Wednesday, May 30, 2012

now we're cooking with gas

This is my first week cooking on a gas range - and it is hot! Coming from the slower world of electric to a super fast gas range may take a little getting used to - here are my first few 'go rounds' with the new stove top.
Cilantro, Soy 'n Honey Salmon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion
2 teaspoons EVOO
1 teaspoon grated ginger
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 center cut skin-on wild salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1-2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons honey
Lime wedges 
Note - a plate should always have 3 colors on it. I should have added some tomato - it's so green!
Preheat the grill pan over medium heat; add a little EVOO to the pan. Finely chop the cilantro and green onion and mix in the oil and ginger. Season with salt and pepper. Cut 3-4 slits into the salmon fillets, going about halfway into the salmon. Evenly stuff the slits with the herb mixture. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Stir together the lime juice, soy and honey until smooth. Marinate salmon in soy mixture for 1 to 2 hours. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the grill pan and cook until well-marked, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn salmon and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes until cooked through. Top with lime wedges.

Herb & EVOO Grilled Vegetables
Yellow squash, white onion, cucumber & red bell pepper. Done on the grill pan with some EVOO, S&P and mixed spice blend. We had grilled vegetable wraps with hummus and spinach last night. Healthy and delicious!

Monday, May 28, 2012

the last of the moves...

During this weekend last year, I wrapped up a great job at American University and left DC, headed to PA for our wedding and then Nashville a few weeks later. I can't believe I have been gone from DC for a year. During the last weekend in May in 2010, I had just graduated from GW and moved into an apartment in Woodley Park with my girlfriend, Jordan. I have moved every spring since 2003 - well that is over as of this year.
After a long week, Vance and I have finally moved into our new house! There are still boxes to be unpacked and pictures to be hung, but at least we are home. We wanted a relaxing comfort meal tonight so in addition to Habanero Tabasco turkey burgers, we had fresh watermelon and guacamole! Everyone loves guac - if they don't, they just haven't tried it.
4 ripe Haas avocados
1 small purple onion
1 small jalapeno pepper
1 clove minced garlic
2 ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Everything (minus avocado) is a delicious salsa. Add mashed avocado and it gets even better. 
New recipes coming in the weeks ahead; I have to break in the kitchen! 
Happy Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

green eggs - hold the ham

As Vance and I have been transitioning to our new home this week, cooking or grilling dinner has gone by the wayside. Last night was an easy egg 'n avocado salad (therefore - green eggs). This is a bit of a twist on an oldie (but goody). Served on toasted whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato - a fast and easy dinner or lunch.

5 whole hard boiled eggs, peeled
1 whole avocado, pitted
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/3 cup minced onion
2 tablespoons chopped sweet pickles (I used Bread 'n Butter)
2 teaspoons prepared dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients (scrape avocado from skin) in the bowl of a food processor or mash peeled eggs on a plate with a fork and place in a bowl with other ingredients. Pulse a few times, scraping the bowl once or twice if necessary. Continue pulsing until salad reaches the consistency you want: chunky or more smooth! This makes about 4 to 5 sandwiches. Yum!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

fry 'em up!

I know it's wrong - but sometimes fried foods taste sooo good. I did space out these two fried dishes - only deep fry once a week max!
Giada's Italian fried pork chops are juicy and delicious. Paired with pasta and sauteed squash, zucchini, spinach and tomatoes - a light(ish) Italian dinner. 
Fried tomatoes made with Smokin' Joe's cornmeal batter are crispy and tasty. With a simple turkey meatloaf and salad, this is a quick weeknight meal.
2 tablespoons butter 
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
3/4 cup Ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet. Cook onion and garlic in melted butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Place mixture in a large bowl to cool for 5 minutes. Combine turkey, bread crumbs, egg, 1/4 cup of the catsup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper with onion mixture. Mold meatloaf in a mound-shaped loaf and place in a lightly Pammed baking dish. Spread remaining catsup on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Vance had a meatloaf sandwich with the leftovers and he raved about it. A meatloaf sandwich sounds kind of bizarre to me, but he loved it!

