Sunday, November 2, 2014

Fish Tacos

I'm a little slow on the uptake sometimes. But after 633 pins and maniacal ravings from both friends and family, I finally decided to try this particular fish taco recipe. Being the rebel I am, I used chicken instead of fish but otherwise prepared it as stated.

Dude. Don't be like this girl. Make them NOW. And arm yourself with an extra fork - we had 3 generations of family fighting like starving scamps over these!

Click here for the recipe from Peas and Crayons and seriously, you can thank me later.

Fish Tacos (with chicken!)



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Salmon Furikake

So there was a bit of a buzz in our house upon the arrival of my newly coveted Furikake seasoning. I’d seen it mentioned in Gina Homolka’s new Skinnytaste cookbook (Roasted Sesame Green Beans – which I’ll be trying tout suite) and was eager to try a recipe I’d found online involving salmon, Teriyaki, and mayonnaise of all things. I say ‘of all things’ even though I grew up in a family notorious for slathering mayonnaise on swordfish avant the grill. It’s a technique I still use today with wild success.

Furikake is a dry Japanese seasoning typically consisteing of a mixture of dried and ground fish, sesame seeds, chopped seaweed, sugar, and salt.

Most of the recipes I read involved placing the salmon [skin-side down] on a large piece of foil on a baking sheet and then coating it with best-quality mayonnaise. Sprinkle the Furikake over the top. Make a foil packet around the fish and bake at 350˚ for 12-20 minutes, depending on the size of your salmon. One recipe included drizzling Teriyaki sauce over the mayonnaise before topping with the Furikake. This is what I did and it was delicious. I'm wondering, though, about the necessity of the mayonnaise and I will be trying the recipe again sans mayo. As always, I recommend the highest quality ingredients, as your end product will only be as good as the parts!

The end result was a decadent, rich fish replete with flavor. My house smelled delicious. And the bonus? My 3-year-old son was using both fists to shovel it into his mouth. He couldn’t be bothered with a fork, so frankly, I joined him in using fingers as our utensils. It was messy and fun and a wonderful dinner.

Disclaimer: Do not get ahead of yourself and start sprinkling Furikake on everything. Someone in this house (I won’t mention any names) put some on her cottage cheese and was not pleased. Then she tried it on popcorn and again was displeased. I do hear, however, it’s delicious on rice and tofu. If you give these a try I’d love to know your thoughts!

Until next time …

Salmon Furikake

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meatier Meatloaf

I’m not going to bore you with my rantings and ravings about how wonderful this recipe it. Just trust me and make it. You can thank me later!

Meatier Meatloaf
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
6 oz white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced thin
1 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp plus 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
½ slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 tsp Dijon mustard
¾ tsp pepper
½ tsp dried thyme
1 pound ground pork
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef (ground chuck is recommended)

Glaze
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tsp hot sauce
½ tsp ground coriander

FOR THE MEATLOAF
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form 9 by 5-inch rectangle. Center foil on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in foil with skewer (about ½ inch apart). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add 3 tablespoons broth and garlic; cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mushroom mixture to large bowl to cool.

Whisk eggs, remaining ½ cup broth, and soy sauce together in bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over egg mixture and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.

Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Add gelatin mixture, cooled mushroom mixture, parsley, mustard, pepper, and thyme to bread crumbs and pulse until mushrooms are finely ground, about 10 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer bread-crumb mixture to large bowl. Add pork and beef and mix with hands to thoroughly combine.

Transfer meat mixture to foil rectangle and shape into 9 by 5-inch loaf using wet hands. Bake meatloaf until it registers 155 to 160 degrees, 75 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven and turn on broiler.

FOR THE GLAZE
While meatloaf cooks, bring all ingredients to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.

Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 2 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; return to broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes longer. Let meatloaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

We served this over cauliflower puree with roasted asparagus. Healthy never tasted so good!

Meatier Mealoaf

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Broccoli Gratin

* Healthy * Weeknight Winner *

If you have young kids and/or a picky husband, you understand that getting them to eat their vegetables can be an adventure. I consider it a coup if I serve a moderately healthy recipe that they will both eat. I consider it parade worthy if they fight over their vegetables, threatening to stab each other with their forks if the other continues to pilfer their greens.

I would usually urge you to use fresh produce, but this girl only had a bag of frozen broccoli florets on hand. I simmered them until they were a little bit underdone and then proceeded as directed. And you really couldn’t tell any difference. So this time, I’d say go ahead and use frozen.

However, do not (the bold, underlined italics is my imploring voice) use store-bought bread crumbs! They taste like arse. I always store the heel of baguettes, boules, etc. in a Ziploc in the freezer. They take a few minutes to thaw and then you can blitz them in a food processor faster than you can say, “These taste much better than sawdust!”

Follow the link for the Broccoli Gratin recipe, courtesy of Food Network Kitchens!

And behold my beautiful picture! Makes you want to cook it right now, doesn't it?

Broccoli Casserole

Friday, February 21, 2014

Baked Avocado with Bacon and Eggs

Do you love eggs? Avocadoes? Then I have the recipe for you! (Yes, the recipe has bacon in it, but who doesn’t like bacon? If you don’t, please slowly back away from my blog before I notice you.) This is a delicious and healthy meal packed with nutrition.

