Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crockpot Chicken BBQ



Here's an easy and very versatile entree to make.  It really came out deliciously.  I used the chicken in a taco salad, but you could use it in sandwiches or simply served over some rice or in a baked potato.  The recipe below will make approximately four servings, but if you catch chicken at a really good price, I would certainly double or triple the recipe and freeze it in individual servings.

CROCKPOT CHICKEN BBQ (4 servings)

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix BBQ sauce, vinegar, pepper flakes, brown sugar, and garlic powder in a small bowl.

Place chicken into crockpot.  Pour sauce evenly over the chicken.  Cook for LOW for 4-6 hours.

Recipe source:  www.lovinfromtheoven.com

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crispy Southwest Chicken Wraps


This is an incredibly adaptable recipe.  You can use different types of meat (or none at all), add more/less cilantro, add green chilies, choose your cheese.  I have also found some hickory and mesquite cooking sprays (on-line.....can't find them in stores here) which adds another dimension.

Serve it with rice and beans, a green salad, or how about that cilantro-lime rice (see 4-22-13 post)?  Or gazpacho since summer is just around the corner (yuck.....I'm a gray skies, cool temps, rainy day kind of a girl).  Regardless, it's fast, easy, and really delicious.

CRISPY SOUTHWEST CHICKEN WRAPS (makes 6 servings)

1 cup cooked rice, warm or at room temp
1 cup cook, shredded chicken (or shredded beef or pork)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1/2 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
2 cups shredded cheese (jack, pepper jack, provolone, cheddar.....whatever you like)
sour cream
6 burrito-sized flour tortillas

Mix rice together with chili powder, cumin, and garlic salt.  Add remaining ingredients except for cheese and sour cream.  Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2" border around edges, then arrange chicken and rice mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Dollop bits of sour cream over the cheese before arranging chicken and rice mixture down the middle to help make it creamy.  Roll stuffed tortillas, leaving edges open and slightly flatten the wraps with the palm of your hand.  Spray sea-side of the wrap lightly with cooking spray.

Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat for 1 minute.  Arrange wraps, seam-side down, in a pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Cooking them seam-side down first helps seal the long edge so they don't fall apart.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps.  Serve warm.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Birthday Cake Puppy Chow


First of all, let me reiterate that I do not have a sweettooth.  At all.  But let me also say, I could have eaten every single bite of this snack.  EVERY bite.  And this is WAY over the top when it comes to sweetness.  But it is delicious.  And so easy.  It truly does taste like a birthday cake, and the crunch from the cereal is an extra-added bonus.

I did read in the instructions that if you like it to stay crisp (past day one) to omit the butter.  Next time I make it, I'll try this.  But since I didn't see those instructions until after I had already made it, I let the bites lay on a cookie sheet and kept them in the frig.  The next day they were still crispy.  I don't know how they would have fared any longer, they didn't last that long.

BIRTHDAY CAKE PUPPY CHOW (makes about 4 1/2 cups)

4 1/2 cups crisped rice (Rice Chex) cereal (do not use Crispex)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter
3 Tbsp heavy cream (no substitutes)
10 oz white chocolate candy melts or almond bark (not white chocolate chips)
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp butter extract
2/3 cup assorted sprinkles (2 bottles of 2 oz multi-colored nonpareils)
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Pour the cereal in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter, cream, and white chocolate.  Stir constantly until the white chocolate is fully melted.  The mixture will be very thick and buttery.  Remove from heat.  Stir in almond and butter extracts.

Pour warm white chocolate mixture over cereal.  Stir it all together gently, making sure not to break the cereal.  Wait about 3-4 (no longer) minutes and gently fold in the sprinkles, you don't want the sprinkles to lose their color.

In a large zipped top bag or covered container, add the powdered sugar.  Pour the white chocolate covered cereal into the large bag or container.  Seal the bag or container and shake until all the cereal is coated with the powdered sugar.

Discard excess powdered sugar and enjoy.  Store at room temperature up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Source: sallysbakingaddiction.com

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sweet Orange Shrimp


This is a Publix recipe meaning it's an easy meal for a weeknight dinner.  And what an interesting combination of flavors: orange, horseradish, and some honey for sweetness.  Now for my tastes, I think I will add a bit more orange juice and reduce the horseradish by  half....for me, the horseradish overwhelmed the shrimp just a bit.  But I do love horseradish, but more of a whisper than a full-out shout.

