ingredients:

  • 4 good-sized poblano pepper
  • 4 oz good quality mozzarella cheese + a small handful shredded cheese
  • Olive oil
  • Toothpicks

Directions:

1) Wash poblanos.

2) Optional: roast poblano peppers in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until lightly blackened. Place peppers in Ziploc bag and let sweat for 5 minutes; after sweating, carefully peel peppers.

3) Slice stem/cap almost all of the way off of the pepper; flip back stem/cap to remove seeds and membrane.

4) Cut mozzarella into 1 oz chunks that are the size of pepper and stuff cheese into pepper.

5) Secure stem/cap with toothpicks, 2-3 toothpicks per pepper.

6) Brush poblano peppers lightly with olive oil and cook on hot grill; cook 2-3 minutes per side for roasted pepper or 5-8 minutes per side for raw peppers.

7) Optional: Put peppers in a casserole dish; cover with ranchero sauce and shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

This was really tasty. We cut a few corners on our recipe (we didn’t roast the peppers or bake them with the sauce and cheese) but we thought that the recipe would have been even tastier had we not cut any corners; I put both options in the recipe so you can choose your route.

Empty plate = happy tummy!

We served it with a redo of the corn and black bean salad from a few weeks ago and our beer margaritas.

For my lunch last week, I decided to make dumplings. Again, I cobbled together a few recipes and they came out pretty good.

Chicken Dumplings

Adapted from a recipe at Weekend Food Projects

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers

Directions:

1) Mix all the ingredients in medium bowl and refrigerate for one hour.

2) Use a teaspoon to measure the amount of mixture. Place the filling into the center of the dumpling wrapper and wrap or just seal.

To cook:

1) Place a non-stick pan on medium-high heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil.

2) Place the dumplings in the pan in a single layer; cook dumplings until the bottoms are brown. Flip dumplings so that all sides get brown.

3) Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan and cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for three to four minutes. Once the water has evaporated, your dumplings are done.

OR:

1) Steam dumplings in well-greased steamer for 5-6 minutes.

I found a great technique for folding dumplings on Fuss Free Cooking: there are step-by-step instructions with pictures! I still had to have The Boyfriend demonstrate the folding technique; he was really good at it! Mine all came out a little lumpy but his were really nice looking.

I folded one just intuitively

and then one where I used a fork to seal the edges

before I succumbed to the “normal” technique.

That’s mine in the front and The Boyfriend’s in the background. His is much more symmetrical than mine. Luckily they all cook up the same 🙂

Eventually we figured out where I was going wrong so my last two dumplings came out okay, haha.

We made so many!

I made a batch of about 50 of them and froze them in bags of five. If you steam them from frozen, add an extra minute or two to make sure that they are done.

***If you wanted to make these vegetarian, I bet you could sub crumbled TVP or chopped tofu (or even sweet potatoes, if you wanted to get creative) for the chicken; and if you added extra veggies and herbs to the filling (chopped carrots, fresh ginger, etc) they would be quite tasty. Hmm, maybe I’ll have to try that now…***

I also made some summer rolls and while they were good, the recipe wasn’t good enough to brag out. I do think that I rolled them nicely so I am going to photo-brag about that! Haha.

Bam! Pretty summer rolls.

They had cucumber, avocado, and crab-stick in them, in case you were curious.

***Replacing the crab stick with marinated tofu, sweet potaotes, or any number of veggies makes it veg-friendly!***

More recipes! The Boyfriend’s birthday was a while back so we had a small get-together at our house. I made some great party dips for the revelers and even though I don’t have any pictures (it was so hectic, sorry!) I wanted to post the recipes because they were really delicious.

Best fresh salsa

Adapted from a recipe at Kayotic

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 medium roma tomato
  • About 10 slices of pickled jalapenos
  • 2 garlic clove
  • Handful of cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Pinch of sugar

Directions:

1) Coarsely chop shallot, garlic, and tomato; add to a food processor or mini chopper.
2) Add the salt, a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and the ground cumin.
3) Pour in the diced tomatoes; squeeze in the fresh lime juice and add the cilantro.
4) Blend until it reaches desired consistency.

