Every once in a while I see a recipe and immediately feel the need to make it that very same day. This would be one of those recipes. With an absolutely beautiful September behind us, and what I’m hoping will be an even more beautiful October ahead, I couldn’t pass up a recipe that so perfectly matched this fall weather. It helps that there’s only about 5 ingredients and that from start to finish this only took about 20 minutes. Residency + a long commute + triathlons + general career/life crises have been taking up pretty much all my time, and blogging hasn’t been at the top of my list…but truth be told, I miss it!
You know this sandwich must be pretty great, considering it made me come out of blog hibernation. In fact, it really makes me want to go apple picking and drink cider. The combination might sound a bit odd, but the apple and apple butter is really a nice balance to the saltiness from the ham and cheese. Plus, I love adding sweetness to anything I can. So if you’re looking for a quick an easy dinner to enjoy with fall, look no further.
Apple, Ham and White Cheddar Panini
- 8 slices sourdough bread
- 3 T. butter, at room temperature
- 2 large apples, thinly sliced
- Sliced white cheddar cheese, about 4 ounces
- Thinly sliced maple ham, 6-8 ounces
- 1/2 cup apple butter
Heat a grill pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Butter the outside of each sandwich liberally. On one piece of bread, layer apple slices, cheese and ham. On the other slice apply a thick layer of apple butter. Sandwich the pairs together so that the buttered sides are facing outwards.
Cook the sandwiches, turning once, until both sides are golden and the cheese is melted. Slice in half and serve immediately.
Source: Annie’s Eats
You know the saying, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person?” Well in the past month, I have found that this saying is pretty much spot on. Somehow when I was working 10-12 hour days, studying for shelf exams, running, being a wife, and taking care of a puppy, I had time to post all these new things I made. Then second semester fourth year happened, and for the first time since I can remember, I have a lot of free time, yet I have posted almost nothing on this blog! It’s really true, when you are busy, you just get more done! That being said, it’s not like I haven’t been in the kitchen. I have been trying out lots of fun recipes – everything from making my own greek yogurt, tiramisu cupcakes, shrimp enchiladas and the very delicious but dangerous blackberry pie bars- I just didn’t get any pictures! So finally, here’s a new recipe just in time for the summer-like weather.
I loved this dinner because it’s healthy enough that you feel good about eating it, but the avocado cream sauce gives it just a touch of sass that still makes you feel like your cheating. And if you really feel like being rebellious, I think it would go great with these cookies.
Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce
- Makes about 18 patties
For the patties:
- 2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed, divided in half
- 2 roasted red bell peppers*, divided in half
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2/3 cup cornmeal or panko (plus more, as needed)
- Salt and pepper
- Canola or vegetable oil
For the corn relish:
- 2 tsp. canola oil
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the avocado cream sauce:
- 1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup greek yogurt or light sour cream
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper, to taste
*To Roast the Red Peppers: Preheat oven to 475°. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil Coat the outside of each pepper with olive oil. Cook the peppers for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the skin is lightly browned. Remove from oven and pull aluminum foil around the peppers. Allow to cool for at least 20 minutes, then peel of skin and remove seeds. Can be done several days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
1. To make the bean patties, place half of the beans in the bowl of a food processor with 1 coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, cumin, and chipotle. Process until smooth. Finely chop the remaining bell pepper. In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans. Stir in the bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper
2. Stir in the cornmeal or panko, a bit at time, mixing lightly just until the mixture firms up. (Pick up a bit and see if it can be easily molded into a ball. If it is too sticky, add a little more. I ended up needing at least 1 cup). Chill the mixture for 30 minutes.
3. While the bean mixture is chilling, make the corn relish. Heat the canola oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn to the pan and sauté briefly until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the tomato, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Process until completely smooth.
5. Form the bean mixture into patties approximately 3½ inches in diameter. Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side. Serve the patties warm topped with the corn relish and drizzled with the avocado cream sauce.
Source: Annie’s Eats
It is not very often that I like to make something twice, and it is also rare that I like to eat leftovers… so the fact that I made this twice in one week, AND had the leftovers for lunch, should tell you that this meal was a total winner. The first time I made it, I wasn’t expecting much. I mostly just made it to add some variety to our menu, as I have a hard time incorporating lean beef. Then I made it and completely fell in love. For non-marinated flank steak, it was incredibly tender and orange flavor really shines through. Plus, any meal that satisfies my sweet tooth with something nutritious and delicious, is an obvious A+ (Think Blueberry Salmon, Mango Salmon, and Strawberry Pizza). I think this will be a regular in our rotation, because it really does make great lunches the rest of the week.
This meal is ready from start to finish in less then 30 minutes, but some of the steps are more time consuming then the others. For example, the zesting the orange and grating the ginger. To save time even more time you could easily buy the ginger in a squeeze bottle in the refrigerator section, or make the sauce ahead of time. Be sure to start the rice early so it’s ready when the meat is done!
Quick and Easy Chinese Orange Beef
2-3 teaspoons grated orange zest (I just zest 1 whole orange)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Asian chili sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
vegetable oil for pan
1-1/2 pounds flank steak (to clarify: that’s one steak, that weighs about 1.5 pounds)
3-4 green onions, sliced
hot white or brown rice for serving
Trim fat from flank steak, then slice as thin as possible across the grain. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Whisk orange zest and orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili sauce, ginger, and cornstarch together in a bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle pan with oil and tilt to coat. Add half of beef, breaking up any clumps and let cook without stirring for one minute. Stir beef and continue to cook until browned, about 2 minutes; transfer to a bowl and cover. Repeat with remaining beef and transfer to bowl.
Whisk sauce to recombine, add to now-empty skillet, and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Return cooked beef, with any accumulated juices, to skillet and toss to combine. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
Source: Our Best Bites
As much as I love an interesting dessert, or a buttery breakfast baked good, usually when I am scouring the internet for recipes, I am looking for dinner. After all, it is technically possible to go a day without dessert (well not for me, but for some people); but most everyone would agree that at least one meal is a necessity. So while classic chili might not be the most exciting thing ever posted here, I can say that this is a tried and true recipe that will keep you warm on a wintery night. This is a real crowd pleaser, and my mom even requested that we make it as her birthday meal. Personally, I would’ve gone with the Lobster and Corn Chowder, but I guess that’s why it’s her birthday ;-).
For the longest time I only liked turkey chili, but I’ve found that extra lean beef actually has the same amount of fat as turkey, with the added benefits of a healthy dose of iron and a lot more flavor. Be careful though, because using anything less than 90/10 will give you that greasy chili that I personally think is gross. (I prefer my fats disguised in baked goods, not floating on top of my soup). This chili is not particularly spicy, but can easily be toned down or up with the addition of extra jalepenos or crushed red pepper. Similar to the Cincinnati Chili, this recipe uses bittersweet chocolate, which really adds a dimension of flavor so don’t leave it out.
Classic Beef and Bean Chili
Makes 8 servings
- 2 pounds lean ground beef
- 2 large onions, chopped (2 cups)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 2 cups beer (or water)
- 1 15-oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15-oz can chili beans, in sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Crushed red pepper, if desired
- Shredded cheddar, green onions, additional jalapeños and corn chips for topping
Brown the beef in a large Dutch oven set over medium heat. Drain off fat if necessary. Add the onions, garlic and jalapeños and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato sauce and beer (or water) and increase heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for 10 minutes.
