Archive for the 'cooking' Category

Asian Salmon

This recipe looked so easy, I had to try it! Plus, I already had all the ingredients on-hand! Yay!

Just mix all the ingredients, minus the panko…

Place 2 salmon fillets on a baking sheet and put the panko on top of it. Pour the dressing and soak the panko with it. I can’t believe that the recipe only called for one fillet…I used two…it would have been bathing in salty liquid otherwise…

Bake it.

Voila!

I served it with Crunchy Noodle Salad, but please don’t! The  salmon was sooo salty even though I baked two salmon fillets! It would be best served with steamed jasmine rice and a steamed/sauteed veggie.

Eli’s Asian Salmon
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
Episode IG0803H

2 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet (1 1/2 inches thick)
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon toasted (dark) sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
1/2 cup sliced scallions (2 scallions)
2 tablespoons minced garlic (8 large cloves)
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)

Directions

Line an 8 by 12-inch baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the salmon in the pan.

In a mixing cup, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lemon juice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Pour 1/3 of soy sauce mixture over the salmon fillet. Sprinkle the panko evenly over the fillet. Pour the rest of the soy sauce mixture evenly over the panko. Be sure to soak the panko completely and if any runs off, spoon back onto the salmon. Set aside for 15 minutes, leaving all the sauce in the pan.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Roast the salmon for 18 to 20 minutes, or for about 12 minutes per inch at the thickest part of the salmon. The internal temperature will be 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer when it’s done. Remove from the oven, wrap tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Crunchy Noodle Salad

This is a bit of a misnomer…the noodles in this recipe are not crunchy, rather the other veggie-related ingredients are the crunchy part!

Start by boiling half a pound of thin spaghetti in salted water. Try using a bigger pot and more water than I did! hehe

In a large bowl, layer the ingredients. I had dry parsley on hand, so I put that at the bottom…so it could recontitute with the moisture from the other ingredients. If you’re using fresh, put it at the top!

Next, the al dente thin spaghetti and the blanched sugar snap peas. If you’ve snapped off the ends and removed any strings, there will be water trapped inside the sugar snap peas, so be sure to drain them well!

While the spaghetti was cooking, I chopped the veggies: orange, red, and yellow bell peppers and scallions on the diagonal.

Throw those in too.

Grate the ginger on a small grater or microplane. You can just get the thin skin off with a spoon or the back of a knife (even a butter knife!)…no need to cut it away and waste the ginger.

I usually like to shake dressing and marinades in a jar or plastic container. It combines it much easier and faster than whisking…and washing whisks are a pain anyway…

Just before serving, toss the dressing with the noodle salad. Toss in the remaining sesame seeds and fresh parsley if you’re using it. I wouldn’t dump ALL the dressing in. Two-thirds was enough for me.

See? Just saucy enough!

Notes:

I followed Ina Garten’s (Barefoot Contessa) menu and served this with Eli’s Asian Salmon (next blog). BIG mistake because there was wyyy too much flavor going on. This noodle salad is best served with a simple grilled meat (maybe chicken, flank steak, or shrimp).

You can make the dressing and arrange the salad ahead of time, but don’t mix them together until you’re ready to eat! The dressing would surely make the noodles mushy!

Feel free to add any veggies you like or have on hand that you think would be tasty…green bell peppers, blanched snow peas, red onion, bean sprouts, blanched green beans (cut into 1-inch pieces), julienned carrots, etc.

Crunchy Noodle Salad
Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa
Episode IG0803H

Kosher salt
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1 pound sugar snap peas
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds, divided
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2 red bell peppers, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
4 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, bring another large pot of salted water to a boil, add the sugar snap peas, return to a boil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp tender. Lift the sugar snap peas from the water with a slotted spoon and immerse them in a bowl of ice water. Drain.

For the dressing, whisk together the vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey, garlic, ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and peanut butter in a medium bowl.

