Friday, August 31, 2012

Roti de Porc au Lait

It's been awhile since I cooked pork. While we haven't gone completely vegetarian, we are eating way less meat these days. I wanted a little variety and Katie has had this Roti de Porc au Lait on her weekly menu a few times since she made it for one of the recipe swaps so I figured I needed to give it a try.

This was definitely a fall meal, what with the mashed potatoes and green beans alongside the pork. I couldn't tell you the last time I bought potatoes - I feel like it's been ages since we've eaten them. Baby Girl was thrilled to see them on our plates - she loves mashed potatoes. We both enjoyed the pork but the sauce, which Katie complained was too thin when she made it, was too thick. I wish it had been a little thinner so it could have soaked into the meat and potatoes.

I really enjoyed the cooking method of slowly simmering the meat in the milk sauce, but my sauce was starting to burn so I had to check on it often, making this less of a "set it and forget it" meal than I'd hoped. Still delicious, though.

Roti de Porc au Lait
From Anthony Bourdain, as seen on So Tasty, So Yummy

3 pound boneless pork loin roast
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk (important not to "skim" on this)
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. When the oil is hot, swirl in the butter. Brown the roast on all sides, 6 to 7 minutes total. Remove the roast from the pan and set aside on the large plate.

Add the onion, carrot, leek, and garlic and stir over high heat until soft and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Stirring constantly, add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, then add milk, parsley, thyme and the bay leaf. Bring to a boil and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.

Add the pork and any juices that have collected on the plate. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour, making sure to periodically rotate the pork (the sugars in the milk can cause sticking and scorching). Remove the pork and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf from the sauce. Using a hand blender, purée the sauce until foamy. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Carve the pork and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu

I'm actually surprised by how much we both love tofu. I know it's good for us and it's a great substitute for meat, but I didn't think we would both be head over heels for it. So far I've made 4 different tofu dishes and we've loved them all. This is shocking to me since my husband had always been a meat and potatoes kind of guy. If I served him a meatless meal the first thing he'd ask is, "where's the meat?" quickly followed by, "you know, some bacon would make this better."

This Kung Pao Tofu is another take-out fake-out (to quote Rachael Ray) that is actually better than anything we could get at a local Chinese restaurant. The flavors were outstanding and the fresh veggies and crispy tofu rounded out the meal. I made a few modifications to the original recipe, adding some chicken broth (or you could use vegetable to keep it vegetarian) and a few splashed of fish sauce to bump up the amount of sauce. We like our stir-fries saucy, what can I say. I don't have coconut oil so I cooked everything in canola oil and it worked just fine.

Between the 30 minutes to bake the tofu and the actual cooking time of the dish, this is not exactly a weeknight-friendly meal unless you get home from work early. Unfortunately we think Baby Girl might have a mild peanut allergy so she didn't get to sample this meal. I took these pictures before I remembered the green onion garnish, which I added before we ate and definitely helped brighten up the dish.

Kung Pao Tofu
Modified from Prevention RD

Cooking spray
2 blocks extra firm tofu, pressed and drained, then cubed
2/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 green onions, sliced and divided
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1 cup chicken (or vegetable) broth
A couple shakes of fish sauce, optional

Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray well with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange tofu on the baking sheet and lightly mist with oil. Bake for 30 minutes, turning the cubes after 15 minutes.

Heat canola oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add peanuts and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add tofu and stir. Add bell pepper and mushrooms and cook another 1 -2 minutes.

Add half of the green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chicken/vegetable broth and fish sauce. Reduce heat and allow sauce to thicken for 2-3 minutes. Serve over cooked rice topped with remaining green onions.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

I love fried zucchini but I don't like the grease or the calories that come along with the traditional breaded variety. As soon as Tara posted these Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries I knew I needed to try them. For one thing, there's NO oil in this recipe. None. The only fat comes from the egg and the seasoned panko gives these a deliciously crunchy bite.

When I weighed the zucchini at the store I was surprised to see that two small zucchini = slightly over 1 lb. It didn't seem like it would be enough but I had more than enough to cover my baking sheet. I'm glad I didn't cut the recipe in half because we inhaled these. My mom and I enjoyed 3/4 of the tray ourselves and SP finished them off when he got home from work. Baby Girl loved the raw zucchini (with the green skin, please), but wouldn't touch them breaded and baked. Go figure. I served them with ranch dressing for dipping, which was perfect.

I loved these so much I put zucchini on the shopping list so we could have them again the following week. It's a great guilt-free way to enjoy zucchini. Make them soon!

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries
From Confections of a Foodie Bride, as seen on Smells Like Home

2 eggs
2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup flour
1 lb zucchini, cut into 4-5-inch long sticks, about 1/2-inch wide

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12×18-inch baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk the eggs together until bubbly in a shallow pie dish or bowl. In another shallow pie dish or bowl (glass baking dishes work great too), stir the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper together until well-blended. Set both dishes aside.

Place the flour in a large zipper bag (gallon-size works best) and toss in all of the zucchini sticks. Seal the bag well and shake up the zucchini until all of the sticks are coated with flour.

Taking a few sticks at a time, roll them around in the beaten egg then coat them in the breadcrumbs, lightly patting the breadcrumbs onto the zucchini if needed. Try to not to handle the zucchini too much at this point or the breading with fall off. Carefully transfer the sticks to the baking sheet, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. You’ll be able to fit the entire pound of zucchini on a 12×18-inch baking sheet, so push them close together if needed. Repeat with remaining zucchini sticks.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until golden brown and delicious-looking. Serve with ranch dressing or marinara sauce.

