Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Crab And Ricotta Cannelloni

I forgot to put the basil in the filling, so we put it on top.
Meh!  I didn't read the reviews of this dish because it was from Giada De Laurentiis  and her recipes almost never disappoint, this one wasn't so great for me.  I did add some garlic to the BĂ©chamel and I think the sauce was ok, but there was a ton of it for the amount of pasta and the cannelloni was just alright.  I didn't pop for the really expensive crab that I would have had to shell myself because we are covering it with at ton of sauce and that would have been a waste, but I didn't by the cheapest crab either.  It was an expensive plate of blah.  I wouldn't mind playing around with the dish,  so I deem it fixable.  I think loosing the seafood and replacing with veggies would make me like it more.  So we will see if I ever get around to playing with the fixable recipes;). I did forget to put the basil inside the filling, so we put it on top.  The basil was needed!  I also cooked it way longer than stated, but ever got the golden brown parmesan there was in the original picture.  I was going to pop on the broiler, but dinner was already running late.

Crab And Ricotta Cannelloni
1 box (8 ounces) cannelloni or manicotti pasta (about 12 shells)
1 Cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3/4 Cup grated Parmesan plus 1/4 cup for sprinkling
1 egg yolk
1/2 Cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1 Lb lump crabmeat
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 Tsp freshly ground white pepper
Bechamel Sauce recipe follows

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.

In a large bowl, mix together ricotta, 3/4 cup Parmesan, egg yolk, basil,
 crab, salt, and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Fill the cannelloni with the crab mixture and place in a buttered baking
dish. Top the filled cannelloni with the Bechamel Sauce and sprinkle
with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake until bubbly and the top is
golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Bechamel Sauce:
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour
and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk,
whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and creamy, about
10 minutes (do not allow the sauce to boil). Remove from the heat and
stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. (The sauce can be made up to 3
days ahead. Cool and then cover and refrigerate.)

Out of the oven

Before the basil

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

I got the most beautiful tagine as a gift from my MIL.  I have been wanting one for a long time.  Now I am not timid in the kitchen, but I was a little nervous about using the clay vessel with the glass top stove, so after a bit of poking around on the Internet, I ordered a heat diffuser and a cookbook about cooking in these clay vessels.   The heat diffuser was recommended by the makers of my tagine but didn't say required, but I figured for 12 dollars it was worth the insurance.  I should have checked to see if my tagine fit inside my cast iron skillet, but too late:).  This is my first recipe out of the cookbook I ordered Tagines & Couscous.  If this recipe is the only one we like, the book was worth it.  We had some wonderful friends over, who didn't mind being guinea pigs to our first attempt with the tagine as well as the recipe;).  The only ingredient that I couldn't find at my local publix was the ghee.  The cookbook said you could use half butter and half olive oil if you couldn't find it, but there is a health food store right around the corner and I knew they would have it, so I made the extra stop.  I don't know if I would be able to make the smen that they said was traditional in many of these tagines; I have issues with fermenting (read controlled spoiling) butter. I loved the dish (despite my aversion to sweet and savory mixed), my husband was blown a way by it and declared it 5 stars all the way.  The boy thought more like a 3.5-4 but it does have a lot of flavors going on there and I can see it being a bit overwhelming to a younger eater.  To accompany the tagine, I made the couscous according to the book.  I didn't notice much of a difference in the texture or flavor doing the couscous in the oven, but it wasn't more difficult, and I think it might just be easier with larger amounts of couscous.

