Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Life is Crazy

   I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far!  There is SO much going on right now.  The hubs made it back perfectly safe and sound.  We have been enjoying some serious "us" time the past couple days.  Now I have to do the finishing touches on several costume pieces and hopefully get them in the mail tomorrow afternoon.  However, I thought I would take a few minutes of the morning to tantalize your taste buds with some of the things coming up!
  • Mexican Braised Country Ribs
  • said ribs made into Guajillo Chili Pork Tacos
  • Easy, traditional Guacamole
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs for a mini-crowd
  • From scratch Marinara 

I think this picture is hilarious!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Baked Pineapple

  This is a pre-scheduled post because you may not hear from me for a few days.  The plan is to not leave the bed for a couple days... except to cook, because food is an integral part of our relationship.  Right, did I mention that Louis comes home TODAY?!?!?!  Fuck yeah.

  A couple weeks ago I bought a pineapple that looked really good, but wasn't all that fantastic when I cut it up.  It wasn't completely ripe so the flesh was a little harder than it should have been and the flavor wasn't as prominent as I like.  This is a great way to fix a sub par pineapple. Baking it releases and concentrates the sugars while breaking down the flesh.  A harder pineapple is actually better for this because then the fruit doesn't get mushy when baked.  It would be great over ice cream or as is.
Baked Pineapple
4 C pineapple cut into bite sized chunks
1/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 C flour + 2 Tbsp
1/4 C melted butter
1/2 C quick oats
1/3 C brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
cooking spray

   Toss pineapple with granulated sugar and 2 Tbsp of flour.  Put in a lightly sprayed baking dish.
   Combine the rest of the ingredients for the topping.  Even distribute over pineapple.
   Bake at 375 deg F for 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden brown.
   Serves 4-6

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Roast Chicken Sandwich with Cucumbers and Ranch

   Yes, I am blogging about a sandwich.  Don't judge me.   Sandwiches can be really special.  Even a really simple one can be just what you need.  With spring here, the veggies are getting better and better.  I think there are two very good ways to showcase raw veggies: salads and sandwiches.  Also, um, the hubs kinda comes home tomorrow... sooo... I don't have time for fancy food right now.  The computer fiasco set me back in sewing and I have a shit ton to do in the next 24 hours before MY HUSBAND COMES HOME!!!!!!!! (The excitement is pretty hard to contain.)

   The real reason I am blogging this sandwich is that my husband asked me to bring him a snack tomorrow for when we are waiting around to be dismissed.  I kid you not.  To him, a sandwich is a snack and he loves cucumbers and ranch on them.  This is what I am taking to him.  It is really delicious in its simplicity, though.  I just had one for lunch, you know, for quality control. 
Roast Chicken Sandwich with Cucumber and Ranch
Lightly toasted bread
sliced English cucumber
sliced vine ripe tomatoes
baby spinach
sliced provolone
light mayo
light ranch
   Combine equal parts ranch and mayo.
Roast chicken breast
   Liberally salt and pepper bone-in, skinless chicken breast.  Lightly sprinkle with onion and garlic powders.  Roast at 375 deg F for ~40 min.  Let cool.  Remove from bone and thinly slice.

   Assemble sandwich with as much of each ingredient as you like.  Make sure to lightly salt the tomatoes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Look... for a little while

   I am so terrible with computers.  This is the best I can do for a new look right now.  It has it's flaws, I know.  This is isn't permanent.  Spring is here, and an update was needed to match the season.


Almost Traditional Shrimp Ceviche

   I feel so guilty about this new computer... though, I must admit, I love it as much as I am capable of loving a computer (which really isn't all the much because I am a bit of technophobe.)  HP is my brand though.  I've good luck with them throughout my life.  The last piece of crap was a Gateway, never liked it.  It chose the precise moment of my first interaction with the Geek Squad as it's final.  Turned it on, it too it's sweet time starting up, then flickered blue and then black.  Thank you computer.  You couldn't last another 5 months?  That is all I wanted.  Then a lot of other computer things happened concerning the hubs' computer happened, and well, needless to say, I am behind on things right now.  This is living up to my theory that nothing good happens in Jacksonville.

   Except shrimp.  (How did you like that throw back segue?)