SWEET ORANGE SHRIMP (4 servings)

Juice of 1-2 medium oranges (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup light mayo
2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 pound large peeled, deveined shrimp (thawed)
1 Tbsp quick-mixing flour (like Wondra.....however, I used regular AP flour)

Whisk in orange juice, mayo, horseradish, honey, and seasoned salt until blended; set aside.

Preheat large saute pan on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.  Place oil in pan, then add shrimp; sprinkle with flour.  Cook and stir 2-3 minutes or until shrimp just being to turn pink.

Stir in orange juice mixture; reduce heat to medium.  Simmer and stir 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque and sauce thickens.  Serve.

Recipe Source: Publix.com/aprons

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Oven Herb Potatoes


Talk about quick and easy!  This recipe calls for those pre-packaged potatoes found (at least in our supermarkets) at the end of the meat aisle, between the bacon and eggs.  This is the first time I've ever used them, and only because they were half-priced, costing me just $1.25 for the bag.  I had everything else on hand so this was an economical and very complimentary side dish for an Orange Shrimp I prepared (that recipe tomorrow).

This recipe calls for the zest from one orange.  It was a bit over-powering for me, so I think I'll start with the zest of just half an orange, and put the rest on the side and add it afterwards if I think it needs more.

OVEN HERB POTATOES (4 servings)

1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary (strip rosemary stalks and, using kitchen shears, get 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary)
Zest of one orange (1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper (or more to taste)
1 (20 oz) package refrigerated red potato wedges

Preheat oven to 400F.

Combine all ingredients (except potatoes) in medium bowl until blended.

Stir in potatoes until evenly coated, transfer to a two-quart baking dish.  Bake 30-35 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Serve.

Recipe Source: publix.com/aprons



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Smothered Chicken with Mushroom Gravy


This chicken is so good!!!!  And the gravy ain't bad itself!  I am so ready to make this again.  This will be a great summer meal since you don't need to turn on your oven, it's all cooked on the stovetop.  I'll definitely be doubling the gravy recipe....if you're a mushroom fan, you'll want to do the same.

SMOTHERED CHICKEN with MUSHROOM GRAVY (4 servings)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
S&P
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp butter
1 shallot, minced (or 1/4 cup finely minced yellow or white onion, I always use sweet)
8 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 Tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or beef broth
1/2 cup milk, half-and-half, or cream
S&P to taste
mashed potatoes, optional

Season both sides of the chicken with S&P.  Heat the olive oil in a 12" nonstick skillet over medium heat until rippling and hot.  Add the chicken and cook for about 4 minutes oneach side, until golden and cooked through.  Don't overcook or you'll have dry chicken (if you have a thermometer, cook until 165F).  Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the butter to the pan and melt over medium heat.  Stir in the shallot, mushrooms, salt, thyme, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and golden and the liquid has released and most of it has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushroom/onion mixture and stir while the mixture cooks for 1-2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the broth, adding just a bit at a time and whisking until thick then adding a bit more (this will help the flour to absorb into the liquid and not clump on the mushrooms).  Once all the broth has been added and the sauce is smooth, stir in the milk, and simmer the mixture for 5-7 minutes until it is thick and bubbly.  Add S&P to
taste.  Serve immediately over the reserved chicken.

This is wonderful served with mashed potatoes (try adding some freshly grated Parmesan for extra-wonderful potatoes!)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Oven-Fried Catfish with Homemade Tartar Sauce


I love this catfish.  And oven "fried."  As much as I love the fried stuff and do indulge every once in a while, this is a fantastic substitute that will give you as much satisfaction and flavor as the fried version.  And I love the homemade tartar sauce, it's the only recipe I use.  Plus you can add/subtract whatever ingredients you do or don't like.  I served this with My Favorite Coleslaw (see post 3-30-13) and Crunchy Onion Rings (see post 2-3-13).

OVEN-FRIED CATFISH (4 servings)

1 Tbsp reduced-calorie mayo
1 Tbsp low-fat sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup crushed corn flakes cereal
1 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
4 (4 oz) catfish fillets
Vegetable cooking spray

Combine mayo, sour cream, and lemon juice; stir well.  Combine cereal and next 4 ingredients.  Brush mayo mixture evenly over fillets; dredge in cereal mixture.

Place fillets on rack of a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.  Bake at 450F for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily when test with a fork.

