Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oven Baked Salmon with Arugula Pesto and Warm Quinoa and Roasted Veggie Salad

This meal was too good for words. Super healthy and super tasty.

Oven Baked Salmon with Arugula Pesto
For some reason it is very hard to find fresh basil in Southern CA, it is especially hard when you live in the middle of nowhere. Arugula, however, seems to be much easier to find and it makes an equally flavorful pesto. It is a little more bitter than basil, so it is perfect for cooking because it will lose that bitter bite. This dish is especially meaningful for my husband and I because it was one of the dishes served at our wedding, only we had basil pesto on the salmon.

For the pesto:
2 cups packed arugula, thoroughly washed and dried
4-6 cloves garlic
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, place arugula and garlic. Pulse until well chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil until well combine. Stir in Parmesan and add salt and pepper to taste. You will need a good amount of salt since this is a more bitter green. Makes 1 generous cup.

Refrigerate any leftovers and look for my turkey, roasted pepper, and pesto paninis to use the leftover.

If you don't care for or can't find arugula, follow the same recipe for basil or even spinach.

For the Salmon:
2-4 salmon fillets, either skin on or off
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Arugula pesto

Preheat oven to 425. In a baking pan, drizzle olive oil to lightly coat the bottom. Add salmon fillets and turn to coat, leaving them skin side down (if your fillets have skin). Sprinkle each fillet with a little salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness.

Remove salmon from oven and top with 1/4 c pesto. Bake again for 3 minutes so that the pesto can warm through. It will turn a vibrant green.

Warm Quinoa Salad with Roasted Veggies

Quinoa is a super food. It is packed with protein (6 grams per serving) and high iron and vitamin E. If you haven't tried it, you need to. It is even good for breakfast when slow cooked with rolled oats.

1 c quinoa, uncooked
2 c water
Olive oil
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 small yellow squash, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
a handful of asparagus, lower stems removed and upper part chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, drizzle oil to coat bottom and add veggies. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and roast for about 20 minutes, until veggies are soft and lightly browned.

In a pot, bring quinoa, water, and a little salt to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes. It will be done when the water is absorbed and the grain has puffed up and you can see the germ ring around the edge of the grain.

Add veggies to quinoa and stir together. Top with 1/4 c of the Dijon-White Wine Vinaigrette (recipe below).

Dijon-White Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 c white vinegar
2 tbs dry white wine (think Chardonnay)-this is optional, but does add a great flavor
1/4 c olive oil
2 heaping tbs Dijon mustard
1 small shallot, finely chopped (use can also use 2 tbs of finely chopped strong red onion)
1 clove garlic, minced

In a small bowl combine vinegar and wine. Whisk in oil and then whisk in Dijon. Add shallot and garlic and stir to combine. Refrigerate any extra. This would be terrific on a spinach salad (look for that in the next few days also).

Friday, February 26, 2010

Enchilada Cassarole

We recently took a day trip to Riverside, CA and ate at a restaurant called The Tamale Factory. The husband had an enchilada cassarole that he couldn't stop talking about, so I figured I would give it a try. I served it with (don't judge) a mix of frozen carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower.

15 corn tortillas
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil plus more for frying
2 tbs flour
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c shredded chicken
1 small can of chopped olives
16 oz can of red enchilada sauce
1 c chicken broth
1 can green enchilada sauce
3/4 c shredded cheddar
3/4 c shredded jack cheese

In a pan, heat about 1/2 cup of oil. Add tortillas one or two at a time and cook until just crisp, about 30 seconds on each side. Set on paper towels to drain.

Preheat oven to 375. In a pot, melt butter and oil. Whisk in flour until smooth and add onion and garlic. Cook onion until is soft, stirring constantly. Add enchilada sauce and simmer for 5 minutes. Add chicken, all but 2 tbs of the olives. Simmer for about 10 minutes and stir in half of the cheddar cheese and half of the jack cheese.

