Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Asian Steak Salad

There are days when I would be happy to eat just a simple salad for dinner. Heck, there are days when dinner is hummus and pita chips, or a package of EZ Mac, or (ok, ok) a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But generally when my husband and I are both home, we try to make a real, honest to goodness dinner. Which makes having a salad for dinner a little hard. Unless—the salad IS a dinner in and of itself. Which is definitely the case for this Asian Steak Salad. In fact, my husband even dubbed it “a keeper” which is the highest form of dinner praise in our house. I got the recipe from the Pioneer Woman, whose recipes are always fantastic (and usually man-friendly). The only changes I think I’ll make in the future is to leave the seeds in the jalapeno (it wasn’t spicy at all) and maybe cut back a smidge on the oil (reflected in the recipe below). I also added about a teaspoon of sesame oil, which was a nice addition to the flavors. 

Steak, cut of your choosing
2 Tbsps Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Sherry
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar

The original recipe suggested you use Ribeye steak, but for me, that is such a fatty cut of steak that I don’t think it would match well with a salad. It’s great for eating on its own, don’t get me wrong. I love me some grilled ribeye. But for this salad, I used Denver cuts, which I had never heard of before. They were great, though. Evidently they are known as the inexpensive cousin of the New York Strip steak. Mix your marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag and add the steak, then marinate for a half hour to two hours. In the meantime, make your dressing.

3 Tbsps Olive Oil
3 Tbsps Soy Sauce
2 scant Tbsps White Sugar
2 Tbsps Lime Juice
1 Tsp. Sesame Oil
4 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1 Jalapeno, minced

Whisk together the ingredients for the salad and set aside. You’ll need to whisk again right before pouring over the salad. Cook up your steak as you like it, and slice it into thin strips. I used mixed greens for my salad, and romaine for my husbands, plus mixed in some sliced green onions. Toss the salad with 3/4ths of the dressing, then top with the steak. Pour the remaining dressing over the top of the steak and serve! You could top with cracked black pepper, but I don’t recommend cheese. Just doesn’t fit with this salad, and frankly, you don’t need it. 

(click here for printable recipe)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Arugula Salad with Bacon Vinaigrette

It’s January, and with the New Year comes a lot of new resolutions to start exercising, lose weight, and eat healthier. If you know me at all, you know that these are all challenges for, especially the “eat healthier” part. But I’m making an attempt, and that’s why I tried this salad. I’ll admit, a bacon vinaigrette probably isn’t the MOST healthy thing I could have chosen, but come on. Baby steps.

All in all, it was pretty good. In the future I would add a little more seasoning to the dressing, since it was pretty bland. But I love the hot ingredients and dressing with the arugula. The original recipe (from The Pioneer Woman) called for spinach, and I made a second version for my husband with romaine so I’m sure this will work for any lettuce you love.

1 red onion, sliced thinly
Black pepper
Parmesan Reggiano (optional)

3 Tbsps. Reserved bacon grease
3 Tbsps. Red wine vinegar
2 Tsps sugar
½ Tsp Dijon mustard
Dash Salt

Start by frying up your bacon. I made the mistake of trying to get fancy and using some pancetta, but it did not make enough grease for the dressing, so I would recommend sticking with bacon. (We ended up cutting up some bacon to add to it). When that is nice and crispy, remove to a paper towel and remove all but about 2 Tbsps of the grease to a small saucepan. Now start caramelizing your onions over medium-low heat. This should take awhile, around 20 minutes. We didn’t let ours go that long because we like ours slightly less brown. Remove the onions and set aside, then brown your mushrooms over medium heat. Don’t let them get completely soft, just enough so that they are well browned. In the meantime, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing over medium heat until they are combined and heated through. No need for this to simmer; it just needs to be warm.

Now simply assemble the salad with the lettuce, bacon, onions and mushrooms. Pour the warm bacon dressing over the top and toss to coat. Then give it a dose of cracked pepper and if you want, grate a little Parmesan Reggiano over the top. There you have it. Maybe not the healthiest salad in the world, but at least it’s a small step in the right direction. 