Lamb Tagine with Dates, Almonds and Pistachios

3 tablespoons of ghee
2 onions finely chopped
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 pounds lean lamb  (from the shoulder neck or leg cut into bite-size pieces) I used shoulder
8 ounce ready to eat pitted dates
1 tablespoon dark ready honey
1 tablespoon olive oil pat of butter
3 tablespoons blanched almonds
2 tablespoons show pistachios
Leaves from a small bunch of fresh parsley finely chopped
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
plain buttery couscous for serving (recipe follows)

Heat the ghee in a tagine or heavy based casserole dish.  Stir in the onions and sautĂ© until golden brown.  This took me about 20 minutes because I didn't want to turn the heat up too high on the clay tagine even with a heat diffuser.  Stir in the turmeric ginger and cinnamon.  Toss in the meat making sure it is coated in the spice mixture.  Pour enough water to almost cover the meat and bring it to a boil.  Reduce heat cover with a lid and let simmer gently for roughly 1 1/2 hours.  Add the dates and the honey. Cover with the lid again and simmer another 30 minutes.  Season with salt and lots of black pepper.  Meanwhile heat the olive oil with the pat of butter in a small pan.  Stirring the almonds and pistachios in and cook until they begin to turn golden brown scatter the roasted nuts over the lamb and dates and sprinkle with the flat leaf  parsley. Serve with plain buttery couscous.  They also suggested a tart lemony salad to cut the sweetness,  I used the Lemon Chia Seed Dressing I again that I had originally made to go with the siracha salmon dish.

Plain Buttery Couscous
2 cups of couscous rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of butter broken into little pieces
1 tablespoon of butter
2 to 3 tablespoons of blanched slivered almonds

Preheat the oven to 350.  Pour the couscous into an ovenproof dish. Mix the salt into the water and pour over the couscous. Leave the couscous to absorb the water for about 10 minutes, then, using your fingers,  rub the oil into the couscous grains to break up the lumps and aerate them. Scatter the butter over the surface and cover with a piece of foil or wet parchment paper and put in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the couscous is heated through.  Meanwhile prepare the almonds melt the butter in a heavy base skillet set over medium heat add the almonds and cook stirring until the begin the turn golden remove from the pan and drain on paper towels take the couscous out of the oven and fluff up the grains with a fork.  Serve from the dish or tip on to pile in to a  high mound with the roasted almonds  scattered on top.

My new Tagine!!

The cookbook I ordered.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My New Juicer

I have been wanting a juicer; at the very least I wanted to make healthier juices for the kids, but I was also hoping to add a good bit of fruit and veggies to my diet. I know people become absolute fanatics about juicing, but I can't see that happening to us:). So this is my first "juice" I made. It was touted as good for beginning juicers. It was a bit odd and a bit to strong in the celery (I left out 1 stalk too!), but on the whole, not too bad.  The funniest thing was a little bit after drinking it, I looked over at my husband and said, I feel weird.  He said he did too.  The best description we could come up with was we felt like we were slipped some kind of drug. (Or slammed one too many red bulls:)  I asked him if this was what healthy felt like, and we both got a good laugh out of it.  I will update you as our experience progresses.

Mean Green

2 granny smith apples
3 stalks of celery
1 cucumber
1 thumb of ginger
6 leaves of kale
1/2 lemon

Juice & drink :)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Salmon Feta Pasta

My son got to choose dinner tonight and he picked another recipe from the lovely and talented  It was another awesome dish, and surprisingly easy to make considering just how much flavor it delivered.  I think I cooked the tomatoes a bit longer than she did, but my husband has issues with chunks of tomato.  I didn't think this would be his kind of dish as feta and tomatoes aren't his favorites, but he wasn't going to be home for dinner. He got home and tried it reheated and declared it delicious!  (despite the fact of his less than favorite ingredients and it being reheated!!!)  As with all the recipes I try from my fellow bloggers, I give you a link to their site.

Salmon Feta Pasta

Roma tomatoes
Smoked salmon
pine nuts

Recipe and instructions here

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Halibut With Swiss Chard, Leek And Pepper Stew

I am going to have a hard time accurately judging this recipe.  The biggest impediment to impartiality is the fact that while the stew was cooking, one child was asleep and the other playing quietly, so I poured my self a glass of wine, read my book and reacquainted myself with the pleasure a piece of baguette and real butter can bring, so I wasn't exactly starving when the meal was finished. The other thing that may skew my perception, was that I tailored this to fit some ingredients I had on hand.  Those being acorn squash over the easier to peel butternut and the tiny, albeit delicious, but infinitely harder to chop yum yum peppers I had in my Front Porch Pickings basket.  My only valid complaint was that there wasn't much in the way of liquid and I thought the stew a bit too dry for me to think of it as a stew.  I also substituted flounder for the halibut as there wasn't any at my local publix.  Even with all that against it, I still thought it was pretty good; a solid 3.5.  It certainly was healthy and if I had skipped the baguette I bought for the boys, it would have been low calorie.

