Posts tagged ‘dinner’
My husband and I have a new vacation hobby – browsing antique stores. While we are in no way knowledgeable about what we are looking at, we enjoy looking around at old furniture, imagining what old kitchens looked like, and reading old letters or signs. We like to look for unique old pieces to mix in with our new and more modern furniture to give our home an eclectic and lived in feel. So far, we have only made two purchases from antique stores, mainly due to limited space and a tight budget. Our rule is that the item we select must be usable or repurposed in some way. So far, we have gotten a hand painted planter set for a kitchen herb garden and a cast iron dutch oven – both of which we have already put to use! I was so excited about the dutch oven because it is pre-seasoned from years of use, and came at a far lower price tag than the pretty enameled ones that I have always looked at. I like using dutch ovens over regular pots when meals require long cooking time, since the thick bottom holds the heat evenly and results in less sticking to the bottom. So far, I have used my pot to make Frugal Feeeding’s Greek Lamb with Orzo (I made this for Easter but it would make a lovely Mother’s Day meal!) and Bon Appetit’s Vinegar Braised Chicken.
For my braised chicken, I served it over homemade pasta to recreate a favorite restaurant meal. It was delicious, and would be another great meal to honor the special women in your lives! I used leg quarters and picked the large bones out prior to serving to create an easier to eat pasta dish. The ratios in the dish can be easily reduced if you do not want to make 5 lbs of chicken (I halved it to serve 4 people). The chicken would also taste great over rice, cous cous, or quinoa if pasta is not your mom’s favorite! Either way, I hope you all get to spend a beautiful weekend celebrating mothers, grandmothers, daughters and good friends who have helped to shape and mold you. I am especially thankful for my mom and the time we have gotten to spend together over the past two months!
Question: What are you doing to celebrate Mother’s Day?
Fancy meals do not always have to be rich and heavy, as proven by this fantastic Friday night treat. Pasta and steak dishes always seem to corner the market on romantic meals, but I dislike the heavy “food coma” feeling that they often leave you with. My favorite choice for a date-night at home is seafood, since they often are quick to prepare and do not feel so weighty. This meal was again inspired by an appetizer I enjoyed on our honeymoon, where the chef perfectly seared tiny bay scallops and served them over a spicy and delicious eggplant salad. While this does not perfectly recreate the fantastic eggplant salad I enjoyed, it improves on the scallops with larger sea scallops that seem to melt in your mouth when cooked properly. If you are new to scallops, Alton Brown has a great basic tutorial that I love. Scallops can be a little pricy and turn rubbery very quickly if cooked for too long, but are worth the cost when prepared correctly. For your next stay-at-home date, try out this dinner!
Scallops with Roasted Red Peppers and Spicy Eggplant
6 vegetable servings, scallops vary depending on amount
For the Red Pepper and Eggplant Salad:
3 large red bell peppers
1 large or 2 small (about 1.5 lbs) eggplant
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red chili flakes
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
For the scallops:
1/3 to 1/2 lb scallops per person
2-4 tbsp butter (depending on lbs of scallops)
Preheat the broiler in the oven. Half the red peppers and remove the stems and seeds. Lay cut-side down in a shallow baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until peppers are soft and the skin is charred. Transfer immediately to a large plastic zip bag and let cool for 10 minutes. Submerge peppers in cold water one at a time while removing the skins. Peppers can be prepared one to two days ahead of time, if desired.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roughly dice peppers and peeled eggplant into 1-inch pieces. Quarter the mushrooms. Mix all vegetables in a large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and red pepper flakes, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables, stirring every 15-20 minutes, for 45-55 minutes, or until eggplant is at desired consistency according to your preference.
When the vegetables are roasting, rinse and pat dry scallops. Preheat a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt. Add scallops, searing for approximately 2 minutes per side. The skillet should be hot enough to create a browned curst in a short time. Squeeze lemon half over scallops and remove to serving tray. Serve with eggplant and pepper mixture with brown rice.
