Thursday, January 29, 2009

Indian Spiced Cauliflower

I made this as a side for our Curried Green Pea Soup last night. Perfect partner to the soup.
I found the recipe on yet another I've gleaned cauli recipes from before, since she seems to be as big a fan as I am. I've made this several times as she posted it, but this round just didn't have the time to roast it in the oven when I realized that's where it needed to go. It's supposed to be tossed in the olive oil and spice mixture and roasted at 450 for 30 minutes. By all means you can do that, or just....

Indian Spiced Cauliflower:
(adapted from Seasonal Ontario Food)

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole coriander
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sea salt (I used chunky grey salt crystals)
~1/2 head cauliflower; ~4 cups, cut into smallish florettes, or slices (1/2" thick if roasting)
~1/2 Tbs olive oil
~1/2 Tbs butter

Steam cauliflower until it's just barely tender, then set aside.
Add whole spices and salt to a spice grinder (I have a dedicated cheap coffee grinder for this) and whiz til ground, but still a little chunky.
Melt butter with olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
When pan is hot, add cauliflower, then sprinkle it with all of your spice mix.
Toss til cauliflower is coated in spice and then saute until it turns a nice golden brown in places on all sides, and the cauli is tender.

I personally liked this method better than roasting. The cauliflower was more uniformly cooked through without any burned, or undercooked bits.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

French Onion Salisbury Steak

There is a wee steak under all those onions in the above picture...really.

Finally got around to making this and we just happen to have the perfect night for it. Getting down to freezing and this will be perfect comfort food to go with our recorded episode of Battlestar Galactica! ;-) I was going to serve the Salisbury steaks with a spinach salad, but happened upon a huge, ever so reasonably priced package of monster asparageese at Costco today. Steamed 'em then drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette.

French Onion Salisbury Steak:
(Cuisine at Home magazine)

1 1/4 lb ground chuck (I used 96% lean...probably too lean for this dish)
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
2 Tbs. minced green onions
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbs all-purpose flour (I used brown rice flour and ended up having to add some cornstarch to thicken the sauce more.)

1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups sliced onion
1 tsp. sugar (agave nectar)
1 Tbs. minced garlic
1 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups beef stock (Kitchen Basics)
1/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
optional: splash of balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce

Combine chuck, 1/4 cup parsley, green onion, salt and pepper.
Divide evenly into 4 portions and shape each into 3/4-1 inch thick oval patties.
Place 2 Tbs flour into a shallow dish; dredge each patty in flour. Reserve 1 tsp flour.
Heat oil in a saute pan over med-high heat. Add patties and saute 3 min. on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan.
Add onion and sugar (agave nectar) to pan; saute 5 min.
Stir in garlic and tomato paste; saute 1 min. or until paste begins to brown.
Sprinkle mixture with reserved flour, cook 1 minute.
Stir in broth and wine, then add salt and thyme.
Return meat to pan; bring sauce to a boil.
Reduce heat to med-low, cover and simmer 10 minutes.
After tasting the sauce, I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to add a little more depth. And a wee splash of Worcestershire sauce too...just the very tail end of the bottle.

Serve over mashed potatoes or some other goodness that'll soak up the sauce.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Orange-Glazed Salmon

I wasn't entirely sold that I'd like this recipe, never having been a fan of marmalade (sorry Paddington). But, it just looked too pretty in the magazine photo not to make it. To be sure, the marmalade was a little bitter, but that's just the way it is right? That said, I'm totally going to make it again. Specially seeing as we've now got a jar of marmalade to use up, and it sure as heck isn't going on my toast! The Monster is a hard sell on making salmon any way other than baked with salt and pepper and he DID like this if that means anything to you.

I'll type this up as the recipe was written, but I broiled the salmon instead of sauteing it. House is a lot less stinky the next day! :-) Plus you don't need as much oil. When the salmon is finished broiling add it to the skillet that you've heated your marmalade and lime juice in. We just had 12 oz total of salmon for the two of us, so I halved the spice mix, but I made the full amount of sauce. Served over brown rice cooked in veggie broth with green beans, twas very nice.

Orange-Glazed Salmon:
(Cuisine at Home magazine)

3 Tbs Cajun Spice (I used a salt-free blackening spice. I lightly oiled, then salted the fillets before putting it on.)
1 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 boneless, skinless salmon fillets (6oz. each)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1/4 cup Seville orange marmalade (I didn't buy it because the first ingredient was high-fructose corn Used Bonne Maman brand marmalade and just doubled the lime juice called for)
1 Tbs. lime juice (used 2)

Combine Cajun spice, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Rub over all surfaces of fillets. Saute fillets in oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat for 3-4 min.
Turn and saute and additional 2-3 minutes.

Blend marmalade and lime; swirl in pan until melted (I also added a pat of butter to the sauce since my pan didn't have any oil in it from sauteing the fish). Carefully turn fish to glaze on all sides. The salmon is done when it begins to flake when tested with a fork.
Serve with lime wedges.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Curried Chickpea Salad

Back in October of last year, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen blogged about two chickpea salad recipes she developed and I made the first Creamy Chickpea Salad right away. That one first because she said it was her favorite. It was great...I made it twice in one week. :-) Now I'm finally getting around to trying out her second recipe from that October post.

We had this for dinner in lieu of a decidedly non-veg dinner I'd planned of Salisbury steak with mashers. Making up for our gluttony at Aster's Ethiopian restaurant the night before. Man, that's some seriously good finger food! And I asked them what they make their injera from...only teff, buckwheat flour and yeast! No wheat flour/gluten thank you very much. I've bemoaned the fact that some Ethiopian places I've eaten at use wheat in their injera and it just ain't right. Specially when you're trying to take your gluten-intolerant friend out for a nice dinner! :-)

Ok, that was quite the deviation from the topic at hand.
Obviously, use whatever good quality mayo you like if you're not a vegan.
We just happened to have some vegan canola mayo. If you're looking to cut calories in the mayo dept, don't buy that regular mayo "lite"'s got tons of other stuff you wouldn't want in your bod. Spectrum Light Canola Mayo is a great alternative. 35 cals per Tbs. compared to 90-100 cals per Tbs. in regular mayo.

Curried Chickpea Salad:
(Adapted from FatFreeVegan Kitchen)

1/2 medium onion, minced
1/2 bell pepper, minced
1/2 hot chile pepper, seeded and minced (optional, but I used a serrano seeds and all)
1 teaspoon good mild curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used one whole can)
1/4 cup okara or silken tofu, mashed well (I used lite silken firm tofu and used more than 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (used more)
1 tablespoon Nayonaise or other vegan mayo (I used 2 Tbs.)
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
generous grating black pepper
to the original recipe I added ~2 Tbs diced celery, a handful of golden raisins; minced, a squirt of agave nectar, and topped each serving with roasted cashews.

Add a small amount of olive oil to a small saucepan and sauté onion over medium-high heat until it softens, about 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper and hot pepper, if using, and cook another minute. Add curry powder and cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Mash chickpeas with the tofu in a medium-sized bowl. Add the onion mixture and all remaining ingredients. Stir well and check for seasoning. If necessary add a little more curry powder, salt, or lemon juice. Refrigerate until chilled.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette and Chicken with Lime Sauce

In an effort to prevent any sudden outbreak of scurvy, we dosed ourselves heavily with lime juice last night. The acorn squash recipe was gleaned from a blog I read called traveler's lunchbox. Who in turn found it in Gourmet Magazine. Tasty way to prepare acorn squash and I don't know if we were supposed to, but we ate the skins right along with the squash (so make sure you wash them well). I halved the recipe, using only one squash, but made up almost the full amount of the vinaigrette (with less oil)...using the remainder on our salad.

The chicken is just sauteed up then finished with an easy pan sauce. A Cooking Light recipe that calls for using chicken breasts that have been pounded to 1/4" thickness, I used chicken tenders to cut that step out. I usually serve the chicken with cumin roasted potatoes and it's a great combo. Guess I'd better post about those sometime! I just looked at the comments on the chicken recipe at Cooking Light's site and found that people that weren't as into acidic sauces had a problem with the sauce, but others looooved it. So, judge for yourself. Me and tart are good friends...

Roasted Acorn Squash with Chile-Lime Vinaigrette:
(found on travelerslunchbox's blog...Source: adapted from Gourmet, October 2006)

2 large (1 1/2-1 3/4-lb/650-800g) acorn squash
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (90ml) olive oil (probably used less)
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1-2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh hot red chile, including seeds (I used a serrano pepper)
small handful chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the oven to 400F/200C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Halve each squash lengthwise, then cut off and discard stem ends. Scrape out the seeds and cut the squash lengthwise into 3/4-inch-wide wedges. Toss the squash with black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons (30ml) oil in a bowl, then arrange, cut sides down, on the baking sheets. Roast the squash, switching the position of pans halfway through roasting, until squash is tender and undersides of wedges are golden brown, 30-40 minutes.

While the squash roasts, mash the garlic finely with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar (or side of your knife on your cutting board). Transfer the paste to a small bowl and whisk in lime juice, honey, chile (to taste), cilantro, and remaining oil until combined. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or lime juice as needed. Transfer squash, browned sides up, to a platter and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Chicken with Lime Sauce:
(Cooking Light)

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I can fit a whole package of tenders in one pan, but when I use pounded chicken breasts I have to cook only 2 at a time.)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon brown sugar, or sucanat
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon cornstarch (I usually use more, but forgot last night...a little thicker sauce is much nicer)
1 tablespoon butter

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap (or ziplock bag); pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove from pan; keep warm.

Add chicken broth, sugar, 2 tablespoons juice, and mustard to pan; cook over medium heat, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; stir well with a whisk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; cook 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly. Whisk in remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and butter, stirring until butter melts. Return chicken to pan; simmer 2 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly heated.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes and Basil

I don't know how I ended up with so much corny stuff on the menu in the last couple days. Last night corn bread and tonight polenta with even more corn? I try to vary what goes in our tums over the course of a week, but guess there must have been some craving I wasn't wholly (brain is so dying...I had to look up how to spell wholly!) conscious of when menu planning this week. This wonderful recipe was adapted from Cooking Light, but I used Bob's Red Mill medium grind cornmeal in place of the instant polenta they use. Link to the original recipe if you want to use the instant, but I tend to like a less pablum-like polenta, hence the whole-corn medium grind cornmeal sub.

Served this topped with broiled tilapia (lightly rub with a touch of olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with Italian seasoning, garlic powder, kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Broil on high for 5 minutes the first side, and then 3-5 min. on the second side), and yet another arugula salad, because we're elitists.

Two-Corn Polenta with Tomatoes, Basil, and Cheese:

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion (2 medium)
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup medium grind whole-corn cornmeal
1/2 cup (~1.5 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
kosher salt if needed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
chopped tomato
chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 350.
In a 3 qt. oven proof saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and saute onion for 8 minutes or until tender, adding garlic for the last minute.
Add chicken broth and corn and bring to a boil.
Slowly add cornmeal, whisking all the while to prevent lumps.
Cover and put in the oven for 40 minutes total, whisking every 10 minutes to prevent lumps.
When your polenta is done in the oven, slowly incorporate the grated cheese.
Add salt (if needed) and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle each serving with tomatoes and basil.

I cooked the polenta uncovered on the stovetop after taking it out of the oven, but before adding the cheese. Just for the duration of the fish broiling, stirring frequently.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bacon, Onion, and Brown Lentil Skillet with Corn Bread and Braised Collards

Total comfort food...mmmmm. So full...can't type...

Make this. Eat this. Good.

Bacon, Onion and Lentil Skillet:
(Cooking Light)

6 center-cut bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dried brown lentils
1 cup water
~3/4 tsp kosher salt (original recipe doesn't call for any salt)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside.
Add onion to drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
Add carrot, celery, thyme, and garlic; cook for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Add broth, lentils, and 1 cup water and kosher salt; bring to boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until lentils are just tender.
Uncover and increase heat to medium-high; cook 6 minutes (I had to cook for at least 10-15 more minutes than called for) or until liquid almost evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and pepper. Sprinkle with bacon.

I wanted to make a wheat-free cornbread tonight and this one is pretty chewy dense, but still very tasty. I'll make it again but in a muffin tin next time, as the center took way too long to set up. They'll also freeze nicely in muffin form. If an all cornmeal cornbread isn't for you, just mix up a batch of whatever recipe makes your particular toes wiggle with the goodness. :-)

Bob's Red Mill Basic Cornbread:

1 1/2 cups Buttermilk
1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tb Sugar (I used agave nectar)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
About 2 cups Cornmeal, Medium Grind (Bob's is really nice...they grind the whole kernel so you get the germ and bran)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8" square baking pan, set aside.