While the beef mixture is cooking, place one can of beans in a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the remaining two cans of beans, along with the mashed beans, into the chili and return to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in salt, cilantro and chocolate. Continue stirring until the chocolate has melted. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve with desired toppings.
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion
I know you might be thinking that this post is about 9 days too late, but I figured I’d post my Thanksgiving turkey, because you still have plenty of time to plan a turkey for Christmas! I mean really….turkey only one day per year is clearly not enough. Especially when the turkey is this good.
This Thanksgiving we had a fairly small family gathering, especially compared to the 24 people my Aunt Mary managed to get around one amazing table last year! It’s been a hard year for us and today is especially difficult. I can’t believe it was just a year ago that my family showed up at my apartment to break the news that my father had passed away. That’s a day I will never forget. I just remember seeing Max fly through the door, leash trailing behind him with no owner attached, and before my mom even got to the door, I knew he was gone. As hard as this year has been, it’s also been a lesson in how resilient the human spirit is. At first I had no idea how I would even make it to the next day, let alone the rest of medical school. But here I am a whole year later, with an adorable puppy, an awesome husband, and only 6 months of medical school left! If you have had the misfortune of losing someone you loved recently, let me just promise you that it will get easier. And seriously, I really think some turkey for comfort food could really help. I’m sure my dad would’ve preferred these snowball cookies, but don’t worry, I already made a batch in his honor.
This turkey is a little bit involved, but it is by far the most moist, tender and delicious turkey you will ever eat. I used to be disappointed by the fact that turkey would take up space on my plate in lieu of more sides- but this turkey is really the star of the meal. First you throw all the ingredients in a pot and bring it to a boil. Then you have to let it cool, which unfortunately always takes longer than I think it will.
Houston wouldn’t let this turkey out of his sight. I’ve never seen him like this before…he obviously knew this turkey was special. I think this is his “Is that for me? Awww please mom….” face.
Then you have to pour the cooled brine, along with ice cubes and cold water over the turkey. The trickest part about this is finding a container that will allow the turkey to be totally covered. In fact, I ended up taking it out of the container pictured here and putting it in a GIANT stock pot. Last year I used a gray “sterelite” container I found at Walmart that was perfect – but it was at my apartment. I’ve also heard of people using new and throughly cleaned 5 gallon paint buckets from Lowe’s/Home depot. Just remember you need to keep this container cold, so if it’s 60 degrees on Thanksgiving like it was in Ohio this year, putting it in the garage will not cut it.
After the turkey has soaked in a cold place for 12-24 hours, take it out, rinse it it in cool water and set it in a pan. In case you didn’t know, that’s me with the awkward smile on my face. There’s some sage butter in the white bowl in front of me, which you spread under the skin in as many places as you can. Then you take a delicious mixture of chicken broth, butter and garlic, and inject it all over the turkey meat. This part is pretty fun. Between injecting the meat, and suturing the cavity closed with 2-0 vicryl, I was feeling like a real surgeon by the end of the day :-).
Then stuff the turkey according to your liking. This year we used my Grandma’s traditional (and amazing) stuffing, but last year I just put some onion, apple and celery in the cavity – both worked great. Then put the turkey in a “Turkey Bag” and cook according to the directions on the box – ours took about 3 hours. (I know that turkey bags might not seem very gourmet, but I promise they make the most moist turkeys!).
Then of course let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before cutting to let the juices redistribute. True comfort food. Why don’t we make turkey like 10 times per year! I’ve included all the specifics below. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving and just remember all through this season (and always) to tell the people how much they mean to you. You will never regret saying I love you just one last time.
The Perfect Turkey
- large container that will hold turkey plus 2 gallons of liquid
- oven safe thermometer
- Flavor injector/syringe
- Turkey roasting bag
- heavy duty roasting pan
- 1 turkey, 12 – 16 pounds
- 1 gallon (16 cups) chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1/2 cup white or brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
- 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
- 1 large sprig fresh thyme*
- 1 large sprig fresh sage*
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary*
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 8 cups cold water
- 8 cups ice
*the poultry blend of fresh herbs should contain these 3
- 3/4 c. salted butter, divided
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
- 1/2 c. chicken broth
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- Traditional Bread stuffing OR
- 1 apple (chopped in half), 1-2 small onions (chopped in half), 4 celery stalks (cut into thirds)
About a week before you begin brining your turkey, place it in the refrigerator to defrost. Alternatively, purchase a fresh turkey. (I have done both and I don’t actually think it makes a significant difference in the final product).
The day before you roast your turkey, combine the chicken broth and the remaining brine ingredients (through the parsley) in a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature, which will take over an hour.
Remove the packaging from the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets (be sure to check both the body and neck cavities) and reserve for gravy, if desired. Rinse the turkey in cool water and then place it in the appropriate container. Add the cold water and the ice cubes, then add the brine mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with the lid and then place in a cold place for up to 24 hours.
When you’re ready to roast your turkey, preheat the oven according to the directions on the roasting bag packaging. Soften 1 stick of butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon fresh sage and set aside. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it in cool water, and place in the roasting pan. Use your hands to loosen the skin between over the breast. Spread handfuls of the sage butter between the breast and the skin, rubbing any excess over the outside of the skin.
In a blender, combine 1/2 c. chicken broth, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Let sit for at least 20 minutes, then strain out garlic to make it easier to draw up. Use the flavor injector to inject the mixture all over the turkey.
Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs under the skin.
Stuff the turkey cavity with bread stuffing or a mixture of apple, onion, and celery. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast and then place the turkey into the roasting bag and roast until the thermometer registers 165 according to the roasting bag directions. When you’ve reached 165, remove the turkey from the oven and cut the bag away from the turkey. Allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey juice.
Being on away rotations, I haven’t been up to my usual menu planning and weeknight meal routine. Between applications, scheduling interviews, and overall crazy hours, I haven’t missed it too much, but I’m not sure I can say the same for John (who has been eating chez chef Boyardee). But to make up for it, I was able to rationalize this fancy weekend meal. (It also didn’t hurt that Mom was buying :-)). After apple picking, running and hiking in the park, this chowder was the perfect end to a fall themed day. It is really one for the record books. It will make you feel like you on dining on the set of barefoot contessa and it would be the perfect fall meal for company, or if you just feel like indulging yourself.
This was my first time ever cooking with lobster, and I don’t pretend to know much about it. I did learn that it is very easy to overcook it, and for such an expensive meat, that is really something you don’t want to do. So err on the side of undercooked, because it will inevitably cook a bit more once you add it to the stew. Also, while this soup still tasted wonderful the next day, I did notice that there was a bit of color separation, which didn’t make for the most gorgeous photograph. If you want to see what it looked like the first night, check out this blog. Despite the work, and the amount of cream (once in a while..) this is definitely something I will be making again. In fact, it almost makes me wish I actually lived in New England, which is saying a lot for a girl who hates the cold :-).
