Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Temporary Hiatus

I just wanted to let you know that I am taking a temporary hiatus from posting. Not because I haven't been cooking (even though I would like to say I haven't... since it's been in the 90's here!) but because my laptop is broken.

I will return to posting soon, either with a fixed laptop, a new laptop, or on Alex's.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pulled Chicken Sandwich

Alex and I are both big bbq fans. He loves brisket and pulled pork whereas I have a soft spot for ribs. Of course, meat drenched in sauce is not particularly healthy, as delicious as it may be. However, one day when I was looking for recipes on Cooking Light, I saw a recipe for a pulled chicken sandwich. It's not pork, which Alex would have preferred, but even so, it looked promising. I showed it to Alex and he was interested, so we were on.

The end result was pretty great. I enjoyed making my own sauce because it gave me control over the flavor. The sauce ended up a little spicy for my taste, but was nicely flavored.

All in all, it was a great recipe. It wasn't difficult and produced a great dinner.

Pulled Chicken Sandwich
From Cooking Light


2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray


2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses

Hamburger buns

Prepare grill.

To prepare chicken, combine first 7 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture evenly over chicken. Place chicken on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cover and grill 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 180°, turning occasionally. Let stand for 5 minutes. Shred with 2 forks.

To prepare sauce, heat canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook for 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and next 5 ingredients (through pepper); cook 30 seconds. Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and molasses; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Stir in chicken; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Place about 1/3 cup chicken mixture on bun.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini Salad

Have you ever eaten quinoa? It's an interesting grain. It's pretty versatile as I'm beginning to find out.

I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and wanted to give it a try. It had several things that I liked- zucchini, hard boiled eggs, avocados, goat cheese, pine nuts. I was a little worried because it also included cilantro, and I am one of those people who taste cilantro as soap (which the internet says means that I'm allergic to it...). However, I paid attention to the amount I was using (less than the recipe called for) and it was okay, at least the first day.

This is definitely a recipe that you should eat only on the day you make it. Both Alex and I ate it for lunch the next day, and for him the avocado taste intensified and for me it was the cilantro taste. The texture also was weird. Needless to say, it's probably not a recipe we'll repeat. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it! It was pretty good the first time around.

Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini Salad
From Serious Eats (and originally from 101 Cookbooks)

1 avocado, ripe
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
3/4 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
Pepper to taste
3 large eggs
1 large zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch thick coins
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
A few pinches of kosher salt
2 cups quinoa, cooked, room temperature
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
A bit of chopped cilantro for garnish

Prepare the cilantro-avocado dressing by blending the avocado, lime juice, cilantro, garlic, yogurt, water, and salt in a blender (or us a hand blender). Add pepper and additional salt if needed to taste. Set aside.

Hard boil the three eggs. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cold water by a 1/2 inch or so. Bring to a gentle boil. Now turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly seven minutes. Have a big bowl of ice water ready and when the eggs are done cooking place them in the ice bath for three minutes or so—long enough to stop the cooking. Set aside.

While the eggs are cooling start preparing the zucchini by tossing it with olive oil and salt in a medium bowl. Prepare your grill (medium-high heat). If you are worried about the zucchini coins falling through the grill you can thread them onto kabob skewers (stab through the green skin). Grill until zucchini are tender and cooked through, roughly 5 minutes on each side. Remove from the grill and cut each zucchini coin into quarters.

Crack and peel each egg, cut each egg into quarters lengthwise, removing and discarding the yolk. Assemble the salad by tossing the quinoa with about 2/3 cups of the avocado vinaigrette. Salt and pepper to taste. Top with the grilled zucchini, pine nuts, eggs, goat cheese, and a bit of chopped cilantro for garnish. I serve this family-style, but you could do individual platings.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chai Ice Cream

Remember that ice cream maker I got? Well, after after we polished off the delicious lemon sorbet, I knew that I wanted to try my hand at ice cream (instead of sorbet). Since Alex and I are both big fans of chai (he likes his warm, I like mine iced with soy milk, or hot with a hint of gingerbread flavoring), I decided to make chai ice cream.

I looked around for a recipe that was both low maintenance and sounded tasty, and I found it on the Oregon Chai website. If you've never had Oregan Chai, it's kind of a nice shortcut for chai lattes. It's obviously not as good as fresh brewed, but shortcuts are appreciated because I don't always have the moitvation or time to make fresh brewed chai.

Chai Ice Cream
From Oregon Chai

2 cups of Heavy cream
2/3 cup of Sugar
1 small of Vanilla Bean (optional)
6 of Egg Yolks
1 cup of Whole milk
1 1/4 cups of Chai Latte Concentrate

Heat cream, sugar and split vanilla bean over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat, cover and steep 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.

Meanwhile place egg yolks in medium bowl. Put cream mixture back on heat. Heat mixture again to simmering and slowly whisk 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into egg yolks then add yolk mixture to cream mixture and heat to 160 degrees or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add milk and chai.

Chill to room temperature and then refrigerate to cold* before freezing in an ice cream maker.

*It's really important for your mixture to be as cold as possible before you put it in your ice cream maker. It makes for much smoother ice cream. If you're going to take the time to make ice cream, you might as well take the time to chill your mixture. You'll appreciate the results, trust me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Balsamic Pork

In the beginning of 2008, Alex and I did the Slimfast diet. It was okay, and we likely would have continued to follow it if the website hadn't gone down. For several months. Several.

After we recovered from the initial shock of not being told what to eat, we centered ourselves and started a better of way eating. However, a couple of the Slimfast recipes held over. I posted about the red wine mushrooms previously, and today I'm going to share a pork recipe.

Balsamic Pork
Adapted from Slimfast

1 pound pork tenderloin, raw
1/2 teaspoon rosemary, fresh
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice, 100%, bottled
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cut pork into 8 slices, and pound lightly.

Season pork with rosemary and, if desired, salt and ground black pepper; set aside.

In small bowl, combine Dressing, orange juice and sugar; set aside.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and brown pork, turning once, 2 minutes. Stir in juice mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until pork is done. Serve pork with sauce.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Marmalade Chicken

This is one of those recipes that sounded really good when I read the recipe, but when I made it the end result was far from what I was hoping. The flavor was lacking, and I was really disappointed. Orange marmalade is so delicious that, as a topping for chicken, it has great potential. Because I like it so much, this is something I intend to tweak to get a result that is better.

Of course, if you are lazy and really want the marmalade flavor, just put some right on top of the chicken (like I did).

Marmalade Chicken
From Eating Well

1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
8 ounces chicken tenders
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Whisk broth, vinegar, marmalade, mustard and cornstarch in a medium bowl.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil and shallot to the pan and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 30 seconds. Whisk the broth mixture and add it to the pan. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer; cook until the sauce is slightly reduced and thickened, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Add the chicken; return to a simmer. Cook, turning once, until the chicken is heated through, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in orange zest.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Root Beer Float Cake

Let me start this post by saying that Alex and I celebrated our two year anniversary yesterday! Well, in fairness, we celebrated out anniversary last Saturday (because celebrating on a Tuesday is a little rough) and yesterday I took Alex out for burgers and we watched the All-Star game.

But I digress:

Alex's mom loves root beer. Frankly, I'm rather fond of root beer myself (and so is Alex). When they were in town, I wanted to make her a root beer cake. I'd seen the recipe in the Baked cookbook that I got for Christmas (from Alex's parents coincidentally) and as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to make it for her.

I had also seen it on Joy the Baker recently, so it was good timing.

Oh, by the way, you should definitely check out that cookbook, because it has lots of really awesome recipes!

Root Beer Float Cake
From Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

2 cups root beer (don’t use diet)
1 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs

Preheat even to 325 degrees F. Spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, or butter generously and dust with flour, knocking out the excess.

In a small saucepan, heat the root beer, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted. Add sugars and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

In a small bowl whisk the eggs until just beaten. Then whisk into the cocoa mixture until combined. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cocoa mixture. The batter will be slightly lumpy. You can give it a quick whisk if you like, but don’t over beat the batter or it could cause the cake to be tough. Don’t worry, the batter is very loose.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and cook for 35-45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking until a sharp knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely then loosen edges with a butter knife and turn out onto a cake plate.

Chocolate Root Beer Frosting

2 ounces 60% cocoa, melted

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt (you may want to use less… maybe just 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup root beer

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or using an electric hand mixer, beat softened butter and cocoa powder. Once combined add the melted chocolate, salt, powdered sugar and root beer. Beat together until smooth. Spread on top of cooled cake. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mushroom Risotto

When Alex's parents were in town, we wanted to make a nice dinner for them. Their visit coincided with Copper River Salmon season, so we picked some up from our fish monger and prepared it with a nice citrus glaze. I sauteed some asparagus with garlic and lemon. And I made risotto.

Risotto is one of those foods that seems really daunting to people who have never prepared it, but in reality it's simple- it just takes a long time.

Risotto is really versatile, too. It can take many flavors and vegetables (and probably fruit, too, if you do it right. And actually, that gives me an idea! More on that later.)

Mushroom Risotto
Rain City Kitchen, 2009

2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tbsp butter
1/2 c sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 c sliced shiitake mushrooms
Approximately 6 cups chicken broth
1/2 - 1 c white wine
1/4 - 1/2 c shredded parmesan

Bring broth to a simmer over medium heat.

Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium heat. Saute mushrooms mushrooms until they're tender. Remove from the dutch oven and reserve.

Add and saute garlic, onoins, and rice. When rice has become mostly transparent, add one or two ladles full of the chicken broth into the rice. Stir until broth is absorbed. Add wine, stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth and stirring until rice is tender. (This usually takes about 30-40 minutes, but really depends). Add the mushrooms back to the risotto. Add the parmesan and stir until melted.

Serve and enjoy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Strawberry Muffins

Alex's parents came to visit over Memorial Day weekend, and I wanted to be a good host (and bake, which I love to do) so I decided to make muffins.

The first delicious strawberries were first coming into the market (we got some in our CSA box), so strawberry muffins seemed like a great idea. This idea was aided by a recipe that came into my newsfeed from Tastespotting.

The muffins baked up nicely and they weren't overly sweet. The sugar on top added a pleasant crunch.

Strawberry Muffins
From Noble Pig

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup chopped strawberries
2 eggs
1 cup yogurt (plain, non-fat is what I had)

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coarse sugar (optional)

In a medium bowl whisk together all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar and baking soda. Stir in strawberries. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, butter and vanilla extract. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well combined.

Divide batter evenly among a 12-cup greased muffin tin or line with paper liners. If you want strawberries to stay at the top of your muffins, cut up a few extra and place several pieces on top of the batter in each muffin cup. I also sprinkled each muffin with coarse sugar. Bake for 18-25 minutes in a 375 degree oven until the tops are golden brown. Mine were done in 18 minutes at this temperature.

Remove immediately from muffin tins and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fusilli alla Caprese

When Alex and I are gone during the day, we leave the stereo receiver on for the dog. We used to leave the radio on for him, but found that the radio would turn itself off (we streamed it over the internet). We decided instead to leave the tv sound on (with the tv itself turned off) and we picked the Food Network as the station to leave it on. Why, you might ask? Well, because there are rarely dogs barking on the Food Network.

As I am usually the first one home in the evenings, I tend to hear some of what is on. Giada is on sometimes, followed by Barefoot Contessa, and then Paula Dean. One day when I came home, Giada was doing a show for cooking beginners. I smiled and listened to her recipes and one caught my ear. I turned the tv on and made a note of the recipe.

I made it the next week. It was fresh, easy, and quick. It was nice on a hot day, and great before I left for class.

Fusilli alla Caprese
From Everyday Italian

1 pound fusilli pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 1 1/2 pints)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced (about 1 1/4 cups)

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 pasta into a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. As the tomatoes cook and soften, smash them with a fork. Continue to cook until the tomatoes make a chunky style sauce, about 4 minutes. Transfer the tomato sauce to the bowl with the pasta. Toss to combine. Add the basil leaves and mozzarella. Stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta water, 1/4 cup at a time, until the pasta is moist. Serve.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pan Seared Scallops with Ginger-Orange Spinach

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you won't be surprised to see this recipe. I really love scallops! And really, they are so easy to prepare so unless you're allergic, you should try them out.

This is a pretty good recipe to try. The spinach is rather unwieldy at first, but it cooks down and acquires a delightful flavor.

Pan Seared Scallops with Ginger-Orange Spinach
From Cooking Light

1 tablespoon julienne-cut peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
20 sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 cup vodka
1/4 cup dry vermouth
1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 pounds chopped fresh spinach
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray

Combine first 3 ingredients in a bowl.

Place scallops in a shallow dish. Add vodka, vermouth, and half of ginger mixture; toss gently. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add remaining ginger mixture, and sauté 30 seconds. Add orange rind and juice, and bring to a boil. Stir in spinach, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from skillet, and keep warm.

Remove scallops from marinade, reserving marinade. Place skillet coated with cooking spray over high heat until hot. Add scallops; cook 1 1/2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Add reserved marinade to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook until sauce is reduced to 1/4 cup (about 5 minutes).

Arrange scallops over spinach mixture; drizzle with sauce.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

This recipe had potential, and really, the disappointing end results were due more to my overblending the soup than the recipe. That's my big piece of advice for this soup- don't overblend.

Other than that all I can say is give this soup a try and make up your own mind.

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder
From CrockPot365

2 quarts of chicken broth
1 small onion
1 red bell pepper
Handful of chopped baby carrots
2 16-oz bags of frozen corn
2 medium potatoes, pe
eled and diced

Finely chop the onion and brown in a tablespoon of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Finely chop the carrots and the red pepper.

Put all the vegetables in the crockpot. Add corn. Add chicken broth. Cook on low for 8-9 hours.

Using a hand blender, blend the soup until it's you desired consistency. Or, take half and put it in a blender until smooth and add it back to the remaining soup.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lemon Sorbet

This is the last recipe of my five for the Mother's Day Brunch. And, while the biscotti was a close second, I think this was my favorite.

It was tart and a little sweet and extremely refreshing. It was the inaugural recipe for my brand new ice cream maker and I was very pleased with the results. It can be made without an ice cream maker, to be sure, but this is as good an excuse as any to get one if you haven't already.

This was a wonderful way to end our meal and it went extremely well with the lemon walnut biscotti (a purposeful pairing, I might add). It was very easy and quite tasty.

Lemon Sorbet

1 lemon's peel, zested
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup carbonated mineral water
6 strips of lemon zest, for garnish

In a saucepan, stir together the lemon zest, 1 cup of water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

In a pitcher or bowl, stir together the lemon syrup with peel, lemon juice and mineral water. Pour into an ice cream maker, and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Garnish each serving with a twist of lemon peel.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, you may freeze it in a tall canister. Freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove and stir with a whisk. Return to the freezer and stir about once every hour for about 4 hours. The more times you stir, the more air will be incorporated, resulting in a lighter finished product.