Friday, April 29, 2011

Salad Week

This week my goal was to eat salads every night for dinner. That is Monday-Thursday. I did every night but I didn't only have salad.  I unexpectedly had some sea bass, and then one night I had some wild salmon, I also had some tofu on one salad.  Pretty much the only night I didn't have anything else besides a salad was when I made this caesar salad.  It's so easy to make and these croutons from Whole Foods are so yummy! I don't usually like processed foods like this but these were such a time saver.  I never have bread on hand so I just buy a pack of these when I'm going to have a caesar salad.  Works perfect!  I like this caesar salad dressing because it's not creamy and tastes pretty light.

Caesar Salad Dressing 
Adapted from Cook Like a Champion 

1 garlic clove made into paste or grated
2-3 T lemon juice
1/2 t worcestershire sauce
6 anchovy fillets, patted dry and minced or smashed into a paste, about 1 T
2 large egg yolks
5 T canola oil
5 T extra virgin olive oil

Combine garlic and lemon juice in a bowl.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  Whisk in worcestershire sauce, anchovies, and eggs.  Whisk in oils until dressing is emulsified.  Add pepper to taste. 

The original recipe calls for adding in parmesan cheese into the dressing but I don't think it's necessary.  You can just add the parmesan to the lettuce and croutons. Don't be worried about the eggs yolks.  I've made this dressing 2 times and never felt weird.  Once it's all mixed in you won't even know it's in there. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Family Dinner

Monday nights dinner was very simple and unexpected.  My dad had caught a striped sea bass on his boat on Sunday so I got to reap the benefits. I really don't know much about striped sea bass and had never cooked it before so I had no idea what to do with it. I also had no idea what it looked like so I included that picture for ya'll. The skin was really pretty!  Last week I made a recipe called panko crusted salmon so I basically did the same thing but with sea bass. Unfortunately, I was pretty much out of panko and had to mix it with bread crumbs (not my favorite).  It still turned out excellent though.  I brushed it with dijon mustard, and then mixed the bread crumbs/panko with lemon zest, S&P, flat leaf parsley, and olive oil. I then smushed it--yes, smushed it-- onto the sea bass and stuck it in the over at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes.  It was cooked perfectly and had a delicious flavor.  

I served this with  my favorite salad.  It's red leaf lettuce, chopped apple, craisins, walnuts, and blue cheese dressing. As you can see, I LOVE this salad and was totally happy having the salad take up most of my plate. 

This dinner was really only made because of some unexpected fish!  I'm so thankful I get to eat such fresh fish since I never buy it in the stores.  I hate farm raised fish and have a weird tendency to think store bought fish tastes funny (I know, it's all in my mind!). Luckily, my dad's favorite hobby is fishing and I've been so fortunate to eat all kinds of fresh halibut, salmon, rock fish, and now striped sea bass. 

In the panko/bread crumb mixture I have Meyer lemon zest from my Nanny's Meyer lemon tree.  She is constantly giving away her Meyer lemons and I love receiving them.  It's so nice being able to have tons of lemons available for baking, eating fish, making lemonade, or whatever!  I hate when I have to buy lemons at the store.  Sometimes up to 79 cents for one! It's crazy! 

My salad has walnuts from my Aunt Betty's tree in her backyard. I get a huge bag every year from her tree and it's become a tradition for my mom and I to crack them together at her house.  We use hammers and sit on the floor in their shop.  I love it! 

It was a delicious light dinner and I felt pretty special that 3 parts of the meal came from my family.  It's nice  eating locally and organic when it's given to you for free. : ) Thanks guys!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tofu, anyone?

I've never been one to make tofu at home. That is not to say I've never had good tofu, because believe me, I have. I love tofu in pad thai, especially from Sea Thai Bistro.  I've only made tofu successfully a handful of times but then again, I've only tried a handful of times.  In fall of 2004 my mom and I took a vegetarian cooking class at the Santa Rosa Junior College.  I believe it met once a week for 8 weeks.  In those 8 weeks I learned;
1) I like heirloom tomatoes (huge milestone for me considering at the time I HATED tomatoes)
2) I like tofu and
3) strange people take cooking classes.
I think the main reason I don't make tofu at home more is because I never really see any eye-catching recipes out there for tofu.  Last Sunday morning when I was making my grocery list, I decided I wanted to make tofu stir-fry.  I found a recipe online by Martha Stewart.  I've actually never made a recipe by her besides baking recipes.  In all honesty, this recipe didn't turn out how I would have liked.  I felt like the tofu was very bland and  I won't even tell you how David described it.  It's too embarrassing. The picture above is deceiving!  Now, my question is, do you have any great tofu recipes I should try?

This is the recipe that made me interested in tofu back in 2004.  I've made it a few times and I think it's a keeper.  I hope you'll enjoy it too.

Spice Baked Tofu

12-16 oz tofu, drained and pressed
1 T chili powder
2 t cumin
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 t fresh oregano
1 T lime juice
1 T olive oil
1 T tamari

Combine all ingredients, except tofu, in a glass baking dish.
Cut tofu into cubes.  Marinade the tofu for at least 20 minutes.
Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn cubes over and bake another 10 minutes more or until the tofu is firm and has absorbed all the marinade.  Use at once or reserve for later use.

P.S.  Can anyone who grew up in the 90's not  think of Doug and "Killer Tofu" by The Beets, when thinking about tofu? Here are some of the amazing lyrics. 
"Fast food feels fuzzy
'Cuz it's made from stuff that's scuzzy
I always thought I was such a nerd
I refuse to touch that strange bean curd
I wouldn't eat it-
But it tastes good
Ah Ee Ooh

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Banana-Nut Bread Oatmeal

True Fact: In the past I was never a big breakfast fan.  I think it's because I used to eat cold cereal or my mom recently reminded me that when I was in high school I used to eat buttered toast with sugar and cinnamon. How nutritious. In recent months I've started to love breakfast. After a year of reading food blogs and  David eating oatmeal every morning I've learned to love it.   Now, I actually crave oatmeal in the morning.  There's so many different toppings and variations.  My normal weekday toppings consists of sliced almonds, coconut shreds, and chai seeds. Though on the weekends, I like to fancy it up a bit.

Banana-Nut Bread Oatmeal 
serves 2 
1 c oats
1 c milk (any preferred liquid)
1/2 t vanilla
1 ripe banana, mashed 

Toppings are, but not limited to, brown sugar and walnuts.

Combine first 2 ingredients in a medium pot on medium heat.  Let cook for 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more liquid depending on the consistency you prefer.  Pour in vanilla and banana.  Mix thoroughly.  Remove pot from heat. Top with chopped walnuts and 2 t brown sugar. 

This oatmeal literally tastes like banana-nut bread - which I love but it's also very rich.  I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.
Do you like oatmeal?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

I am a huge pizza fan.  I really haven't met too many people who aren't.  When I see a new recipe for pizza in any magazine or on any of the food blogs I read, I jump on it!  I came across this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, Pink Parsley Catering, and knew I had to try it.  I usually make pizza on Sunday's because I like to make my own pizza dough, and that's a day when I have time to let it rise.  My pizza dough is really simple.  I like to use half whole wheat flour and half all purpose.  I think it gives the crust more texture and flavor.  This pizza ended up turning out uuhhhmazing!  Both David & I loved it.  David said he didn't even miss the meat. It is a bit spicy so if you're not a fan of spice, bring the 1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes down to 1/8 t. It's a perfect vegetarian pizza and I can't wait to make it again.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Adapted from Pink Parsley Catering

1 pizza dough
1 bundle of asparagus
2 t olive oil
1/4 t crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 c shredded parmesan
8 oz shredded mozzarella
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 scallion, chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Stretch pizza dough onto a cookie sheet or pizza round.
Prepare the asparagus by laying it down on a cutting board.  While holding the woodsy end, shave thin slices by moving the vegetable peeler from the bottom to the tip.  Mix asparagus shavings in a medium bowl with the olive oil, red pepper flakes, garlic, salt, pepper, and juice of 1/2 lemon.
Scatter parmesan and mozzarella cheese all over the pizza dough.  Spread the asparagus all over the pizza.  If there is any olive oil left in the bowl, drizzle it over the pizza.
Cook pizza for about 10-12 minutes, making sure the crust is golden-brown and the asparagus is charred in spots.
Remove pizza from oven and sprinkle with scallions.  Allow to cool before slicing.

What is your favorite beverage to enjoy with pizza?  Do you like to pair it with a nice cold beer?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oatmeal Pancakes

Today's recipe is from Cooking Light magazine.  I've adapted this recipe a bit to fit  my needs & really, anyone can do it too.  I've changed it by using brown sugar instead of granulated, pumpkin pie spice rather than cinnamon, or used half pureed pumpkin and half buttermilk.  It's easily changeable and that's what I love about it.  The original recipe called for quick cooking oats but since I never have them on hand I grind up my own regular oats, works perfectly!

Oatmeal Pancakes

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup ground regular cooking oats
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t ground cinnamon
1/8 t salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 T butter, melted
1 large egg

1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl
2. Combine buttermilk, butter, and egg in small bowl. Add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.
3. Heat a nonstick griddle over medium heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray or butter.  Spoon about 2 1/2 tablespoons batter per pancake onto griddle.  Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles, cook until  bottoms are lightly brown.

I usually top these with some sort of jam.  I never knew how many calories were in maple syrup compared to jam until I looked at the labels.  I've looked over my maple syrup and it contains 210 calories per 1/4 cup and 53 grams of sugar.  My jam contains 40 calories per 1 tablespoon and 10 grams of sugar.  If I were to use maple syrup I would most definitely pour heavy, so I stick to the jam.  
What's your favorite topping for pancakes? 

Monday, April 11, 2011

How I love thee...

Last night for dinner I made  Spring Green Risotto.  Plain and simple, I LOVE RISOTTO!  There’s something about making (& eating!) risotto that I love.  It’s such a labor of love with all that stirring.  I also love watching the Arborio rice get more and more starchy which causes it to get creamier.  I’ve made risotto probably about 10 times so by no means am I an expert but I have picked up some tips on making it. I use a large sauce pan, my largest sauce pan to be exact.  I also usually add 10-15 more minutes to the cooking time as all the recipes I’ve tried usually call for it being done in 25-30 minutes.  I’ve yet cooked risotto that fast.  Like I mentioned before, it’s a labor of love and by that I mean, you’re going to stir for longer than you’d probably like.  Usually when I’m stirring the rice, I’m just standing there thinking, so it’s kind of peaceful in a way.  Since the cooking time is always longer than recommended I’ve also learned you need to usually use at least ½ cup more liquid than called for.  There’s nothing worse than running out of hot liquid but you need more because the rice still hard.  The recipe I used was from Annies Eats which is one of my favorite food blogs.  Since I had peas, asparagus, and white wine all on hand it just seemed like the perfect meal and oh boy, was it ever! 

Here is the link to the recipe: Spring Green Risotto

I did make a few changes such as using neufatchel cheese because it has 1/3 the fat of cream cheese & I wasn’t about to drop my dough on mascarpone, although I wish I could. : ) Other than that change I used ¾ cup wine and 5.5 cups on chicken broth. I definitely recommend making this risotto.  It just screams Spring!

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