Thursday, May 31, 2012

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

These were tasty, but they sagged a bit.  The tops didn't puff up beautifully like some muffins do.  They seemed sad, but still tasted good and we had no problem finishing off the batch. 

1 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 pound strawberries
2 teaspoons granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the oats and yogurt together in a large bowl.
Rinse and core the strawberries. Roughly chop the strawberries (I cut them in quarters lengthwise and then make one or two crosswise cuts). You should have about 1 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries. Place in a small bowl. Sprinkle with white sugar and balsamic vinegar. Gently stir to coat the strawberries with the sugar and vinegar.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a 12-well muffin tin by coating with butter or lining with paper muffin cups.
Whisk together in a medium bowl the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, finely ground black pepper, and cinnamon.
Add the eggs, melted butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract to the oatmeal and yogurt mixture. Stir until just incorporated.
Use a wooden spoon to gently stir the flour mixture into the oatmeal. Stir until just incorporated and the flour is moistened. Do not over-mix! Or your muffins will end up rubbery. The batter should be rather lumpy, not smooth.
Gently fold in the strawberries, including any of the sugary vinegary liquid the strawberries have been sitting in.
Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin wells or cups. Bake until the tops are browned and the muffin bounces back when you gently press on the top with your finger tips, about 20 minutes. A bamboo or metal skewer inserted into the center should come out clean. Let cool for a couple minutes in the muffin tin before removing to serve.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tilapia with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce

We loved this!  I usually don't chose seafood to go with my curry, but the tilapia was just right.  Lightly flavored without being too fishy (I'm fine with fishy fish, just not in curry).  And the sauce was delicious with just the right amount of spice.  I'll make it again and not change a thing (at least not on purpose!).  

1 tsp dark sesame oil, divided
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
1 tsp curry powder
2 tsp red curry paste
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp Asian fish sauce
1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets
Cooking spray

Preheat broiler.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute. Add pepper and scallions; cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin; cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, Asian fish sauce, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat; stir in cilantro if using.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon oil; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with sauce, rice, and lime wedges.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Taco Packets

Jessie passed on this recipe a while ago, but it took me until now to give it a try.  Delicious!  So simple, inexpensive, easy to adjust for picky eaters and you don't really need to make anything else for it to be a full meal.  I didn't follow the original recipe exactly, so my changes are reflected below.  

1/2 pound ground beef or turkey
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
1 can black beans
1 large sweet potato
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
optional toppings: sour cream, pico de gallo, avacado/guacamole

Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Brown ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning and beans. Set aside.  I used leftover meat from tacos.  I rinsed the beans from the can and just piled some on top in the following steps.  
To assemble packets, spray a large square of foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup sweet potato cubes in the center. Top with a small piece of butter (about 1 teaspoon) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some chopped spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and a sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet.
Repeat to make remaining packets (4-6, depending on how full you make them).  Place the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25–30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
Serve over chips or rice with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Rustic Shortbread

Mmmmmm . . . not too sweet with a nice hint of spring-fresh rosemary.

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted for 30-45 seconds in hot pan
1 stick (8 Tb. butter) cut into cubes
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (more for sprinkling)
1 Tb. fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 cup flour

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  
Add sugar, rosemary and pine nuts.
Then stir in flour to make a stiff dough.
Spread into an ungreased  8×8 inch pan.
Bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
Cool on wire rack for a couple of minutes.
Cut into bars or squares while in the pan.
Cool for 10 minutes more.
Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.
Remove, eat, enjoy, repeat!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Thai Chicken Enchiladas with Cucumber Coconut Salad

I love Thai food almost as much as I love Mexican food, so I thought these were a match (enchilada + thai flavor) made in Heaven!  They were surprisingly too spicy for the kids, but I would make them again for adult guests and not change a thing.  I served them with a thrown-together cucumber salad described below that was simply delicious.

8 flour tortillas (I used both whole wheat and white tortillas if you're wondering from the picture)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped/shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped/shredded cabbage
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 green onions, sliced
1/3 cup chopped peanuts + more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro + more for garnish
2 1/2 cups light coconut milk
1/3 cup + 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add canola oil. Throw in onions, cabbage, carrots, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring to mix. Let cool until vegetables are soft, about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in chicken, green onions, peanuts, cilantro, remaining salt and pepper, tossing to coat, and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add in 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce, mixing thoroughly to combine. Turn off heat.
Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Whisk together remaining coconut milk and sweet chili sauce. Pour about 1/2 a cup or so on the bottom of the dish. Slightly warm tortillas if desired to make them more pliable, then place a few spoonfuls of the chicken mixture in each, rolling up tightly and placing in the dish. Cover with remaining coconut milk and chili sauce mix. I usually take a spoon and cover every inch of the tortilla with the sauce, just to make sure it’s coated.
Bake for 20 minutes, then remove and top with additional peanuts and cilantro. Since sauce is not as thick as traditional enchilada sauce, when you remove them from the oven, spoon sauce from the bottom of the dish all over the tortillas. Additionally this can be done halfway through cooking too.

Cucumber Coconut Salad

Seed 2-3 cucumbers and chop into small pieces.  Set aside.
Chop 1/2-1 cup peanuts.  Set aside.
Toast 1/2 cup coconut flakes.  Set aside.
When ready to eat, mix everything together and drizzle with some of the enchilada sauce (just scoop it from the pan!) or coconut milk.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Beef Pho

This was a disappointment.  The only reason I'm sharing is to throw in my two cents for the many of you who pinned the recipe from my pinterest board.  I love pho.  This was not pho. An Asian-inspired noodle soup?  Yes.  But not pho.  The broth had good flavor, but the uncooked noodles soaked up most of it.  I'll keep trying other ways to make my own until I get back to Pho Bac in Seattle.    

6 cups beef broth or stock
1/2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled
3/4 tsp anise 
1 cinnamon stick
2 sliced green onions
1 lb thin sliced beef (I used stir-fry meat from the butcher)
package of rice noodles (usually in the ethnic aisle in the grocery store)
1 tsp fish sauce (anchovies, salt, water. ethnic aisle again. it smells horrible.)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Put all of the broth into the crockpot. Add the meat, green onion, ginger, fish sauce, and spices. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or on low for 4-6. It's done when the meat is fully cooked. I used a 6qt Smart Pot for this recipe and it took a good 4 hours on high for the large amount of broth in my crock to get hot enough to cook the meat. 

15 minutes before serving, add the entire package of rice noodles to the pot. Push them under the liquid with a wooden spoon, and cover.

By the time you set the table, the noodles will be tender and glass-like. Serve in bowls. We didn't add any additional garnish, but you can add bean sprouts, fresh cilantro or basil, and lime wedges.

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