Lobster Corn Chowder
- 3 (1 1/2lb) cooked lobsters
- 3 ears of corn
For the stock:
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup sherry
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups milk (skim works fine)
- 2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1 cup dry white wine
For the soup:
- 1 tablespoon good olive oil
- 1/4 pound bacon, large-diced
- 2 cups large-diced unpeeled Yukon gold potatoes (2 medium)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
- 2 cups diced celery (3 to 4 stalks)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
- 1/4 cup sherry
- Remove the meat from the shells of the lobsters. Cut the meat into large cubes and place them in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reserve the shells and all the juices that collect. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs separately.
- For the stock, melt the butter in a stockpot or Dutch oven large enough to hold all the lobster shells and corncobs. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 7 minutes, until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and paprika and cook for 1 minute. Add the milk, cream, wine, lobster shells and their juices, and corn cobs and bring to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and simmer the stock over the lowest heat for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in another stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil and cook the bacon for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat, until browned and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the potatoes, onions, celery, corn kernels, salt, and pepper to the same pot and saute for 5 minutes. When the stock is ready, remove the largest pieces of lobster shell and the corn cobs with tongs and discard. Place a strainer over the soup pot and carefully pour the stock into the pot with the potatoes and corn. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add the cooked lobster, the chives and the sherry and season to taste. Heat gently and serve hot with a garnish of crisp bacon
Apparently there are some people in this world who don’t like fruit with their fish. Thankfully, I don’t know any of them. If you happen to be a fruit with fish hater (tear), perhaps this recipe will convert you. Especially with summer “officially” here, this is a refreshing dinner that is easy to throw together after a day at the pool, and won’t ruin your waistline for the rest of bikini season. I was somewhat hesitant about the sauce, since it’s fruit combined with garlic, onion and mustard powder – but I figured anything originally from The Neely’s would be hard to ruin. Somehow the flavors just seem to work, and created an interesting twist on a simple salmon recipe.
I personally like to keep the skin on the salmon it because it keeps it in one piece while grilling and adds moisture to the filet, but you could also grill up a fish filet as long as you throughly oil the grate. While the sauce is mostly “hands off”, it does need about 30 minutes total of simmer time – which I kind of enjoy because it gives you a chance to shower from the pool, pick up the house, or just relax with a glass of wine on the patio. Unfortunately my brother won’t be bringing any Copper River salmon back from Alaska this year, but if your pocketbook can afford it, it’s in season now!
Grilled Blueberry BBQ Salmon
Serves 2-4 depending on amount of salmon used
- ¾ - 1 ½ pounds salmon filet, with skin on
- Salt and Pepper
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
Heat a small saucepan over low heat and add blueberries. Heat for about 10 minutes, then mash with a fork. Add in ketchup, both vinegars, brown sugar, onion and garlic powder, ground mustard and worcestershire sauce. Whisk well to combine and break up blueberries and turn the heat up to medium. Heat until simmering and bubbles appear, then turn heat back down to low. Cook for an additional 20 minutes, whisking every few minutes. Sauce will be thicker than a normal barbecue sauce.
Preheat your grill to it’s highest setting and spray grate with oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, and once the grill is hot, lay skin side up directly on grate. Cook for 5 minutes, then gently flip so that skin side is down. Using a pastry brush, brush BBQ sauce on salmon and let cook until flaky and opaque, about 5-6 more minutes. Adjust time as needed for thicker/thinner salmon (mine was about 1 1/2 inches with skin.)
Source: How Sweet It Is
The fact that this particular recipe caused me to emerge from my blog hibernation should tell you that it must be something special. I made it one night for dinner and literally could not wait to make it again so that I could share it with you. In fact I was so excited about it that when I went home this past weekend, I insisted on making this for my mom and brother so that we could have the mutual experience of this pizza to rave about for the rest of the summer. Kind of like when something really funny happens but there is no one around to laugh with you, this pizza is best as a shared life experience.
I could tell that my mom was extremely skeptical of this unusual combination, and I can’t really blame her. If I hadn’t already made the pizza myself, I may have caved under the funny looks I received when I told her that sirachi was combine with balsamic vinegar and strawberry preserves to make the sauce. Luckily, I was confident in the fact that everyone would love this pizza, and went ahead with my plans. It did not disappoint. The balsamic vinegar and siracha make this just savory enough to call it dinner, and the strawberries and cilantro keep it fresh enough to make it feel like summer. My brother said that he had never had such a refreshing pizza. And since the dog got the last two pieces of this off the counter – apparently animals like it too. As strawberries are coming into season, make this, pair it with a strawberry Abita, and hope for some more 80 degree sunny days in May – it doesn’t get much better.
Stawberry Balsamic Chicken and Bacon Pizza
- 1/2 cup strawberry preserves or jam
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
- 1 ball prepared pizza dough
- 1/4 onion, thinly sliced
- ~1 cup cooked chicken, diced or shaved
- 4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked until crispy and then crumbled
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1-2 oz finely shredded parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cut strawberries, diced
Place the pizza stone in the lower middle of the oven and preheat to 500°F.
Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to half and mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the strawberry preserves and chili sauce. Mix well; set aside to cool.
Roll out the pizza dough to a 12 or 14-inch circle. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.
Spread the cooled strawberry sauce over the pizza top with chicken, bacon, sweet onion, mozarella and parmesean cheese, and 1/2 of the cilantro and 1/2 of the strawberries.
Transfer the pizza with the parchment paper onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly for 1 to 2 minutes. Top with the remaining fresh strawberries and cilantro. Serve hot.
Looking on a the positive side of things, I will have to say that one of the best things in the past month has been able to see a lot of my mom and brother – 2 of the most special people in this world. I know my mom thinks she’s imposing, but I seriously love it when they are here. It basically makes it feel like a vacation, because usually when we are all together – it is a vacation. Of course having “house guests” also makes me like a grown up, which is really just like ”playing house”- with a slightly more sophisticated (and dangerous) fisher price set. Because I really wanted to impress them with my domestic skills, I carefully planned a few things to make when they came. One of them was an old favorite, stuffed green pepper soup, and the other was this Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m pretty sure they will be coming back again soon :-).
My mom, who claims to not really like curry, couldn’t stop raving about how deep the flavors are in this dish, and my brother stated that it was the best chicken tikka masala he had ever had (even better than some posh Asheville Indian restaurant he loves). I purposely waited a while to post this, because I wanted to see how the leftovers would be after freezing them for a while – and I can now safely say that they are still delicious. I froze the chicken, then thawed it and reheated it, adding just a little bit more milk and John and I still loved it! I would recommend making the whole batch, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it all, because the frozen leftovers really are convenient.
Please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long ingredient list, it is actually a really simple dinner and there is very little prep work. I chose to brown the meat first because it tends to add a depth of flavor, but if you don’t want to dirty another pan feel free to simply put all the ingredients in the crockpot without pre-browning. I was also really excited to finally use the Garam Masala I had bought way back when from Penzey’s. If you don’t have a Penzey’s nearby, I noticed when I was home at Christmas that even local grocery stores carry this spice. Having never used it before, I was a little worried about using a full 3 tablespoons of it. But never fear – it’s not nearly as strong as you might think and the dish was seasoned perfectly. My last pre-recipe suggestion would be to adjust the cream in this recipe for your liking. The original called for 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream. That seemed like an awful lot, so I dialed it down and added some more greek yogurt at the end. Feel free to play with it a bit to get it the creaminess you would like.
Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala
For the Chicken:
- 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With a fork
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
- 4 cups canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (depending on preference)
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- White Rice
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1) Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken. Stir in yogurt to evenly coat the chicken. Cover and let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and brown about 1/2 of the chicken. . Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished. Then repeat with 1 more tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
3) To make the sauce return pan to medium and 3 T. of butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and stir. Cook until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently.
4) Add the 3 T. of garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (30 seconds), then raise heat to high and add crushed tomatoes and sugar. Scrap the bottom of the pan as you stir and bring to a boil. Then pour over chicken in slow cooker.
5) Cook chicken on low for 5 hours.
6) Mix heavy cream and greek yogurt into mixture, adding cream until you get your desired color. Heat for 1o minutes more.
7) Serve over rice and top with a generous amount of cilantro (it really adds a lot)
Pretty much every type of salad that I like is some variant of spinach, fruit, good cheese and nuts. For as long as I can remember my Mom has been making a spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and salted pecans, and for a Mom who loves decorating the table but isn’t so big on the actual food – this salad was quite a delectable creation. I have made that salad countless times, and it’s still my go to, but in the interest of changing it up ever so slightly, I decided to try this recipe, and guess what, I loved it! In fact it holds the title as the first salad a certain “salad hater” has ever eaten, and liked (no…it’s not John but another picky husband who doesn’t like vegetables :-)).
I think what I really liked about this is that it includes an easy, throw together recipe for a really good dressing. So much of the time I go to the trouble of toasting nuts, chopping fruit, buying spinach, and then covering it all with some bottled dressing because making homemade just seemed like too much work. This dressing is super easy, and really complements the flavors of the salad well. Also, I think I like this salad because I love an excuse to eat my new favorite apples, ’Honeycrisp”. (Which, ironically recently had a sign aat the grocery store that said “Everyone’s New Favorite” – good to know I’m not alone). But if you can’t find Honeycrisp, I think Fiji or Granny Smith would work equally well.
Harvest Apple Salad with Buttered Almonds
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
- 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
- Pinch of paprika
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almonds:
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp. sugar
For the salad:
6-8 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4-6 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
To make the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients except olive oil in a measuring cup. Then slowly add the olive oil whisking vigorously to combine.
To make the buttered almonds, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and cook just until melted and well incorporated. Set aside to cool.
Place spinach in a large salad bowl or on individual salad plates. Top with apple slices, gorgonzola, and the buttered almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. Leftovers are good for up to a day, as fresh spinach does not wilt as quickly as other types of lettuce.
Ah. Real Food. This is what January was meant to be. Not including the peanut M&Ms (which I mistakenly bought a XXL bag of because I was hungry at Costco….never a good thing) the food around here has most definitely taken a turn for the more wholesome. I can’t really promise that this will last long, but while I’m craving healthy food, I might as well take advantage. There is nothing quite like a warm, hearty, filling and yet healthy stew to warm up with on chilly January evening. Or considering the 40-50 degree days we have been having I should probably say, “On a abnormally warm, almost balmy January evening in Ohio”, but it just doesn’t have the same ring. Global warming is seriously ruining seasonal eating.
No matter what the weather, I could probably eat this stew. Well I might be lying slightly. I wouldn’t eat it in the summer. That would be like some kind of sin- hot stew in the summer? But anytime September through April would be fine if you are lucky enough to live in a place like tropical Toledo. (Can you sense my bitterness at winter – and this is even after I got an automatic car starter for Christmas!). But in all seriousness, the first time I made this stew was back in Louisiana, where the humidity never drops below 100% – and it was still good. It’s the kind of stew that feels well balanced because you get vegetables, grain, and protein all in one place. I really love the addition of barley because it makes this stew seem extra hearty and yet also somewhat gourmet.
One caution is that the barley continues to absorb water after cooking. When you go to get leftovers the next day you may find that all the liquid is gone and the barley has doubled in size – but never fear – just add a bit more water, and reheat. If you are trying to make this in advance, or if you’d like to freeze it, I would probably make it without the barley, and then just add the barley when reheating it.
Beef and Barley Stew
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped leaks (about 3 leeks including green stems)
- 2 ½ cups sliced carrot
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 – 14 oz cans beef broth
- 1 cup uncooked medium pearled barley
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Return beef to pan. Add all ingredients EXCEPT barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, or longer if desired. Add barley; cook 30 minutes or until beef and barley are tender. Discard bay leaves.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Well it’s time for new years resolutions. I wish I could say that I’m going to post all healthy recipes this coming year, and that it’s going to make you super skinny. I have learned from too many new years resolutions that I like eating twizzlers, baking cookies, and scooping ice cream far too much to swear it off for the year. I will however try to just generally post a larger variety of foods on this blog. If you have any requests, please let me know and I will do my best to post what you’d like to make!
This particular recipe comes to you from our New Years Eve celebration. It got some rave reviews from the whole family. It also makes great leftovers (in fact this picture was taken 3 days later). While it’s not quite as easy as the French Apricot Chicken, it is another one of the crock-pot meals that you just add the ingredients and walk away. As indicated below it serves 6-8 people, but for New Years I doubled the recipe and added an hour to the cooking time (total of 9 hours) and it turned out great. What I really liked about this recipe is that it’s not at all dry like some shredded pork can be. It is saucy, and I’m pretty sure just the marinade over rice would taste good on it’s own. It also goes great served with a big salad with mandarin oranges and sesame ginger dressing. So if your sick of eating cookies (which I EVEN AM!), this is a hearty, delicious and protein filled alternative for ringing in the New Year.
Slow Cooker Pork Char Siu
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed*
- 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
*Ask your butcher to cut off as much fat as possible to save you some time.
Combine first 8 ingredients (soy sauce through five spice powder) in a bowl and whisk. Place pork roast in a plastic bag and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours flipping occasionally. *I left it at room temperature for 45 minutes to save time, and because my pork roast was large and very cold.
Place contents of bag in a crock pot and add 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork and serve with remaining sauce in crockpot. Serve shredded pork and sauce over rice.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Welp, it’s happened. The first recipe on the blog made almost entirely by John. I don’t mean to belittle his cooking talents, but I think the fact that I trusted him with making this dinner should tell you something about it’s complexity. I had set the ingredients (all 3 of them ) out on the counter the night before, and planned on throwing them in the crock pot before I left for school, but as I mentioned last time, normally I barely get 2 of the same shoes while I’m running out the door, let alone make dinner 8 hours early. Despite my best intentions, if I wake up a few minutes early, then I simply diddle-daddle around longer until I am once again rushed to leave. So John was nice enough to make this for me in the morning.
While this is certainly not a complicated or gourmet cooking dish, it is definitely something worth keeping in your recipe arsenal. Also, I should mention that there is really nothing “French” at all about this, other than the fact that it uses American’s version of “French Dressing”. Nevertheless, this dinner is delicious and I had trouble saving my second piece of chicken for lunch the next day. I found myself eating every last piece rice that the scrumptious sauce had touched. Plus, its so easy you really have no excuse not to make it – it’s 3 ingredients that you put into a pot. You can adjust the cooking time to fit your schedule so it’s ready when you get home. For example, Nikki mentioned that you could use 6 frozen chicken breasts and cook it on high for 4 hours and low for 2 hours, or use 4 fresh chicken breasts and cook it on high for 3 hours. Since I think one of the best things about crock pots is coming home to them being ready, I prefer to cook things for a longer period of time on low, which I have indicated below. I think next time I am going to at least 1.5 the recipe because this really made great lunch leftovers (especially when compared to the hospital cafeteria).
