Thursday, April 23, 2015

Spicy Tahini Noodles

I may have mentioned before that the Hubs doesn't like peanut butter. Much to my eternal dismay. I mean seriously, how did I find and marry the one person in the world who hates peanut butter? Anyway, I recently discovered tahini. Thanks to this fantastic recipe on Half Baked Harvest, I was able to get my peanut butter fix but when the Hubs asked, I could honestly say, "No! This isn't peanut butter, it's tahini!" See! Sneaky. So, tahini is basically a butter made from sesame seeds. It is a lot looser than peanut butter, and there's definitely a big sesame flavor, which I love. These noodles were so good the night we made them. And then the next day they were even better! I also added chicken to the noodles to make it a bit more of a complete meal. You could add any veggies you want as well. I love having a recipe that is so versatile and customizable (and did I mention, delish?)!

1 pound linguine or other egg noodle pasta, (I used angel hair)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (optional)
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup tahini
6 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup hot chili oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
4 cups mung bean sprouts
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
8 green onions, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, roughly chopped (optional)

Start by making your pasta. When it's cooked, drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, tahini, soy sauce, hot chili oil, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The whisk helps break up the tahini. (Oh, by the way, make sure you stir your tahini really well before adding it. It has a tendency to separate.) Set that aside. Heat your skillet or wok over high heat, and add the last tablespoon of sesame oil. Toss in the ginger and garlic and saute for 30 seconds. It'll cook really quickly so be prepared with the next step which is to add the carrots, bean sprouts, and mushrooms. We didn't have any bean sprouts but I'm sure they would have been good. Cook those veggies about 3-4 minutes so they are a little tender but still have some crisp to them. Add the noodles and toss to combine (this is harder than it sounds since the noodles are very averse to the situation). Remove from the heat and add the sauce. Once everything is evenly covered, add the green onions and basil. Serve topped with some crushed peanuts if you like. We didn't. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Golden Graham Cupcakes

Back in February we had our 24th Iron Chef Competition! I can't believe we've been doing it for several years now. Friends have come and gone, but picking some interesting ingredients have remained! Jen hosted this last iron chef, and she chose cereal as the "secret" ingredient. I have to say I was sincerely worried about this ingredient. I did some perusing of recipes and for the most part I could only find dessert options. But, the girls pulled through and came up with some interesting and delicious recipes for the savory courses.

I opted for the sweet course. I figured it would be fun to find a dessert recipe using cereal. It was fun, but definitely difficult. There were a LOT of options, and it was tough deciding on one. Ultimately, I decided on these Golden Graham Cupcakes. Primarily, because my co-workers seriously loved them. But, then again they're easy to please!

I didn't win this particular iron chef, but I thought the recipe definitely hit the nail on the head with the concept! And, it was pretty darn tasty, too! If you're interested in giving this recipe a try; please click here and you will be routed to Your Cup of Cake. Enjoy!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Tropical Mango Ceviche

Last summer I visited a restaurant in Washington, DC called Oyamel. It's owned by Chef Jose Andres, and I highly, highly recommend you check it out. While I was there, I had the table-side guacamole, Tamal Verde, and Ceviche con Citricos. Lord, everything was so freaking good. I had never tried Ceviche before, but I realized I've been missing out. It was DELICIOUS!! I loved the hint of spice from the habanero. And, the juiciness of the pineapple. It was so good that I went searching for a similar recipe. I came across this one from Rick Bayless, and I decided to give it a try tonight. Wow! It's pretty damn good. Maybe not Oyamel quality, but certainly close. The recipe doesn't call for pineapple, but I added some to it, anyway. I'm glad I did. I love the hint of sweetness and juiciness that pineapple gives when you bite into it. I halved the recipe, and I still have plenty for lunch tomorrow! If you like Ceviche then you should definitely give this recipe a try! You won't be disappointed!!

1pound “sashimi-quality” skinless meaty ocean fish fillet (halibut, mahi mahi, or bass all work well), cut into ½ inch cubes
1/2cup fresh lime juice
1/2cup fresh orange juice
1small red onion, sliced very thin
1fresh habanero, stemmed and seeds removed, finely diced
2cups (about 12 ounces) cubed mango (we love the honey manila mangos that come from Mexico, usually starting in mid March)

1 cup pineapple (optional)1smallavocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin, diced
About 1/3cup chopped cilantro, plus more whole leaves for garnish

Take out a glass bowl and add the lime and orange juice. Add the chopped habanero and chopped fish. I used Chilean Sea Bass from Whole Foods. Cover and place in the fridge. If you like your fish medium-rare then let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour. If you want the fish fully cooked then let sit for 3-4 hours. Once the fish has finished cooking you can either keep the juices and add in the mangoes, pineapples, avocado, and onions. Or, you can drain the juice for a drier ceviche. Garnish with the cilantro, and serve by itself or with tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pomegranate, Pear, & Avocado Salad

Thank you, Pinterest, for finding me a wonderful salad recipe! I think I'm the worse at finding a salad recipe that delivers on flavor and crunch. I've come across a couple salad dressing recipes that I really enjoy, but I'm still the worse at putting a salad together. Have no fear; Pinterest is here to save the day! This recipe comes from Gimme Some Oven, and I have been making it over and over and over. I love the crunch factor of the pomegranates and the pistachios. I love the juiciness that the pears give the salad. And, how can you go wrong with avocados and goat cheese? Plus, this salad dressing is so good!! Seriously, if you're looking for a healthy recipe give this one a try! You'll love it!!

