Friday, October 31, 2014

Paleo Pumpkin Bars


I know for many people out there, pumpkin desserts are just one of the things to be joyful about in the fall.  I count myself in this group!  These bars have all of the flavors you'd expect in a pumpkin pie and hold up to little fingers better than a slice of pie would.  Our daughter looked like she won a pie eating contest after eating these, but it was worth it since she loved them so much.

Ingredients for the filling:
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup of raw honey
3/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup water cold water
4 tbsp. grass fed gelatin (I use the great lakes brand)
2 eggs
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

First add the cold water to a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin  to allow it to "bloom" before using.   Next combine the pumpkin, coconut milk, honey, eggs, coconut oil, vanilla and spices well and transfer them to large saucepan.  Turn up the heat to medium and allow the ingredients to simmer.  Once the mixture is hot, add in the gelatin and whisk vigorously to incorporate it into the filling.

Ingredients for the crust:
Pumpkin Pie Crust
1 1/2 cups of almond flour
1 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tbsp raw honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Line the bottom of an 8 x 9 inch pan with parchment paper, allowing some excess come up the sides.
Combine all of the crust ingredients into a bowl and mix them well.  Take crust dough and press into the bottom of the pan, trying to spread it and pat it down evenly throughout. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the coconut is slightly toasted.  Remove from the oven and pour the pie filling over the crust.  Using a spatula, spread the filling so that it forms an even layer.  Place the pan in the fridge to cool and set for at least 4 hours.  Cut into squares and serve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vanilla Cupcakes with Coconut-lime Frosting (Grain Free)



These cupcakes are perfectly moist and delicate and the frosting is creamy with just the right amount of tartness.  You wouldn't know it was grain free unless someone told you!

For the cupcakes:
 2 1/2 cup almond flour (I used the honeyville brand)
1 tbsp. coconut flour
2 tbsp. coconut sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1/2 cup coconut oil or butter, melted
5 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda

Add the melted butter or coconut oil into a large mixing bowl.  Next add the honey, coconut sugar and vanilla and mix well.  Add the eggs and combine with the ingredients in the mixing bowl until the mixture is velvety and smooth.  Next add your dry ingredients and blend well.  Line a cupcake pan with baking cups and scoop the mixture in about 3/4's of the way. Bake for 15-18 minutes.  


For the frosting:
4 egg whites
1 cup palm shortening 
1/2 cup coconut syrup
4 tbsp. arrowroot or tapioca starch
4 tsbp. coconut flour
1 tsp. freshly grated lime zest (reserve some for garnish)
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tbsp. coconut oil 
1/3 tsp. salt

First whip up the egg whites using a mixer until stiff peaks form and set aside.  Next add the palm shortening and blend with your mixture until is is softened.  Add the all of the ingredients except the egg whites and coconut oil and blend for 3 minutes.  Next melt the coconut oil and drizzle it in slowly while blending with your mixer. Fold in the egg whites gently. Lastly, garnish with some fresh lime zest.

  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cilantro and Lime Chicken Meatballs and Sauteed Spinach


I thought I'd post another recipe just to keep the momentum going.  I made this a really long time ago; like last December but never blogged it.  Since then, I must have made this over a dozen times.  It really is a repeat worthy dish that is easy enough for a weeknight meal.  And if you're not a stickler for perfectly round meatballs, it will cut your time in half- I just spoon the meatball mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet using two spoons and attempt to make a somewhat round shape.  I personally like them like this; they're all different and it adds a little rustic flair.

For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground chicken
1/4 cup fine almond flour (I used honeyville)  *This ingredient is optional
1 egg
6 large garlic cloves, grated
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 limes (juiced)
1 tbsp. mayo
salt to taste

Add the chicken to a bowl and break up with a spatula.  Then add the egg, almond flour, cilantro, lime juice, mayo, salt and garlic and combine well.  I know it sounds weird to add mayonnaise to this recipe but it makes the meatballs really moist, and a little goes a long way.    Using the two-spoon trick I mentioned above, begin placing this mixture on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

For the Spinach:
8 cups baby spinach leaves
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 lemon (juiced)

Add the olive oil to a skillet and turn up the heat to medium high.  Once the pan is hot, add the onion and cook until it becomes translucent. Add the lemon juice to the pan.  Next add the spinach and cook until it is wilted; about 4 minutes.  Serve hot.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pan Seared Cod with Grilled Summer Veggies


It's been quite a while since my last blog post, and a lot has happened since then: Had a beautiful baby, sleep deprivation set in, sold and bought a house, life got a bit hectic... So how do you go about summarizing the last two years? You don't. Let's get to cooking!

