Quitting TV with: Teriyaki Salmon and Asian Cabbage ‘Slaw


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It’s 17 days into the new year, and I’ve been completely TV-free. NO Modern Family, no Happy Endings, no New Girl, no Mike and Molly, no Two and a Half Men, no Two Broke Girls, no Whitney, no Big Bang Theory, no local newscast at 4, 5, 6…and….WOW…I could go on….but it’s just now hitting me that we had a bit of a TV problem.

Giving up TV wasn’t my choice. It wasn’t really my vice either.

It was my boyfriend’s.

It all started when he got the ability to record TV shows. One-by-one, he added shows to his queue whenever a new one came out that looked interesting. Once we started watching them, he felt the need to watch EVERY episode and keep up with them weekly. When his queue started to fill up, he’d panic. If we didn’t watch all the recorded episodes and delete them, the queue would fill and stop recording new episodes. Tragically, we’d miss out on all the new episodes and have to watch them on Hulu…with commercials. Oh, the horror!

(*Novin, if you’re reading this: the next time you get the urge to start watching TV again, take note of how ridiculous this all sounds and refer back to this blog post regularly. Please and thank you.)

So anyway, he resolved to stop watching TV during the week and instead use his evenings to work on other projects, and learn! It’s working out quite nicely, even for me. For one, I have much more free time for cooking special meals…and blogging! And we actually sit at the table while we have dinner and….talk! Converse! What a concept! Even our cat joins us at an empty seat.

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Said cat joining us for dinner.

We get to enjoy every bite of the meal in front of us….sloooowly. Well, I eat slowly. He finishes several minutes before me then stands on the heating vent, or takes a couple laps around the kitchen until I finish dinner. Ha.

Here’s a recipe for my teriyaki salmon and cabbage slaw, one of the meals we had time to prepare together because we weren’t watching TV!

Teriyaki Salmon

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Makes 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 pound salmon (we kept skin on, but you can remove it if you want)

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

½ cup mirin (can be found in the vinegar section of Asian grocers)

2 T sugar

1 T rice vinegar

1 garlic clove

2 thin slices of fresh ginger

salt and pepper, optional

green onions to garnish, optional

To make the sauce, add soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic clove and ginger to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, while stirring. Turn down heat to low and simmer the sauce another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should begin to thicken (When you remove it from heat it will continue to thicken). Remove the garlic clove and ginger chunks.

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Lightly brush your salmon with sesame oil, and lightly salt and pepper your salmon on both sides.  Heat a pan (preferably cast iron) to medium-high heat. If you are using salmon with skin on, put the salmon in the pan with skin side down first. Sear for about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over to other side. Brush salmon with a little bit of teriyaki sauce. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. Your cooking time will vary depending on how thick your salmon is.  Rule of thumb is to cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

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Transfer the salmon to a plate as soon as it’s done cooking so it won’t over cook, then brush a desired amount of the teriyaki sauce on top. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

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Asian Cabbage ‘Slaw

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Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients

½ head cabbage, shredded or finely chopped

1 to 2 carrots, shredded

1/3 cup red onion, finely sliced or diced

2 to 3 T toasted sesame seeds

1 to 2 T sesame oil

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup water

salt and pepper to taste

cayenne (optional)

green onions to garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and sesame oil.

In a large bowl, add shredded/chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, 1 T sesame seeds and red onion. Mix in dressing. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to your taste and mix well. You can also add more sesame oil if you like that strong flavor. Garnish with 1 T sesame seeds and sliced green onions, if desired. Serve with teriyaki salmon and brown rice for a complete meal!

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ENJOY!

Teriyaki Salmon

1 pound salmon (we kept skin on, but you can remove it if you want)

½ cup low-sodium soy sauce

½ cup mirin (can be found in the vinegar section of Asian grocers)

2 T sugar

1 T rice vinegar

1 garlic clove

2 thin slices of fresh ginger

salt and pepper, optional

green onions to garnish, optional

To make the sauce, add soy sauce, mirin, sugar, garlic clove and ginger to a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil for 2-3 minutes, while stirring. Turn down heat to low and simmer the sauce another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sauce should begin to thicken (When you remove it from heat it will continue to thicken). Remove the garlic clove and ginger chunks.

