Friday, June 29, 2012

Bombay Sloppy Joes

I watched The Next Food Network Star while Aarti was on it.  I remember rooting for her really hardcore, and was super excited when she won.  A few days later, my husband found her show on and asked if I wanted to watch it.  I declined because I said Indian food was really out of my league, plus I have a hard time finding regular groceries in Wyoming, I wasn't about to get excited about a dish I couldn't even find ingredients for.  So, I just never explored her cuisine.

When I received my assignment for the recipe swap and found that it was sloppy joes, I knew my husband would be excited.  He loves them.  I couldn't find several of the ingredients that were called for (or was allergic to them), so made some substitutions and made my own Garam Masala.  I was surprised that Garam Masala used all the spices I already had in my pantry.

Bombay Sloppy Joes 
barely modified from The Jey of Cooking
2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Serrano Chile Pepper, seeded and finely minced (save the other half for the turkey)
1 1/2 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 15 oz Can Tomato Sauce
1 Cup Water

3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Shelled Pistachios
1/4 cup Raisins
1 teaspoon Cumin
1/2 Large White Onion, Finely Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper, Seeds and Membrane Removed, Finely Diced
1/2 Serrano Chile Pepper, Seeds Intact (do not chop)
1 pound Ground Turkey
1/2 teaspoon Honey
1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
Salt, to taste
Small handful Chopped Fresh Cilantro (soft stems included)

Garam Masala
from Allrecipes
yields 1/4 cup

1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1) Mix all the ingredients for the garam masala together in a little bowl.
2) Begin making the sauce.  Over medium heat, warm the oil in a saucepan until it shimmers.  Add ginger, garlic and serrano pepper.  Saute until the ginger and garlic brown a little.  Add garam masala and paprika and saute for 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato sauce and water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, warm 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet.  Add pistachios and raisins, and cook until the raisins plump and the pistachios toast slightly.  Remove from pan and set aside.
4) Return the pan to medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of oil and warm. Stir in the onions and bell pepper, saute until softened and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.  Add serrano pepper and saute for another few minutes, seasoning with salt.  Stir in the turkey and cumin, break up any big lumps and cook until opaque, about 5 minutes.
5) Once the sauce is ready, pour into the skillet with the turkey.  Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
6) Remove the serrano pepper, add the honey, half and half, pistachios and raisins.  Stir through until well combined.  Before serving, garnish with fresh cilantro.  Toast the buns, fill with the turkey mixture and serve.

I think the flavors of these sloppy joes was good, but the flavors were also intense.  I couldn't eat an entire sloppy joe.  I think that if I exposed myself more to the flavors, I would have been able to eat them all, so maybe I need to expand my cuisine horizons.  I do have to admit that I am not a raisin fan, but plumping them in some oil with the pistachios made for a combination I actually really liked.
These would be a great starter dish for someone interested in trying Indian food that isn't so unique that the name itself scares you away. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Corn Muffins with Bacon, Cheddar, and Scallions

I bought my mom the America's Test Kitchen Cookbook for Mother's Day.  She loves to cook, and I think her making 99% of our meals growing up, inspired me to want to be able to provide that kind of food for my family.

I bought the same cookbook, so we decided that we'd make the same recipe within the same week and see how we liked them.  So like a little family recipe swap.  It's fun, so hopefully we keep it up.

Corn Muffins with Bacon, Cheddar and Scallions
from America's Test Kitchen Cookbook
3 slices bacon (chopped fine)
5 scallions (sliced thin)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
2 eggs
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese

1)  Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 400°.

2) Grease a 12-cup muffin tin.

3) Fry the bacon in a small skillet over med-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes.   Transfer to a paper-towel line plate; let cool.

4) In a bowl, whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together.

5) In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, milk, sugar, melted butter, and eggs together until combined.
6) Gently fold the sour cream mixture into the flour mixture with a spatula until just combined (don't overmix).
7) Gently fold in the bacon mixture and 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese.
8) Portion the batter into each muffin cup.
9) Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar over the tops of the muffins.
10) Bake until golden brown ~15-20 minutes.

I am trying to use up what I have in my fridge/freezer since we're about to move, so I used Honey Maple Bacon that we had.  I think the flavor on the bacon messed up the flavors of the corn muffin, but I think they'd be absolutely delicious with just regular bacon.  I ate these for breakfast and they were hearty enough to keep me full until lunch.  My mom said they really liked theirs too and that my little brother said they were awesome.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Caprese Burgers

My husband is pretty traditional when it comes to hamburgers.  Usually I suggest different toppings, and he says he's okay with just ketchup and mustard.  I saw these caprese burgers on a few blogs, and thought they looked amazing, so I decided to put them on the menu and feed them to him anyways.  I could kind of tell he just wanted the same traditional toppings, but now he loves these burgers and has already asked for me to put them on the menu again.

Caprese Burgers
slightly adapted from Food Network
1.25 pounds ground sirloin beef
1/2 cup fresh or store-bought pesto, recipe follows
1/4 cup grated Mozzarella
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pesto Mayonnaise
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh or store-bought pesto

For Assembly: 
One ball fresh mozzarella, sliced into eight 1/4-inch-thick slices, patted dry with paper towels  
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
4 hamburger buns, halved
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into rounds

1) For the burgers: Preheat a gas or charcoal grill.
2) Combine the beef, pesto, shredded mozzarella, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3) Form the mixture into eight 4-inch-diameter patties, each about 3/4-inch thick. Grill for 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and place a slice of mozzarella on top. Cook for about 5 minutes longer until the burgers are cooked through and the cheese is slightly melted. Allow the burgers to rest for 5 minutes.
4) For the pesto mayonnaise: In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and pesto until smooth. 
5) To assemble the burgers: Drizzle the cut side of the bread with olive oil and grill until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread the pesto mayonnaise over the bottom halves of the grilled bread. Place the burgers on top and add 2 tomato slices. Add the top halves of the bread and serve.

 I thought these burgers were so easy to put together.  When we ate leftovers, we added avocadoes (which I know deviates from the true caprese form) which made them even more amazing.  I'm excited to make and eat more of these throughout the summer.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Pineapple Foil Packets

Shrimp is one of those foods that I try to stay away from.  They seem like the "perfect" stage only lasts for short window and then they are overdone.  Plus, they are so expensive, that I feel if I mess up, I will have wasted a lot of money.  I saw this foil packet recipe awhile ago and pinned it on Pinterest.  When we received our Blogger's Choice recipe swap where we could make anything, I kept gravitating towards this foil packet recipe, and Chicken and White BBQ Potatoes.  I made them both, but decided for the swap, I'd share the one that my husband "ooh"ed and "aah"ed over. :)

Shrimp, Black Bean, and Pineapple Foil Packets
slightly modified from Prevention, RD
8 oz raw, medium sized shrimp (peeled, deveined)
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup pineapple, finely chopped
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, minced (depending on the amount of spice you want)
2 tablespoons pineapple juice, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
pinch of salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 avocado, diced

1) Preheat grill to medium.
2) Rinse the shrimp and pat dry. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Set aside.
3) In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, pineapple, red onion, and jalapeno. Stir in 1 tablespoon pineapple juice, coriander, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin.
4) Spray two large pieces of aluminum foil with cooking spray. Spoon half of the black bean mixture into the center of each and top with half of the shrimp. Pour the remaining pineapple juice over the shrimp. Bring the edges of the foil together and fold down, sealing well.
5) Place the foil packets on the grill, cover, and cook for 10-12 minutes, until shrimp are opaque.
Carefully open the foil packets and stir the contents. Top with the diced avocado and sprinkle with cilantro.

My husband kept talking about how much flavor these packets had.  I guess he was a little surprised, haha.  I thought they were amazing as well.  The shrimp were actually perfect, and so was the avocado (my avocados are never perfect).  So this turned out to be a very successful meal. 

I found out in the middle of making this that I didn't have lime juice, so just substituted the pineapple juice.  I put 1/4 of a jalapeno in each packet because Jacob isn't a fan of jalapeno spice, but I found that it definitely needs more than that, because it got lost in all the other flavors.  I also would have added more onion because those got a little lost too.  But definitely will eat these on days where it is too hot to turn on the oven, but we don't want something too heavy from the grill. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ravioli With Mushroom Wine Sauce

There are some foods that just seem to get better the longer they have a chance to sit.  This seemed to be one.  The first night we ate it, it was good, but nothing fancy.  I took it for lunch to work two days after I made it, and it was fantastic.  All the flavors had time to become even more developed and great together.

Ravioli with Mushroom Wine Sauce
adapted from Yummly                   
1 container baby portabella mushrooms, sliced  
15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes  
15 ounce can tomato sauce                                
1/3 cup dry red wine
4 cloves minced garlic
1 white onion, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
 9 ozs ravioli of choice (refrigerated type if you use the dry you will have to boil)

1) Combine mushrooms, rosemary, onions, tomatoes (undrained), garlic, tomato sauce, salt, and wine in the crock pot.
2) Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
3) Boil ravioli in a pot of water.
4) Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

The original recipe calls for water in the "sauce", which you can see in the picture, makes for a super runny ravioli sauce.  I switched it from water to tomato sauce because I think it'd give the raviolis a better sauce, instead of a watery mess.  I haven't tried the tomato sauce though, it is just a guess that it would make it better.  The mushrooms and onions taste so good with the ravioli though.  We served our sauce with a spinach and cheese filled ravioli, which turned out to be a great flavor pairing. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Grilled Island Chicken Marinade

Sometimes it seems like the more simple the meal, the more my husband likes it.  He requests BBQ chicken all the time, and with the store bought BBQ sauce, so nothing fancy at all.  When I ran across this recipe on pinterest, I thought this was right up his alley too.  Plus I love how juicy marinades keep your meat while on the grill.  I am definitely not a fan of dry chicken.

Grilled Island Chicken
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1-2 lemons)
1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-4 chicken breasts

1) Combine all ingredients except chicken in a mixing bowl or large airtight plastic bag. Whisk or shake well until the marinade is well mixed.
2) Add the chicken breasts to the bowl or plastic bag so that they are covered by the marinade. If using a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap. If using a plastic bag, press out all the excess air and seal the bag tightly. Refrigerate and marinate up to 10 hours (I would suggest marinading for at least 3 hours at the minimum).
3) Preheat a grill to medium heat. Grill the chicken for 6-7 minutes per side, until the chicken is no longer pink in the center (the chicken should register 165 degrees). Tent with foil and let the chicken rest for about five minutes before serving.

Alternately, the chicken can be baked using the following directions:
When ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the chicken breasts in a baking dish and pour the excess marinade over them. Bake in the oven until cooked through and the internal temperature reaches 165° F, about 45 minutes (exact baking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces.) Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

I think that this chicken is flavorful, but definitely would be a lot better on a sandwich, instead of by itself.  It just needs a little support from some other ingredients.  Mel's Kitchen Cafe also suggests skewering the chicken with vegetables, which I think would be great too.  I definitely think that this will be my base marinade for grilled chicken, we'll just play around with what dishes it goes into.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Blueberry Maple Oatmeal Smoothie

I love when recipe swaps coincide with something I'm craving.  I started jogging (really slow) again this week. When I get home from my so-called jog, I feel like I need something to drink, but something tasty as well.  When I got home the other day, I decided I wanted a smoothie, which was fantastic because the Crazy Cooking Challenge this month was smoothies.


I found this recipe on Closet Cooking.  This blog is written by Kevin Lynch, and his blog has some seriously drool-worthy recipes and photos.  I almost chose some of his grilled cheese recipes for the last Crazy Cooking Challenge.  He also has a lot of really great looking hamburgers and sandwiches.  If you're craving something new, pop over to Kevin's blog.  You'll spend hours enraptured by his pictures and recipes.

Blueberry Maple Oatmeal Smoothie
slightly adapted from Closet Cooking
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen) 
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup milk or fruit juice 

1) Mix the rolled oats into the yogurt and let sit in the fridge over night.  
2) Puree everything in a food processor.

I thought this was great for my first homemade smoothie.  The oatmeal provides great texture and everything goes really well together.  When I pureed everything in the blender, it looked like the consistency was off, but when drinking it, I decided it was the perfect smoothie consistency.

