Tag Archives: Cook

Greek Yogurt Extravaganza

17 Apr

 

This week I gave in to my deep love for greek yogurt.  If you haven’t used it in recipes, you’re missing out.  Besides the obvious parfait and breakfast uses, it’s a great, healthy substitute in many recipes that use mayo or sour cream.  I decided to search for a recipe that involved both salmon and greek yogurt.  My main gal, Martha Stewart, came through for me with a recipe for Roasted Salmon and Herbed Yogurt.  With that recipe in mind, I thought asparagus would be a good side dish, and heck why not use greek yogurt with the asparagus as well.  A quick google search, and I decided to go with an asparagus soup.  I modified a recipe from whole foods for Creamy Spring Asparagus Soup substituting greek yogurt for sour cream.

The two dishes were relatively simple, but for timing I enlisted my favorite sous-chef.

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Chris as given the task of snipping parsley and dill from our potted patio herbs, and then chopping them into tiny bits.IMG_0933

He then mixed the herbs in with our greek yogurt of choice, Fage.

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Meanwhile, I chopped the light green and white parts of our gigantic leek, and then browned the pieces in a bit of butter.

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While the leek browned, I peeled and chopped a yukon gold potato into one inch strips.

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After about ten minutes, I added the potatoes and chicken broth to the leeks, and brought the liquid to a boil.

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I then reduced the heat, added the chopped asparagus, and let the mixture simmer until everything was nice and tender.

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While the soup simmered, Chris mixed together the herbs, greek yogurt, dijon, salt and pepper.

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Everything for the salmon was ready long before the soup, so Chris stuck the yogurt mixture in the fridge and relaxed while I prepped the blender.  I had some time to spare, so I improvised and chopped a bit of garlic for the salmon.

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With approximately 10-15 minutes to go on the soup, Chris placed the salmon in a baking pan, covered in the herbed yogurt sauce, and topped it off with chopped garlic.  He couldn’t resist giving our three cats a taste of raw salmon.  They are definitely sushi lovers like their mama and papa.

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Once the potatoes and asparagus were tender, I poured the mixture into a big blender and set it to purée.  Chris finished off the purée and then complained about how tightly I put on the top to the cat rubbing up against his legs looking for more delicious, raw fish.

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Once pureed to our satisfaction, I poured the soup back into the pot and brought it to a boil.  The timer sounded for the salmon just as I finished the soup.  Could we have actually timed everything perfectly tonight?  Unfortunately, no.  Chris cut into the salmon and found it still a bit raw in the center after 15 minutes at 450.  We had to stick the salmon back in the oven for another 10 minutes, and that was even a bit too much.  It amazes me how quickly fish goes from undercooked to overcooked.

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Before realizing the salmon needed more time, I had spooned the soup into bowls, and topped it with croutons, parmesan, and freshly ground black peppercorn.  Not wanting our soup to get cold, we finished it off while the salmon baked.  It was absolutely delicious!  I loved the flavor and texture, and the topping I improvised was perfect.  It tasted like spring in my mouth.

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When the salmon finished, we cut a small portion for us each, added a bit of lemon, and sat down to finish the latest Game of Thrones episode.  The salmon was delicious.  I always worry about salmon tasting fishy, but it didn’t at all.  The garlic roasted perfectly on top, and was a great addition.  The herbed yogurt was fresh and moist.  Overall a fantastic dish, and I’m sure it would have gone great with the asparagus soup.

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Cranberry Christmas Scones

10 Mar

Chris and I bought our very first home this past August.  It’s just a small condo, but it’s such a perfect fit for us.  We also absolutely love our new neighborhood.  It feels remote and rustic, there’s hiking nearby, and just down the hill there’s just about every shop you could ever need.  Getting everything in order took a while, so we ended up hosting a holiday/housewarming party.  At the party, I made a big pot of wassail and a big pot of vin chaud (I will take pictures and post the next time I make these beverages.  They’re delicious!).  As garnish, I planned to sugar cranberries.  Well in the madness of getting everything ready for the party, I completely forgot the cranberries.  We were driving up to the Guidotti’s for the holidays the next day, and I didn’t want the cranberries to go to waste, so I poked around online and found a cranberry scone recipe on marthastewart.com.

The beginning of the recipe is pretty basic – mix the ingredients, cut in the butter until it resembles crumbs, and then mix with the cream.

You then need to knead the dough on a floured surface, and the cranberries do not make this easy!  The recipe makes this step seem like it’s a breeze, but trust me your arms will get a work out.  I continued to knead the dough until the flour was completely incorporated and I had a nice smooth texture.  I rolled the dough into a roundish square, and then sliced it into 8 equal pieces.

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The next part was also a bit tricky.  I had to separate the pieces gently to maintain their shape.  I decided to bake them on a silpat to prevent them from browning too much on the bottom.

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The recipe then instructs you to “brush” the scones with the remaining half and half.  Well I had lost of half and half left, and brushing them lightly somehow seemed wrong.  I poured the remaining half and half over each unbaked scone, hoping that the extra cream would give them a bit more moisture.