Combine the spaghetti, sugar snap peas, peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and the parsley and toss together.

Kettle Corn

I have a healthy obsession with things that are salty and sweet. When I head to a fair, carnival, or some other outdoor event, the smell of freshly popping kettle corn intoxicates me. It forces me to pay $4-$6 for a bag of this delicious popcorn that I will inevitably inhale within the hour.

I was sitting around at home when a case of the munchies hit me hard. I wanted kettle corn and I wanted it now!

Little did I know how easy it would be!!

The proportion is 1-2-1…1 part oil, 2 parts kernels, 1 part sugar…

Here’s 1/4 C. of canola oil (You can use vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, but please don’t use olive oil because of it’s low smoking point!)

Here’s 1/2 C. of unpopped kernels

Here’s 1/4 C. of plain granulated sugar (You could even use vanilla sugar, or heck, you can use a bit of colored sugar to achieve the crazy colored Pop-Secret “Pop-Qwiz” popcorn of the 80’s)

First, use a large pot with a tight-fitting lid. Not a heavy pot because you’re gonna have to pick it up and shake it around.

Place the pot over high heat. Once, the oil gets hot, throw the kernels in and sprinkle the sugar all over the top of it.

Cover the pot and wait until the popcorn starts to pop. Once the popping gets frequent, grab the pot by the handles, using pot-holders, and while holding the lid on, shake the pot vigorously for a little while and place it back on the stove. Keep doing this until the popping slows down.

Dump the popcorn into a bowl and sprinkle a tiny bit of salt (maybe 1/4 tsp) on top while the sugar is still nice and sticky. With that being said, DO NOT touch the popcorn with your hands right now. The caramelized sugar is HOT!! Use a long spoon (I used chopsticks! hehe) to toss it around.

One of my favorite parts about real kettle corn, is the random bits of caramelized sugar…like this:

Oooh…or like this!

Try making this at home and you’ll never pay for overpriced carnival kettle corn EVER again!!! Yummy!!

Better yet, make loads and loads of this for your 4th of July get-togethers! Your friends will love you for it!

A Weeknight Indian Dinner

I had a hankering for Indian food for a weeknight dinner, so I headed to the pantry to see what I could find.

I had to keep this one “semi-homemade”, but I wanted to be healthy too. Here’s my take on a super-duper simple chicken dish…think, Chicken Masala Light…

Saute one chopped onion until soft & translucent.

Add two chopped tomatoes and saute some more.

Add three tablespoons of garam masala, which is  a spice mix containing bay leaf, coriander, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, and more…You can definitely find it on the aisles of regular grocery stores these days. Saute for another 5 minutes or so…this “frying” of the spices really draws out the flavors.

Add 2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces. Saute until meat is opaque.

Add 2 cups of water.

Simmer uncovered until the sauce thickens.

Serve over rice.

The rice I used was a “Spiced Jeera Rice mix”, which was basmati rice seasoned with cumin, bay leaves, black pepper, and cinnamon. Plain basmati rice would have worked well here, or even just jasmine rice.

Another dish that I am enamored with is palak paneer. Paneer is basically chunks of cottage cheese, but it does not taste like cottage cheese at all. It is cooked in a spiced spinach gravy, flavored with coriander, garlic, ginger, green chili, cumin, coriander leaves, cumin, turmeric, red chili, Fenugreek leaves, pepper, and other spices.

It looks like baby food, but is completely delicious. This pre-packaged, ready-to-eat version is more pureed than I like it, but if you ever get the chance to eat this at an Indian restaurant, please do! Spoon it on the basmati rice. Yummm.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

I was excitedly flipping through my new July issue of Martha Stewart Living when I came across a section for bean salads.

(I would have just linked to it, but they still have the June issue online!)

I’ve been trying to eat healthy these days and I know that I don’t get enough protein or fiber…and I had an abundance of veggies in the fridge that I needed to use.

This salad was really easy to throw together! It was also a great way to work on my knife skills because there was a LOT of chopping involved!