The Boyfriend and I have made a lot of salsa but we have never found a recipe that stuck…until now! We are in LOVE with this recipe! The color was beautiful and the flavor was outstanding: spicy and fresh. The pinch of sugar did cut the acidity which was wonderful. I blended it until it had the consistency of restaurant salsa and it tasted as good as anything I’ve had in a restaurant (and better than some that I have had!).

When we were choosing dips to make, we wanted to keep costs low so we chose dips that could all be eaten with tortilla chips and that would complement each other. I wanted to make something with avocados that would keep longer than guacamole and when I stumbled upon this recipe, I decided to give it a try. It was pretty good: creamy and spiced and different. Mmm…

Hank’s Tomatillo-Avocado Dip

Adapted from a recipe by Hungry Texan

Ingredients:

  • 1 poblano pepper
  • ½ white onion
  • 1 large can tomatillos, drained
  • 1 Serrano pepper
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 4 Hess avocados
  • Juice from 2 limes

Directions:
1) Roast the poblano, onion, Serrano, and jalapeño in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

2) Peel the poblano, stem and de-seed the Serrano and jalapenos.

3) Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and run until smooth and creamy.

4) Season to taste with salt and a bit of garlic salt.

The last dip was the crowd-favorite for the day. Since this was the first year in a few that we didn’t do a seafood boil for The Boyfriend’s birthday, I decided to incorporate seafood in a dip. As is the theme for this post it seems, I combined a recipe for crab dip that I found online with an artichoke dip recipe that my college advisor used to bring into class. The result was a hit!

Creamy Stovetop Crab Dip

Adapted from a recipe at Annies Eats
Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ white onion, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 12 oz. canned lump crab meat
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 8 oz can water chestnuts, drained
  • 14 oz canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • Paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes.

2) Add the crab meat to the pan, including the juices in the can. Stir in the cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, green onions, mayonnaise, Sriracha, water chestnuts and artichoke hearts; cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed through Season with salt and pepper.

3) Spoon mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle paprika on top. Top mixture with breadcrumbs and pop in the oven for 7 minutes or until breadcrumbs are browned. Serve with warm bread or tortilla chips.

***You could just omit the crab here to make a vegetarian-friendly artichoke dip, if you like. Adding mushrooms to it would give it another nice texture, to replace the texture lost when the crab is removed.***

Ok, I think that wraps up this recipe roundup. I have more recipes from this week that I am going to try to get out in a timely manner so keep an eye here for that. I’m also joining our local grocery co-op tomorrow so I’ll have an update on that and what it is like to shop there!

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Quick update and an easy recipe

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Update! My job interviews went well; that’s right interviews. I got a phone call that turned into a phone interview right after I got home from my first interviews. Fingers crossed that one of these turns into a full-time position for me!

In celebration of two successful interviews, The Boyfriend and I hit Home Depot again to pick up some curtain rods; tonight I will say good-bye to ugly bedroom blinds and a stupid closet door and hello to pretty bedroom curtains! Yay!

 Ugly blinds before

Pretty curtain after!

Space-wasting closet door before

Pretty new closet curtain after!

 Ok, quick recipe time! I bought some delicious blue cheese (mmm) at our local co-op and after nom-ing on a small snack of Miss Vickie’s jalapeno potato chips and blue cheese, I decided to make dinner. I had 2 goals for dinner tonight: I needed dinner to be easy and I also wanted to clean out the fridge of leftovers. Voila! Miracle chicken was born (I called it Miracle because it tasted too good to be so easy).

 Miracle Chicken  

Ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned and cooked
  • 4 oz mushrooms
  • ½ white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 oz blue cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Chop up the garlic and onion; wash and dry mushrooms.

2) Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add garlic, onion, and mushrooms. Salt and pepper the mixture and sauté for 5-7 minutes.

3) Add balsamic vinegar to skillet and cook mushroom mixture for another minute or until brown and slightly crunchy; remove from skillet.

4) Butterfly cooked chicken breast; spoon mushroom mixture over the chicken breast. Top with blue cheese and breadcrumbs.

5) Broil chicken for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and breadcrumbs are browned. Eat ½ of the portion and serve with a giant salad to assuage the guilt.

 No pictures, sorry; I ate it too fast! This was delicious. And decadent. And easy. And I didn’t feel that it was too bad for me since I only ate a small portion. If you’re nervous about blue cheese, I urge you to try it; yeah, it has a strong smell and is kind of gross if you think about the fact that it’s moldy but it’s also creamy and unctuous and it can really be the belle of the ball in a dish like this. I guess if you have a strong aversion to blue cheese, you could probably swap the blue for goat cheese, but I really recommend the blue.