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I then sprinkled each scone with a bit of turbinado sugar, and topped them off with red and green sprinkles.

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They came out of the oven with an all-over light brown color, and they smelled wonderful.

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Chris and I had a scone with coffee the next morning, and absolutely fell in love with this recipe.  The cranberries added a tartness to an otherwise sweet treat, and the texture was moist and light.  Knowing that Chris’ mom would be busy preparing holiday dinner, we packed the remaining scones up and brought them to the Guidotti’s for breakfast.  They were perfect in the morning heated with a bit of butter.  We had a wonderful time visiting, and hope everyone enjoyed the scones!

When Pigs Fly: Apples and Pork Loin

20 Jan

Orange and Herb Turkey Cutlets Pork Loin with Maple-Sautéed Apples

I never thought the day would come.  I cooked and ate pork for dinner!  Over the past five years, Chris has encouraged me to taste and eat foods I never thought I’d try.  While pork is common, I have generally stayed away from it since re-entering the meat-eating world after 9 years of vegetarianism.   When shopping this past week, we couldn’t find the turkey cutlets that I wanted for this dish.  I browsed the meat section, and instead found these beautiful rather lean looking pork loins.  With my heart set on the recipe, I caved to Chris’ delight and bought them.

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  The recipe is from my Flat Belly Diet cookbook, and honestly it looks like a pork recipe that uses turkey to make it healthier.  We rubbed the pork with spices and browned it in a skillet.  It was browning too fast, so Chris had to turn down the heat and cook it for a bit longer to get it right.  The apples were pan-fried with maple syrup, cinnamon and pepper.  The flavors were bold and the pork lean enough for my palette.  We served it with a bit broccoli, which I severely over-salted (sorry Chris!).  Not a bad first go with pork loin.  I just might have to try it again.

 

My Very First Thanksgiving Dinner

20 Jan

This past year Chris and I offered to give my mom a break and make Thanksgiving dinner for the family.  Thanksgiving with my family is usually small (just the immediate family).  We spend the day snacking on appetizers and playing games.  My mom pops in and out of the game while cooking dinner.  Mom’s dinner varied slightly over the years, but it was always delicious.  The staples of the dinner were turkey, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, green bean casserole, and pie.  This year I kept the spread the same, but changed the recipes to add my own twist on the evening.
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My sister, Heather, and my boyfriend, Chris, were the perfect helpers for the day.  Heather chopped like a pro and Chris took charge of the turkey and dessert.  They both chipped in and helped out when needed, and delegation was super easy with my 5 page plan right in front of me.  The plan included guidelines for timing, ingredients, materials, and step by step instructions.

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As you can see, the type A side of my personality was in full force.

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The menu consisted of a herb butter turkey and gravy, creamy cheesy potatoes, crispy shallot and green bean casserole, herb bread vegetarian stuffing, and pumpkin pie.  It was hard work, but the day went flawlessly and everyone really enjoyed the meal.  Here’s to many more years of good food and good times with family!  Scott and James – We missed you this year.  Hopefully you’ll be chipping in and enjoying the dinner with us again soon!

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Thanksgiving Bread Take One: Butternut Squash Muffins

10 Dec

Every year, Chris and his friends get together in early November to share a Thanksgiving dinner together.  We all bring a dish, drink, chat, and enjoy the food.  Chris always brings the sweet potatoes (and they turn out great), but I like to make a dish myself as well.This year most of the traditional dishes were already taken, so I decided to bring the bread.  I looked through Food52.com and found a recipe for a savory muffin.  When I started to make the muffin, Chris exclaimed, “spinach in a muffin, weird.”  I too thought it was a bit strange, but then again maybe it would be amazing.

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I cut the squash into cubes, tossed it in EVOO, and baked it until golden brown.


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In the meantime, I chopped the spinach, tossed it with parmesan and feta cheese, and beat together milk, eggs, and mustard.  Yea I know, this list of ingredients had me worried as well.  Sometimes you have to bet big to win big, or so I hoped.  I then added the roasted squash cubes to the spinach and poured the egg mixture into one big bowl.

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Finally I slowly added the dry ingredients, mixing until barely incorporated.  First the flour, then the baking soda, then the salt, and the wait WHAT…nutmeg…at this point I had to reassure myself that they’d be amazing.

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I evenly distributed the dough into cupcake pans.  This part was a bit tricky since the dough was rather sticky.  I also sprinkled the tops with fresh ground pepper and pressed the remaining into the tops of the tops of the muffins.  Now here is where I royally messed up.  I forgot to also press in the remaining feta cheese on the tops of the muffins.  

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They baked for about 20 minutes at 450.  The product in the end was absolutely beautiful.  The orange of the squash and green of the spinach were vibrant and unexpected on the backdrop of a muffin.

