Monday, October 25, 2010

Meat Free Monday

Hello Everyone,
It is Monday already and time to plan for another meat free Monday. This recipe combines the simplicity of sauteed shrimp with a couscous pilaf that is equally as good and quick.
Shrimp is a good source of Vitamins D and B12, and an excellent source of selenium. Add in the couscous, which is actually a small pasta( resembles rice a bit), and the addition of protein, fiber, niacin, selenium and B vitamins, you are ending the day in one healthy way!

Sauteed Shrimp

1 pound shrimp- peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons minced garlic
pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
4 Tablespoons fresh parsley

Melt butter in a large skillet, add garlic and wine. Add shrimp, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until pink about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour lemon juice over shrimp and garnish with fresh parsley.

Lemon-Saffron Couscous- This was adapted from Whole Living, a Martha Stewart publication

2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 stalk celery, washed and finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
6 saffron threads, crumbled
1/2 cup water
1 box of plain couscous, cooked according to package directions, when ready set aside, will mix with other ingredients
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic,carrots,celery,salt and pepper and cook until beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.Add the saffron, water and lemon juice. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Add this hot mixture to the cooked couscous. Combine parsley and mix in with a fork.
Plate the shrimp over the couscous.

Serves 4 to 6

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spanish lesson and an unwelcome guest

This recipe was inspired by my mother's friend who made this recipe often. She was a Spanish/French teacher and a wonderful cook. I was always so in awe of her because the way she cooked seem so exotic to me as a child. She also helped me with an assignment for Girls Scouts. I needed to memorize lines in Spanish, so she made a recorded demonstration of what I needed to learn.
She brought the recording over one Saturday morning. It was wintertime, and my mother invited her into the kitchen for coffee. I eagerly sat with the recording at the fireplace in the family room. Now it didn't cross my mind, nor my mother's about the few unwanted guests we had running around our house. It was winter, we lived with an apple orchard and an open field behind our house, not to mention but very important, was the fact that my mother was a meticulous cleaner. She took enormous pride in her home. As I sat rewinding and repeating my Spanish lines, a scream rang out within our house. The scream came from me, as a mouse dashed by on the stoop of the fireplace, right where I sat practicing my Spanish. My dad came to the rescue, and I can only imagine the horror my mother felt that the 'guest' decided to make an appearance at that moment. To this day, my mother finds little humor in that story.

I made a few adaptions with the ingredients, but find the flavors of this dish take me right back to the feelings of awe I had as a child watching my mother's worldly friend create dishes so new to me.

Serves 8
8 chicken legs
1 pound extra large shrimp - deveined and shells removed
1 pound chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
3 medium tomatoes - chopped
8 cloves garlic- minced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads- crumble threads and add to a few ounces of hot water to release flavor and color
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
approx. 1/2 cups Olive oil for stir frying ingredients
1 red bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
1 green bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
2 1/2 cups Spanish short grain rice, or Arborio rice
1 bay leaf
2 scallions- chopped
1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
Accompaniment: fresh lemon wedges
1.Once shrimp are deveined and shells removed, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Set aside.
2.Roast chicken legs in 450 degree oven until legs reach at internal temp of 160 degrees. Once done, set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle paprika over chopped tomatoes.
4.In a separate small bowl, mix minced garlic with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Make paste consistency.
5.Bring stock to a simmer in a 3 quart sauce pan, cover and keep at a bare simmer.
6.In a separate small bowl, mix together wine, saffron ( and liquid), and lemon juice.
7.Add olive oil to paella pan over moderately high heat and stir fry chorizo sausage for 8 minutes or until done. Transfer to platter.
8.Add shrimp, stir frying in pan for 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter with sausage.
9.Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan and stir fry peppers for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic paste and stir fry for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and stir fry for 1 minute.
10.Add rice and stir to evenly coat ingredients.
11.Measure hot stock to ensure it measures 6 cups, add water if necessary.
12.Stir stock, wine mixture, and bay leaf into rice.
13.Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly but gently. Look for rice to appear more on surface, and when the spoon would leave a path exposing the bottom of the pan when pulled through the mixture. ( About 5 to 7 minutes)
14.Remove pan from heat and stir in shrimp, chorizo sausage, scallions, peas, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Lay chicken legs decoratively around on top.
15.Bake, uncovered at 450 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.
16.Look for edges to form a golden crust and almost all liquid to be absorbed.
17.Take pan from oven and cover with tin foil. Let stand for 10 minutes. The rice continues to cook and will be perfectly cooked.
18.Sprinkle top of dish with chopped parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges.
19.Place in middle of your table. Enjoy.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meat Free Mondays'

I watched the movie, 'Food, Inc' over the weekend. If you haven't tuned in to see this yet, you should. This movie was intense, at times horrifying, yet in the end a valuable education about food in America. While I am not a vegetarian, nor am I against consuming meat, finding ' unfactorized' meat is important to me.
Many people including my dad for example, remember their grandmother's chasing down dinner in the back yard, and finding that dinner running without a head moments later. The chicken of yesterday is not what it is today. Think free range baby. This brought about much inspiration to me, and every Monday on my site I will feature a meat free recipe.
This recipe has few ingredients, but don't let the simplicity of ingredients and steps fool you. This is nothing short of elegant.
I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson, from her book, Forever Summer(Hyperion). Summer is hardly the only season to enjoy this tasty recipe.

Serves 4
1 clove garlic- minced
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 large red chile pepper- chopped ( remove seeds for less heat)
2 6oz. cans of lump style crab meat
1/4 cup olive oil plus 2 tablespoons
Juice and lemon zest from one lemon
1 package (16 oz) of thin spaghetti
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup fresh chopped kale

Prepare pasta according to package directions. In a bowl, mix together garlic and salt. Add chile and crush til mixture is slightly red. Add crabmeat. In a saute pan, add all these ingredients over medium heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Add kale, cover pan until kale wilts- about 3 minutes. Add pasta and crab mixture together, mix in oil, lemon juice and zest. Toss all ingredients together well. Top with chopped parsley. Serve.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day and a Simple Dinner

Some October quirkiness coming your way on today, Columbus day, which is reported to be the least observed national holiday.
Anyway, if you have today off for the least observed holiday, then take advantage of making this delicious and easy meal. Perfect from now until the buds are blooming in the Spring.

Roasted chicken breasts with fresh herbs. This is a lovely meal that you can pull together in no time, and impress your guests. Fresh green beans broiled in minutes.

Go ahead, celebrate Columbus, apparently no one else is today.

Roasted Chicken

4 bone in chicken breasts with skin

1 stick butter- softened to room temperature

1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Olive Oil for top of chicken

Preheat oven to 500 degrees

In a small bowl, stir together the butter, tarragon, chives , salt and pepper to taste. Separate the skin of the chicken from the breast but not pulling off, make a little pocket. Spoon the butter mixture on the skin of the breast and smooth out with your fingers. Repeat with other chicken breasts. Drizzle olive oil over top of chicken.

Roast until the chicken registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer. When chicken is ready, transfer to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.

Green Beans:
1 pound of fresh green beans- washed
6 white pearl onions- sliced thinly
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tablespoons capers
Olive Oil

Lay green beans out on baking sheet. Cover with sliced onions, capers, soy sauce and olive oil on top. Place in 500 degree oven and broil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Simple and ready in minutes. You will have a beautiful dinner that is elegant enough for guests, and fast enough for a weekday meal.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rival Football, 11 year old knows best, and spaghetti tacos

This is funny, in a weird, I can't think of another word sort of way. All the rage this week has been spaghetti tacos! It was on Twitter, Yahoo, and in print media like the New York Times, Detroit Free Press and other newspapers around the country. Articles were talking about this phenomenon as the new tween trend. Grandmothers are making this as a special treat for their grandchildren, and clever mothers are stacking up spaghetti tacos for themed birthday parties. How did this all get started?

It all started with iCarly. A tween TV sitcom, that I personally find quite clever. I remember this episode, starring a then infamous spaghetti taco made by the star of ICarly's brother for dinner. At the time I thought ' What clever writing', my son thought, 'That's a great idea for dinner.' Until now I never gave it a second thought, not even when I made spaghetti for dinner and my son hauled out the hard tacos to stuff his spaghetti into. 'Really?', I said.

With my face contorted into a look of disgust.