   A few days ago a friend asked me about ceviche.  I had never made it, because living in Tennessee most of the time, I feel the need to apply heat to most of the fish I purchase.  I deferred to Rick Bayless for a ceviche recipe to send to my friend.  Then it hit me, I'm on the coast now; I can make ceviche.  Red snapper was my first choice, but my fish shop didn't have any.  Darn, guess I'll just have to go with shrimp.  I call this almost traditional because I didn't have as many limes as I thought so I had to combine other citrus.  The balance was perfect, though.  So I am keeping that citrus base ratio.

Almost Traditional Shrimp Ceviche
1/2 lb fresh, raw shrimp; peeled and deviened
1/4 C fresh lime juice
1/4 C fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp fresh orange juice (sour orange preferred)
1/4 of a red onion, minced
1/2 of a jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 C chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp pasted garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

   Cut shrimp into 1/2 in pieces.  Pour citrus juices over raw shrimp.  Cover, let sit in refrigerator for 10-12 hours.  Stir occasionally (if possible).  Drain off most of liquid.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir.  Let sit for 30 minutes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Chili and Cumin Sweet Potato Oven Fries

   I adore sweet potatoes.  Looking through my archives, I am actually shocked at the lack of sweet potato recipes.  They are on my menu at least once a week, often twice.  Roasting them is my favorite.  It is so easy and doesn't get in the way of things on the stove; the perfect side dish.  Cumin and sweet potatoes is hands down my favorite.  The earthy smokeyness with the savory sweetness... to die for.  It feels like a really indulgent side dish, but sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest things you can eat.  Look it up.  Hahah!
Chili Cumin Sweet Potato Fries
1 1/2 lb sweet potatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
salt and pepper

   Peel sweet potatoes.  Cut into wedges.  Toss with oil and spices.  Spread into a even layer on a baking sheet.  Bake 400 deg F for 25-35 minutes (time will depend on size of wedges).  Done when fork tender (this is a little softer than a regular white starchy potato.) Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top.
   Serves 4

Monday, March 21, 2011

Garlic and Orange Fried Goat Cheese w/ Green Beans

   I am currently in the process of hand sewing 17 yards of seed pearls into a doublet.  More often than not, I think things like this are a good idea.  Usually, it turns out in my favor.  Luckily, this doublet is turning out in my favor.  It is so kickass.  Unfortanely, my computer is soooo slow that I am having to choose between a morning of blogging and a morning of sewing.  Hopefully, if I take it in today, I can have it back tomorrow or Wednesday.  I'll try to get a few posts together so I am not slacking too much on my self-imposed responsiblities to this little blog.  And maybe with a faster computer, I can attempt to give the look a bit of a face-lift.  I am really not good with computers though so that may not happen... one day it will.  When I am near my com-savvy friends again.

   On to the food.  Who doesn't love goat cheese?  If you don't love goat cheese, I assume you have never had good goat cheese before.  Fact: goat cheese is a miracle of nature.  There are very few things you can do to improve the cheese itself.  Normally I am just using goat cheese to enhance another dish.  However, when this stupidly simple idea came to me, it was a revalation.  I've seen fried goat cheese before, but never thought to make it for some reason.  I generally stay away from frying at home.  But I decided to go for it.  Nothing bad could really come of it except ruining a bit of cheese.  That didn't happen though.  Instead, I had these beautiful, tasty morsels of incredible goat cheese. 
Garlic and Orange Fried Goat Cheese
Per Serving:
1/2 in slice goat cheese
1/4 tsp pasted garlic
pinch of orange zest
Italian seasoned bread crumbs
extra virgin olive oil
   Let goat cheese soften a little at room temp.  Mash garlic and orange zest into cheese to thoroughly combine.  Putin refrigerator for at least 15 minutes to set up.
   Dip finger tips in cool water to prevent cheese from sticking while you work.  Form into quarter sized discs about 1/2 in thick.  From each serving portion, you will get three discs.  Press into bread crumbs to coat outside of cheese.
   Coat bottom of non stick pan with oil.  Heat over med-high.  Fry goat cheese for 1 1/2 minutes per side, just until golden brown and crispy. Place on paper towel to quickly absorb any excess oil.
   Serve hot over green beans, asparagus, on a salad, or as is.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Asparagus Stock

  I don't throw stems away.  Mushroom stems, the woody ends of asparagus... while they may not be pleasant to eat, they are full of flavor.  You can make some incredible broths with what many people consider garbage.  If I have asparagus, mushrooms, or broccoli, I take the stems/stalks and pop them in a freezer bag.  That way I have them on hand to make soup bases and broths.  Homemade stocks and broths can really send a dish over the top because you can get flavors into the foundation of your dish that aren't available in grocery store broths.  This asparagus stock is a delightful take on vegetable stock that would make a lovely vegetable soup or a vegetable pot pie (Or English Pea Soup see yesterday's post)