The weather is finally starting to warm up in the New Jersey, getting me excited for grilling season! While many people think of seasons in terms of weather, I often think in term of food seasons. The fall and winter are roasting seasons, perfect for root vegetables and hearty meals; the spring and summer are grilling ones, great for fish and grilled peppers, zucchini, and eggplant. Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing I like better than both cooking and eating outdoors when the weather allows. However, I will miss my oven, which usually goes neglected from May through September to keep the house cool. If you are looking for a final oven meal to warm up with during cooler early spring nights, this one is a great staple!
I found a basic roasted chicken recipe in one of my mom’s many food magazines. (Being on this extended vacation is seriously great for my cooking creativity!) I tweaked it slightly to use up what I had on hand, but have so many ideas for variations! I used red onion and thyme as called for in the original recipe, but decided to use chicken thighs and baby bella mushrooms for a bit more flavor and earthiness. I think that shallots or Vidalia onions would actually be even better than the red onions, and that a little more garlic would be welcome. I would also love to play with the herbs, switching out the thyme for rosemary or basil. If you aren’t a mushroom person, you could easily leave them out, or add some cherry tomatoes in their stead. Since I am currently cooking for 4-6 people on a regular basis, I couldn’t quite make it a one-skillet meal, but think this would be an easy task if cooking for one or two! Just throw some cubed potatoes (parboiled to make them cook at the same time), vegetables (I love asparagus and Brussels sprouts in the oven), and the chicken thighs into an oven safe skillet and bake!
Question: What is your favorite “food season?”
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Mushrooms and Red Onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 – 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (organic if possible)
1 red onion, sectioned
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, halved
salt, pepper and thyme to taste
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Heat olive oil over high heat. Quickly sear the outside of each chicken thigh over high heat. Add red onion sections and mushroom halves, then season to taste with salt, pepper, and thyme. Place skillet in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until chicken thighs are cooked through. Remove and allow to cool prior to serving.
Since we have some time off before moving for my residency, Dan and I have been enjoying knocking some things off our cooking bucket list. One of the first things that came to Dan’s mind was chicken pot pie. His list of comfort foods is rather polarized, reflective of his multicultural upbringing: Korean stew (soon doo boo jjigae), Brazilian feijoada, and American Mac n’ Cheese or Chicken Pot Pie. Since pot pie is a little labor intensive, we knew we wanted to tackle it while we had some time to spare!
We found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and decided to give it a try. Our results were both tasty and messy, but we were impressed by our first attempt. The only change we made was using coconut oil to cook the onions instead of butter to lighten the dairy load. We think that cooking a little more of the filling liquid off and adding a pinch more salt and pepper next time would make this recipe perfect. We also decided to make our own crust, using a double batch of this basic all-butter pie crust recipe. We replaced about half of the flour with whole-wheat, and also added a pinch of garlic powder, basil and black pepper to enhance the savory dish. The crust was perfect, with none of the artificial flavor that bugs me about store-bought pie dough. Most importantly, the Husband approved and had his comfort-food craving satisfied.
Will I be making chicken pot pie often? Unlikely! It is quite labor intensive, and still requires a good chunk of butter no matter how you slice it. It would, however, be an easy freezer meal to make this summer and have for a long, cold winter night ahead. Either way, this is a fun and comforting meal if you are looking to spend a little time in the kitchen this week!
Question: What is your comfort food?
Everywhere I look lately, there are tacos. Really fun and interesting looking tacos. Like these and these and these. I even made my own! I would venture a guess that tacos are one of the trendy foods this season, and I am loving it! Bright colored veggies packed with flavor on a warm corn tortilla is totally my idea of fun backyard summer food! More so, I love the ideas that are breaking tacos out of the box. These recipes are certainly more creative than my memories of family taco nights, and are sure to liven up your dinner table!