Lightly brush your salmon with sesame oil, and lightly salt and pepper your salmon on both sides.  Heat a pan (preferably cast iron) to medium-high heat. If you are using salmon with skin on, put the salmon in the pan with skin side down first. Sear for about 3 to 4 minutes, then flip over to other side. Brush salmon with a little bit of teriyaki sauce. Cook for an additional 2 minutes or so. Your cooking time will vary depending on how thick your salmon is.  Rule of thumb is to cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Transfer the salmon to a plate as soon as it’s done cooking so it won’t over cook, then brush a desired amount of the teriyaki sauce on top. Garnish with sliced green onions, if desired.

Asian Cabbage ‘Slaw

½ head cabbage, shredded or finely chopped

1 to 2 carrots, shredded

1/3 cup red onion, finely sliced or diced

2 to 3 T toasted sesame seeds

1 to 2 T sesame oil

½ cup rice vinegar

¼ cup water

salt and pepper to taste

cayenne (optional)

green onions to garnish, optional

In a small bowl, whisk vinegar, water and sesame oil.

In a large bowl, add shredded/chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, 1 T sesame seeds and red onion. Mix in dressing. Add salt, pepper and cayenne to your taste and mix well. You can also add more sesame oil if you like that strong flavor. Garnish with 1 T sesame seeds and sliced green onions, if desired. Serve with teriyaki salmon and brown rice for a complete meal!

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Rejoicing new Photoshop skills with: Mini, Smoky Turkey Meatloaf and Mashed Cauliflower


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Well hello there. Happy……Halloween, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, New Year, and any other holiday you may have celebrated in the last four months, because that’s how long I’ve been gone from this blogging business. Yeesh.

I’ve still been hard at work in the kitchen, but a new job, marathon #3, and a web design class at my local community college left me with no motivation to pick up my camera. I may have neglected my food blog for months, but at least now I know how to erase the appearance of wrinkles on an old lady’s face in Photoshop. I can also alter an image of my lazy cat in a pink hippo suit on the couch, to appear as if she’s adventurously leaping off Pier 39 in San Francisco.

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Hey. Don’t judge. It’s a valuable skill I might need to utilize someday. If not, well, I still have this blog.

Now that it’s 2013, life is back to normal and I’m starting off the year with healthy, satisfying, complete meal ideas––in preparation for my Caribbean cruise vacation next month.

To start, I decided to make mini turkey meatloaves and mashed cauliflower. It’s much lighter than traditional meatloaf and mashed potatoes, but still tastes like comfort food. With this meal, you’ll be able to survive through chilly, dreary January, without packing extra poundage. It’s so tasty, you won’t even miss the mashed potatoes! Serve with a side of salad greens with balsamic vinaigrette and you’ve got one tasty weeknight dinner.

Mini, Smoky Turkey Meatloaf 

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Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

19 oz. ground turkey (That’s just the odd, prepackaged amount I bought. I’d highly recommend substituting half the turkey for ground chicken sausage, for more flavor.)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 of a medium onion, diced

1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1/2 – 2/3 cup quick-oats oatmeal

1 egg

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

1 can tomato sauce

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt (or to your taste)

generous amount of fresh cracked pepper

ketchup (optional)

You can add seasonings such as basil, oregano, thyme or parsley if you want to add extra flavor.

You don’t have to do this if you want to save time, but I started by sautéing the onions until they started to caramelize, just for some added depth of flavor. In a large bowl, mix together spices. Add the oatmeal, egg, milk, onion, liquid smoke, and mix. I got too excited and threw everything on top of the meat…but then the flavor doesn’t distribute as evenly. Don’t do what I did. Ha.

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Don’t do this.

Add the ground turkey to the mixture (and the ground chicken sausage if you choose, which please do), and mix well. Add about 3 tablespoons of the tomato sauce to the meat, and mix in. If for some reason you find that your meat mixture is too wet, you can always add more oatmeal.

Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Press some of the meat mixture into each of the muffin cups, leaving a little bit of room at the top of each cup, to add sauce later.

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Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Add the remaining tomato sauce and/or ketchup to the top of each mini loaf, then cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with mashed cauliflower (recipe below). Enjoy!

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Mashed Cauliflower

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Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, washed

1/4 cup cheese (Trader Joe’s vegan cheese for me!)

1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cans chicken or vegetable broth

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)

Cut a whole head of cauliflower into big chunks, and put in a large pot.