What I love about this dish is how there aren't really any crazy ingredients, just humble, basic stuff, but so very delicious.   I made this on the last day of summer and we really enjoyed it!

For the Cod:
4 cod fillets
2 tbsp. butter
1 garlic clove, grated or minced
salt to taste
1 tbsp capers to garnish

First, salt the cod.  Add the butter into a skillet and grate the garlic.  Turn up to medium heat.  Once the butter is melted, add the fish to the pan.  Cook undisturbed until it browns on one side, then flip and let it get nice and golden on the other side.  Remove from the pan and top with capers and a generous squeeze of lemon juice.


For the Vegetables:
3 medium zucchinis cut into slices lengthwise
1 large red bell pepper
3 lemons cut in half
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
1/2 tsp. freshly chopped rosemary
1 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
3 sprigs of fresh oregano to garnish
salt  and freshly cracked pepper to taste

First, slice the zucchini and red bell peppers and place them on a grill pan or outdoor grill.  Allow the vegetables to cook enough to get the pretty grill marks and then transfer to a platter. Cut the lemons in half and place face down on the grill and allow them to char as well.  In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, garlic and rosemary.  Once the veggies are on the platter, brush some of the olive oil mixture over them.  Then drizzle the balsamic vinegar over the veggies.  Add salt and pepper and serve.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mu Shu Chicken

I have been thinking of what meals I've made recently that would be Paleo friendly and this was one I thought of. This dish is traditionally eaten on crepes, but since we're not eating flour I just used lettuce and made a sort of lettuce wrap. I could have also made a coconut flour crepe, but I was really hungry and didn't want to mess with it this time.


Ingredients:
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups cabbage thinly sliced (Napa cabbage or regular cabbage will work in this recipe)
1 onion thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shitake mushrooms, sliced (woodear mushrooms would work too)
5 eggs, scrambled
1 bunch scallions,  sliced into long slices
1 cup bean sprouts
2 tbsp. coconut oil
Salt to taste

First slice the chicken breast into thin long strips. Season with salt.    Add 1 tbsp. of coconut oil to a non-stick pan and turn the heat up to high.  Saute the chicken in batches until it is cooked through and browned.  Set aside.  While the chicken is cooking, slice your onion.  The thing I really like about this dish is the charred flavor you get from all of the veggies.  The trick to achieving this flavor is to place your wok over your burner and turn to high.  Add the onions without any oil and let them cook undisturbed for a few minutes.  Take a spatula and stir to saute them evenly, but do not over cook.  Transfer to a holding plate.  Next slice your cabbage and do the same thing with the cabbage that you did with the onions, again remembering not to overcook.  The veggies in this dish should be nice and crunchy.  Transfer the cabbage to your holding plate.  Next add a little coconut oil to your wok and add in the sliced shitake mushrooms.  Cook over high heat until the mushrooms brown.  As your chicken cooks, transfer it to your holding plate.  Next beat the eggs and cook them in a non-stick pan (I used the one I cooked the chicken in).  Once the chicken and eggs are cooked, add all of the contents of your holding plate to the wok.  In addition to this add the eggs, bean sprouts and scallions.  Toss evenly.  Serve immediately.   I served this with some sambal, and typically some hoisin would go well with this, but that isn't paleo so I opted out.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Grilled Mahi with Sun-dried Tomato and Bacon Jam



As you may have noticed, it has been a while since my last post.  Really it has a lot to do with the fact that we started changing our eating habits quite a bit lately.  We recently cut out all grains, most dairy (except for cheese every now and then), refined carbohydrates and all refined sugar.  Our diet consists mostly of lean meats, fresh veggies and fruits, nuts seeds and coconut and olive oil.  We  are doing something similar to the Paleo diet, but we're not fully paleo as every now and again we eat beans and we're not eliminating dairy 100% just scaling WAY back.  All of this started because I have some serious food allergies, and a few health issues that I am trying to correct by modifying our diets.  I have been finding blogging difficult because I am still trying to figure out what works and what doesn't.  I've made a few really yummy dishes and this here is one of them. 

So far the diet is going well.  Every now and again i'll get a craving for something I can't have like bread or rice, but in all honesty, the cravings have subsided tremendously.  It was much harder in the beginning.  We have also been working out and I know that has been helping out too. I've lost a few pounds, but I've got a long way to go.  I find that he most challenging part of this diet is how expensive it is, and really if you're looking for convenience, then this might not be for you.  You basically have to cook and prep everything yourself because most things on grocery shelves have added sugars, soybean oil, corn additives and lots of other stuff that if you're like me, have allergies to, you'll have to omit or make yourself using allowable ingredients.  The other challenge is coming up with enough dishes in the rotation so that you don't get bored.  This is where planning has been crucial. I find that if I plan ahead, then I won't be scrambling at the last minute after a long day of work trying to figure out what to make.  I am still learning as I go, and if I come up with any recipes that are keepers i'll share on here.  

*disclaimer- I will refer to our new diet as Paleo even though we are not following it exactly.  It is just easier to refer to this way... and it is awfully similar, we're just not as strict with it as others.

Side note: We also don't eat pork or shellfish and the bacon I've used for years has been turkey bacon.  It never really quite tasted like the real thing, but it was the best substitute I could find.  That is, until I discovered beef bacon.  It tastes just like the real thing and is so delicious. We are so happy to have some bacon back in our lives!

Without further ado, here is the recipe for this dish:  I had mine with some spaghetti squash and B. had his with some Zucchini noodles.

For the Jam:
1 large onion finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 slices bacon (I used beef bacon)
1 pint baby bella mushrooms
1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup chicken stock
Salt and cracked pepper to taste

First, cook the bacon until crisp.  Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.  Reserve a little of the bacon fat and use that to saute the onions and garlic.  Next add the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir all of the ingredients and cook until tender.  Next add the chicken stock and the balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Mix everything well and transfer to a serving bowl.

For the Fish:
2 pieces of Mahi fillets (use one fillet per person)
1 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add the oil to a non-stick pan and turn the pan up to medium high heat.  Make sure you pat the fish dry (this will ensure you get a nice sear on the fish).  Next season the fish with salt and pepper.  Place on the pan undisturbed for 2-3 minutes.  Season the other side of the fish and flip over.

Place a serving of the Jam on your plate.  Place the fish fillet on top of it and place a little more of the jam on top.  Serve with your favorite veggie.  I had some spaghetti squash and it went really well with this.  B. liked it with the zucchini since he doesn't care for spaghetti squash.  If you're not doing paleo you could serve this with rice, or pasta such as orzo or angel hair.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grilled Rosemary Chicken with Balsamic Sauce


Today was a busy busy Sunday! Time flew today, but we sure got a lot done- I updated my iPod, cleaned, packed lunches and made this simple and spring-inspired meal.  Putting the chicken in a brine made them really juicy and full of flavor without adding extra fat.  Grilling them on our BBQ grill also gave them that nice smokey grill taste. It was a perfect meal for our busy Sunday, but quick and easy enough for any night of the week.

For the brine:
4 cups water
2 tbsp. salt
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

Mix all of the ingredients well until the sugar and salt have dissolved.  Place a quart-size freezer bag inside a deep bowl.  Make sure you wash the chicken really well first and then add it to the bag.  Next add the brine liquid and seal the bag, removing as much excess air as possible.  Place the bowl in the fridge for a minimum of four hours, but for best results, leave overnight.