Combine buttermilk, baking soda, salt, sugar and egg. Add cornmeal until batter reaches the consistency of cake batter. Spoon into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes (I cooked it much longer...)or till golden.

Organic collard greens made the perfect veggie side to go with our plates of comfort. Just used my standard braised greens recipe, with some good dashes of Tabasco (no balsamic) and then cooked for ~15 minutes.

Silk Critter Ornies!

"What's Cookin" doesn't necessarily have to refer to food does it? Because I thought I'd share a fun project for any of you that might be inclined to immortalize your sweet critters in an ornament.
A couple years in a row I made Christmas ornaments for family and friends...this was to be the 3rd year's design. Alas, only a few people sent me photos of their babies and I lost interest. I did manage make some great ones of all our kids though and also a few for family.
Sadly, a dear friend's Chloe-pooch passed away this past year and I found myself making her memorial ornament recently. Thought I'd document the steps in photos and share.

The photograph is printed on specialty silk paper (silk adhered to 8 1/2 x 11 paper) that feeds right into your printer. Just peel the paper off the silk after you've printed and you're ready to go for any number of projects. I printed several different sizes on the same page not wanting to waste the rest of the paper and not being sure which size I'd want, but you can really get up to 4 different photos on one page if you're feeling ambitious.

After you've printed the image and removed the backing paper, cut a piece of fusable webbing to about 1/4 inch smaller than the piece of fabric. Place the rough side of the webbing face down on the back side of your silk image. Place damp towel over the webbing paper and press using an iron on the "wool" setting for about 10 seconds.

Peel paper backing from webbing and trim around the pet's face.

Place pet's trimmed face on a square of muslin or other white/light colored cotton fabric.
Now press with the iron again, image side down so that you're iron is only touching the muslin, for another 5 seconds or so...until the muslin has adhered to the image.

Holding the fabric up to a window, on the wrong side of the fabric, draw an outline of the pet's face ~1/4" from the edge of the image so that there will be 1/4 " of the muslin showing once you've sewn the face to the backing fabric. I used a fur-coordinating marker and it bled through.

This is to help minimize the distortion of the image when stuffed. I forgot all about this step when I attempted to make this ornie intially since it had been at least 2 years since I'd made these. Here's the dog beak that resulted. ;-)

Select a fabric that will coordinate with the animals fur if you want, or just any nice complementary fabric. Preferably one without too much give. I tend to use dupioni silk most often, since it's a nice weight and comes in a lots of gorgeous colors.

Cut this into a square to match the size of the muslin. Face right sides together. (Note that these pix were taken of the first failed attempt...make sure you leave a 1/4" edge of muslin before the seam in yours.)
Select your hangdoodle ribbon (Erin-speak for ornament hanger) and make sure you pin the loop of the ribbon to the inside of the ornie! You don't want your hangdoodle on the inside of the ornament once you've turned it inside out. :-) I've made this goofy mistake several times.

Pin the fabrics together now that you've gotten your hangdoodle placed and now you're ready to sew.
You'll be sewing along the outline you traced on the back of the muslin. Use fairly small stitches and leave the opening at the bottom of the neck. Now time to trim the excess fabric off. Make sure to trim close enough that you won't have a bunch of seam fabric inside the detailed ears, etc., but not so close that'll the ornie will spring a stuffing leak.

Once done sewing/trimming, unpin and turn your little guy right side out (use a pencil for ears, etc.) and press flat with a warm iron.
And, you have a whole stash of wonderful markers left over from design school right?? You can finally put them back into use coloring in the muslin edge if you wish. :-)
Stuff with polyfill fiber and sew the bottom closed. It doesn't matter what that bottom seam looks like since it will be hidden by the collar ribbon.

Now comes the fun part. Decorate your sweet critter with beautiful wired ribbon for the collar (I just pleat and affix with a low-melt hot glue gun). Add any other details you can spend WAY too much time and money in a craft store finding goodies for this part.
And done! You'll have a wonderful representation of your furry kids for years to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Smothered Tofu Steak and Onions