The best way would be to reheat these is in a 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes until they are heated through.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Recipe Swap - Blueberry and Lemon Muffins

When I received Jessica's blog for the Blogger's Choice swap I knew I was in trouble. There are just way too many delicious recipes to make. How was I going to choose? We are going on vacation soon and after last year we realized the area where we're staying isn't exactly good in the breakfast department. This year I thought I'd make some breakfast foods at home (muffins and breakfast burritos) and freeze them so we could eat breakfast at the condo instead. I decided to pick one of her many delicious-looking muffin recipes to make and freeze and after much deliberation I settled on Blackberry and Lemon Muffins, subbing blueberries for blackberries simply because we like them better and they're easier to find.

These were incredibly easy to make - mix dry ingredients in one bowl, wet ingredients in another then combine. Easy peasy. I ate one before freezing the rest and it was yummy. I wished it was a tad bit sweeter (UPDATE - after eating more than my fair share of muffins while on vacation I've decided the mild sweetness is perfect) but otherwise they were delicious. I'm planning to toast them for breakfast a few times while we're away and serve with plenty of butter (what, we'll be on vacation).

Blueberry and Lemon Muffins
Slightly adapted from Sunny Side Up in San Diego

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Grated zest of 1 small lemon, about a heaping tablespoon
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
8 tablespoons warm melted butter (1 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (about 6 oz) chopped fresh or frozen blueberries, if frozen defrost and drain liquid

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 2 muffin tins with 18 liners.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest. Set aside

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the eggs, sour cream, sugar, lemon juice, butter and vanilla.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, mix together just until evenly combined. Add the blueberries and gently fold into the batter. Careful not to over mix, that can cause tough muffins.

Divide the batter into the muffin cups, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for just a few minutes, until the muffins are cool enough to handle and transfer to a wire rack.

To freeze - Cool muffins completely. Wrap each muffin in a piece of plastic wrap. Place in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month.
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Green Beans

Once I started cooking with tofu I asked the ladies on my cooking board for some recipe recommendations. My friend Mary Ellen listed this Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Green Beans as one of her favorites.

I had a few mishaps making this, mainly mistaking the oyster sauce in the fridge for hoisin sauce. No biggie, I just used the oyster sauce. Stir fries are so forgiving. I also ran out of sherry, so I used rice wine vinegar to make up the difference. I was running late getting dinner on the table and the sauce was taking forever to thicken, so I made a slurry with cornstarch and some water and mixed that in to thicken the sauce quickly. I love cornstarch in stir fries - it makes the sauce so velvety and sooth.

I doubled the recipe so we'd have leftovers for lunch. And speaking of leftovers, I had half an avocado in the fridge from earlier in the week. I've seen a few Asian dishes with avocado so I thought I'd dice it up and throw it in with my leftovers. All I can say is WOW. I added an avocado to the ingredient list as optional but I HIGHLY recommend adding it in if you love avocado. Not only did it help temper the spice from the sriracha, the creamy texture was a great compliment to the crispy green beans and water chestnuts.

I'm really loving cooking with tofu and this dish was no exception. A delicious, spicy sauce and healthy to boot. Win-win!

Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Green Beans
As seen on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

1 block of extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed and cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons hoisin (or oyster sauce)
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry cooking sherry (or rice wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons chili garlic paste (sriracha)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 small onion, sliced
1/2 can water chestnuts, sliced
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
1/2 avocado, diced (optional)

Heat olive oil and sesame oil in a large saute pan or wok. Add tofu; cook until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.

Add garlic and onions to the wok, saute 1-2 minutes. Add water chestnuts and green beans, saute 1-2 minutes.

Mix hoisin, brown sugar, soy sauce, sherry, chili garlic paste, and broth. Add to the pan and bring to a simmer. Return tofu to the pan; let cook a few minutes. Reduce heat and add the cornstarch mixed with water. Let simmer to thicken.

Serve over rice or noodles topped with diced avocado, if desired.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Recipe Swap Roundup - Too Hot to Cook

This was one of my favorite swaps. I want to make pretty much all the recipes highlighted below. If you're suffering from record high temps as summer winds down, check out these delicious recipes.

Big thanks to Jaida from Sweet Beginnings for putting this roundup together for me. Things have been hectic lately and I realized I had never done the roundup. Jaida stepped in and got it done. Thank you!!

Colleen from Does Not Cook Well with Others made these delicious Korean-Style Short Ribs.

Melissa from I Was Born to Cook really enjoyed her Caprese Sliders with Pesto Mayo during her weekend at the Shore.

Lisa from Tastetastic Voyage was reminded of fond childhood memories with by recipe for Barley Chickpea Salad.

Christine from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles joined many of her fellow bloggers who have fallen in love with these Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches.

Kate from Kate’s Recipe Box was pleasantly surprised how much she liked her BLT Hot Dogs.

Jenna from Jenna’s Cooking Journey discovered a new trick while making these Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Cumin Aioli.

Mary Ellen from Mary Ellen’s Cooking Creations was hesitant at first, but really enjoyed her Autumn Salad.

Stef from Kickin it in the Kitch really enjoyed her Chili Lime Shrimp Salad.

Alison from Sparks from the Kitchen was very pleased with her Creamy Shrimp Rolls.

Christina from Tales from the Mad Men Kitchen enjoyed her Berry and Kiwi Salad with Sweet Balsamic Dressing as a lunch entrée.

Nichole from The Cookaholic Wife was excited to be able to use her Griddler for these Shrimp Po’ Boy Sandwiches.

Dawn from Simple Gourmet Cooking loved the versatility in selecting ingredients for her Pinwheels.

Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise really enjoyed her Italian Panini, even though she forgot one of her favorite ingredients at the store!