These tacos are a fusion of cooking influences in my life right now. My boyfriend, who is Korean, has been teaching me some basics about Korean cooking, and I have learned how to make some simpler traditional dishes like kimchi jjigae and ssam jang. Learning this new style of cooking, and having a fridge full of new-to-me condiments, has started to spark my creativity and put ideas in my head of how to combine our food heritages. Thus, after a weekend of Korean cooking and a brief glance through the most recent Cooking Light magazine my mom lent me, the idea for these tacos were born! Korean pulled pork, a simple ginger cucumber, and a great scallion slaw, and it worked! The meat is tender and flavorful, with rich and complex notes upfront and a slow spice that follows. The cucumbers and carrots are crisp and refreshing, and the scallions nicely finish off the taco.
Some notes on the recipe: First, you might be scratching your head about the pork. Isn’t she a vegetarian? Well, recently, I have slowly started to add meat back to my diet. (My decision was made mostly for personal health reasons that I won’t fully discuss here.) I am still eating vegetarian meals 80% of the week, but am making a conscious effort to make a meal that includes meat at least once a week. After 5-ish years of vegetarian cooking, this has required a little more planning and experimentation than I expected! Also, don’t be intimidated by the super long ingredient list that follows– most of it is for the meat marinade and is pantry-based. The only “specialty items” are the Hoisin sauce, which can be found in most major supermarkets, and the gochujang. That might be a little harder to find, unless you have an Asian food market in your area. It is essentially a red pepper paste that adds a slow, sweet spice to your meat. If you can’t find it or don’t love spice, replace it with ketchup. Lastly, make sure that you take the time to toast your tortillas! A warm corn tortilla is much more pliable and tastes better, really giving the finishing touch to this dish!
Question: How do you feel about the changes on my blog? Over the past two years, this blog has been an outlet to record and share what I have been making and the things that excite me. I realize that I have many vegan/vegetarian readers, but feel that it is important for me to share how I have been eating! Like I said, most of my meals will still be largely vegetarian, but I hope to reflect the new styles of cooking I am learning to incorporate as well. I hope you will continue as I adventure in cooking and healthy living!
12 corn tortillas
2 lb pork (shoulder, butt or loin all work well)
1-inch piece ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp gochujang paste (or ketchup)
3 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp honey
2 star of anise
1/4 tsp fennel seed
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker. Set to low and cook for 7-8 hours. Pull meat apart using two forks to create pulled pork. Mix desired amount of residual sauce into meat.
cukes and carrots:
4 medium pickling cucumbers, julienned
3 carrots, julienned
2 clove garlic, minced
2-inch piece ginger, minced
4 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame seed oil
Combine the matchstick-sized cucumbers and carrots with the marinade ingredients. Shake and then refrigerate, covered, for at least one hour.
2 bunch scallions (greens only), julienned
1.5 tbsp sesame seed oil
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5 tbsp red chili flakes
Cut the scallion greens into 2-inch chunks, then julienne into thin strips. Combine with remaining ingredients and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Warm a corn tortilla in a skillet or griddle. Layer cucumbers, carrots, scallions and pulled pork. Fold and enjoy warm!
46F was our high today. With sprinkly rain and gloomy clouds. On April 23. That is cold, friends! Winter has not seemed to get the memo: GO AWAY. The trees are blooming, the birds are singing, the clocks have changed, and my sweaters are looking worn and tired. I have a new spring dress that is begging to be worn. The weather is just not cooperating with me here! Where is SPRING?
The only thing that can make a dreary and cold day better is soup, and this one hit the spot! This soup was inspired by a recent trip to the Asian food market. I was excited to see inexpensive Kabocha squash, so picked one up along with a bag of baby Bok choy. As I paid for my purchases, the squash rang up as “Japanese pumpkin.” And the idea for what would become of the Kabocha squash was born: miso soup! The bok choy and the squash seemed to be natural soup add-ins, and the mushrooms were a last minute thought to add texture and more body. Tofu would also be a natural addition, but I did not have any on hand and do not always love how soggy it gets in leftover soup. I used a “minute miso” paste to create this soup, which made prep minimal. I have never worked with real miso paste, so am not quite sure what modifications that would add, but most bottles come with general instructions on how to create the basic miso broth! Overall, this soup comes together in 35-40 minutes, with most of the cook time added from the roasted squash.