A few helpful hints – look for larger avocadoes and go ahead and buy small or medium eggs. If you’re using large or extra-large eggs, you’re going to end up with a mess. Trust me on this. Really. Just trust me.

Editor’s Note: Make some bacon ahead of time and keep in the fridge – nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds to re-crisp.

Baked Avocado with Bacon and Eggs
Serves 2

1 avocado
2 pieces cooked bacon, crumbled
2 small or medium-size eggs
Olive oil or cooking spray
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425˚. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Slice the avocado in half and remove the pit. Slice a tiny bit of the peel off the bottom so the halves rest on a baking sheet without wobbling. Using a small spoon, scoop out enough of the flesh to fit the egg. Spritz the underside with olive oil or cooking spray and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Crack one egg into each avocado and top with crumbled bacon. Season with salt and freshly-ground pepper.

Cook for 10-16 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs and how cooked you want them (begin checking at 10 minutes).

Don’t be afraid to create your own variation – you can add some chopped tomatoes, peppers, scallions, feta or parsley to the avocadoes – anything you want. Get cooking!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Easy Sandwich Bread

So, apparently there is a shortage of snow plows in scenic southern Maryland. We have been snowed in for days after a few inches of the white, fluffy stuff graced our peninsula. The first item we ran out of was sandwich bread. Although my husband and I don’t eat carbohydrates often, my two-year-old son lives on ‘sammiches’ – cheese, tuna, ham, egg or otherwise. And of course this mom didn’t realize we were down to the last piece until my son grabbed it and shoveled it into his mouth while humming the theme song to Mission Impossible. (There are certain things that are better left unquestioned.)

With lunch a mere three hours away, I jumped onto my favorite cooking sites to find salvation. And yes, victory was mine. This sandwich bread proofs and cooks in under two hours. And the bonus? It contains some whole-wheat flour and it tastes great!

Editor’s Note: While I usually link directly to recipes published online, Cook’s Illustrated is a pay-to-use website.

Easy Sandwich Bread
Makes 1 Loaf

To prevent the loaf from deflating as it rises, do not let the batter come in contact with the plastic wrap. This loaf is best eaten the day it is made, but leftovers may be wrapped in plastic wrap and stored for up to two days at room temperature or frozen for up to one month.

2 cups (11 oz) bread flour
6 Tbsp (2 oz) whole-wheat flour
2¼ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
1¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp warm water (120˚)
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp honey
¾ tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tsp water and pinch salt

In bowl of stand mixer, whisk bread flour, whole-wheat flour, and yeast together. Add 1¼ cups warm water, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and honey. Fit stand mixer with paddle and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes. Scrape down bowl and paddle with greased rubber spatula. Continue to mix 2 minutes longer. Remove bowl and paddle from mixer. Scrape down bowl and paddle, leaving paddle in batter. Cover with plastic wrap and let batter rise in warm place until doubled in size, about 20 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray. Dissolve salt in remaining 2 tablespoons warm water. When batter has doubled, attach bowl and paddle to mixer. Add salt-water mixture and mix on low speed until water is mostly incorporated, about 40 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping down paddle if necessary. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth surface with greased rubber spatula. Cover and leave in warm place until batter reaches ½ inch below edge of pan, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover and let rise until center of batter is level with edge of pan, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Gently brush top of risen loaf with egg mixture. Bake until deep golden brown and loaf registers 208˚ to 210˚, 40 to 45 minutes. (If using a 9 by 5-inch pan, check for doneness 5 minutes earlier.) Using dish towels, carefully invert bread onto wire rack. Reinvert loaf and brush top and sides with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Let cool completely before slicing.



WHAT MAKES IT FASTER—AND EASIER?
The dough, or batter, for our bread is made with more than double the amount of yeast used in a typical sandwich bread, and it has 20 percent more water by weight. We also use the paddle attachment of our stand mixer instead of the dough hook employed for almost all other bread doughs.

MORE YEAST: WHY IT HELPS
Lots of yeast means a faster rise—20 minutes versus up to 2 hours for a standard loaf.

HIGHER HYDRATION: WHY IT HELPS
More water in the dough (up to a point) enhances gluten structure without requiring as much kneading; it also results in pourable dough that doesn’t need shaping.

PADDLE ATTACHMENT: WHY IT HELPS
Using a paddle (more typically used to beat heavy cookie dough) instead of a dough hook allows for more aggressive, faster kneading.

FLAVOR FIX
One downside of cutting back on rising time is a sacrifice in flavor, since the trademark taste of a classic loaf develops as fermentation occurs during two slow rises. We compensate for this by adding butter and honey to the batter as well as a bit of nutty whole-wheat flour.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

* THH Thanksgiving Favorite *

Yes, I know … Halloween isn’t yet here and I’m already planning for Thanksgiving. Don’t hate me yet – I’ll be posting Christmas recipes starting next week!

I adore the holidays and I love planning menus for the various celebrations we attend months in advance. That way I have time to test any new recipes, work out cooking timelines, and plan so well that the day of flows flawlessly. All it takes is practice – and anyone can host a delicious, enjoyable and healthy holiday meal!

We vary our vegetable recipes often during Thanksgiving, and this was our absolute favorite from last year. It’s a cinch to throw together and compliments everything from the turkey to the cranberry sauce. The Brussels sprouts get a nice crunch on their outer leaves, the inner leaves get soft and almost buttery – and well, there is the bacon. Bacon makes everything better!



Balsamic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts