Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Moroccan Salad- Tomato & Cucumber

We have this crazy tradition in our family, grab yourself an unique party theme and slap it onto your relatives.
You?  You are bringing a Moroccan salad!
So yeah, sure. I got one.
So, you Google it.  Hmmmm, this seems like every other Mediterranean salad I ever made. What exactly makes this different?
Frankly, I am not sure, but it IS different.
It may be the size that you cut them into, it may be the combination, the olive oil, the parsley, or the seasoning.
It is incredibly delicious and easy to make.
Don't believe me, just try it. I think you will like it.

Waiting for the next theme, or dreaming up some challenge for my sisters soon.  
What do YOU think?  Czech Republic?  Poland?  Ghana? Uruguay?  

Serves about 4-6

1 lb cherry tomatoes (or grape), cut into small pieces (I did eighths)
1 1/2 English cucumbers, diced small
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/4 cup green onions, chives, or onion, minced
1 Lemon, juiced
1 tsp Lemon zest
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop everything, add the olive oil and lemon zest and juice. Season well with salt and pepper.  Chill until ready to serve.  Best made 1-2 hours before serving.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Indian Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

Golden and fragrant, we loved the beautiful color and flavors of this dish.  This one is somewhat healthy too.  This one is a quick dinner to pull together, and reheats nicely too.
Inspired by this recipe, but simplified by me (because I am like that).

I usually have boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the freezer, canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans) on the pantry shelf and fresh spinach hanging around. We have made this with the yogurt addition at the end, and without, and frankly, both are delicious.  If you don't have the yogurt, skip it, but don't skip this recipe it's so tasty.  If you don't like spicy hot, omit the cayenne pepper, otherwise, curry powder and turmeric are not that spicy, just golden and fragrant.

One caution, be sure to put on an old shirt when cooking, and eating, this. If you don't, you're sure to have some yellow spots adorning your shirt. Ask me how I know...

Servings: 6

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Tbsp butter
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
 Kosher salt
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons grated peeled ginger
2 teaspoons ground curry powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup (or more) chicken broth
5 ounces baby spinach (about 8 lightly packed cups)
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt. Working in batches, cook chicken, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until golden brown on all sides, 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.

Add butter and onions to drippings in pot; season with salt. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown, 10-15 minutes.   Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chickpeas and 1 cup broth. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Add more broth if needed to cover chicken about three-fourths of the way up. Bring to a simmer. Cover pot and turn the heat to low, braise chicken until fork-tender, 45-55 minutes. Add spinach to pot, cook until spinach is wilted, 3-4 minutes. Turn off heat, stir yogurt into cooking liquid. Season with salt and sprinkle with cilantro. Spoon chicken mixture over white, or basmati, rice.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Boulevardier Cocktail

It's just fun to say!
Try it, let it roll off your tongue.
Bo UL le var de A
Welcome to my phonetics, I just made that up.
Add a little French accent twist when you say it, and I think you got this down.

If you like Manhattens, or Old Fashions, then I think you will like this.
A Lot.
Apparently this is the same as a Negroni (but no gin), which is exactly why I like it better. Though this one is pretty good, Amaro Negroni
Wikipedia says it's similar to an "Old Pal".

Makes 1

1 big jigger rye whiskey (or bourbon)
1 sm jigger Campari
1 sm jigger Sweet Vermouth (red)
Orange twist
A marschino cherry (not traditional, but recommended)

Fill up a shaker with ice, pour all the booze over the ice.
Shake, shake, shake.
Twist your orange peel over the glass and pour the boulevardier over the top.

NOTE- You can also serve this over the rocks (ice cubes) instead of straight up in a martini glass.


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The Old Pal Martini

I read a hilarious article in Elle Decor which matched cocktails with your Zodiac sign.
Hahaha, I thought it was ridiculous, until I read what they matched me with.
Here's the article, if you are interested.
It said I was Loyal, Straightforward and Ambitious, just like this cocktail!

Makes 1 large cocktail

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. dry French vermouth (white)
Lemon twist, for garnish

Stir whiskey, Campari, and vermouth in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with lemon twist.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Breakfast Cookies- Coconut, Almonds, Chocolate and Zucchini

I've been wanting to try breakfast cookies for a while, because you know...
breakfast cookies!
I would be happy to eat healthy cookies to start my day.

I found so many recipes online, with all sorts of ingredients, but I love coconut and I had some zucchini that I wanted to use.  Perfect!  I found this recipe on this cute blog, and only added one thing, nuts!  I felt this needed a bit more crunch, so I added slivered almonds, but walnuts or pecans would be great too. 

Makes 24 large cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup shredded zucchini
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips (mini chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat baking mat or parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut oil and sugars, mix until smooth. Add egg and vanilla extract. Next, add the shredded zucchini. Mix until combined.
Slowly add flour mixture until just combined. Stir in oats, nuts, coconut, and chocolate chips.

Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are slightly golden around the edges and set. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

I got 24 cookies, and yes, I DID eat a little dough!

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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Baked Crab Rangoon

I think we can all admit, crab and cream cheese are awesomely delicious, especially when baked to a crispy perfection.  I'm fully aware Crab Rangoon is one of those American "Asian" appetizers...  and didn't originate in Burma at all. I've been thinking of making this recipe for some time, but really needed a reason to do it. 

Last month, we had a family birthday with a Korean theme menu- my sister made some fantastic chicken bulgogi and my mom brought her famous kimchi.  I was supposed to bring an appetizer. Hmmmm, that's kind of tricky,  you know?  I can't name a Korean appetizer off the top of my head, but maybe you can?  So, I settled on Crab Rangoon.  I

n the below picture, you can see I used canned crab.  I love fresh crab more, of course, but honestly, this is cheaper, easier and pretty darn good!  We bought this at the Business Costco for $9.99 for a 1 lb can (it's sold refrigerated, but it lasts a long time), but unfortunately, we have not seen it at a regular Costco.  I highly recommend this canned crab, just think how easy Baked Crab dip would be if you had one of these in your fridge?

I baked my Crab Rangoon because I think deep frying things is messy and tedious, plus it's certainly more healthy to bake these. 

Makes a bunch, serves a crowd

1 pkg og won ton wrappers
1 lb crab (I used canned)
8 oz pkg of cream cheese, softened
1/2 can of water chestnuts, chopped or substitute 1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
Salt & Pepper, as needed
Toasted sesame seeds (optional, garnish)

Dipping sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp garlic hot sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
Make the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients above together.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix all the filling ingredients together, being careful to not over mix the crab and break it into a "mush", it's nice to have some crab lumps in there. Taste the filling, adjust seasoning as needed.

You will need small tart tins, as muffin tins will be too big.  Spray, or oil, the tins and set near your work area.

Take two wonton wrappers and cross each layer like the photo below.

Use a tablespoon, or small cookie scoop, and add the filling in the middle of the wonton.
The amount shown below is a bit much... might want to do a bit less. Carefully pinch it together using  your thumb and 3 fingers and push into the tart pan.  It should "flower" up on the sides and look nice!

Here they are all ready to go in the oven.  In this case, I brought them to my sister's house like this to bake there.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, or until hot and crispy.  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Here's some pictures of the family dinner ready to be served up.  This was a buffet as we had about 20 people for dinner that night. Below, a couple of Asian-like salads with a slaw and a marinated cucumber salad.  Mom's kimchi was a hit.

Marinated chicken thigh bulgogi was SO good.  All my sisters are great cooks. 
You may notice that my sister also has the same Villeroy & Boch china that I have to, in case you are wondering!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Scotcheroo Bars

Chewier and more delicious than regular rice crispy treats, made with corn syrup and peanut butter.