Monday, May 14, 2012

sweet 'n savory

I love mixing sweet and savory flavors together - like dipping sausage in maple syrup, pairing pretzels with ice cream, brown sugar in my turkey chili...the list goes on. Tagine dishes are slow cooked and combine flavors like raisin, cinnamon, cumin, vegetables, olives, etc. They are aromatic and delicious. This chicken tagine cooked all afternoon on Sunday and resulted in an easy and tasty dinner.

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 zucchini, peeled and cubed
5 chicken thighs, bone-in
2 onions, chopped
4 large carrots, chopped in chunks
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 yellow squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 1/2 tbsp. flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan, place the chicken pieces in the pan and cook until chicken is browned but not cooked all the way through. Lightly Pam the inside of the slow cooker. Place browned chicken  inside and layer the zucchini, squash, onion, carrots, sweet potatoes, raisins and apricots over the chicken.  Whisk together the remaining ingredients, pour the broth into the crock pot.  Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.  Serve with couscous if desired. Top with fresh parsley.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

simply nashville fizzle

Simply Cranberry Cocktail, vodka, lime, champagne...the Simply Nashville Fizzle. The Simply Orange Compnay (and approached one of the bloggers I follow (Stephanie O'Dea of A Year of Slow Cooking) about using their new product, Simply Cranberry, in her recipes. I decided to whip up a cocktail with this new tasty beverage. 

1 part vodka, 2 parts Simply Cranberry Cocktail, 1/4 juice of a lime - shake over ice. Strain into a Champagne flute that has about 3 to 5 fresh raspberries in it. Float champagne on top - enjoy. I love having a signature cocktail at a party - this one is in the running for summer parties!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

i'll light the fire...

and you place the flowers in the jar that you bought today. In the house that Vance and I just bought!
Vance and I closed on a wonderful house in Nashville. I feel so adult. Our current apartment is busting at the seams so we are ready to move!
That is the table the seller left for us!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

100th post

100 posts later and here we are. I think blogging about cooking (that is mainly what I dedicate my attention to) takes some of the monotony out of preparing food day-after-day. I also think of this blog as my scrapbook. I have never been very good at taking photos (unlike some of my best girls, Jen & Sarah, who have wonderful photos from trips and holidays past), so hopefully my blog will help Vance and I remember how we spent our first year in Nashville.
At least we will remember what we ate.
As mentioned, Meatless Monday got bumped to Tuesday this week and a healthy pasta was on tap. This pasta has elements from A Cozy Kitchen and Giada's recipe.
Spinach and Avocado Pesto Pasta
1 to 1.5 cups fresh spinach leaves, well-washed and stemmed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, preferably Italian flat leaf
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup walnuts toasted
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
3 garlic cloves
tablespoons EVOO
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 shallot
3/4 lb whole wheat pasta
1 pint cherry tomatoes
 Pulse spinach and parsley in food processor (just once or twice). Then add walnuts, garlic, S&P, lemon juice, Parmesan, and shallot. Pulse a few more times.
Drizzle EVOO into food processor and continue to mix a little bit more.
Add ripe avocado and a bit more EVOO, mix until everything is smooth. After sauce is prepared (or during preparation), boil about 3/4 pound pasta. Saute cherry tomatoes in a little EVOO until hot through - set aside. Drain pasta and return to pot, add in sauce and tomatoes - mix well. Serve with crusty bread. This recipe would be great with some sauteed shrimp or chicken too. 
Hope you all have enjoyed these recipes so far, here is to the next 100...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

meatless monday got bumped to tuesday

Vance and I have vegetarian dinners a few times a week and Meatless Mondays are all the rage these days! We are going meatless tonight (Tuesday), because last night was a succulent pork tenderloin. Pork tenderloin was on sale last week so I picked one up in hopes of trying a new marinade. This Charlie Palmer recipe is absolutely delicious!
It must be stated that I made the marinade as directed and then realized it was actually for 3 pork tenderloins, and I only had two. I am saving the extra marinade for some nice salmon fillets this weekend. I made a few other changes from the original recipe, and I roasted the pork instead of grilling like Charlie says (oops).
My take...
2 (3/4 to 1 pound) pork tenderloins (you will have leftover marinade - this recipe could be cut or can easily cover 3 tenderloins
1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup dry sherry

