Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Red Curry Peanut Sauce

This recipe from the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit is not to be missed!  There are a ton of peanut sauce recipes out there, but the difference here is in the curry paste.  It is sauteed with fresh garlic, ginger, and onion before adding peanut butter, coconut milk, stock, and lime juice to finish the sauce.  Curry paste adds a wonderful layer of flavors with green or red chili, lemongrass, coriander, cumin and other ingredients that gives anything you add it to that little something extra.  We enjoyed the Red Curry Peanut sauce with sauteed shrimp and rice noodles, but it is perfect for a barbecue.  Make the sauce in advance, grill any kind of meat on skewers and serve with reheated sauce.  Guests will think this is just another satay platter, but soon will be looking for anything to use as a vehicle for eating more sauce!  

(picture copied from link)

 Curry paste is easily found in the grocery store Asian food section in a red and green version.  I think one is spicier than the other, but either will work with this peanut sauce.  I recommend Jif Natural peanut butter.  I am thrilled they finally came out with a product that doesn't contain hydrogenated oils and it as smooth as the original.  No clumpy "all natural" peanut butter that is stored in the refrigerator and it is about half the price of some it's competitors.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Best Gazpacho

     Tomatoes are in abundance in most Chicagoland gardens and one of my all time favorite tomato dishes is gazpacho.  Ever since I tasted the first crop of baby heirlooms in my garden I knew I had to find the perfect gazpacho recipe for these amazing little fruits.  There are many different versions of the soup, including pureeing the ingredients with day old bread, adding cheeses or olives for a Greek version, and spicing things up with jalapenos and Mexican spices.  This recipe, from the master of mastering the art of cooking, Food Network's Alton Brown's gazpacho is the one that spoke to me the most.  It is a basic gazpacho with with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, and red bell peppers, but he takes it over the top with chile peppers, cumin, lime juice, and Worcestershire sauce.  I can't say enough about the Worcestershire in this.  You would never know that it was in there, but with every bite you are asking yourself, "what is that something extra in here?"!  I topped it with steamed, marinated shrimp.  Marinate cooked shrimp for at least 30 minutes in lime juice, chopped chile pepper, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Shrimp is currently on sale at Dominick's.


**Alton Brown flash steams his tomatoes for easy peeling.  This seems like a daunting extra step, but was really very easy and made a big difference in the soup.  No slimy skins here-only yummy bites of meaty tomatoes!  My soup is a little darker than most gazpacho because of my heirlooms which have a mix of dark red and green pulp.  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Breakfast for Dinner-Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil and Trader Joe's Cinnamon Buns

     Summer officially ended for us today as we headed back to school and back to the grind!  This first week of school, most of us have high hopes that this is the year we become masters in time management.  Everyone will get out of bed early enough to calmly dress and enjoy a hot meal.  You will plan a weekly menu and only go to the grocery store once a week, allowing for more time at the gym between drop off and pick up times.  After school activities will be scheduled so that you are not racing from here to there with tired children who really just want to go home and watch TV.  Finally, there will be a nightly "Family Dinner", with everyone present and a healthy, home cooked meal.  By the time Labor Day arrives we realize that we are back in the grind and back into the same old rat race as last year!  Breakfast becomes obsolete and take out, delivery, and frozen pizza quickly become the only thing served to the one or two family members who show up at the table.

   I definitely fall into the "there's no time to cook, just throw a pizza in the oven" trap when our schedule gets crazy.  One night last week, after a late evening at the pool, I started for the freezer when I realized there was a quick cooking, healthier option in the refrigerator.  EGGS!!  They cook in less time than frozen pizza and I could easily make a kid and adult friendly entree.  I scrambled eggs with some goat cheese, topped the adult servings with fresh tomatoes and basil from my garden, and served it with steamed broccoli.  For dessert, Trader Joe's canned cinnamon buns, which baked in the oven while we enjoyed our eggs. 

    I realize breakfast for dinner is not a new concept.  I have many Facebook friends who have proudly announced "Cereal and Merlot!" in their evening posts.  It just seemed appropriate, during this transition from lazy days to crazy days, to remind everyone of this simple substitute for the fast and frozen food standby.  

Scrambled Eggs with Goat Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes, and Fresh Basil

10 eggs
2-4 ounces goat cheese(depending on how cheesy you like your eggs)
1/4 cup milk or water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
chopped heirloom tomatoes
chopped fresh basil

In large bowl whisk together eggs, milk or water, salt, and pepper.  Add goat cheese to eggs and lightly whisk.  Melt butter in a large skillet on medium to medium low heat.  Add eggs to melted butter and fold with a rubber spatula until desired doneness.  Top with chopped heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil.  

**Combine goat cheese with softened cream cheese to make more kid friendly**

Trader Joe's Canned Cinnamon Buns
(photographed immediately after frosting!)

I have never longed for canned cinnamon bun before, but I can't stop thinking about these swirls of deliciousness.  They are packaged the same as other commercial canned buns, but are made with only all natural ingredients.  That means butter, sugar, more butter, more sugar, and cinnamon.  These will become a staple in your refrigerator for special treats or when guests come to town.  Just another reason to love Trader Joe's!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ziti with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola Sauce Revisted

I first posted this recipe back in December and because it is such great recipe I thought it was worth a re post!  Also, I have these amazing baby heirloom tomatoes from my garden that I have been wanting to cook with pasta.  This dish can only be made with fresh tomatoes, making it perfect for my babies.  A quick saute of halved cherry tomatoes in garlic and red pepper, combined with a light, but rich tasting sauce of Gorgonzola cheese and low fat milk.  All of this added to my kids favorite dinner, pasta, and in a matter of minutes we have dinner!

Ziti with Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, and Gorgonzola 
Cooking Light Magazine

Shrimp is currently on sale at Dominick's and tonight I added sauteed shrimp to our ziti.  Saute shrimp on medium high heat with olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped garlic, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp has just turned pink.  Remove from pan and continue with ziti recipe.  Return shrimp to pan with Gorgonzola sauce and ziti before serving.  
The original recipe uses fresh spinach.  I didn't have spinach, so I served it with steamed broccoli and topped off the pasta with fresh basil.  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Garlic Mustard Glazed Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Zucchini Salad

     Every week when my husband requests pork tenderloin for dinner so that he can use the leftovers for his brown bag lunch, I have the same thought.  What can I possibly do with this pork that I haven't done a hundred times already!  After deciding not to go with one of our many favorite rubs or marinades, I usually hit the Internet in search of something new.

     I have exhausted most of the pork recipes on Epicurious and Food Network's websites so today I sought help from one of my favorite bloggers.  Deb, author of the famous blog, Smitten Kitchen, has been writing for a few years and has a large index of mouth watering recipes and food photos.  

     On Deb's blog, I found this recipe for Garlic Mustard Glazed Skewers.  She adapted it from a Bobby Flay recipe and then I adapted it to accommodate my sparse pantry.  Below is the link to both Bobby and Deb's recipes, which are almost identical.  Both use a flavor packed combination of whole grain and Dijon mustard, garlic, honey, soy sauce, white wine vinegar, and paprika, but Deb took it another level by adding fresh rosemary.  I loved the rosemary, don't leave it out!  I substituted honey with brown sugar and white wine vinegar with Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar from Trader Joe's.  (If you have never tried this vinegar, you must!)  I can't compare the recipes having only eaten my version, but this glaze was fabulous.  Perfect for grilled meats and would take roasted potatoes to a whole new level!

     I served the pork with oven fries and Zucchini Salad, a recipe that I have been meaning to share with you for months.  I found this on a vegan website and adapted it to use in a class I was teaching to middle schoolers.  I have since made it again, with a group of families at a public library, and both sets of pupils were very pleased with the recipe.  It is beyond simple, incredibly fresh tasting, and hard to believe you are eating raw zucchini!  This is your last minute side dish to go with all grilled meats and for lightening up heavy pasta dishes.  Zucchini is in abundance in all of the grocery stores and farmer's markets right now, so take advantage of the seasonal treat!

Garlic Mustard Glaze

Bobby Flay

Deb, Smitten Kitchen

I marinated the pork for 30 minutes in 2/3'd of the glaze and saved the rest for basting and to serve on the side.  

Zucchini Salad

2-3 small zucchini, shaved into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1/2 of a small red onion, thinly sliced
zest and juice of one lemon
1 garlic clove, chopped
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest, and garlic.  Whisk in olive oil in a slow steady stream until combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add zucchini ribbons and red onion to lemon vinaigrette and gently stir to coat.  Marinate for 20-30 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grilled Chicken Taco Pizzas

Here is a great recipe for kids and adults that you can throw together on the grill while everyone enjoys playing in the yard.  Grilled Chicken Taco Pizza is featured the Food Network Magazine September issue and may also be found on their site.

When you read the recipe it will seem like there are too many steps, however it really is simple.  Grilled pizza dough topped with cheese, seasoned grilled chicken, salsa, and a delicious lime, chili avocado mixture.  What makes it appear to be more involved is that the original recipe uses a homemade taco seasoning and store bought pizza dough.  I skipped both of those steps and used Trader Joe's Taco seasoning and Flat Out Flat breads.  The pizza dough is probably way better than flat breads, but I was on a time crunch and just used what was available.  I also added a mock sour cream that consists of Greek yogurt, lime zest and a little lime juice.

And, if you are going out to do your big Sunday shopping tomorrow head to Sunset Foods where Miller Amish boneless, skinless chicken breasts are on sale for $2.99/lb.  Miller is one of my favorite locally sold poultry brands.  They advertise a hormone, antibiotic, and steroid free product that reminds me of the chicken found in grocery stores of old.  Smaller breasts, great flavor and cooks up perfectly.  While you are shopping you can also stock up on Sargento cheeses(you will need it for the pizzas!) and Didier Farm corn, a few other items also currently on sale at Sunset.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Grilled Curry Flank Steak and Thai Coconut Chile Noodles

I was searching for a recipe to use the remaining coconut milk from Chicken In Peanut Sauce recipe posted Monday and found this on Epicurious.  Grilled Mahi Mahi with Thai Coconut Sauce was very appealing, yet also familiar.  I had already marked this recipe in my July issue of Bon Appetit.  So, if not once, but twice I was smitten with this recipe, then I should just get out the coconut milk and chiles!

My plan was to follow the recipe as written, but substitute Tilapia and serve it with rice noodles and steamed broccoli.  Mahi Mahi is wonderful, but Tilapia is much less expensive (almost free at Costco!) and one of my freezer staples.  I started making the sauce and realized I had no Tilapia or any kind of seafood in the freezer.  The next best option was to quick thaw a flank steak in the microwave and figure out some sort of rub that would complement the sauce.

I knew I wanted a curry flavor on the meat so I started with that and added anything else from the spice cabinet that sounded yummy.  Below is the recipe and I think it is delicious!  I'm not sure it really complemented the coconut sauce, but wanted to include it because it was that good.  It would make for terrific kebabs and bring something totally unexpected to your next barbecue.  Serve it with flat breads and a yogurt sauce-your guests will be in heaven!

Grilled Curry Flank Steak

1 tablespoon curry powder (I used Red Curry Powder)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chile pepper 
1 teaspoon salt
1 1-2 pound flank steak

Combine curry powder, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, ginger, black pepper, chili pepper, and salt in a small bowl.  Pat flank steak dry and rub both sides with spice mixture.  Grill seasoned steak on medium high heat, 5 minutes per side for medium rare.  Remove from grill and let rest 5 minutes.  Cut thinly across the grain of the meat and serve. 

If you're lucky some of the juices that spill from the meat will be absorbed by the rub, creating sort of a sauce on the plate.  I was trying not to lick the plate!

Thai Coconut Chile Noodles
adapted from:

This sauce is amazing!  So light and refreshing, and bursting with flavor from serrano chiles and lime juice.  I added cooked rice noodles to the reduced sauce to serve with the flank steak, but I'm sure the original recipe is fabulous.  I would try it with any kind of seafood and brown rice for a quick, healthy dinner.  

Monday, August 2, 2010

Spring Rolls with Chicken in Peanut Sauce and Fresh Vegetables

If you haven't picked up a copy of Taste of Home magazine, do so the next time you are waiting in line at the grocery store.  A friend gave me a subscription for Christmas and I love it.  It is full of many different types of recipes written by Home Cooks.  Some may even live in your neighborhood as they have a long list of volunteer contributors from all over the country.  It's comforting knowing that if "Beth" from Picknee, Michigan can throw together a delicious meal, then so can I!

"Beth"'s recipe for Sara's Summer Rolls is delicious and just what I'm looking for each month when I tear into a new issue.  Unfortunately, Taste of Home only publishes some of their recipes online, requiring a code from your magazine account to access all of their content.  So, I'm going to share my version of Sara's Summer Rolls, which includes "Beth"'s very easy chicken in peanut sauce recipe.  Who doesn't love a good peanut sauce?  This cooks in minutes, can be made ahead, and is very light making it perfect for spring rolls and/or bean thread noodles.  I made the chicken and sauce before we went for an afternoon swim and when we got home I only had to cook noodles and let the children assemble the rolls.  They were more excited about the noodles, but had fun playing with rice paper and that was enough to encourage them to try the rest.

I used baby Asian greens in the rolls because my garden is overflowing with them, but you can use whatever you like.  Zucchini and summer squash are on currently on sale at Dominick's.  Shred either or both with a box grater and drain some of the water from the vegetables before adding to spring rolls.

Spring Rolls with Chicken in Peanut Sauce and Fresh Vegetables

1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light coconut milk
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon lime juice
1-2 cups bean thread or cellophane noodles, cooked according to package instructions
rice papers
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup chopped fresh baby Asian greens or baby spinach 

In a large skillet, combine chicken, water, coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, Sriracha sauce, minced ginger, garlic, and lime juice.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.  Soak rice papers in warm water until soft, 15-30 seconds, then spread out on a plate or cutting board.  Add a small layer of cooked bean thread noodles, 1-2 tablespoons of cooked chicken in peanut sauce, and a tablespoon each of carrots and greens to one side of soften paper.  Begin to roll by gently pulling up that side over the chicken and vegetable mixture, then fold over ends and finish rolling.  Serve with Thai dipping sauce if desired.

Thai Dipping Sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon basil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes(optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Serve with spring rolls.