Halibut With Swiss Chard, Leek And Pepper Stew
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion chopped
1 large leek white and tender green parts, halved length wise and sliced into 1/4" slices
4 large garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/2 Cup dry white wine
2 small acorn squash peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 Lb Swiss chard stems discarded, leaves torn into large
1 red bell pepper cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper cut into 3/4-inch dice
1/2 Tsp fennel seeds
1/2 Tsp dried thyme
1/4 Tsp crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Four 6-ounce skinless halibut fillets
1/2 Cup shredded basil leaves

1. Preheat the oven to 425. Heat the olive oil in a large enameled cast-
iron casserole. Add the onion, leek and garlic, cover and cook over low
heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the
wine and cook until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add the squash,
Swiss chard, red and yellow bell peppers, fennel seeds, thyme and
crushed red pepper. Season the vegetables generously with salt and
pepper, cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the
squash is tender, about 15 minutes. 
2. Spread half of the vegetable stew in an 8-by-11-inch glass or ceramic
baking dish. Season the halibut with salt and pepper and nestle the
fillets in the stew; cover with the remaining vegetables. Bake for about
15 minutes, or until the halibut is just cooked through. Sprinkle with
the basil and serve. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Steak with Blue Cheese Butter

My son requested steak tonight, so I obliged him. To make it a "new" recipe, I looked for a compound butter to top it with. I found this blue cheese butter from Bobby Flay. It was nice. I loved that it gave you the flavor of blue cheese but it wasn't overwhelmingly blue. Since the recipe this week is so quick, I thought I would share my steak cooking technique. I achieve consistent results and as my husband once said, his manhood felt a little threatened that I was better at steak cooking than him. (lol)  It is surprisingly simple to do.  It isn't anything secret, it is just a collection of things I have read concerning steak cookery.  We like our steak medium rare, and that takes 4 minutes a side for this size steak.  I would lose a minute a side for rare and add a minute for medium.  Ideally, a thicker steak would get more caramelizing on the out side, but I haven't found any already cut that thick at Publix, but that would require me to trial and error find out just how much longer the thicker steaks take too:)

So how I cook steaks.  I start with NY Strip Steaks about an inch thick.

exactly 1" this time

Put on a wire rack over a sheetpan and sprinkle both sides liberally with kosher salt

Preheat oven to 500° for at least a half an hour leave the steak out of the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour 
Turn the broiler to high  (prop open the door slightly to keep broiler on. I use a wooden utensil because they don't get too hot. You could make a prop out of foil too)

Broil on high four minutes each side (flipping only once)
After the first 4 minute, what each side looks like
after the second 4 minutes
Then let rest at least 10 minutes on a cutting board before slicing against the grain

Blue Cheese Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, slightly softened
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Combine the butter, cheese, and thyme in a bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Salmon With Sriracha Sauce And Lime

Well tonight's dish was no wow. However, I feel honor bound to round up 1/2 a star on pure healthiness.  So it gets 3 stars.  I used a wild salmon and I think that I should have broiled it, but I hate to diverge from a recipe the first time I make it.  I picked this dish for it's lightness as we are all heavier and bloated from all the food we ate on vacation.  The flavors were ok, but like I said, not a wow.  The thing we liked the best was the Lemon Chia Seed dressing for our salad!  It was really amazing, and it went well with the fish.  In fact, I think a plain piece of broiled Salmon with this dressing would be better than the following recipe.  Of course the dressing has oil in it where the fish recipe doesn't.  If you are looking for a decent low cal recipe, than this will fit the bill, but if you are looking for really tasty food, go with a different salmon recipe, eat less of it, and fill up on salad.