You can't exactly tell from this, but it has a pretty green tint.
Asparagus Stock
2 qt water
woody ends of 1 bunch of asparagus
1 lrg carrot, cut into chunks
1 med onion, quartered
2 lrg cloves garlic, smashed
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp peppercorns
3-5 allspice berries (optional)

   Put all ingredients in a pot.  Bring to boil.  Turn heat down to medium.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Strain broth.
  You will end up with just shy of 2 qt, about 1 3/4 qt.

Friday, March 18, 2011

English Pea Soup

   Most of yesterday was sewing my dress for the hubs' home coming.  It is super cute.  I will share it with you, don't worry!  (It will probably be shared over on 87Life... I'll keep you updated.)  Considering, I am by myself and have jobs to do, I couldn't exactly go out last night to... celebrate? St. Patrick's Day.  So I stayed in watching Top Chef, Kathy Griffin's new special, and Archer.  Not terribly festive I know, but I did do something.  I made a delicious English pea soup!  It is sweet, light, creamy, and the most incredible shade of green.  (My picture doesn't do it justice.)  It didn't seem particularly Irish in any way.  I wanted to put cilantro in it, but that made it seem even less Irish.  But after I ate, I caught a few minutes of Bobby's Ireland and what were they making?  English pea and coriander soup!  So, yeah... that is happening soon.  I debated on whether to save this post for next year considering I am a day behind the occasion I made it for.  Spring is just around the corner though, which means all the vegetables will be coming into season.  Serve with a baked potato for a complete meal, or as a side to grilled meat; this is the perfect soup for spring.   
(Note:  English peas and green peas are the same thing.  Also, sometimes called garden peas.)

English Pea Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced (~1 heaping tsp)
1 lb English peas (thawed if frozen)
1/2 tsp thyme
3 C asparagus broth (recipe tomorrow or vegetable broth)
2 Tbsp cream cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)
olive oil, salt and pepper

   Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent and very lightly golden at edges.  Saute garlic with onions for 1 minute.  Add 3/4 lb peas, thyme, and broth.  Heat peas through.  Using an immersion blender or regular blender puree soup.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   *Optional Step:  push puree through a mesh sieve to remove pulp and create a consistently creamy texture.  I happen to like the pureed texture, but it is up to you.
   Heat over medium.  Whisk in cream cheese.  Add remaining 1/4 lb peas.  Heat through.  Add a dollop of sour cream at service.  (I made a really pretty canelle of sour cream, but it sank into the soup before I could get a picture.)
   Serves: 2 main course servings; 4 side servings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Banana Cashew [Dinosaur] Muffins

   What do you do with a dying banana?  You know, the ones that are a little too black and kind of soft....  I pop mine in the freezer, saving them for one of my banana bread whims.

   My dad loves to give me and my brother food.  My move to NC was no different.  He packed up 2 jars of peanut butter, crackers, some variety of mini oranges, bagel chips, apples, cashews, some other stuff, and bananas.  A day in the car and a couple more sitting on the counter while I unpacked did not favor the bananas very well.  That meant I was forced to made a banana based baked good.  Muffins sounded like just the thing for Tuesday morning when I had to get up early for the cable guys and to make my house smell good in case it smelled like I had gone through a head of garlic in five days.... which I had. (I know; I have a problem.)

   Also, dinosaurs are fun.  And my dinosaur muffin pan is the coolest piece of bake ware I own.  They are bigger than normal muffins so that's a plus.  Not to mention that my husband starts chanting "D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R a dinosaur!!!" every time I use it.  (Oh, yeah... the hubs knows his Ke$ha.)

Banana Cashew Muffins
2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 C half and half
1/4 C melted butter
2 Tbsp veg oil
1 Tbsp orange juice
1/2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
2 bananas, coarsely mashed
1 C roughly chopped cashews
cooking spray

   Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt
   Combine egg, 1/2 and 1/2, butter, oil, orange juice, zest, vanilla and nutmeg.  Mix bananas into egg and milk mixture.
   Form a well in dry ingredients.  Add wet mixture.  Slowly work together.  Fold in cashews.  Be careful not to over-mix.
   Lightly spray muffin pan.  Fill 3/4 full.
   Bake 350 deg F for 18-22 minutes for regular muffin pan.  22-25 minutes for dino-pan.  At minimum bake time, test muffins.  Insert tooth pick into center of a muffin; if it comes out clean, they are done.
   Makes 12 [regular] muffins.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spinach and Scallion Quesadilla

   I love living alone.  Living alone means you don't have to deal with someone else's mess.  The TV is all yours.  Pants (and clothing in general) are totally optional.  It is freeing.  I can lay about my house with only a full face of make up on and watch Food Network all day long.  No one will judge me!  Not that I do that... regularly.  The only problem is the food situation. Cooking for one can be a lot of fun!  However, it can be tedious.  Often you end up just grabbing something really unhealthy and then feeling like crap later.  Or microwaving an unsatisfying Lean Cuisine or some other awful frozen meal.  Last night I really wanted to just eat a huge quesadilla and a fried egg.  Don't ask me why that combination because I don't know.  Giving into that craving was not going to happen.  I was not going to let myself eat such a weird dinner!  Instead, I went with a more logical and healthy meal:  a normal sized quesadilla and some sliced cucumbers tossed with a little salt and lime juice.  The whole thing only took 15 minutes to make (I made a sour cream dip, which was about 10 minutes of the time) and I didn't feel guilty afterward.

   (Although, I will say, after my egg and quesadilla craving, I am trying to figure out a Mexican equivalent to a croque madame!) 

Spinach and Scallion Quesadilla
2 6-inch tortillas (Flour or corn, your choice.  I used flour.)
1/3 C shredded Mexican or Quesadilla blend cheese
1/3 C baby spinach, stems removed
1 scallion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

  Assemble quesadilla:  tortilla, cheese, spinach, a little salt and pepper, scallion, cheese, tortilla.  Place in a cool, dry pan.  Bring pan up to heat over medium.  Cook on first side until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden brown.  Repeat on second side.  (I didn't really need to tell you this, haha!  I am sure you know how to make a quesadilla.  I find the trick is to bring the pan up to temp with quesadilla in it.  The cheese has more time to get gooey and melty but it is very hard to burn the tortilla using this method.)
   Serves 1

Spicy Cilantro Sour Cream
1/4 C sour cream
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp grated or pasted garlic
1/2-1 tsp chipotle puree or dash of hot sauce (to taste, optional)
salt and pepper to taste

   Combine ingredients.
   Serves 2

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Wasabi Ginger Shrimp Salad

   Well, I am more or less situated in the shit hole that is Jacksonville, NC.  If you happen to love Jacksonville... then yes, I do mean to offend you.  I have come to love the North Carolina coast, but I still hate this town.  However, my husband will be back from Afghanistan shortly and then we will only be here a few months so it's all good (or, at least, alright...).  I will say this for Jacksonville:  it is relatively close to the beach.  About 30-40 minutes from my townhome depending on where you go.  Not as close as Hubert (the non-town I lived in last round of North Carolina dwelling) but whatevs.  This proximity to the extensive estuaries of the Crystal Coast means fresh shrimp.  I would be lying to you if I said fresh shrimp was not a determining factor in my moving back here.  Like... reason number two after the husband thing.

   No joke.  I love shrimp.  The place I get my seafood here is Clyde Phillips, a little salmon colored shack in Swansboro (which is an adorable town, by the way... that is where I wanted to live.)  The fishing boats with rigging and trawlers are docked just behind the building, and more often than not, are still dripping wet from the morning's fishing.  Obviously, the first thing I cooked in my kitchen was shrimp!  My in-laws and dad helped me move over here, so I made them dinner of simply roasted shrimp and veg and served it with three dipping sauces: wasabi ginger, hoisen, and classic cocktail sauce.  The next night I had shrimp and sauces left over, but I wanted to shake things up a bit.... hence this delectable little open faced sandwich.  It is perfect for lunch or a light dinner.

