Sunday, November 24, 2013

Chicken Pad Thai made Healthier

This dish was surprisingly good!  I found it on the blog, Stuff We Ate.  After a few small adjustments, this recipe made a healthy, very flavorful Thai dish that was definitely nice for a change.

My family was a little reserved when I made this dish--a little hesitant to try it and a little setback by its looks and use of spaghetti squash.  Up until now, spaghetti squash has been a bit of a mystery to us.  No doubt, we had heard of it, but we didn't know the reason behind the same.  It literally shreds into a spaghetti-like consistency.  I loved it, and it will probably be making much more of an appearance in my cooking from here on out.

In order for spaghetti squash to be shredded into strands of squash spaghetti, and used in recipes like this one, it must first be baked. To do so:
Cut it in half, lengthwise
Salt & Pepper flesh
Place halves, rind side up, on baking sheet
Bake at 350
45-55 minutes
Remove to cool
Shred with a fork
Ready to add to your recipes as a pasta substitute!
NOTE: Spaghetti squash is difficult to cut--if you're really having a hard time, consider microwaving it whole for about a minute or two to soften it.

Spaghetti Squash Chicken Pad Thai

1 large spaghetti squash, prepared as mentioned above
1 c. chopped bok choy
1 c. chopped carrots
1 small can water chestnuts, drained and sliced
1 t. minced garlic
3 diced chicken breasts

While spaghetti squash is cooling, saute chicken, carrots, bok choy, and garlic until cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper, and add in water chestnuts.  Set aside.

For the sauce:
1/2 c. chicken broth
3 T peanut butter
1.5 T rice vinegar
2 T soy sauce 
1 T sriracha sauce (2 T if you like it spicy)

Whisk sauce ingredients together and pour into pan, heat until hot, bubbly, and smooth. Combine chicken/vegetable mixture and spaghetti squash in with sauce.  Toss to coat everything.  Check for taste--more soy sauce? more sriracha?  Definitely top with garnishes!  

dry roasted peanuts

This is one of those recipes that tastes even better reheated the next day!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Rich, Asian-Inspired Grilled Salmon

Salmon has got to be one of my favorite proteins to eat...right up there with chicken.  The options are limitless.  If you don't think you like fish, you probably like this salmon.  It is perfect for dinner--quick to prepare, rich in flavor, requires basically no marinating time, and goes great with a number of side dishes. 

I like to make this with some sort of green vegetable and a baked potato, salad, or even some homemade mac'n'cheese. 

It's so yummy!

Seriously, give this recipe a shot and you won't be disappointed.  Of the many salmon recipes in my arsenal, this is probably the best.

Grilling Hints:  As with most recipes, this will taste best grilled over charcoal, but a gas grill works great as well.  Clean the grates really well before cooking this, as you want them to be smooth as possible.  Coat the grates generously with vegetable/olive oil.  Once you put the salmon on the grill, don't move it around too much.  Let it cook for a good 5 minutes before flipping it over.  I use two spatulas to flip my salmon fillet so i can get all the way under it and prevent it from breaking mid-way.  I like to cook my salmon whole for presentation purposes, but you could also cut it into individual fillets.   If you follow these steps with the cleaning, oiling, and getting all the way under the salmon during the flip, you should have great success with grilling.  This recipe honestly does taste better grilled than baked. 

Barefoot Contessa's Asian Grilled Salmon

2-3 lbs. salmon (Costco has nice-sized fillets)
salt & pepper

2 T Dijon mustard
3 T soy sauce
6 T olive oil
1 t. minced garlic

Salt and pepper your salmon fillet.  Mix up marinade with a whisk.  Pour half of the marinade over your salmon; reserve the other half for topping cooked salmon.  Allow salmon to sit in marinade while grill is preheating.

Grill salmon over medium-high heat.  Grease the grill grates with oil to prevent sticking as much as possible.  First cook skin-side down for 5 minutes.  Flip and cook another 5 minutes.  Do NOT overcook the salmon.  If it is still a little undercooked in the center, don't worry--it will continue to cook after being taken off the grill.  Remove salmon from heat.  Pour reserved marinade over it, and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sharing my cooking experiences

I have not posted anything new in quite some time.  The main reason being, aside from being busy, I have not found many great recipes lately.  No recipes worthy of sharing.  I have, however, been reviewing many of the recipes I've tried.  I pin them onto a Pinterest board.  To check out some of the recipes I've been trying lately, and see what I have to say about them:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

BBQ Beer Pork Chops

Pork chops are inexpensive and generally come in pretty big packages.  Therefore, when I buy them, I usually prepare half and freeze half for later.  This is a great recipe for those days when you are really needing to hit up the grocery store but you're too lazy, and instead, you're trying to 
scrounge up something with whatever scraps you have left.   Pork chops. Potatoes. Ketchup. Brown sugar. Beer.  Ingredients that I'm sure you've already got on hand.

