Archive | March, 2009

A Simple Supper

28 Mar

There’s a fish market in my hometown that sells the most amazing spice mixture. My family was obsessed with it, and now they’re kind of over it. I came to the party late, however, so I still use it all the time. This is one of my favorite things to use it on.

This is another meal that I make for myself when the Filthy Fowl is out. I’m sure he would like it, but for some reason I often choose to make it when I’m debating between ordering take-out and making something light, and that’s usually when he’s out.

This isn’t really a recipe so much as throwing a few things in a frying pan. But I love it, and highly recommend it on a night when you only have a few minutes to throw something together. I usually serve it with regular or Israeli couscous, but I bet it would also be good with quinoa or even pasta.

I’m sure I was inspired by some recipe, but I’ve been making this for so long that I’m really not sure!

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Shrimp with Tomato and Basil

by me – measurements are very much estimates!

1-2 cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
1-2 tsp olive oil
handful of grape or cherry tomatoes
1 lb shrimp (or enough for however many people you’re serving)
fresh basil
juice of one lemon
lemon zest, optional
salt & pepper
any seasoning you like (mine is a Greek blend that has salt, pepper, garlic, oregano, parsley, and “spices”)

Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet. Add the garlic and let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, but still keep their shape. Add the shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes on each side. Do not overcook.

When shrimp is almost done, add the lemon juice, basil, and any spices.

Serve over hot couscous or any other grain.

Braised Leeks

28 Mar

Sometimes, I come across a recipe that looks amazing, but that I know the Filthy Fowl will hate. Rather than try to force him to eat it (which obviously I don’t have the power to do, nor would I try), I make things like this on nights that he’s out.

Braised leeks are one of those things. He doesn’t like leeks, he doesn’t know what “braised” means (although, do I?) and he would never eat something like this for dinner. I, on the other hand, could easily make a simple meal out of this.

I seriously love the blog this came from, Smitten Kitchen, and you’ll be seeing more of her recipes shortly as I’ve made a few recently. As she suggests, this is delicious paired with an egg and a sharp vinaigrette. And maybe, just maybe, a slice or two of proscuitto. Yum.

And I think her whole recipe would be amazing. I might even get the Filthy Fowl to eat leeks.

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Braised Leeks

from Smitten Kitchen (I halved, this is the full recipe)

6 large leeks
About 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (I used much less)
1 cup sliced shallots (I forgot the first time I made this, didn’t matter)
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Remove any bruised outer layers from the leeks. Trim off to the roots, leaving the root end intact. Trim the tops of the leeks on the diagonal, leaving 2 inches of the green part attached. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and submerge in a large bowl of cold water to clean them. Shake the leeks well to dislodge the dirt stuck inside. Let them sit a few minutes, to allow any grit inside the layers to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat the process until the water is clean. Place the leeks, cut side down, on a towel and pat dry completely.

Turn the leeks over so their cut sides are facing up, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, and wait 1 minute. Place the leeks in the pan, cut side down, being careful not to crowd them. (you will probably need to saute them in batches or in two pans. Add more olive oil to the pan as needed, for each batch.) Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Season the backs of the leeks with salt and pepper, and turn them over to cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them to a large gratin dish, lining them up, cut sides facing up. (Choose a baking dish or gratin dish that can go from oven to table and that will accommodate all the leeks and chick thighs, or use two smaller dishes.)

Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until the shallots are just beginning to color. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add 1 1/2 cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Pour the liquid over the leeks. The stock should not quite cover them; add more stock if necessary.

Braise in the oven 30 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced.

The Cutest Cupcakes – Lemon Strawberry

9 Mar

Saturday was our friend’s birthday, and he his girlfriend were having some people over to celebrate – and to introduce their brand new baby girl! I decided to make some cupcakes to bring and decided to adapt/combine two recipes I found on Annie’s Eats. I used the cupcake recipe from her Strawberry Lemonade cupcakes, and adapted her recipe for the frosting on Cherry Limeade cupcakes. Both look delicious as they are, but mine were pretty good too! I think/hope they were a hit.