I found a teaser Cuisine magazine in our mailbox the other day and in it a recipe for Salisbury most favoritest of tv dinners as a kid! Probably because I rarely got tv dinners. I was a true granola girl who's favorite snack was straight vinegar scooped up in lettuce leaves til my lips were white (pretty sure my innards have been preserved for life).
The recipe I found did not come in a frozen lump made with untold icky things in it. Nor did it call for cans of condensed soup, or anything else I couldn't easily sub out (sugar becomes agave nectar). Then, in the same day, I came across this vegan recipe that looked vaguely similar to the aforementioned steak recipe. I figured I'd better give this one a go first, or I'd make the steak and never look back! That said, I did not make this vegan...or even vegetarian for that matter. I used organic chicken broth in the sauce since I had a quart of it open in the fridge. The original recipe calls for water, so just use that if you be veggie....oh and vegetarian Worchestershire sauce too I spose, since regular has wee little fishies in it. :-)

Making this last night I came to a startling realization...I'm NOT going to stop using the Lee & Perrins Worschestershire sauce, even though it's got high-fructose corn syrup in it. Painful though it is to finally admit that to myself. Last night I mixed up the balsamic and my organic non-L&P worchestershire sauce, had the forsight to taste it....bluck! So THAT'S why I've not being liking stuff that's called for Worchestershire sauce lately!! I've been using the organic one with no HFCS and it is so not the same. So bring on the HFCS I say...guess I'll have to make an exception in this one case. Somethin' else'll surely kill us before a Tbs here and there of Worchestershire sauce....

I improvised with amounts for the sauce, since several people said they'd double the sauce next time they made it. Same amount of onion, just added more vinegar, Worchestershire, broth/water, and cornstarch. I thought the sauce was really tasty (especially over the mashed potatoes), but the tofu needed some extra love. Not sure what I'd do to it next time. Maybe garlic powder and thyme, or marinating the tofu in something first?

Smothered Tofu Steak and Onions:

Ingredients (use vegan versions if that's your preference):

1 package extra firm tofu
2 tablespoon olive oil (divided)
1 lg. onion, sliced root to stem
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth or water
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup extra chicken broth or water
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Slice Tofu into 6 even cutlets about 1/2 inch thick. Place on paper towel to drain. I press as much water out as possible by weighting it down with pans, cutting boards, etc., so that they're able to get crispy when pan-fried.
Heat non-stick pan. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add onions when oil is hot. Sauté onions until golden brown and caramelized (about 10+ min.) remove onions, set aside.
Salt and pepper tofu steaks on both sides.
Add other tablespoon of oil to pan. Add tofu and fry until golden brown on both sides (about 8-10 min.)
Add onions back to pan. Add balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and stir.
When all combined add slurry of 1/2 cup broth/water and cornstarch to pan. Stir until thick. Add water to thin out if too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Plate atop a nice pile of mashed taters and a side of veggies...braised kale with garlic in our case.

Serves: 2-3
Next week...the Salisbury steak! ;-)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Baked Salmon over Herbed Mashed Peas

It sure seems like I would have posted about this one in the past year or so, but upon scanning the archives I see that I didn't! Hm...well, the peas are just too yummy not to post now. The original recipe is from Cooking Light and calls for pan-frying the salmon. A stinky method that we do not practice in the Ponder/Butler house. Baking is so much easier, so into the oven it goes at high heat on a foil-lined sheet for only about 10 minutes. Done. No pan to clean either.
The other change I made from the original recipe is using regular ol' onions in lieu of the pricier leeks. It's what I had on hand and since I had to buy the fresh herbs already, I wasn't up for a 10 dollar side of peas. By all means use the leek if you'd like, just sub a cup of leek for the onion.
Oh another thing...the recipe calls for a 10 oz bag of peas, I had a 16 oz. bag, so just adjust up with the herbs etc. if you find yourself in the same position. FYI, more of these peas is a good thing.

Fennel is a nice complement to the tarragon in the peas, so I made a composed salad of thinly sliced fennel bulb, orange slices and avocado on a bed of bibb lettuce leaves. Since I had plenty of tarragon left from the peas, I made a dressing of canola, stone ground mustard, lemon juice, tarragon, s & p and a dash of agave nectar.

Baked Salmon over Herbed Mashed Peas:
(Cooking Light)

1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp butter
1 10 oz bag of frozen petite green peas (calls for thawed, but I just throw in frozen and cook a little longer)
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
1 Tbs chiffonade of fresh basil
2 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt (+more for salmon)
1/4 tsp pepper (+more for salmon)
~1 lb Wild Alaskan salmon
olive oil

Preheat oven to 450.
Saute onion in butter on medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.
Add peas and broth/water and cook another 5 (if thawed) minutes, or until peas are soft.
Whiz pea mixture, herbs and lemon juice in a food processor until smooth.
Stir in 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper.
Set aside until fish is done.

