Friday, December 16, 2011

A Gift for the Naughty: Oreo "Coal"

While I was a little hesitant at first, I have become a full-fledged Pinterest convert.  It allows you to organize the internet into neat little folders, and is impressively addictive.  If you aren't familiar with it, check it out for yourself.  I won't waste time describing it because it's one of those things that you just have to play around with to really understand.

I've spent most of my time perusing other peoples boards for recipes, naturally, and came across this sinful, simple oreo bar that conveniently looks like coal.  Dessert that looks like coal?  Christmas time?  I think you see where I'm going with this.

For my work folks, I made homemade granola and these bars and put them in little bags and went around asking folks, "Naughty or Nice?"  Nice folks ended up with granola, and naughty got the coal (Hehe).  The only weird part was when students got wind of it and came to my office to say, "Hey.  I've been naughty."  I may have to rethink this process...

No Bake Oreo bars (adapted from Sweet Peas Kitchen)
2 16 ounce packages Oreo cookies
10 cups small marshmallows
8 tbsp Bummel and Brown yogurt butter

Line a 9 x 14 baking dish with parchment paper.  In the bowl of a food processor fitted with metal blade, pulse Oreos until ground. In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter and marshmallows for about 2 minutes until puffed. Pour marshmallow/butter mixture into the Oreo crumbs and stir until fully incorporated. Pour into the prepared baking dish and let set up for 10 minutes.  Cut bars to desired size and enjoy!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cheese stuffed mushrooms, two ways

Let me start by saying I loooove mushrooms.  Love.  Them.  Let me also say that this photograph is not doing the deliciousness in that pan justice.  Someday, perhaps I'll upgrade from my iPhone camera, but for now, you'll just have to take my word for it.

I made these mushrooms for a potluck with my rockin' book club, and I think they turned out pretty tasty.  What I love about them for a potluck dish is that they can be stuffed a day ahead and baked in the oven right before serving, or can be stuffed in a hurry when you get back late from shopping, in about 10 minutes so that you still make it on time.

I have made the cheddar/bacon bit variety for years, just like I learned from my mom, but decided to make a second variation out of what I had on hand.  It was nice to have a vegetarian mushroom option, and both were tasty.

Stuffed Mushrooms

16 ounces mushrooms
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp bacon bits
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
2 sprigs fresh mint, finely chopped
1/4 cup spinach, finely chopped
4 tbsp plain breadcrumbs

Wipe mushrooms with damp paper towel to clean.  Remove stems and chop finely in small chopper or processor.  Saute chopped stems in oil 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Split sauteed stems into two bowls.  Add 2 tbsp breadcrumbs to each bowl, stirring to incorporate.  Add cheddar and bacon bits to one bowl and all other ingredients to the other.  Mix to incorporate all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste. Use less salt than usual because both the feta and bacon bits tend to be a little salty.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce

Salmon is one of my favorite fish to eat, probably because it's one of the first fish I ever cooked.  I remember the dish clearly: salmon covered in dill and yogurt, wrapped in foil, and baked in the oven.  The recipe was given to me by my college mentor, who is now my supervisor: oh life, you crazy weaving ride.

So, back to the salmon.  If you aren't a fish person, salmon is one to try.  It is flavorful without being too fishy, and filled with the good fat (omega 3 fatty acids) so that is a win-win-win situation, a fish triple threat, if you will.

I have been making this recipe since I was in graduate school and had decided to make a commitment to having a healthy balanced diet.  This was pretty necessary, as a response to my questionable food choices in college.  Bad day?  Console yourself with Taco Bell.  Good day?  Celebrate with Taco Bell!  I am proud to say I have been  taco bell free for at least three years!  As for Cane's...well, I have to draw the line somewhere!

And now, for the delightfully pictured salmon. (I swear, there is a recipe here somewhere.) This is a Ellie Krieger recipe.  She used to have a show on Food Network and has a great cookbook of yummy, healthy foods.  This is a meal that can come together in 20 minutes and never fails to wow.  I have always made it with basil but tonight switched it up (due to my mutant mint bush) and it was great.  It is imperative to serve it over spinach because it soaks up the sauce and is wilted by the salmon and really makes the dish.  My version of the recipe sticks closely to hers, but I actually make the amount of sauce for two that she makes for four.  A little extra grapefruit never hurt anybody!