Recipe Source: Cooking Light "Light and Easy Cookbook" 1997, p. 206

TARTAR SAUCE (makes 1 1/3 cups)

1 cup mayo (I use half regular, half reduced-fat)
1 hard-cooked egg, finely chopped
1 Tbsp chopped drained sweet pickle relish
1 Tbsp chopped drained capers
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 Tbsp finely chopped green olives (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp minced shallot or onion
Cayenne pepper or hot sauce, to taste, optional
S&P to taste
A little wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice, optional

Mix all ingredients.  Chill at least a couple of hours to let flavors meld.

NOTE:  You can replace the parsley with other herbs, such as tarragon or chives.

Recipe Source: Joy of Cooking Cookbook

Monday, April 22, 2013

Cilantro-Lime Rice


What a wonderfully different side dish for a Mexican or Asian entree!  When I decided to try the Cilantro and Ginger Tilapia, I wanted to try something different to accompany it.  And what a perfect match!  And so very easy.  Keep this idea on hand if your looking for something different.

CILANTRO-LIME RICE (4 servings)

1 cup long-grain white rice
coarse salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
lime zest, optional
jack cheese, optional

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil.  Add rice and 1/4 tsp salt.  Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook until water is absorbed and rice is just tender, 16-18 minutes.

Meanwhile in a blender, continue cilantro, lime juice, oil, garlic, and 2 Tbsp water, blend until smooth.  Stir into cooked rice, and fluff with a fork.  If you want a zestier flavor, add the lime zest.  Add the cheese if you'd like.

Recipe Source:  Everyday Food, April 2008

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baked Tilapia with Ginger and Cilantro


Here's a great Asian-inspired fish that is full of flavor.  WOW!  And easy?  All you need to do to get a head start is to process the sauce ahead of time, then just pour the sauce over the fish, bake it, and it's on the table in about 10 minutes.  I served this with cilantro rice (recipe to follow tomorrow) and steamed carrots.  Once again, I cut the recipe in half since there are just two of us.

BAKED TILAPIA with GINGER and CILANTRO (4-6 servings)

4-6 tilapia fillets (about 2 pounds)
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
4 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup white wine or fish stock or chicken broth
2 tsp sesame oil
2/3 cup chopped cilantro
chopped green onions for garnish
extra cilantro for garnish

Preheat the oven to 475F.  Pat the tilapia fillets dry and season lightly with S&P on both sides.  Place the fish in a glass or ceramic baking dish.

Place the jalapenos, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, wine or stock, sesame oil, and cilantro in a blender or food processor.  Pulse or process until blended (I prefer this finely processed butyou can really leave it as coarse or as finely chopped as you like).  Pour the sauce over the fish.  Rub the sauce into the fish lightly.  Bake for 8-10 minutes until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through (it's ok if it is slightly gelatinous still).  Using a spatula, scoop the fish out of the pan and place on a plate or platter.  Drizzle some of the sauce over the top and serve immediately.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Angel Hair Pasta with Shrimp and Lemon Cream Sauce


This is just a fantastic combination of flavors.  Plus, it makes a beautiful presentation.  Having everything ready and at hand makes it a cinch to put on the table.  You will need to use whipping cream to avoid curdling when mixed and heated with the lemon juice.  I cut this recipe in half for the two of us, and there was plenty remaining for leftovers.  I served it with a Caesar salad and a whole-grain baguette (with goat butter, of course!)

ANGEL HAIR PASTA with SHRIMP and LEMON CREAM SAUCE (4 servings)

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chicken stock
3 Tbsp lemon juice
3/4 pound angel hair pasta
S&P
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (recipes called for 41/50, I used 51-60s)
1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped parsley
1/4 cup (loosely packed) chopped chives
Zest of a lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a smaller pot, heat the cream, chicken stock, and lemon juice to a low simmer.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the angel hair pasta to the boiling water.  Stir occasionally.

Add the shrimp to the simmering lemon cream sauce.  Stir well and add a pinch of S&P.  The shrimp should cook in about the same time as the angel hair pasta, about 4-5 minutes.

When the pasta is done, drain and put it in a large bowl.  Add the herbs to the simmering lemon cream sauce and let them cook for about 1 minute.  Pour the shrimp and lemon sauce into the pasta bowl and mix well.  Add the lemon zest and most of the Parmesan and mix again.  Divide into servings, and top with the remaining Parmesan.