‘K, that’s it for tonight. New tradition: Question of the Blog! Tonight’s question: what is your favorite cheese? I think I need to work on my question-asking skills…

Chicken Wings and “cannibalistic” squash

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Two posts in one day! I’m getting good at this. This one is going to be short because I have friends over and I want to get back to the shenanigans that are currently ensuing without me.

Tonight we continued on our local produce track and used up more of our farmers’ market gets: antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken wings and squash! The Boyfriend is a big fan of buffalo wings; me? Not so much. (I attribute that to an unfortunate coincidence when I was struck down with a stomach virus hours after ingesting buffalo wings; but that’s a story for another day). Imagine The Boyfriend’s surprise when I suggested that we cook our new-bought wings buffalo-style. My only caveats were that the wings not be deep fried (for health’s sake) and that they not be so spicy that I couldn’t eat them (for my tongues sake; The Boyfriend has a much higher tolerance for spicy foods than I do. I personally think he is a bit of a spicy-food masochist). Using our new camping grill we were able to keep these babies as healthy as possible while imparting the wings with tons of flavor (and nice char marks).

Grilled Chicken Wings

Adapted from a recipe at Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Badia complete seasoning (or other similar complete seasoning)

For sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Sniper (or other hot sauce—Tabasco, etc)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o and set a gas grill to heat up.

2) Rub wings with celery salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and complete seasoning.

3) Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the rest of the sauce ingredients until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

4) Put wings on baking sheet; ladle a teaspoon of sauce on top of each wing. Cook in oven for 8 minutes.

5) Remove wings from oven and finish cooking on grill, 3-5 minutes. Once wings are finished, add to bowl with remaining sauce and toss to cover.

Cannibalistic Stuffed Squash

Adapted from a recipe at Raptor Toe

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 small squash, of various type
  • 1 wedge Light Laughing Cow spreadable swiss
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese (or in my case, schmear)
  • 1 tbsp Gar-la-la (optional; or sub for 2 cloves raw garlic)
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped
  • 3 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + more, for drizzling
  • 2 tsp seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o.

2) Slice each squash lengthwise; using a spoon (or in my case, knife) scoop out innards of each squash; set aside.

3) Place squash on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.

4) Chop up leftover squash innards. Add olive oil, jalapeno, mushrooms, innards, and chopped scape to pan; sauté for 5 minutes. Add Gar-la-la and both cheeses to pan; stir until cheese has melted and combination is well mixed.

5) Scoop mixture into squash boats; add breadcrumbs to top of squash and place in oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly.

Ok, so why is it called cannibalistic squash? Well the original recipe called for the innards of the squash to be discarded. As I was making this recipe, we had a friend expectantly join us for dinner so I wanted to try to stretch the meal a  little farther; I decided to keep the innards and saute them with the rest of the squash stuffing. I guess I called it cannibalistic because I scooped out the insides of the squash and then stuffed them back in and that seemed a little funny and kind of messed up. Maybe not cannibalistic (because the squash wasn’t really eating itself) but, I don’t know, that’s what I thought of. Maybe I should work on my food-naming skills…

A twist on meat and potatoes

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A twist on meat and potatoes

When I think of meat-and-taters, I usually imagine a big steak with a loaded baked potato. Unfortunately, that meal isn’t going to win any healthy awards anytime soon. If you read/remember from the last post, I bought beef short ribs at the farmers’ market on Saturday, so I decided to cook ’em up with some lightened up mashed potatoes. Ok, so it’s not a huge twist on the norm but it is a little healthier and it was super easy to make.

Asian Style Short Ribs

Adapted from a recipe at Blisstree.com

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or sub for 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1tsp lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs beef short ribs
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cold water

Directions:

1) Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic and red pepper in a small bowl.

2) Place ribs in a slow cooker and pour sauce over. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 9 hours.

3) Transfer ribs to a platter, and skim and discard excess fat from liquid. Place liquid in a saucepan, combine cornstarch and water and add to liquid. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.

4) Remove meat from ribs and discard fat. Top meat with sauce.