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Add 2-3 cans of chicken or vegetable broth, garlic and water.  The cauliflower doesn’t have to be completely covered by liquid, but most of it should be.  Cover the pot with a lid to keep moisture in, and boil for about 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash easily with a potato masher. When cauliflower is soft enough, pour out most of the liquid, leaving just a little for moisture and flavor. Mash until creamy like mashed potatoes.

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You can get creative with your seasonings. I like to add Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper and vegan cheese to keep it simple.

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P.S. I am now making it much easier for you to follow my recipes without having to scroll up and down through the images. Hope that helps!

Mini, Smoky Turkey Meatloaf

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

19 oz. ground turkey (That’s just the odd, prepackaged amount I bought. I’d highly recommend substituting half the turkey for ground chicken sausage, for more flavor.)

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 of a medium onion, diced

1/2 cup milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1/2 – 2/3 cup quick-oats oatmeal

1 egg

1/2 tsp. liquid smoke (optional)

1 can tomato sauce

a pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. chili powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. salt (alter to your taste)

generous amount of fresh cracked pepper

ketchup (optional)

You can add seasonings such as basil, oregano, thyme or parsley if you want to add extra flavor.

You don’t have to do this if you want to save time, but I started by sautéing the onions until they started to caramelize, just for some added depth of flavor. In a large bowl, mix together spices. Add the oatmeal, egg, milk, liquid smoke, and mix. I got too excited and threw everything on top of the meat…but then the flavor doesn’t distribute as evenly. Don’t do what I did. Ha. Add the ground turkey to the mixture (and the ground chicken sausage if you choose, which please do), and mix well. Add about 3 tablespoons of the tomato sauce to the meat, and mix in. If for some reason you find that your meat mixture is too wet, you can always add more oatmeal. Spray a muffin tin with non-stick spray.  Press some of the meat mixture into each of the muffin cups, leaving a little bit of room at the top of each cup, to add sauce later. Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Add the remaining tomato sauce and/or ketchup to the top of each mini loaf, then cook for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with mashed cauliflower (recipe below).

Mashed Cauliflower

Makes about 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower, washed

1/4 cup cheese (Trader Joe’s vegan cheese for me!)

1/2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 cans chicken or vegetable broth

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 tsp. garlic powder (optional)

Cut a whole head of cauliflower into big chunks, and put in a large pot. Add 2-3 cans of chicken or vegetable broth, garlic and water.  The cauliflower doesn’t have to be completely covered by liquid, but most of it should be.  Cover the pot with a lid to keep moisture in, and boil for about 15 minutes or until soft enough to mash easily with a potato masher. When cauliflower is soft enough, pour out most of the liquid, leaving just a little for moisture and flavor. Mash until creamy like mashed potatoes. You can get creative with your seasonings. I like to add Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper and vegan cheese to keep it simple.

So Loco for Loco Moco


Last summer a group of friends and I rented a house on the Oregon Coast for a weekend. Naturally,  we had late nights and a generous amount of drinking planned. After a long drive, a late dinner and a few beers at the local brewpub, My friend Traci said Loco Moco sounded good for breakfast the next morning.

“Huh? What’s that?” I asked. I had never heard of it before. Apparently I was missing out on something serious–something that could cure hangovers, extreme hunger, crankiness…and possibly even depression. We already had most of the ingredients on hand: hamburger patties, eggs and rice. The only thing that was missing was gravy. The little market in town was closing in 5 minutes, and Traci was determined to get there in time.  We had barely finished paying our dinner bill, and she was already speeding down the street to buy packages of brown gravy. Or maybe I was driving…so I guess I sped down the street while she jumped out of the car and into the store before they locked the door and our hope for Loco Moco would be lost forever.

Anyway…

Loco Moco is a Hawaiian dish that can be made in a variety of ways using bacon, spam, ham…the possibilities are endless. The basis of the dish is a big pile of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, topped with a fried egg (best when slightly runny in the middle), then topped with a generous helping of brown gravy. Genius, I say! GENIUS! Why hadn’t I tried this before?! So simple yet so versatile. It’s excellent for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Or an afternoon snack. Or maybe even dessert because it’s just that good.

After months of talking with Traci about Loco Moco and how we were going to have them “immediately,” and photo messages sent to my phone of Loco Mocos she was enjoying around town without me, I finally got invited over to Traci’s for dinner. And let me tell you, I ate white rice like I never ate white rice before. And I smothered it in that gravy, alternating bites of macaroni salad with bites of gravy-hamburger-egg-rice. I don’t think I slept well that night. And the next day, I ran 9 miles. But it was worth it.

If you really want to, you could try healthifying this a bit by using brown rice; and we used 93% lean ground beef. If you’re a runner like me–I assure you–you will have bounds of energy for your run the next day after this meal.

Thank you, Traci, for a great dinner and being my “guest chef” for this blog post!

Try it out and let me know what you think!

LOCO MOCO

Makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

Cooked white rice (About 1 cooked cup per person, which would be about 2-3 cups of uncooked rice. It’s good with a lot of rice, but that’s just me…)

1 pound ground beef

4-10 eggs (you need at least one egg per person, but some might want two or more)

1/4 of a medium onion, finely diced

A few dashes of Montreal steak seasoning (optional)

32 ounce carton of beef broth (or about two cans)

1 cup water

1/4 cup flour

olive oil or butter for frying eggs

salt and pepper

1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce

In a large bowl mix ground beef, diced onion, steak seasoning and a little bit of salt and pepper.

Form into patties.

Over medium heat, fry hamburger patties until they are cooked through. Set aside.

Add beef broth to the pan that you cooked the hamburger patties in, making sure to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add worcestershire sauce and bring to a light boil. Turn down heat to medium low.

Mix some of the water and flour together, making sure it’s not pasty or thick. The flour should dissolve in the water. Don’t use the whole thing at once. We started with about a half cup of water with a few tablespoons of flour mixed in well, and added it to the beef broth. Let the sauce simmer for a few minutes and see if it thickens. If it still isn’t thick enough, mix a few more tablespoons of the flour and water together and add to the gravy until you get the desired consistency. You may need more or less of the flour and water called for in this recipe. Once the gravy reaches your desired consistency, add pepper to taste.

In another small pan, fry eggs in a drizzle of oil and/or butter to your desired doneness. We fried the eggs over easy so the yolk could ooze over the meat and rice. Not everyone likes it that way. Your call.

Assemble. Put hamburger on top of rice, then the egg on top of the hamburger, and gravy over the top.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad

Serves 4-6.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.inspired2cook.com/2009/09/30/hawaiian-macaroni-salad/

Ingredients

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

about half of a 1 pound box of macaroni or ditalini noodles

1 carrot, grated

1 celery stalk, chopped finely

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup milk

1 tsp of brown sugar

handful of shredded cheddar

3 boiled eggs, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, chop celery and shred carrot.

Add carrot and celery to pasta and toss together. Mix in vinegar. Add half of the egg slices.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk and brown sugar. Add to pasta and mix in well. Add salt and pepper to taste, and top with remaining egg slices.

Serve, and pig out!

Bravo, Traci, Bravo! 🙂

No One Should Suffer Through Life Eating Bad Dessert: Eggnog Tiramisu Trifle


Right now I’m feeling pretty ambitious. I have volunteered to make a fancy schmancy Christmas Eve brunch for 10 friends, and I’m convinced I can squeeze in a 6-mile run before the praline french toast casserole needs to come out of the oven. My mom has requested my homemade baklava for Christmas dessert, but I offered to throw in an eggnog tiramisu trifle too–just for good measure.

Every year at Christmas I also put together a gift basket of home-baked goods for Novin’s family, because their idea of gourmet dessert is a red velvet cake from WALMART. One time they bought a cake from a budget grocery store, and I literally had to spit the cake out–into the garbage–because it tasted like dirt. Yes, dirt. From the ground. Don’t tell me that “earthy” taste was from the cocoa beans…I won’t buy it. How could one go through life like that? Dessert is supposed to be an indulgence, and Christmas is not the time to suffer through a bad dessert. Another time, I baked a beautiful carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, gloriously displayed on my grandmother’s glass cake stand…and Novin’s mom asked what store I bought it from. Bless her heart.

Because I want them to enjoy a variety of ‘actual’ desserts, I decided to make them cardamom pistachio dark chocolate bark, apricot cookie bars, upside-down pear cake and mini pecan pie tarts. Ummmm? Can there be 30 hours in a day please? I’m making stuffed portabellas for dinner for a friend tonight, so maybe I can put her to work.

I’ll let you know how this ambition plays out…but for now, here’s the recipe for my eggnog tiramisu trifle. It’s suuuper easy but is so beautiful it looks complicated. No baking required. It’s sure to impress your Christmas guests!

Wish me luck!

Ingredients

This recipe makes enough to feed a party (20-30), so if you want to feed a smaller crowd, cut the ingredients in half.
2 boxes of vanilla wafers

2 packages cream cheese, softened (I used light cream cheese so it wasn’t too rich)

2 8 oz. containers of cool whip (use light or fat free if you’d like)

1 to 1 1/2 cups prepared coffee (I used instant)

4 boxes vanilla pudding (3.4 oz each box)

6 cups eggnog (I used low fat)

about 1/2 to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup toffee candy or almond roca, broken up into crumbles (optional but strongly recommended)

Instructions:

Using a blender or food processor, grind up chocolate chips into almost a powder.

In a mixer, blend together the cream cheese, cool whip, pudding and eggnog.

Layer the bottom of a trifle dish or large glass bowl with vanilla wafers.

Sprinkle with some of the coffee (just enough so each cookie is moistened but not drowning). Top with a layer (roughly 1-2 inches thick) of the pudding mixture.

Sprinkle some chocolate chip powder over pudding. Sprinkle broken up pieces of toffee candy on top of chocolate chip powder.

Repeat layers until your bowl is full, or you run out of ingredients. Make sure the top layer is the pudding mixture, sprinkled with a bunch of chocolate chip powder and toffee candy, for presentation. There is not an exact science to this. The pudding layer can really be as thick or as thin as you want. It all ends up creaming together in the end. Cover the trifle bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in the fridge overnight. The cookies will need to soften into a cake-like texture. Once it sits overnight it is ready to serve!

This is the amount 1/2 of this recipe made. The recipe as-written would fill the whole bowl.

Enjoy!

Caramel Apple Pie for our Thanksgiving in December


Novin and I decided to skip Thanksgiving this year to travel to warmer weather in the Dominican Republic. Novin hates turkey anyway, and I thought a healthier Thanksgiving dinner of rice and beans and plantains sounded like a good change. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole, but every year we have 2 or 3 family dinners to attend and by the end of the night I’m like a beached whale, bloated and banished to stretchy pants the rest of the weekend.

Turns out, rice and beans are a fabulous alternative to a traditional turkey dinner! The only thing missing from our Dominican Thanksgiving…was pie. When we were in the town of La Romana I discovered these amazing little passion fruit empanadas at a local grocery store bakery. Unfortunately, I made the tragic mistake of buying just one. We spent Thanksgiving in the city of Santo Domingo, and after dinner we walked the streets in search of these fruit empanadas, with no such luck.

Turns out, we didn’t get to skip the holiday as we planned…my mom just decided to celebrate Thanksgiving on December 11 instead. I volunteered to make dessert, as I usually do. I thought about making empanadas, but without the passion fruit filling it just wouldn’t be the same.  So for our Thanksgiving in December I decided to get my belated pie fix with a Caramel Apple Pie. It’s like an apple crisp and apple pie rolled into one, and will not disappoint!

I adapted this recipe from “Yummy Crunchy Caramel Apple Pie” from food.com. If you want to follow the original recipe go to: http://www.food.com/recipe/yummy-crunchy-caramel-apple-pie-31128

Instead of a single pie crust I made a double pie crust so I could make a larger pie in a rectangular baking dish. I also doubled the recipe for the crumb topping because I like a lot of it.

Makes one 8×11″ pie. Serves 10-12.

Pie Crust

(For a “2 crust” pie if you want to make an extra big pie like I did. Follow a recipe for a one-crust pie if you want something smaller)

2 1/2 cups flour

2 sticks COLD butter (1 pound)

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

6-8 T ice water

In a large bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Cut cold butter into chunks, and add to flour mixture. Using hands, mix butter into dough, until it begins to clump. Make sure to leave small chunks of butter in the dough, so the dough will become flaky. Begin adding water tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing by hand as you go, just until you can pinch some of the dough together and it sticks. You may or may not have to use all of the water. Form dough into a ball (it should still feel a bit crumbly, not super sticky or smooth) and refrigerate in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 30 minutes to an hour. You want the butter chunks in the dough to be nice and cold when you roll it out later, again– for that flaky crust! Roll out on a floured surface for a 8×11″ rectangular pie. Trim edges after placing into pan.

For Pie Filling

1/2 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

6-8 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith Apples (or about 5-6 apples)

2 tablespoons lemon juice (to prevent browning)

Crumb Topping

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup flour

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats

3/4 cup butter

Final Topping

1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

To Make Filling: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt. Sprinkle lemon juice on apple slices. Add apple slices to sugar/flour mixture and gently toss until they are coated well. Transfer mixture to pie crust.

To Make Crumb Topping: Stir together brown sugar, flour, and oats. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until topping resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over apple mixture in pie.

To prevent over-browning while baking, cover edge of pie with foil. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake 25 to 30 minutes more, or until top is golden. Remove from oven. Drizzle top with caramel topping; sprinkle with pecans.





Cool on wire rack and serve!

Attempt at family photo for Christmas card, Take 1

Attempt at family photo for Christmas card, Take 2

There we go!

Spicing up Monday with Spiced Oat Bran Muffins


Happy Monday!

Not.

These are my least favorite words to hear each week, and should you ever say them to me, I will likely hate you (Especially this particular Monday, because I watched Paranormal Activity last night and ended up awake all night in fear that demons were going to get me).

Today also happens to be Halloween, a day that is supposed to be filled with excitement and lots of candy. Halloween=exciting, Monday=not. Monday + Halloween=fun? I’m not certain that sort of equation is possible.

In an effort to sort of meld the two together and make Monday=fun and exciting, I coordinated a day of good eats with my coworker. She agreed to make a chicken tortilla soup for us to share at lunch, and I agreed to bring the homemade bread, a salad with as many toppings as possible to up the “exciting” factor, and spiced oat bran muffins for breakfast.

I chose to make oat bran muffins because 1. They’re healthy and will cancel out the loads of candy I’ll likely eat tonight, and 2. Novin bought about 1oo pounds of oat bran and decided after about a week that he didn’t like it anymore. (Novin, maybe it’s because you eat it dry out of a plastic beer mug as you’re driving to work and inhale the flakes by accident? Just a guess…)

It’s still too early in the day to tell how this Monday will pan out, and I’m not sure the muffins alone can save the day, but if nothing else–at least I had a good breakfast.

Can you even find the muffin on my desk of shame?

Ingredients

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cup white flour (I used bread flour, but all-purpose flour should work fine)

1 1/2 cups oat bran

2 tsp baking flour

2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

4 T canola oil

1 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 tsp ground ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground orange peel

1/4 tsp ground clove

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup soy milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, add dry ingredients and spices. Mix together well. Then add honey, egg, applesauce, vegetable oil and soy milk and mix until well blended.

Line a muffin tin with muffin cups, and spray with non-stick. Fill muffin cups 2/3 of the way full with batter and bake for 15 minutes or until cooked through and golden brown.

Serve with a smear of honey, your favorite jam, nut or pumpkin butter or just plain. Enjoy!




Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi and Marsala Turkey Meatballs


I might be super ambitious, or just really crazy, because Monday night after work I decided to have a few friends over to make gnocchi…from scratch. If you’re not familiar with gnocchi, they are little heavenly pasta-like pillows of dough made from flour, potato and egg. Difficult to make, no, but time consuming–yes. So starting this project at 5:30 wasn’t the greatest idea, but with 3 helping hands we still sat down to dinner before 8 p.m.

I manned the sauces while BJ and Novin rolled and cut the gnocchi dough, and Traci…well Traci showed up late and ended up “stirring the sauce.”

It’s fun to cook with friends, but I recommend reserving this recipe for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

I made enough gnocchi for 12 people with the intention of having leftovers, but just scale down the ingredients if you want to make less.

Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients:

About 3 medium russet potatoes (or 3 cups mashed)

3 eggs

6 cups flour (I used about 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, and 2 1/2 cups white flour. If you don’t like the nutty flavor of wheat flour you can substitute more white flour)

1/2 tsp. salt (to add to boiling water when cooking potatoes)

Boil potatoes in salted water just until they start to fall apart when poked with a fork. Mash until there are no chunks.

In a big bowl add potatoes, flour and egg. Mix all ingredients until it forms a cohesive dough. The dough will be slightly tacky but still easy to work with.

Roll out sections of dough into “logs.” On a floured surface, cut logs into 1/2 inch pieces.

 

In a large pot of boiling water (and a sprinkle of salt to season), add gnocchi. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until the gnocchi float to the top.

Top with your favorite pasta sauce, and enjoy!

 

 

Marsala Turkey Meatballs

 

Ingredients for meatballs:

1 pound lean ground turkey

1 tsp. onion powder, or 1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 cup milk (I used rice milk)

1 egg

1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)

1 tsp. chopped rosemary

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. Form meat into 1 to 2 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet (You can use wax paper or aluminum foil on the cookie sheet to avoid a mess).

Bake for 30 minutes or until no longer pink in the middle.

 

Ingredients for marsala sauce:

1 pound crimini mushrooms (or your favorite mushroom), sliced

2 1/2 cups dry marsala wine (You can find this in the wine section at the grocery store. I bought mine at Trader Joe’s for $4.99. You can also use the marsala cooking wine that can be found in the aisle near the vinegars. Not suitable for drinking, and they WILL still ask for I.D.)

about 4 T butter

3 T flour

1/4 cup water

1 tsp fresh chopped rosemary

2 T fresh chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, smashed

pepper to taste

 

In a large pan, saute mushrooms in 2 T butter over medium heat, until soft.

 

Add marsala wine, smashed garlic clove and remaining 2 T butter and bring to a boil (make sure garlic clove is still somewhat intact because you will need to remove it at the end of cooking). Add rosemary, and turn down heat. In small bowl, mix together flour and water, making sure there are no globs or chunks. Add flour/water mixture to pan. The sauce will begin to thicken like a gravy. Add chopped parsley, pepper to taste, and serve over meatballs or gnocchi.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

Black Bean and Corn Salad (Pair with Lazy Bum’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas)


1/2 medium onion, very finely chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

2 chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

2 limes

drizzle olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

Your favorite hot sauce, optional

Mix together onion, beans, tomatoes, corn and cilantro. Squeeze juice of two limes over salad. Add a drizzle of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add some of your favorite hot sauce if you like a little kick. Serve with Lazy Bum’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas.

Saying “Thank You” with Lazy Bum’s Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas


I did it! I haven’t been able to bend my legs or…move…the last two days but I did it! I finished the Portland Marathon, 26.2 miles, running the entire time! It was the most amazing and horrible experience I’ve ever had. The first 12 miles I was feeling great, really motivated and inspired by the thousands of people cheering us on. The weather was colder than I was used to since most of my serious training happened in the warmer, summer months, so by mile 13 my legs started feeling tight and sore. By mile 20 my legs felt like they were about 1,000 pounds each. I cursed each and every mile marker that I passed: “*&^% you, mile marker 22!” I wanted to strangle all the smiling people standing on the sidelines, telling me “You can do it, you’ve got this! Only 6 more miles to go!” or “Good job, Misty, you’re looking FAST!”

I wanted to slap them silly until they cried, so they could feel what I was feeling. But that was just the exhaustion talking.

I couldn’t have made it through those last six miles without all those kind strangers cheering my name, holding up their silly signs that made me laugh through my pain. One of my favorites was, “You’re all Kenyans!” If only I really could run a 2:30 marathon…

But there was one particular person who really helped me pull it together through the toughest, final miles–my co-worker and friend, Cass.

Cass waited for me around mile 20 or 21 and ran with me to the finish line. She talked to me along the way and kept me half sane. She even carried my Lara Bars so I wouldn’t have to. When we got to mile 26 they made her exit the course, and I had to cross the finish line on my own. She continued to run alongside the course, through crowds of people and jumped over a (small) dog, until I ‘victoriously’ crossed the finish line! I couldn’t find her after the race so she ended up having to walk all the way home across town by herself.

I had been training for this marathon for the better part of a year, and she knew how important it was to me. She even listened to me blab endlessly the past year, day in and day out, about all things running. It was incredible to have that kind of support!

To thank her, I told her I would feed her something delicious. I opted for cheesy chicken enchiladas, a true comfort food, and in my opinion, a great way to say “thank you.”

(Gotta also give major credit to my other half! He put up with my early Saturday morning training runs. He sat patiently at home waiting for me to get back from the gym in the evenings. He too, listened to me blab endlessly day in and day out about all things running, complaining about my sore legs and black toenails. He stood in the rain all day to cheer me on from the sidelines, and he waited in line for an hour at Voo Doo Donuts to bring me treats and hot tea at the finish line. He sure knows me, and I’m so lucky!)

I called this recipe Lazy Bum’s Chicken Enchiladas because the day after the marathon I wasn’t feeling very mobile. And still am not. So I took some shortcuts to make it a little easier, but the dish is still amazing.

Ingredients

1 package corn or flour tortillas, medium sized (I used tortillas made from corn AND flour. If you want this to be a healthier recipe, use whole wheat tortillas. I only used about 6 tortillas for this recipe.)

1 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded (Should be available at your local grocer. These are already seasoned and oh-so-juicy. You’ll only need about half of the chicken.)

1 12 oz bag shredded Mexican-style cheese

1 12 oz container light sour cream

1-2 large cans enchilada sauce (I used the entire 20 oz bottle of enchilada sauce from Trader Joe’s, but more wouldn’t hurt if you like them saucy)

1 jalapeno

1 small can roasted green chilis

1/2 of a large onion

1/2 to 1 tsp chili powder

1/2 to 1 tsp ancho chili powder (optional)

1/2 to 1 tsp ground cumin

a little bit of cooking oil (I used canola)

Shred half of the rotisserie chicken (I just use a fork and knife) and put into a bowl. Finely chop onion and jalapeno. Saute in oil until soft.

Add jalapeno and onion to chicken in bowl. Add chili powders, cumin, 1/2 can of roasted chilis, 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup enchilada sauce. Mix well.

In another bowl, mix about 1 cup enchilada sauce with 1/3 cup sour cream.

Microwave tortillas for 1 minute until they soften (they shouldn’t crack or break when you roll enchiladas). Dip each side of tortilla in the enchilada sauce/sour cream mixture so there’s just a thin layer of sauce. Add a small amount of the chicken mixture to one side of the tortilla, add cheese and roll. I like to roll the enchiladas right in the baking dish I plan on cooking them in so a mess isn’t created when trying to move them one place to another. If you roll them in the baking dish, the mess stays there, which is fine because it’s all going to bake together anyway.

Line enchiladas in a baking dish so they are touching. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas, and top with more cheese. I like to be liberal with the cheese. Even if I can’t eat cheese…I live vicariously through others by feeding them cheese…

Bake enchiladas on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Turn on broiler and broil until cheese on top starts to bubble, about 2-3 minutes. Top enchiladas with the remaining roasted chilis. Serve with sour cream and a black bean and corn salad, recipe to come in my next blog…

Enjoy!

Mile 12

Mile 25

Yaaay!

Boneless Buffalo Wings. “Put the food in your mouth, not up your nose.”


PJ’s housewarming…continued…the final recipe of the “series”…with guest chef BJ…

Boneless wings. What a perfect invention for the lazy eater like me.  I know there are some of you out there who will have an opinion on this, but: I hate any food that takes work to eat. Like: ribs, crab/lobster and chicken wings. I guess “hate” is a strong word. I love those foods. I just don’t have the energy to fight the meat off the bone, or out of the shell. When these foods are involved, it’s my mom or Novin’s job to feed me like a baby bird. I just want direct food-to-mouth action without getting my hands dirty, or pieces of chicken wing up my nose.

And that is why the boneless wing is so perfect. An oxymoron, yes. But difficult to eat? No. And you can keep your hands clean for important things–like holding your beer.

Ingredients: (serves 10-15 people; scale down ingredients for smaller serving; 2 chicken breasts feeds 2 to 4 people)

6 chicken breasts

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

3 cups flour

1 to 3 T salt

1 T cayenne

1 T chili powder

1 T paprika

vegetable oil for frying

Slice chicken breasts in bite-sized pieces like so:

In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Add chicken pieces to egg mixture and evenly coat.  Put flour, chili powder, salt, paprika, and cayenne  in another large bowl and mix well. Remove chicken from egg mixture and add to flour bowl. Toss chicken in flour to evenly coat.

Chicken should be dry, like photo on the top. If it looks like photo on the bottom, it needs more flour coating.

Add chicken pieces to a deep fryer. BJ fried her boneless wings at 355 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Toss wings in your favorite wing or BBQ sauce.

She's delirious from all this cooking!

BJ by the end of the night...good work, Beege!