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried rosemary

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
Place them in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold them without crowding. Combine the soy sauce, sherry, honey, vinegar, and lemon juice in blender - give a few pulses until well-stirred. Stir in the rosemary, shallots, and ginger. Pour the mixture over the tenderloins. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate at room temperature for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove the pork from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Place the tenderloins on shallow baking dish. Cook at 375 for 15 minutes and then lower to 350. Continuing to cook for about another 40 minutes, until internal thermometer reads 155 degrees F. Transfer to a platter and allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Slice the pork into 1/4 inch-thick slices, spoon the hot marinade (from baking dish) over the pork. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
I served the pork with a baked sweet potato and roasted asparagus with Parmesan cheese. So good! Two pork tenderloins for us is definitely over kill, but I am using leftovers for a pork stir fry tomorrow night. Love leftovers!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Cinco de Mayo!

Did the 5th of May sneak up on anyone else? Cinco de Mayo is not only the launch of summer (in my mind), but it is my brother's birthday and one of my close friends from grad school's birthday - happy birthday Court and Bill!
Vance sent me some recipes from the Tabasco website (of course). Here is my spin on Tabasco's fish tacos with slaw adjusted for 2.

    2 tablespoons olive oil
    3 1/2 tablespoons TABASCO® brand Green Jalapeño Pepper Sauce, divided
    juice of a lime
    2-3 fillets of tilapia
    2 eggs, beaten with a little water
    1/4-2/3 cup breadcrumbs
    3 cups shredded green cabbage
    1/2 of 3 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 tablespoon TABASCO® brand Chipotle Pepper Sauce
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    4 six-inch flour tortillas, heated

    This Tabasco 5 bottle holders was part of Vance's dowery when we wed.

    In a large resealable plastic bag or glass bowl, combine olive oil, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the TABASCO® Green Sauce, lime juice, S&P, and tilapia fillets (slice fish in half fillets). Refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a bowl, toss cabbage with remaining 2 tablespoons TABASCO® Green Sauce, some EVOO and S&P and set aside. Combine sour cream and TABASCO® Chipotle Sauce in a small bowl and refrigerate. Beat the eggs and add a little water. Pour egg mixture over the fish to coat all pieces. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Remove fish from marinade and coat with breadcrumbs. Place fillets in pan and cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Spread a little chipotle sour cream on each warm tortilla. Top with the fish (about 1/2 fillet for each taco) and jalapeño slaw.

    Tacos are served with a spicy couscous (couscous with canned diced tomatoes and a diced jalapeno).
    Happy Cinco de Mayo!

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    don't throw that out part deux!

    In August, I blogged about not throwing away different types of food. Chicken bones can lead to stock, brown bananas make the perfect bread, etc. Tonight, I maximized some office leftovers and it resulted in a delicious dinner. 1.) leftover white barbecue sauce (from a Hog Heaven lunch) 2.) cheddar grits from Sunday night's dinner 3.) an extra lime that has been kicking around here for a week. These items (with a little love) made our dinner.
    White barbecue sauce is pretty amazing. It is a mayo based sauce (pause for response) and nicely adheres to the meat while grilling, resulting in an incredibly moist chicken. Here is a quick recipe (not Clark-tested*) that looks good:
    2 cups mayonnaise
     1 cup apple cider vinegar
     2 tablespoon lemon juice
    3 tablespoons black pepper
     1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne
    I would likely jazz this up with some sea salt and Tabasco (obviously).

    The highlight of dinner was a great cilantro lime vinaigrette salad dressing.

    Small jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
    1 clove garlic
    3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
    juice of a lime
    1/3 cup honey
    3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    S&P to taste

    Blend jalapeno, garlic and ginger. Add honey, lime, balsamic and cilantro until well
    blended. Stream in the EVOO and continue to blend, finish with S&P. So delicious!