Friday, April 30, 2010

Sesame Udon Noodles with Peppers and Garlic



I always pick up different sizes and shapes of Asian noodles when I'm in a market that sells them. They are easy to toss with different sauces/oils/veggies for a quick side dish, so I love keeping noodles in the pantry.

A few weeks ago I picked up a package of Udon noodles -


Jon was making grilled beef kabobs (using
this recipe) and grilled veggies, so I made a quick sesame udon dish.



Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of Udon noodles
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • Optional: sliced peppers

Directions

  • Cook noodles in boiling water; these noodles only took about 8 minutes to cook.
  • In the meantime, heat olive oil in a large saute pan or wok
  • Add garlic; if using, add peppers. Cook 3-4 minutes
  • Add sesame oil and soy sauce and stir until heated
  • Add noodles and toss to coat





Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Primavera


Did you ever have one of those nights where you just can't figure out what you feel like cooking? Or you and your partner, spouse, family members, roommates, whatever, can't agree on chicken or beef or fish or something else? It's nights like these when I turn to a simple pasta and veggie dish, and if Jon wants, he can cook up some shrimp.

A while back I had seen
Giada's recipe for pasta primavera, a recipe a bit different from how I usually make it. Roasting veggies and then tossing with pasta and cheese? Sounds like a perfect "I don't know what I feel like cooking tonight" dinner. Below is what I did using Giada's recipe as inspiration.

Ingredients

  • Chopped veggies: I used 1 squash, 1 zucchini, 1 red onion, 1/2 red pepper, 1/2 orange pepper, 1/2 green pepper, 1 carrot, and a handful of grape tomatoes.
  • 1/2 pound farfalle, or whatever shape of pasta you like
  • Approximately 1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning (mixed herbs)

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
  • Toss all of the veggies, except the tomatoes, with some olive oil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once, and throwing the tomatoes in for the last 3-4 minutes.
  • In the meantime, cook the pasta. Drain, reserving 1 c of the liquid, and transfer to a large serving bowl.
  • Toss pasta with the roasted veggies and cheese. Slowly pour in the liquid, stirring. I used about half of it. Season with salt and pepper.

I normally saute my veggies and make just a touch of a tomato cream sauce when making a pasta primavera. I still love cooking it that way, but this recipe was a nice, fresh change, and it couldn't be any easier.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Flounder with Garlic and Dill

This is a quick and easy flounder recipe that Jon created last weekend.

He took 3 flounder filets and put them in a baking dish. He drizzled them with olive oil, then sprinkled on some dried dill. Then he crushed about 1 clove of garlic over each. He let them sit in the fridge for an hour before baking on 375 for 12 minutes. When they were done, he garnished them with fresh chives.

Once again, I ate the entire piece of fish which is not something I normally do! I loved the flavors, and flounder has a great consistency if you aren't a fish lover - flaky, but not too soft and not too meaty.




Sunday, April 18, 2010

Island Pork Tenderloin


The past few times I have cooked pork I used recipes that feature a lot of peppers, chili powder, and overall Southwestern or Mexican flavors - what Jon and I call "our kind of flavors." Last week I decided to go with other flavors and decided on a sweeter recipe, something I don't do often and as Jon says, things that aren't our kind of food. To explain, we both are fans of savory over sweet, and don't like fruit in our food - you'll never see either of us eating a salad with dried cranberries in it.

Anyway, back to the recipe. I chose
this recipe for Island Pork Tenderloin from the blog Pennies on a Platter. I made a few changes and additions, noted below.

Ingredients

  • 2 1-lb pork tenderloins

For spice rub:

  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon - I omitted this; the brown sugar would be enough sweet for me

For the glaze:

  • 1 c packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco
  • Added: 1/3 c chicken broth
  • Added: rind of one orange, grated using a microplane

Directions

  • Coat the pork with the spice rub
  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large oven-proof pan over moderately high heat
  • Add pork and sear it until golden brown on all sides. Remove from heat.
  • Mix the glaze ingredients and brush them onto all sides of the pork.
  • Cover the pan and transfer it to a 350 degree oven until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees, about 20 minutes.
  • Transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover it, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

I loved the addition of the orange rind! I think it is what brought all of the flavors together. I am glad I omitted the cinnamon - I really don't see it going with this dish at all.

Making pork tenderloin is such a simple way to create a great meal. Just pair it with some roasted potatoes and veggies or a salad, and done! Everything can cook in the oven at the same time, too.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

I love baby bok choy, so when I saw it at our local produce store, I had to pick up a bag - it's not something they carry often. Jon was planning on sauteing it, but once we had the grill going for the kabobs, we decided to just grill it.

I sliced them in half, washed them gently, then brushed with olive oil on both sides and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. Jon threw them on the grill for about 3 minutes per side, until they had just wilted and had nice grill marks.

Some veggies are so good when enjoyed simply, and this baby bok choy is definitely one of them. No sauces or cheese or heavy spices needed, just the natural flavor of the bok choy brought out by the grill - perfect! We served the baby bok choy alongside these
marinated and grilled beef kabobs.




His best marinade for beef yet....


