Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Shrimp and Corn Cakes

I am having a serious love affair with this month's Cooking Light.  After this I might be done, but only until the next issue comes out.  Cooking Light isn't giving me anything to sing their praises (I wish!), I just think they're awesome.  Even though a couple weeks ago on an especially sleep-deprived day they called me with an offer to review a new cookbook.  I'm usually strong and hold my ground, but this time I agreed just to get them to stop talking to me so I could try to get the baby to sleep. 

Shrimp and Corn Cakes
recipe adapted from Cooking Light 

Makes 16 small cakes, serving size is 3

1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups corn kernels
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1 large egg
1 serrano chili, seeded and roughly chopped
1/3 cup red bell pepper, roughly chopped
12 ounces cooked shrimp, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
canola oil, for frying

In a bowl, whisk together cornmeal, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper.
Place 1 1/2 cups corn, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, hot sauce and egg in a food processor.  Pulse until almost smooth.
Add in serrano chili and bell pepper, pulse a couple times to chop.  You don't want to puree the peppers, just save yourself some chopping time.  
In a large bowl, combine corn mixture, remaining corn kernels, shrimp, green onions, and garlic.
Mix in cornmeal and flour mixture.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (I found non-stick worked well here).
Add canola oil to the pan and drop 1/4 cup portions of the shrimp and corn cake mixture.  Use a spatula to flatten and shape.
Cook for about 3 minutes per side, until browned and crispy.
Put cooked cakes in a 250 degree oven to keep warm.
Leftovers reheat well in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, finish with a quick broil to add crispiness.

These were great!  I will definitely be making them again when we start getting corn from our CSA.  We ate them alongside my favorite cranberry apple quinoa.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hoisin Glazed Salmon Burgers

Another recipe from Cooking Light.  Another keeper.  Jon and I both agreed these were delicious, and I'll be making them again soon.  I especially liked that I could prep them in advance and then pop them into the fridge so Jon could cook them up quickly after Colin went to sleep.  I actually enjoyed eating this slowly and drinking a glass of wine, instead of slamming down my food as quickly as possible while holding a wiggly, bouncing person on the verge of an exhaustion induced meltdown in one arm. 

Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Burgers with Pickled Cucumber
recipe from Cooking Light

Pickled Cucumber:
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (I used one clove, grated)
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (I grated this as well - keep your ginger in the freezer)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
24 thin slices English cucumber (I sliced a whole cucumber on the mandoline)

In a saucepan, combine first six ingredients (water through red pepper flakes) and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat, add the cucumbers, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
These can be made hours or even a day in advance.

Jon would like to comment that they are very spicy if you take a huge bite out of the container thinking they are going to be sweet. 

Hoisin-Glazed Salmon Burgers:
1/2 cup panko (I used 3/4 of cup)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger (the small microplane works really well for this)
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 pound skinless wild salmon fillet, chopped
1 large egg white (I used a whole egg)
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce

In a large bowl combine panko through egg.  Mix to combine.
Divide the mixture into 4 portions, and form into patties.  Press them to ensure they don't fall apart.
Heat a skillet (I used non-stick), over medium high heat.
Add sesame oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
Add salmon patties and cook for about 4 minutes per side.
After flipping, brush tops with hoisin sauce.

I ate mine over greens with the pickled cucumber and some chopped avocado.  Jon went with a wheat burger bun and layered his cucumbers and avocado slices.  We both thought they were excellent.  These fill my desire to eat both fish and burgers all the time.  I love summer. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shredded Chicken Tacos

If you've been reading for a while (or a week), you know that tacos are the number one requested food around here.  This recipe combines tacos and the crock pot, it's a match made in easy-dinner heaven.

These met with rave reviews from my two taste-testers, although Matt scoffed at my cheapo-crock pot and declared his much better.  I am going to give his a try and see if it really is better with it's fancy digital timer and locking lid and auto-shutoff.  I don't see why you wouldn't want a crock pot that has a lid that rattles when steam tries to escape so that you think there is an animal rampaging around your kitchen.  

Colin even helped get them started around noon, by which I mean he didn't totally freak out when I put him in his chair in the kitchen so I could deal with raw chicken.

I hesitate to call this a recipe because it's so unbelievably easy.

Shredded Chicken Tacos
1 package chicken breasts (mine was about a pound)
8 ounce can tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
Salt and Pepper
3 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (perhaps you have some leftover from Turkey Chili - I did!)