NOTE:  If the resulting mixture seems too dry, just add a little water or cream.  If it seems too wet, don't worry....the pasta will absorb the sauce.

Recipe Source:  www.simplyrecipes.com

Friday, April 19, 2013

Remembering Oklahoma City, April 19th, 1995 9:02 a.m.


It is so hard for me to believe it has been 18 years since one second changed my life and the lives of countless others forever.  It might as well have been yesterday.  But just as with the recent tragedies in Boston and West, Texas, the goodness that is this country shines in the metal of its citizenry.  So many good and kind acts always follow these tragedies.  And while that is extraordinarily heartwarming, at the end of the day, you are still left without someone so near and dear to you.  Time doesn't heal all wounds, it just makes it a bit easier to get to the next day.

Please take a minute and view the Memorial website: www.oklahomacitynationalmemorial.org

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Food Find: Goat Butter


My dear friend and fellow Foodie, Donna, flies internationally with American Airlines.  While the rest of the crew go sight-seeing or shopping for clothes on layovers, Donna goes to the grocery stores and markets.  She has sent me some wonderful surprises from all over the world.

In my last package were two kinds of butter.  One is a butter containing coarse salt which she tells me is especially good on sweet summer corn (I have it in the freezer just waiting), and the other was a bar of Goat Butter.  I'd never heard of it, but why not?  Goat cheese and goat milk are readily available.  But after my first taste, I knew I had to get my hands on more.

If you are a fan of goat cheese, you have got to try this.  It has a very mild, subtle taste and you'll want to try it on something plain and simple.....bread, rice, potatoes.  You want to taste the butter, not the vehicle it is served on.  I've wakened in the middle of the night thinking "what can I put some goat butter on?!!!"

The first place I looked for this butter was on-line.  Yea!  I could find it here and have it shipped (not sure if it is ship-able during the summer due to the heat).  But then just for the heck of it, I thought I'd try a couple of our local natural markets and BINGO!!!!  The brand Donna sent to me is called "Helen's Farm."  I found that brand in Chattanooga at EarthFare (although it has been  "temporarily" unavailable for several months now).  But I did find this brand (Meyenberg) first at EarthFare (now discontinued there), but also at Greenwise on the North Shore.  I'm not in that part of town often so when I'm in the area I stock up and put it in the freezer.

I just took another bar out of the freezer and I have a whole-grain baguette looking for a home.  Sorry, folks, gotta go.  Things to do, butter to eat.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup


This is a really interesting blend of flavors.  It's a soup we made at a restaurant I worked at in Minnesota and was very popular with our customers.  The original recipe calls for using star anise, but you can use anise seeds if you prefer.  And while fresh basil is always best, you can use dried if that's all you have (especially in the winter when fresh is not in abundance like it is in the summertime).  This is one of the easiest soups I make, taking virtually minutes to put together and on the table.

You could certainly top this with some croutons and/or Parmesan cheese, but personally, I like the simplicity of the original recipe.

TOMATO BASIL SOUP (4-6 servings)

1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp butter
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (I prefer petite diced)
1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
1 cup beef broth
2 star anise, or 1 tsp anise seeds
2 Tbsp freshly chopped basil, or 2 tsp dried
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 dash hot sauce, optional

Saute onion in butter and then add garlic.  Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer until hot.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chopped Shrimp Waldorf Salad


I had about a dozen large (21-25) leftover cooked shrimped and was wondering what to do with them.  I did a search for a "Chopped Shrimp Salad."  I came up with this Shrimp Waldorf Salad.  It's a great recipe and easy to put together.  Since summertime is approaching, this is one recipe to keep on your radar, especially when you have leftover cooked shrimp.  Keep your kitchen cool and serve a wonderful dinner on a warm summer evening.

CHOPPED SHRIMP WALDORF SALAD (Serves 2)

1/2 pound (about a dozen) large shrimp, cooked
1/4 cup mayo
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
S&P to taste
1/2 Fuji (or your choice) apple, diced
1 cup or so of red seedless grapes, halved
1/2-3/4 cups diced or thinly sliced celery
slivered almonds, lightly toasted
1/2 Tbsp thinly sliced chives

Lettuce leaves or large, ripe avocados (pitted and halved) to serve salad in

In a small bowl, add mayo, lemon juice, tarragon, Dijon, and S&P.  Whisk together.  Add to the dressing the apples, grapes, celery, and almonds.  Garnish with chives.

