Thursday, December 30, 2010

CEiMB: White Turkey Chili


This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe was picked by Leslie of Lethally Delicious.  She chose for us to make the White Turkey Chili from from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.   This is an easy weeknight recipe that is light and fresh, which is good the week after lots and lots of Christmas indulgences.  

After looking at the recipe, I decided that I wanted my chili to be a bit heartier, so I halved all of the ingredients except for the turkey and the spices.  This made for a meatier chili with less beans, which is how I make chili normally, so I quite liked it.  I am also glad I kept the spices at that level as well, because without, the chili might have been less flavorful.  I added a jalapeno for a bit more spice, and instead of salt and pepper I used Goya Adobo with cumin, which is what I use for seasoning whenever I am cooking Mexican or Southwestern food.  I absolutely love it.  I used corn instead of hominy because that is what I had on hand.  I also would say it is imperative to add a splash of lime juice and fresh cilantro to your chili because it really brightens up the flavor.  Thanks Leslie for a great pick, I thought it was light, but comforting at the same time.  Be sure to check out the blogroll to see what the other CEiMB bloggers made.  

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chocolate Mint Cookies



When I was shopping at my local grocery store the other day, I came across these Andes Creme de Menthe baking chips.  They are basically small pieces of those Andes chocolate mints you get after dinner at restaurants.  I wanted to find a chocolate cookie recipe where I could incorporate these chips, and I found this one, which sounded really good.

These cookies have a great mint flavor, and they taste a bit like Thin Mints, but thicker, so Thick Mints I guess.  Next time I make these I will probably dip them in chocolate, that would really make them great.  The batter was quite thick and the cookies seemed a bit dry, so dipping them in chocolate would be a great addition.   They were crisp, rich, yet refreshing cookies. Great for the holidays!


Ingredients:
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2  cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cup (1 - 10 oz. package) Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.  With a hand held or standing mixer, beat together the shortening and butter until creamy. Add the sugars and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until thoroughly incorporated. Add the flour mixture and blend until smooth. Fold in Andes Crème de Menthe Baking Chips.

Roll the dough, by hand, into a 1 1/2 inch balls. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar to fully cover ball. Flatten the balls gently into 1/2 inch thick disks and place about 2 inches apart, spacing them evenly on ungreased baking sheets. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cookies set 1 minute on baking sheet. Remove from sheet and move to wire rack to cool completely.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

CEiMB: Beef Stroganoff with Green Beans and Grainy Mustard



This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Liz of The Not So Skinny Kitchen.  She chose for us to make the Beef Stroganoff recipe from from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.  It's a pretty straightforward beef stroganoff recipe in which beef is simmered in red wine and beef broth with mushrooms and onions.  At the last minute, I added some light sour cream to the gravy.  The original recipe called for some nonfat Greek yogurt, but I like the flavor and tang that the sour cream adds to the dish. The beef stroganoff is served over some egg noodles with a side of steamed green beans that have been tossed in some grainy mustard and seasoned with salt and pepper.  


I liked this dish, it was a nice hearty, weeknight dinner.  Perfect for this time of year when the low tonight is supposed to be in the single digits. I did think that it was a bit underseasoned the way that recipe called for, but with a bit extra salt and pepper, it perked right up.   The green beans were a simple easy side that packed a lot of flavor, and it was a good accompaniment to the beef, so thanks Liz for a good pick, and be sure to check out the blogroll to see what everyone else did with their dishes!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes


Myself and another co-worker usually make the desserts for the birthday celebrations at work.  For a particular birthday, I had a request for Red Velvet Cupcakes.  I had never made Red Velvet Cupcakes, so I wanted to make sure I had a good recipe.  I decided to try a recipe I found over at Simply Recipes.  Elise has such wonderful recipes, and I love her descriptions of the food she cooks.  This particular recipe was from a guest blogger named Garret McCord.  He has his own website called Vanilla Garlic.  I recommend checking out both Garret's and Elise's websites.  You will find wonderful recipes at both sites.

Red Velvet Cake is quite interesting.  It is basically a white cake that has just a touch of cocoa powder added to the batter.  It gives the cake a nice, subtle chocolate flavor, kind of like the hot cocoa I used to have as a kid. The cake is also called Red Velvet due to the copious amounts of red food coloring added to the batter.  I actually cut back on some of the food coloring because the batter began to be so red, I didn't think it needed anymore.  I also have included my recipe for Cream Cheese Frosting, which is the typical accompaniment to Red Velvet Cake.  This was a good recipe.  I recommend it if you are planning on making some Red Velvet Cupcakes in the future.



Red Velvet Cupcakes
makes about 24-30 cupcakes (depending on how high you fill your cupcake molds)

  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 1/3 cups of cake flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of buttermilk (I used low-fat)
  • 1 tablespoon of red food coloring (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar


Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 oz cream cheese (low fat is fine), room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar (or more if you like a sweeter frosting)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract




For the cupcakes:


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer for 3 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

In a large bowl, sift together the cake flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and red food coloring.  Add a fourth of the dry ingredients and mix, then add a third of the wet. Continue adding in a dry, wet, dry pattern, ending with the dry ingredients.

Scoop into cupcake papers, about 1/2 to 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking to ensure even baking.  Allow to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the frosting: 

Ensure that the butter and cream cheese are both fully at room temperature, otherwise you will not be able to achieve uniform, creamy frosting.  Beat the butter and cream cheese together until they are thoroughly mixed.  Next, add the vanilla extract and mix briefly to combine.  

Gradually add the powdered sugar until desired sweetness and consistency is achieved.  I like my frosting to not be overly sweet, but feel free to add more powdered sugar if that is what you like.  

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CEiMB: Cioppino



This week's pick is from Margaret of Tea and Scones.  She chose for us to make the Cioppino from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.  Cioppino is fish stew originally from San Francisco.  It is a tomato-based broth that has wine and garlic added to it.  Ellie's recipe called for a combination of scallops, shrimp, and halibut.


Unfortunately, my stew only contained scallops and halibut.  I thought I had frozen shrimp at home, but when I got home from the store with the scallops, I went  in the freezer to get out the halibut, but there was no shrimp.  So, scallop and halibut cioppino it was. 

I really liked the flavor of the broth.  It had a rich tomato taste, and I enjoyed the heat from the crushed red pepper.  I added a bit of smoked paprika as well to give the broth a hint of smoke.  I thought it was a nice touch.  I do have to say that as much as I like the broth flavor, I didn't think that flavor infused into seafood.  The seafood was a bit bland, but overall I did like the dish.  I think the broth would also be good with some pasta and some Italian sausage, but I would substitute the fish broth with beef broth.  Thanks to Margaret for hosting this week, and be sure to check out the blogroll to see what the other bloggers did this week!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween: Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Icing


Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love when the leaves change color, and it starts to get cooler. I also love the baking that begins this time of year. Apples, pears, and especially pumpkin. This is the first of many recipes I plan on making this year. I wanted to make something for Halloween and these pumpkin cookies from The Joy of Baking looked delicious. These cookies are more like little cakes than cookies, light and fluffy. I changed some spices from the original recipe and reduced the sugar a bit. They are very flavorful, and the cream cheese icing is a nice balance with the cookies because it is not too sweet.

Cookies:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup plus 2T light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil (or other flavorless oil)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree

Cream Cheese Icing:
4 ounces room temperature cream cheese, regular of low fat
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 pure vanilla extract

Halloween sprinkles (optional)

Note: Instead of frosting the cookies, you could add to the batter 1 cup of chopped nuts or 1 cup of chocolate chips.

For the Cookies: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and place oven rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper

In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves, and salt. In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and smooth (about 2 minutes). Beat in the oil, vanilla extract, and pumpkin puree. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. Place small mounds of batter onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart. I used a 3T cookie scoop. Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. Place small dollops of the frosting on each cookie. Decorate with Halloween sprinkles if desired. Store uniced cookies at room temperature. Store iced cookies in the refrigerator.

For the icing: Beat the cream cheese and butter until combined. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla until the frosting is soft and creamy.

Makes about 20 cookies

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie




I love all things apple, so when my mom's work was hosting an apple pie contest, I knew that i wanted to enter.  I decided to make a version of this pie from epicurious.com.  Cinnamon and apples are a classic combination, and I liked that this version was a bit different from a traditional Dutch apple pie.  The crumb topping actually forms a crisp, sugary, cinnamon crust on top.  I thought it was delicious, and so did the customers at my mom's work, who did the voting.

I followed the recipe for the most part, but I did use a different crust.  The crust I use for every pie is Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  It is buttery, flaky, and delicious.  It uses a combination of butter and shortening to give it great flavor and a flaky texture.  It easily comes together in a food processor, and the recipe is easy to double, so you can always freeze half of it to use at another time. 



Cinnamon Crumble Apple Pie

Crust (makes one 9-inch single crust)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose floor
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
  • 2 1/2 T. very cold (or frozen) vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
  • About 1/4 cup ice water
Filling
  • 3 1/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. ground cinnamon
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted
Topping
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 T. unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

 To Make the Crust:

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients.  Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse just until they are cut into the flour mixture. Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 3 tablespoons of water.  Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour.  If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary so the dough will stick together when pinched. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling.

Roll the dough out on a floured surface or between sheets of wax paper.  If working on a floured surface, turn the dough over frequently and keep the counter floured.  Fit the dough into the pie plate, and using a pair of scissors, cut the excess dough to a 1/2 inch overhang.  Fold the dough under itself, so it hangs a bit over the edge.  Flute the edge or use a for to make a decorative edge.

To Make the Filling

 Mix all the ingredients together to coat the apples.

To Make the Topping
Blend first 5 ingredients in processor. Add chilled butter cubes; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles wet sand.
Toss filling to redistribute juices; transfer to crust, mounding in center. Pack topping over and around apples. Bake pie on baking sheet until topping is golden, about 40 minutes (cover top with foil if browning too quickly). Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until apples in center are tender when pierced and filling is bubbling thickly at edges, about 45 minutes longer. Cool until warm, about 1 hour. Serve with ice cream, if desired

Thursday, October 21, 2010

CEiMB: Chicken Pot Pies with Phyllo Crust


This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly pick is from Shandy of Pastry Heaven.  She chose for us to make the Chicken Pot Pies from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.  I really wanted to try this recipe because instead of the heavy crust that usually accompanies a chicken pot pie (which I do love), this pot pie uses a phyllo dough crust.  Phyllo dough is light and crispy, and typically used in Greek dishes such as spanakopita or baklava.



I must admit, I took a few shortcuts this week, but that is what is so great about Ellie's recipes, they are always adaptable.  Whenever I am making an Ellie recipe, I try to make the most of the ingredients I have on hand because it can get a bit expensive buying special ingredients on a weekly basis.  Fortunately, I had everything on hand for this recipe except the phyllo dough.  Instead of the vegetables called for in the recipe, I used a medley of frozen vegetables from Alexia foods.  It was a combination of roasted red potatoes, carrots, green beans, and onions in a sage broth.  I simply cooked the vegetables as directed on the package, in place of the fresh vegetables, after you cook the chicken, and before you make the broth.  I had frozen peas, so I added them at the end. I didn't have any Parmesan cheese, so I just added some fresh cracked pepper and coarse salt to the top of the phyllo crust.




I quite enjoyed this recipe.  The sauce for the chicken and vegetables wasn't too heavy, and it complimented the light crust really well. I will definitely make this again, I think the recipe lends itself to so many great combinations.  Thanks to Shandy for a great pick, and be sure to check out the blogroll to see what other CEiMB participants did with their pot pies!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

CEiMB: Apple Brown Betty



After a hectic September, and a much needed vacation I am back on track with Craving Ellie in My Belly.  This week's pick is from Jessica of Learning to Love Vegetables.  She chose for us to make the Apple Brown Betty from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.  

I had never made an Apple Brown Betty because for some reason the concept of it never seemed that appealing to me.  An Apple Brown Betty is essentially an apple crisp, but instead of an oat and flour crumble topping, the apple mixture is topped with bread crumbs.  So I am glad that this recipe is was chosen this week, and that I belong to a group like this because without it, I probably wouldn't have tried this recipe, and I am really glad that I did. Like most of Ellie's recipes, this was quick and easy to put together.  You simmer the apples in apple cider and brown sugar then place them in a pie plate, top with bread crumbs and nuts (the original recipe called for walnuts, but I used pecans because I like their flavor better than walnuts), and bake in the oven.  



I really enjoyed this.  I liked the fact that the apples were simmered in cider, it gave the dish a wonderful "Fall" feeling, and the dish wasn't overly sweet, which I think is the problem with a lot of desserts.  The sweetness usually overpowers many of the flavors, and this isn't the case with this dish.  I used Honey Crisp apples (my absolute favorite) instead of Golden Delicious. On another note, my dish only took about 25 minutes to bake instead of the 30 minutes called for in the original recipe.  I also doubled the amount of cinnamon called for in the filling because it just didn't seem like enough, and I really love cinnamon, you could smell the dish baking throughout the whole house. I would definitely make this again, and I like the "crust" that the bread crumbs formed on top of the dish.  Next time I would like to mix it up a bit.  I might try it with pears or maybe add some dried cranberries and some orange zest.  So thanks Jessica for a great pick, and be sure to check out the Craving Eliie in My Belly Blogroll to see what other bloggers did with their dish!



Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ham, Tomato, and Spinach Frittata



A frittata is basically a crustless quiche.  They are great for brunches or family breakfasts because they require minimal preparation, and you can make endless combinations.  I like to start my frittatas on the stovetop and finish in the oven.  You can add any ingredients that you would normally add to an omelet, and once the initial ingredients are softened on the stovetop, you don't have to sit and monitor the eggs, just pop it in the oven.  I made my frittata with a combination of diced ham, spinach, scallions, tomatoes and cheddar cheese, a great combination.


Ham, Tomato, and Spinach Frittata
      serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 10 larges eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup (packed) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1-2 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz. diced ham
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, sliced
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Heat an ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat and melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.  
  • Add the ham, spinach and scallions and cook until the onions are soft and the spinach is wilted, about 2-3 minutes.  
  • Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk and stir in the Cheddar cheese and season with salt and pepper.  Spread out the ham, spinach, and scallions mixture evenly in the pan, pour the egg mixture into the skillet and using a spatula, lift up the mixture to allow some of the eggs to flow underneath.  Place the tomatoes slices on top of the frittata.
  • Place the skillet in the oven, and cook until the frittata is puffy and golden, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the oven (careful, the handle will be hot), and let the frittata cool for at least 5 minutes.  Cut the frittata into six wedges and serve. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa



What do you do when you have a table full of tomatoes from your garden??



You make salsa!  I love my Pico de Gallo recipe, but this time I wanted to try and give the salsa a more roasted flavor. so I simply took the same ingredients and tossed them in some olive oil, and roasted them in the oven until they were soft and a bit charred.  I then put them in a food processor with some lime juice and cilantro, and presto, salsa!  This recipe makes quite a bit of salsa, but it will keep for at least a week in the fridge, and it can be used for so many things.  It is great topping for fish or chicken, or stir in some black beans and corn for an easy side dish.  I like my salsa hot, but feel free to scale down on the chile peppers if you like a more mild salsa.


Roasted Tomato Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 6 hot peppers, stems removed (I used 3 jalapenos and 3 serranos, if you want a milder salsa, cut back on the hot peppers or slice the peppers in half and remove that seeds and inner ribs of the peppers)
  • 6 lbs tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • Juice from two limes
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • salt

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place garlic cloves, onion, and hot peppers in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish and toss with olive oil.  Roast for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.  You can use this time to chop and seed your tomatoes.  
  • Remove the dish from oven and add the tomatoes, season with salt.  Return the dish to the pan and roast the tomatoes until they are soft and somewhat charred, about 20-25 minutes.  Remove the dish from the oven and allow to cool at least until the dish can be handled.  
  • Transfer the contents of the dish to a food processor (if your food processor is small, you may have to do this in batches).  If your tomatoes are ripe, roasting them will generate a lot of juice.  I used a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes, because if I were to transfer all that juice the salsa would be way too runny.  
  • Add the lime juice and cilantro to the food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency for the salsa.  The vegetables should be pretty soft, so it won't take long.  Taste and re-season with salt and/or lime juice if necessary.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

CEiMB: Salmon Cakes with Creamy Sesame-Ginger Sauce (and a giveaway)



It's my week to pick a recipe for Craving Ellie in My Belly.  I have chosen for the group to make the Salmon Cakes with Creamy Sesame-Ginger Sauce from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.  I thought this recipe would be a good alternative to your typical crab or tuna cakes, plus I loved that the ingredients had an Asian flair with lots of healthy ingredients that I enjoy.

This salmon cake combines ingredients such as water chestnuts, cilantro, and scallions.  It uses eggs and whole wheat bread crumbs as binders, and the cakes are served with a yogurt-based sauce with flavors of sesame oil, ginger, and soy sauce.

A few notes/changes to the original recipe:
  • I think that it is important not to chop your water chestnuts too finely or else you will lose that great crisp texture.  
  • Next time I may cut back on the bread crumbs because I found that the cakes did not hold together to well.  I had a hard time flipping the cakes without them falling apart.  Alternatively, I might refrigerate the cakes before adding them to the skillet so they will hold together better.  
  • I added a few tablespoons of chili-garlic sauce to the cakes to impart a bit more flavor and add a bit of heat to the cakes. 
  • For the sauce I cut way back on the amount of ginger that is in the original recipe.  Instead of 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger, I only added 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and I still found the ginger to be quite prominent.  1 1/2 tablespoons would be way too overpowering. I also doubled the amount of soy sauce called for in the recipe, I wanted the sauce to have a bit more of a salty flavor.
  • I served my cakes on a bed of baby spinach, it went really well with the salmon cakes.
I liked the flavor of these cakes and I think that the sauce complemented them really well.  I would definitely make these again


Salmon Cakes with Creamy Sesame-Ginger Sauce  
      Yield: 6 servings (2 cakes plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce per serving)
  • 6 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans salmon, drained, skin and bones removed (I used boneless, skinless cans of salmon)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 scallions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped canned water chestnuts
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons Chili-Garlic sauce (optional)
  • Creamy Ginger-Sesame Sauce (Recipe follows)

Salmon Cakes:
  • Remove crusts from the bread, break into pieces, and process in a food processor until you get a fine bread crumb. In a large bowl, flake apart the salmon with a fork. Add the egg and mix well. Finely chop 4 of the scallions and add to the bowl. Add the water chestnuts, cilantro, pepper, and the bread crumbs and mix well. Shape the mixture into 12 patties.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil over a medium heat. Add 6 patties and cook for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil to the pan, and cook the rest of the salmon cakes, 5 minutes on each side.
  • Chop the remaining 1 scallion. Serve salmon cakes with the sauce and garnish with scallion.
Sesame-Ginger Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt, or 6 tablespoons nonfat Greek-style yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger (I only used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce (I used 2 teaspoons)
  • If using regular yogurt place the yogurt in a strainer lined with a paper towel. Put the strainer over a bowl and place in the refrigerator to drain and thicken for 30 minutes.
  • Place drained yogurt or Greek-style yogurt into a small bowl. Add mayonnaise, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Whisk until smooth.



In addition to hosting CEiMB this week, I am also giving away an extra copy of  The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.  I love this book, and I would love to be able to share it with someone else.  All you have to do is leave a comment here by Sunday, August 22 by 8pm EST telling me what is your favorite healthy recipe.  My apologies, but I can only send the book to residents of the United States and Canada. 

Thanks for checking out this post, and be sure to check out the Craving Ellie and My Belly blogroll to see what other members of the group did with this recipe.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chickpea Salad with Summer Vegetables

When it is the middle of summer, and I am picking vegetables daily from my garden, sometimes the easiest thing to do is just to make a simple, refreshing salad.  Nothing taste better than fresh corn and tomatoes at the peak of ripeness.  They are sweet and delicious.  I've had a garden for three years now, and I have been spoiled.  Each year, tomatoes have been abundant.  A store bought tomato cannot compare with a tomato picked from your backyard.  For the most part, if it's not summer, I usually cook with canned tomatoes because they have so much more flavor than a fresh tomato in the middle of winter. 


This salad is simple and filling it is full of chickpeas and summer veggies.  The zucchini, shallots, and corn are sauteed briefly before being mixed in with cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas, and feta cheese.  The whole salad is dressed with a light champagne vinaigrette and fresh herbs add some great flavor.  It is a great healthy lunch option.  You could also add some canned tuna to the salad for some extra protein.


Chickpea Salad with Summer Vegetables
 
for the salad:

 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 cups of fresh corn, from 4 ears of corn
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium seedless cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

 
for the vinaigrette:

 
  • 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper


 
finish with:

 
  • juice from half a lemon (optional)


  
To assemble the salad:
 

 
First make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl add the vinegar and Dijon mustard, slowly drizzle in olive oil, while whisking constantly to emulsify the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, set aside while preparing the salad.
 
In a skillet set over medium heat, add the olive oil and once it is warm, saute the zucchini, shallots, shallots until everything is slightly soft, but not mushy, about 3 minutes. It is going into a salad, so you still want the vegetables to still be somewhat firm. Place in a bowl and allow to cool.

  
Add the tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, dill, parsley, and feta cheese to the bowl, pour on the vinaigrette (whisk before adding to the salad if it has separated while it had been set aside), and stir the salad gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper, and if desired squeeze a half of a lemon over the salad and stir to combine. I felt that the salad needed a bit more tartness, which is why I added the lemon juice at the end, but that might not be the case for everybody.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

CEiMB: Chicken with Warm Tomato, Corn, and Black Bean Salad


It's Thursday! That means it is time for another Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe. This week's recipe was chosen by Danica of Danica's Daily.  She chose for us to make Chicken with Warm Tomato and Corn Salad from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.  A link to the recipe online can be found online at Ellie's website here.  This was a perfect recipe for summer.  It is full of wonderful summer vegetables like corn and tomatoes.  I used cherry tomatoes and cilantro that I picked from my garden and fresh corn that I picked up from a farmer's market earlier this week.

I changed this recipe up a bit, instead of salt and pepper, I used my favorite southwest/Mexican spice, Goya Adobo with cumin to season the chicken and the corn and tomato salad.  I also added a jalapeño to the salad, and, instead of avocado, which I only like in guacamole form, I added a can of black beans.  Black beans and corn is one of my favorite combinations, and I thought that it would add some substance to the dish and make it more of a complete meal.

I love the flavors of this dish, it is fresh and light, a great summer meal.  Thanks to Danica for a great pick, and be sure to check out the Craving Ellie in My Belly blogroll to see what the other bloggers did with their dishes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling



Fine cooking is one of my favorite food magazines.  They constantly have great recipes, tips, and techniques.  One of my favorite issues has a feature on blueberry desserts, and I must have looked at this recipe for Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling a hundred times, saying to myself "You've got to try this recipe."  Well, I finally got around to making them for a co-worker's birthday, and I wish I would have made them sooner.  They were delicious.  The blueberry flavor is quite prominent and goes so well with lemon filling.  And I love the combination of blueberries and lemon.  Another great thing about this recipe is that it is really easy to make, I didn't even have to use my mixer.  So, even though I couldn't seem to get a great picture of these bars, I just had to post this recipe because I loved these bars so much.


Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling
 adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine
  • 8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
  • 13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
  • 1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 2-1/2 cups room-temperature blueberries (about 13 oz.), washed and drained on paper towels
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the ends. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the foil.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Using your fingers, blend the butter completely into the flour mixture. Transfer 2 cups of crumb mixture to another bowl and reserve for the topping. Blend the egg white into the remaining crumbs and then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a level crust. You can tamp it with the bottom of a measuring cup to even it out. Bake the crust until it starts to form a dry top about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.

Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the hot crust and then drop spoonfuls of the lemon mixture over the blueberries. Spread gently with a spatula to distribute a little more evenly, but take care not to crush the berries; it’s fine if the lemon mixture isn’t perfectly even. Bake until the lemon mixture just begins to form a shiny skin, 7 to 8 minutes.

Sprinkle the reserved topping over the lemon-blueberry layer, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle. Bake until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the topping is brown, 25 to 30 minutes.

Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack until just warm, about an hour. Carefully lift them out of the pan using the foil overhang and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the foil and cut into 24 bars when cool. The bars may be stored at room temperature for a few hours but otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator.

Note: I refrigerated my bars still in the foil, and I had some difficulty removing the bars from the foil once the bars were cold.  It may be better to try and remove the foil once the bars have cooled and before you store them in the refrigerator. 

Look how attentive my dog Riley can be when he wants a treat!  

 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Ginger Limeade



It's really hot and humid here this time of year. I had been looking for a refreshing summer drink, and I found one in my copy of Fresh and Fabulous from Cuisine at Home. Cuisine at Home is one of my favorite magazines. They always have delicious and unique dishes, but the recipes never seem overcomplicated or labor intensive. This drink recipe is no exception, it takes about 5 minutes to mix together.

I loved this drink. It is tart, sweet, and incredibly refreshing. The lime and mint brighten the flavor of the ginger ale. This is a drink I will make again and again throughout the summer. This drink would also be a great base for a cocktail. I think it would work well with vodka or gin. This drink serves 2-3, but can easily be scaled up for large groups.


Ginger Limeade
adapted from Fresh and Fabulous from Cuisine at Home
serves 2

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups ginger ale
  • lime slices, for serving

Directions
  • Whisk together sugar, lime juice, and mint leaves in a pitcher until sugar is dissolved. Strain out the mint if desired.
  • To serve, add ginger ale to lime mixture in the pitcher and mix gently to combine. Pour limeade over ice in glasses; garnish with lime slices

Thursday, July 1, 2010

CEiMB: Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and White Beans


It's Thursday! That means it is time for another Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe. This week's recipe was chosen by Bri of Yoshimi Vs. Motherhood. She chose for us to make the Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic, and White Beans from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger. It is a simple dish that takes minimal preparation.

The thing that I love about being part of this group is that there are many recipes that I normally wouldn't think about trying, and this group suggests wonderful recipes that I may have passed right by while flipping through Ellie's cookbooks. This pasta dish is one such recipe, and I am glad I participated this week, because I really liked it. The creamy white beans contrasted nicely with the chewy pasta. I added some crushed red pepper to bring a little bit of heat to the dish, and I used feta cheese instead of Parmesan cheese to give the meal a bit more "bite".

I think this dish makes a great vegetarian meal because the beans are a nice substitute for meat or poultry. The only thing I would change would be to increase the amount of tomatoes in the dish. My tomatoes shrunk a lot while they were roasting, and they seemed rather scarce when added to the pasta and beans. Thanks to Bri for suggesting another great Ellie recipe, and make sure to check out the blogroll to see what other Craving Ellie in My Belly bloggers did with their recipes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CEiMB: Chicken Paella with Sausage and Olives




It's Thursday! That means it is time for another Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe. This week's recipe was chosen by Margaret of Tea and Scones. She chose for us to make the Chicken Paella with Sausage and Olives from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger. The recipe can be found online here.

I had never made paella before, and this recipe is a bit different as far as other recipes I have seen. Traditional paella is made is a special pan that allows the rice to form a chewy, crispy crust on the bottom. Unfortunately, I do not have one of those pans, but I think that the fact that the dish is cooked in the oven adds a nice chewy texture to the rice. For me, what makes this dish different from a common chicken and rice dish is the addition of green Spanish olives and saffron. These ingredients add an extra layer of flavor that makes the dish a little sour (olives) with floral undertones (saffron). With the addition of turmeric, it makes the rice a lovely yellow color.

Of course, like always, I made some substitutions and additions. I am finally seeing the first vegetables pop up in my garden. Earlier this week I picked a handful of sugar snap peas and a small yellow squash. I sliced the sugar snap peas and used them in place of the frozen peas called for in the recipe, which was quite lovely, they were sweet and had a great texture to them. I also sliced the squash into rounds and added that to the dish as well. Unfortunately, I don't have any tomatoes in my garden yet, and the tomatoes at my grocery store looked dreadful, so I substituted about one cup of canned diced tomatoes that I drained and added to the pan. To compensate for the extra liquid, I cut back on the chicken broth and used one 14 ounce can of chicken broth instead of the 2 1/2 cups used in the original recipe. I think that worked really well because the tomatoes added a nice sweetness that balance out the briny-ness of the olives. Finally, to give the dish an extra Spanish flair I added 1/2 teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika.


I was quite surprised how much I liked this dish. I am not a big fan of olives, and when I do eat them, I prefer the Greek kalamata olives, not green olives. But luckily for me, I live next to a great specialty grocery store that has an olive bar, so I was able to pick up some green Spanish olives that were stuffed with red bell peppers. They were delicious. Another great recipe from Ellie. Be sure to check out Margaret's blog for the recipe as well as the Craving Ellie in My Belly blogroll to see what other bloggers did with their recipes!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pasta Ponza



I love quick pasta dishes, especially ones that use unique ingredients. I have posted a few here, like Pasta with Chicken and Mixed Vegetables, Pasta with Potatoes, Pesto, and Green Beans, and Pasta with Kalamata Olives, Capers, and Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce. That is why I was eager to try the Pasta Ponza recipe from Giada De Laurentiis. It is pasta with a roasted tomato sauce, but what makes it unique is that the tomatoes are mixed with breadcrumbs and capers. That combination sounded unique to me, and I love capers. Anytime a recipe has them in it, I take notice.

I liked this pasta dish, but I didn't love it. It's quick and simple, and the roasting of the tomatoes is a great way to bring out their natural sweetness. If I made it again, I would probably leave out the breadcrumbs or I would mix the roasted tomatoes with the pasta and capers, and top the dish with the breadcrumbs, cheese, and some olive oil, then bake the dish so that it would form a crispy crust on top. Some of the breadcrumbs became soggy and the texture was not very appealing. However the tomato/caper/cheese mixture was delicious. I will definitely try the combination again.


Pasta Ponza
from Giada De Laurentiis
serves 4 to 6
  • Butter for greasing
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped pasta (I used rigatoni)
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 ounces) Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Directions

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the top is golden. Cool for 5 minutes.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and basil and serve immediately.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

CEiMB: Shortcut Collard Greens



We haven't had a Craving Ellie in My Belly Recipe in the past few weeks, as our site leader has been out of contact for the past few weeks. We hope all is well for her. Fortunately, Joanne of Apple Crumbles and Peggy of Pantry Revisited stepped up to the plate, and picked this week's recipe, Shortcut Collard Greens from from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life by Ellie Krieger.

I really like collard greens, I think they have a nice flavor and texture. The way that I usually have them is slow cooked for hours with a ham hock or bacon, therefore, I was interested when I read that this recipe only takes about 10 minutes to complete. It involves first microwaving the greens to soften them, and then adding them to a skillet with onions and Canadian bacon. The recipe also calls for other ingredients that I thought would a twist to the typical collard green recipe. You add apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and crushed red pepper. This makes for a nice flavor combination. The crushed red pepper balances nicely with the sweetness of the maple syrup and the saltiness of the Canadian Bacon. I also like the slight bite that the vinegar adds to the dish. I cut down the amount of onion the recipe called for because collard greens really cook down, and I felt that the whole small onion would overwhelm them, so I only added half the amount. I also added a minced garlic clove along with the onion. A quick note, the collard greens still had quite a bite to them after 5 minutes in the microwave, so if you like the texture to be a bit softer, I would add a couple minutes to the cook time. This was a quick, unexpected side dish, that I will definitely make again. Thanks to Ellie for another great recipe!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pasta with Chicken and Mixed Vegetables






In an effort to utilize the ingredients I already have on hand, I created this easy weeknight meal. Everything in this recipe, except for the rotisserie chicken, I had either in my pantry, my freezer, or my refrigerator. And I even got the rotisserie chicken on sale for $2.99, because I was at the grocery store late, and they were trying to get rid of the chickens they had roasted that day. I just went home, popped it in the fridge, and it was ready for me tomorrow.

This is a very simple meal consisting of pasta, chicken, and a mixture of frozen and fresh vegetables. It can be adapted to suit whatever may be in your freezer/fridge at that time. It's easy and comforting, and the addition of the lemon juice at the end brightens up the dish, and makes it an easy, affordable, weeknight meal.


Pasta with Chicken and Mixed Vegetables


Ingredients
  • 8 oz. short pasta (I used rotini, but penne, farfalle, or gemelli would also work well)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen mixed greens ( I used Trader Joe's Greens with Envy, see below, which is a mix of broccoli, edamame, asparagus, spinach, and green beans)
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin and bones removed, and the chicken meat shredded
  • 1/2 cup reserved pasta water
  • 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Directions
  • In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta according to the package directions.
  • While the pasta water is coming to a boil, in a large skillet, saute the onions and carrots in olive oil over medium-high heat until they are soft, but not browned, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic, and saute for an additional minute.
  • Add the frozen greens and corn, season the mixture with salt and pepper. Be sure not to over salt the vegetables at this point because both the chicken broth and the cheese also add salt to the dish.
  • Once the vegetables have heated through, add the shredded chicken and chicken broth to the skillet and saute until the chicken is heated through.
  • Drain the pasta, reserving a 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and add the drained pasta and reserved water to the skillet. Stir the mixture until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  • Finish by sprinkling the pasta with the cheese and the lemon juice, stir to melt the cheese and incorporate the lemon juice.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

CEiMB: Southwestern Hash




It's Thursday! That means it is time for another Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe. This week's recipe was chosen by Melissa from It's Melissa's Kitchen. She chose for us to make the Southwestern Hash from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.

I really changed this one up a bit. First off, I wanted to make this a dinner rather than a breakfast meal, so I eliminated the eggs, and instead, added some Habenero and Green Chile Chicken Sausage to the hash. I also substituted a poblano pepper for the green pepper in the recipe because I think poblano peppers have such better flavor than plain ol' green bell peppers. I upped the amount of cumin from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Cumin is one of my favorite spices, and I can't get enough of it. I also threw in some frozen corn at the same time I added the black beans. Black beans and corn are a staple for me whenever I am making a southwestern dish.

I thought this was a filling, flavorful meal. I am glad that I added the sausage and made it for dinner. It was a complete, one skillet meal, with tons of spice and flavor. Yet another great recipe from Ellie. Thanks to Melissa for picking a delicious recipe and be sure to check out the blogroll to see what other participants made!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Rotini with Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade


My pantry is getting pretty full. I tend to do that. I will buy sauces or marinades or jars of delicious concoctions, and they will sit in my cabinets while I keep buying more and more things. That has to stop, my cabinet is way too full, and my grocery bill is still way too high. That is how this dish came about. I was looking for something to throw together based on what I had on hand. You will probably be seeing a lot more of these dishes, because I have a lot of great ingredients just sitting in my cabinet waiting to be used. I made this delicious pasta dish from a few ingredients I had in my pantry, and few ingredients I had in my fridge.

Now, I have stated before how much I love Trader Joe's grocery store, and I had a jar of their Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade (see picture below), so I decided to base a meal around that. I also had some Tomato Pesto tuna (see picture below) and some fresh tomatoes and basil. I made a sauce from those ingredients and served it over whole wheat pasta. It's a very healthy dish that comes together quickly if you have all the ingredients on hand. Now, I know this recipe calls for some specialized ingredients, and if you don't live near a Trader Joe's, you could probably use some roasted red peppers and some marinated artichokes in place of the tapenade. But hopefully you do live near a Trader Joe's because it is a wonderful grocery store.


Rotini with Tuna and Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
serves 4

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1-10 oz jar Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper and Artichoke Tapenade
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1-4 oz pouch of Starkist Tomato Pesto flavored tuna
  • 10 oz. whole wheat rotini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

Directions
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to directions on the box, however, make sure the pasta is al dente because we will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce.
  • While the pasta is boiling make the sauce. Add the olive oil to a pan that has been heated to medium-high, toss in the onions and cook until the onions are soft, but not browned, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute a few more minutes until the garlic is fragrant. Be sure not to burn the garlic, as it will turn bitter.
  • Once the onions and garlic are cooked, add the tapenade, tomatoes, chicken broth, and tuna. Cook until the sauce is simmering and everything is heated through.
  • Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, toss everything together and simmer for a few minutes until the pasta has absorbed some of the sauce.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. I only needed to add pepper because the tuna, tapenade, and chicken broth all contained salt.
  • Divide amongst four bowls and top with fresh basil. Serve immediately.





Thursday, April 8, 2010

CEiMB: Garlic Basil Shrimp


This week's pick for Craving Ellie in My Belly is from Margaret of Tea and Scones. She chose for us to make the Garlic and Basil Shrimp from So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week by Ellie Krieger.

I loved this dish. It was extremely easy and delicious. I mean, the whole dish takes about 10 minutes start to finish. The dish has a wonderful balance of flavors, the heat of the crushed red pepper is a good contrast to the sweetness of the shrimp, tomatoes, and wine. I used some vine ripened tomatoes I found at the grocery store instead of the grape tomatoes. I also made some toasted bread with olive oil to soak up the wine sauce. I will definitely make this again, it is so easy. A great weeknight meal. Be sure to check out the Craving Ellie in My Belly website to see what other bloggers did.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicken Stir-fry in a Thai Red Curry Sauce


When I lived in Chicago, I lived in an area surrounded by Thai and Vietnamese restaurants. I must have eaten Thai once a week. Now, back in my hometown, a suburb of Cincinnati, it isn't as easy to find that cuisine. Fortunately, I live by a wonderful grocery store, Jungle Jim's, that is full of many ingredients from all over the world. There is a whole aisle devoted to ingredients from Thailand. Therefore, I decided to make this Chicken Stir-fry that is cooked in a Thai Red Curry sauce. It is similar to the Chicken Teriyaki Stir-fry I made previously, with just a different combination of flavors.

I make a sauce of red curry paste, coconut milk, soy sauce and lime juice. I pour this sauce over a mixture of chicken and vegetables. It's a spicy sauce that is mellowed by the coconut milk. It is funny, I can't stand coconut, but I love Thai cuisine that includes coconut milk in almost every dish. It is important to serve this stir-fry over rice because the recipe makes a lot of sauce, and the sauce is quite thin, so you need to rice to soak it up.


Chicken Stir-fry in a Thai Red Curry Sauce

Red Curry Sauce:
  • 1 14-oz can light coconut milk
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • Juice from 1/2 lime
Stir-fry:
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 cups assorted vegetables (I used a combination of carrots, snow peas, sliced mushrooms, and water chestnuts, broccoli and bamboo shoots would also work well)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • salt
For serving:
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • additional soy sauce
  • hot cooked rice

Directions:

To make the sauce:
  • Pour the coconut milk in a medium size bowl, whisk the milk if it has separated in the can. Add the Thai Red curry paste and whisk to combine (it depends on how spicy you want your sauce, I used 4 tablespoons, but that may be too spicy for some, start with a few tablespoons and add until desired spice level is achieved, be sure to taste as you go along). Add the soy sauce and lime juice. Set aside and begin the stir-fry.
  • Note on the sauce: It really is all about personal preference. If you want it saltier, add more soy sauce, if you want more of a tart taste, add more lime juice, and if you want it spicier, add more curry paste.

To make the stir-fry:
  • Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. First add the vegetables that take longer to cook, like the carrots, and stir-fry until tender, then add the vegetable that cook quicker, like the sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. Season lightly with salt, and stir-fry until all the vegetables are tender. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm. Remember that the sauce contains soy sauce, so you don't want to salt the vegetables too heavily.
  • Next, heat the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons in the skillet and add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked all the way through.
  • Once the chicken is cooked return the vegetables to the skillet, and pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables. Cook the stir-fry until it has come to a simmer, and everything is nice and hot.
  • Serve the stir-fry over hot cooked rice and top with green onions and cilantro for some fresh flavor. Also, serve with soy sauce if additional saltiness is desired.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Green Beans and Corn with Salsa



If you are looking for an easy, healthy side dish, then this is a good choice. You simple saute green beans in a skillet, stir in corn, then add fresh salsa. I can't wait for summer to come, so I can make this again with ingredients from my garden. I used a store bought fresh salsa this time, but next time I am going to use my recipe for Pico de Gallo. This dish makes a lot, so it is great for parties and gatherings.


Green Beans and Corn with Salsa

2 lbs. fresh green beans, washed and trimmed, cut into large pieces
1 lb fresh or frozen corn
2 cups fresh salsa
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil to medium-high in a large skillet, add the green beans and saute until they become crisp-tender. Add the corn and heat through. Finally mix in the salsa, and simmer the dish until everything is hot and the flavors had blended. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve warm at room temperature.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Marble Bundt Cake


I had been wanting to make something from my copy of Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito for some time now, so when I was asked to make a cake for a recent family gathering, I knew this was my opportunity. I decided to make the Marble Bundt Cake from the book because it was simple yet complex. You make one batter and then add one third of the batter to melted chocolate, this is used to make the chocolate swirl.

I found this cake to be sweet and moist with prominent vanilla and chocolate flavors. I think it would be too sweet if there was a frosting on the cake, but a dusting of powdered sugars looks and tastes nice. I think this cakes goes well with a cup of coffee and makes a nice after dinner dessert. It also tastes great the next day.


Marble Bundt Cake
adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

For the chocolate swirl:

  • 6 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

For the sour cream cake:

  • 3 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and softened
  • 2 ¼ cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (if desired)


Make the chocolate swirl:
In a double boiler set over simmering water, melt the chocolate. When the chocolate is completely smooth, add the cocoa powder and whisk until thoroughly incorporated. Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray the inside of a 10” bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until smooth and ribbon like. Scrape down the bowl and add the sugar. Beat until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl and mix for 30 seconds. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat just until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in three additions, scraping down the bowl before each addition and beating only until each addition is just incorporated. Do not over mix.

Pour one third of the cake batter into the chocolate swirl mixture. Use a spatula to combine the chocolate mixture and cake batter to make a smooth chocolate batter.

Spread half of the remaining plain cake batter in the prepared pan. Use an ice cream scoop to dollop the chocolate cake batter directly on top of the plain cake batter. The dollops will touch and mostly cover the plain batter, but some plain batter will peek through. Pour the remaining plain batter over the chocolate batter, and use a butter knife to pull through the layers to create a swirl.



Bake in the center of the oven for about 1 hour, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes clean. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Use a knife to loosen the edges of the cake and invert it onto the wire rack and let it cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature. The cake will keep for 3 days, tightly covered, at room temperature.