Put uncooked chicken breasts into crock pot.
Cover with remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
Using two forks, shred chicken.
Turn down to low and cook until ready to serve.

You could also leave it on low all day, but give it a few minutes to soak up the sauce after shredding before serving.

Serve it however you like.  It would be delicious as part of a taco salad.  I went with corn tortillas and our topping selection included: shredded lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pickled jalapeno, avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, cheese and sour cream.

On the side I made a very simple black beans and rice dish.  In a little canola oil over medium heat I sauteed one small onion, a chopped bell pepper and chopped jalapeno.  I stirred in 2 cups of cooked brown rice, a can of black beans and an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce.  Season to taste with cumin, chili powder and cayenne. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin Peanut Sauce

I love Cooking Light.  Out of all the food and cooking magazines I've subscribed to over the years (there have been a lot), it's my favorite.  Every month I bookmark at least half of the recipes.  Aside from offering healthy meals, as the name suggests, their recipes have a lot of variety, use ingredients that I have on hand or are easily obtained, and have simple, straightforward directions. 

I made these on a hot night, and they were a nice, light meal.  My brother-in-law Matt, my newest full-time taste tester, declared them to be innovative and fun.  You can't ask for much more than that. 

Asian Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin Peanut Sauce
based on recipe from Cooking Light

Serves 4

1 teaspoon canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons creamy almond butter (or peanut or sunflower, any nut butter will do)
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
juice from 1 lime (about 1 Tablespoon)

1 package tempeh, crumbled (tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, it has a ground meat texture when crumbled.  Find it in the refrigerated produce section near tofu)
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
6 thinly sliced green onions
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha hot chile sauce
1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 cup matchstick cut cucumbers
1 cup matchstick cut carrots
1 cup uncooked brown rice, steamed
Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves
chopped fresh cilantro

In a small saucepan, heat the canola oil over medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant.
Whisk in water, almond butter, hoisin and crushed red pepper. 
Simmer for 1 minute. 
Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.
When ready to serve, adjust thickness by whisking in more water, as necessary.

In a large saute pan over medium, heat sesame oil.
Add half of the sliced green onions (reserve other hlaf along with cucumbers and carrots to add for serving).
Add tempeh and cook a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in soy sauce, ginger, sugar, hoisin and Sriracha.  I eyeballed these amounts, so just add as much as you want to taste.
Turn off heat, mix in reserved cucumbers, carrots and green onions.
Serve in lettuce leaves topped with cilantro and along with sauce for dipping. 

This was my first time cooking with tempeh.  It absorbs the flavors of whatever you cook it with, so it's good in a recipe like this, and I liked the texture.  You could also use ground pork, chicken, turkey or tofu in it's place.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Turkey Chili

I can't believe I haven't share my Turkey Chili recipe with you.  It's one of my staple meals that I know will make a lot of delicious food, with even better leftovers.  The exact recipe changes based on my mood and what I have on hand, so it's always evolving.  That's one of the best things about chili, and I encourage you to make it your own.  You can also throw everything into the crock pot and cook it on low all day. 

Turkey Chili

Serves 6+

1 pound ground turkey
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
kosher salt and pepper
4 chiplotes in adobo, chopped (adjust based on your spiciness preference - we like it hot!)
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
14 oz. water
28 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
14 oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup corn (no need to thaw if you use frozen)
1 Tablespoon cornmeal + 2 Tablespoons water

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add the ground turkey and cook until browned.  Drain excess fat, if necessary.
Add in the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno.  Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in garlic and cook one minute more.
Stir in spices (cumin through salt and pepper).
Add in chiplotes in adobo, crushed tomatoes, black and red beans, and corn.  Add water as necessary.
Simmer over low heat for as long as you want, at least 20 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine cornmeal and water to make a paste.  Stir into chili and simmer until desired consistency is reached.
Serve with your favorite toppings.  I went with avocado, cilantro, hot sauce and tortilla chips.

Side note: Xochitl are amazingly good tortilla chips.  Thanks to my sister for introducing me to them. They are thin, crispy, made without any GMOs, and come in a big brown paper bag.  According to the phonetic note on the bag they are pronounced so-cheel, not wacka-chee-til. as I had been saying.  Go figure. 

And then I went with more chips, because that's how I roll.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marinated Steak Salad

The weather was gorgeous last weekend, so we decided Saturday night was the perfect time to kick of grilling season.  Last year we grilled every weekend we were home in the summer.  Leisurely nights spent on the porch while the charcoal heated, several cocktails and then dinner enjoyed by candlelight at our porch table.  Something tells me the timing and the cocktails will be a bit different this year, but Colin liked watching Jon man the grill. 

