Friday, December 30, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted brussels sprouts have become one of my favorite vegetable side dishes.  They become crispy and tender melt-in-your-mouth morsels once they are browned in the oven, and of course they are healthy too which is a bonus.  There are many things you can add to them, but this recipe is very simple, just olive oil, salt, and pepper.  We had them with miso-ginger salmon and it was a delicious meal!
Brussels sprouts (we used about 1.5 pounds)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 t salt (or more to taste)
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
extra olive oil for drizzling (optional... we use our good Italian olive oil for this because it adds an extra boost of flavor)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the hard end of of each Brussels sprout and slice it in half.  If there are any really small ones you can leave them whole so they all stay about the same size. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, and pepper until evenly coated.

Roast the sprouts for about 20 minutes, or until the side facing down has browned.  Stir them up and roast for an additional 20 minutes, or until they all have dark golden brown color. You may need to stir one last time and roast them for an additional 10 minutes.  Taste them to see if you need to add more salt when they are done.

As I said, these went great with our salmon, but they would also go well along side of any protein.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Miso-Ginger Salmon

This salmon recipe infuses Asian flavors for a very tasty and savory main dish.  It's also super easy, and healthy if you pair it with a vegetable and rice. This one came from Food Network... thanks Bobby!

I did have to get a couple ingredients from the Japanese grocery store, so if you can't find them you can look for substitutes or just leave them out.  We cooked the fish on our mini-grill pan and it worked out fine in place of an actual grill.  If you don't have either, a hot cast iron pan would probably do the trick as well.
- about 2 lbs salmon filet, cut into equal size portions
- 1/4 cup shiro-miso (or any light colored miso) which is fermented soybean paste
- 1/4 cup mirin (a sweet wine vinegar, in the Asian section of most grocery stores)
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 2 T soy sauce
2 T minced green onion
2 T minced fresh ginger
2 t sesame oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the marinade by whisking together the miso, mirin, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Stir in the the green onion and ginger. 
Place the salmon on a large dish and pour the marinade on top, coating all pieces evenly.  Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, flipping half way through.
While the salmon is marinating, you can work on your side dishes.  Preheat your grill pan to medium-high.  When the salmon is done marinating, sprinkle salt and pepper over the filets, and place each piece skin-side down for about 3 minutes.  Flip to the other side and cook 3 minutes longer.  The fish should have some golden-brown caramelization.

We had our salmon with brussel sprouts and jasmine rice.  MMMMM-mmm.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Homemade Chex Mix

Once you have all the ingredients, it's easy to make a TON of this snack mix, and it makes for a great gift around the holidays when people get sick of sweets.  Plus you can adjust the seasonings so it is just the way you like it.  This recipe is a little spicy, and very very addicting!

4 cups rice chex cereal
4 cups wheat chex cereal
3 cups unsalted pretzels
2 cups gold fish crackers (I used the "saltine" flavor instead of cheese)
3 cups cheese crackers
2 cups small bagel chips or stick crackers (I found a wheat-thin cracker "straw" that I used, but only because they didn't have bagel chips in stock)
2 cups peanuts (I used half and half of wasabi flavored and spicy crunchy peanuts)
2 T butter, melted
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 T worcestire sauce
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 t paprika
1/2 t cayenne
1/2 curry powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t salt
1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Mix together the butter, oil, worcestire, and the remaining list of seasonings.  Whisk to combine well.
Mix the first four ingredients together in a large bowl. Then pour the seasoning mixture in and stir until all of the dry pieces have been coated.

Spread the combination out onto a large rimmed baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.  Take the tray out to let the mixture cool.

Meanwhile combine the rest of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
When the baked mixture has cooled, combine everything together and mix.  Store in air-tight containers for up to a month.
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Curry Chicken Rice Soup

I just made a huge batch of this soup to take over to my parents for dinner.  I find it to be more filling than regular chicken rice soup, and the curry gives it a whole new flavor entirely.  The fresh herbs and lemon juice at the end add brightness and dimension to the dish and really cannot be skipped.  This recipe makes enough for 8-10 but you could easily cut it in half if you aren't cooking for a group.  Or, freeze the leftovers in a gallon zip lock and save for later.  Thank you Food Network for the recipe! (slightly altered)
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
8 cups low sodium chicken broth, 2 cups water
2 bay leaves
2 onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 carrots, sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
2 T madras curry powder (depending on where your curry powder is from it may be more or less potent... if you are worried about too much curry flavor, add half of it first and then add more at the end to your taste)
2 t kosher salt
ground black pepper
1 cup jasmine rice
1 bunch of fresh dill (about 1/2 a cup, chopped)
1 bunch of fresh mint (about 1/2 a cup, chopped)
2 Lemons

Start by boiling the chicken breasts.  Combine the three breasts into a medium pot with 4 cups of broth and one cup of water.  Add the bay leaves, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
Half way through, add about 3/4 of the sliced carrots to the pot with the chicken.  When the chicken is done, remove it from the pot to let it cool.  Set the broth with carrots to the side to use later.