Note: chickpeas = garbanzo beans

I used canned chickpeas instead of boiling my own…so drain 2 cans of garbanzo beans and leave them in the sieve/colander to drain.

While those are draining, make the dressing.

Place the garlic (I used the pre-minced, jarred stuff) and salt on the cutting board and flatten the mixture with a knife. (Don’t mind the green flecks. That’s some parsley that I chopped on the same board)

Run it back and forth like you are smearing it on your cutting board. It will make a paste like this.

Place this in a plastic storage container (big enough for dressing + chickpeas) with the vinegar (I used white wine vinegar instead of sherry vinegar), olive oil, oregano, & pepper (I used freshly ground pepper instead of crushed peppercorns. I don’t enjoy crunching into a spicy little peppercorn!). Shake vigorously until well-combined.

Throw the chickpeas into the plastic food storage container with the dressing and let them marinate while you are chopping all the other veggies. Give it a shake every few minutes to make sure everything is coated.

Chop the cucumber. Even though it was an English cucumber, which has thinner skin and less watery seed pulp, I scooped out the center so that my salad wouldn’t get watery later.

I chopped 1 whole bell pepper because I like it, but the recipe calls for half.

Carrots roughly the same size.

I also added a bit of red onion because I like it.

The whole pint of tomatoes (I used grape, but the recipe calls for cherry). I only cut about half of the tomatoes in half and left the rest whole…which would also help to keep the salad from getting watery.

Roughly chop the parsley.

Slice the green onions on a diagonal.

Chiffenade the basil…doesn’t have to be too thin.

Throw it all in a big bowl, add the chickpeas & dressing. Toss until well-combined.

It makes a lot, so it would be great for a get-together.

Isn’t this a gorgeous salad?! Super fresh, healthy, crunchy and delicious! Enjoy!

Mississippi Mud Pie

My sister had a batch of brownies in her freezer and she thought up the idea of making a brownie-bottom Mississippi Mud Pie.

I married that idea with the pudding mixture from my notorious icebox desserts, and here’s what I came up with!

Crumble up about half of the brownies and lightly press onto the bottom of a 9X13 pan.

Make the lightened pudding mixture, but this time, mix in 1 heaping tablespoon of instant coffee granules into the milk (more or less depending on your love of coffee).

Use the entire tub of whipped topping, not just half.

Spread half of this mixture on top of the brownies.

Repeat the brownie and pudding layer.

Top with a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup or ganache. I used Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate syrup. .. and I had a few brownie crumbs left in the baggie, so I threw those on top too.

Cover and freeze for at least 3 hours.

Remove from freezer and cut into squares with a knife. Don’t worry, it won’t freeze hard.

Perfect dessert for warm weather!! Enjoy!

Zucchini Cakes

Yet another Pioneer Woman blog find. I needed a second side dish for the Memorial Day grilling Fest and these Zucchini Cakes looked too yummy to pass up!

I doubled the recipe and made much smaller, silver-dollar-pancake-sized ones fit for a party!

Get two big zucchinis and shred them on a box grater. Are those two humongous zucchinis? Or is that a tiny box grater? Both! I don’t own a box grater, so I borrowed my sister’s. Apparently she shops at a kitchen store for ants because that thing was itty-bitty.

Here’s a tip. Only trim off the rounded end and shred starting at that end. Once you get to the other end, you’ll have a handle to hold onto!

Now you’ve got a sopping wet mess of shredded zucchini. I worked in two batches, placing the shredded zucchini in a kitchen towel and squeezed the heck out of it.

Throw that in a bowl with the garlic, 1-1/4 cup of breadcrumbs, 1 cup of cheese, 4 eggs (I used Egg Beaters), salt and pepper.

Get out a big skillet and heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in it. I know the recipe calls for shallow-frying, but I was trying to be healthy AND I hate dealing with all the oil splattering everywhere.

