Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Salmon Nicoise Salad

I knew my blogging would be less frequent with the start of student teaching but I didn't think it would get this bad. I have had recipes that I have planned to make the past few weeks and it just hasn't happened, sorry!  The good news is that while my time in the kitchen (and at the gym) may be lacking right now, my first four weeks of student teaching have gone really well! I survived a field trip to the Planetarium with 30 kids, started teaching all of the subjects full time, and picked up some great stories (and germs). 

While most of my meals have consisted of whatever I could throw together in 10 minutes or less, I did manage to make a good dinner on Sunday evening. After eating too much junk food during the Bears game on Sunday I was craving a big healthy salad. Recently I had a Salmon Nicoise Salad at Nordstrom's Cafe and decided to try and recreate it. It ended up turning out great. The salad was easy to prepare, filling and nutritious with the omega rich salmon.

Salmon Nicoise Salad
** dressing adapted from a Weight Watchers Cookbook
print recipe

Serves 1 but you could easily double
Prep/Cook Time: 20 minutes

For Salad:
1 (6 oz) salmon fillet
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
2 T. pitted kalamata olives, halved
1/8 pound green beans, trimmed (about a handful)
1 large egg
1 small red potato, quartered

For Dressing:
** I made extra so I would have dressing for salads throughout the week
2 T. dijion mustard
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. honey
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425. While oven is preheating, place potato and whole unbroken egg in a small saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove eggs and run under cold water; set aside. Cook potato 5 more minutes and then add green beans. Simmer 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove potato and beans and run under cold water; drain. Peel eggs, and slice into wedges; set aside.

Coat a small baking pan with PAM. Season salmon with salt and pepper and cook for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Combine mustard, vinegar, honey, oil and a dash of salt and pepper in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

Combine spinach, olives, and onion in a large bowl; add vinaigrette, potato, and beans, and toss to combine. Arrange salad on plate and top with baked salmon and eggs.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Best Greek Salad

The picture below may not look like much but this turned out to be a really great Greek salad.  I am a huge fan of Greek salads, primarily because they involve olives.  Brady found the recipe on The Curvy Carrot and knew that it would be a salad I'd like.  He was right on, it was delicious.  The recipe makes a huge salad, at least 4 servings, so if you serve as a side salad you will most likely have some leftovers (which Brady said were great the next day). I think another serving option would be to grill some chicken skewers and serve on top- super easy main dish!

** If you go to the website you'll see a much better picture, The Curvy Carrot makes it look much more appetizing.

The Best Greek Salad
**adapted from The Curvy Carrot
print recipe

Serves 4
Prep Time: 10 minutes

1 cucumber, diced
1 pint small tomatoes,quartered
3 T. olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
1 medium clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
1 romaine heart, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, about 3 cups
1 cup feta, crumbled
ground black pepper

Combine romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, olives, onion and parsley in a large bowl.  In small bowl combine olive oil, red wine vinegar and minced garlic. Spoon dressing over the salad mixture and toss. Sprinkle salad with crumbled feta and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Soy Glazed Short Ribs

A couple of weekends ago I made Soy Glazed Short Ribs.  This was another outstanding recipe from a recent Chopping Block class.  This dish is perfect for a Sunday dinner because you need a few hours to let the short ribs cook. Or, like the Pork Pozole I recently made, you can cook the short ribs in a crock pot for about 8 hours.

This dish is incredibly easy and the majority of the ingredients you may already have on hand if you do any Asian cooking. The hardest part for me was finding the short ribs and lemongrass.  Three grocery stores later I finally found the short ribs. Unfortunately I was out of luck with the lemongrass. I don't think the dish tasted much different without it though so if you run into problems finding lemongrass just skip it and you'll be fine. Frustrating as my snowy trek around neighborhood grocery stores was, the short ribs were well worth the effort!

Soy Glazed Short Ribs
** from the Chopping Block
print recipe

Serves 4-6
Prep/Cook Time: 3 hours and 30 minutes

2 T. grapeseed oil
4 LB. boneless beef short ribs, cut into 4 ounce portions
salt and pepper to taste
flour for dredging
3 scallions, cut into 1/2 inch slices on the bias
3 cloves garlic, rough chopped
1 T. ginger, freshly grated
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 1 inch pieces
3/4 tsp red chili flakes
1 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
4 c. chicken stock
2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 c. light brown sugar

1/4 c. hoisin sauce
2 T. freshly squeezed orange juice
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
steamed jasmine brown rice
2 scallions, sliced thin for garnish
2 T. sesame seeds

Heat a deep heavy pot over medium high heat and add the grapeseed oil. Season the ribs with salt and pepper to taste and dredge in flour, shaking off any excess. In a couple of batches, sear the ribs in the hot pan until golden brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium low and saute the scallions, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and red chili flakes just until aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, chicken stock, orange juice and brown sugar.

Return the seared ribs to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until the meat is tender, about 3 hours.

Remove the braised ribs from the braising liquid and set aside covered with foil to keep warm. Skim any fat from the braising liquid and discard. Stir the hoisin sauce into the braising liquid and simmer until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups. Strain the sauce through a sieve (I just used a slotted spoon) to remove any solids and return to the pot. Stir in the orange and lemon juice.

Return the ribs to the pot and coat them with the reduced sauce until nicely glazed and hot. Serve the ribs on a bed of jasmine rice and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.