Recipe Source: www.recipe.com

Monday, April 15, 2013

Kale, Butternut Squash, and Mushroom Miso Soup


If you enjoy Asian food, in this case Japanese, as much as I do, you're likely a friend of miso soup.  I've enjoyed this for years.  I get it everytime I go to a Japanese restaurant, and I remember staying at an Embassy Suite in Denver which had it in their breakfast line-up (they must have had a lot of Japanese guests).  I'd never heard of having it for breakfast, but this was probably the point I was completely hooked, realizing this is an all-day food.

But for the most part, I'd only had simple miso soup until I ran across this recipe.  Generally just some seawood wrap, green onions, and maybe some tofu.  But this recipe really bumps it up a notch.

I don't know a lot about miso, I haven't lived in cities which a large Japanese population.  When I have been able to locate miso, there is generally a choice of red or white.  I prefer the white.  Now the really nice thing about miso paste is that it will last for a long, long time (the miso in my frig is over a year old and still as good as day one......kept in an air-tight Lock-and-Lock container).

This is one food item packed with nutritious soy.  Enjoy it quickly any time of the day....with or without all the extra ingredients.

KALE, BUTTERNUT SQUASH, and MUSHROOM MISO SOUP (2 servings)

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup butternut squash, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp miso
1-2 green onions, sliced

Bring the broth, kale, and mushrooms to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and mix the miso into 1/2 cup of the broth from the pan and mix the mixture back into the pan.

Serve hot garnished with green onions.

Recipe Source:  www.closetcooking.com

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Rosemary Shrimp Scampi Skewers


For true shrimp lovers, is there anything better than a simple grilled shrimp?   Simple ingredients allowing you to savor that incredible flavor that is shrimp.

Serve this with roasted red potatoes or a baked potato and a green salad or vegetable.

ROSEMARY SHRIMP SCAMPI SKEWERS (2 servings)

1 Tbsp dry white wine
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp EVOO
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic, minced
about 3/4 pound large shrimp (6-9 per serving, depending on size....I used 21/25 and 6 each were plenty for us)
about 6 (6") rosemary sprigs
cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a ziplock bag.  Add shrimp to bag; seal and shake to coat.  Marinate in frig for 30 minutes, turning bag occasionally.

Working with 1 rosemary sprig at a time, hold leafy end of sprig in 1 hand.  Strip leaves off sprig with other hand, leaving 1/2" of leaves attached to leafy end of sprig.  Repeat procedure with remaining rosemary sprigs to make 6 rosemary skewers.  Thread 3 shrimp onto each rosemary skewer.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat both sides of shrimp skewers with cooking spray.  Arrange 3 skewers on pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done.  Remove from pan; keep warm.  Repeat procedure with remaining skewers (using our large George Foreman standing grill....all of my skewers fit at the same time).

Recipe Source: www.myrecipes.com

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chinese Chicken Salad


This is one of my earliest recipes as I began my love of cooking.  While living in California many years ago, there was a little Asian restaurant I used to go to for lunch.  I always order the same thing once I discovered it.  It's amazing how delicious a salad with so few ingredients can be.

A few notes:  First, I usually cook the noodles on the stove in a tall stockpot.  But last night I decided to use my Fry Daddy on the back porch.  I don't think the oil got hot enough because the noodles didn't puff up like like they should.  Secondly, the photo isn't quite right.  I didn't realize until after I took the picture that I had left the lettuce out....ooops!

Make the dressing ahead of time and then you can put this meal together in minutes.

CHINESE CHICKEN SALAD (2-3 servings)

Salad:
3 oz rice sticks
1/4 head (or more) iceberg lettuce, shredded
6 oz chopped or shredded cooked chicken
3-4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Vegetable oil for frying

Dressing:
1/2 tsp dry mustard
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp minced ginger

For the salad:
Pour oil into pan about 3" deep.  Heat to 375-400F.  Bread noodles into small portions, about 3" long.  Dip a portion into the hot oil, it will puff in a few seconds.  Turn noodles to cook evenly (noodles should puff up 3-4 times their original diameter).  Remove as soon as they stop crackling and place on paper towel to drain.

Shred lettuce into salad bowl.  Add chicken, peanuts,  green onions, and noodles.  Pour dressing over mixture and mix gently.