If you have read my blog before, you know that my husband loves to create marinades. Check out my marinades tag for his creations. You won't find any store bought marinades in our kitchen, and really, creating your own isn't hard. Once you build up your pantry and spice cabinet, the possibilities are endless.

I was out for the day last Sunday so Jon cooked - grilled beef and veggie kabobs with grilled baby bok choy. He created what is, by far, his best marinade for beef to date.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp cooking sherry
  • 2 cloves garlic, run over the microplane, minced, or pressed
  • 1 tbsp Hoisin
  • 1.5 tbsp chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp onion powder

He marinated kabob sized pieces of sirloin steak for about 8 hours. We made 8 kabobs with the beef, peppers, mushrooms, and red onions, and we ate every last one! They were so good - a touch sweet at first, yet the flavors were so complex and even had a kick at the end.

Here are the kabobs.... they are in a glass dish on a dark wood table. Not the best picture, but these were the last 2 kabobs so I had to point and snap quickly before they were gone!



Chili Pork Chops with a Pepper-Lime Topping


Our local produce store is my favorite place to stock up on veggies for the week. The only problem (if you can even call it that) is that they sell things in large quantities, but the prices are so great that I can't justify buying just one pepper at the market for the same price as a bag of 6 bell peppers. Buying from the produce store makes me focus on meal planning and using the veggies in several different ways throughout the week.

I had a red bell pepper and a few jalapenos to use up at the end of last week. I found inspiration in
this recipe for Humming Pork Chops. I completely changed it, so my adaptation is below.

Ingredients

  • 2 thick boneless pork chops
  • Spices - chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and veins removed, sliced
  • 1/2 sm white onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Optional: freshly chopped cilantro (I thought I had some but I didn't; I think it would have been a nice garnish at the end)

Directions

  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan, and preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Season chops with chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. I don't measure... I used about 8 shakes of the cumin and chili powder per side, and just a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Place chops into the hot saute pan; cook 3-4 min per side. My chops were thick so I also turned them on their sides to get a good sear all around. Transfer them to a baking dish and bake in the oven until the internal temperature reaches 150 (about 8-10 minutes).
  • Add another tbsp olive oil to the pan. Add onions, peppers, and garlic; saute 4-5 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and stir, scraping up all of the brown bits.
  • Add lime juice; bring to a simmer.
  • Once the chops are done, add them to the pan and spoon some of the sauce over them.

I served these with rice and roasted broccoli. The sauce was so good - just the right amount of heat. Lime juice is a great way to brighten up flavors in a sauce, especially with the use of chili powder and cumin.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fish with a Dijon, Lemon, and Dill Crust


It's no secret that I'm not the biggest seafood fan. As much as I want to love it, I just don't. But I feel bad for Jon that we never have fish at home, so every now and then I give in, and I'll eat a few bites.

Well last week was different - I ate an entire flounder filet!! This recipe was light and delicious, and is something I'd definitely make again. Even better, it only took 15 minutes including prep.

Fish with a Dijon, Lemon, and Dill Crust
Adapted from:
Lemon and Herb Crusted Drum with Wilted Bok Choy, Lemon, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Emeril

Ingredients

  • 2 flounder filets
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • Rind of one lemon - I used my microplane on it
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 head bok choy, roughly chopped

Directions

  • Season fish lightly with salt and pepper
  • Spread 1 tsp dijon mustard on each filet
  • Mix lemon rind, parsley, and dill. Place each filet, dijon side down, into this mixture to coat.
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large stainless pan. Place fish, dijon side down, into the pan and let cook 4 minutes. Flip and continue cooking, about another 4 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat the rest of the olive oil in a pan. Add bok choy and toss. Add water, season with salt and pepper, and let wilt, about 3-4 minutes.

Here is the fish before going into the pan -


Again, this was delicious. I can't believe I ate the whole thing :)

Polish Easter Food - Galumpki (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)


Easter Sunday, in my dad's words...


"We decided to have a traditional Easter dinner this year.

Using Joelen's Galumpki recipe (Stuffed Cabbage, originally by Tyler Florence), we followed it to a T and it was fantastic. I was wary about deviating from my mom's traditional way of making them - in a pot with bacon on the bottom, covering them with water and tomato paste - but these were great. The sweet and sour sauce was excellent and we all enjoyed them.


We also made other traditional Polish food like Mom did - Sour Cream and Cucumber Salad, Pierogies (only Mrs. Ts this time - something my mom never would have done), Grilled Kielbasa, Rye Bread, Colored Hard Boiled Eggs, Beets, and Potato Salad."

This dinner reminded me of Sunday afternoons in my grandmom's dining room. My dad and Jon even played the egg cracking game.. I'm not sure I quite get the point of it, but I remember playing with my dad when I was little, and watching other people around the table play. Basically, one person holds a hard boiled egg in their hand, and the other person smashes down on top of the egg with their egg. One egg will break, and that person is the loser.

Anyway, this galumpki recipe was SO good. I loved the flavors in the meat as well as the sauce. My dad said they were a lot of work, but well worth it. I can't wait until our little girl gets here and is big enough to eat so I can introduce her to these foods I remember eating as a child.

