Meatless Monday: Sautéed Asparagus and Snap Peas

I know it sounds embarrassingly easy but it has become one of Andrew’s favorite side dishes.  After a long love affair with green beans, Andrew is branching out into the vegetable world.  I wasn’t sure about the success of asparagus but if you try and find the really thin stalks of it, the flavor is delicate.

Ina Garten, a master in cooking, brings us this recipe.  It is simple, yet very satisfying.  I even let Chase jump in and stir this easy sauté.  With golf and soccer practices back to back on some days, this is an easy side dish to pull together after getting home at 6:45pm.

Sauteed Asparagus and Snap Peas

Ingredients:

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Meatless Monday: French Potato Salad

I am a Francofile at heart.  Though I love all cultures, The French truly have my heart.  Perfume, Rose, and now my new favorite potato salad.  This is Ina Garten’s version and it is delicious.  As I was making it, Andrew asked to assist…mainly by tasting each of the herbs I put in.  When we tested it…he sighed and said: “Finally, a potato dish I can like.”  I call that a win.  Here’s a note.  The recipe makes a lot of dressing.  When I make this again, I will definitely add another pound of potatoes.

Ingredients

Directions:

  1. Drop the white and red potatoes into a large pot of boiling salted water and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are just cooked through. Drain in a colander and place a towel over the potatoes to allow them to steam for 10 more minutes. As soon as you can handle them, cut in 1/2 (quarters if the potatoes are larger) and place in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
  2. Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature.

I’ll Be Starting School This Fall…

…but not in the capacity you may have expected.  I didn’t get into law school for this Fall.  Now, before you say: “I’m so sorry!” It’s ok.  I’ll be fine…it will happen, eventually.

I did, however, get into a Masters in Legal Studies program at U of A!  It is a 30 credit hour 1 year program, which will hopefully put me on a good path!  Whether that path leads me to a job or law school, that remains to be seen, but, I’m on my way!

Everything I have been through in my life has pushed me to continue to look forward.  It is not in my nature to sit and wallow in self pity, so why start now?  I have a great husband, kiddos, family, and friends.   For those things, I am filled with gratitude.  It is also my ultimate goal to find something that fulfills me professionally and intellectually.  I’m only 40…my life isn’t over.  I don’t think of myself as wanting it all, but I don’t think that seeking professional and intellectual fulfillment is selfish or an abandonment of my responsibilities as a wife and mother.

This new endeavor will require some adjustments to our daily lives and logistical planning, but Ryan is supportive and I know we can handle it.  It will all be worth it when I reach my ultimate goals!

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Meatless Monday: Skillet Seared Green Beans with Lemon and Cotija Cheese

Tori Avey’s website has been a life saver being a shiksa married to someone who is “Jew-Ish”.  I want the boys to know about their heritage and be familiar with the rituals of Judaism.  Passover begins tonight and we are hosting a seder!  Below is one of the recipes that I’m using.  As soon as I saw the words: cotija cheese, I was in.  Make this for Passover, or any night because these green beans are delicious!

Skillet Seared Green Beans with Lemon and Cotija Cheese

Ingredients

1 lb green beans, trimmed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp crumbled cotija cheese (optional – you may substitute feta or omit to make it dairy free)

Directions:

  1. Pour about 1 inch of water in the bottom of a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the green beans and cover the pot. Steam the green beans for 3-5 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp.
  2. Drain the green beans and rinse them with cold water to stop the cooking process, then shake in the colander to drain completely. Spread the beans out on a kitchen towel to get rid of excess moisture. These steps can be done 1-2 hours ahead. The rest of the cooking should be done just before serving.
  3. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high for a few minutes to get it very hot. Pour in the olive oil; it will begin to smoke slightly. Quickly add the drained green beans to the skillet and turn the heat to high. Sear the green beans for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans have color and are slightly blackened in places. Remove from heat. Sprinkle the beans with fresh lemon juice, then add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Place the beans on a serving plate and sprinkle with crumbled cotija cheese. Serve warm.

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A Weekend Dinner

Ryan had a vasectomy last week, it’s ok, insert jokes here.  So I decided to make a big dinner
IMG_0678for the family while watching the Final Four Basketball games.  Chase has been requesting an olive oil cake so I made that too.  Actually, I made two of them…but during the first one, someone turned the oven up to 500 and I ended up with an oversized hockey puck instead of a cake.  No pictures of that will be featured in this post.

The coordination of the recipes in this post is the key to its success.  All of the flavors are delicious.  The boys literally scarfed every bit of it down!  I am planning on making the cauliflower a regular item on the menu.  It is so easy, how could I not?

 

Potato and Wild Salmon Cakes with Ginger and Scallions

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds medium red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed
Sea salt
1 pound skinless wild salmon fillet
Safflower or sunflower oil, for greasing and frying
Freshly ground pepper
1 bunch scallions (about 6 scallions), coarsely chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs

Dill Sauce:

1 cup mayonnaise

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped dill

sea salt

mix in a bowl to combine.  serve with salmon and potato cakes

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a large saucepan, cover the potatoes with water. Add a large pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then peel. Transfer the potatoes to a large bowl and mash.
  2. Meanwhile, put the salmon on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the salmon is medium-rare inside.
  3. Gently flake the salmon and add it to the potatoes along with the scallions, eggs, garlic, ginger, onion, tamari and sesame oil. Mix well, then fold in the bread crumbs. Season with salt. Form the potato mixture into fourteen 1/2-cup patties.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 inch of safflower or sunflower oil until shimmering. Working in batches, fry the potato cakes over moderately high heat until browned and crisp, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining potato cakes, adding more oil and adjusting the heat as necessary. Bake the salmon cakes for about 15 minutes, until heated through. Serve with the Dill Sauce.

MAKE AHEAD
The uncooked salmon cakes can be refrigerated overnight.

SUGGESTED PAIRING
Citrusy, herbal Sauvignon Blanc is an expert pairing for fish—especially when the dish has an herbal component itself, like the creamy dill sauce here. Try one from France.

Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Cumin

Coconut Jasmine Rice

Red Cabbage Salad with Fennel, Orange and Pepitas

Mario Batali’s Orange Olive Oil Cake

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It’s Official…I am Raising Boys…Stinky…Smelly…BOYS!

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Don’t be fooled by their adorable smiles. They are stinky boys.

As I was carrying a basket full of dirty clothes out of the boys’ room this morning, I smelled something putrid.  I thought to myself: “Did something crawl in here and die?  Did one of them poop and not tell me?  Is there a rotting potato in the bottom of the basket?”

It turns out, that Andrew’s feet smell like vinegar.

It’s happening.  Our little baby boys are now disgusting, smelly, stinky boys.

I knew it would happen one day…but I thought it would be when they were in middle school.  Andrew is only 4!  He bathes regularly.  I make him put on clean underwear and socks each day.  What is happening to the sweet smelling little feet I once put near my face?

I remember being on a school bus as a cheerleader on our way to a basketball game and thinking, dang these guys stink!  In high school, i knew soccer players who would wear the same unwashed underwear for games all season because it was good luck.

I filled a bucket with cold water and grabbed all of the boys’ socks and threw them in.  I filled the bucket with water and dumped a scoop of Oxygen cleaner in.  If you want the name, let me know.  It’s magical.

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Meatless Monday: No-Knead Brioche Buns

It Sounds Crazy But I Made My Own Hamburger Buns!  If I’m going to eat bread, I want it to be worth it!  I want the bun to not just be a vehicle for itsIMG_0656 contents but part of the experience.  So, the other day, Chase asked for sliders and remembering that there aren’t very many good options for buns in this town, I decided to make my own.  I know its crazy but I did and they were delicious!  The recipe is a “no-knead” brioche bread.  It makes 10 large buns but you can make them smaller for sliders.  Just watch your baking time.  In addition, start this the day before you want to eat them.  The recipe requires that you allow the dough to rest for 16-24 hours.

Brioche is normally a long laborious process, thanks to Cook’s Illustrated, they have made Brioche an attainable outcome without a lot of guesswork.

According to Cook’s Illustrated, King Arthur Bread Flour works best with this recipe.  However, other high protein bread flours work as well.

No Knead Brioche Buns

Ingredients:

3 1/4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

7 large eggs (1 lightly beaten with a pinch of salt added)

1/2 cup water, room temperature

1/3 cup sugar

16 Tbsp unsalted melted and cooled slightly

 

Directions:

  1.  Whisk flour, yeast , and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk 6 eggs, water, and sugar has dissolved.  Whisk in butter until smooth.  Add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir with wood spoon until a uniform mass forms and no dry flour remains, about 1 minute.  Cover blown with plastic wrap and let stand for 10 minutes.
  2. Holding the edge of dough with your fingertips, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle.  Turn bowl 45 degrees; fold again.  Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times for a total of 8 folds.  Cover with plastic and let rise for 30 minutes.  Repeat folding and rising every 30 minutes, 3 more times.  After the fourth set of folds, cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  Transfer the dough to well-floured counter and divide into 10 equal pieces.  Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, pat dough into a disk.  Working around circumference of the dough, fold edges of the dough toward the center until a ball forms.  Flip dough over and, without applying pressure, move your hands in small circular motions to form dough into a smooth, taut round.  Add flour if needed. Dough can be tacky.  Repeat with remaining dough.
  4. Arrange buns on prepared sheets, 5 per sheet.  Cover loosely with plastic and let rise at room temperature until almost double in size. 1 to 1.5 hours.  Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove the plastic and brush rolls gently with remaining egg beaten with salt.  Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers 190 degrees, 15-20 minutes, rotating and switching sheets halfway through baking.  Transfer sheets to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.  Transfer buns to wire rack.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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After School Tailgating…