For the dressing:
Whisk ingredients together.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Santa Fe Tilapia


Some time ago, Jim and I ate at Logan's Roadhouse.  As usual, I ended up liking what he ordered better than my own choice.  This tilapia was so very good.  I immediately came home to look up copycat recipes but couldn't find it.  So I improvised and looked up several cilantro-chipotle sauce recipes and found this oh-so-close substitute.

There really isn't a recipe to the fish itself, just the sauce.  Logan's menu says the fish is "slightly spicy, grilled, and served with a roasted corn and black bean salsa and a cilantro-chipotle sauce."  Since we don't have that wonderful summer corn yet to roast, I simply used a can of Green Giant Steam Crisp "Southwestern-Style Corn" (this 11 oz can has corn, onions, black beans, and red bell peppers.)  I add some diced green chilies to it, you could substitute jalapeno if you like it spicier.

For the fish, I sprayed it with a cooking spray and then sprinkled a southwest seasoning blend (I use Durkee's "Ethnic Creations, Ancho Chile") then grilled it.  I spread the sauce on top and then covered it with the salsa mixture.  Top with tortilla strips (I found multi-colored strips in the produce department of my local Bi-Lo grocery store).  Garnish with lime wedges.

A note on the sauce.  I quartered the recipe and there was plenty for the fish and a side salad.  Jim and I are becoming more sensitive to very spicy food, so I only put in less than half of the chipotle and sauce my quartered recipe called for.  It was still pretty spicy for us.  Next time (yes, there will definitely be a next time!) I will just use the adobo sauce, that adds plenty of flavor without adding the chipotle.

SANTA FE TILAPIA

Fish:
one 4-6 oz tilapia fillet per person
roasted corn
black beans
jalapeno or green chilies
tortilla strips
Southwestern or Creole seasoning

Cilantro-Chipotle Dressing:
4 tsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp powdered sugar
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 chipotle chile in adobo
1/2 tsp adobo sauce (from the canned chilies)
1 cup mayo

Add all ingredients, except the mayo, to a blender or food processor.  Blend on low speed, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until blended.  Add mayo.  Blend on low speed stirring occasionally until mixture is smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. 

Serve immediately or refrigerate until served.

Sauce Recipe Source: www.food.com

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Thai-Style Chicken and Quinoa Salad


How I love running across new ideas for quinoa!!!  Especially when it's an entree, not just a side dish.  And I really finding an Asian-inspired dish.  And I do loves me edamame!  Then add the crunchiness of the carrots, peppers, and peanuts....ooh la la.

While this calls for chicken (grilled or a good rotisserie chicken would be wonderful), I think I'll try it again but using shrimp instead.  I served this with whole green beans and a whole-grain baguette making this an incredibly healthy dinner (not to mention delicious).

THAI-STYLE CHICKEN and QUINOA SALAD (Serves 6)

Salad:
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
2 cups cooked chicken
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro (I threw this directly into the quinoa after it finished cooking to allow the heat to alleviate that soap taste that those us of with the "Cilantro-Soap Gene" have.  In the meantime, I chopped the vegetables)
S&P to taste

Sauce:
4 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp canned coconut milk
1 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
2 tsp creamy peanut butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1 lime juiced, about 2 Tbsp
Pinch of ground ginger

Prepare quinoa according to package directions (about 1 cup quinoa to 1 1/2 cups liquid).  I like using chicken broth (or shrimp stock if using shrimp instead of chicken).  I cook on medium-low with pot partially covered for about 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a liquid measure and whisk to combine (or pulse in a blender).  When the quinoa finishes cooking, scoop it into a large bowl.  Stir in the sauce and mix well.  Stir in the chicken, carrots, edamame, red pepper, green onions, peanuts, and cilantro.  Add S&P to taste.  Serve warm, room temp, or chilled.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Turkey, Ham, and Swiss Casserole



OK.....here is one delicious recipe for more leftovers: turkey and ham.  But then, why wouldn't it be delicious, a Swiss cheese cream sauce filled with pasta and fresh and frozen vegetables?  Any leftovers freeze easily and just serve this with some green vegetables or a salad.  Fast, easy, and honestly.....simply delicious.

TURKEY, HAM, and SWISS CASSEROLE (Serves 6-8)

8 oz mini fusilli or farfelle pasta, macaroni, or other pasta shape
3 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced ham
3 Tbsp flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp dried leaf marjoram or thyme
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups diced turkey
1 cup frozen peas and carrots (or frozen veges: peas, carrots, corn, green beans), optional
1 cup soft bread crumbs (I used Panko, of course)
1 Tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 2 quart baking dish.  Cook pasta in boiling salted water following package directions.  Drain and rinse, set aside.