Roasted Salmon with Shallot Grapefruit Sauce
Serves 2
2 skinless salmon fillets, 5-6 ounces each
pinch of salt, plus more for seasoning fish
2 ruby red grapefruits
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp minched shallot
1 tsp ginger powder
2 1/2 tsp honey
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsps lemon juice
1 tbsp basil or mint
baby spinach

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Season the salmon liberally with salt and pepper.  Place on a baking pan and roast until cooked through, about 16 minutes.

While the salmon is cooking, prepare the sauce!  Cut one grapefruit into sections and set the segment pieces aside.  Juice the other grapefruit and set the juice aside.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the shallot and saute until softened, about 2 minutes  Add the ginger, grapefruit juice, honey, and cayenne pepper and bring to simmer.  Cook until sauce reduces a bit, about 5 minutes.  Add lemon juice and season with salt, to taste.  Right before serving, toss the grapefruit pieces and basil or min into the sauce.  Put a serving of spinach on each dish and a portion of salmon on the spinach.  Spoon sauce over salmon and serve.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Turkey Beef Chipotle Chili

My fella and I happened upon a chili cook-off Friday which succeeded in whetting our chili taste buds.  I suggested that we make some this weekend, and being a good sport, he went along with it.  It has been rainy and bleh all day long, so this is perfect chili weather, other than the fact that  my dear had to go shopping for the ingredients, but the sacrifice was worth it for this collaborative deliciousness.

The photograph does not do this chili justice: it is yum!  In contrast to my previous recipe, this one is decidedly man-friendly, what with it being a big bowl of meat. We like our chili on the spicy side: I would say this has good flavor, but isn't overwhelmingly spicy.  I randomly forgot both salt and pepper, which are flavor standards, but I honestly don't think the chili suffered because of it.  I think seasoning the meat and chili separately helped to build layers of flavor.  This meal received a 100% approval rating in my house and has left plenty of leftovers for the week.

Turkey Beef Chipotle Chili (recipe inspiration from Betty Crocker cookbook)

1 1/4 pound ground turkey
1 1/4 pound ground beef (80/20)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp and 2 tsp smoked paprika
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes and peppers (original rotel), undrained
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 small can diced chiles
1/2 frozen corn
1/2 cup vegetable stock
Shredded cheddar (optional)
Sour cream (optional)
Corn chips (optional)

Heat skillet to medium and add meat, garlic powder, onion powder, and 2 teaspoons  of smoked paprika. Cook meat over medium heat 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until brown and drain.

In slow cooker, add all ingredients except for optional toppings.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Serve with additional toppings.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup

Healthy Delicious is a blog I came upon many many moons ago and I have been starring recipes in my google reader since then.  I recently came upon this recipe for Creamy Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup and couldn't wait to try it.

This was definitely a selfish receipe: my fella isn't a big fan of sweet/savory combos so I had a feeling that he wouldn't be a big fan, but I had to give it a whirl.  I was right it wasn't his cup of, but it is definitely one of my new favorites for winter.  He is a trooper and doesn't mind fending for himself when I'm feeling a little experimental, even though he did the peeling/chopping.  What a guy!

I am a sucker for anything chipotle but this soup is definitely something special. It was smooth, flavorful, and delicious.  Next time I made it I might only puree half just to give some tooth to the soup, but the flavor was spot on and comforting.

Creamy Sweet Potato and Chipotle Soup (taken from Healthy Delicious)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated ginger (I used dried)
2 gala apples, peeled and chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 chipotle pepper, chopped
1 cinnamon stick

Heat the oil in a 3 quart soup pot set over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened.  Add the apples, celery, and sweet potatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the stock, water, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer until vegetables are soft - about 30 minutes.  Discard the cinnamon stick and stir in the chipotle.

Puree soup with stick blender until smooth and serve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Swai? Swai not! (and greens)

I came across a friend of mine on facebook that cooked swai recently, which was a fish I had never heard of, so my curiosity was peaked.  I found some at "Gucci Brookshire's" on Line Avenue and bought some.  I was feeling pretty adventurous, since I didn't have a plan for cooking it, or know anything about it.  Turns out, swai is just catfish from Vietnam, so not really all that fancy, or intimidating. Color me humbled.

Typically I like to oven fry or blacken catfish, but I was hungry and in a hurry, so I used lemon pepper seasoning and baked in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes.  It was flaky, mild, and yum and at $4.24 for two large fillets, it was quite a bargain.

For sides I went with my standard collard greens recipe, via Food Network's Sunny Anderson (I leave out the tomato and find that chicken stock tastes best), roasted mushrooms, and yes, that is kraft macaroni and cheese.  Sometimes, you just need to go old school.