Ingredients - Sweet & Sour Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2 quarts crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions - Sweet & Sour Tomato Sauce

  • Coat a 3 qt saucepan with the oil and place over medium heat
  • Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  • Add the vinegar and sugar; simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt & pepper and remove from the heat.

Ingredients - Galumpki

  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • Splash dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 c steamed white rice
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large heads green cabbage

Directions - Galumpki

  • Place a skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tbsp of the oil.
  • Saute the onion and garlic about 5 minutes, until soft.
  • Stir in the tomato paste, wine, parsley, and 1/2 of the prepared sweet & sour tomato sauce. Mix to incorporate it and then remove from heat.
  • Combine the ground meats in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, cooked rice, and contents of the hot pan you just removed from the heat. Toss the filling together with your hands and season with a generous amount of salt & pepper.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Prepare the cabbage: Remove the large, damaged outer leaves from the cabbages and lay them on the bottom of a large casserole dish, letting part of the leaves hang over the sides of the pan. This insulation will prevent the cabbage rolls from burning on the bottom when baked. Cut out the cores of the cabbages with a soft knife and carefully pull off the rest of the leaves keeping them whole and as undamaged as possible. Blanch the cabbage leaves in the pot of boiling water for 5 minutes, or until pliable. Run the leaves under cool water and then lay them out so you can assess just how many blankets you have to wrap up the filling. Next, cut out the center vein from the leaves so they will be easier to roll.
  • Using the good leaves, put about 1/2 c of the meat mixture in the center of a piece of cabbage. Starting at what was the stem end, fold in the sides and roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling. Place the cabbage rolls, seam side down, on top of the layer of leaves in your casserole dish. Continue until you have filled your pan/used up your leaves and meat mixture.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Pour the remaining sweet & sour sauce over the cabbage rolls. Fold the hanging leaves over the top to act as a cover and keep the moisture in. Drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • Bake for 1 hour until the meat is cooked.

Polish Easter Food - Liptauer Spread


For Easter dinner my parents decided to cook a Polish feast, similar to what my grandmom on my dad's side would cook for Sunday dinners and holidays. They took care of the entire meal (my dad's galumpki post to follow soon!), so I wanted to bring an appetizer.

I had to do a lot of research on Polish appetizers before I finally decided to make one for
Liptauer Spread that I found on the Epicurious web site.

To be honest, I wasn't sure how it would be when I was reading the list of ingredients. But I trusted the reviews and decided to give it a shot.
Ingredients
  • 1 c cottage cheese
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 tsp paprika, preferably sweet Hungarian
  • 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds, crushed in a mortar with pestle
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 3 tbsp minced onion
  • 2 tbsp chopped cornichons
  • For serving: cocktail pumpernickel bread

Directions

  • Blend cottage cheese and butter in a food processor until smooth.
  • Blend in paprika, caraway seeds (ground), and mustard.
  • Transfer to a small bowl and mix in onions and cornichons.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. Serve with cocktail pumpernickel bread.


I was pleasantly surprised with this one. It was sweet and tangy at the same time, but smooth and went perfectly with the pumpernickel bread.






Saturday, April 3, 2010

Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Flank Steak

It is springtime in the Northeast - supposedly. Why are we in the 80s and close to 90 already? At least it makes for good grilling weather. We grill year round, but something about the warm weather makes the food taste better.

The other night I chose a Food and Wine recipe for
Grilled Balsamic-Garlic Flank Steak. I went to a local farm and market and the butcher brought me out a beautiful flank steak. I'm not one for pictures of raw meat in food blogs, but I couldn't resist. I can't believe that I, the former vegetarian, was in awe of this beautiful cut of meat . It actually made me crave beef tartare, something I've never even tried, but maybe that's just a pregnancy thing :)

This was a very simple recipe with just a few ingredients. I served it with grilled red onions, roasted broccoli, and a nice loaf of Italian bread. I have to say, the grilled red onions completed the meal!

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (note, I doubled this - there was nothing there when I made it with the amounts in the original recipe)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (doubled this as well)
  • 1 large garlic clove (1?? I used 3)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme leaves
  • One 2 1/2 lb flank steak
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • In a blender, blend the vinegar, oil, garlic, and thyme until smooth.
  • Place the steak in a large glass or ceramic dish; pour the marinade over the steak and let it stand for 5 minutes.

  • Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until medium, about 8 minutes per side.

  • Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice it across the grain to serve.

This marinade added just a touch of flavor - just enough so not to take away from the flank steak.



Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

Last week I had a few bananas to use up so I decided to make a banana bread. I went in search of an easy recipe and found this one for Easy Banana Bread on the blog Blissfully Delicious. Not too many ingredients and everything in one bowl? Works for me!

I had some chocolate chips so I decided to add them. I also added 1 tbsp sour cream to the batter.


Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 c butter, softened
  • 2/3 c firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c mashed ripe bananas - I used 3 bananas
  • 2/3 c chopped walnuts - omitted this; instead I added 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • Added: 1 tbsp sour cream

Directions: Blend everything together and bake in a 10x4 loaf pan for 1 hour on 350 degrees. Note: I floured the pan first and it didn't stick at all.



Delicious!