Ingredients for the chicken:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast per person
1 tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary per chicken breast
1 tbsp. olive oil per chicken breast (but do not exceed 4 tbsp. if making 8 or less chicken breasts)
Salt and pepper to taste

Remove the chicken from the brine and place on a cutting board.  Butterfly each breast and score it on either side season with the salt and pepper.  Repeat until you have done this to all the pieces.  Add the chicken to a bowl and then add in the olive oil and rosemary and move around to coat everything evenly.  Turn on your grill  to medium-low and let it heat for about 15 minutes before placing the chicken on it.  Let the chicken cook undisturbed for about 8 minutes before flipping over.  Brush the cooked side with  half of the the balsamic glaze- recipe below. After the chicken is cooked completely, remove from the grill and slice into strips.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the chicken right before serving.

For the Balsamic Glaze:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
3 large garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
salt to taste

Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and let it simmer on low heat until about half of the liquid has reduced.   The consistency should be thick, but not goopy, enough to coat a spoon, but easy enough to spoon over the chicken.

I served the chicken with jasmine rice, and a trio of raw veggies:  asparagus, thinly sliced red onion, and thinly sliced tomatoes seasoned with lots of cracked black pepper, salt and a little extra virgin olive oil.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Veggie Delight


Lately, I've been making things that are quick, easy, and don't involve a lot of clean-up. I came up with the veggie delight sandwich- totally a knock-off of the subway sandwich, but so much yummier.  I finally had a little down-time over the weekend and decided it was time to get back to blogging with this recipe.

I've been busy with other things too besides work- In November I became the proud owner of my very first Ocarina and my life hasn't been the same since then.

Then the other thing that has been going on is that we've started watching Battlestar Galactica... it is so good we don't want to think that it will ever be over...

But back to the reason why I logged on anyway, the veggie delight... my new favorite sandwich.  It sounds simple and boring, but trust me when I tell you that you won't believe how much taste is packed into this baby.  You should go try this, like right now.

Ingredients:
1 whole wheat baguette
2 tbsp. butter
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large tomato, cut into thin slices
1 red onion cut into thin slices
1 bunch scallions cut into thin rounds
1 1/2 cup broccoli cut into thin slices (with stalks)
1/2 cup sliced button mushrooms
2 tbsp sliced black olives (I usually add this, but was out of them today)
1 jar mild banana peppers (this is really the star of dish)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
lots of freshly cracked pepper
Olive oil- to drizzle on top at the end
Salt to tase

First, slice the baguette lengthwise.  Grate the garlic into a small bowl or sauce and add the butter.  Melt the butter and let the garlic infuse it.  With a pastry brush, add a thin layer of melted butter to the bread and place on a baking sheet.  Toast in a 400 degree oven until the bread is slightly crunchy.   Remove from the oven.  While the bread is cooking, slice all of the veggies and begin layering on top of the bread, first the tomato, then the mushrooms, then the broccoli, then the onions, then the scallions, then the olives and lastly the banana peppers.  Sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese on top, and season with salt and pepper.  Lastly drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil over the top and eat immediately.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sweet Potato Cakes with Black Bean and Corn Salsa


This recipe is quick and great for a party appetizer.  Since sweet potatoes are in season, I had a few on hand and thought I'd use em up.  You could totally make this a vegetarian meal by omitting the turkey bacon.  I love how cute this little appetizer is lol.

For the sweet potato cakes:
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
2 eggs
1 cups flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking powder
4 tbsp. butter
1 green onion stalk, sliced into thin rounds
1 pinch cumin
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper
salt to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees/ Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Next add the mashed sweet potato to a deep mixing bowl.  Next add in the eggs, butter and green onions.  Combine all of the wet ingredients, before adding in the dry ingredients.  Once all of the ingredients are in the same bowl, combine well, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and place a dollop of the mix onto the surface of the cookie sheet- it should look like the size of a lemon (in diameter).  Flatten them down a little with your spatula and bake for 25-30 minutes.