Heat butter in a large skillet and saute the onion and celery over medium-low heat until softened.  Add ham and stir in the flour until well combined.  Gradually stir in the milk until thickened.  Add marjoram (or thyme), S&P.  Stir in the cheese, turkey, and frozen vegetables, if using.  Add the cooked pasta and blend thoroughly.  Spoon the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  

Combine bread crumbs and 1 Tbsp melted butter; sprinkle over the top of the casserole.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until bubbly and topping is browned.



Sunday, April 7, 2013

Red Beans and Rice with Andouille Sausage


I would bet you that every true Louisianan (is that the right word?) has a different recipe for Red Beans and Rice, the traditional Monday meal (it was, after all, laundry day).  In fact today, many restaurants in Louisiana only serve RB&W on Mondays.  I know that I have never made it the same way twice.  

This is an effort to comingle several recipes and it is a wonderful one-dish meal.  Serve with with white rice, or brown rice for a whole-grain dish.  I serve it with cole slaw (see 3-30-13 post).

NOTE:  Prepare a day ahead.....these beans need to soak overnight.

RED BEANS and RICE with ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE (Serves 4)

1/2 pound dried red beans
2 oz salt pork, diced
1/2 pound smoked pork hocks
1/2 pound andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-rounds
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 large stalk of celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, cored and diced
1/2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
Hot sauce, to taste
S&P to taste
2 cups cooked (hot) long grain white rice
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 scallion, thinly sliced

Fill a large pot or bowl with water, then add the beans.  Stir, then cover and set aside to soak overnight.

When ready to cook, drain the beans and set aside.

In a large, deep pot with a heavy bottom, such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat, brown the salt pork until crispy, about 12 minutes.  Add the pork hocks, sausage, onion, garlic, celery, bell peppers, and Cajun seasoning.  Cook until starting to brown, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the bay leave(s), thyme, stock, and the drained beans.  Simmer over medium heat and cook, uncovered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.  If the mixture gets too dry, add water a small amount at a time.  Season with hot sauce, S&P.

In a medium bowl, stir together the rice, parsley, and scallions.  Serve with the red beans.

Recipe Source:  The Chattanooga Free-Times Press (3-13-13), The Associated Press (Alison Ladman)


Friday, April 5, 2013

Roasted Broccoli and Cheddar Soup


I am a big fan of broccoli soup, unfortunately Jim isn't.  But every once in a while, I make something just for me.  Imagine my surprise when he announced that this was a good one!

I had never roasted broccoli for soup before and let me tell you.......it makes quite a difference!!!!   There is such a depth of flavor in this soup.  Be careful, though.  The recipe calls to roast the broccoli for 20-30 minutes, start keeping an eye out at 15 minutes.  My oven is at the proper temperature (I keep an oven thermometer inside to ensure the oven is working correctly), and at 20 minutes it got a little darker than I had hoped for.  But this soup still came out wonderfully!

BROCCOLI AND CHEDDAR SOUP (4 servings)

1 large bunch broccoli, cut into florets (I also use the stalks, trimmed, peeled, and diced)
2 Tbsp oil, divided
S&P to taste
1 medium onion, diced
2 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups cheddar, shredded
1 cup milk or cream
1 Tbs grainy mustard (optional)

Toss the broccoli florets in 1 Tbsp oil along with the S&P and arrange them in a single layer on a large baking sheet.

Roast the broccoli in a preheated 400F oven until lightly golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant, about one minute.

Add the broth and broccoli, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.

Puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency with a stick blender or a blender. Mix in the cheese, let it melt and season with S&SP.  Mix in the milk or cream and remove from heat.

Recipe Source:  www.closetcooking.com

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Quinoa and Farro Pilaf


Quinoa and farro.  My two favorite grains.  A marriage made in heaven!  What can I say?... taste....texture....health.  You get the advantages of all of these.  

Try this instead of the standard rice or potatoes for an incredible side dish.  I can't say much more about this.  It is a jewel and I hope you try it, for all the reasons listed above.

QUINOA and FARRO PILAF (4-6 side servings)

1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup farro
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 cup kale, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2-1 cup chopped butternut squash (baked or microwaved)
1/4 cup dried cherries, craisins, or chopped dried apricots (I left this out)
1/4 cup toasted pistachios

Combine quinoa and farro in a pot with 2 cups of water and a boullion cube or chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until water is absorbed (maybe about 1/2 hour?)

Meanwhile, in a saute pan saute onion, kale, garlic, and squash.

Add cooking grains to onion mixture then add fruit (if using) and pistachios.

Recipe Source:  David Venable's (QVC) blog (submitted by kimmdrop 1-16-13 @ 10:46 p.m., Post #64 under "Quinoa")

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nut-Crusted Tilapia


This is a fabulous, easy entree.  And versatile.  Although it calls for tilapia, you can also use swai or any flaky, mild white fish.  The original recipe calls for pine nuts, but I used pumpkin seeds.  Or try pecans or pistachios.  I served it with a wonderful Quinoa and Farro Pilaf (yummmm!!!! will post tomorrow) and steamed asparagus.

NUT-CRUSTED TILAPIA (Serves 2)

1/4 cup nuts of choice, ground
2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp (dash) dried dill weed, plus more for sprinkling.
1/8 tsp (dash) lemon-pepper seasoning
1/16 tsp (pinch) garlic salt
1/2 scrambled egg, or 2 Tbsp egg substitute
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp honey
2 (4-6 oz) tilapia fillets
1 Tbsp butter
lemon wedges for garnish, optional
chopped chives for garnish, optional

In a shallow bowl, combine the nuts, flour, dill, lemon-pepper, and garlic salt.  In another shallow bowl, combine the egg, lemon juice, and honey.

Dip the fish in the egg mixture, then coat with the nut mixture.

In a nonstick skillet, cook fish in butter over medium heat for 4-6 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Sprinkle with dill, garnish with chives and lemon wedge.

Recipe Source: www.food.com (posted by mama smurf on 3-27-08)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Good Shepherd's Pie


I was a vegetarian for many years and this was a mainstay of my diet.  It is just wonderful and a great home for leftovers.  The original recipe comes from one of my first vegetarian  cookbooks, The New Laurel's Kitchen by Laurel Robertson, published in 1986.  Through the years I have tweaked the recipe a bit to fit my tastes.  A great thing about this recipe is that you can add/delete what you like, or use those leftovers that are looking for a home.

GOOD SHEPHERD'S PIE (serves 4)

leftover mashed potatoes (or I had to make some...for this size I used 2 medium russet potatoes, cream cheese, butter, milk)
1/2 onion, chopped big
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp EVOO or vegetable oil
1/2 pound broccoli (florets and trimmed stalks, chopped)
1/2 green pepper, diced
2-3 medium carrots, diced
1 small/medium zucchini, chopped
1 small/medium yellow squash, chopped
1/2 tsp dried basil, or fresh chopped basil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh tomatoes, 1/4 cup tomato paste, or half can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 bag of fresh spinach or Swiss chard
S&P to taste
paprika, smoked paprika, or turmeric

Preheat oven to 350F.

Saute onion and garlic in oil.  Add broccoli, green pepper, carrots, and bay leaf.  About half way through the cooking time, add the zucchini and squash.  When vegetables are tender, add basil and thyme.  Stir well and add tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes making sure the vegetables are tender.  Stir in spinach and S&P.

Put vegetables in an 8x8 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Spread mashed potatoes over the top and shake paprika or turmeric over all.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the potatoes are piping hot.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Brazilian Shrimp Soup


This is a close cousin of a Louisiana gumbo, less the okra, plus the coconut milk.  A tomato-soup which makes a meal in itself.  It's easy to make and easy to alter: substitute chicken if (gulp!) you don't care for shrimp.  Serve it with a great baguette and a salad, if you'd like.

BRAZILIAN SHRIMP SOUP (4-6 servings)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 3/4 cups canned crushed tomatoes (a 15 oz can....I can't find 15 oz....only 28 oz...so I freeze the other half)
5 cups water
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, shelled and cut in half horizontally (or 1 pound of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut crosswise into 1/4" strips.  Cook for the same amount of time)
1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat.  Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 10 minutes.

Add the rice, red-pepper flakes, salt, tomatoes, and water to the pot.  Bring to a boil and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 10 minutes.

Stir the coconut milk into the soup.  Bring back to a simmer and then stir in the shrimp.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just done, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the black pepper, lemon juice, and parsley.

Recipe Source:  Food and Wine Magazine