Friday, May 29, 2009

Hot & Sour Eggplant

Thank you, Kenan, for passing this on! It totally reminded us of an eggplant dish we used to eat in China. So yummy!

2 long Chinese eggplants, cubed
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 green chile pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon chili oil, or to taste
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the eggplant cubes into a large bowl, and sprinkle with salt. Fill with enough water to cover, and let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse well, and drain on paper towels.

In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, red wine vinegar, sugar, chile pepper, cornstarch and chili oil. Set the sauce aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Fry the eggplant until it is tender and begins to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour in the sauce, and cook and stir until the sauce is thick and the eggplant is evenly coated. Serve immediately.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Stir-fried Rice Noodles with Shrimp and Chicken

This recipe came from one of my favorite Asian cookbooks. It's pretty much like Pad Thai (which we love) and was so delicious! I served it with the Hot and Sour Eggplant.

Serves 4

8 ounces dried flat rice noodles
1/2 cup water
4 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp paprika
pinch of Cayenne pepper
3 Tbsp oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, finely sliced
8-12 raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut in half
1 egg
1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely crushed
3 scallions, cut into short lengths
6 ounces bean sprouts
garnish with cilantro leaves and lime wedges

Place the rice noodles in a large bowl, cover with warm water, and soak for 30 minutes until soft. Drain.

Combine the water, fish sauce, sugar, lime juice, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside until required.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the garlic, and fry for 30 seconds until it starts to brown. Add the chicken and shrimp, and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until cooked.

Push the chicken and shrimp mixture in the wok out to the sides. Break the egg into the center, then quickly stir to break up the wok. Cook over a medium heat until the egg is just lightly scrambled.

Add the drained noodles and the fish sauce mixture to the wok. Mix together well. Add half the crushed peanuts, and cook, stirring frequently, until the noodles are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Add the scallions and half of the bean sprouts. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Spoon onto a platter. Sprinkle with the remaining peanuts and bean sprouts. Garnish and serve.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Shrimp Cilantro Fried Rice

Jessie posted this great recipe on her blog. Mmmmm . . .

2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil (I used Olive oil for all the oil)
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot (I used 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 cup chopped cooked shrimp
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
I also threw in one green onion thinly sliced

Heat oils in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add carrot, ginger, red pepper, and garlic; sauté for 1 minute. Add rice; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, green onion and soy sauce; sauté 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pasta Primavera

This was a simple, light-tasting summer dish. Next time I'll use even more vegetables and less tomatoes.

4 cups of mixed vegetables, for example:
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 small eggplant, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 bell pepper, any color, cut into thin strips

3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence
A sprinkling of garlic salt
1/4 cup of spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound pasta (use rice pasta for wheat-free version)
Grated Parmesan optional

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for your pasta).

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the vegetables, stir to coat with oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until vegetables are just cooked. Turn off heat, but let pan stay on the burner.

While you are cooking the vegetables, add the dry pasta to the boiling water and follow the cooking instructions for the pasta. You want to time it so that the pasta is done soon after the vegetables.

Add a 1/4 cup of the spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce to the vegetables, along with 1/4 cup of water to thin the sauce. If you are using a prepared spaghetti or marinara sauce, you don't need to add much seasoning, just a 1/2 teaspoon of Italian seasoning or herbes de Provence, a few sprinkles of garlic salt, and salt and pepper to taste. If you are using a plain tomato sauce, you might want to start out cooking the vegetables by cooking a minced clove of garlic first, and then adding the vegetables, and then add a bit more of the seasoning (to taste). Spaghetti and marinara sauce are already seasoned.

Once the pasta is ready - cooked but still a bit firm, or al dente - drain the pasta and put it directly into the skillet with the vegetables. Adjust seasoning. Add more sauce if needed. Gently mix in the cherry tomatoes.

Serves 4. Serve with some freshly grated Parmesan, if you like. A little bit of chopped fresh basil would go nicely with this as well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Zucchini and Shrimp Tostada

This was the perfect meal for a sunny, (almost) summer evening. Delicious! And it went well paired with spiced-up black beans.

4 burrito-size flour tortillas (8-inch)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup sour cream
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place tortillas on two large baking sheets. Brush with 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and tortillas are crisp, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add garlic and zucchini; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until zucchini is crisp-tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Stir in lime juice. Spoon shrimp mixture over tortillas and top with sour cream and scallions.

Orecchiette and Spinach Soup

Yummy!! Tricia passed on this recipe, and I'm so glad she did. Only 129 calories per one cup serving (which made me not feel so bad about eating two bowls).

1 cup water
4 cups chicken broth or stock
1 1/2 cups uncooked orecchiette ("little ears") pasta (I couldn't find this, so I just used small shells)
1 10. ounce package frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup chopped, seeded tomato
3 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
cayenne pepper

Bring water and broth to a boil in a large pot or a Dutch oven. Add pasta and spinach; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until pasta is tender. Stir in tomato
In a tiny bowl, combine 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, pepper, salt and egg and a pinch of cayenne pepper; stir well with a whisk. Slowly drizzle egg mixture into simmering soup and cook 3 minutes stirring constantly. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan cheese.

Boneless Pork Chops

My friend, Brit, suggested I try this one from America's Test Kitchen. I'm not usually a fan of big hunks of meat on my plate, but the glaze was so yummy and the meat tender, I gobbled it up.

4 boneless pork chops (I could only find them in packages of 3, so I just made 3)
1/2 cup cider vinegar OR distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
pinch of Cayenne pepper

Cut 2-3 nicks in the outer white skin of pork. Rest chops on paper towel to absorb the moisture. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil on high heat. Sear the pork chops 4-6 minutes on one side. Turn and sear 2-3 minutes more on the other side. Remove the pork chops from the pan, set aside, and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Mix the rest of the ingredients for the glaze and add to the pan. Add pork to the glaze and turn the heat down to medium high. Continue cooking for 3-5 minutes until pork reaches 140 degrees. At this point, I didn't have a meat thermometer, so I just cooked the pork until it didn't look too pink inside. It ended up being closed to 7 or 8 minutes.

Remove the pork from the pan and let it rest. Meanwhile, continue to cook the glaze until it reduces down (the bubbles in the glaze are big). Glaze is done when you can drag a spatula through it and it comes out clean. Serve pork with glaze on top.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Chicken Posole

Mmmm . . . this was so tasty. Thanks to my friend, Kenan, for the recipe!

1 Can of yellow or white hominy, drained
1 Can of mexican style diced tomatoes (I used regular tomatoes and a small can of diced chillies)
1 Can of mild green enchilada sauce
2 Carrots, diced
1 med onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 lbs of chicken (I will probably use less chicken next time)

Combine hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, carrots, onion, garlic, and cumin in crockpot. Add chicken. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 31/2 hours until chicken is cooked through and vegetables tender.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Orange-Glzed Chicken with Carrots and Bulgar

This was pretty good, but not fantastic. Definitely simple. We'd never had bulgar before and both preferred the new side dish over the chicken.

8 chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds total)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 cup bulgur
1 teaspoon grated lime zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, arrange chicken in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes. Brush with half the marmalade, and rotate sheet. Continue to roast, brushing once more with marmalade, until chicken is browned and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes more.

While chicken is roasting, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Add carrots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add bulgur and 1 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low; cook until bulgur is tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in lime zest and juice; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with bulgur.

Asparagus Pesto with Pasta

We both thought this was so yummy (being big fans of pesto). It made quite a bit of pesto (more than we needed for the amount of pasta we cooked), so we've been munching on the pesto sauce as a spread/dip. Really good!

1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), trimmed of tough ends and halved crosswise
3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
8 ounces of dried pasta or 12 ounces fresh -linguini, fettuccini, spaghetti Mix spinach pasta with regular wheat pasta for a medley of colors.

Bring 2 pots of water to a rolling boil, one large for the pasta and one medium sized for the asparagus.

While the water is heating, put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside. You will use 3/4 cup of the pine nuts for the pesto paste and 1/4 cup to mix in whole.

Salt the asparagus water and drop the spears into the pan. Cook for only 2 or 3 minutes, until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Drain under cool water to stop the cooking. Cut the tips off, and set aside, several of the asparagus (diagonal cut about an inch from the end) to use for garnish.

Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup of the pine nuts to a food processor. Purée and, with the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup of olive oil until a paste forms. If too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice and salt, taste and adjust seasoning.

Salt the pasta water well and cook the pasta until just tender. Check the directions on the pasta package. You'll need more time for dried pasta and less for fresh. Drain and toss immediately with 1 cup of the asparagus pesto.

Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a dusting of Parmesan, and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Ryan loves carrot cake, so these were definitely a hit at the Payne house.

1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 pound of carrots
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk (or add a teaspoon of lemon juice to regular milk and allow to stand for 10 minutes)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of orange zest
3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
2 teaspoons of ground cardamom
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350F. Toast the walnuts in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Rinse the carrots and peel the rough skins off, then grate the carrots.

Place the carrots, buttermilk, oil, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and orange zest together in a bowl and whisk thoroughly.

In another bowl whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cardamom, and cinnamon.

Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture, being sure not to overmix. Fold in the toasted walnuts until evenly incorporated.

Scoop into cupcake papers about 1/2 to 3/4 full and bake for 19-21 minutes at 350F, being sure to rotate the pan after the first 15 minutes of baking. Afterwards allow to cool for 5 minutes before taking the cupcakes out of the cupcake tin and allowing them to fully cool on a wire rack. Frost cooled cupcakes.

Makes 24 cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 cup of unsalted butter, softened
16 oz of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter on medium speed until well combined. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix. Spread onto cooled cupcakes.

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