Wasabi Ginger Shrimp Salad
1/2 lb peeled, deviened shrimp
salt, pepper, paprika, oil
   (Toss shrimp in salt, pepper, paprika and oil.  Roast at 400 deg F for 7-8 minutes.  Until cooked through.  Allow to cool.)
1 heaping Tbsp light mayo
1 heaping Tbsp light sour cream
1 heaping tsp wasabi paste
1 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp grated or pasted garlic
1/2 tsp honey
1 C spring greens or baby spinach
2 half inch slices of nice bread, toasted

   Combine sour cream, mayo, wasabi, honey, ginger, and garlic.  Chop cooled shrimp.  Fold into sauce mixture.  Adjust salt and pepper to taste.  Top toast with shrimp salad and add lettuces to top.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pork Fajita-Tacos

   I don't really know if these are tacos or fajitas.  They are kind of an in between thing.  Fajtacos?  Whatevs.  This is a great way to use left over pork chops  (see smokey rubbed pork chop post from a few days ago.)  We actually grilled the chops with the intention of using them this way.  If you are having the chops on their own, I suggest grilling up a couple more for these babies.  Just cool the meat and slice it thinly.  
Smokey Pork Fajtacos (I'm sticking with this word)
2 smokey rubbed pork chops, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper (any color or any combo), sliced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 recipe chipotle lime sour cream
lime wedges
fresh cilantro
warmed tortillas (corn or flour.... I was over ruled in this decision, I wanted corn.  They wanted flour.)
salt and pepper

   Saute onion and pepper until soft and tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add garlic and pork.  Heat pork through.  Serve with tortillas, sour cream, cilantro and lime wedges.
   Serves 4.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Corn and Carrot "Slaw" Salad with Creamy Cumin Lime Dressing

   Spring is approaching and the weather is getting a little warmer.  I promised more salads and I hope I am satisfying the request.  I feel like a salad is what you make it but we can definitely get in a rut with dressings and and the things we put on top of our lettuce.  This was a thrown together salad I made last week but it ended up really good.  I had the idea for the dressing, but since the salad was our only side I felt something other than just lettuce was needed.
Corn and Carrot "Slaw" Salad
1 C shaved carrots (just use a veg peeler to get thin strips)
1/2 corn kernels
1/4 C sliced olives
1 large heart of romaine, chopped
Creamy Cumin Lime Dressing:
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp (heaping) light sour creamjuice of 1 lime*
zest of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp pasted or grated garlic
dash crushed red pepper flake
salt and pepper

   In a dry pan over medium heat toast cumin seeds for 2-3 minutes.  When you start to smell them they are done; cool.  Lightly crush seeds.  (I used the curved back of a heavy ice cream scoop because I didn't want to get out the mortar and pestle for such a small amount.... worked really well). 
   Combine all dressing ingredients.  Salt and pepper to taste. 
   *If the lime does not give off a lot of juice, use red wine vinegar or other mild vinegar.  You want 2 tsp-1 Tbsp total of acid.
   Combine corn, carrots, and olives.  Add about 2 tsp of dressing; mix.  Let sit 30 minutes.
   Toss lettuce in half of remaining dressing.  Top with "slaw".  Serve the rest of the dressing on the side.
   Serves 4.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Smokey Rubbed Pork Chops

   Sometimes a marinade takes too punch fore-planning.  To get the maximum flavor you need a a good couple of hours.

   I meticulously plan my meals out, but my parents don't do that.  They wing it all the time.  For me, this is incredibly frustrating.  I like knowing what I am making.  In some ways, I feel creativity flows on the fly.  However, it is easy to get stuck in ruts.  Like Italian ruts.  (Sorry, Mom......)  I like having the time to plan out my kitchen creativity.  When that luxury is not allowed to me, I still try to mix it up.  My mom makes Italian all the time. (No, she is not Italian in any way, shape or form.)  So I often default to Latin or Asian food.  Latin and Caribbean foods are easy because the flavors lend themselves so well to dry rubs.  The 30 minute answer to a wet marinade!
Smokey Rubbed Pork Chops
4--3/4 inch (boneless) pork chops (1-1.5 lbs)
1 Tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt (generous 1/4 tsp....)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
cooking spray

   Combine dry spices.
   Pat meat dry with paper towel.  Rub with spice blend.  Allow to rest at room temp for 15 minutes.  (Longer is great, but put chops in the refrigerator if sitting more than 1 hour.)  Lightly spray both sides with cooking spray.  Grill over medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes a side.
   Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Strawberries Dusted with Spiced Cocoa

   Chocolate covered strawberries are ultra decadent.  Here is a really fast, really cheap, really easy (and healthy) alternative! 

