Thursday, July 30, 2015

Orzo with caramelized onions and raisins

Definately some unique flavors here, but a nice side dish with grilled meats this Summer.
I'm having some fun with sweet, tangy, chewy, salty these days, and this salad has all three. A great salad to make ahead and let sit for a couple hours before serving, or it would be good cold, or even hot.  You decide!

I used the recipe from Food & Wine awhile back, but added a couple of tweaks. I felt it needed a bit more tang from the kalamata olive (or red wine vinegar) brine.  You could also use feta cheese in this instead of Parmesan, or omit cheese from it altogether.

Here's the original link:

Serves about 6

12 ounces orzo (2 cups)
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
Kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, thinly sliced lengthwise
1-2 Tbsp of kalamata olive brine, or red wine vinegar
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the orzo until al dente, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the raisins with warm water and let stand until softened, 10 minutes. Drain the orzo and rinse under cold water. Drain the raisins and transfer them to a large bowl with the orzo.

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, season with salt and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. 

Here's what was left after carmelizing them, I gave them a bit of a chop before adding to the salad.

Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the onion to the orzo along with the olives, cheese and parsley and stir. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Here's what it looked like before mixing it up... 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Chilled Prawns with Horseradish & Mustard

It's been a little hot around here,
Maybe a cold, easy appetizer or salad is in order this week?
This one is simple to make, and very tasty and yummy.
A bit zippy with the mustard and horseradish, but light and delicious too.

I made this for an appetizer, but we ended eating it on top of our green salads and served our steaks on the side.  My idea of a perfect summer dinner with friends on the patio.

I use the frozen, already cooked and peeled prawns from Costco.  It just makes it so easy.

Serves 6 for an appetizer, or 3-4 as a main dish on a salad

16 oz prawns, thawed and peeled (about 3 cups thawed)
1 Tbsp lemon
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp horseradish
1 Tbsp sour cream
1-2 Tbsp red onion, diced
2-3 Tbsp green onions, sliced

Whisk together the lemon, dijon mustard, olive oil, horseradish and sour cream.  Add the prawns, red onions and green onions.  Let chill until ready to serve, but best after marinating for another 1-4 hours.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Midori Sour Martini

Tangy, fresh, yummy.

That seems to be a nice way to welcome the end of the work week, doesn't it?

I mean, really?  How many times did you say "aren't you glad it's Friday?"
I did my part, my friends.  I said it to everyone with a big fat smile on my face.

It's going to be hot and beautiful this weekend.  Have fun and enjoy life.

Makes 1

1 oz Midori, melon liqueur
1 oz vodka, regular or lemon
1 oz Rose's Lime Juice
A splash of sparkling water, or 7-up

In an ice filled martini shaker (or you could serve on the rocks...) add the midori liqueur, the vodka and the rose's lime juice.  Shake, shake, shake.  Strain into a glass.  Have a sip... a little too sweet?  Add a splash of sparkling water.

Garnish with a Maraschino cherry & lime wedge, or wheel

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What to do with a Costco Roast Chicken

$4.99... are you outta your mind?
I hear the roast chickens at Costco have their own Facebook page (it's true), sell at "cost" and in quantities of over 60 million chickens a year.  Wow.
Yes, I buy one every time I go there.

My plan is the same, get a couple meals out of it AND make chicken stock, almost every time.  There is something about the already seasoned and browned chicken that makes the best stock ever, even after you've made a meal of all the meat itself.

Need some ideas?  I am SURE you come up with some on your own too...

But first, save those bones, and make this.
Chicken Stock. Best, Easy, Homemade

Summer/Hot weather ideas
Chicken Pesto Panini Sandwich
California Chicken Salad with Avocado & Grapefruit
Whole Wheat Asian Noodle Salad 
Tzatziki Chicken Salad

Any time of Year
Chile Relleno Rustico
Chicken Tortilla Soup

Winter/Cool weather ideas
Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas
Chicken Pot Pie Soup
Chicken White Bean Chili
Malayasian Curry with 10 Boy Condiments

Below is the Tzatziki Chicken Salad Lettuce Wraps, perfect for a Summer day

Monday, July 13, 2015

Tzatziki Chicken Salad in Lettuce Cups

I always love Greek flavors.
Plus, I love Costco rotisserie chickens.  What an easy way to make a $5 dinner, or two.

This one came together in about 15 minutes as my significant other unloaded the car from a trip to Costco.  You unpack, I'll make dinner.  Seems like a good trade, huh?

This is a happy, healthy fresh thing to make for dinner that comes together super fast.
For a Monday, that's good enough for me.

Originally a Cooking Light recipe, find the original here. I made a couple changes... like topping mine with feta and tomatoes and serving them in lettuce cups (might be brilliant, just sayin'). I do think that it would be totally yummy with pita chips too, or even on regular ole' bread as a sandwich.

(I forgot to photograph the English cucumber)

Makes enough for 3-4 

2/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or 1 tsp dried dill
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 English cucumber, diced small
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast 

Diced tomatoes
Crumbled feta cheese
Lettuce cups or pita chips

Dice or shred the chicken, add the small diced cucumber and minced red onion & garlic.  Add the dill (I used dried) and lots of salt and pepper.  Add yogurt and stir together.  Add the lemon juice and taste for flavor.  Let it sit for 15-20 minutes for the flavors to develop.