Nicole from Cookies on Friday really enjoyed a new variation of pulled pork with these Crockpot Pulled Pork Sandwiches.

Jaida from Sweet Beginnings loved the flavor combination in her Cilantro Pepper Chicken.

Jey from The Jey of Cooking enjoyed the flavors of her Panzanella.

Nicole from Prevention RD loved her simple but delicious Walnut Romaine Salad.


Tina from Tasty Treats by Tina thought her Honey Lime Chicken Spinach Salad was the perfect lazy Sunday meal.

Melissa from Delicious Meliscious loved that the crust stayed crispy on her Grilled Pizza.

Jen from Becoming Pigzilla liked how easy her Sloppy Joes were to make in the crockpot.

And finally, I made Chicken Souvlaki, which was one of the best meals I've made in a long time:

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweet Corn with Zucchini and Basil

Once again I found myself with a few ears of corn and no idea what to make. Thankfully Nichole had just posted this recope for Fried Sweet Corn with Basil Butter. I also had half a huge zucchini to use up, so I decided to add it to the corn to bump up the veggies.

Sweet Corn with Zucchini and Basil
Slightly modified from The Cookaholic Wife

1/2 large zucchini (or 1 small zucchini), shredded
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups corn kernels (about 4 ears)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
Salt and pepper

Place shredded zucchini in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Transfer zucchini to a clean kitchen towel and wring out all the moisture.

In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the corn, zucchini, garlic and basil and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the corn is lightly browned and making popping noises.

Transfer to a dish, season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Portabellos with Goat Cheese and Olive-Caper-Pepper Relish

After the success of the Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Portabellos I went searching for more ways to cook portabello mushrooms. I love stuffing/topping them with delicious ingredients and they make an excellent, hearty, vegetarian dinner. Brianna recently posted this recipe for Grilled Portabello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese & Caper-Olive-Red Pepper Relish, so I put it on the menu.

Brianna grilled hers but since it was threatening to storm I opted to do them in the oven. I've modified the directions below but if you want to do them on the grill click through to her blog. I knew SP would be skeptical because he isn't a big olive fan (the man doesn't really like Mediterranean/Greek flavors), but even he thought these were delicious. The topping is very tangy from the olives and capers, which I love. They took next to no time to prepare, mainly because I chopped everything for the relish the night before, as well as roasted the pepper. It was great to just scrape the mushrooms and bake them. Easy peasy!

Portabello Mushrooms with Goat Cheese & Caper-Olive-Red Pepper Relish
Slightly modified from Oishii

4 large portobello mushrooms
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
Worcestershire sauce
Soy sauce
Salt & pepper
1/2 small red bell pepper or 1 roasted red pepper
1/4 cup roughly chopped kalamata olives
1/4 cup roughly chopped Spanish olives with pimentos
1 1/2 teaspoons minced capers
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
4 oz. soft, fresh goat cheese, at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Twist the stems off the portobello mushrooms and scrape the gills out using a butter knife or spoon, discarding stems and gills. Mix the 1 teaspoon oil, a splash of soy sauce, and a splash of Worcestershire in a small bowl. Brush the caps and inside with the mixture. Place the mushrooms, gill side facing down, on the baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Flip so the mushrooms are gill side up and roast for another 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss together the olives, capers, parsley, garlic, oregano, and olive oil to combine. Remove the seeds and ribs from the bell pepper half. Char over a gas flame until the skin blisters, or broil in a toaster oven. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to steam for 10 minutes, then remove the blistered skin. Chop roughly. Add to olive-caper mixture.

Remove mushrooms from the oven. Carefully spoon some goat cheese into each mushroom cap and spread into a thin layer. Spoon the olive-caper-pepper relish on top of the goat cheese. Return to the oven and cook until the mushrooms are tender and the filling is warmed, about 5 minutes.
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Tofu Parm with Spinach and Mushrooms

I have to say, I'm really starting to get into this whole vegetarian thing. Don't get me wrong, we aren't giving up meat entirely but I'm finding that I don't really miss it. We are eating mostly vegetarian meals during the week and tofu has become my new go-to. Not only is it cheap ($1.69 per block at my store), it's a blank canvas. I'm so happy my friend Mary Ellen has a variety of tofu recipes on her blog like this one for Tofu Parm with Spinach and Mushrooms. Otherwise I'd be stuck with stir-fries and that would get really old, really fast.

SP was a little skeptical of how healthy this is since I shallow-fried the tofu cubes in oil, but I figure the benefits of the tofu, mushrooms, spinach and homemade sauce helps to balance it out. Man, SP makes an incredible Sunday sauce, let me tell you. He simmered it all day and the house smelled amazing. I need to get him in the kitchen more often. This was a filling, delicious, flavorful meal that I can't wait to make it again. Even Baby Girl chowed down on the tofu (she skipped the spinach and mushrooms, oh well).

Tofu Parm with Spinach and Mushrooms
As seen on Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

2 blocks extra firm tofu, pressed and drained
Canola oil
2 eggs, beaten with 2 tablespoons water
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon each - salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, onion powder, red pepper flakes
2 cups marinara
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 bag baby spinach
12 ounces chopped fresh mushrooms

Cut the pressed and drained tofu into 24 squares (each block into 12 squares). Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a non-stick saute pan over medium heat. Add egg and water to one pie plate, breadcrumbs and seasonings to another. Dip tofu in egg, then coat in bread crumbs. Add tofu to the pan and fry until golden-brown, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.

Pour half of the sauce in the bottom of a 9 x 13" baking dish. Add tofu in a single layer, and top each piece with a bit of sauce and cheese.

Clean out the pan and add a touch more oil. Saute mushrooms 4-5 minutes. Sprinkle over tofu in baking dish. Saute the spinach until wilted. Spread over the tofu. Top everything with more cheese. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes until cheese melts.
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer Weekend Pasta

If this Summer Weekend Pasta had tomatoes in it I'd call it summer in a bowl. Tomatoes, zucchini and corn signify summer to me. I can't get enough of any of them from June to August.

This was a great, simple pasta to throw together. I think I'm going insane because the bacon almost seemed superfluous. How is that possible? I found myself thinking if only I'd left it out this would be a vegetarian meal.

I used regular green zucchini and upped the corn to 3 ears because Baby Girl was snacking on the corn kernels as I prepped dinner. I also upped the garlic to 3 cloves and minced it so I could leave it in rather than remove a whole clove after cooking. I decided to saute the corn and zucchini rather than leave it raw. I did find the pasta to be a little dry since there really isn't any sauce, but a little extra pasta water or even chicken (vegetable) broth would fix that.

Summer Weekend Pasta
Slightly modified from Food 52

1 pound orecchiette or small shells
6 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
3 medium zucchini, ends trimmed
2-3 ears corn, kernels cut from the cobs, juices and all
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Pinch red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons roughly chopped or torn basil
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Save 1 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta and set aside.

Grate the zucchini on a box grater. Gather the gratings in a bowl and salt the squash, about 1 1/2 teaspons coarse kosher salt. Toss to mix. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, and up to 30 minutes. Place zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and ring dry. You want to remove as much of a liquid as you can.

Meanwhile, spread the bacon in a large saute pan over medium heat and cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate. If there are more than 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan, remove the extra fat so you are left with only 2 tablespoons. Add the zucchini, corn and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the red pepper flakes.

Add the drained pasta to the skillet and toss. Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper. Add the bacon and basil. Toss again. If the pasta seems dry, add some of the reserved pasta cooking water. Spoon into shallow bowls and top with grated cheese.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto salad
This is one of my favorite salads at an Italian restaurant but there's only one place I've had it where they didn't skimp on the extras like fresh mozzarella, meat and olives. As soon as Elly posted this Antipasto Salad on her blog I knew I'd found a great recipe to make at home. Why it never occurred to me to make it at home is beyond me. It's not like there's anything difficult about chopping some veggies and whisking together a vinaigrette. Now I can make my favorite salad at home whenever I want. Thanks Elly!

Antipasto Salad
As seen on Elly Says Opa!

3 hearts of romaine
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers
1/3 lb. genoa salami, thick dice
1/3 lb. ham, thick dice
1/2 lb. mozzarella
1/3 lb. provolone brick cheese, diced
1/4 cup olives
1 large banana pepper or 2-3 pepperoncini, sliced

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon oregano or Tuscan/Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toss together the salad ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, oregano, and Dijon. Slowly stream in the oil, while continuing to whisk, until it emulsifies and is well-combined. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing to combine.
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Best Tuna Salad

I recently met a former coworker for lunch at a nearby park. We prefer picnic lunches at the park to going out because it not only saves money, we get to spend some much-needed time outside breathing in the fresh air. I wanted something easy to bring to lunch and remembered Melissa posting about The Best Tuna Salad awhile back.

I cut the recipe down to one can since I only needed enough for one sandwich. I really, really enjoyed this version of tuna salad, which isn't all that different from how I usually make it. I saved a little bit of the tuna to make a tuna melt for Baby Girl's dinner. She also enjoyed it, although by the end of the sandwich she was picking the cheese and tuna off the bread. The kid is a carbaholic so that says something. Tuna melts were apparently all I would eat at her age so I was happy to see she enjoyed it as much as I used to.

The Best Tuna Salad
From Cook's Country Magazine, as seen on I Was Born to Cook

1 can solid white tuna packed in water
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced onion
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Pinch of sugar
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 celery stalk, finely chopped

Drain tuna and pat dry with a paper towel. Place oil and onion in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 2 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Mix with tuna, lemon juice, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate for 10 minutes. Stir in mayo and celery and chill before serving.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Recipe Swap - Chicken Souvlaki

The theme for this swap is Too Hot to Cook, which seemed like a great idea when I scheduled it. We've had record temps all summer, highs mostly in the 90s, and while I haven't shied away from using my oven, it's certainly nicer to cook outside on the grill when the temps are that high. But I didn't take into account the weather we've been having lately, mainly the severe thunderstorms. The weather conspired against me.

I was all set to make Melissa's Chicken Souvlaki earlier in the week, but every. single. night we had rain or the threat of rain. This meal kept getting pushed back and pushed back again until finally it was scheduled for Sunday, the night before the post was due. As the organizer of these swaps it pains me to wait until the last minute, especially when I encourage the participants to get the recipe made early. Oops.

It was worth the wait. I love Greek flavors and any excuse to make tzatziki. The flavors in the chicken were outstanding and the char from the grill really made the dish. I usually make tzatziki using this recipe, but wanted to stay true to Melissa's recipe so I used hers. I can't decide which version I like better. I also loved the simplicity. I marinated the chicken all day and the lemon juice made it super tender. Since the only toppings are more dill and some sliced red onion, getting these on the table took less than 20 minutes.

Oh and if you're considering taking a short cut like I did and skipping the butter on the pita, DON'T! I buttered two pitas and used cooking spray on the other two. The buttered pitas were FAR superior. Make these soon. Seriously!

Chicken Souvlaki
As seen on I Was Born to Cook

4 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Pita bread
Butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped red onion
Chopped fresh dill

In a bowl or plastic bag, add oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to mixture and toss. Marinate for 3-8 hours.