I found the cutest website of a gal, Jenny, who plans parties and makes wonderful desserts. I am just smitten with all the fun things she does when she entertains.  I found this recipe for cookies on her site, and it was just too much fun!  I decided to try these bar cookies out and make them for a gathering at work.  I only  changed one thing on her recipe as I felt the bars just needed a little bit of salty with the sweet and chocolate.

A couple ways of icing them, I took the easy way and just spread on the cereal mixture, though they certainly are so cute the way she did them.

Makes about 24 bars

1 cup Light Corn Syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 tsp salt
6 cups crispy rice cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Step 1. Cook corn syrup and sugar together in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter; mix well. Add cereal; stir until evenly coated. Pour into greased 13 x 9-inch pan and pat into place.

Step 2  can be done one of two ways:
Option 1.  Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Spread over cereal. Cool at least 45 minutes, or until firm. Cut into bars.

Option 2.  Let rice cereal mixture set for about 15 minutes.  Using a cookie cutter, cut out a variety of shapes.  Melt chocolate and butterscotch chips together in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly (or use your favorite colored candy melts).  Dip shaped Scotcheroo bars into melted chocolate mixture.  Place on wax paper to dry.
Decorate as desired, or eat as is!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

One Bowl Apple Torte

This is a simple, delicious, homey dessert that I completely had forgotten from our childhood! My sister made it when we were over for dinner one night, pulling a little scrap out of her recipe box, and put the recipe on the counter.  I picked it up to have a look and noted that it was written in another sister's handwriting. It was completely yummy and so easy to make.  I need to do this one again soon.

Love to my Mom and sisters as I think of this dessert tonight.

NOTE- In the pan shown, we doubled the recipe as its about a 11" square dish.

Mom's Apple Torte

Makes on 8x8 dish, serves 4-6

1 egg, well beaten

1 cup chopped apple* (peeled)
3/4 cup sugar
2 heaping Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2-1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Mix altogether, pour into 8x8" greased pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes.

*Note, adding more than 1 cup of apples will makes it thicker and more pie-like.

Serve warm with whipped cream, or ice cream.  Also is good cold.

Mixing it up, ready to go in few minutes.

Here it is ready to go into the oven

Out of the oven, cooling a bit before we dig in!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mahi Mahi with Sundried tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts

I love Mahi Mahi, a tender but firm fish that lends itself to many great flavors.  I buy the Costco frozen individually wrapped fillets and have on hand in for a quick and healthy weekday dinner.  This recipe would also be great for entertaining the weekend too, as it's got a special feel about the dish.

I found the  original idea on All Recipes when I Googled Mahi Mahi and artichoke hearts.  While the idea was great, there were some very strange proportions that needed some help.  You'll be happy to know I cut down on the fat by reducing the butter, also, the garlic was way over the top with 1/4 cup!  I also added capers and eliminated the extra salt as the capers and artichokes are salty enough to flavor the whole dish.

I intend to make this one again and again, it was delicious.We served it with zucchini "noodles" but real noodles, or even rice would be nice with the sauce.

Serves 2

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp finely chopped shallot, or onion
2-3 cloves finely chopped garlic 
3 Tbsp lemon juice 
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped  
1 Tbsp capers (optional)
2 Tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces  
Salt & pepper to taste (at the end)

 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, or as needed 
 2 (6- 8 ounce) fillets mahi mahi fillets
1 Tbsp olive oil  

Dredge mahi mahi fillets in flour,  ensure they are fully covered but tap to remove excess flour
Heat olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Pan-fry mahi mahi in the oil until the fish flakes easily with a fork in the center, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer mahi mahi to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.
While the fish cooks, make the sauce.

Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook and stir shallot (or onion) and garlic in butter until soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Pour lemon juice and white wine into the skillet. Simmer the liquid a for about 3-4 minutes.

Stir tomatoes, capers & artichoke hearts into the sauce; cook until warmed, 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat, add cold butter pieces and parsley, and swirl skillet off heat until the butter melts and emulsifies into the sauce. 

Add the parsley, and top the fried fish with sauce and serve at once.

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