Meanwhile, heat 2 T butter in a large soup pot over medium.  When it is melted, add the onion, celery, remainder of carrots, and garlic and some kosher salt.  Saute for about 5-7 minutes or until vegetables have softened.  Then add the curry powder and stir.

Next, add the jasmine rice to the pot.  Stir to combine, and then pour in the remaining chicken broth, 1 t salt, and water.  
Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until rice is done.  When the rice is cooked through, use your immersion blender to blend the soup to your desired consistency.  
This step can be skipped if you don't have an immersion blender, but using one thickens the soup nicely.  I blend the soup about 50%, to where it is thick but not completely smooth.

While the rice is cooking, shred your chicken into bite-size pieces, discarding any fatty bits.  Add the chicken along with the carrots and broth to the thickened rice mixture.  Taste for more salt, and add some freshly cracked black pepper.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes longer.
Finally, squeeze the juice from half a lemon into the soup and stir.  If you are serving the entire pot of soup, add the freshly chopped mint and dill to the whole pot.  If you are only serving part of the soup, sprinkle some herbs into each bowl, and save the remaining herbs for the next time you eat the soup.  They are better when freshly added before serving. Add an additional squeeze of lemon juice to each bowl. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mulled Wine

Hot mulled wine was the perfect way to greet our guests when they came in from the freezing cold for a winter cocktail party.  It's warm and spicy and I completely understand why they drink it so often in The Game of Thrones series!  Using a crock pot makes it easy to control the temperature and keep it hot without boiling.  You don't have to use expensive wine, but it does make a difference to at least use a bottle you would drink on it's own.  We chose a bold variety that already had tones of cinnamon and spice so we could build on that flavor.

4 bottles red wine (or less if you aren't making it for a huge group!)
8 cinnamon sticks
1 T whole cloves
1 T whole all spice
peel from one orange and one lemon
juice from the orange and lemon
1 3 inch chunk of peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup sugar

Combine the cinnamon, cloves, all spice, orange and lemon peel onto a piece of cheese cloth.  (If you don't have cheese cloth you can still do the wine without it, but you will have to strain the wine before serving).  Tie it into a bundle and secure with twine.

Pour the wine into a crock pot and set heat to low.  Add sugar and stir.

Place the bundle of mulling spices into the pot along with the fresh ginger.  Put the lid on and heat for about one hour or until very hot. Check it occasionally to make sure it never comes to a boil.  We didn't have any issues with ours on the low setting. Then, turn heat to warm setting until you are ready to serve.

Use a ladle to pour the wine into mugs. If you didn't use cheese cloth for the mulling spices, make sure to strain the wine first.
Duke Dog Pride magnet in the reflection!
Be careful... this wine goes down easy! 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pomegranate Fennel Salsa

I was inspired to make this salsa after having it at a friend's house.  The pomegranate seeds are small and sweet, and they end up being perfect for salsa when mixed with the rest of the ingredients. Just be careful that you don't end up covered in red pomegranate juice like I did!

Seeding the fruit is probably the hardest part, but it is definitely worth it because one pomegranate has a TON of seeds in it. The easiest way is to cut the fruit into segments (maybe eighths) and then try to separate the peel from the seeds with your hands.  Be gentle because the seeds will spray bright red juice when they burst.  Try to pick as many little white pieces of pith away from the seeds as you can. Sorry I didn't grab any pictures of this process!  We also made our own tortilla chips to go along with it.  It's a very festive alternative to regular salsa!
Seeds from one pomegranate (about 2 cups)
1 T vegetable oil
Half of a fennel bulb, diced
about 1/3 red onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (more ore less depending on how spicy you want it)
1 T canned chipotle in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
juice of one lime
2 T fennel fronds, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together except for the fennel. 

Heat the oil over medium heat in a pan and saute the fennel with a sprinkle of salt for about 10 minutes or until soft and golden
Add the fennel into the salsa, stir to combine.  Try to let it sit for at least an hour to let the flavors infuse together.
Serve with chips!

Tortilla Chips:
To make the tortilla chips, slice your tortillas into whatever shape you would like the chips.
Mix the chips in a bowl with a few teaspoons of olive oil and some salt and pepper.  Spread them on a baking sheet or heated stone and place into a 400 degree F oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until they turn golden.