Strawberries Dusted with Spiced Cocoa
1 pint strawberries
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 Tbsp dark (dutch processed) cocoa powder
1/4 tsp roasted cinnamon
dash (less than 1/8 tsp) cayenne pepper

   Combine sugar, cocoa, and spices.  Use a whisk to work out lumps.  Dip strawberries into mixture.  Lightly knock off extra.
   OR  use a mesh sieve to dust over strawberries (this is prettier, but doesn't pack the same flavor punch as dipping.)
   Serves 4-6 (or more in a party setting.)
   *If doing this for a party, dip strawberries just before guests arrive or just before setting out desserts.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette

  This light side salad is a blank slate just waiting to be turned into a complete meal.  Which it will be once I have my beloved, screaming-fresh shrimp again.  As it is, it is a perfect Indian inspired side that is bright and refreshing.  Also, this vinaigrette would make a lovely marinade for a mild fish like tilapia.
Lemon Ginger Vinaigrette
Juice 1 lemon
zest 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 clove garlic, grated or pasted
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
4 C lettuce
1/2 C chopped pistachios

   Combine lemon juice and zest, garlic, ginger, and oil.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Toss half of vinaigrette with lettuce.  Serve the rest on the side.
   Toast pistachios at 400 deg F for 3-4 minutes.  Sprinkle on top of salad
   Salad serves 4 side portions.
   Vinaigrette serves 4-6 depending on amount of dressing you prefer.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Salmon with Coriander Chutney Yogurt Sauce

   I bought all sorts of stuff at Spice of India when I catered for the book club.  That means I still have stuff left over.  I am trying to find new ways to use the items I bought.  Like the coriander chutney.  This bright green, spicy sauce is so fresh and delicious.  I would put it on anything as is.  However, in the spirit of transforming store bought ingredients, and to tone down the verdant heat, this sauce was created.  Creation is also based on the fact that I had eaten several heavy meals in a row and wanted something light.

Light Indian Inspired Menu
Salmon w/ coriander chutney yogurt Sauce
Indian style rice
Salad w/ lemon ginger vinaigrette
Grilled pineapple
Salmon w/ Coriander Chutney Yogurt Sauce
1/3 C thick, plain yogurt
2 Tbsp purchased Coriander Chutney
1/4 tsp lemon zest
juice 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 1/3 lb salmon fillets (cut into 4 portions)
salt and pepper
cooking spray

   Combine yogurt, chutney, lemon zest and juice, and ginger.  
   Salt and pepper fish.  Lightly spray both sides of fish with cooking spray.  Place in grill basket or directly onto grill.  Cooking 3-4 min per side (our fillets were ~3/4 inch thick).
   Spoon sauce over fish.
   Serves 4.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Bleu Cheese Butter

   There is an incredibly mediocre chain of steak houses that feature bleu cheese butter as one of the steak toppers.  It is literally the only delicious thing on their menu but costs $2.99 to add it to your steak.  Rip.  Off.  Bleu cheese is one of my top 10 favorite things in life and it breaks my heart when I see such an outrageous charge for it.

   The other night we managed to fit in a grill session before the storm hit.  My dad has gotten into the habit of stocking up on Publix Greenwise New York strips when they are on sale.   So we usually have a couple that have been carefully wrapped and frozen by yours truly lurking around the freezer.  Because these steaks are so fantastic on their own, you don't want to put any heavy seasoning on them for fear of masking the lovely beef flavor.  Personally, I find that bleu cheese enhances the flavor of beef (as long as you don't use too much.)  This butter cheese concoction is super easy to make and would be great on just about anything:  chicken, steak, baked potato, asparagus, toast, a spoon....
Starting to melt on the hot steak... oh, my knees are weak!

Bleu Cheese Butter
1 1/2 Tbsp softened butter (Salted or unsalted)
1 1/2 oz bleu cheese
1 clove garlic, pasted or grated

   Mash ingredients together.  Place on a piece of plastic wrap.  Wrap in plastic and form into a log about 3 inches long (see picture below).  Put in freezer for ~10 minutes so it is easily sliced.  Put on top of whatever you want.
   Serves 4.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Tandoori Chicken

  When I have an incredibly productive spree, it usually ends at a hault.  I got so much done yesterday that today I feel like I am just dicking around the house doing little things here and there.  At this moment I am almost forcing myself to get this blog post together because I am waffling between beading a pair of pants and making sleeves.  Hopefully I can boost productivity with this post.