Scoop the zucchini batter into the skillet, whatever size you want, but mine were about 1/8 cup each. Fry on medium-low on each side until golden. Keeping frying in batches until all batter is used, adding more oil as needed.

Serve with ranch dressing or maybe even marinara sauce. Enjoy!

The end result was a little too egg-y. This was probably because the Egg Beaters carton told me that 1 egg = 1/4 cup, which looked more like an extra large egg. Most recipes are referring to just large eggs by default, so I’d cut back on the egg if I were you.

If you’re in the market for a different zucchini-related appetizer, here’s one from Betty Crocker that I LOVE!! It’s basically like a crustless quiche. It is even simpler to make than the zucchini cakes.

Zucchini Appetizer
From Betty Crocker

3 cups thinly sliced unpeeled zucchini (4 small)
1 cup Original Bisquick® mix (I like the Heart Healthy kind)
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or dried)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram or oregano leaves
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, slightly beaten (or 1 cup of Egg Beaters)

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease bottom and sides of rectangular pan, 13x9x2 inches.

2. Stir together all ingredients. Spread in pan.

3. Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cut into 2-inch squares; cut squares diagonally in half into triangles.

I’ll probably make this recipe soon, so I’ll have a tutorial with pictures coming up!

Roasted Ricotta Roma Tomatoes

That’s a lot of alliteration! I was browsing through my blogs on Google Reader and came across this recipe on Pioneer Woman.

Memorial day was coming up and it seemed like an awesome side dish to accompany all the grilled foods.

Start with 7-9 Roma tomatoes, depending on the size. Seven if they’re on the big side, eight or nine if they’re on the small side. Scoop out their innards with a spoon and discard (unless you can find a use for it. I couldn’t.)

Sprinkle each one with a bit of sea salt or Kosher salt. This will serve two purposes. It’ll season the tomato and it will purge out the excess water, which will make a BIG difference when you’re roasting. Turn them cut side down on paper towels or a kitchen towel.

While the tomatoes are purging, make the ricotta mixture. Stir together the ricotta (16 oz container), garlic (I used pre-chopped), parsley, basil (I used dried), salt & pepper.

Place about 15 Ritz crackers in a Ziplock baggie and roll over it with a rolling pin until you’ve got crumbs. You can also just use breadcrumbs (homemade or store bought). I like the crackers because they’re nice and buttery.

Fill each tomato half with the ricotta mixture. You can level it off or mound it on, depending on how your tomato-to-ricotta ratio turned out. Smush each filled tomato into the crumbs.

Line them all up on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.

If you didn’t purge your tomatoes, they’d be swimming in tomato juices right now!

But you did purge them and they’re golden, creamy, and delicious!

Homemade Pizza

I usually follow the rules when cooking and baking.

Pizza-purists everywhere will cringe if they see this post. My hunger got the best of me and I committed several pizza crimes. The end result was delicious nonetheless!

[Pizza crime #1] This is just semi-homemade pizza. I copped out and used a pizza dough mix. Yes, I know…but I was in a hurry (translate: hungry) and I didn’t have time to wait for the dough to rise and all that jazz.

First, move the rack in your oven to the lowest level and then crank the temperature as high as it will go. For me, that’s 500 degress.

I blended the dough mix with hot water and let it sit for a few minutes. While the dough was resting, I floured the counter and got my rolling pin. I rolled out the dough to 1/4″ thick, folded it in quarters and unfolded it out onto my baking sheet, which was lined with my Silpat.

[Pizza crime #2] I know I’m supposed to use a pizza stone, but mine broke in an unfortunate accident involving me placing it on the stove and proceeding to turn on the wrong burner sending pizza stone shards flying everywhere. There was also an incident where I baked a pizza on an unfloured, un-cornmealed baking sheet and the pizza cemented itself on there. Sad day…I didn’t want a repeat…

Brush the dough with olive oil and sprinkle on some Italian seasoning. Par-bake the dough for about 7 minutes, until it gets a little firm and a little bit of color to it.