Coat a 7x11 glass casserole with non-stick spray. Pour 1/2 of the green enchilada sauce into the bottom of the casserole and top with enough tortillas to cover the bottom, tearing some in half if necessary. Top with half of the chicken mixture, layer that with tortillas, then the remaining chicken, and then the remaining tortillas. Top with the rest of the green sauce and the remaining cheese. Sprinkle with the rest of the olives and then bake in oven for about 20 minutes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Cheddar Thyme Biscuits

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
This is a tried and true, made from scratch soup. I use a leftover whole chicken (or turkey that has been picked off) and boil it to made stock and to remove the meat more easily. So next time you roast chicken, roast two, one to eat and one to make this awesome soup out of!

1 roasted chicken
8 c water
2 tbs butter
1 onion, chopped
2 or 3 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 1/2 c uncooked brown and wild rice mix
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/8 tsp crushed rosemary
1/2 c half and half
1/4 c flour
salt and pepper

Place whole, roasted chicken in a large soup pot. Pour water over. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Cook for about 2 hours, or until the chicken falls off the bone. Pull chicken out and set in a bowl. Allow to cool in the fridge. Put stock in the fridge, let sit for a couple hours or even over night (if you are planning on using it the same day, you can even stick it in the freezer if you have the space). Once chicken has cooled, pull the meat from the bones and shred. When you are ready to start the soup, pull out the stock and skim off the fat.

In a large pan, melt butter. Add vegetables and saute until the onion is translucent. Add to stock and then add rice, chicken, and herbs. Add 1 tsp of salt and a 1/2 tsp of pepper. Simmer on low for an hour. Taste for flavor and add more salt if needed.

Mix together half and half and flour. Add to soup and simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened.

Cheddar Thyme Biscuits
When I make this soup, I absolutely have to make these biscuits. They are perfect and easy.

2 1/2 c Bisquick
1/2 a stick of cold butter, chopped into pieces
3/4 c milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 c cheddar cheese
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 400. In a mixing bowl, use a fork or pastry blender mix together Bisquick and butter until butter breaks up into pea size bits. Mix in milk, garlic, cheddar, and thyme until just blended. Drop onto a an ungreased cooking sheets in about 2 tbs portions. Bake for 15 minutes or until tops of biscuits have browned. If desired, brush cooked biscuits with 2 tbs melted butter mixed with 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

A couple of tips:
-You can always use a store bought roasted chicken, but if you do cook your own, you don't need to do anything special. Treat it as if you were cooking it to eat it whole, cooking two is just as easy as cooking one.
-You could throw in a whole, raw chicken and it will cook out just fine (it will take a longer, but it will be fine). I like roasting it first because it adds a little something extra to the flavor.
-And if all else fails, you can always use store bought stock and chicken breasts. Cook the breasts in the stock, as if it were a whole chicken, and then shred.
-One last quick cooking tip... if you want to save time, you can buy those Uncle Ben's microwave pouches. All you do is pour them in without cooking and let them simmer for about 15 minutes. Go easy on the salt and use reduced sodium broth, the pouches are pre-seasoned and salty as they are.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs and Hasselback Potatoes

I threw this dinner together when some great friends came to town. It was easy enough and I got to spend some time with them, rather than in the kitchen. Plus it allows my husband to contribute because he is the grill master. I served these dishes with my go to green salad.

Honey Glazed Chicken Thighs
8 chicken thighs
1/4 c honey
1 tbs lime juice
1/8 tsp salt
A few dashes Cayenne pepper
1 clove garlic, minced

If you bought chicken thighs with the bone in and skin on, peel off the skin and take the bone out by running your thumbs along the bone until it comes free, you may need scissors. Trim any extra fat. Rinse, then pat dry.

Mix together honey, lime juice, salt, pepper, and garlic. Place chicken into a glass dish and then pour honey mixture over. Let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Heat grill and grill thighs for 8-10 minutes on each side. Allow thighs to rest for 5-10 minutes after cooking.