Salad Ingredients:

1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and roughly-chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 ripe pear, cored and diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
2/3 cup shelled pistachios
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese (or blue cheese, or feta cheese)
1/2 cup diced red onion (about half of a small red onion)
seeds from 1 pomegranate
citrus vinaigrette (see below)

Citrus Vinaigrette Ingredients:

1/3 cup orange juice (freshly-squeezed, if possible)
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon honey, if needed to sweeten
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
To make the salad; take out a large bowl and toss in the lettuce, diced pear, diced avocados, diced onions, and the pomegranate seeds. Sprinkle the goat cheese and pistachios on top. Pour the salad dressing on top, and toss gently. Enjoy!

To make the dressing; pour all the ingredients into a mason jar. Place the lid on the jar and shake vigorously. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

"Alabama-Style" Chicken Kabobs

This recipe taught me two things. First, that "Alabama-style" is code for mayonnaise. Lots of mayonnaise. (But that it tastes good!) And second, that skewers and kabobs are not interchangeable. Skewers are actually the metal or wood sticks that you put the meat and vegetables on, and kabobs are the result. Learning! The more you know...

Anyway, back to the recipe. This is very simple, which is always nice. And it's actually really tasty as well. The chicken gets nice and juicy, with a little char and flavor from the grill, and a little kick as well. It's not the healthiest way to cook chicken, but it's not too bad for an occasional thing. Serve it with a nice big side of veggies if you need to settle your conscience. I found this recipe on my latest favorite food blog: food52.

1 1/2 cups mayo
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp sambal oelek (more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into kabob sized cubes

First, mix up the sauce (everything but the chicken). I eyeballed the ingredients, mostly because I hate scraping things like mayo out of a measuring cup. But it turned out fine. Then (carefully!) stick your chicken on the skewers, leaving a bit of space between each cube so it will cook through. Drizzle a little olive oil on the skewers, followed by a touch of salt and pepper to taste, then put them on the grill. Reserve about half the sauce, and use the other half to baste the kabobs as you grill them. Once they are cooked through and have a little bit of color on them (about 8-12 minutes depending on size) they are ready to eat. Serve with the reserved sauce on the side for dipping, or just drizzle a little on top of the chicken. There you have it. Kabobs on skewers, Alabama style.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Easy Duck Confit

The Hubs and I don't really do that much for Christmas. It's just the two of us, and we usually have already given our gifts (or bought them for ourselves) in early December (or November, don't judge). It's not for everyone, but it works for us. This year, we wanted to make a special meal for Christmas, just to give the day a little "Tjuz" (shout out to you Queer Eye fans). So, we settled on duck. Specifically, this recipe on Food52 for "Melissa Clark's Really Easy Duck Confit." Except... we didn't get our act together before Christmas, so we actually had it for New Year's Day. Hey, listen. Duck is really hard to find in the RVA. We checked our go to for good meat, Fresh Market, and they don't carry it. So the Hubs asked around and found a place called Yellow Umbrella. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's the place to get duck (and seafood, I hear).

Anyway, once you get your hands on some duck, try this recipe and I promise you won't be disappointed. She's right, it IS really easy. Like, really. And it's seriously good. The right amount of flavor from the thyme and salt, but not enough to overwhelm the duck. The skin was delicious, the meat was mouth watering, and the bone...well, that was all that was left at the end. We served it with a easy side of pancetta & shaved Brussels sprouts. The only thing we'd adjust is the cook time. It was a bit overcooked. I've adjusted the times in my instructions below.

4 duck legs (about a half pound each)
1 1/2 tsps kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bay leaf, crumbled

If your legs are bigger than a half pound (ours were) adjust up the seasonings accordingly. Put the duck legs skin side up in a dish or tupperware, or if you don't like cleaning extra dishes like me, in the pan you will eventually cook them in. Mix up the salt, pepper, thyme and bay leaf and sprinkle generously over the duck. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it hang out in the fridge for 24 hours.

Bring it out of fridge about 15 minutes before you're ready to cook just so it's not straight out of the fridge. Preheat the oven to 325. Flip the legs so the skin and fat is down, and cook on the stove tope for about 20 minutes over medium heat. Watch it, as ours got a little burnt on that side (still good). What you're looking for is for the fat to render out into delicious fatty liquid. When that liquid is about 1/4 inch deep, it's time to cook. Flip the legs back over again (skin side up) and cover your pan with foil. Cook for about an hour with the foil on, then remove the foil and cook for another 45 minutes. The original recipe called for two hours with the foil on and an hour with it off, but that was far too long. We cut it down and it was still too long, so I think the hour with foil on and 45 with foil off will be perfect. It's just right to make your Christmas (or New Year's) special!