Turn on or light the grill. Thread chicken onto skewers. Grill over high heat, turning once until done, about 5 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Spread both sides of pita with butter and grill until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Place pita on plate and top with chicken, followed by tzatziki, onion and dill.

Modified from I Was Born to Cook

1 cup plain greek nonfat yogurt
1 cup chopped cucumber (peel and seeds removed)
1/4 cup chopped dill leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 small garlic clove, chopped
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Taste as you go along and adjust ingredients accordingly. Chill before serving.
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Guest Post - Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

The final contribution in my anniversary guest post series belongs to Melissa of Alosha's Kitchen. I can't say enough good things about Melissa, a wonderful woman who was one of my earliest fans. In the beginning days of my blog I think the only people who read it were my close friends and family. Then Melissa found my blog and I felt like I'd finally made it - someone I didn't know was reading about my recipes! That was a very big deal for me. The fact that she's an awesome, loving, fantastic friend (who is a fellow Doctor Who fan) is the icing on the cake. It's been amazing to watch her grow as a cook, going from processed foods and always having to follow a recipe to fresh, wholesome ingredients and making things up on the fly. Thank you for helping me celebrate, Melissa!

When Sarah asked me to help her commemorate her 6-year blogging milestone, I said yes without hesitation. Sarah is one of my favorite food friends and quite simply put, I would not be a food blogger if not for her.

I began reading A Taste of Home Cooking in early 2007, by a total stroke of luck, and in one of our earliest exchanges, she nudged me about taking photos of my food… well, one thing led to another and by October 2007 I had started my own food blog. It has since been through a couple of iterations, but its very existence is owed to her and her initial encouragement. Considering all that blogging has taught me about cooking and, more importantly, the friendships I have developed because of that endeavor, I certainly owe her a debt of gratitude.

There are very few sites I continue to read as the years roll by. I'm fickle, really, and for various reasons, very few food bloggers capture and hold my attention. But Sarah... even after all this time, when I see a post in my Facebook feed from A Taste of Home Cooking or log into Google and see that little bold '1' by her blog name, I feel that familiar flutter of happiness, wondering what she made and if I can add it to my next week's menu.

I just love her style, her approach. I believe very strongly in the idea that food at its finest is simple, tasty, no fuss - bonus points for plenty of variety. Sarah accomplished all of that with her blog entries six years ago and she still manages to achieve it today, week after week, recipe after recipe. I don't know how she does it; I am just grateful to be part of her devoted readership.

This skillet chicken and broccoli pasta that I made to celebrate her anniversary perfectly embodies all of those qualities I adore. It's a no-fail, one-pot, delicious meal that gets better every time I make it. It made its appearance here in late 2007 (hey, you can see my comment on the original post!) and I've been whipping it up, with slight adjustments, ever since. Over the years, it has became a go-to meal, a standby, an "it's Friday night and I can't think of what to make" thing. It is such a long-standing favorite in my house, it was even the first meal I cooked in our new place when we moved back to Texas last year.

For this recipe, and for so many more amazing meals, I thank you, Sarah. Thank you for leading the way and making me a better cook, for teaching me about carbonara and chicken tikka masala and that asparagus and egg yolk are a match made in heaven. Thank you for being a good friend and a joy to know... and thank you most of all for being a fellow Davies-era-only Whovian (*epic fist bump*).

Happy 6 years to A Taste of Home Cooking. I hope to be reading you for the next 6 years... and the next 6 after that for good measure!

Skillet Chicken and Broccoli Pasta

1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
8 ounces ziti or penne
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chicken stock (or water)
Fresh broccoli florets and stems cut from a 1-pound bunch
1/2 cup half and half
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Stir the chicken and continue to saute until the chicken is almost completely cooked, about 6 minutes longer. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and set aside.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, onion, and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the pasta and 3 1/2 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the liquid is thick and syrupy and almost completely absorbed, about 15 minutes.

Add the broccoli and the remaining 1 cup chicken stock or water. Cover with a tight fitting lid, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the broccoli turns bright green and is barely tender, 6 to 7 minutes.

Uncover and return the heat to high. Stir in the half and half, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and reserved chicken with any accumulated juices and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened and the chicken is cooked and heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve, passing more grated cheese and crushed red pepper at the table, if desired.
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Guest Post - Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Today's post is brought to you by Jessica of The Jey of Cooking. I met Jey on my cooking board and we became fast friends. I was thisclose to meeting her this spring when I was visiting my grandparents in Chicago, where Jey lives, but alas family time got in the way. We WILL meet up soon and it will be glorious. I'm envisioning lots of good food and good conversation. Jey's blog is full of drool-inducing photos of delicious food. I love her wit and her style. And I love that she chose this recipe to make, out of all the recipes in my blog, simply because I can't believe how popular it has become thanks to Pinterest.

I've never been to Philly, nor have I ever had a cheesesteak. But my friend Sarah lives in the area and is quite familiar with them, so when she asked me to contribute to her SIXTH (!!) Blogiversary celebration, I knew it was the perfect time to finally try this Northeastern treat. They also happen to be the most popular post on Sarah's blog, and as I recently found out, it's with good reason. These babies are crazy delicious.

But before I get more into the food, let's talk a little bit about Sarah. Sarah was the first blogger friend I made. She welcomed me into the blogging community with open arms and encouraged me to become more active within it. She's one of the funniest, kindest, most caring people I've never met (but I hope to rectify that soon!!) I can't believe that Sarah has been blogging for six whole years while I struggle to keep my little old blog updated once per week. I love that she cooks real food, using ingredients that are accessible to everyone, and that they're generally simple enough to prepare on a busy weeknight.