Spoon the salad onto small baby romaine leaves and top with diced tomatoes and crumbled feta.  A really nice, refreshing lunch or dinner.  Low fat, low carb, low calorie.  

Note- I used English cucumbers which you do not have to "seed".  If using the regular cucumber, take those out, or the mixtures may be a little too watery.

Here it is before I mixed it:

Here it is, all ready to go for dinner.  We ate half for dinner for the two of us, and the rest made a nice little lunch.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Garbanzo, Arugula and Dried Fruit Salad


Okay, this sounds a bit nutty, but I had lunch at Matt's at the Market in Seattle's Pike Place about three years ago.  This salad was a side dish to my lamb, goat cheese, onion jam burger (yum!) and the salad was totally unexpected. At first, I just wasn't sure when I took a look at it, then I tasted it!  Fantastic, and so different. 

This one differs a bit from the original, because when I finally got around to making this salad, I only had 2-3 Tbsp of golden raisins (as the original salad had), so I decided to add a combination of dried apricots, cranberries and those raisins.  I must say, we totally loved this.

Tangy, crunchy, chewy, sweet and satisfying.You could also add cooked couscous to this salad to make it a bit more 'main course' like and filling, or even, quinoa.

Some of my friends might laugh at me, knowing I do not like balsamic vinegar too much.  My main dislike of it is that it turns everything brown!  In this dish, it DOES dull the colors a bit, but I think it tangy sweetness does add a great taste to the salad.

 (not pictured- celery )
Serves 6-8

2 cans Garbanzos, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
2-3 Tbsp gold raisins
2-3 Tbsp dried cranberries, or cherries
2-3 Tbsp dried apricots, cut into quarters
1/2 cup celery, minced
2-3 cups arugula
2-3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt& Pepper

Drain the garbanzos, add in the chopped onions, dried fruit (either a bit of each as shown above, or about 2/3 cup of one type), celery, arugula and parsley.  Add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature.

Here is is before I added the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Next time, I might try it with the white balsamic vinegar to see if that helps keep the pretty colors in tact.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Walnut Pesto

This is the first year that I have had great success with fresh basil. How exciting!
Who knew that watering it was the key?
I bought one of the pots at Trader Joe's (as usual), but this year I put it in the hottest corner of my deck and kept it drenched, even soaking in 1-2" of water.  

Beautiful, bountiful... now what do I do with it?
Well, there's the tried and true pesto, but I was fresh out of pine nuts.
I have walnuts. Why not?

We served ours on broiled tilapia fillets, but it would be nice on beef, chicken or pasta.  Also, I like to freeze it in small amounts (ice cubes) and use it in soups and stews.

NOTE:  I added some fresh parsley as I hear it helps to keep your pesto green and not oxidize to black as basil is prone to do.  If you are keeping it in the fridge, smooth off the top and add a little "float" of olive oil to seal it.

When you cut (or pinch...) your fresh basil take it back to the last set of stems/leaves that are sprouting.  That way, it will bush out again after you pinch.  You can keep this $4 plant going all Summer.  Yes, you can.

Makes about 1 cup

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/4 cup fresh parsley (optional)
1/2-2/3 cup walnuts, toasted & chopped
1/2 olive oil
1 cup Parmesan, freshly grated
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper
A squeeze of lemon (optional)

Toast the walnuts and roughly chop.

In a blender or a food processor (don't use the small type like below, it was a bit challenging to fit it all in there... LOL), add the cooled, toasted walnuts, the garlic, the basil, the parsley and the olive oil.  Process/chop to smooth.  Add salt and pepper, and a squeeze of lemon to taste.  Let sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the tastes to meld and develop.  Yum.  Enjoy


Friday, July 3, 2015

Cucumber Wasabi Martini

Having a heat wave here, 95 degrees before the fourth of July in the Northwest is kind of unheard of.
So, we're HOT.
And my dishwasher is broken, and I just took out a major loan at Home Depot to replace it and a couple other things.
I need a drink.
This ones feels cool & refreshing, and spicy, and a touch sweet too.
Just right, I must say.

The level of heat your drink will have is going to depend on how much wasabi you use. Start with a smaller amount at first and if you want it a little hotter, go with a little more paste in the next round.

Makes 2

3 jiggers gin
6 thick slices fresh cucumber
2 pea-sized dollops of wasabi paste
1 jigger simple syrup (I used lemon kind, my recipe is here)
1 lemon, juiced
2 Cucumber thin slices for garnish

Muddle the cucumber slices, wasabi, lemon juice and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.

Muddle basically means to smash it to smithereens with a blunt object like a "muddler", or the end of big wooden spoon.

My photo is on the left.  You can see I added quite a bit of wasabi, because I am like that.
Fill with ice and add gin.
Shake well
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a slice of cucumber.

Here's what it looked like after I muddled the cucumber wasabi mixture. (below)
Here's a close up of the finished drink, you'll probably have some little seeds or bits of cucumber in your drink.  I think that's OK.