“French” Apricot Crock Pot Chicken
- Serves 4 (or 2 with great leftovers the next day)
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup french dressing (I used Newman’s Own)
- 1 cup apricot jelly or preserves
- 1 packet onion soup mix
- salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on low for a minimum of 7 hours, but longer is fine. Serve over rice.
Source: Pennies on a Platter
Wow, it’s been way to long since I posted! I have a few (debatably good) excuses though. First I finished up my family medicine rotation with a pretty tough standardized test, then John and I went on vacation to San Fran, wine country and point reyes, and this week I started a rotation in Dermatology in Bryan, OH. It’s been a busy but fun couple of weeks!
I think my favorite part about vacation had to be Sonoma. It was a beautiful but relaxed town and if it wasn’t clear across the country I could totally see myself living there someday. (I checked residency programs, and unfortunately there are none in wine country. boo.) We also had a lot of fun biking all around San Francisco and across the golden gate bridge, as well as hiking in point reyes national seashore.
Now that I’m in Bryan, I haven’t really been cooking much since it would require me to fill a whole new pantry with ingredients and transport my favorite pots and pans an hour and a half; however I do have the weekends off so my goal for the rest of the year is to post one time per week. I’ll start with this recipe for Shrimp and Grits.
We had this for dinner before we left for vacation, and I have been thinking about it off and on since then. I made this thinking it would be a nice treat for the butter, cheese and generally southern food loving member of our family, but as it turns out I ended up being the one who was head over heels for this dinner. Not to say that John didn’t love it as well, I just surprised myself by how much I could love something made with grits and bacon. The parsley and green onions really help to cut down on the heavy feeling of this dish and I think I might even add more next time. I was also surprised by how quickly this dish came together and how few unusual ingredients it required. Now that I have grits in the pantry, I think this is going to become one of my go to weeknight meals because 1) I really loved it and 2) I generally have all these ingredients around and 3) it’s pretty easy to put together. I know that you’re probably starting to think I must work for Costco or something, but I did want to mention that I found the best large, individually frozen shrimp there for the best price. Now that I have a costco sized bag of jumbo shrimp in the freezer, I have even more excuses to make this delicious dish again.
Shrimp and Grits
Serves about 4 (I made about half this recipe for the 2 of us)
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup grits (regular or quick cooking but NOT instant)
- 3 T. butter
- 1 heaping cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Salt and pepper
- 1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
- 5 slices bacon
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 T.)
- 2 T. coarsely chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Hot sauce if desired
1. Bring water to a boil. Add grits to the boiling water and stir. Add salt and a bit of pepper. Lower heat, bring to simmer and cover until water is absorbed. Follow the directions on your box of grits because cooking times vary.
3. Rinse and pat shrimp dry. You don’t want them dripping water when you add them to hot oil.
4. Fry the bacon in a large skillet. When cooked through remove from the pan and crumble.
Unfortunately, I can be a bit of a perfectionist. A lot of times I will plan on putting something on the blog and after making it decide that it is just not tasty enough to share. After all, I am putting my personal endorsement on all the items on here, and I don’t want to lose your trust. Other times I will make something that is delicious but so un-photogenic that I can’t seem to get a nice picture of it, and I don’t want get some kind of ugly photograph reputation. Well in an effort to worry less about the small stuff, I decided to post this recipe even though my camera was just not cooperating with me. It should tell you something that I thought it was special enough to share even without a perfect picture.
I would describe this as a comfort food dinner. It’s especially handy to have in the recipe repertoire because it uses ingredients that I can store in my pantry or usually have on hand. I thought it was just going to turn out like a bunch of flour tortillas layered with beans, but something magical happens in the baking process. The cheese melts and the tortillas soften, and the whole thing solidifies into a concoction that actually does seem like a pie. For some reason I didn’t think about the fact that there is a lot of food going into this “pie” and it is way more than John and I could even try to eat. This is a filling pie, so I’m definitely adding it to my list of good dinners to make for company.
Speaking of company (such a sly transition :-)), last weekend our family got together to celebrate my Grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary. They have certainly started a wonderful family to be a part of! Here’s a picture from our weekend:
Happy Anniversary Grandma and Grandpa!
Bean and Tortilla Pie
Makes: 6-8 servings
- 4 9-inch flour tortillas
- 2 T. Olive Oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 t. ground cumin
- 1/2 t. chili powder
- Pinch of Salt and Pepper
- 2 – 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup water (or you can use beer if you didn’t drink what was in your fridge)
- 1/4 cup salsa
- 1 – 15 oz can refried beans, warmed to spreading consistency
- 2 cups frozen corn (about 10 oz)
- 4 scallions, thinly slices plus more for garnish
- 2 1/2 cups mexican style shredded cheese
- Garnish: Scallions, tomatoes, sour cream, cilantro, black olives
1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. In a large saucepan heat oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, chili powder and salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes.
3. Add in the black beans, scallions, salsa and water, and stir until well mixed. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low to simmer. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until most of the water has evaporated.
5. Lay a flour tortilla in the bottom of a 9-inch springfoam pan. Spread the tortilla with about 3 T. of refried beans. Then continue layering by spreading about 1 cup of bean mixture on top of the refried beans. Top the layer with 1/2 a cup of shredded cheese.
6. Repeat this layering with the 3 remaining tortillas. On the top layer, cover the beans generously with cheese.
7. Bake the “pie” for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Remove the sides from the springfoam pan, and top with garnishes of choice. Slice into wedges and serve warm.
Slightly Adapted from The Curvy Carrot
I honestly had no idea what to expect from this pizza. I had a hundred different directions I was thinking of going with it and I was worried that by trying to combine too many different flavors, I would end up with a disaster. I put this on the menu for last week, but I think my fear of failure along with some good rationalization about NEEDING to have summer fun caused me to go out to eat 5 days last week. (In my defense I think that’s a personal record, plus once everyone buckles down with school, it will be at least a little bit harder to hang out :-)). Finally, I decided that I couldn’t let avocados, tomato, cilantro and limes go to waste, so I concocted this specialty.
Well as you can probably guess based on the fact that I am putting it on the food blog – I really liked this pizza! It was unique, fresh, flavorful and used up the leftover shrimp I had in the freezer. (I have a bad habit of buying shrimp and only using half the bag.) I also used some of the pizza dough I had frozen, which made this pretty easy to put together. I almost skipped adding the chipotle, but I’m so glad I didn’t because I think it made the meal. If you are a bacon lover, I think that could also be a nice flavor complement, but I felt like it had enough ingredients without it. The only part that takes some time is chopping, so I would recommend doing it at the beginning so you can just go “chop crazy” all at once. P.S. chopping veggies is a pretty awesome way to wind down!