** If making this dish in a crock pot, brown the meat and then combine all of the ingredients in your crock pot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Whole Wheat Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Halloumi

You may have noticed by now that I am a big fan of other peoples food blogs. I am not one of those people that just throws random things together for dinner.  I like collecting recipes, I enjoy planning my grocery list, and I love directions... yes I realize that I am completely type A.  I am sure that I could use my imagination and come up with something on my own but I would much prefer to follow the directions of other bloggers and cookbook authors.

Eats Well with Others is a food blog that Brady recently came across and so many of the recipes look great. Brady found this recipe last week and made it for me on Saturday night.  It was awesome!  The squash went perfectly with the ground lamb and I loved the cinnamon and cumin flavor.  One of the other things that I loved about this dish was that it wasn't heavy.  While it's a pasta dish it only uses 8 ounces of whole wheat pasta (and yes, you only need the 8 oz) and the bulk of the dish really comes from the squash. 

Whole Wheat Pasta with Butternut Squash, Ground Lamb, and Halloumi
** from Eats Well with Others
print recipe

Serves: 2-4

1 (2 lb) butternut squash, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and chopped into smaller cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz ground lamb
2 1/2 cups onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz multi-grain or whole wheat pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1/2 cup grated halloumi or kasseri cheese, divided

Preheat the oven to 450.  Spray squash with olive oil cooking spray.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Transfer squash to a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until tender and brown around the edges, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add lamb and onions.  Saute until lamb is browned and onions soften, about 7-8 minutes.  Add garlic and the next 3 ingredients; stir 1 minute.  Stir in tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.  Stir in squash.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta in large pot of salted boiling water until just tender but still firm to the bite.  Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.  Return pasta to the pot.  Add lamb mixture, half of the cilantro, and half of the cheese.  Toss.  Add reserved cooking liquid as needed to moisten.  Season with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowls and garnish with remaining cilantro and cheese.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

Last week was a very busy and exciting week, I started student teaching!!! Finally, after two years of Graduate School I am now in the classroom full time.  I will be student teaching for ten weeks and after completing the first week I see that the time is going to fly by. I am going to try my best to continue with the blog since cooking happens to be one of my favorite stress relievers.

Last week was crazy though: 5:30 wake-up, hour plus commute to school, and after-school baby-sitting.  Needless to say I spent no time in the kitchen. Thankfully I have a wonderful boyfriend who enjoys cooking as well and made awesome chicken and andouille sausage gumbo for us.  It was the perfect dish after a long day and cold commute!

Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo
** from Making Life Delicious
print recipe

Serves 6

1/3 cup Creole Seasoning, divided (see below)
5 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup onions, diced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup vegetable 0il
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
9 oz. chicken andouille sausage, skin removed and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
6 Cups cold Chicken Stock
3 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
kosher salt to taste, if necessary
2 tablespoons fresh italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
white or brown rice

Creole Seasoning (makes 1/3 cup)
5 tablespoons paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 tablespoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the Creole Seasoning. Coat the chicken thighs in 1 tablespoon oil and use the rest of the Creole Seasoning (2-3 tablespoons) to coat the chicken thighs. Bake the chicken thighs in a 350-400 degree oven until brown (about 20-25 minutes).

Mix the onion, celery, and bell pepper together in a small bowl. Heat the 1/4 cup oil in a dutch oven or heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook, stirring or whisking often until it is a milk chocolate color. This takes about 15-20 minutes.  Add the andouille sausage, 1 1/2 cups of the pepper/onion mixture, and 1 tablespoon of Creole seasoning.  Cook, stirring often, for about ten minutes or until the vegetables soften.

Add the cold stock, the remaining 1/2 cup of pepper/onion mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons of Creole Seasoning, garlic and bay leaves. Bring to a boil and then down to a simmer.  Add the baked thighs and let it simmer for 2 hours (Brady did an hour and that was enough time), stirring occasionally.  About 10-15 minutes before you’re ready to serve, break up the chicken with the back of a spoon.  Add the worcestershire sauce and 1/2 of the green onions.  Add additional salt, if needed.  Serve over cooked rice and garnish with remaining green onions, chopped parsley and hot sauce (to taste).

Monday, January 3, 2011

African Chicken Peanut Soup

For those of you that are Top Chef fans you may have seen Carla get rave reviews for her African Peanut Soup a couple of weeks ago on Top Chef All Stars. I was very intrigued by the dish, it looked delicious and was something different from my usual soup recipes. I remember my dad talking about eating Peanut Soup while in Africa with the Peace Corp back in the seventies- now I am pretty sure that his contained fried grasshoppers or ants or something else along those lines... or perhaps I am confusing my stories. Regardless, I thought it would be fun to try it out (without the fried insects)!

I ended up searching online for African Peanut Soup and came across the below recipe on Cooking Light.  It had over 80 positive reviews, many people stating that this was their favorite soup recipe.  I was sold and after making it last night have no objections to all of the great reviews. This soup was awesome. The soup is incredibly filling, quick to make and low in calories and fat.

African Chicken Peanut Soup
** from Cooking Light
print recipe

Serves 6-8
Prep/Cook Time: 30 minutes

1 1/2 cups cubed peeled sweet potato
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeƱo pepper, seeded and minced
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast (about 8 ounces)
1 cup bottled salsa
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (15-ounce) cans Healthy Choice Chicken With Rice Soup or any less-sodium chicken-and-rice soup, undiluted
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

Heat a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add a teaspoon of olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the first five ingredients (through jalapeno pepper) to the pan and sautee for about 5 minutes.  Add the chicken and next four ingredients (through the black beans) and bring to a boil.  Once the soup is boiling reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes add the peanut butter, stirring with a whisk, cook for about 2 minutes.