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Lemon Strawberry  Cupcakes

adapted from here and here – click for original recipes – the below incorporates my changes

Yield: about 21 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. lemon zest
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

For the lemon syrup (I improvised greatly to get a thin syrup, you may have to adjust):
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

For the frosting:
3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tbsp. (or more) lemon juice
lemon zest (optional)
5 large strawberries, chopped

For decorating (optional):
fresh lemon slices
fresh strawberries, sliced

Directions:

To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line muffin pans with paper liners.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest.  Stir together with a fork and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter with mixer on medium speed until it is light and fluffy.  Add the sugar and beat until well combined.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.  Add half of the flour mixture to the bowl and beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Add in the milk and mix until smooth.  Add in the remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed until just blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the paper liners, filling them about 3/4 full.  Bake about 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, whisk together the lemon juice and confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl to make the lemon syrup.  Poke several holes in the top of each cupcake with a skewer (or toothpick) and pour the syrup over the cupcakes, allowing it to soak in.  (Wax paper or tin foil underneath will help avoid a mess.)

To make the frosting, combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, chopped strawberries, and lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor (I used my mini).  Mix until  smooth.  Add more lemon juice as needed to achieve desired texture.

Frost cupcakes. I used a fake-out piping bag by putting the frosting in a big Ziploc bag and cutting the tip off. (The frosting was kind of runny and I had to refrigerate the frosted cupcakes until we were ready to leave.) Garnish with lemon and strawberry slices, if desired.

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Lighter Sesame Chicken

9 Mar

The Filthy Fowl and I have a special relationship with sesame chicken and steamed vegetable dumplings. They probably play a role in the fact that we’re now married.

It started in the fall of 2004. We had been dating about a year and I knew it was serious since the Filthy Fowl wanted to watch the Red Sox in the playoffs WITH ME. I’d like to think he was just so in love with me that he wanted to share the experience with me, but I think it also had a little to do with the fact that the one game we didn’t watch together, the Red Sox lost by about 20 runs.

We planned to watch the first game together at my apartment on the Upper West Side. I lived across from a semi-skeevy Chinese place, but the Filthy Fowl wanted to order from there and although I don’t really like Chinese food, I didn’t object; after all, he was sharing this experience with me and I wanted it to be perfect. He ordered sesame chicken and I ordered steamed vegetable dumplings.

Happily, the Red Sox won. So of course for the next game, we had to watch at my apartment and we had to order sesame chicken and steamed vegetable dumplings. As most of you know, the Red Sox kept on winning. And we ate sesame chicken and steamed vegetable dumplings during every.single.game.

I’ll never forget the sheer joy we felt when the Red Sox finally won the World Series, but I’ll forever associate it with these two foods that we ate to our saturation point.

When I saw this recipe, I knew the Filthy Fowl would like it, and it even looked like something I’d like. I was right – we both really enjoyed this. I supplemented the meal with some frozen vegetable dumplings from this great authentic dumpling house in Chinatown. I highly recommend this – it’s not at all heavy and has a great flavor.
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Lighter Sesame Chicken

adapted slightly from Jenn and Food, Perfect Together and …and a cookie for dessert

Ingredients

1 bag of brown rice (like Success Brown Rice)
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used black sesame seeds)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower(I used cooking spray)
4 scallions, thinly sliced (omitted because I didn’t have)
Several handfuls snow peas, sliced in half (original recipe used broccoli)

Directions

In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, heat the pan over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.

As the rice cooks, place the snow peas in a steamer basket over the boiling water and steam to desired tenderness. Add the steamed snow peas to the chicken and sauce and mix.

Serve sesame chicken over the rice and enjoy.

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A Meat and Potatoes Day

3 Mar

It’s been a while since the Filthy Fowl and I had red meat, and that’s okay with me.  But when we saw some good-quality steaks on sale over the weekend, we decided to make ourselves a nice meal.

This meal was really good. So good that we cleared off our table and actually sat there and ate, rather than balancing everything on our coffee table. We ended up making NY strip steaks, horseradish mashed potatoes, and grilled romaine salad. Delicious!

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Broiled NY Strip Steak

Ingredients:

  • steaks, at room temperature
  • steak seasoning or salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

Pre-heat broiler and put a cast iron skillet in to preheat.

Drizzle olive oil over steaks. Sprinkle on either a steak/grill seasoning or salt and pepper (liberally). Season both sides.

When broiler is ready, place steaks in pan (they may sizzle). Sear under broiler, 3 minutes each side.

Turn oven down to 500 degrees and cook approx. 6 minutes, depending on how well done you like your steaks.

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Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

inspired by this Rachael Ray recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1-1.5 lbs potatoes (about 3 large)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream or 2% plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish (to taste)
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Skim milk (optional)

Directions:

Place potatoes in a pot and cover with water, bring water to a boil then salt it. Cook potatoes 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.

Drain potatoes and return to the hot pot. Mash them with sour cream, horseradish and green onions and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Potatoes will be thick and spicy. If you like looser mashed potatoes, add a little milk or stock, continue to smash.

Grilled Romaine Salad

Loosely inspired by a meal I had at Alfa in Philadelphia…but really nothing like it.

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Ingredients:

  • One head romaine lettuce or romaine hearts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • Grape tomatoes, halved
  • Blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

Pre-heat grill or grill pan to high heat.

Cut the romaine in half lengthwise, leaving root end intact. Drizzle both sides with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place on the grill, cut side down. Grill for approximately 2 minutes, until you can see grill marks and the lettuce is starting to wilt.

Flip and grill on the other side for 2 minutes.

Remove from grill and place on platter. Scatter cut grape tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese over each romaine half.

Optional: Drizzle each romaine half with a small amount of red wine vinegar or a prepared vinaigrette.

Salmon Wrapped in Phyllo

3 Mar

I love salmon, and we try to eat fish at least once a week. Mainly because it’s good for us, but also because we get bored with chicken and don’t like to eat a lot of red meat.

My mom has been telling me about this recipe for a while, and I finally tried it. There’s no real recipe…she just told me her method over the phone and I made it.

Phyllo dough can be a little tough to work with. I didn’t take it out of the freezer soon enough, so it was a little brittle. Ideally, take it out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the refrigerator. Then, when you start to work with it, work quickly.

This is very simple and very good!

Salmon in Phyllo Dough

Ingredients:

  • 8 sheets phyllo dough
  • 2 portions salmon
  • Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Take the phyllo dough out of the refrigerator. Spread one layer out and spray with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining sheets, making a stack.

Cut rectangle in half to make two smaller rectangles.

Place one portion of salmon in the middle of each rectangle and spread with mustard. Sprinkle with pepper and just a little bit of salt.

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Wrap phyllo around salmon and place on baking tray, seam side down.

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Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 Mar

The Filthy Fowl and I have had quite a week (two weeks, actually) so it’s no surprise that we both feel like we’re getting sick. He’s been using Zicam and I’ve been pounding something called Zucol, but we’re both just dragging. So, when I asked him what he wanted for dinner one night last week, he immediately said “chicken tortilla soup.” It was a gross snow/rain mix and I had most of the ingredients, so it was a perfect meal on all accounts.

I searched for recipes online and didn’t find one that sounded “just right.” I ended up improvising, and I have to say, the result was quite delicious. And I’m usually a stick-to-the-recipe girl. The ultimate testament to how great it was is the fact that the Filthy Fowl brought it for lunch the next day. He NEVER brings his lunch! Enjoy!

Oh, and I just realized I have no pictures. I was going to take some of the leftovers, but they were gone too fast!

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Inspired by Allrecipes and RecipeZaar

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 medium green pepper
  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 (14 ounce) cans chicken broth (I used about 1.5 boxes)
  • 1 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

Directions

  1. Sauté onion, garlic, jalapeño and green pepper with olive oil in a large pot until soft.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the large pot and bring to a boil.
  3. After about 15 minutes, remove the chicken breasts and shred.
  4. (Two forks work well to pull the chicken apart!).
  5. Return shredded chicken to the pot and simmer an additional 45 minutes.
  6. Serve, topped with crushed tortilla chips if desired.

For the tortilla chips, I bought corn tortillas and cut them into strips. I sprayed them with non-stick spray, sprinkled them with a little salt, and baked themat 350 degrees for about 10 minutes (but watch them closely!).