Hasselback Potatoes

4 Medium Russet Potatoes, scrubbed
2 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 425. Place butter and oil in a metal pan with sides. Put pan in oven until butter is melted.

Using a sharp knife, slice potatoes width wise, about 1/8 in in between slices, and be careful not to cut all the way through. Put potatoes in the pan and turn to coat. Place potato cut side up. Sprinkle with some sea salt, pepper, and paprika.

Bake in oven for about an hour or until skin is browned and crispy and the potato is soft.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork with Cream Cheese Wontons

I'll be honest, cooking Chinese food did not used to be my forte. I would tell my wonderful husband I was making something Chinese and he would grimace. It wasn't that it was bad... just not right. So I worked hard, experimented a lot, and have developed a few tried and true recipes that keep my Chinese food cravings at bay. This recipe I am especially proud of because hubby just about fell out of his chair when he tasted it and I am pretty sure he will grimace-no-more.

Sweet and Sour Pork

The sauce is based on a recipe I took from my mom a few years ago. It is very basic and easy to make.

3 pork loin chops, cut into 1 inch chunks.
1 1/2 c flour
2 eggs
1 tbs soy sauce
1/8 tsp pepper
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 16 oz can pineapple chunks, reserve juice
1/2 c white vinegar
1/3 c white sugar
1/4 c orange juice, plus 2 tbs
1/3 c pineapple juice (or whatever is in the can)
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbs ketchup
2 tbs corn starch

In a shallow dish beat eggs, soy sauce, and pepper. Place flour in another shallow dish and add pork, toss to coat. Now put pork into egg mixture, shaking pieces to remove extra flour. Stir gently to coat with egg. Using a slotted spoon remove pork from egg and put back in flour, coat again.

Heat a deep fryer or a pot with oil to 350. Place pork in a single layer into oil to prevent sticking. Cook each batch for about 6 minutes or until pork turns brown and meat is white when a peice is cut open. Drain on paper towels.

In a wok, heat a bit of oil and add peppers and onions. Cook until onions are translucent and peppers begin to soften. Remove to a plate and begin sauce. Add vinegar, 1/4 c orange juice, pineapple juice, salt, and ketchup. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Allow to simmer for a few minutes. Now mix cornstarch with 2 tbs orange juice and add to sauce. Stir in and cook for a minute until thickened. Add pineapple chunks.

Put your pork on a plate, top with veggies and add sauce, saving some for the wontons. This will keep the pork crispy.

Cream Cheese Wontons

1 8oz package of cream cheese (you can even use low fat to feel a little better about these... I do)
2 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp soy sauce
At least 15 wonton wrappers

Mix cream cheese, onions, garlic, and soy sauce.

Lay down a wonton wrapper and place a heaping tsp of the cream cheese mixture into the center of the wonton. Using your finger of a pastry brush, wet the edges of the wonton and fold over the wonton. You can also simply top with another wonton wrapper. Press the edges to seal, making sure there are no gaps or the cheese will seep out during frying.

In the same oil you cooked the pork it, add a few wontons and cook for 3 minutes or until wontons turn brown.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I made this on Fat Tuesday because I felt like being festive... Go me. But really, my husband spent a few years in Louisiana growing up and my mom lived in Mobile, Alabama, which is actually the birthplace of Mardi Gras, so I needed to represent. This recipe is adapted from a recipe out of my Taste Of Home Cookbook.

1/2 c flour
1/2 c butter
3 green onions, sliced
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 large chicken breast, cut into 1/2 in chunks
2 links Andoullie Sausage, sliced
1/2 lb shrimp, deveined and peeled
4 cups chicken stock
1 c frozen okra thawed
1 16 oz can kidney beans, drained
1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp red pepper sauce (like Tabasco)
Salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked rice

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly to brown. The roux is down when it reaches a medium brown color, about 3 minutes. Add the veggies and stir to coat, cook until veggies begin to soften. Add chicken, sausage, and broth. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Add shrimp, hot sauce, okra, tomatoes and beans. Simmer for about 7 minutes, until shrimp are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in a bowl with a 1/2 cup of rice.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tomato Basil Pizza

One recipe Crusty Garlic Basil Pizza Dough
1 c basil
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Parmesan
1 clove garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
A splash of lemon juice
4 or 5 Roma tomatoes
At least 6 oz fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 tbs Parmesan

Slice tomatoes length wise in about 1/8 inch slices and place onto paper towels to soak up some of the liquid.

In a food processor, place basil, Parmesan, and garlic and turn on. Drizzle in the oil blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. This should make about a 1/2 cup.

Press dough into a pizza pan and spread tomato sauce on to dough. Top with mozzarella, then tomatoes and then drizzle pesto over top of pizza and sprinkle with more Parmesan.

Bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes or until cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly browned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Chicken with Tarragon Carrots and Fried Potatoes

The chicken is insanely moist, the carrots are full of flavor, and the potatoes are crispy... What more could you ask for?

Balsamic Glazed Chicken
This is a recipe I picked up about 5 years ago from Williams Sonoma, it is a keeper, for sure.

1/3 c Balsamic Vinegar
1 1/2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs Worcestershire
2 tbs honey or dijon mustard
1 tbs oilve oil
1 medium sized roaster (4-5 lbs), innards removed and rinsed

Preheat oven to 375. In a small sauce pan, combine vinegar, sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for about 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in mustard and olive oil.

Season chicken inside and out with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan. Liberally brush chicken with sauce and put in oven. Continue brushing another 2 or 3 times. Roast for 30 minutes and reduce heat to 350 for about 50 minutes or until thermometer reads 170. Let sit in oven for 10 minutes.

Tarragon Carrots

4 Carrots, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs tarragon
2 tbs butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saute pan. Add carrots, tarragon, and garlic. Saute over medium heat until carrots are soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.

Fried Potatoes

4 large yukon gold potatoes, chopped unti 1 inch cubed
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Place pepper in a medium sized pot and cover with water. Cover and boil until potatoes begin to soften, about 15 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in a large saute pan. Add potatoes and stir to coat in butter. Cook over medium high heat for about 15 minutes. Add garlic and continue cooking until potatoes are soft on the inside and crisp on the outside., about 5 minutes.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Lazy Man's Lasagna

This is a great meal for when you want lasagna, but just don't feel like making a whole lasagna. I did a little something special with the bechamel and it was so good I just might change the way I make lasagna forever!

4 cups wide eggs noodles, just slightly undercooked
3 tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1 cup milk
Dash of nutmeg
8 oz ricotta
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 sausages, removed from casing, cooked, and crumbled
2 cups tomato sauce
6 oz mozzarella cheese, either sliced or shredded

Preheat oven to 400. In a sauce pan, melt butter. Whisk in flour until smooth. Lower hear and gradually whisk in milk, allowing sauce to thicken before each addition. Add in nutmeg and season with salt and pepper to taste. Now, stir in ricotta and garlic until smooth to make an incredible ricotta bechamel!

Spray a casserole with cooking spray and add a little more than 1/3 of the sauce. Top with 2 cups of the noodles and then top with another 1/3 of the sauce. Layer down the rest of the noodles and top with the remaining sauce. Pour tomato sauce over and top with cheese.

Bake until the top is bubbly and browned.

Baked Double Decker Quesadillas With Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad


6 flour tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and lay down a tortilla. Cover with a half cup of cheddar cheese, then top with another tortilla and a half cup of jack cheese, and top with one last tortilla. Spray the top with a little more cooking spray. Repeat for as many quesadillas as you need.

Cook quesadillas until torillas are lightly browned and cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Warm Black Bean and Corn Salad

1 small red pepper, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 small red pepper, chopped
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 can of black beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 an avocado, chunked
salt to taste
Cojita cheese, if desired

In a pan, heat a little oil and add peppers, onion, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and peppers are soft. Add corn and beans. Cook until heated through. Add spices and remove from heat. Stir in avocado and top with a little Cojita, if using.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chunky New England Style Clam Chowder

3 strips of bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium size red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
4 cups broth
2 cans clams, drain only one
1 cup half and half
3 tbs flour
Salt and pepper to taste

In a soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until just crisp. Drain and set aside. In the same pot, add vegetables and cook until they begin to soften. Add potatoes and cook for a minute. Add broth and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes, until potatoes have softened. Add in clams and cook for 3 minutes, to heat clams.

In a bowl, beat together half and half and flour. Add to soup, and allow to thicken over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally and turn down if soup begins to boil.

Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Turkey Sausage With Polenta and Peppers

This is one of my favorite meals. It is really simple, but the flavors are perfect together. I always use hot turkey Italian, but you can use which ever you want.

4 sausages, uncooked
1 small red pepper, sliced
1 small green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 recipe Perfect Polenta, below

Place sausages in a shallow pan and add enough water to reach halfway up the sausages. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes and then turn over. If necessary, pour out water and brown sausages.

In another pan, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add peppers and onion and cook until soft.

Serve both over polenta.

Perfect Polenta
I love polenta, but it needs to be creamy and smooth. I have worked on making it perfect for a while, and I am proud to say, I think I have perfected it.

4 c water

1 c dry polenta

3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 tbs heavy cream, milk, or half and half (whatever you have on hand)

Up to 2 tsp salt (Add by ½ tsp and taste after each addition)

Pepper to taste

A handful of good Parmesan

Boil 3 cups of the water in a medium pot. Whisk in polenta and turn down to medium heat. Once polenta begins to thicken, add another ¼ c of the remaining water and stir in quickly, allow to thicken again. Repeat until you have added the remaining cup, stirring frequently. This will help the polenta become soft and creamy. Once all the water is in and the polenta is fully cooked (this should take about 20-30 minutes) stir in the garlic, cream, and salt. Season with pepper and toss in the Parmesan.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dirty Rice

3 cups cooked wild and brown rice mix
8 oz bulk sausage, I use turkey
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste

Cook sausage over medium high heat. Drain if necessary. Add vegetables and cook until soft. Add rice and stir in parsley and spices.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ma Po Tofu

I really like PF Chang's Ma Po Tofu, but once again, the closest one is about 45 miles away, so I searched the internet for a copycat recipe. I found this one and adapted it to make my own.

1 block tofu, medium firm or firm
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tsp chili paste
1 tsp miso
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbs hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Put about two inches of water in a pan over medium high heat. Cut tofu into 1 inch pieces and add to water. Cook in hot, but not boiling water, for about 3 minutes. Drain.

In a wok (or a large pan if you don't have one), heat oil over medium heat. Mix chili paste, miso and a little water to make a paste. Add to oil and then add drained tofu, cook for about 1 minute, or until tofu begins to brown slightly.

In a small bowl, combine hoisin, sugar, 2 tsp soy sauce, and scallions. Add to tofu along with broth. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Mix cornstarch and water and add to tofu, stir to mix in with sauce and simmer until thickened.

Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

Because Tuna Tartare isn't easily accesible in the desert...

I love Ahi, it is so rich and buttery, and it pairs perfectly with avocado. I used to eat a spicy tuna roll at least once a week... then we moved to the desert and my sushi choices became very limited and at least 25 miles from my home. *SOB* But the other day I needed something that reminded me of fresh tuna, so I got to thinking... canned tuna + avocado + plus a soy based vinegarette just might tide me over for a little while. It might not be fresh caught Ahi, but it was really tasty! In the words of my husband "You took a can of tuna and actually made it tast good." Thanks for the compliment, honey.