Salmon With Sriracha Sauce And Lime
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 Tbl maple syrup
1 1/2 Tsp tsp sriracha sauce
1/2 Tsp coarse sea salt
1 1/4 Lb pounds salmon fillet skin removed
2 Tbl coarsely chopped cilantro
Heat oven to 425. In a bowl, whisk together juice, zest, syrup, sriracha
and salt. Place salmon in a baking dish lined with parchment paper; pour
lime-maple mixture over top. Roast salmon until cooked through and flaky,
15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve.
217 calories per serving, 9 g fat (1 g saturated), 4 g carbs, 0 g fiber,
28 g protein

The dressing you should make!  it was wonderful.
Lemon Chia Seed Dressing recipe and instructions here.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Eggplant Involtini with Fresh Tomato Sauce

My darling, aunt in law I guess, gave me this huge beautiful eggplant. When I went  on my meatless board on Pinterest, the first one that popped up was this one. I figured it was fate and decided I had to make it. It was a bit of work but not to terribly much. I made the tomato sauce the day before which cut out a lot of time and some work off the dish. I think the tomato sauce was pretty good, and it was most definitely better the next day.   I would think the whole dish is about a 3. Things that prevented it from ranking higher!  I would reduce the lemon juice or zest. Not that they weren't nice in it, but it was a lot of lemon flavor in the end. I also think it needs more tomato sauce to eggplant roll. So next time, instead of just a little in the bottom, I would put a good thick layer. Also, I only used 1/2 tablespoon of cream per roll. I am putting this in the fixable file.

For the eggplant involtini recipe click here.
For the tomato sauce recipe click here.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Berry Syrup

I have been away from the blog for what feels like forever, but I promise there were good reasons.  First of all, the refrigerator, yes the fairly new one, has been having some issues which resulted with us not using it for a long time.  (parts on back order ugh!)  Then we went away for a week for a family reunion.  So, I am now trying to get back in to my blogging groove.  Since we still aren't doing much cooking, fridge fixed Wednesday, I thought I would keep it simple, so with our further ado, the post;).

I have a new toy, a soda siphon.  We waste so much club soda between making myself less sweet syrupy sodas & cocktails, I thought it would be worth the investment. While I am digging the extra fuzzy club soda, and we are using the heck out of it, the jury is still out on if it is more economical. I thought one way I can justify the purchase is to make "sodas" for the kids too. I found this recipe for  making syrup from a variety of berries and thought it would make the kids a sweet drink and give them a little bit of fruit too.  I make my first batch with blueberries.  The biggest issue we had with this syrup was the chunks.  Next time, I will need to do something about the texture.  It may be that blueberries will never make a smooth enough texture for soda, but they made a fine ice cream topping:)!

Berry Syrup

1 Cup fresh or frozen berries (any kind strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
1/4 Cup tap water
1 Cup sugar

Original recipe & directions here

What I did different, was that after cooking, I pureed it so make it better for drinks, and while I think this syrup would be great on pancakes, ice cream, etc...  for the "sodas" I found that just plain fruit (thawed if frozen), in a blender with just a splash or two of water or juice (and a little bit of agave syrup if you want it really sweet) worked better.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Miso Glazed Talapia

This dish was good.  Our jaded palates couldn't let us go higher than 3.5 (ok the boy said 4), but it was not only tasty & healthy, but  is totally capable of being a stellar dish with a little playing around with it.  I have been really busy getting ready for vacation, dealing with a fridge that may or may not be holding temperature, and a big old case of the summer doldrums.  Hence, the blog has been neglected.  We will be gone for a week starting Tuesday, so I don't foresee a lot of blogging coming up, and I am slacking on this post as well.  I didn't want to go out to the store and I needed to use up some things in the fridge.  This dish was based on this Miso Glazed Cod Recipe.  I'm not even sure if this was where I first found it, but it was the first place to come up with the same recipe.  I had all the ingredients on hand except the cod the original recipe called for, but I did have tilapia.  I halved the recipe too.

Miso GlazedTalapia
6 (6-ounce) Talapia fillets
1/3 Cup low-sodium blond or white miso
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1 Tsp toasted sesame oil
2 Tbl mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
Toasted sesame seeds and scallions for garnish

Preheat broiler.

Rinse fish fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Combine miso, brown
sugar, sesame oil and mirin and stir well until brown sugar is fully
Brush about 2 tablespoons miso glaze on each fish fillet. (the original recipe had us marinate the fish, at this point, but I forgot:)  Place fish under broiler for 4 minutes, or until top is slightly charred and glaze has caramelized.
Remove fish from oven and brush with remaining glaze. Turn off oven, and return the fish to the off oven for a minute or two so the additional glaze is hot cooked just a bit
Serve with toasted sesame seeds and scallions.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Sausage Burgers with Sriracha Honey Mustard Sauce

I had 4 hamburger buns from Sunday, so it would be wasteful of me to not make burgers again right??  So I had my boy browse my Pinterest burger board, and he picked this one. GOOD CHOICE!  I thought it sounded like it had possibilities, and its totally in my husband's wheelhouse, so I was pretty sure everyone would like it. The boy rated it the lowest at 3.5 stars. My husband hates to give up a, 5 but that was what he was thinking. (He ate two after all;). I was thinking 4-4.5 for the rating, so 4.5 it is. The sriracha honey mustard was really great!  I think it important to have good mustards.  I made my own coleslaw, but didn't measure anything: just some mayo, white wine vinegar, celery seed, salt, pepper and maybe some garlic. (I can't remember)  On the plus side, fast easy, and amazing; on the down side, not exactly diet or healthy.

 Sausage Burgers with Sriracha-Honey-Mustard Sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 1/2 pounds sweet and hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons Sriracha
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
8 burger buns, split and toasted
Mayonnaise, coleslaw and pickles
  1. In a bowl, combine the ground pork with the sausage meat and form into eight 4-inch patties about 3/4 inch thick.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the honey, Sriracha and both mustards and bring to a boil. Simmer until a slightly glossy sauce forms, 3 minutes; reserve half in a bowl for serving.
  3. Light a grill and oil the grates. Grill the burgers over moderately high heat for 5 minutes, turning once, until lightly charred and barely cooked through; brush with the sauce and grill, turning and brushing, until cooked through and glazed, about 5 minutes longer.
  4. Spread the bottom buns with mayonnaise and top with the burgers. Spoon a little of the reserved sauce on top, followed by coleslaw and pickles. Close the burgers and serve.
Make Ahead The uncooked sausage burgers can be refrigerated overnight. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with a Lemon Sage Brown Butter Sauce

I had some butternut squash from my Front Porch Pickings basket, and I was browsing Pinterest for ideas. I came across a pin for butternut squash stuffed shells with a lemon sage brown butter sauce. I planned on using the recipe as a guide, but I kind of just made it up as I went along. The main thing I used the recipe for: the brilliant suggestion of adding lemon zest to the filling. I also took the sauce and cooking time from the pinned recipe. They were pretty similar in the end. The main thing I did really different, was I mashed the squash.  I liked the texture better that way.  Next time I would change the sauce.  The butter sauce didn't do anything really, so I think I just might make my sage cream sauce and put a dollop on top of each shell next time.  The best thing about this dish is the squash;  I thin I will replace 1/2 the ricotta in my stuffed/layered pastas from now on with roasted squash.  It was tasty and it adds some vitamins and lightens it up a bit.  Sorry about the vagueness of the recipe.  I was dictating it to Siri, and you know how she is;) and then the blogger app decided to erase my carefully corrected recipe.