   How about something exotic, tasty, and crazy easy to go with that Indian rice?   This tandoori chicken is not the most authentic thing ever.  But I don't own a tandoor so authenticity is difficult.  Oh well.  You can grill or bake this chicken and it will be absolutely delicious.  I am not above using packaged spice blends for Indian food.  The number of new spices you would need to buy to properly blend your own is astronomical.  A premixed blend will only cost a couple bucks and takes up a lot less room your kitchen.  I usually add other ingredients to the mix becuase mixes are often very high in sodium.  Also, the blend I used happen to be incredibly spicy!  Very good thing I toned it down a bit.  It was still very hot, don't get me wrong, but had I followed the package directions it would have been sear-off-your-tastebuds-in-the-first-bite spicy.
Tandoori Chicken
1.5-2 lb chicken, roughly 1 inch cube (white or dark meat)
1 C plain Greek yogurt *
2 Tbsp Shan tandoori chicken spice mix
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp rice vinegar (or other mild vinegar)

   Combine yogurt, spice mix, honey, oil, lemon, and vinegar.  (If you are not a fan of spicy food, use 1 Tbsp of spice mix or look for a mild tandoori blend.  Taste mixture before adding chicken.  If it is too spicy, add more honey.)
   Add chicken, coat in marinade.  Let sit for at least 1 hour.  For grilling, skewer chicken on metal skewers.  You can do this for the oven too, or just spread into 1 layer on a foil lined baking pan.  Grill on medium-high heat for about 10-12 minutes, making sure to grill on all sides.  Bake in 400 deg F oven for 13-15 minutes.  (Cooking times will vary depending on cube size.)
   Serves 6-8

*TIP:  Greek yogurt too expensive?  Buy plain, low fat yogurt and drain.  Use a mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth or paper towles.  Put yogurt in strainer and place over a bowl.  Let sit in refrigerator overnight.  The liquid will drain out and you will be left with a lower fat, super thick and rich yogurt.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

BET Salad

   OK, I am trying to throw this post together really quick before my hectic day of sewing, babysitting, avoiding the numerous workers in the house, and awesome hipster hair cutting commences (go visit Rachel's blog.  Oh, and I would just like to say that I am not a hipster by any means.  My hair is just gonna be hipster-light.)  Honestly, I am already an hour behind schedule.

  Saleds.  Some people keep typing in saled to the search.  (I find this infinitely amusing.)  Sorry guys, no saleds here.  Salads, however... well, I have a few of those, but not nearly enough.  I blame on the time of year I started this blog. (September.)  There will be a lot more salads coming up as the weather gets warmer and my life gets busier.

   The BET salad.  This has nothing to do with black entertainment television.  It is the bacon, egg, and tomato salad.  (Bacon optional.... but highly recommended.)  I am crazy obsessed with fried eggs right now.  They are so fast and easy.  Also cheap and tasty.
BET Salad
~4 C lettuce (I used romaine heart and field greens)
2 eggs
Warm Pan Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette:
3 slices bacon, chopped*
1/2 C grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 C yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper

   Render bacon over medium heat until crispy.  Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Spoon out extra fat from the pan, leave about a tsp in the pan and reserve the extra.  Add onions to pan.  Cook 5 minutes until soft and translucent.  Add tomatoes.  Cook until onion and tomatoes have caramelized (5-7 minutes.)  Add garlic, rosemary, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir and allow vinegar to get slightly syrupy.  It will only take a couple minutes.  Remove from heat and add olive oil. (This is a very chunky vinaigrette.)  Salt and pepper to taste.
   Heat a little of the reserved bacon fat in a pan over medium-high heat.  Fry eggs until desired doneness.  For over-medium, about 2 minutes per side (or less, depending on how hot your stove runs.)
   Place lettuce on plates.  Top with egg and sprinkle bacon over.  Add dressing..  You will need to randomly dot it oer the lettuce to ensure even distribution.
   Serves 2.

*If you want to make this vegetarian, use olive oil in place of bacon fat.  To add an extra depth of flavor, I suggest using a smoked olive oil to finish the salad.  (Don't cook with it, just use it as the raw olive oil at the end of making the vinaigrette.)  Oil available at Williams-Sonoma

Note:  I wrote that last blurb not knowing if smoked olive oil actually existed.  I assumed it must exist, because it sounds like a delicious idea.  A quick google search lead me to the website above.  Now I am desperate to try these oils!!!  If anyone has had smoke olive oil, let me know how it is, please!