 For the salsa:
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup corn kernels, thawed
5 strips turkey bacon, diced
1/4 cup red onion finely diced
1 tomato cubed
1 stalk  green onion, plus more for garnish
3 garlic cloves, grated
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/8 tsp. cumin
salt to taste

Add the corn, tomatoes, black beans, onions, garlic and green onions into a bowl. Cook the bacon in the oven at 400 degrees until it is crispy.  Slice the bacon into thin pieces and add to the bowl.  Next add in the lime juice, olive oil, black pepper, cumin and salt and combine every thing well.

For the garlicky sauce:
2 tbsp light mayo
2 tbsp. light sour cream
1 garlic clove grated
1 tsp. fresh lime juice
salt to taste

Combine all of the ingredients well.  Making sure to remove any lumps- you want a velvety smooth cream.

Assemble  by placing a sweet potato cake down on a serving dish. Next spoon a dollop of the sauce, followed by a scoop of the salsa.  Garnish with some sliced green onions.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Grilled Rib Eye Steak with Roasted Tomatoes and Sweet Potatoes


Last night, I made grilled rib-eye steaks with roasted cherry tomatoes and sweet potatoes.  I like my steak to taste like steak, so the marinade is really simple just a few ingredients.  The potatoes and tomatoes were roasted simply with a few garnishes.


Ingredients for the steak:
2 rib-eye steaks
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. butter
lots of freshly cracked pepper
salt to taste

First place the steak on a plate and drizzle a the olive oil on both sides of each piece.  Grate the garlic and smear it over the tops of both sides of the steak.  Season with lots of freshly cracked pepper and salt and place in a zip lock bag and place it in the fridge.  Marinate for four hours.

Once you're ready to cook the steak, add the butter to a cast-iron skillet and turn the heat up to high.  Scrape off the garlic from the steak (if you add it now it will burn) and season again with salt and pepper.  Place the steaks in the skillet and allow it to cook on high heat for about 4 minutes (or until a nice crunchy layer forms) before flipping. Let the bottom layer cook until it's nicely browned on that side too.  Then cover with foil and lower the heat to medium.  Continue to let the steak cook until it reaches your desired doneness- feeling the center using this method as a guide. Let the steak rest for about 5 minutes before cutting into it.

For the tomatoes and sweet potatoes:
Season the tomatoes with a little olive oil, herbs de Provence, salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Prick the sweet potatoes all around with a fork and cover with foil.  Roast at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. Slice the potatoes in half, add a little butter, salt and brown sugar over the top.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Apricot Glazed Turkey Breast


This recipe has a story behind it, one that I’d like to share as part of my entry in the Spreading Smucker’s® Traditions Recipe and Essay Contest.

When I was in my early twenties I moved to Ohio to be with my husband. That time in my life was exciting and filled with new changes. Thanksgiving came shortly after I arrived. I had just moved and couldn't afford to go home to spend it with my family. Although I missed everyone, it was also one of the happiest moments of my time in Ohio. That year, I planned an elaborate meal for the two of us. We often drove by the Smucker's plant in Orville, Ohio and that gave me the idea for the Thanksgiving turkey I prepared. I kept the same recipe that my grandmother had always used, but I added an apricot glaze. To some it may have been just a Thanksgiving turkey, but to me, it represented much more- the love I had for my family's traditions, and my excitement for contributing to those traditions with my own personal touch. I made all of the Thanksgiving fixings and we had dinner in our quaint little kitchen. Although we were not able to spend that Thanksgiving with our family, we were comforted by the familiar flavors of home in our first Thanksgiving meal together.

Ingredients:
2 turkey breasts split in two (brined for 8-12 hours previously)
8 cloves of garlic
1 large grapefruit
2 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Smucker's Apricot or  Peach Preserves
1 package turkey bacon (optional- I did one breast with the bacon and one breast without)

First, remove the turkey from the brine and place the breasts in a roasting pan.  Grate the garlic into a paste and divide in half.  Use half of the garlic and spread it evenly on both breasts.  Season the turkey well with salt and pepper and squeeze the juice from one lime and one grapefruit over the turkey.  In a separate mixing bowl, add the apricot preserves, the remaining garlic, salt, pepper and the juice of the other lime and the other grapefruit and whisk well.  Using a basting brush, brush on half of the glaze over the each of the turkey breasts.  Cover with foil and place inside a 325 degree oven.  Cook for 45 minutes and remove the pan from the oven.  Remove the foil and at this point if you'd like to use the bacon, drape it over the turkey breast. Baste the breasts with some of the drippings. Next, brush the remainder of the glaze over the turkey breasts and place back in the oven to cook for another 25 minutes.  Right before serving, place the roasting pan under the broiler to crisp up the skin/bacon.  Remove from the oven and let the turkey breast rest for 8 minutes before slicing.