(click here for printable recipe)

ps. 200th post! Woohoo!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Posole Sopa

A couple weeks ago; my mother invited me over for dinner. I usually find out what she is planning on making before I accept. What can I say; I can be picky. On this particular evening she made Posole Soup. I had no idea what it was other than some kinda Mexican soup. I figured it would probably be pretty good as my mother really likes Mexican cuisine. Well, I was right to go over there that evening, because the soup was really good. My mother's soup was spicy and had a ton of flavor. I added some tortilla chips to my soup since I had brought over chips and salsa. It was delicious. I'm not entirely sure what recipe my mother used, but I came across this recipe from My Recipes. I kinda messed up the tomatillos. According to the recipe, you are supposed to boil them before pureeing the tomatillos in a food processor or blender. I forgot to boil, and instead, I immediately pureed them. I read up on boiling and basically it helps soften the flavor of the tomatillo. I found out that a lot of mexican sauces are made with raw tomatillos. So, I didn't feel so bad that I forgot to boil, but I did wash them, fortunately. You should do this after peeling off the husks, because they have a sticky residue. This soup was really good, and quite similar to my mother's recipe. It might be the same for all I know. Enjoy!

  • 1 pound tomatillos
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 3 pounds chicken breast halves, skinned
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and quartered
  • 1 (30-ounce) can white hominy, drained
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 8 lime wedges
I will tell you how I made this soup. Please go to the link above to do it the way it is intended...
First thing I did was boil 4 chicken breasts. I added some pepper and salt to the water and chicken. Once the chicken has cooked thoroughly, remove from pot. Shred chicken and set aside. This is where I messed up the tomatillos; remove the stems and the husk from the tomatillos. Rinse thoroughly. I threw the tomatillos into my food processor and pureed until smooth. Set aside. Take a 4 qt saucepan, and add 6 cups of chicken stock. Set aside. Next, chop your jalapenos, onion, and garlic. Throw the onion, garlic, and jalapeno into a medium-sized skillet; set on your burner at medium heat; and add a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Sautee until the onion is tender...about five minutes. Add in the tomatillo puree that you had set aside from earlier. Stir and let simmer for another 5 minutes. Around this point; start warming up your chicken stock. Add in the chicken and the rinsed hominy. Add in the tomatillo mixture. Add in the juice of 2 limes. Add in a couple tablespoons of cilantro. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a bowl with diced avocado, crushed tortilla chips, and reduced-fat sour cream. Enjoy!

(Click here for printable recipe)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hearty Frittata w/ Bacon, Potato, & Cheddar

For Christmas day, I had brunch with my Dad. Typically, I would make french toast or pancakes. But, I decided to do something with eggs. Normally, I would never make eggs for breakfast, because I really do not like eggs. But, I remember we made frittata's for Christmas one year, and I actually liked it. So, I thought I'd give it a whirl. Plus, I had a new cookbook that I wanted to try a recipe from. The cookbook is called The Cook's Illustrated Cookbook, and it has over 2000 recipes. I highly recommend it. Anyway, I ended up adding additional ingredients to this frittata and it became almost too hearty. But, it was still pretty darn good for my first attempt. If you like eggs; you'll probably like this. Enjoy!

Ingredients: 12 lg eggs
3 tbsp half and half
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
8 slices bacon, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 lb gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes
4 oz cheddar cheese, cut into 1/4 in cubes (3/4 cup)
3 scallions, sliced thin on bias
Ham Steak, cubed (optional)
Roma Tomato, diced (optional)

Adjust your oven rack about 5 inches from the broiler element, and heat broiler. Now, take your eggs and a medium sized bowl. Whisk eggs, half and half, salt, and pepper until well combined. Set aside.

Next, cook bacon in 12 inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel. Pour off all but 1 tbsp bacon fat. Add potatoes to skillet and cook. Stir occasionally until golden browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in cheddar, scallions, and bacon into eggs. Add egg mixture to skillet and cook until eggs are very wet about 3 minutes. Shake skillet to distribute eggs evenly. Cook without stirring for 30 seconds to let bottom set.

Broil until frittata has risen and the surface is puffed and slightly brown, 3 to 4 minutes. When cut with a paring knife the eggs should be slightly wet and runny. Remove skillet from oven; let sit for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve. I did end up having to bake the frittata for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven, because the eggs were very runny on one side. I think I had too many potatoes in the frittata.

(Click here for printable recipe)

Chicken Noodle Casserole

There were a couple dishes my mom started making when I was in high school. One of them was this chicken noodle casserole. It is very easy to make and so comforting and delicious. I really think what helps to make this dish is the fried onions that you place on the casserole during the baking process. I ended up making this because I got some nice casserole dishes for Christmas. The casserole looked beautiful in my new dishes (sorry no pictures). And, of course, it tasted delicious. Enjoy!

8 oz medium egg noodles
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
1 c. thinly sliced celery
2 tbsp all purpose flour
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 c chicken gravy (I just use the entire bottle)
1/2 tsp parsely flakes
1/4 tsp thyme leaves
dash of pepper
2 c cooked chicken
1 1/2 c canned peas (optional)
1/4 tsp salt
small can of fried onions

Cook your noodles in salted water until tender. Drain and set aside.
Melt butter into a large saucepan. Add celery and cook until tender. Stir in flour. Then add in evaporated milk and gravy and 3/4 cup water. Stir until it boils. Add in the salt, parsely flakes, thyme, pepper, shredded chicken, and the noodles. Stir to combine. Pour into a lightly greased 2 quart casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. About 25 minutes in; remove casserole dish and sprinkle the fried onions over the noodles. Put back in the oven and cook for remaining 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve.

(click here for printable recipe)

White Bean & Arugula w/ Crostini

One of my favorite restaurants in Richmond is Edo Squid. I attempted this recipe from New Best Recipe that tastes very similar to Edo's Spaghetti w/ Marinara. Now, I've attempted to make Edo's White Bean & Arugula w/ Crostini. It's one of my favorite appetizers at their restaurant. And, now you can make this in your own home. I feel like this comes really close to their version, and it was super easy to make. And, if you've never had Edo's white bean & arugula...go now. They also offer white bean & arugula with squid if you like that sort of thing. Enjoy!

Ingredients for dressing (from Weekday Vegetarian):
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp fresh chopped dill (I used about a tsp of fresh italian parsely)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
coarse sea salt
cracked black pepper

Remaining Ingredients:
French baguette
Cannelini beans; drained and rinsed

Grab a small bowl; add in the lemon juice, fresh herb, minced clove, sea salt, and pepper; whisk
in olive oil until the dressing emulsifies. I did add a dash of white wine vinegar. Set aside.

Take your french baguette, and thinly slice about 8 pieces (or more). Take a garlic clove and rub on each crostini. Sprinkle some olive oil over each crostini. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in your oven at 350 degrees for about 5 minutes until a golden color. I ended up turning on the broiler (to speed up the process) and broiled for about 40 seconds. Remove from oven.

Take a medium-sized bowl; throw in the arugula and the white beans. Pour the lemon vinaigrette mixture over the arugula and beans and mix together. Sprinkle some additional sea salt and cracked black pepper over the salad if you so desire. To eat; place some of the white bean and arugula onto a crostini and enjoy!!!

(click here for printable recipe)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Spicy Rosemary Nuts

Nuts really don’t need much improving. Or at least, that’s what I thought before trying these at a friend’s baby shower. I had a couple. And then my hand just kept going back to the bowl. Again and again, completely out of my control. To say these are addictive is an understatement. They are just a bit spicy, fragrantly herbal, and a touch sweet. And served warm, they are out and out marriage material.

5 Cups of Nuts
4 Tbsps. Fresh chopped Rosemary
3 Tbsps. Butter
2 Tbsps. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Cayenne

Use any nuts you like. The original recipe called for mixed nuts but I really only like cashews, so that’s what I used. The recipe also called for a teaspoon of kosher salt, but since it’s impossible to find cashews that aren’t pre-salted, I omitted it.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and get out a large rimmed cookie sheet. Cover it with foil. Melt the butter and combine the rosemary, brown sugar and cayenne in a large bowl. I highly recommend using fresh rosemary, and can’t guarantee good results if you use dried. Make sure the brown sugar clumps are all gone, and then add in the nuts. Stir well, until every nut is coated with sugary spiciness. The rosemary tends to stick together so spread it out as much as you can.  

Pour the nuts onto your baking sheet and spread them out to one layer so they cook evenly. Then bake for about 15 minutes. If you want you can stir halfway through, but I didn’t and they turned out great. Then pour them in a bowl and start eating them warm. You may want to invite some people over immediately or it’s possible you’ll find yourself with 5 cups of nuts in your belly before you know it. 

(click here for printable recipe)