The boys get out of school at 3pm.  But if you don’t get to the parking lot by 2:40, you have toimages park in Canada and walk through fire ant hills, uneven gravel and weeds to get to the front of the school (It’s best to keep hiking boots in your car for these instances).  Most parents sit in their cars heads bowed to their phones.  I propose: a daily tailgate for all caregivers while we wait for the kiddos to be dismissed!

It is pleasant to sit outside with the light breeze and beautiful flowering bushes and trees.  Why not do that with a beer, margarita or glass of rosé?  I’d be happy to make some guacamole and chips to share.  Why don’t you make a batch of brownies (without nuts though because our school is a nut-free zone!) and we can talk about something other than the beautiful weather here in Southern Arizona.  Who’s in?

It’s not going to get crazy or anything.  We’re not talking keg-stands and open flames!  I’m not going to show up with a smoker and throw on some ribs (we are a vegetarian school!).  Let’s just make this waiting game a little more fun.  It is Friday, let’s get this weekend started the right way!  And, as soon as my backyard is finished…we can just move the party to my house!

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Meatless Monday: Elote – Mexican Grilled Corn

Elote is something I dream about.  Elote is Mexican Grilled Corn.  Being from the Midwest, I am a lover of 20130621-mexican-street-corn-10-thumb-625xauto-334991sweet corn.  As a young kid, corn on the cob with a simple slathering of butter, salt and pepper was sufficient. When I lived in DC, Maryland Blue Crabs (because that’s what they do!) and corn with Old Bay seasoning was standard.

Now that I have lived in the Southwest and Arizona specifically, pungent lime and floral cilantro are the norm.  My favorite place to get Elote is at Reforma, a great restaurant nearby.  They also make perfect calabacitas, which to us Midwesterners is squash.  But, I’m not going out tonight and I feel like eating Elote!  When you mix the bright Mexican flavors of lime, cotija cheese chili powder and cilantro, a whole new world opens.

My other problem is that its not corn season yet so frozen sautéed corn will have to do but I’m using this recipe that I found below as my inspiration.  We often eat grilled corn with just a salad.  But, tonight we have left over pork ribs that I will turn into tacos.

Grilled Mexican Street Corn (Elote)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
1/2 cup finely crumbled cotija or feta cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 tsp ancho or guajillo chili powder, plus more for serving
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 tsp)
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 ears shucked corn
1 lime, cut into wedges

Directions:

  1. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
  2. While coals heat, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cheese, chili powder, garlic, and cilantro in a large bowl. Stir until homogenous and set aside.
  3. When grill is hot, place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, rotating occasionally, until cooked through and charred in spots on all sides, about 8 minutes total.
  4. Transfer corn to bowl with cheese mixture and use a large spoon to evenly coat corn on all sides with mixture. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chili powder and serve immediately with lime wedges.

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Meatless Monday: Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

I get into salad ruts so when I saw this recipe I jumped for joy!  I’ve made it several times and let me tell you, the citrus possibilities are endless!  The recipe calls for red grapefruit, which I cannot eat because it interferes with my birth control pill.  Check your labels friends!  Did you know that grapefruit and pomegranate can interfere with certain drugs?  So, I used blood oranges and naval oranges and upped the amount to 6 total.  You could also use Valencia or Cara Cara oranges.

The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated.  You know how I feel about Cook’s.  It’s pretty darn wonderful.

Citrus Salad with Arugula, Walnuts and Golden Raisins

Ingredients:

2 red grapefruit
3 navel oranges
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tsp unsalted butter
½ cup walnuts, chopped coarse
3 Tbsp EVOO
1 small shallot, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard

4ounces (4 cups) arugula
½ cup golden raisins

Directions:

  1. Cut away peel and pith from grapefruits and oranges. Cut each fruit in half from pole to pole, then slice crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Transfer fruit to bowl and toss with sugar and ½ teaspoon salt. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  2.  Melt butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer walnuts to paper towel–lined plate.
  3. Drain fruit in colander, reserving 2 tablespoons juice. Transfer fruit to platter, arrange in even layer, and drizzle with oil. Whisk reserved juice, shallot, and mustard in medium bowl. Add arugula, ¼ cup raisins, and ¼ cup reserved walnuts and toss to coat. Arrange arugula mixture over fruit, leaving 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup raisins and remaining 1/4 cup reserved walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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