Please visit www.smuckers.com to enter an essay of your own.  Good luck to all!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Simple Roasted Salmon



I have been sort of lazy in my blogging as of late. It might be caused by the extreme heat we've been feeling in Texas this summer.  If you don't live in the Midwest, it's hard to really describe unless you're experiencing it.  It feels like the sun is shooting lasers at your skin if you're outside for more than 5 minutes.  There is no cloud coverage at all.  We had a slight reprieve when the temperatures dropped dramatically to 90 degrees during the day! Needless to say, this heat just zaps any energy you have.  It reminds me of the twilight zone episode called Midnight Sun where people are suffering extreme heat exhaustion because the sun is burning constant all day and night.  So what does this have to do with my blogging you might ask? Well the truth is that I just don't feel like cooking things that are hot, or cooking at all for that matter.  There have been days where I'll have cereal for dinner or crackers and deli meat.  The days that I do cook, I try to make stuff that isn't too heavy, and the last thing I feel like doing is messing with camera equipment, staging the shoot etc.  I am beyond ready for fall.  I have been trying my best to get into the spirit of the fall season but it's really hard to do that when it's still 108 degrees in the late afternoon.  I did manage to make a light roasted salmon which I served with a fresh green salad.  This is fast, easy and not too heavy if you're feeling the heat too.  Plus it doesn't take that long to cook so your oven won't emit heat for that long.  We all know how high the electricity bills are coming in trying to cool off our homes in Texas!

Ingredients:
1.5 lbs. fresh salmon fillets
1 bunch green onions
1 small onion cut into thin rounds
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp. butter
1-2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly cracked pepper
salt to taste

First, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.  Place the salmon in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper.  Cut thin pats of butter and place them on top of the salmon and underneath. Place the onion rounds under the salmon.  If you want to spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray that is probably a good idea to prevent the salmon from sticking.   Place in the oven for about 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and flip the salmon over.  Season with salt and pepper.  Slice the green onions and grate the garlic.  Rub the grated garlic over the salmon and sprinkle the green onions on top.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the top and cook for another 4 minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve with a nice crisp salad.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fresh Corn Soup


I made this soup for the first time about a month ago, when I saw that corn on the cob was on sale for 20 cents a piece.  This soup is light yet filling. Paired with a fresh green salad, it makes a lovely weeknight meal. My only gripe is that I made this after dark and the pictures didn't come out that great, but I intend on swapping out the pictures the next time I make this.

Ingredients:
6 cobs of corn (you could use three cups of frozen corn kernels if you're in a hurry)
1 quart chicken stock
1 tbsp. flour
1 small onion
2 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. cream
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

First wrap the corn in foil and bake them in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them cool enough for you to handle without burning your hands.  Next remove the kernels of corn from the cob and set aside.  Chop the onion and set aside.  Add the butter to a pot and let it simmer on medium heat until the butter turns slightly brown and nutty.   At this point add in the onions and let them cook until they become tender.  Add the flour to the pot and then add in the chicken stock, corn nutmeg, cayenne pepper and salt. Make sure you taste the soup before adding the salt because the chicken stock also has salt in it.  Whisk vigorously to break up  any clumps of flour that may have formed. It's not a whole lot of flour so it should be fairly easy to incorporate.  Let everything simmer for about 5 minutes before transferring all of the contents of the pot into a blender.  Blend on high speed for about 4 minutes.  It seems like a long time, but blending it well will give you a gloriously velvety soup.  Add all of the contents back to the pot and add in the cream. Stir the soup to combine the cream well and serve hot.