I couldn't taste the maple syrup at all at two tablespoons, like the original recipe called for, so I upped the amount, and finally could taste it in the mixture of ingredients.  In Kevin's description of this recipe, he said that he would throw in a banana if he had one.  I definitely think the blueberries need a little assistance in this drink.  While it tastes good on it's own, it seems like a supporting fruit was missing (my husband thought strawberries would be great, and I kind of thought the banana was an awesome suggestion).  I look forward to playing with this recipe some more and enjoying some other great smoothie combinations.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Breakfast Taquitos

When I wake up on Saturday, the first thing that crosses my mind is "What can we have for breakfast?".  I get tired of cereal and oatmeal during the week, so I use my weekends to make better breakfasts.  Sometimes my husband only wants egg sandwiches, but when I get the go ahead to make something else, I get excited.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

I've been spending more and more time on the Prevention, RD blog.  I love reading about her and her dog Lily, whose relationship reminds me a lot of my relationship with my dog.  She's also moving like I am, so I like to see where she's at in the moving stage compared to us (her move is going much more smoothly than mine is).  I also love seeing her pictures and blog posts.  I wish my food looked as appetizing as hers does.  Maybe someday.  I digress...let's get to the recipe.

Breakfast Taquitos
slightly adapted from Prevention, RD
non-stick cooking spray
12 large eggs
1 1/2 cups 2% plain Greek yogurt, divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup part-skim (2%) Mexican blend cheese, shredded
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons hot sauce (we used green tabasco sauce)
18 (6-inch) flour tortillas
juice of 1/2 lime
1 teaspoon cumin

Optional toppings:
pico de gallo

1) Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray and set aside. (I forgot to spray my foil before I put them in and they were SUPER difficult to free from the this is an important step).
2) If you're roasting your pepper yourself, roast your pepper before you start messing with the eggs. We put ours on the grill until all the sides are red with black splotches, and then take it off and let it sit. 
3) Crack eggs into large mixing bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
4) Spray a large non-stick skillet with cooking spray and head over medium heat. When skillet is hot, add egg mixture to pan.
5) Using a rubber spatula, gently scrape bottom of pan and fold eggs over to scramble. Remove from heat when slightly undercooked. Add cheese, roasted red peppers, green onions, cilantro, and hot sauce to taste. Gently fold to combine.
5) Warm tortillas in microwave to ease rolling process. Working with a few tortillas at a time, place a scant 1/4 cup egg mixture into each tortilla and roll up into a cylinder. Place rolled tortillas on prepared baking sheet, seam-side down. When all tortillas are rolled and filled, lightly spray tops with cooking spray.
6) Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are golden brown and crisp.
7) While the taquitos are in the oven, combine remaining 1 cup Greek yogurt, lime juice, cumin, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Stir to combine and store in fridge.
8) Remove taquitos from oven , let cool for 5 minutes, and then serve with dipping sauce and any desired toppings.

I thought these were a fantastic breakfast.  My husband said they were missing salsa, so he threw salsa on his, but I thought they were great the way they were.  I liked that they incorporate bell peppers and green onions too, so they felt a little heartier than just normal eggs wrapped in a tortilla.  I had never used Greek yogurt in eggs before, and I have to tell you that I'm a fan.  I think it makes them lighter and fluffier than making them with milk.  Definitely will have to make these again for breakfast sometime soon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins

Strawberries are one of those mesmerizing fruits at the grocery store.  I walk past them and they lure me in with their bright red color. So, I buy them and take them home, and the next time I look at them, they are sad looking, and not so appetizing.  But the cycle repeats quite frequently at the grocery store.  Someday I'll beat the cycle...or not.

These muffins came on a day where I remembered that I had strawberries in my fridge that I had bought, and needed to use them.  Some of my recipe swap friends had been posting these, and they sounded awesome.  So this recipe saved some of the poor strawberries in my fridge from going into the trash. 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Muffins
from Carrie's Sweet Life
2 cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
¼ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1.5 cups chopped fresh strawberries

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2) In a mixer cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar.
3) Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and mix until just combined.
4) In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and the salt.
5) Add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Be careful not to over mix.
6) The batter will be thick, almost like cookie dough. Fold in the strawberries.
7)  Spoon batter into a paper lined muffin pan. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way full and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are golden. Cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes.
I became addicted to these little muffins throughout the week.  They are a lot like cupcakes, so I took them into my office, and they were devoured within an hour.  The only problem that I did have was that some of the muffins ended up without strawberries, so you could just decorate the tops with the strawberries instead of trying to fold them into the batter.  This would ensure that every one of these great muffins would have strawberries in them.  The next time you have some strawberries that are sitting all alone in your fridge, think of these and use them up.