1 can tuna, drained
1/2 an avocado, cut into bite size pieces
1 tbs pineapple juice
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tbs soy sauce
1 green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs olive oil
2 wontons, fried until crisp

In a bowl, mix pineapple juice, vinegar, soy sauce, onion, and garlic, whisk in oil until blended. Add tuna and avocado and stir gently to combine. Arrange wontons on a plate and top with tuna. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rosemary Turkey Burgers with Drunken Mushrooms and Onions

I love turkey burgers. They may not blow the husband's mind quite in the same way, but he knows they are better for him.


1 lbs Ground Turkey
4 gloves garlic, minced
1 tbs Rosemary, crumbled
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Combine above and grill until done, about 6-8 minutes per side, depending on thickness.

Drunken Mushrooms and Onions

1 onion, sliced
1 cup sliced white mushrooms
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine

In a saute pan, heat a little oil and add onion. Cook about 2 minutes and add garlic and mushrooms. Cook another 2 minutes and add wine. Saute over medium high until wine is almost evaporated, about 4 minutes.

Asian Style Lettuce Wraps

These are so yummy. They are kind of a mix between the lettuce wraps I love from PF Changs and from Cheesecake Factory, plus a few of my own touches.


2 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1 small red pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stock, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
(or, if you happen to be making the Cuban Black Bean Soup, you can just chop some extra veggies, about 1 cup worth)
1/2 a small can of peeled, sliced water chestnuts, diced
1/2 cup white mushrooms, diced (shitake would be more authentic, and more flavorful, but button mushrooms are much more economical)
1 tbs Hoisin sauce
1 tbs white wine
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbs water

Heat a little oil in a skillet, add chicken and cook until done. Remove and keep warm. In the same skillet, add a little more oil and cook red pepper, carrot, celery, onion and garlic until soft. Add mushrooms and water chestnuts and cook until heated through. Return chicken to pan.

In a small bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Add to chicken and veggie mixture. Cook until sauce is well combined and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Cucumber Salad

1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup white vinegar
3 tbs white sugar

Combine above and refrigerate for a couple hours.

Garlic Noodles

A handful of Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta, cooked al dente and drained
3 gloves of garlic, minced
1/8 tsp chili paste
1 tbs sugar
A dash of white vinegar
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white wine
2 green onions, diced

In a large saute pan, cook garlic in a little oil until fragrant, be sure not to burn. Mix in chili paste and add noodles. Remove from heat and make sauce.

In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients. Mix with pasta.

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
I took this recipe from a blog called Meemo's Kitchen, but subbed Hoisin for the fish sauce and white vinegar for the rice vinegar.

1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons hoisin
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste

Combine above ingredients.

Serve the chicken, cucumbers, and noodles with lettuce leaves (green, bibb, butter, or iceberg), and bean sprouts.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cuban Black Bean Soup and Marinated Rice

Authentic? I have no idea. All I know is it is good. This is a recipe I stole from my mom and added a pile of veggies to for a complete meal. It also makes a ton, and in my opinion, is impressive enough to serve to a dinner party, especially if you have some veggies coming over.

For The Soup:
1 lb dry black beans, well rinsed
2 quarts water
1 tbs salt
1 onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
1 small green pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 large celery stock, diced
5 cloves of garlic, crushed or minced
1 tbs white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp oregano

Place rinsed beans in a large sauce pan. Cover with water, about an inch above beans, and soak overnight (or for at least 6 hours). Drain beans and add 2 quarts of water and salt. Cover and heat to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 2 hours, until beans are soft.

In a skillet, cook veggies, spices, and vinegar until veggies are soft. Add to beans and some of the beans. Simmer together for another 30 minutes on low.

For the Rice:
2 cups cooked rice, white or brown
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 tbs white vinegar
2 tbs parsley, chopped
A drizzle of Olive Oil.

Combine above and let rice marinate for a few hours.

Serve soup over rice. If you want, top soup with grated cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado.