Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ham, Collard Greens, and Egg Noodle Bowl

Once again, I have to give my friend Camille credit for this recipe. She posted it one time in her blog and I have been dying to try it. The recipe actually originates from the March 2005 Issue of Cooking Light and can be found on http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1031673.

Begin by cooking 3 1/2 cups organic egg noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tablespoons butter in a large dutch oven. Saute 2 cups smoked diced ham about 5 minutes until well caramelized.

Add diced carrots, onion, celery, red bell pepper, crushed garlic, and dried thyme. Stir and saute another 5 minutes until vegetables are just softened.

Add greens and stir constantly for 60 seconds (Collard Greens is recommended but we used Kale.) Add 4 cups homemade organic chicken broth. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 12 minutes. Add egg noodles, freshly ground black pepper, stir and heat through. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oysters & Poker

Yesterday was Jessica's 30th Birthday and we decided to top off her celebration weekend with a BBQ and Poker Night. We have been itching to BBQ after the beautiful weekend and walk around the lake, and Jessica just happened into FIVE DOZEN OYSTERS! Talk about a winning combination. Don played Grill Master while Chris shucked and Jessica prepared delicious seasonings of melted butter, crushed garlic, freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, and habenero hot sauce. I'm not a big shelfish person so I reserved most of the delicacies for everyone else, but even I could tell this was some quality grade seafood. Again, we were so impressed by how delicious the food was that we were able to make at home, how much fun we had preparing it, and how friggin' much this would have cost if we had tried to order five dozen oysters at a restaurant. We served with Garlic Bread and a Mount Baker Vineyards Rosetta Wine. And Don went to bed smelling like a campfire. This is a good thing. Forget Old Spice and give me campfire smell any day.




One of the best things about Oysters, I have decided is the easy clean up! Aside from a few plates, these little guys come in natures own serving platters so clean up was a breeze.




And the winner is Ian! He beat my King/Jack Two Pair with a surprise Diamond Flush on the River. Way to go Chaotic Neutral!

video
Seumas getting into the Party Mode during the BBQ! Cordy on the other hand, little miss trouble maker, hid under some logs she had been obsessing over and didn't come out until after we had walked all over the neighborhood searching for her. Won't be letting her off the leash any time soon.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Turkey Burgers with Grated Zucchini & Carrot

I sometimes like to sneak vegetables into my diet. Even though I know they're there, I feel so subversive, like I'm getting away with something. This recipe was once served to me by Camille and I just tried them on my very own for lunch today. Turkey burgers incorporate shredded zucchini and carrots with a little bit of egg for binding and dried thyme, salt, and pepper for a delicious seasoning. Be careful to cook all the way through. Keep the setting on medium and cook slowly about 5 minutes on each side until all traces of pink are gone. For a full printout of this recipe, please visit http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1617870. Even though our hamburger buns came from the freezer to Don's disdain, he still declared them "good stuff."


Lake Padden

Can you believe we live here? Lake Padden is only about a mile from our house. We headed out with the dogs on Sunday for some much needed sun and some much needed exercise. This is why we moved here. Be still my heart.





Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bad News for the Environment

We just discovered that our washing machine got stuck on rinse and has been running for over 14 hours. Ouch! Can't wait to get our water bill. Sheesh.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One more appliance we can't live without

Look at our new toy! It's an iced tea maker and it is awesome. The Iced Tea Maker is to Iced Tea what the Aeropress is to coffee... The purest form of flavor packaged in the brilliance of instant gratification. Sure we could make sun tea and let it sit all day (possibly collecting ecolli). Sure we could boil water and brew the tea and then cool it and add ice. But why do all that work when you can have one nice little contraption that premeasures everything, does all the work for you, and is ready to drink in just a few minutes! This model we picked up was less than $20 at Fred Meyer. I decided a while ago that I was giving up soda pop for the month of April. Hot tea has been a great substitute but as the seasons begin to change, I started thinking about what cold drink options there were and my sister introduced me to the contraption. It was love at first sight. I can't imagine even wanting a Coke when fresh brewed iced tea is available. It just tastes so much better and is actually refreshing instead of just pure a sugar/caffiene rush. I can't wait to experiment with all the different flavors of tea, especially fruity ones like blueberry and pomegranate. Even just plain green tea or black tea is delicious. And as far as giving up soda goes, I can't believe how much better I feel overall. Better hydrated + less water retention = a much happier Cindy. I wonder if I gave up soda eternally like I have chips how much this little $20 Iced Tea maker would save me? $20 a month? $30 a month? For the rest of my life... Cha-Ching!

Baked Eggplant with Mushroom-and-Tomato Sauce

Last recipe post and then I think I am caught up for a while. We're not fond of casseroles in our house, mainly because we don't much care for pasta. But Eggplant I do love and this is about as close as we get to a "casserole." We tried this new recipe from Cooking Light. It was fun and different, quite tasty overall. Don thought it was good but wasn't overly impressed. Reader reviews on the website gave it five stars though and I would certainly make it again make it again. Just look at the beautiful melted cheeses, mushrooms, and eggplant oozing out of the tomato base. How can you not love it? You might also recognize the Bacon and Garlic Infused Kale Raab from an earlier post. For a full printout of the recipe, click on http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=222191.

Chinese Make In: Stir-Fried Beef, Broccoli, and Yams

Sorry, I didn't get a better picture, but this one was too good not to share. Why get Take Out when you can have Make In. Next time you are in the mood for Chinese Food, try this delicious and easy stir fry recipe made with Flank Steak, Broccoli, Yams, and homemade sauce. So simple and tasty and way healthier than Take out. This was so good on it's own we didn't even bother to make rice to go with it. For the full recipe visit http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Stir-Fried-Beef-Broccoli-and-Yams-352549.

Thai Shrimp Stir-Fry with Basil

Here is a delicious adaptation inspired by a giant unused tub of basil and adapted from a Food Network recipe. For the original recipe visit: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/thai-shrimp-stir-fry-with-tomatoes-and-basil-slimmed-recipe/index.html, but we have made quite a few changes below:

Thai Shrimp Stir-Fry with Basil

2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Water
2 Teaspoons Fish Sauce
1 Teaspoon Red Chile Flakes
4 Teaspoons Organic Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Peanut Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon ground fresh ginger (we use the refrigerated kind from the jar)
1/2 Cup Diced Yellow Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 Bunch green onions, cut into one inch pieces
1 Jalapeno, minced
3/4 Cup Fresh Torn Basil Leaves
1/4 Cup Fresh Torn Mint Leaves
Juice of one lime

Directions

In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, water, fish sauce, and sugar; set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and chile flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the shrimp and stir-fry until pink but still translucent in the middle, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.

Add the onions, pepper, and chile to the skillet, and stir-fry until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan along with the soy sauce mixture. Bring to a boil, and stir-fry until the sauce glazes the shrimp, about 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes and stir until coated with sauce, about 15 seconds. Remove pan from the heat, stir in the basil, mint, and lime juice. Serve over Jasmine Rice.

This was definitely a hit as Don ate two huge bowls! Probably best anyway as shrimp doesn't usually make the best leftovers.

Spiced Rub Pork Tenderloin with Mango Sambel and Zucchini Pancakes

What would you do with a Mango and some Zucchini? At the Early Household we make Spice Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Mango Sambal and Zucchini Pancakes! We went the first five years of our marriage never eating pork because we didn't know how to cook it and it always seemed too dry. Over the past year, we've started to learn new ways to prepare it and are beginning to appreciate this very tasty OTHER white meat. We're particularly fond of tenderloin with it being both lean and affordable. The meat responds so well to a variety of spices particularly in shades of red and brown such as Paprika, Chipotle, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cummin, and 5 Spice Chinese Powder. It also lends itself extremely well to fruit salsas, chutneys, and tapenades. This particular recipe includes a Mango Sambal (traditionally a Malaysian paste like condiment made with Chiles - I had to look it up). In this case the sambal acts like a salsa incorporating fresh diced Mango, Rice Vinegar, sugar, fish sauce, and serrano chiles for a bit of heat. It pairs amazingly well with the southern style spice rub made up of brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, salt, onion powder, dried thyme, and garlic powder. Delicious! Additionally, as a cooking light recipe, if you adhere to the recommended portion sizes it's only 208 calories! For a full printout of the recipe, please visit http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=356645.

While Don worked on the pork dish, I undertook the Zucchini Pancakes. Here we have another awesome Ina Garten recipe from the Food Network. Talk about a great way to use up an abundant harvest of zucchini. These make a great side dish. Think of these little cakes as a great substitute any time you would think to serve cornbread with a meal. They're just as tasty (even better in my opinion) and have far more nutritional value in them then a box of starch. Eggs, Flour and Baking Powder bind together the freshly grated Zucchini and Red Onion, just like a traditional pancake. These could be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner and they toasted up quite well the next day so they make even better leftovers than stale cornbread. For a full printout of the recipe, please visit http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/zucchini-pancakes-recipe/index.html.

Go Greens!

OK, so I am a bit behind in our food blogging. We've been doing really well actually, for the month of April cooking healthy fresh meals and staying away from eating out. Every time we do I'm reminded how much cooking is sooooo worth the effort. Everything is so fresh, you can use good quality ingredients, know where you food is coming from and season to your own specifications.

Our Organic produce deliveries from Dandelion Organic Delivery continue to be a huge source of inspiration in our kitchen. Nevertheless, with the season opener of the Bellingham Farmer's Market the other week, I decided it couldn't hurt to get out their and check out the competition. The idea of mass fresh foods available with the ability to hand pick my own order was a little intriguing. After parousing the market one Saturday morning in the rain with Don, I am even more impressed by the Dandelion deliveries than I was before. Seeing everything layed out and displayed that is grown here locally, I can see that Dandelion really has done a tremendous job of capturing a very accurate and fair sampling of what is available here, while still getting a great discount on things shipped in for variety. Not only that, but they do a great rotation and with them I am sure to continue to get a balanced variety of root vegetables, leafy greens, colorful veggies, fleshy fruits, citrus, etc. than I would if I were simply driving my own destiny.


It's also been a great way to discover new produce. All winter long we received various forms of hearty greens such as kale, collard greens and swiss chard. I'd never cooked with these items before and just assumed I would not like them. Mostly because they're typically served braised and wilted and I did not think I liked my greens cooked. Since the only thing I had to compare it to was spinach which becomes a limp soggy sludge if heated more than a few seconds, I expected similar results. However, I had no idea that these much sturdier, much hardier vegetables can stand up to the heat, retain their structure and taste and even absorb some amazing flavors without breaking down when cooked correctly.

Boc Choy Raab

And THEN came Spring..... I have discovered Raab. I LOVE Raab. Broccoli Raab, Cabbage Raab, Kale Raab, sooooo many varieties! If you see these little guys at your farmers market grab them! They are so easy to cook with and such a treat. So here's the scoop on Raab. Raab is a part of the Brassica Family, a genus of the Mustard family. These are known as overwintered plants, probably because they harvest at late winter, early spring in March. Beat that April Asparagus! It is most tender right before the little florets begin to sprout into white and yellow pedals. The stems, leaves, and florets are all edible. You can serve it raw in salads, cooked in stir-fries or soups, or simply braised in a little olive oil and garlic. Here are a few recipes that have worked just swell for us that you may want to try.

Bacon & Garlic Infused Kale Raab

1 Slice Bacon, roughly chopped
4 Minced Garlic Cloves
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
3-4 Cups Roughly Chopped Kale Raab
Salt and Pepper

Heat nonstick skillet over Medium High Heat. Add Bacon and saute until browned, add Garlic and olive oil and saute 60 seconds stirring frequently being careful not to burn. Add Raab, toss to cover in garlic and bacon and saute a few minutes until tender. Add Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Sweet Onion & Feta Risotto with Braising Kale

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Sweet Onions, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio Rice
4 Cups Chicken Broth
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
2/3 Cup Crumbled Feta
1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
Salt & Pepper
2-3 Cups Braising Kale (tender dark green velvety leaves)

Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute one minute. Stir in rice. Mix together chicken broth and wine. Add 1/2 cup of broth mixture at a time, stirring constantly until fully absorbed before adding the next batch of liquid. The whole process will take about 30 to 40 minutes. Once rice reaches the desired consistancy (you may not need all four cups), add cheese, salt & pepper to taste and stir in chopped kale. Remove from heat and serve. Making risotto can be a very labor intensive process but the flavors are amazing. It's well worth the effort if you can spare the time. The leftovers typically hold up quite well too as opposed to other rice dishes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Spring Has Sprung Frittata

Spring has sprung and along with it is starting to appear a fun new variety of vegetables in our weekly organic deliveries including the welcome April Harvest of fresh Asparagus. Just like my last entry on Pizza, Frittatas are also a great way to incorporate all kinds of combinations of vegetables into your diet. Tonight's recipe is something we came up with on the spot using the following ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Yellow Onion, Chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, Sliced
1 Bunch Asparagus, cut into one inch pieces
1/2 Cup Canadian Bacon, Diced
5 Large Free Range Eggs
2 Tablespoons Heavy Cream
1 Large Clove Garlic, Crushed
Salt & Pepper
1 Cup Shredded White Cheese Blend (such as Gruyere, Parmesan, and Mozzarella)

Preheat Broiler. Heat Olive Oil in a Cast Iron skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and saute three minutes until soft. Add Peppers, Asparagus, and Canadian Bacon. Lower heat to medium low and cook, covered for 6 minutes until asparagus is just barely tender.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, crushed garlic, salt & pepper. When the six minutes is up, remove lid and pour egg mixture evenly over vegetables. Turn heat back up to medium and cook about 5 minutes until eggs start to set but are still runny on top. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and place under broiler. Broil a few minutes until cheese melts and starts to brown in spots. Remove from oven, slice into wedges and serve.

Artichoke Veggie Pizza with Basil Confetti

I've had a completely unproductive day. I've had a mental block all day long and really hard time getting going. Since I couldn't seem to get any significant tasks accomplished at work today, I figure I will at least catch up on my blogging. So here we are with a new Homemade Pizza Recipe. Pizza is a GREAT way to use up leftovers in your cupboard and refrigerator. Here I've combined sliced zucchini, canned artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil cut into confetti strips for a beautiful and tasty garnish. Instead of pizza sauce, I've brushed on a thin layer of tomato paste, something we always have on hand in the pantry. The cheese is a mixture of part skim mozzarella and fresh grated parmesan and we served on top of whole wheat dough from Trader Joes refrigerated section for a healthy touch. And the best part is, it all bakes up in about 10 to 15 minutes. Bonus!

Chicken Marsala & Sauteed Greens

As promised, here are the results from our awesome impromptu chicken dinner last night. The Chicken Marsala Recipe was inspired by an Emeril Lagasse recipe found on www.foodnetwork.com. For the full recipe please visit their website but we recommend you follow the additional tips/revisions below.

Start with two large chicken breasts. Place between sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until chicken is an even 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick through out. Then cut each breast in half so that you now have four servings. Pounding the chicken to a thinner thickness will allow it to cook faster and ensure even cooking throughout. We do this whenever we cook chicken on the stove top as it's very difficult to get the thicker breasts to cook all the way through to the center without overcooking the outside leaving it tough and dry. This way the meat cooks quickly all the way through and stays nice and moist. Another thing we do is pat the meat dry with Paper Towels before cooking it. Getting rid of the excess moisture will help it to brown properly and give you that really nice carmelization with lots of flavor that you are looking for.

For the rub, Don did not read the proportions correctly so we had extra spice to flour mixture ratio, but we loved it. Overall, if we were to make again we suggest the following recipe for the seasoning dredge. Sorry Emeril, but ours is better!

1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 Tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Oregano
1/2 Tablespoon Dried Thyme

After dredging in flour mixture, brown the chicken for about three minutes on both sides. The Paprika and Cayenne Pepper seasonings will give it a gorgeous red and brown coloring. Remove chicken from heat, then in the same pan, saute sliced mushrooms until golden brown, add Marsala Wine, Butter, Chicken Stock, Salt and Pepper and cook until sauce is reduced by about half. Add the chicken back to the broth and continue to cook until meat is cooked through and sauce has thickened. Service chicken drizzled in mushroom sauce.

This recipe goes extremely well with sauteed greens. We had a mixed bag of greens leftover from our Dandelion Organic Produced delivery to inspire this quick recipe.

Sauteed Greens with Red Bell Pepper

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 Yellow Onion Diced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper Diced
2 Large cloves of Garlic, Minced
5 Cups Mixed Dark Greens such as Kale
2/3 Cup Homemade Chicken Stock
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Begin by sauteeing onion and and bell pepper in olive oil for about 5 minutes until softened. Add Garlic and stir fry another 60 seconds stirring constantly so that garlic does not burn. Add Greens and stock and toss gently. Cover and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain excess liquid and serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

DuppenBirthday

Since the television purchase (see previous post), Don and I have committed to cutting back on a few extraneous items to try to ease the budget a bit. That includes things like eating out, soda pop, alcohol, etc. Tonight we had our first real challenge, a.k.a opportunity to put ourselves to the test. It was Chris' birthday, and well within his birthday rights, last minute plans were forged and suddenly my weekly schedule which I had so meticulously planned out was thrown off. Now instead of gaming Tuesday night we were going Go Cart racing, followed by dinner and drinks. We've recently gone to a cooking rotation for gaming night and it was our turn to cook this week so we had a whole group meal planned for dinner, but this now was postponed until Thursday.

We could have given into the last minute chaos and used the "special occasion" excuse to side track our goals, but we didn't and I'm feeling quite proud. We took a quick stock of our kitchen, managed to come up with a tip top gourmet recipe of Chicken Marsala with Braised Greens (recipe to follow). It was a bit of a dine and dash getting dinner on the table and out the door by 6:00 p.m. but with a bit of teamwork in the kitchen we made it work and it was delicious! I also had the foresight to pack a couple of protein bars in my purse knowing that there would be restaurant festivities to follow in case we were hungry and tempted. Tempted we were but the protein bars helped. Instead of spending lots of money on food and alcohol at the restaurant, we simply ordered coffee (decaf) and still were able to enjoy a great evening with friends. I'm actually glad this opportunity came up as I now have a great feeling of accomplishment that we were thrown a curve ball and able to adapt to the situation without getting off track (no pun intended).

Here are a few fun pics from the Go Kart Racing. Happy Birthday Chris!