This was my first time making short ribs and I kinda imagined that they would be cut similar to pork ribs. Nope. It was a giant block of meat and fat with 2 little bones at the bottom. That sorta confused me but I followed the recipe anyway (except that I cooked mine for 4 hours on low and then 2 hours on high). It wasn’t the tenderest beef I have ever eaten (but it certainly wasn’t tough!) so maybe I cooked it too long or not long enough. Something to think about for next time, I suppose!

Also, I had some cornstarch lumps in my sauce (blech!) even though I was whisking it constantly. Maybe the cornstarch and water should be mixed together before going in the sauce? Or maybe not added until the sauce is already boiling? I’m not sure. The sauce did get wonderfully thick; it just grossed me out a little when I bit into a lump of undissolved cornstarch.

Garlic Scape Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb potatoes (I prefer Yukon Golds)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Set a pot of salted water to boil on stove. Peel and quarter potatoes; add to water when boiling.

2) Boil uncovered 10-30 minutes or until fork tender (soft enough to mash); drain.

3) Add potatoes, butter, and milk to bowl; mash until satisfied with consistency (you can use a potato masher, a large spoon, or a fork).

4) Add garlic scape, olive oil, salt and pepper to bowl; stir/beat with fork until well mixed. Top with leftover short rib sauce.

I added the olive oil so that I could use less butter and milk (minus bad fats, + good fats!) but I realized today that plain Greek yogurt would have worked as a substitute for the milk. Greek yogurt has little/no fat and tons of good gut bacteria; it its a good substitute for mayo (if you season it) or for sour cream. If you want to go the olive oil route with the taters here, be aware that more olive oil = more olive oil taste; if you want traditional tasting mashed potatoes, I recommend going the butter/milk (or Greek yogurt) route.

As usual, I made a salad to accompany the ribs and mashed potatoes and filled half of my plate with the salad. I think eating healthy isn’t about denying yourself the things you love (in this case red meat and carbs), but indulging a little while also filling up on healthy things (giant salad of deliciousness!).

Short post today. Go make (or eat!) something!

Farmers’ Market

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Farmers’ Market

I meant to post this on Saturday but I got behind so happy belated blog! On Saturday The Boyfriend and I checked out the renowned Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday, the farmers’ market takes over downtown Troy; Troy closes off a few streets and close to 80 local vendors set up shop for four hours. I was super excited to see (and shop!) locally: I have never had the opportunity to buy meat, dairy, and accoutrements from local farms. In south Florida, there was a gigantic flea market that I used to frequent to buy cheap produce and the best Mexican food around, so I was doubly excited to find a replacement for my previous favorite Saturday excursion.

The Boyfriend and I decided to try to get as much of our weekly shopping done at the market as possible so we withdrew $60 for shopping (leaving about $30 for things we could only get at the grocery store). We got some great stuff for $55 (we had $5 left over!); I listed it all out because you’ll be seeing it on recipes throughout the week:

-1 lb ground beef and 1.6 lb beef spare ribs (Bornt Family Farms)

-1.3 lb chicken wings (Homestead Farms; antibiotic and hormone free)

-1 (huge) bunch kale

-1 zucchini, 1 squash

-1 lb Yukon gold potatoes

-1 bunch garlic scape

-1 tub sundried tomato and chive schmear Argyle Cheese Farmer

-1 tub Gar-la-la (vegan, raw garlic spread) from Zorba’s Natural Food

-1 22oz Hefferveisen from Brown’s Brewing Company (local brewery)

-6 oz locally made pasta from Flour City Pasta (sweet potato shells, red pepper crested rigate, lime tubes, carrot thyme radiatori)

-1 quart chocolate milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery

-1 bagel (Our Daily Bread)

-12 jumbo eggs (Cornell Farm)

On the wish list for next week is pesto from Buddha Pesto, pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchee from The Pickle Club, and some local wine! But for this week, The Boyfriend and I have planned out:

*Creamy Chicken Pasta and Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

*Korean-Style Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a salad

*Buffalo Wings with Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini/Squash and a salad

*Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sautéed Kale and salad

Now! The recipe. I had a cooked chicken breast left over from the week, as well as some mushrooms and orange pepper so I decided to combine leftovers with fresh goods to make an easy, healthy(ish), and fast dinner; for this recipe, I also used the schmear, garlic spread, and my local pasta.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz tri-color spiral pasta
  • 8 oz chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 4 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • Half an orange pepper, diced
  • Half a white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp schmear or cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Gar-la-la

Directions:

1) Put a pot of water on the stove to boil; add dash of olive oil and salt to water.

2) While waiting for your water to boil, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 3-4 minutes.

Freakishly large garlic clove!

3) Add mushroom and red pepper to pan; cook another 3-4 minutes.

4) Turn heat down to medium; add schmear, milk, and Gar-la-la (if using). Stir until schmear melts and milk and schmear is incorporated.

5) Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper, and dill.

6) Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the burner and take the skillet off the heat; add lemon juice just before serving.

If I wasn’t going for healthy, bacon would be a great addition to this recipe; spinach would also be a tasty compliment to the pasta. Or sundried tomatoes! Or rosemary instead of dill, mmm. Or… I should probably stop before I get carried away. The point is, this recipe is pretty versatile and you really can add or omit ingredients at your discretion. I can’t recommend the garlic spread enough though—shit is baller. Tastes great on everything—bread, crackers, chips, pasta; you get the idea.

For the side dish, I decided to serve some of the giant bunch of kale that I bought. I didn’t want to serve it the way I normally do (sautéed with garlic and olive oil) since the pasta was already garlicky. Instead I decided to go out on a limb and make a raw kale salad. Kale can be a bit bitter (and, as The Boyfriend says, tastes “too plant-y”) but I read a few online recipes that recommended removing all of the stem to tackle the bitterness problem; the recipes also recommended soaking the kale in salad dressing  to soften it up and give it some flavor.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • ¼ bunch kale
  • ¼ cup cup shredded carrots
  • 6 slices of cucumber, quartered
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas
  • ½ cup salad dressing

Directions:

1) Wash kale; completely remove all stem pieces and chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

2) Add kale and salad dressing to Ziploc bag; squish bag to make sure kale is completely covered in dressing. Place kale bag in fridge and let chill for 15-20 minutes.

3) When kale is ready, put kale in bowl with other salad ingredients; toss.

Roasted Chickpeas  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400o; line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

2) Add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings to bowl. Mix well.

3) Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet and put baking sheet into oven; bake for 20-25 minutes stirring chickpeas occasionally.

Once roasted, the chickpeas can be eaten as a snack as well as a salad-topper; The Boyfriend really enjoyed them and compared their texture and taste to peanuts.

The salad was pretty good; The Boyfriend thought it was still too plant-y but I thought it tasted fine. I’m also a big fan of tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots so it was an easy sell for me.

Polenta “lasagna” and spending time in the kitchen with family

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Polenta “lasagna” and spending time in the kitchen with family

This past week, I was fortunate to have my family in town. My mom drove down because her cousin was going to be this area, so The Boyfriend and I put up my mom’s cousin, her husband, their daughter, and their daughter’s daughter (3 generations!). We live in a 2-bedroom house so this week was a bit hectic, but definitely fun!

The first night that the family arrived, I wanted to make a recipe that I had been meaning to make all week. I took my time and it wound up taking a few hours to make it all, but that was just as well because no one was super hungry when they got in. Anyway, the recipes came out well and it was a nice, light meal to cap off the evening.

Polenta “lasagna”

Adapted from the recipe at Vegetarian Times

Ingredients

  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. low-fat milk
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine or low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 17-oz. tubes polenta, sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cook onion in large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat 3 minutes, stirring often. Add all mushrooms and garlic; cook, stirring often, 3 to 4 minutes, or until onion is tender. Add 3/4 cup milk, and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.

2. Mix cornstarch with remaining 2 Tbs. milk, and stir into mushroom mixture. Add cream cheese and broth (or wine), and cook, stirring often, 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth and blended. Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3. Coat 8×8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 3 Tbs. mushroom sauce in bottom of dish. Layer 1/3 of polenta slices over sauce. Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over polenta. Top with half of remaining mushroom sauce. Layer with 1/3 of polenta slices and remaining sauce, and top with remaining polenta.

4. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and bake, uncovered, 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.

Beets are one of the super-veggies: they are low in calories and fat, but very high in dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Beets contain a significant amount of vitamin C and folates, and are a great source of Niacin (vitamin B-3), Pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), Pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and carotenoids, and minerals such as iron, manganese and magnesium. Unfortunately, beets have always been one of those foods that I dislike. However, in the spirit of Adventurous Appetite, I am trying to fall in love with all of those foods that I disliked as a child. I now love brussel sprouts, why not beets?

One of the problems most people (including The Boyfriend) have with beets is that they taste like dirt. I wanted to know if that dirt taste could be harnessed and made into a lighter, more earthy taste.

I found this recipe for a great salad using beets as the main veg (I also figured that if The Boyfriend still hated the beets, he could at least eat the other veggies in the salad). This salad uses roasted beets. The salad and the dressings were tasty enough (though, be warned: the habanero sauce is HOT!) but frankly, I think next time I will just eat the roasted beets. They had a great texture (firm but almost velvety soft) and were light, sweet, and earthy (but not “dirty”!). So I recommend this salad if you too are afraid of beets or even if you love them but want to try them in a new way.

Roasted beet salad

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

Ingredients

  • 2 c roasted beets, cooled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 c shredded carrots
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 t minced fresh ginger
  • 1 t lemon pepper
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 T white vinegar
  • 1/2 c cilantro, chopped

Directions

1. Start by roasting the beets: preheat the oven at 400 F.
2. Clean the beets and trim the greens to about 1/2 inch from the top of the beet.
3. Put the beets on a roasting pan. Coat the beets with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4.  Cover with tinfoil and bake for 45+ minutes or until the beets are fork tender.

5. When beets have cooled, remove the skins and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

6. Add cubed beets, shredded carrots, green onions, cilantro, and red pepper to bowl.

7. Mix OJ, ginger, lemon pepper, sugar, and vinegar together. Add to salad right before serving.

If I make this again, I think I will have just eat the salad like that, but I this time went ahead and made both of the dressings.

The habanero sauce is not really a dressing. It was tasty but quite spicy! I think it would almost taste better diluted and used as a marinade.

Ingredients

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 habanero
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 carrots
  • 8 large garlic cloves
  • about 1 tsp sea salt
  • ¼ t sugar
  • 3/4 cups red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions

1. Sauté peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and salt for 15 minutes in a non stick skillet

2. Add sugar, vinegar and water

3. Bring to a strong simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes

4. Let cool and blend

The sesame dressing was interesting. I think I liked it’s flavor more than that of the habanero sauce. It was a little thin (probably because I didn’t have the flax seed that it called for) but it was tangy and unique. And if you make too much of it, it would also be a tasty marinade.

Sesame dressing

Adapted from the recipe at Melomeals

Ingredients

  • 3 T toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 T chopped ginger
  • pinch sugar
  • 1/4 t lemon peppper
  • 1/8 t cumin
  • 2 T apple cider vinegar

Blend everything for a minute or two in a blender.

    The finished dinner:

It was perhaps not my favorite meal ever but it was healthy and definitely edible and my family seemed to enjoy it. And really, what more can you ask for?

To my Mom, Sandy, Paul, Jen, and baby Gabby: I am so happy you were all here! I hope we can get together again soon ❤

Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

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Lobster Mac and Comfort Cooking

So in the last post, I talked a bit about comfort food and why Korean food is comforting for me. Today is different; today I got comfort not from the food (although it was delicious!) but from the act of cooking it (and I even remembered to take pictures this time!).

Today I finally got to try two recipes that I have been begging The Boyfriend to let me do. The first was beets. The boyfriend has a high aversion to these maroon-ie root veggies. “You know what my mom says about beets?” he says whenever I bring up the possibility of making beets. “What?” I say, even though I know what’s coming next. “She says that she eats them whenever she is craving something that tastes like dirt.” Sigh. Some people (like The Boyfriend) think that tasting like dirt is the same as tasting earthy. I tried to explain that while beets are earthy, they don’t have to taste dirty, but until this week, he wasn’t having it. This week I put my foot down and said that I wanted to try making beets. I was able to placate him by pairing the beets with another recipe I have wanted to do: lobster mac-n-cheese. To quote the blogger that I borrowed the recipe from, “We are not talking about the abomination of folding lobster meat into mac and cheese here. We’re talking about using every part of the lobster to layer and accentuate its flavor in a spectacular lobster and macaroni gratin.” and s/he wasn’t kidding! It was definitely an effort (not a quick or easy meal) but it was a labor of love and it was just what I needed to boost myself up today.

The last few weeks, I have had so much work to do that it feels more like I am looking down the barrel of a gun that looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. And unfortunately, the workload is only increasing. So today when I got out of class feeling dejected and staring at the mountain of work piled in front of me, I did whatever any mature, responsible adult would do: I took a nap. Ok, so it wasn’t the most mature or the smartest decision to make, but I was feeling so low that I just couldn’t face it. When I woke up form my nap, I just wanted to do something that I could feel good about and would also give me that feeling of accomplishment. So I decided to tackle my most challenging recipe of the week. It took about 3 hours from start to finish (prep to doing the dinner dishes) but it was way worth it. Not only was it delicious but now I also feel better about the work in front of me; because really, if I can make lobster mac, I can handle 5 chapters of statistics homework, right? Right?

Lobster Mac adapted from the recipe at Zen Can Cook

serves 3-4

For the lobster:

3 lobster tails, cooked in a court-bouillon*

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 carrot, chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 large white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup bourbon**

1/4 cup white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste***

4 ounces whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 bouquet garni (fresh parsley, thyme, and tarragon, tied together or loose)

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

salt and pepper, to taste

For the gratin:

approx. 6 ounces elbow macaroni

lobster meat from 3 lobster tails (above), roughly chopped

Gruyere cheese, grated

*For my court-bouillon, I used water, lemon juice, salt, parsley, bay leaf, tarragon, and thyme, but feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste.

**The original recipe called for Cognac but I didn’t have any so I used Maker’s Mark. Use whichever one is most convenient for you!

***It is super annoying to buy a whole can of something only to use 1 tbsp of it, so I froze the rest of the tomato paste in 1 tbsp increments in an ice cube tray. In the future if I need just 1 tbsp, I can pop an ice cube out and throw it in the pan.

Directions:

For the lobster broth and meat:

Make sure you have everything prepped, so chopped all of your veggies and boil your lobster tails.

After your lobster tails have been boiled in the court bouillon for approximately 5 minutes, remove from water and cool. Once cooled, separate meat from tail.

In a deep enough stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat and add the lobster tails. Brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic and keep cooking until translucent, about 5 minutes.Remove from pot and set aside.

Deglaze with the bourbon or Cognac and carefully set aflame with a match. When the flames die down, add the white wine and reduce. Add the tomato paste and the crushed whole peeled tomatoes and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the bouquet garni and the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes at a very gentle simmer. Turn off the heat and let it cool for 15 minutes.

At this point, if you have a hand held blender you can remove and discard the tough lobster part and blend the mixture until roughly blended before straining it through a chinois or strainer. If you don’t have a hand held blender, strain the mixture making sure to push hard on the solids to extract all the juices. You should obtain a lobster ‘cream’ more or less the same consistency as a cheese sauce. Reduce if too thin to concentrate the flavors. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the gratin:

Cook the macaroni ‘al dente’ and add it to the lobster ‘cream’. Adjust seasoning and toss the chopped lobster meat with the macaroni and lobster ‘cream’.

Scoop the mixture into buttered ramekins or a casserole dish. Sprinkle the shredded Gruyere over the top in an even layer.

When ready to serve, broil for a few minutes until a nice crust has formed and bubbly on top.

Ok, so the beets aren’t as exciting but they are a nice complement to the mac-n-cheese because it is tart and sharp and crunchy where the mac is soft and gooey and rich. And beets are really good for you, where the mac is only good for the spirit.

10-minute Beets, adapted from the recipe at A Doctor’s Kitchen

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 3 beets, without greens, scrubbed and peeled
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive, plus more for drizzling, if desired
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  1. Shred the beets in a food processor fitted with a disc for medium shredding or fine julienne.*
  2. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring, about 1 minute. Add the beets and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Cook, stirring and tossing, 3 to 5 minutes, until the beets have given up their water and are crisp-tender, or longer to desired doneness. Take pan off of heat and stir in 2 teaspoons of the vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.  Serve immediately.

*I don’t have a food processor that can shred beet so I just chopped them with my Pampered Chef Chopper and that worked out fine

So here is my first official post with pictures of the food that I actually made! And about those pictures… I’m sorry if the color/angle/clarity is not always good. I’m not terrific with a camera and I have a basic shoot and point. But hopefully it gets the idea across.

Until next time!