Place salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet and lightly coat with olive oil.
Salt and pepper generously, then bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Plate salmon atop a bed of mashed peas and serve with a lemon wedge...or topped with a drib of your salad dressing like I did. :-)

Thursday, January 8, 2009



Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Melt-in-your-mouth Braised and Barbequed Chicken

Another Southern Living Cook-Off recipe found it's way to our table last night. This one garnered an $11,000 prize and amazingly didn't include condensed mushroom soup, Kraft Italian dressing or any other nasty unsubbable ingredients. :-) Hard to find in a middle America cookbook, seemingly.
The only change I made to this one was in using agave nectar in lieu of brown sugar. And using brown rice instead of boil-in-bag white rice. A decent recipe that's easy to make...I did like last night's (that didn't win any cash prize) better though. :-)
Served this with steamed broccoli.

Melt-in-your-mouth Braised and Barbequed Chicken:
(adapted from Carol Dagger's recipe in Southern Living Cook-Off)

2 Tbs canola oil
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 lbs)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 Tbs cornstarch, or a little less arrowroot
1/3 cup soy sauce
-1/4 cup agave nectar (called for 1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed)
2 Tbs minced fresh ginger
3 Tbs cider vinegar
3 Tbs ketchup (look for organic ketchup since it won't have HFCS in it, or make your own)
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped green onions

Start a pot of brown rice. I just use a rice cooker...the only way I manage to not screw up cooking brown rice!
Heat oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add chicken, and saute 6 minutes, turning once.
Combine fruit juices in a large bowl. Stir together cornstarch and 1 Tbs juice mixture until smooth; set aside.
Stir soy sauce and next 6 ingredients (thru garlic) into remaining juice mixture; pour over chicken.
Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 35 minutes, turning chicken after 20 minutes.
Uncover chicken and stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until sauce thickens.
Spoon rice onto platter; top with chicken and sauce. Sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Southwestern Fish over Quinoa

My dad gave me a Southern Living Cook-Off cookbook when he visited at Christmas and this is the first recipe I've made from it. It was really tasty and an easy to throw together weeknight meal given I didn't grill the fish as called for. Broiling is a no-fuss option that works great with tilapia. The original recipe calls for Mahi-mahi, but subbing tilapia is fine by us. The original recipe calls for boxed saffron rice, but I made a quinoa with garlic, diced poblano pepper, cumin and colored it with tumeric instead. Served with a spinach salad (with orange, jicama and cilantro) with a chili-lime dressing made for a nice complement to the fish.

Southwestern Fish over Quinoa:
(adapted from Catherine Chandler's recipe in Southern Living Cook-Off)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
just shy of 2 cups water
1-2 tsp olive oil
~1 tsp tumeric
1/2+ tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 diced and seeded poblano pepper, or jalapeno...or nix this, I just happened to have a poblano that needed to be used :-)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (called for a 19 oz can?? I only found the 15 or 28 so used a small can and adjusted the spices down)
1 can of Mexican style diced tomatoes including juices (or one with added chiles)
1 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
olive oil
4 good-sized tilapia filets (original calls for 4 6oz. mahimahi filets)
lime juice
jarred salsa (Rose's if you're in Austin!)
Greek yogurt

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan and saute garlic, diced peppers, spices and salt for about 1 min.
Add quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. Fluff and adjust salt. It was a little on the bland side, but there was a lot of flavor going on top so I wasn't too concerned.

while quinoa is cooking:
In another saucepan combine beans, tomatoes and the spices and simmer for about 10 minutes or until thickened.

When you've gotten the beans on:
Preheat broiler on high.
Combine salt, chili powder, cumin and coriander in a small bowl. Place fish on a foil-lined baking sheet and brush/rub the filets lightly with some olive oil. Sprinkle your spice mixture on both sides of the filets, then broil for 5 min first side, and about 2 more on the second side. Just until fish flakes with a fork.

Plate a mound of quinoa on each plate then top with bean mixture. Place a piece of fish atop the beans then squeeze lime juice over it. Top with salsa, Greek yogurt and a little cilantro if you choose.

The dressing for the salad was just lime juice, chili powder, a little agave nectar, kosher salt, a shake of Tabasco, and a little olive oil. Yum!