Shrimp, Avocado and Tomato Pizza
- 1 pizza dough ball
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella and/or provolone cheese
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 2 large tomatos, chopped and drained
- 1 teaspoon adobo sauce or 1 t. finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 10-20 medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 avocado, diced
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
2. In a medium sauté pan add 1 T. olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 cloves of garlic and stir until fragrant. Then add the shrimp to the pan and stir for a 1-2 minutes.
A Spice is Nice Original.
Usually I’m one of those people who remembers the 4th of July on the 3rd of July, but this year was different. Since we have some organized and adventurous friends, we had a camping trip planned about month in advance of the holiday weekend. This was a good lesson for me in the fact that “anticipation is half the fun”, because it really was exciting having something to look forward to. I even bought some red and blue marshmallow roasting sticks as well as color coordinating paper plates to take with us. And of course, I was excited to plan some of the menu. When I saw this smoked gouda pasta salad, I immediately bookmarked it as a must try, and I thought camping would be the perfect opportunity.
I’m very familiar with the Caprese type pasta salad, and while the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are tasty, I often feel that they are not strong enough flavors to create an interesting pasta salad. I’ve made that type of salad many times, and usually end up picking out everything but the pasta. That’s what I think is so great about this recipe – the pasta itself has some great flavor. It’s also really easy to make and requires pretty basic ingredients. While you might not regularly buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they add a lot of great flavor for a small cost. The thing that used to annoy me about them is that most recipes only call for 1-2 peppers and I would inevitably let the leftovers sit in the fridge until they looked so gross that I didn’t feel guilty throwing them away- but I have found the solution. Well, actually I should say that Sara over at Our Best Bites has found the solution: freeze the peppers in individual cubes of how much you might need. See her post here to see what I’m talking about. But seriously, don’t skip the chipotles- the adobo has very little spice but adds a smokey flavor that complements the gouda nicely. Then you can make this pasta salad and eat it out of individual ziplocs like we did on our picnic (classy I know). Or don’t do that, and eat it like a normal person, out of a bowl – I’m pretty sure it will taste good either way.
By the way, we went to Mackinac Island. You should totally make the trip if you live anywhere near Michigan, or even if you don’t. I did not remember such cool places existing in Michigan – it’s kind of making me change my view of the Midwest (at least until winter comes :-)).
Smoked Gouda Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12 as a side
- 1 lb (16 oz) Mostaccioli pasta
- 1/2 cup light Mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Milk (I used part skim, part cream)
- 5 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 1 T. Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper To Taste
- 2 pints Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
- 1/2 pound Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut Into Small Cubes
- 30 whole Basil Leaves, sliced thin (chiffonade)
1. Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent pasta from sticking.
2. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo sauce.
3. Add the pasta, halved tomatoes, cubed gouda and basil to the sauce in the large bowl. Stir to incorporate, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving (or keep on ice in your camping cooler).
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
When I put this on our (new) menu board for the week, John had no idea what it was. I described it to him as crouton salad, partially because it’s true, and partially because John loves bread and I knew a salad made of it would intrigue him. I really liked this dinner because it was easy, fresh, and included more than a full serving of vegetables, but the really great thing about it was the John loved it as well. He even said, “Wow, this was a lot more filling than I expected.” I served this as a meal on its own, but I think it would also be great as a side dish for a summer picnic.
In terms of cooking, don’t be tempted (as I was) to turn the heat up on the croutons in order to make them brown faster – this actually only makes them burn faster. You do have to watch the croutons while cooking, which is why I think cooking them on the stove is better than the oven. Just be sure to use a large pan, and to toss the croutons every few minutes. Also, this makes a lot of salad (way more than John and I could finish), and unfortunately the leftovers aren’t good because the bread gets soggy. To avoid this, cook the bread and cut the vegetables, but only combine the ingredients you will actually use that day. Then you can make the salad again the next day for lunch!
- 6 cups rustic bread (about 3/4 loaf), sliced into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced (or 1 hothouse cucumber – no need to peel)
- 1 Red pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Yellow pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Green pepper, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/2 of a Red onion, sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted
- 8 oz feta, sliced into 1/2 inch cubes
For the Dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 1 teaspoon dried, crushed oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon combined)
1. In a large frying pan heat 1/4 cup olive oil on medium- high heat. Once hot, add bread and reduce heat to medium-low. Salt the bread with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss the bread for about 10 minutes until crisp and slightly browned.
2. Chop vegetables, and in a large bowl combine all vegetables, feta cheese, and olives.
3. In a small bowl combine all ingredients for the dressing and whisk until combined.
4. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss. Add in the crisp bread and toss until evenly coated.
5. Clean up the kitchen while waiting for the flavors to meld. Add salt and pepper as needed and serve.
Sometimes I miss college. Well, let me rephrase. Sometimes I miss certain parts about college. Like the part where you can walk up and down the halls of the dorm and always find someone with their door open to hang out with. And the part where the most important thing on a weekend was figuring out what costume would be perfect for the theme of the next party (okay, so sometimes I still do this). But the thing I was missing this week was Torero’s – the signature Mexican restaurant in our college town. Because our meal plan was ridiculous, you could get Torero’s delivered to your dorm room anytime you wanted, on meal plan points. I had tried a variety of things from the menu, but one time someone ordered Taquitos, I tried one, and I fell in love. I’m pretty sure every time after that, I ordered chicken taquitos myself. Somehow I happened to never actually read the menu to realize they were deep fried, and although they clearly looked deep fried, I chose to ignore this little fact.
I don’t think I’ve had a taquito since college, but when I saw these baked chicken taquitos on Pink Parsley, I knew I would have to try them. Not only are they a baked version of my favorite college Mexican treat, but they also use my favorite salsa – Salsa Verde. (The same salsa I use in Chicken Enchiladas Verdes). Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, because these really don’t take that long to put together – in fact I think these are easier to make than the enchiladas. If I was a little more organized, I would’ve planned grilled chicken for dinner one night, and made sure to cook enough to have leftovers for these the next. Perhaps one of the greatest things about these taquitos is that you can freeze them (unbaked) and then bake them whenever needed. Actually, the ones in the picture were baked from a frozen state. I originally planned to post this the first time I made them – but we ate up all the taquitos so quickly that I didn’t get to snap a picture. I’ll have to say, they taste just as good from the freezer as they did the first time. This would also be a great meal for a big group dinner, because once you have the filling made it’s really simple to put together, and have you ever met a person who doesn’t like food they can eat with their fingers?
Baked Chicken Taquitos
- Recipe indicated is for 20-24 taquitos, which will serve 6-8 people
- 3 -4 chicken breasts (~4-5 cups shredded)
- 1 block (8 oz) low-fat cream cheese, softened
- 3/4 cup salsa verde (tomatilla salsa)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 tsp chile powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup chopped scallion
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 20-24 small (6-inch) flour tortillas
- cooking spray
Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil over high heat. Add chicken breasts to the water, reduce heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink when cut into. Remove chicken from water, let cool slightly and then shred. (You could also use leftover chicken, or roast the chicken in the oven)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and lay a wire cooling rack over a large cookie sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese with the salsa, lime juice, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, onion powder, garlic, cilantro, scallions, and a pinch of salt & pepper. (Everything but the chicken, cheese, and tortillas). Once mixed, fold in the chicken and shredded cheeses.