Side note: if you want to make this a vegetarian soup, just swap out the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Blackened Bass


Last summer my assistant went on a fishing trip and caught a ton of stripped bass.  I had never had stripped bass, but coincidentally, had researched the possibility of going out on fishing excursion for just that.  I grew up in Miami, and my dad was a fisherman for some time.  He did it for sport and was really good at it.  His love for for fishing was passed on to my brothers and I.  But alas, I moved to north Texas where there is nary an ocean in sight.  The closest one is probably Galveston, but that's still a ways away.  I had never done freshwater fishing, but there are several lakes in the area where you can fish for stripped bass, largemouth bass, sunfish, and several varieties of catfish.  I never went on that fishing trip because it was super expensive to hire a guide for half a day, and you could only catch 2 fish per person.  I figured I'd just go and spend the money on a nice piece of fish from whole foods since that was a sure thing.  My assistant went on a fishing trip again this summer, and she brought me back a nice fillet of stripped bass. I had never had it, but it was really good.  The texture was really firm and the fish was mild.  I was so thankful to her for bringing me a piece- I am now reconsidering that fishing trip since I liked it so much!

Ingredients:
1 lb. bass fillet (or any firm white fish)
2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (I use this one)
2 tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tsbp. lemon juice
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tsp. salt

First pre-heat your oven to broil on the medium setting.  Place the fish in a baking dish.  Grate the garlic and with a butter knife, spread a thin layer of the garlic over each piece of fish.  Next sprinkle the Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper over the fish.  I normally don't use seasoning blends as I find that I like to make them myself, but this is the exception- this is a great spice blend and is very versatile. Cut the butter into thin little slices and place the pats on top of the fish.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the fish and broil for about 9 minutes on the middle rack of your oven.  Garnish with the green onions and add more lemon if desired before serving.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Buttermilk Oven-Fried Chicken


Last weekend I made a southern inspired meal which consisted of  sweet tea, buttermilk oven-fried chicken, cornbread, coleslaw, mashed potatoes and home-made pound cake with a citrus cream.  Fried chicken is something we rarely eat, but about once a year we'll get a hankering for it.   I attempted to make fried chicken for the first time during the memorial day weekend, but it was a complete train wreck.  The recipe I followed looked great in the pictures, but the chicken itself was gross, the breading was not crunchy, in fact it was soggy in parts, and didn't have much taste.  I decided to create my own recipe this time and I think it was MUCH better. Letting the chicken marinate in buttermilk really yields a super moist texture that is only complemented by the crunchy exterior.

Ingredients:
1  chicken (2-3 lbs but no bigger)
4 cups buttermilk
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. pepper
canola or peanut oil for frying

Begin by cutting the chicken into pieces.  Make sure you wash each piece really really well.   Get in there and remove all of the gross bits like the veins and excess fat along with that clear goop that the chicken tends to have. Rinse each piece with vinegar and set aside.  In a large gallon ziplock bag, add the buttermilk and then begin adding the chicken.  Store the chicken in the fridge overnight to marinate.

The next day set up your breading station.  In a shallow bowl add the flour and all of the seasonings and combine well.  Begin taking each piece of the chicken and dredging it in the flour.  Set aside until you're ready to begin frying.

The next steps are crucial if you want to get a nice crispy texture on the outside.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. In a large non-stick shallow  pan, add enough oil to come up about one inch from the bottom.   Turn the heat on to medium high, and let the temperature come up to 360 degrees.  Once the oil is hot, begin adding the chicken in.  Do not crowd the pan because you'll cause the temperature to drop and this will give you an oil texture instead of a nice light crunchy texture.  Allow the chicken to cook until it has a very light golden color on all sides.  Make sure you use tongs to turn the chicken and to remove it from the pan- using a fork will pierce the meat and cause the juices to flow out yielding a dry texture- NOT what you want in fried chicken.  Transfer each piece of chicken to the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes, making sure to turn the chicken once through the baking process.   To keep the chicken crispy, place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet and then place the chicken pieces on the cooling rack to drain any excess oil.  Season with a light sprinkling of salt all over and serve hot.




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