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If only they tasted as good as they looked!  They unfortunately turned out a rather dense and difficult to eat.  I think a bunch of melted feta cheese on top would have definitely helped.  Ah well, my big bet didn’t pay off, but it might be worth another go.  I’ll just need to tweak the recipe to make the muffins more fluffy (and I know I can make darn good fluffy muffins) and stick a post it note to the oven reminding me to add the feta cheese to the top!

Un Mélange: Making It Work On The Weekends

22 Oct

The Fruits of My Labor

(Chris was sick today, so I was on my own in the kitchen)

I always find that no matter how much I plan, something gets in the way of at least one or more meal for the week, leaving a mix of food that will spoil if not used.  My solutions this weekend – firing up the oven, and diving into my Flat Belly Diet Cookbook.  The result was an odd, but delicious mixture of food.  Above you’ll find (clockwise starting at your bottom left) spicy peanut sauce, broiled curry chicken satay, cucumber relish, and roasted potatoes with tomatoes.

Peanut Sauce: Peanut butter (surprise, surprise), coconut milk, cayenne, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, and chicken broth.  It’s mixed together and then cooked for 2-3 minutes over medium heat.  It came out smooth and delicious, with just the right amount of kick.

Chicken Satay: Thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breast marinated in curry powder, lime juice and oil, cut into strips, and then broiled for 8-10 minutes on each side.

Cucumber Relish: Peeled cucumber chopped with red onion and marinated in vinegar and sugar.  Topped with peanuts and cilantro.

Roasted Potatoes: Chopped potatoes roasted in olive oil, pepper, and salt.  Topped with Gorgonzola cheese and pecans.

Roasted Tomatoes: Chopped tomatoes roasted in olive oil, garlic, basil, pepper, and salt.

Drink: Muddled mint, lime juice, and tonic in a mason jar.

Breakfast For Tomorrow

(Our leftover fruit baked in an oat crumble)

From Food52: Chopped pears and apples mixed with flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Drizzled with maple syrup, ginger, orange and lemon juice, and orange and lemon zest.  Covered in a mixture of oats, flour, brown sugar, butter and pecans.  Okay, okay, so this one isn’t part of the diet.  There is a plus side: No rotting fruit from last week, and it’ll be better than just skipping breakfast.
I’ll let you know how it goes.  Until then – sweet dreams!

 

Mason Jars and Bento Boxes

18 Sep

 

Mason Jar Breakfasts

    

Thanks to The Yummy Life Chris and I are now enjoying delicious breakfasts in mason jars.  On the left is a Greek yogurt parfait with flax-seed granola, raspberries, mango, and blackberries.  I usually eat Greek yogurt in the morning, and I’ve tried all sorts of brands and flavors with different fruits, jams, and granola.  A recipe in my new favorite pink cookbook inspired me to buy plain Greek yogurt and add my fruit or granola on my own.  I started out making them in bowls or cups, but moved on to the mason jar after starting the overnight oats as well.  The various parfait were delicious, but I grew tired of eating the same thing every day.  To spice up our breakfast, I looked around online for more recipes particularly ones that involved oats.  That’s when I found the Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal recipes on The Yummy Life blog.  I recently made the Almond Mango version from the blog (pictured on the right), and it was fantastic.  I take some liberties: I typically use almond milk instead of skim milk (unless Chris requests otherwise), and I haven’t tried it with chia seed yet.  I also prefer more than 1/4 cup of oats, as listed in the recipes, but this is likely due to the missing chia seeds).  I’ve made a few of the flavor suggestions from the site, and now I’m trying a few of my own creations.  Right now I have a Maple Peach Blackberry Twist soaking in my fridge for breakfast tomorrow.  I can’t wait!

Bento Box Lunches

For a long time now, I’ve had this horrible habit of forgetting to eat all day and then making up for it at dinner.  Granted this has a lot to do with the nature of my job.  All day I’m bouncing around from a school to a house to park and so on.  The point is I go where my clients are, and I drive a lot.  During the work day, my car is the only home base that I know.  Unfortunately, this means I don’t get to bring my lunch and stick it in the fridge at the office.  I’ve tried packing lunches with ice packs for my car, but the boring sandwich and chips thing never really stuck.  I recently bought this Lock&Lock bento-style lunch box from Amazon.  It’s awesome because now I can pack a variety of dishes, keep everything separate, and prevent sogginess.  I’m using tuna salad, egg salad, and roasted nut recipes from the Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, along with hummus, dried fruit and veggies.  I make the tuna or egg salad at night twice a week (they last 2-3 days in the fridge), and I chop the veggies the night before.  Chris and I both loved the Dilled Egg Salad – the fresh herbs and spices were perfectly balanced, and the Dark Chocolate Roasted Nut Mix – cocoa, brown sugar, pecans, and hazelnuts.  Chris gets the same lunch as me, but he’s using a Zojirushi lunch jar.  It’s really a neat, modern-looking way to pack lunch, and I love that it doesn’t need an ice pack.

I believe this is one of those “you know you’re an adult when…” moments.  You know you’re an adult when you get super excited about packing lunch in a bento box, making breakfast in a mason jar, and eating healthier!  I’ll update the post with better pictures soon!

 

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