Spoon 3-4 tablespoons of filling onto the lower third of each tortilla, and roll tightly. In order to help the tortilla stay closed, you may want to spray some cooking spray on the seam. Place seam side-down on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.
Spray the taquitos with cooking spray, then place the wire rack on top of a baking pan (otherwise the cooking spray creates a sticky residue when baked on the cookie sheet.) Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are crisp and golden-brown. Serve with dipping sauces such as salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. I think sour cream mixed with salsa would also be delicious.
*To Freeze the taquitos, roll them up as usual but do not bake. Place on a baking sheet in the freezer in order to “flash” freeze them individually. Wrap in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil and freeze in a freezer bag. To bake, remove from oven, and bake un-thawed for 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees.
I first made this last year when my mom came to visit me in Toledo for pre-wedding preparation, and I remember her loving them so much that I wanted to make it again. Since John isn’t visiting with me this time (he has summer school), I thought I would try to eat some of the foods that normally he would turn his nose up at – this way I can get my fill, without having to torture him :-). While he’s never tried these sandwiches, he’s not a big eggplant fan, and it also seems that he normally prefers meals if there is some meat included. So these sandwiches seemed like a perfect lunch/dinner option for my solo visit home. However, after enjoying them so much – I might have to try to convert him.
This is a pretty simple recipe, and it becomes a lot simpler if you don’t worry about measuring everything exactly. The basic gist is to make a thick marinade with a 2:1 ratio of sun dried tomatos and basil, which becomes the base for the whole sandwich. You use this marinade to flavor the vegetables, and then you put some of the marinade on the sandwich itself. I chose to use sun dried tomatoes in oil, because I like to use the flavored olive oil in the recipe – it has a very strong flavor, which can be good or bad depending on your taste. If you prefer, dry packed sun dried tomatoes can also be used, but you will have to add a little bit more olive oil to the marinade. Whatever you use, know that the marinade is really what makes this sandwich.
Another great thing about this summery delight is the variety of summer vegetables it works with. I personally love roasted red peppers and eggplant, but I think zucchini, portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, or any other summer vegetables would be great. In addition, I used ciabatta bread here, but a french baguette would also be excellent. By chopping the roasted vegetables you could even serve this as an open faced appetizer – endless possibilities
Grilled Vegetable and Sun Dried Tomato Sandwiches
Make 4 sandwiches
- 1 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup loosely packed basil, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3-4 T. olive oil
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 3 red peppers, cleaned and sliced into 2 -3 inch slices
- 2 small eggplants, sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 4 ciabatta rolls
- 6 oz goat cheese
- spinach leaves for topping (optional)
3. Heat the grill to medium-high, and begin by grilling the peppers – I put them directly on the grate, but you could also use a grill basket if you prefer. The peppers will take longer to cook than the eggplant, so cook them for about 5 minutes and then add the eggplant. Continue to grill all the vegetables for 8-10 additional minutes, flipping half way through.
4. While the vegetables are grilling, slice the ciabatta rolls in half lengthwise and warm on the grill until slightly crisped. Top each with a generous tablespoon of goat cheese, followed by a tablespoon of remaining sun dried tomato mixture. Feel free to put goat cheese on both sides of the bread (if you are a goat cheese lover like me).
5. Top each sandwich with 3-4 slices of eggplant and 2 slices of roasted red pepper. Finish with spinach, if desired.
Inspired by Giada’s Recipe from the Food Network
After 6 long weeks of studying (plus 2 years of med school), I finally finished that huge exam. Honestly, I will have no idea how it went until I get my score in about a month- but for now, I’m just celebrating being done! I spent the evening after my test in Toledo hanging out with friends, and then left the next day for a “vacation” to Brecksville with my Mom. While I put vacation in quotes, it really has been a vacation. Between a lot of wine and a lot of fun family time, we managed to make a trip down to the West Side Market. Of course, I had a blog menu all planned out – and my mom was really excited to take part in something that was going to go on the internet :-).
If you’re from Cleveland, or ever visiting, I highly recommend a trip downtown to see it. It’s a really unique atmosphere, with every other stand trying to sell you their best produce (or at least the produce they have too much of).
After getting all the ingredients at the market, we stopped at Penzey’s spices which is right across the street. I have wanted to go to Penzey’s for a while, so I was really excited that their new store happened to be so close. They have just about every spice you could ever want, including about 8 different varieties of cinnamon. I ended up getting poppy seeds, Ancho peppers and Garam Masala – all of which I’m really excited to use. And the prices are surprisingly reasonable ($8 total for my loot).
Now onto the Salmon Cakes! These babies have been one of my favorite dishes since way back when I was living in LA (that’s Louisiana not the cooler California version). I decided to try this recipe after Whitney had introduced me to crab cakes at Red Bar near Seaside, FL. I have no idea why I never tried a crab cake before this but I found that I loved them and am now constantly on the lookout for good ones.
However, the price of lump crab meat is daunting (especially here, far from the ocean), so I thought salmon cakes would be a nice alternative. These always prove to be delicious, and they are quite easy to make. I think the hardest part is removing the skin from the salmon filet – but most of the time the Fishmonger will do this for you, as long as you remember to ask.
While this recipe doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients, I think each of them is very important – so don’t skimp. I know adding pita to a salmon cake might seem a little strange, but the texture is much nicer than the usual breadcrumbs, and then you have some leftover pita bread sitting around your house (plus!). The coriander is the main spice, and it really complements the salmon well. If you like a lot of spice, feel free to up the cayenne pepper – but I usually only add a small pinch, and they are still plenty flavorful. Finally, the lemon yogurt sauce is a must to serve with these. It’s super easy to put together since you already zest a lemon and chop chives to put into the salmon cakes – the only other ingredient you need to buy is the yogurt itself.
Salmon Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce
-Makes 4-5 salmon cakes or enough for about 3-4 people.
- 1 pound skinless salmon fillet, roughly cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large pita round (~10 inches), torn into small pieces
- 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- small pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of salt
- 4 T. total chopped Chives (divided)
- 2 teaspoons total lemon zest (divided)
- 2 T. olive oil (for sautéing)
For the Sauce:
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 1 T. lemon juice
- Plus half the chives and half the lemon zest from above
To prepare the yogurt sauce: Mix the yogurt, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of chives and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest in a small bowl. Keep cold until ready to serve.
In a medium bowl, mix together salmon, pita, mayonnaise, egg, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and 2 T. chives and 1 teaspoon lemon zest.
Form the mixture into 4-5 patties, about 3-4 inches in diameter. This can be done ahead of time – just cover with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge).
Heat the oil on medium-high in a large stainless steel skillet. Cook the salmon cakes on medium high for 3-4 minutes per side (6-8 minutes total), or until golden brown on each side.
Serve warm with lemon wedges and yogurt sauce.
Adapted from Epicurious
For some reason whenever I put salmon on the weekly menu, it seems to get pushed back to another day, or another week. The last time I bought salmon, it sat in the fridge until I was afraid to look at it and had to throw it out. This is really a shame considering that once I actually make salmon, I LOVE it! This meal was no exception to my salmon “fear”. I had gotten all the ingredients for the salsa and couscous, but when dinner time rolled around, I was really hesitant to pick up the salmon and make this dinner. Because we didn’t really have anything else planned for dinner, and because if I didn’t make it, all the other ingredients would go bad, I couldn’t really talk myself out of it (although I tried).