And now back to the cheesesteaks. This meal was on the table within 20 minutes of turning on the stove. It came together quickly and easily. The Husby loved them and the Fruitaholic even took a couple of bites. And really, aside from the ooey, gooey, mouthwatering cheese sauce, it's *almost* guiltless. For me, the key to this sandwich was the toasted bun. It provided the perfect amount of crunch to offset the drippy meat mixture. We both went back for seconds.

Sarah - Happy, HAPPY blogiversary to you. I'm thrilled to be a part of your celebration and can't wait to see the recipes you come up over the next six years!

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground beef
1 softball-sized onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 cup beef stock
Salt and ground black pepper
4 dinner rolls
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup provolone, shredded

In large skillet over medium-high heat add the oil and then brown the ground beef, about 5-6 minutes. Add the onion and green pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables start to get tender. Stir in the steak sauce and beef stock, season with salt and pepper, bring up to a bubble and cook about 2 minutes.

Split open rolls and remove most of the soft insides, leaving a bed to hold the meat mixture. Toast the rolls and set aside.

While the meat is cooking, melt the butter in a medium-size pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook about 1 minute. Whisk in milk, bring up to a bubble and let thicken, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in the cheese.

To serve, place a scoopful of the meat mixture onto the bottom of the rolls, then top with the cheese sauce and replace the top of the roll.
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Thursday, August 09, 2012

Guest Post - Bacon, Egg and Asparagus Salad

Don't forget to enter my 6th blogiversary GIVEAWAY before 11:59pm Thursday, August 9.

I still remember the first email I received from Jaida of Sweet Beginnings. This was before she started her food blog and she was emailing to ask my opinion on her new blog's layout. I had never spoken to her before and I was touched that she valued my opinion enough to send me an email. Since she was new to blogging I invited her to join the cooking board I frequented, which she did. She quickly became a regular poster and her blog grew. We got to know each other, became friends and now we talk multiple times a day. Hopefully we'll get a chance to meet in person someday soon.

When I was asked to do a guest post to celebrate the 6 year anniversary of A Taste of Home Cooking, I couldn’t have been more excited. After all, this is the blog that ultimately gave me the push to start my own food blog!

When deciding what recipe to make, I knew that choosing one of Sarah’s favorites was the only way to go. And, as I’m sure you’ve seen her mention several times over the past couple of months, the Bacon, Egg, and Asparagus Salad became her favorite as soon as she made it, and now frequents her menu plans.

After finally making it myself, I can see why!! It’s chock full of veggies, and the runny egg on top with the salty, crisp bacon and yummy vinaigrette on top makes for a great flavor palate and the perfect balance of textures. How can you go wrong with crisp-tender asparagus topped with runny eggs??? You can’t!

I consider myself very fortunate to have come across this blog and to now be able to call this wonderful lady my friend. Her blog has been an inspiration to me, and her friendship is invaluable. Congratulations on 6 amazing years, and here’s hoping for many more to come!!

For all of her other loyal readers, I second her love for this salad, and I recommend you make it very soon!!

Bacon, Egg, and Asparagus Salad

• 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
• 2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
• 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and coarsely-ground black pepper
• 4 large eggs
• 1 bunch asparagus spears, preferably thick, trimmed
• 6 strips bacon
• 3 cups mixed salad greens, rinsed and dried

1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the mustard, vinegar, and oil in a small jar with a lid. Secure the lid tightly, shake until well-combined, and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. In a medium bowl, toss the asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, and lay on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until just cooked through.
3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until slightly crisp. Remove to a paper towels and allow the grease to drain off. When the bacon is cool, rough chop into bite-sized pieces.
4. Remove all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet and return to the burner, still over medium heat. Cook the eggs to over-easy, making sure the yolks don’t break and are still runny.
5. Season the salad mix with salt and pepper, then toss it with about three quarters of the vinaigrette, and arrange in the center of the platter or your plates. Toss the asparagus with the remaining vinaigrette and lay the spears over the greens.
6. Remove the eggs from the skillet and lay them on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle the bacon pieces and over the salad and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Guest Post - Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta

Don't forget to enter my 6th blogiversary GIVEAWAY before 11:59pm Thursday, August 9.

Today's guest post is brought to you by Melissa from I Was Born to Cook. Melissa is a NJ native, like myself, and I actually met her on our local message board before I even knew there was a cooking board. I was really excited when Melissa decided to start a cooking blog. She was always talking about the awesome food she was cooking, so it was only natural that she share her talents with others. If you've never checked out her blog be sure to stop over - she has some wonderful recipes and a killer-sounding cannoli cheesecake that I MUST try soon.

Thanks for joining me here in honor of Sarah and her 6th blogiversary! It's quite an accomplishment, without a I was thrilled to participate when she asked if I would guest post this week. Sarah was one of my first food blogging buddies - she's always been there with open ears, especially when I first started blogging, with advice on tips for this passion we share (and more). She's a good pun intended :)

Sarah's request was that I choose one of her recipes to make, and let me tell you, there are quite a few from her amazing collection! I still can't believe I didn't dive right into the Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls (although I came thisclose) or the Cheesy Zucchini Rice, given the overabundance of the green veggie these days. Both recipes look to die for and I'll be sure to try them out soon.

It just so happened that the day I was asked to participate, I had chicken breasts ready to go for dinner, and decided on this popular recipe of hers. It's something a bit different than what we'd usually do with our pasta here...and I can very safely say that it was a hit! We loved the tanginess of the barbecue sauce mixed with the sour cream. And of course, a whole lotta cheese always adds to the deliciousness.

Thanks again, Sarah, for including me...congratulations on a fantastic 6 years! Can't wait to see what's in store for the years to come :)

Skillet BBQ Chicken Pasta

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
1 red onion, diced
3 cups water
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces penne pasta
1 cup barbecue sauce
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot, add the chicken and onions and saute, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken and onions to a plate and set aside.

In the same skillet, add the water, chicken broth, penne and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is almost absorbed, the pasta is tender and the mixture is thick and syrupy. Stir in the barbecue sauce and sour cream. Once mixed, add in the reserved chicken, onions and shredded cheeses. Stir to combine and cook until everything is heated through.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Garnish with additional red or green onions and more shredded cheese.
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Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Guest Post - Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream

Don't forget to enter my 6th blogiversary GIVEAWAY before 11:59pm Thursday, August 9.

Today's guest post comes from Jenna at Jenna's Cooking Journey. Jenna is one of the ladies on my cooking board. We "met" when she started participating in the recipe swaps I host and our friendship developed from there. She recently moved to NJ from WY, which means we are finally going to have a chance to meet in person! I can't wait. We've got big foodie plans, namely heading into Philly to hit up the Reading Terminal Market. It's been wonderful to see her grow as a blogger and her recipes are always delicious.

I was so honored that Sarah asked me to do a guest post on her blog. I started my blog because of the recipe swaps that Sarah coordinates, so I guess in a way, Sarah is the reason that I started my blog. I have now been going one year strong and am glad that I still get to participate in the swaps Sarah hosts.

I have had my eye on these Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream Sauce ever since Sarah posted them back in June. I feel like it had two things going for it: 1) It seemed substantial enough that my husband wouldn’t walk away hungry (which sometimes happens during vegetarian nights at our house) and 2) These seem like they have a ton of flavor, which let’s face it using things like light sour cream makes some people think they’re sacrificing all the good flavor in a meal.

As I was constructing these, the critic came out a little bit in my husband. He sniffed the black bean puree in the food processor, and wrinkled his nose. He said, “Have you smelled that?” I laughed and said it probably smelled like black beans, and he walked away saying some other stuff about it. He promised he’d eat it happily since we haven’t had a bad meal in a long time. So, I shook my head at his judgment and kept constructing the patties.

I have to say that I thought the corn relish was one of the best things I’ve tasted in a long time. It was so bright and fresh that it was very hard for me not to snack on it while everything was coming together. I thought all the flavors were great in this dish. Everything complemented each other well and came together for a great meal. The only problem that I had was that my bean patties fell apart while I flipped them. I thought the mixture was firm enough, but apparently I should have added a little more panko. My husband didn’t complain about them, so he didn’t think they were bad, but I definitely could tell that he missed meat being on his plate.

Black Bean Patties with Corn Relish and Avocado Cream

For the patties:
2 (15 oz.) cans Reduced sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red bell peppers, 1 coarsely chopped, 1 finely minced
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
2/3 cup panko
Salt and pepper
Canola or vegetable oil

For the corn relish:
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 cups corn kernels
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon cumin

For the avocado cream sauce:
1 avocado, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

1) Place half the beans in a food processor with coarsely chopped bell pepper, the eggs, oregano, and cumin. Process until smooth.

2) In a large bowl, lightly mash the remaining beans. Stir in the remaining bell pepper, onion, and smooth bean mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the panko mixing lightly. Chill for 30 minutes.

3) While the bean mixture is chilling, heat the canola oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn and sauté until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.

4) Stir in the garlic and jalapeño and cook about 1 minute.

5) Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Stir in the tomato, lime juice, cilantro, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6) To make the avocado cream sauce, combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.

7) Form the bean mixture into patties. Heat about 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

8) Add the patties in batches, cooking until lightly browned and firm, about 3-4 minutes per side.

9) Serve the patties warm topped with the corn relish and drizzled with the avocado cream sauce.
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Monday, August 06, 2012

Guest Post - Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

Don't forget to enter my 6th blogiversary GIVEAWAY before 11:59pm Thursday, August 9.

On Saturday I brought you a GIVEAWAY to celebrate A Taste of Home Cooking's 6th anniversary. Today I'm bringing you the first of six guest posts written by some of my food blogging friends. I asked six bloggers to pick a recipe from my blog to make, photograph and write about. I'm thrilled that these ladies wanted to help me celebrate.

One of the best things about food blogging has been meeting new people. One of those people is Cassie from Cassie Craves. Her food style is so similar to mine that many of my favorite recipes came from her blog. She's also become a friend despite the fact that we've never met in person. I love watching her two boys grow on Facebook. Thanks for being part of my blogiversary, Cassie!

I'm thrilled and honored to be kicking off the celebration of Sarah's sixth blogging anniversary! Sarah's was one of the first food blogs I ever read, was one of my major inspirations for starting my own food blog, and to this day is still one of my very favorite blogs to read. Her food philosophy is so in line with my own, and every day I'm amazed and inspired by her commitment to her blog and to her readers. Thank you, Sarah, for including me in this celebration, and congratulations on six years of fabulous food!

As I was searching the blog, trying to wittle down a recipe to try (I had a list, and it was very long), I came across so many recipes that my family has tried and loved. Many of them have even become family favorites that I make again and again, like this Mexican sour cream rice, this bacon pierogi bake, and these Philly cheesesteak sloppy joes.

I finally decided on these grilled Hawaiian chicken sandwiches, because Sarah absolutely loved them and made them twice in back to back weeks. Like me, she tries lots of new recipes, so I knew if she made a recipe two weeks in a row it had to be really good! Well, guess what? I loved these sandwiches too. They're so simple and they come together so quickly -- just a handful of ingredients, and only about 15 minutes of active cooking time -- but they taste incredible. The sweet-and-salty marinade gives the chicken so much flavor and makes it so tender and juicy. Grilling the pineapple until it caramelizes slightly adds such a delicious, smoky-sweet flavor. I only made one minor change, and that was to use honey mustard in the marinade rather than Dijon, just because I had it on hand. It worked perfectly. A dollop of creamy mayonnaise was the perfect finishing touch for these sandwiches. I'm sure they're destined to become a family favorite in my house, just like so many of Sarah's recipes, and like her, I just may have to make them next week too.