Butternut Squash Stuffed Shells with a Lemon Sage Brown Butter Sauce

2 cups of butternut squash, roasted
1/4 cup of garlic seasoned Parmesan
1/2  teaspoon of kosher salt
1 1/4 cups of ricotta cheese
1 egg beaten
splash of hot sauce
Zest from one lemon
1/2 onion sauteed in a little bit of butter and veggie broth if necessary to make it soft
Sage Butter sauce
1 stick of butter
handful of sage leaves
juice of one lemon
Preheat oven to 350
Stuff  Shells with the mixture and then put them in a buttered baking dish
(I added a little bit of vegetable broth to the bottom to make sure he didn't stick or get dry)
Put them in the oven, uncovered and cook about 20 minutes
While they are cooking, melt the butter in a pan an cook over medium heat until it becomes golden brown,
Add the sage leaves and cook until they crisp up.
Remove from heat, add lemon juice and season with salt. 
Set aside and keep warm
When the shells come out of the oven, spoon the butter sauce over-the-top

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cheesy Burgers With Soy-Spiked Ketchup

The boy requested burgers, and this was one from Food & Wine we hadn't tried yet. The reviews were mixed in the family. The boy said 4 stars, my husband said 2 and I was thinking a high 3.5. I'm rounding the average to my rating. The husband didn't like it because of the texture. It was billed as a cross between meatloaf and a burger, and my husband thought it disappointed on both accounts. The boy loved it and didn't complain. I thought the texture was a bit too mushy, but really dug the flavor and loved the soy spiked ketchup.  The ketchup is a keeper. Now what else to do with it...

Cheesy Burgers With Soy-Spiked Ketchup

1/2 Cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 Tbl soy sauce
1 Tbl hoisin sauce
1 Tbl fresh lime juice
1 1/2 Tsp ancho chile powder
1 1/2 Lb ground beef chuck preferably 80 or 85 percent lean
1/2 Cup shredded Colby cheese
1/4 Cup minced red onion
2 Tbl minced kosher pickles
2 Tbl plain dry bread crumbs
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 Tsp ITabasco
Canola oil for brushing
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 potato hamburger buns split and toasted
Mayonnaise lettuce and sliced red onion, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/2 cup of the ketchup with the soy sauce,
hoisin, lime juice and ancho chile powder.
2. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef with the cheese, minced red
onion, pickles, bread crumbs, garlic, Tabasco and the remaining 2
tablespoons of ketchup. Knead gently until thoroughly mixed. Form the
meat into six 4-inch patties, about 1/2 inch thick.
3. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the burgers with oil and
season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning
once, until lightly charred outside and medium-rare within, about 3
4. Spread the cut sides of the buns with mayonnaise. Place lettuce on
the buns then top with the burgers. Spread some of the spiked ketchup on
the patties and top with sliced onion. Close the burgers and serve,
passing additional spiked ketchup at the table.

better shot of the ketchup:)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Spicy Japanese Popcorn

This was an interesting recipe.  At first, it was an odd juxtaposition of flavors.  There as the almost fishy flavor of the seaweed, the nuttiness of the sesame seeds, and a surprisingly spiciness of the togarashi, which I had never used before and was why I made this particular recipe tonight.  I happened to have some on hand.  Why you may ask?  Well,  I was making the trek to the oriental grocery for Korean pepper paste, so of course I browsed a bit. I saw the togarashi and I knew I had seen it in one of the hundreds of to try recipes I have filed away, but I also knew that it was for a recipe I wanted to try and was only deterred by missing this ingredient, the one ingredient not available at my local Publix.  So, of course I bought it and then proceeded to try and remember what recipe I wanted to make that required the elusive togarashi.  Then it hit me, it was from an article in Food and Wine about some unusual flavored popcorns.  So we popped some popcorn (not the microwave kind!) and tossed it with this spice blend.  And like I said, it was odd at first.  Luckily, my family and I have learned to treat odd and unfamiliar as just that and not 'bad' as it seems humans are hard wired to do as children (it does have it's survival purposes), and after several bites, we all quickly becoming fans.  Even the three year old really liked it despite it's peppery kick.  Give it a chance and I think you will like it as much as we did.