As soon as I starting chopping for the salsa, I was over my fear and glad that I had decided to make the salmon. When I tasted the final product, I was even happier. I actually couldn’t believe that I was considering scraping this dinner for grilled cheese instead :-)! This dinner came together quickly, and was delicious! I served it over plain couscous that I cooked with chopped green onion and dried cranberries – which was also pretty yummy. I think once the weather gets a little warmer, I’ll grill the salmon instead of broiling it, but broiling is easy and it came out great.
Salmon with Mango Salsa
- Makes 3-6 servings depending on the size of salmon filet used (Estimate ~4 oz per person)
For the Mango Salsa
- 1 Mango, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 of a cucumber, peeled and chopped
- A few strips of red bell pepper, chopped
- ~1/4 cup of red onion, chopped
- ~3 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- pinch of salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix.
For the Salmon
- 1-2 lbs wild salmon filets
- Juice from 1/2 a lime
- 2-3 Tablespoons light mayonaise
- Salt and pepper
Preheat broiler. Sprinkle lime juice over the salmon. Spread mayonaise over the filet using the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place salmon on a broiling pan lined with tin foil, and broil for about 10 minutes, until cooked through. To serve, cut into smaller filets, top with mango salsa, and serve over couscous or rice pilaf.
Source: A Spice Is Nice Original
This meal has been John’s favorite for a long time. That’s right, I said John’s favorite – Despite the fact that it has a weird looking buckwheat noodle, and is just about as far from a hamburger as you can get, John still loves this dinner. If that isn’t reason enough to make it, I really like it too. The first time I made it, I remember thinking, I have no idea how this is going to be – little did I know it would turn into a house favorite! I’m not usually a huge fan of ultra-healthy “hippie” food (no offense to the hippies out there), and soba noodles for some reason had that ultra-healthy sound to them. Take quinoa, for example. I know its uber healthy but every time I make it, I’m slightly disappointed. I still keep trying, but I usually end of thinking, “This recipe would’ve been better without the quinoa”, and then the leftovers sit in the fridge, untouched. This meal is not like that, at all. The soba noodles really add depth and a slight nuttiness to the meal. I made this once with spaghetti instead (because I didn’t have any soba noodles), and while it’s still good, it lacks the uniqueness and dimension that the soba noodles bring. So that’s my rant about soba noodles. You can find them in the Asian section of most grocery stores (I got mine at Kroger).
While this meal isn’t the quickest and easiest meal in my repertoire, it’s also not that involved, especially if you have the chicken left over or cooked in advance. I usually end up boiling the chicken because it’s the fastest way I know, but when summer comes, I’m going to marinate the chicken in some lime juice, and then grill it because I I think the grill marks on the chicken would be pretty in this salad. Oh and about that word – salad. I didn’t really know what to call this. It’s not really a salad – it doesn’t involve any lettuce and is more like spaghetti texture, but it’s a salad in the fact that you can eat it cold if you’d like. I actually prefer it refrigerated, but John likes to heat his up – so it’s just personal preference. I think this would be a great “salad” for a picnic lunch though (can you tell I have summer on the mind :-))!
Peanut, Chicken & Soba Noodle Salad
Makes about 6 Servings
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 cup natural creamy peanut butter*
- 1/3 cup warm water
- 2 T. honey
- 3 T. soy sauce
- 2 T. ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more if you like it spicy)
Stir all ingredients together until somewhat smooth. If sauce is still to thick, add another 1-2 T. of water, but also remember that the cooked soba noodles will likely add some liquid to the sauce.
*I like natural peanut butter here because I think it gives a stronger peanut flavor.
For the Salad
- 1 package (~10.58 oz) Soba noodles
- 5 carrots
- 5 celery stalks
- 3 green onion
- 2 large chicken breasts
- Sliced limes and Chopped peanuts for garnish (optional)
1. Begin by cooking the chicken – I usually simmer chicken in a pot of water at medium for 15 minutes. You can also wrap in foil and roast in the oven at 450° for 15 minutes, or marinate in lime juice for an hour, and grill. (Lime, and citrus in general, helps to keep chicken tender). Shred or chop the chicken into bite-size pieces.
2. Prep the Veggies. Peel the carrots, and slice very thin or shave with the peeler. (I got a julienne peeler at TJ Maxx, and it works great for this). Wash the celery, and slice on a diagonal to create large slices. Slice the green onions.
4. Assemble. If you want to serve the meal warm, quickly toss the sauce, soba noodles, chicken, and about 3/4 of the vegetables together in a large bowl and top with remaining vegetables to serve. If you want to serve the meal cold, rinse the soba noodles under cold water, toss with the sauce, chicken and 3/4 of the vegetables, and refrigerate for 10-20 minutes. Then top with the remaining vegetables before serving. A final sprinkling of lime juice and peanuts gives a lot of extra flavor to this meal.
If you’re looking for a change from your ordinary weeknight menus – look no further! When I first saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it because it would really add a lot of interest to our normal weeknight menu rotation. While being very unique, it doesn’t call for a bunch of crazy ingredients – you could find everything at Walmart if you wanted. I was a little worried John wouldn’t like this since it’s not your typical American fare, but to my surprise I think he liked it even more than me! It has a smokey flavor, and yet is a little bit creamy because of the ground almonds used in the sauce.
When planning meals for the week, I put Spicy Bean Burritos on the menu, because they also call for chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, and that way I knew the can I bought wouldn’t go to waste. If you like your dinner on the spicy side, then use the entire chipotle pepper. Personally, I like just a hint of heat, so I removed the seeds from the 2 peppers I used, which really cuts down on the spice. I also happened to have some corn tortillas left over from Chicken Enchiladas , so that helped to cut down on ingredients to buy (corn tortillas last forever, or so it seems).
The recipe makes a lot of sauce, so it could really accomodate anywhere from 2 – 4 large chicken breasts. If you don’t want to make the whole batch, just freeze the sauce and use it over some leftover chicken at a later point in time. We ate it plain, but I’m planning on serving the leftovers over some cilantro-lime rice, yummmm.
Chipotle Almond Chicken Mole
- 2/3 cup roasted almonds (salted is fine)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 (14.5 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 (6-inch) corn tortillas, torn into small pieces
- 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 2 – 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all fat
To prepare the chicken:
Preheat oven to 450°. Sprinkle chicken with salt & pepper and wrap, individually, in tin foil to keep the chicken moist while baking. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Slice into strips. *This can be done up to a day ahead of time. As an alternative, you could poach the chicken breast in water for 15 minutes, or use leftover chicken breast from another meal.
For the Sauce:
Place the almonds in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes or until smooth (it takes a little bit of time, but should end up looking like peanut butter). Keep in the food processor.
In a large skillet heat oil on medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic cloves. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients through broth: tomatoes, chipotle peppers, sugar, cumin, salt, cloves, tortillas, vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the tomato mixture to the food processor with the almonds. Also add 1 T. vinegar. Puree mixture until smooth. Return mixture to pan and add the chicken to heat through. Serve over rice if desired.
Adapted from Cooking Light