[Pizza crime #3] I used a canned pizza sauce. Not even a gourmet one…just a $0.99 can of pizza sauce. It did the job. Obviously if you’ve got marinara sauce or the homemade stuff, go for it…pesto, alfredo sauce, or even a bechamel sauce would be great too.

Then 1-1/2 cups of cheese. I used a 4-cheese Italian blend.

[Pizza crime #4] I always put on wayyy too many toppings. What can I say? I love it all. I can’t pick just a few! Just a few pointers for you topping lovers out there…

1. Slice everything thinly. You’ll be able to spread out the flavors, without adding too much weight.

2. After you slice, place the ingredients on a kitchen towel or paper towels to drain out the excess liquid. This is especially for ingredients like bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, etc.

3. Don’t even think about using a pizza peel to transfer your pie into the oven. If you’ve loaded it with toppings, there is no way that baby is gonna slide off. Even with a few deft flicks of the wrist, that pie will remain firmly seated as the toppings come flying off. You’re better off making the pizza right on the baking sheet.

So anyway, this pizza has: 1/2 lb turkey Italian sauage, a handful of turkey pepperoni slices…

1/2 a thinly sliced bell pepper, 6 thinly sliced mushrooms, 10 thinly sliced jalapeno-stuffed olives…

…& 9 paper thin slices of beefsteak tomato.

I would have also added onion, but that would have been too much! 😛

Top off with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and maybe a few shakes of Italian seasoning…and yes, maybe a light drizzling of olive oil.

Bake until everything is nicely browned, about 20 minutes.

Transfer it onto a wooden cutting board (to keep it from getting soggy) and let it sit for 5 minutes.

Cut into squares and ENJOY!!!

Oh and mix these ingredients for an amazing dipping accompaniment!..I know…you’re thinking I already have enough flavors going on already…

Stuffed Mushrooms

This past weekend at the grocery store, I was restocking my pantry and picked up some whole wheat plain breadcrumbs. The front of the container had a picture of some delicious-looking stuffed mushrooms…which made me want to make some for dinner, so I did!

Wash a package of mushrooms (about 10 big ones). I don’t care what everyone says about not washing mushrooms and to just wipe them with a damp dishtowel. They even have mushroom cleaning brushes, and you know how I feel about uni-taskers! They say if you get them wet, they’ll get tough and rubbery and change colors. Well, we’re not talking about Mogwai (Gremlins) here, we’re talking about mushrooms. Just use them immediately after washing and you’ll be just fine. Nuff said.

Pop out the stems and chop ’em up

Get a bowl and add the chopped mushroom stems and 1/2 lb of bulk Italian sausage. I used mild turkey sausage to be on the healthy side, but you can use whatever you’ve got. You can use breakfast sausage or just plain ground meat, but, if you do, please season it up with Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, garlic and some S&P.

Even though I used Italian sausage, I added some garlic salt and pepper to make sure the mushrooms were well-seasoned.

Grab up a little ball of meat and pack it into each mushroom cap, forming a little mound. Put some breadcrumbs into a shallow dish. I seasoned my plain breadcrumbs with Italian seasoning and garlic salt.

Before you get your hands covered in meat, put a pan on the stove with some olive oil in it and get it to medium-high. If you’ve used regular Italian sausage or breakfast sausage, skip the oil. There will already be enough fat in the meat filling!

Turn the mushrooms upside down and press them into the breadcrumbs. Then place them, meat side down, into the heated skillet.

Once they’re nice and golden brown, turn them over and cook for about 5 minutes.

Transfer them into a 350 degree oven and bake for 20-30 minutes until the meat is cooked through.

Serve this with a simple pasta with butter and herbs..maybe a salad…YUMMY!!

These would also make a great appetizer, but maybe use some smaller mushrooms. To go the vegetarian route, you could substitute prepared stuffing for the meat.


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