Is your town’s weather uncooperative as well? Then give this soup a try!
Kabocha, Mushroom and Baby Bok Choy Miso Soup
Vegan, serves 4 as main course or 6-8 as starter
1 clove garlic, minced
8-oz package white button mushrooms, sliced
6 heads baby Bok choy, stems cut off with leaves roughly quartered and separated
1 kabocha squash, sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup miso paste
4 cups hot water
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame seed oil
Half the kabocha squash, and then cut into slices. Toss lightly with half of the sesame seed oil, then lightly salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, saute sliced mushrooms in garlic and remaining sesame seed oil. Add the soy sauce, then cook until half of the liquid is absorbed. Add the bok choy, then turn off heat.
Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a kettle. Measure out 1/4 cup miso paste and add to a large 4-cup measure. Add boiling water to bring the total volume to 4 cups. Stir, then pour over the vegetable mixture. Stir the greens until they are well wilted.
Once the kabocha squash is finished roasting, remove from oven and gently peel back the skin with a fork. Cut into chunks and add to soup. Bring soup back to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir and serve warm.
Nothing screams springtime like fresh ingredients and brightly colored veggies. As soon as the first warm day hits, I am craving salads, slaws, and anything on a grill. These fish tacos fit the bill perfectly! My boyfriend and I recently returned from an amazing Florida vacation, where we visited my grandparents and extended family, explored Ybor City in Tampa, and replenished our Vitamin D levels on the beach.
All of the sun kicked my veggie cravings into overdrive, and so I jumped at the opportunity to make a fun lunch for my grandparents!
Fish tacos seem to have become rather trendy these days, and come in several varieties. My requirements for a good fish taco are as follows: good grilled fish, not the fried stuff. Traditional corn tortillas, not flour. Avocado, in some form. Lots of cilantro. And a good, tangy, fresh cole slaw. Hold the mayo.
Simple, right? Still, many places don’t hold a candle to this homemade version. This recipe was inspired from bits and pieces of many that I have read, taking my favorite parts from all. Feel free to do the same with mine, or try out my version to let me know what you think!
16 corn tortillas
1 lb white fish fillets (use what is local to your region – I have used Cod in NE and tilapia in FL both with great results)
spices: paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, salt, pepper
1 small head purple cabbage, finely sliced (you can also use green, but the color makes these fun)
1 bunch scallion, whites discarded
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lime juice (I used from a bottle, but fresh is always fun!)
3 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
1 jalapeno, finely minced (use 2 if you like more heat)
for avocado cream:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 tbsp minced cilantro
Assemble slaw first. Slice cabbage and scallions finely, then mince garlic and jalapenos. Combine with lime juice and minced cilantro. Add a pinch of salt if desired. Combine and refrigerate while preparing other components to allow flavors to combine.
Next, combine avocado, greek yogurt, and remaining cilantro in a food processor. Combine until very smooth. Cover in a small bowl and refrigerate.
Wrap corn tortillas in foil and place in oven to warm while cooking fish. Alternatively, place tortillas individually on a warm griddle after cooking fish for a crispier taco.
To prepare fish, begin by washing filets and patting dry. Season both sides with aforementioned spices according to taste. (More cayenne for the spice lovers, more paprika and chili powder for a deeper and sweeter flavor.) Salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a cover. Add fish filets but do not crowd the pan. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Flip, then cook for an additional 3 minutes, or until fish is flaky and cooked through.
To assemble tacos, take warmed corn tortilla and spoon avocado cream across the bottom. Top with slaw and a small piece of fish. Fold in half and enjoy immediately!