BBQ Beer Pork Chops

5-8 pork chops (boneless)
salt & pepper
2-3 T. olive oil (or butter)

Season pork chops and brown in oil over medium heat.  Remove from pan & set aside.

4-5 T. flour
1 bottle beer (anything but LIGHT beer)
1/2 c. brown sugar (light or dark)
1/3 c. ketchup
salt & pepper, to taste (maybe a pinch of crushed red pepper?)

Whisk flour into drippings leftover in pan.  Allow roux to cook for a minute, whisking constantly, to get rid of flour-y taste.  Deglaze pan by whisking in about half of the beer. Slowly whisk in remaining beer, ketchup, and brown sugar.  Stir until smooth and well combined.  Allow to simmer and thicken.  Add pork chops and their juices to sauce.  Turn to coat. Cover and continue simmering for about 10-15 minutes.  

Brown generously s&p-ed pork chops in EVOO.
Remove chops and make a roux with a few tablespoons of flour.
Deglaze pan with 1/2 bottle of beer, then whisk in remaining beer, ketchup, and brown sugar.

Allow sauce to simmer and reduce.  Add back in chops and their juices.  Turn to coat.  Allow them to simmer for another few minutes.  Definitely serve over mashed potatoes.

Chicken Trombino

Chicken is simmered in a roasted red pepper tomato sauce and topped with perfectly melty provolone cheese. This delicious chicken just goes to show, that sometimes the simplest of ingredients can combine to  make the most delicious meals.  

Before cooking this dish, you need to roast a red bell pepper. Yes, you can buy them in a jar--but i like to use excess garden bells, so I roast my own. You can do this in a number of ways--just Google it!  I usually roast mine under the broiler or over a gas flame.  I simply cut the pepper flesh off of the core, place it on a cookie sheet, and broil it in my oven. ((don't use your Silpat like I did--high broiling temps reduce the durability of your Silpat)) Usually I will do like 3-5 minutes on low--to soften it a little--then I crank it up to high and let the skin get all black and burned.  After that, I let them cool until I can easily handle them, then peel off the burnt skin.  And that's all it takes! Alternatively, you can also roast them over the open flame of a gas stove.  Turn the burner on high, stab a fork in your pepper, and crisp the skin directly in the flame.

Chicken Trombino

1.5-2 lbs. chicken breast
1/3 c. flour
2-3 T. olive oil/butter

Either cut breasts into thin cutlets or pound until uniform in thickness.  Season with salt and pepper.  Dredge in flour. Fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. (the dredging is optional--this also turns out well without dredging in flour)

2 T. butter
1 t. minced garlic
1 roasted red pepper, diced (~1/2 c.)
5-6 plum or campari tomatoes, diced (or whatever garden excess tomatoes you might have)
1 t. dried oregano
1/4-1/2 c. red cooking wine
1 t. tomato paste
dash of Worcestershire sauce
4-5 slices or 1 c. grated provolone cheese
3-5 T. ribboned or chopped basil

Melt butter over medium heat.  Saute garlic until slightly golden.  Add red peppers and tomatoes. Stir until combined.  Once hot and starting to bubble, add in 1/4 c. of wine.  Allow sauce to simmer and wine to cook down.  Stir in tomato paste and oregano. Add another splash or two of wine.  Place chicken in sauce.  Cover each piece of chicken with provolone cheese.  Reduce heat to low and cover skillet.  Allow to simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  ((If you would like, you can even gently broil the cheese on top to golden brown goodness)) Top with fresh basil....the fresh basil is a MUST! 

*Try serving over egg noodles or a bed of quinoa, or with a fresh salad and roasted asparagus!

Credit: Lidia's Italy

Garlicky Lime Pan Chicken

Monday, August 26, 2013

Creamy Orange Chicken Pasta

Chicken is sauteed in butter, then seasoned generously with salt, pepper, and a little ground red pepper.
2 heaping tablespoons of Orange Marmalade are mixed in.
& a tablespoon of Dijon Mustard.
Heavy Cream is stirred in and sauce is allowed to thicken.

 Tyler and I started dating in college.  Coming from a family where the expression, "The way to a man's heart is through his belly," is touted as being most definitely truth, I was eager to cook for Tyler.  His mom gave me a few recipes for easy dishes that he liked and that I would be able to prepare in my make-shift dorm kitchen--toaster oven, hot plate, and electric skillet. This pasta is great for a weeknight dinner because it is so fast to whip up and only requires a few ingredients.  It is also surprisingly tasty.

