January 28, 2015

Chorizo Tacos with Mushrooms, Zucchini and Potatoes



Ingredients:
2 lb Mexican chorizo (casings removed)
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 serrano peppers, diced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
4 cups diced Russet potato, parboiled
1/2 cup water

to serve:
warm tortillas (corn or flour)
favorite taco toppings (tomatoes, salsa, avocado, pico de gallo, cheese, sour cream, crema etc)


Directions:
Saute the meat in a nonstick skillet, breaking up any chunks with a spoon. When nearly fully browned, drain off any excess fat. In a second skillet, cook the remaining ingredients EXCEPT water until the potatoes, zucchini and onions are softened. Pour into the drained chorizo pan. Add the water, continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated. Serve immediately in tortillas and top with desired toppings.


My thoughts:
My favorite combination when ordering out is chorizo con papas (chorizo and potatoes). This time when making my own tacos, I thought I'd add some zucchini and mushrooms to I could eat just tacos for dinner with no guilt. Adding vegetables makes it a complete meal, right? I wasn't sure if I'd like it but while it lacked the simplicity of chorizo con papas, the zucchini and mushrooms blended right in and while they added some texture interest they weren't overpowering.

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January 21, 2015

Sugar Snap Peas with Light Peanut Sauce


Ingredients:

sauce:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts*
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic

other:
1 lb sugar snap peas
1/2 cup water


Directions:

In a mixer, pulse all sauce ingredients until very smooth. If using a VitaMix or other powerful blender, continue mix on high until the mixture is hot. Steam will come out of the top when you remove the lid, about 1-2 minutes. Allow to cool. Place the peas and water in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes or until the peas are bright green. Drain and place in a small bowl. Drizzle with sauce. Serve immediately.

*I made this using my very powerful VitaMix which is able to make a very smooth sauce even with whole nuts. If using a regular blender, substitute 3 1/2 tablespoons of smooth peanut butter for the  peanuts and heat the mixture through in a small pan then cool prior to serving.

My thoughts:
We still had some sugar snap peas from the last produce box we received (we had a fun long weekend away going to see the world's best metal-mariachi band and playing skeeball in NJ and didn't cook as much as usual last week) and our new box arrived today with more sugar snap peas so I had to use them up! I haven't made peanut sauce in six years but it sounded like a yummy way to jazz up some snap peas in a jiffy. Plus my poor Vitamix was growing dusty with lack of use. I wanted the sauce to be light so I used water instead of broth or a lot of oil and used roasted peanuts instead of peanut butter which I think gives a lighter, fresher taste. I like peanuts a lot but I do think they can add a overpowering flavor and heaviness to a dish. Not the case here! The ginger provide a bit of zip but was more of a background note.

Bonus: it took less than 10 minutes to make this whole side dish; can't beat that for a weeknight!

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January 19, 2015

Indian Spiced "Popcorn" Cauliflower


Ingredients:
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
2/3 cup panko
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Indian chili powder
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheet with foil.

Place the cauliflower in a small bowl. Pour the beaten eggs over the cauliflower and toss to thoroughly coat. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the panko and spices. Dredge the cauliflower in the panko mixture and arrange in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until crisp.


My thoughts:
I got this neat Indian spice kit and while I've used it to make some traditional South Indian recipes, I thought it would be fun to make sort of a fusion dish. Cauliflower is used in a lot of Indian cooking and the "popcorn" craze continues on here in American cooking. If you can have popcorn shrimp and popcorn chicken than why not popcorn cauliflower? I actually like cauliflower a lot. I've seen it in some truly scary looking recipes claiming to be cauliflower "pizza crust" or "taco shells" but I like recipes that make the most of its hardy texture and mild flavor yet don't pretend it is suddenly a grain. This does exactly that. The bites stay crisp and since cauliflower is pretty firm, the crumbs and spices adhere nicely. Just a warning, it is pretty spicy! If you are spice-adverse, greatly decrease the amount of spices called for and keep all of the other ingredients the same.

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January 16, 2015

Turkey Kale Stuffing Bake




Ingredients:
12 oz soft potato bread cubes*
1 1/4 lb boneless turkey breast cutlets, cubed
1 cup turkey or chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 bunch lacinato kale
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


Directions:

Spray a 9x13 inch pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400.

Heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Saute the onion, kale and celery over very low heat until the kale is wilted, the onion is translucent and the celery is soft but neither is browned. Toss with the bread cubes, turkey and spices. Pour the stock over the mixture and mix until well distributed. Spoon the stuffing mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish. Smooth out with a spoon.


Cover the baking dish with foil. Bake for 45 minutes or until the turkey is fully cooked and the stuffing is bubbly and crispy around the edges.


*I bought this pre-cubed in a bag in the bread aisle. Alternatively, cut slices of potato bread into 1/4 inch cubes yourself.