This steak marinade gave the salad a little something extra, and you could certainly mix up the herbs.  I think it would be delicious with rosemary.  Some vegetables, a scoop of leftover quinoa and simple croutons rounded out the plate.  For the croutons, I heated a garlic clove in olive oil just until it was fragrant.  Brush both sides of bread slices with the oil and put on the grill for a few seconds (15-30 depending on how hot the grill is) until toasted.  Cut into cubes.  I actually had a hard time finishing it all, which almost never happens, especially these days while I'm feeding the world's hungriest baby. 

Steak Marinade
makes 1 1/3 cups

based on All Recipes

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
3 Tablespoons dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large ziploc bag, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Add the steak, turn the bag several times to coat, and allow to marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Balsamic Roasted Eggplant and Mushrooms with Quinoa

Sometimes you need dinner to be simple, healthy, and able to be prepared hours before you eat.  This fit the bill on all counts.  My new love affair with mushrooms continues.  Leftovers are excellent, even eaten standing in front of the fridge holding a fork. 

Balsamic Roasted Eggplant and Mushrooms with Quinoa
based on Eat Live Run

2 medium eggplants (or one large)
16 ounces mushrooms, sliced (I used crimini)
kosher salt
1 cup dry quinoa
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/3 cup warm water
1 clove garlic, grated
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 green onions, chopped


Using a vegetable peeler, peel long strips on the eggplant so that it looks striped.
Chop eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes and put in a colander in the sink.
Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and let sit for an hour.  This draws out some of the liquid and also takes the bitterness out of the eggplant.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard, water, garlic and olive oil and mix well.  You can use a mini food processor, blender, or immersion blender for this if you'd like.  Or just put it all in a jar and shake or whisk very well!
In a large bowl, combine the eggplant and mushrooms.
Pour half the dressing over and stir to coat.
Spread vegetables out on a sheet pan.  I line mine with foil for easy cleaning.
Roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and browned.
While the vegetables are roasting, cook your quinoa. 
Bring 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth to a boil, add the dry quinoa, reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
Combine cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, and remaining dressing in a large bowl and stir well to combine.  Top with slices green onions. 
This is a great dish as a light meal, or a side (I had some of the leftovers with steak salad), and can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Four Months Later

Four months have gone by since we welcomed this tiny guy into the world.

He's much less tiny now (up to 18 pounds!), and has a whole personality that lights up the room. 

I spend my time with a little wiggly, kicky, almost rolling, baby cooing, toothless grinning, chewing on everything, giggling bundle of joy.  

Although I could certainly go on and on about how wonderfully amazing he is, and how he brings me immeasurable happiness every moment of the day, this month I wanted to share some of my favorite baby items.  I know some of you are expectant moms, or have friends who are, so these might be baby shower ideas!

Baby K'tan - This wrap is probably the single best baby item I own.  As Colin has gotten a little bigger and more independent, I don't rely on it quite as much as I used to, but there were many weeks when I wore him in it for the bulk of the day.  I would wash it in the middle of the night because I couldn't be without it for even a few hours!  It easily fits in the diaper bag, isn't bulky to wear, and he loves snuggling up in it.  My hands are free to shop, cook, eat, or whatever.  Even now when he's getting a little fussy and wants to be held, I'll hold it up and ask if he wants to get in it and he gives me a big smile. 

Ergo Baby - My other carrier.  It took a little while for us to get the hang of it, but now I love it.  It's easy to wear when I'm out shopping, and the design makes it comfortable for a long walk, even if you are carrying the world's biggest baby.  Lately I've been wearing it to the market, and all the old people stop me to admire the baby and make comments about taking him home.  That probably has more to do with the baby and less with the carrier, though. 

Fisher Price Rock and Play Sleeper - This was a baby shower gift from another mother, and I still use it daily.  At first it was nice to give Colin a place to nap anywhere.  As I mentioned before, he had some reflux symptoms early on, so he actually slept in it for several weeks at night.  He seemed to like that it was cozy and snug, and I liked that it was easy to get him in and out, and I could easily reach over in the middle of the night and rock him or rub his tummy. 

Sophie Giraffe - Touted as the world's best teething toy, I believe it.  My mom learned about Sophie when she saw a baby playing with one at a restaurant and loving it.  As soon as I gave it to Colin, he shoved it in his mouth.  It's pretty much been there ever since.  Sophie is designed so that she is easy for little hands to hold, and easy to chew on.  There was a dicey moment last week when I thought she had been misplaced, and I was fully prepared to order a new one, but I'm happy to report she is safe and sound.  I think Sophie would be a fantastic baby shower gift.

Carter's Onesies -  Day or night, Colin always has one of these onesies on under his clothes.  Or as his clothes, depending on where the day has taken us.  Of all the brands we have, Carter's fit the best, have the best shape, are soft, and stand up to many, many washes.  They are a must have!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sweet and Sour Shrimp

This is not takeout sweet and sour.  No breading, nothing deep fried.  Just a light, sweet sauce that is delicious on vegetables, fruit, and shrimp.  My only advice would be to take the tails off the shrimp before adding them in, otherwise you will be picking them up with your fingers, which is not very elegant, can be messy, and is hard to do when you're holding a little squirming person with one hand.

Sweet and Sour Shrimp
based on recipe by Emeril Legasse

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons water
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons pineapple juice
2 Tablespoons vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
2 teaspoons cornstarch 
1/2-1 pound shrimp (I used frozen, precooked)
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, grated
Canola oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
1 can pineapple chunks
1 bunch green onions, sliced

In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup water, ketchup, sugar, pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, crushed red pepper, ginger and garlic.  
In a large pan, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat.
Add in the onion and bell pepper and cook for a few minutes until slightly softened.
If you are using raw shrimp, add them in and cook until pink.
If you are using cooked shrimp, pour in the sauce, and add the shrimp.  
Combine the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons water in a small bowl to make a paste.  Add this to the pan and cook for a minute until sauce starts to thicken.
Add in pineapple and green onion.
Serve over rice.   

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Broccoli, Cauliflower and Potato Soup

This is one of those meals you make when you don't feel like cooking.  Easy, healthy, and made up of all pantry/freezer items.  You might even have everything on hand. The potatoes give this a creamy texture, without any cream.  Leaving half the broccoli and cauliflower as florets gives you something to chew on so it's not just a puree soup.  Add the bacon for a little extra smokiness and baconess.  Leave it out and you've got a vegan soup. 

Broccoli, Cauliflower and Potato Soup

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 Yukon gold potatoes, or about a pound and a half of any potatoes, chopped
1 lb. frozen broccoli florets
1 lb. frozen cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4-6 cups vegetable broth
Hot sauce
Salt and Pepper
Crumbled bacon, for topping

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium.
Add in onion, celery and carrot and cook for a few minutes.
Add in garlic and cook, stirring, for one minute.
Add in potatoes, half of the broccoli and half of the cauliflower.
Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
Pour in broth, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Using an immersion blender, puree the soup.
Stir in the remaining broccoli and cauliflower and cook for at least 5 minutes to warm through.
Season to taste with hot sauce and top with crumbled bacon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mushroom Millet Bowl with Kale

This is the same mushroom millet bowl that I made last month, but I bet a few of you passed it over because the picture was less than awesome.  It's hard to photograph mushrooms and kale at night.  I'm here to tell you to give it a try, though, because we had it again yesterday, and it is delicious!  Also, thanks to the sun staying up later and a slightly earlier dinnertime for me yesterday, I have a better picture now.  I changed the cooking process a tiny bit, so I'll just reshare the recipe with my new notes.  To mix it up even more, try adding diced chicken to the mix. 

Mushroom Millet Bowl with Kale
original recipe from Oh She Glows

1/2 cup uncooked millet
extra virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped sweet onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
16 oz. sliced baby portabella mushrooms
1 tsp minced dried rosemary
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1.5 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 cup vegetable broth
1 bunch fresh chopped kale, stems removed

Prepare millet, either according to package directions or as follows:
In a small pan with a lid, heat 1/2 teaspoon olive oil over medium heat.
Add in the millet and toast, stirring often for a few minutes until millet is lightly browned.
Pour in 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer, and cook, covered for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 
Fluff with a fork and set aside.

In a large skillet or saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  I used a soup pot so I could add a lot of kale.
Add in chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook for 5-10 minutes until mushrooms are browned.
Stir in the rosemary, nutritional yeast and soy sauce.
In a bowl or measuring cup, whisk together cornstarch and broth.
Add broth mixture and kale to the pan.
If you have a lid, cover for a few minutes to help kale wilt.
Allow to simmer uncovered over medium low heat until sauce has thickened.
Serve over millet.

Serves 4.

photo 1-1 photo 1-2