Creamy Orange Chicken

3 chicken breasts, cubed
2-3 T butter
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
dash-1/8 t. ground red pepper
2 heaping T orange marmalade
1 T dijon mustard
2 c. heavy whipping cream

3/4-1 lb. prepared pasta, depending on how "saucy" you like your pasta

Sauté chicken breasts in butter.  Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper.  After chicken has started to brown, stir in marmalade and dijon mustard, coating chicken cubes. Add in heavy cream and allow sauce to simmer until thickened.  If sauce gets too thick, thin out by adding a splash of water or milk.  Serve over pasta.  (OPTIONAL: Top with sliced or slivered, toasted almonds)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Moist Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

And so, my summer of organic chemistry is done! 
Por fin!
I made this bread to munch on while I shamelessly lounge around, watching reruns of House, TLC, and old Lifetime movies.  This bread was so, so moist and dense and delectable.  After two days in the fridge, it really peaked in yumminess--I wish I made TWO!  

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/3 c. butter, softened
1 c. AP flour
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
pinch of salt (omit if salted butter was used)
3/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 cup smashed bananas, over-ripe
1 t. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 c. plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8-1/2x4-1/2" loaf pan. Set aside.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.
In an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon until light and fluffy.  Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl.  Add in bananas and vanilla; continue mixing for another minute.  Mix in egg until mixture is well combined.  
Set electric mixer to low speed, and gradually add in flour mixture.
Mix in yogurt by hand until there are a few remaining white streaks.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Transfer batter to loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.
Cool completely, then store in refrigerator. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Creamy Mushroom Chicken A La Gloria

This is one of the ugliest dishes I've ever made.  But, surprisingly, it was really delicious!  I guess you can't judge a book by it's cover, right?!?  I made this last weekend when Tyler and I went to the river house.  Leftovers for lunch the next day were great.  Credit goes to Cooking With Sugar for this one.

Chicken A La Gloria

1.5 lbs. thin sliced chicken breasts (or 3 breasts, halved)
1/3 c. all purpose flour
3 T vegetable oil
Season chicken breasts with salt & pepper.  Coat in flour, and brown both sides in vegetable oil.  Transfer to a 9x13" casserole dish. 

2 T butter
8 oz. sliced baby bella or button mushrooms
1/2 c. cooking sherry
1 sm. can Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup
1/2 c. milk
6-8 slices Muenster cheese
chopped parsley (for garnish)
Drain excess vegetable oil from pan that chicken was cooked in. Add butter.  Saute sliced mushrooms.  Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping up the browned dripping from when chicken was cooked.  Add in milk and condensed soup.  Stir and allow to get hot and bubbly.  Pour over chicken.  Top each slice with Muenster cheese.  Melt cheese to golden perfection under the broiler.  Try serving with pasta or rice.  Also great on it's own.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fabulous Chicken Marsala

Despite having an impending organic chemistry final tomorrow, at a weak moment I logged onto Pinterest. I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love it because it has so many wonderful ideas, but hate it because it has the tendency to lead to hours and hours of procrastination.  
Ah, procrastination.  Why do today what I can do tomorrow? 

 Of course, after scrolling through all sorts of flavorful fare, I just had to try out one of the new recipes I pinned.  And so, suddenly needing a break from my study of Nucleophilic Substitution reactions, I decided that I would make this Chicken Marsala for dinner!  It did not disappoint! 

Chicken Marsala

For the pan-fried chicken:
1-1/2 lb. chicken breasts
salt & pepper
1/2 c. flour
vegetable oil

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, coat with flour, and pan-fry in a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium heat. (If chicken breasts are thick, slice in half or pound out before frying.)  Allow cooked chicken to drain on paper towels. Reserve drippings for sauce.

For the marsala sauce:
3-4 strips of bacon, chopped
8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. tomato paste
1-1/4 c. Marsala wine
1/2 c. chicken stock
4 t. lemon juice***
4 T. butter
salt & pepper

To drippings leftover from chicken breasts, add your chopped bacon.  Fry until crispy and remove--drain on paper towels.  Toss in sliced mushrooms.  Saute until soft and golden over medium heat.  Drain off any excess oil, especially if there is a lot (I prefer blotting with paper towels).  Add in garlic, continue sauteing until golden.  Add tomato paste to sauteed mushrooms, and stir to dissolve paste and coat all of the mushrooms.  Allow the tomato paste to brown a little bit (~1-2 minutes), then deglaze the pan with marsala wine.  Over medium-high heat, allow the sauce to come to a simmer and begin reducing.  Add in chicken broth.  Continue simmering and reducing.  After a couple of minutes, once sauce has reduced and is no longer a thin liquid, cut heat to low and stir in lemon juice and butter. Add crisped bacon. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Return chicken breasts to pan.  Turn to coat with sauce.  Best served with egg noodles.

***The original recipe called for lemon juice.  Although I did add it, it seemed pointless.  I think the tomato paste provided enough acidity, and the lemon flavor was also masked by the wine, for the most part.  If you don't have lemon juice on hand, then I would consider skipping it altogether.  

Adapted slightly from Pass the Sushi