My thoughts:
I am still not a casserole person but sometimes I just want to be done with dinner as quickly as possible. I had picked up some bread cubes with a mind towards stuffing and didn't end up making it. Then turkey breast went on sale and I bought it without any clear plan. I still had those bread cubes so I thought I'd turn it into something quick and easy for dinner. To give it a healthy boost, I added kale. I served this with a salad because I wanted to use up some vegetables I had but honestly, it is filling enough (and has a vegetable!) that you could serve it as a whole, one casserole pan meal. I liked it a lot, it is sort of like a mini-Thanksgiving in a pan. The stuffing stays moist and just crisp around the edges and the turkey stays moist. It reheats well; best in the oven but it is fine in the microwave.


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January 14, 2015

Grapefruit Snap Pea Salad with a Honeyed Thyme-Balsamic Dressing


Ingredients:
1 ruby red grapefruit, supremed
1 lb sugar snap peas, lightly steamed
1/3 cup toasted pecans*
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion


dressing:
1 tablespoon grapefruit juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Turkish honey
1 sprig's worth of thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
honeyed
Directions:

Toss together salad ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Drizzle over salad then toss again.

*I just toasted them briefly in a dry skillet
My thoughts:
When life gives you grapefruit, make a salad. I've never been a huge grapefruit eater but I keep getting them in our produce box. I could swap them out for something else but they seem like something I should like and eat so I keep getting them. I tried them broiled with sugar as part of our annual themed NYE (this year it was the West and for some reason, broiled grapefruit kept coming up in Western cookbooks---I guess because they can grow it in Texas) and that was well, gross despite the fact that it gave me the opportunity to finally use a grapefruit spoon. Anyway. I have ended up with a backlog of grapefruit so I thought a fruit salad might be fun. But all I had was grapefruit, Bosc pears and some clementines so that didn't seem too interesting. I had planned to make snap peas anyway so I thought rather than stir-frying or roasting them again, I'd lightly steam them and turn them into a salad. I wasn't sure how it would turn out but we both ended up liking it a ton! Matt brought it up a few times (positively!) in the days following so I am sure it will be a hit at your house as well. I don't normally put sweeteners in a vinaigrette, but the touch of honey kept the whole dish from being too acidic and helped the dressing coat the salad so don't be tempted to leave it out. Also: supreme your grapefruit, it is not only prettier but the salad much more pleasant to eat without the citrus membrane. Grapefruit are big so they are easy to supreme. It took maybe a minute and I do not have the best knife skills, believe me. So, if you find your self with 10 minutes to spare, a grapefruit, some nuts and some snap peas, make this salad!

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January 12, 2015

Garlic-Anchovy Roasted Radicchio


Ingredients:
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, oil, vinegar, anchovy paste, salt and pepper. Top with radicchio, toss to coat. Allow to sit 10 minutes, toss again. Pour out into a foil-lined baking sheet, in a single layer, bake about 20 minutes or until starting to crisp.


My thoughts:
Radicchio isn't something I often think of eating on my own. For one thing, I can never spell correctly and for another; I've mostly encountered it in tiny slivers in salad mixes, not on its own. So when one showed up in my produce box, I decided to give it try rather than switch it out for more tangerines. It is a member of the chicory family (like endive) rather than a lettuce so it is rather bitter. I decided to roast it to bring out some sweetness. It was still a bit bitter, but not nearly as much as it is raw. I tossed with balsamic, olive oil and a bit of anchovy as a nod to its Italian roots. I really liked it! I just had a small head and it made enough for two generous side dish-sized portions but feel free to double or triple the recipe, although you will need to use additional pans.

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January 09, 2015

(Secret) Zucchini & Beef Sloppy Joes


Ingredients:
1 1/4 lb 90% ground beef
6 oz tomato paste
3/4 cup water or beef stock
1 medium zucchini, shredded
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 long hot green pepper, diced
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
freshly ground black pepper
sea salt



Directions:
In a large saucepan, saute the garlic, pepper, onion and zucchini in olive oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add beef and saute until brown, stirring to break up the meat. Add the remaining ingredients. Saute, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes, until thickened. I served mine sprinkled with cheddar on onion rolls with a side of tots.



My thoughts:
It seems like every year or so I get the urge to make sloppy joes. I don't know why, really. Nostalgia, I guess. I frequently make them with a bit of carrot tossed in but this time I had a zucchini on the verge so I shredded that up and tossed that in instead. Now, we are both adults here so I don't need to "sneak" extra vegetables into our food (I mostly do it to stretch the meat out and add moisture) but if you do need to sneak some veg into someone, this is a great way to do it! The zucchini really "disappears" into the meat, I knew it was there and I couldn't taste or detect it at all.


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