Spicy Japanese Popcorn

2 sheets nori (dried seaweed) crumbled
2 Tbl toasted sesame seeds
1 Tbl togarashi chile seasoning
1 Tbl kosher salt
5 Qt of buttered popcorn
1. In a food processor, pulse the first four ingredients to a fine
powder. Toss with buttered popcorn and serve.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

My darling boy is finally home after a fun filled week at my MIL's house. I let him choose his welcome home dinner, and he choose Nillawan's Smoked Salmon Pasta. (Good choice might I add:)  Since I have been kind if slacking on the blog since summer started, I decided to make a new salad dressing for a blog recipe. This was a great salad dressing. My husband thinks it just might be his favorite yet. I got it off Food & Wine's website and it billed it as a lightened up version of a ceaser type dressing made by Bobby Flay. While not a lot of work, the roasting of the garlic does add on some, largely inactive, time, but as I think dressings taste better after sitting, it can be made ahead of time.

Creamy Garlic Vinaigrette

15 medium unpeeled garlic cloves
1 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 Cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbl water
2 Tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tsp mayonnaise
1 Tsp honey
1/4 Tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 Tsp Tabasco
1/3 Cup canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Set the garlic on a sheet of foil, drizzle
with the olive oil and wrap up; roast for 30 minutes, until soft.
2. Squeeze the garlic from its skin into a blender. Puree with the
vinegar, water, mustard, mayonnaise, honey, Worcestershire and Tabasco;
slowly add the canola oil and puree until the dressing is creamy. Season
with salt and pepper and serve.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doritos Crusted Chicken Fingers That You Should NEVER Make

The top 2 were made with nacho flavor the bottom two made with
my personal favorite Doritos, Thai Chili (or sweet hot chili something
like that:)
So, this is another of the dishes off pinterest my husband chose.  The irony, is I pinned it for the kids, and the boy isn't with us this week.  I let him do the cooking of the chicken, I made the ranch that the recipe recommended to dip in.  He says it is a two person job to do the breading if you want it done in a timely manner.  But at least it was worth it right?  WRONG!  It was worse than school food!  It was a waste of a bag of chips!  The crust tasted nothing like doritos, were the texture of stale chips and slipped right off.  EWWWWW!  And we have so many now, and we don't even want to offer them to the neighborhood kids!  Fou1!  (hehe no pun intended)  I feel sick right now for eating 4 nuggets but I wanted to warn you, please NEVER MAKE THESE!!!!  The only thing that tasted at all good was the homemade ranch I made.  I am not even giving the link or recipe.  The site I got it off of looked really cool and I'm sure this must be one bad recipe.  The guy who writes sounds like someone I would love to be friends with.  (fellow Trekkie and all) but as a public service I had to put this out there and say don't make these!  We each ate two and then threw out the rest of the 2 pounds of chicken.  Yes, they were that awful.

Doritos Crusted Chicken Fingers

Monday, July 1, 2013

Spaghetti Squash Cakes

For our meatless Monday, I thought we would try these Spaghetti Squash Cakes. I had plenty of egg whites in the freezer and a spaghetti squash from Front Porch Pickings.  (Whenever a recipe calls for an egg yolk, I freeze the whites individually). We thought these were alright; nothing a good dose of fat and salt couldn't cure, actually, was our estimation. ;)  All joking aside, for the amount of calories you get, these were great, I think they would be an amazing substitute for English muffins in eggs Benedict. Now, I know, that is seriously upping the calories and fat, but the squash cakes would be seriously lowering the calories of the Benedict;).  We didn't dislike them, but there was no wow factor on the taste buds.  If I were going on just taste, I would give them a 2.5-3 but as they are so low calorie, they get a 3.

Spaghetti Squash Cake

2 egg whites
¼ cup whole wheat flour (30g)
2-3 cloves of garlic
About 1 ½ cups of cooked spaghetti squash
About ¼ cup finely diced red pepper
About ¼ cup finely diced green pepper
About ¼ cup finely diced sweet onion
Salt & Pepper
Non-stick olive oil cooking spray

Recipe and instructions and nutritional information here