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

2 large boneless skinless breast of chicken
1 large can pineapple rings (8 rings)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons honey mustard (or Dijon)
4 slices provolone cheese
4 hamburger buns or kaiser rolls
A smear of mayo

Pound out the chicken breasts and slice each into two pieces. Combine the juice from the pineapple can, soy sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Marinate the chicken overnight in the the juice mixture.

Prepare your grill. Grill the chicken for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Add the cheese with 3 minutes left. While the chicken is grilling, add the pineapple rings halfway through, turning once. Smear some mayo on the buns, then top with a piece of chicken and two pineapple rings each.
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Saturday, August 04, 2012

Curry Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pine Nuts and a GIVEAWAY!!

The giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to JKT!

Happy Blogiversary to A Taste of Home Cooking! Hard to believe it's been 6 years since I first entered the world of food blogging. Where does the time go? It feels like only yesterday I was artfully arranging my Cobb salad, snapping a few pictures and trying to come up with a catchy blog title.

I've got a few fun things planned to celebrate the milestone, the first being a GIVEAWAY! It's been awhile since I've done one and what better excuse than an anniversary.

I received a copy of The Busy Mom's Cookbook: 100 Delicious, Quick and Easy Recipes by Antonia Lofaso. I couldn't wait to look through it. I've already got my eye on a few of the recipes and had a very hard time picking something to make. In the end my love of chicken salad, especially curry chicken salad, won out.

I usually make my curry chicken salad with grapes and walnuts, so subbing dried cranberries and pine nuts sounded interesting. I had to add a minced stalk of celery for crunch but otherwise I made the recipe as printed. And it was delicious! I think I still prefer the grapes to dried cranberries solely because of the moisture the grapes add to the chicken salad, but I'd totally use both next time. The pine nuts were a great sub. I love pine nuts and any excuse to use them, although they can be a pricey ingredient.

The Giveaway
One lucky U.S. reader have a chance to win The Busy Mom's Cookbook: 100 Delicious, Quick and Easy Recipes. Here’s how you can enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite home-cooked meal for 1 entry.

2. Like A Taste of Home Cooking on Facebook for 1 entry. Leave a separate comment letting me know you did so.

3. Follow A Taste of Home Cooking on Twitter for 1 entry. Leave a separate comment letting me know you did so.

RULES: Maximum of three (3) entries per person. This giveaway opens Saturday, August 4 at 7:00am EST and will close Thursday, August 9 at 11:59 p.m. EST. The giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. Be sure a valid email address is included with your comment(s). Winner will be chosen randomly and contacted via email. If the winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen. Good luck!

Curry Chicken Salad with Cranberries and Pine Nuts
From Antonia Lofaso

4 tablespoons raw pine nuts
2 cups (1 lb) chopped cooked chicken
1/3 cup mayo
8 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
4 teaspoons chopped red onion
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 cups mesclun greens (if serving as a salad)
8 slices hearty white bread, toasted (if serving as a sandwich)
1 lime, halved

Heat a saute pan on low. Add the pine nuts to the pan and let them toast, stirring occassionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, until golden brown.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken, mayo, cilantro, red onion, curry powder, cranberries and toasted pine nuts. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Spoon the chicken salad over the mesclun greens (or place on toasted bread with a handful of salad greens). Squeeze the lime over the salad before serving.

Disclosure: This giveaway is provided by Penguin Books, but my opinions are completely my own. I received a free copy of the cookbook.
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Friday, August 03, 2012

Tilapia Francese

Melissa has had a photo of this Tilapia Francese as her signature picture on our cooking board for awhile now. Every time I see it I think, "why haven't I made that recipe yet?" When I had 3 filets of tilapia left after making the Tilapia Parmesan recently I knew exactly what I was going to make.

We recently went to a 1st birthday party at an Italian restaurant. One of the dishes they served was Tilapia Francese. I wish I'd known it was coming so I could have saved some room. It arrived at the table after the stuffed mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, salad, three different types of pasta, eggplant rollatini and chicken parmesan. Like I said, it was an Italian restaurant. Eating a small piece at the party made me even more excited for this dish.

I'm happy to report this was exactly like what was served at the party. Even SP agreed this was a restaurant-quality meal. I wanted some extra sauce to toss with the pasta so I increased the white wine and lemon juice but also added chicken broth to mellow out the flavors and add some body. It was perfect. Silky smooth from the flour on the fish and just tangy enough from the lemon juice.

Thanks for an awesome recipe, Melissa!

Tilapia Francese
Slightly adapted from I Was Born to Cook

1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
3 pieces tilapia filets
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons minced parsley
1/2 lb spagetti or other pasta, cooked according to package directions

Place flour in a pie plate and season with salt and pepper. Beat the egg and water in a second pie plate. Gently coat each tilapia filet with flour on both sides, then place in the egg wash, coating on both side, then put back in the flour and coat on both side.

Heat butter and oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Place tilapia in pan and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Add lemon juice and wine and cook for another 5-7 minutes. Do not flip the fish over once the liquid has been added. Remove the tilapia from the pan. Add the chicken broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Top the tilapia with some of the sauce and garnish with lemon slices and chopped parsley. Toss the spaghetti or pasta with the rest of the sauce. Serve immediately.
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