' You have to be creative mom.' said Sam.

I agree. Sometimes 11 year old's actually know a thing or two.

Spaghetti tacos could not have surfaced in our home at a more opportune moment. Today is the Michigan State vs. Michigan game. The biggest game of the year for these two rivals. As I pulled on my very cute Michigan State shirt this morning, I knew if nothing else, I had on a really cute game shirt. A cursive, gem covered 'Michigan State' across the front of my shirt and my husband dressed in blue. As the parents sat at the football fields this morning, cheering on their children, the sides had already been decided. You were either green and white or maize and blue. Jackets, sweatshirts, T shirts, you name it, people were wearing their hearts out in the open. This game today is being played by both teams coming in undefeated. This hasn't happened in 11 years!

My husband grew up going to University of Michigan games. I grew up loving Michigan State, and of course, I actually graduated from this University. So however this game ends today, at least we have spaghetti tacos, so we will have something else to talk about. And I still have the cutest game shirt on! As for everyone else, I can only hope they catch the tween trend.

Recipe for Spaghetti Tacos:

1 14.5 oz. box of thin spaghetti noodles- cooked according to box directions

1 pound ground beef- cooked

1 jar of favorite spaghetti sauce ***

12 corn taco shells

shredded lettuce

1 jalapeno- sliced thin

1 8 0z container of Mascarpone cheese

The *** were a note regarding the sauce. You can use your homemade sauce, but any good jar of sauce will do nicely. Once you have cooked the noodles and browned the meat, it is time to put together the Spaghetti Taco.

For children, you can keep it simple.

1. Take taco shell

2. Noodles on bottom

3. Ground beef, then sauce over top.

You could sprinkle traditional taco toppings over the assembled taco, or eat after sauce has been added. Enjoy.

For adults:

1. Take taco shell

2. Spread layer of Mascarpone cheese on bottom of shell

3. Sprinkle slices of jalapeno on top of cheese

4. Layer noodles next.

5. Ground beef, then sauce over top.

6. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top of assembled taco.

Wow, your first Spaghetti Taco. Let me know your thoughts on this one,


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Rustic Cauliflower Bake

This recipe was inspired by French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook. This book had a recipe using cauliflower over pasta with bread crumbs baked on top. My husband was in disbelief I would serve such a dinner. I reworked the recipe without the pasta and added a whole lot of other great ingredients. Fall is at its peak of freshness, so take advantage of fresh cauliflower and tomatoes. This cauliflower recipe is sure to please even the fussiest of eaters.

Serves 4 to 6

1 bunch cauliflower- white

1 1/2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 Tablespoon powered onion

1 Tablespoons ground mustard

ground black pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese- finely grated

1 tomato - sliced

1/2 cup fine bread crumbs ( I used Fishtown crumbs made in Leeland,MI-

2 Tablespoons butter


Cook cauliflower in chicken broth until just tender. About 20 minutes. Use 1/2 cup broth and 1/2 cup water.

Mix together Worcestershire sauce, powered onion, ground mustard, black pepper, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Fold this mixture gently with cooked cauliflower until well coated. Place in a 2.5 quart baking dish. ( Spray baking dish with cooking spray before pouring in mixture.)

Slice tomatoes thinly and place over top of cauliflower mixture.

Mix bread crumbs with melted butter.

Sprinkle bread crumbs and paprika on top of tomatoes and cauliflower mixture.

Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 35 minutes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Child's Play

I love that my children enjoy cooking as much as I do. My 11 year old son has earned certain kitchen privilidges through my supervision over many years. So, when he made this tasty concoction himself as a family treat, I was so very proud.

Sam used chocolate bars we keep in the refrigerator. He cut them up to melt in the microwave, not using a sharp knife of course!

Sam knows to go slow using the microwave for melting/heating projects. We always go in 20 second intervals. That way you remain in control of the process.
Sam used pretels and bananas. He dipped the end of the pretels in the melted chocolate, which makes for easy pick up on the other end. He then sliced several banans, and used a fork to coat the opposite side of the banana with chocolate.
This is such a wonderful way to say you love your family. And a healthy one too. Use dark chocolate for the highest antioxidant advantage. Also stick with healthy items for dipping, such as fruit or pretels.