June 3, 2013

Bittersweet

I'm at a bittersweet time in my life right now.

I'm heading off to college! Surprise! I'm so excited to be heading out of state and into CO. It is such a beautiful state, and I will be living in a whole new, exciting, amazing campus.

But this also means an end to many of my high school endeavors. I won't be able to bring my food photography props with me, nor will I really be cooking (no kitchen, after all!) This, along with my longing to fully embrace different college experiences, has made me decide to stop posting on this blog. I am thankful to everyone who has read it, especially AK and UJ (you know who you are!), and thankfully the recipes will still be around to view!

Thanks so much, and have fun!

Michelle

May 27, 2013

Swai with Sweet Potato Hash

Sometimes I honestly have no idea what to talk about on here. I can't bring myself to just go right into the recipe, because I like to share personal stuff, but it can be hard (especially when I have this delicious guy above)! After all, I view my life as not so incredibly exciting. I figure I work an average job, with an average (and lovely) family, and with mainly common hobbies. So instead, I am going to be (slightly) un-healthy and tell you guys the deliciousness that I had at Dairy Queen today.

I work at Dairy Queen, which means I get to do a lot of... experimenting, shall we say, with various flavor combinations (not that our customers don't as well-- I still remember the customer who ordered a Hawaiian and Mint Oreo combo-- ugh!). But yesterday, I made pure heaven when I combined Spanish peanuts (salty, crunchy), hot fudge (gooey, thick, warm), and brownie bites (rich, fudgey, chewy) in a vanilla ice cream blizzard. So. good. Next time you go, give it a try!

Anyways, onto healthier fare:

I made Swai for the first time! According to Monterrey Bay Aquarium, "Basa, Pangasius and Swai are used interchangeably when referring to two species of farmed river catfish from Asia." It is a good alternative to less environmentally-friendly white fish, and tastes incredibly like Halibut. It doesn't have that muddy taste that catfish does, and it was fun to experiment!

This slightly sweet dish, with perfectly cooked fish and a crispy potato hash flavored with a hint of lemon and thyme, feels like summer! The weather has been perfect lately, which always puts me in the mood to make some light and bright dishes. This is a show-stopper, and oh so good!
 
Swai with Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 4                  Serving Size: 1c. hash and 1 fillet

Ingredients:
  • 2tsp olive oil
  • 1/2red bell pepper, diced
  • 1c. diced onion
  • 1 Serrano pepper, diced 
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, cooked, skin on, diced
  • 1 small yellow potato, cooked, skin on, diced
  • 1c. corn
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1tsp fresh thyme, minced
  • 4 (4-oz) Swai fillets
  • 1/2tsp pepper
  • 1/2tsp salt

Instructions:
  1. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add the bell pepper, onion, and serrano; saute for 2 minutes on high. Add the zucchini, potatoes, and corn; cook until browned, about ten minutes, stirring often. Add corn, lemon zest, and thyme; cook for one minute. Remove from pan.
  2. Spray the pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over the fish. Add to pan; cook approximately 6 minutes per side on medium-high, or until cooked through. Coat with lemon juice.
  3. To serve, place 1c. hash and 1 fillet on each of four plates.

May 22, 2013

Coconut Red Curry with Vegetables

Do you ever find yourself feeling sentimental?

Today, I was talking to a friend of mine and she mentioned how she is really starting to feel sentimental about high school and our high school teachers. It was weird to me to think about, because I hated high school, but I also did really like a few of the teachers I had. The math department, in particular, was fantastic. 
But after our talk, I realized that I couldn't really recall very many moments where I have truly felt sentimental. That could partly be because I am young-- not a lot of experience in sentimentality yet. But I also think that I tend to focus so much on the task at hand that I sometimes ignore the better parts of my past. Yeah, high school had its awful moments, but my experience there helped me into Colorado State University and taught me how to deal with people who were, well, to put it simply, drama mosquitoes. 


When I was thinking back on it, I remembered this recipe that I once made my math/psychology (yes, he taught both) teacher. Although he was incredibly fit, and you wouldn't guess he was unhealthy based on his looks, he ate terribly. Hot pockets, ramen, no fruit, no vegetables, pizza, burgers, beer-- the list goes on and on. The female teachers would usually bring him their leftovers, because he rarely had a lunch and sometimes not even a breakfast. Well, this obviously tortured me-- he was my favorite teacher and since I believe so strongly in being healthy, I wanted to help him out. I started bringing him food (often test recipes from this blog) starting in second semester. This recipe is one of them.

 
Eggplant is cooked in a rich coconut red curry sauce until tender and meaty, then mixed in with hearty bella mushrooms, bright lemongrass, and sweet bell pepper. With hints of ginger, sesame, and curry powder, and served over brown rice, this dish is sure to please!

Coconut Red Curry with Vegetables
Serves 4             Serving Size: 1/2c. rice plus 1/4 of curry mixture          Calories/serving: 319

Ingredients:
  • 1tbl olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1" cubes
  • 8 oz slices bella mushrooms
  • 1 yellow (not bell) pepper, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2c. light coconut milk
  • 2tbl red curry paste
  • 1 stick lemongrass, cut into 4 pieces
  • 1/4tsp curry powder
  • 1/4tsp ground ginger
  • 2tbl toasted sesame seed
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 1/4tsp pepper
  • 2c. cooked brown rice
Instructions:
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the eggplant to the pan; cook for 5 minutes on medium. Add the mushrooms, peppers, coconut milk, curry paste, and lemongrass to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then turn to low and cook for 20 minutes, or until eggplant and mushrooms are tender. 
  2. Take the lemongrass out of the pan; add the curry powder, ginger, sesame seed, salt, and pepper.
  3. To serve, ladle 1/2c. rice into each of four bowls. Divide curry evenly among the dishes.

May 17, 2013

Raspberry-Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

It feels like summer!!

I can't even begin to explain how wonderful this week has been. I ran my first 5k last week, the Flagstaff Color Vibe, and the weather was absolutely perfect. We have had highs in the 70s and 80s, and even though it is monsoon season it stays wonderfully warm as it rains (side note: isn't rain just one of the most beautiful forms of weather? I love the way it smells! Side note in the side note: did you know the smell of rain actually comes from spores being released by bacteria in various vegetation that are activated by the rain? Hence why Arizona rain smells different than, say, Washington rain. You gotta love crazy stuff like that!)

I have been training for about a month, and I am so proud of myself and the team for finishing! Plus, getting blasted with color was oh so fun! 

When it is so warm and wonderful outside, I can't help but think of raspberries and lemon. I absolutely adore them as a combination, because they both have that tart-citrus-sweet flavor that is a perfect pick-me-up. Because of this, I decided to make a moist (gah, we need a different word!) and bright lemon layer cake with raspberries and cream cheese frosting!
Look at that beauty! I am no cake decorator, so this recipe is thankfully very easy. I was inspired by this recipe from cooking light, which I have had in my "to do" recipe box for, no joke, about six months. I just couldn't wait for berries to be on sale in our market so I could put my own spin on this guy! The cake is not cloying sweet, and the cream cheese frosting is a perfect way to balance the citrus flavor of the lemons. The raspberries really make this cake feel lighter and, well, happier. They add a pop of color and a burst of berry flavor, which makes for great presentation and an even greater cake!
P.S.
I added chocolate, too.

Raspberry-Lemon Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from this recipe from cooking light
Serves 12                    Serving Size: 1 slice             Calories/serving: 165 

Ingredients

Cake:
  • 1c. light vanilla soymilk
  • 1tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1c. all-purpose flour
  • 1c. whole wheat flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2c. splenda
  • 2tbl olive oil
  • 1/4c. plus 2tbl applesauce
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • 2c. raspberries, fresh, washed and dried
Frosting:
  • 8oz fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  •  1/4c. brown sugar
  • 1/2c. to 2/3c. splenda, depending on desired sweetness (I used 2/3c. because I was feeding it to some teenagers, but for adults I assume 1/2c. would be acceptable)
  • 2tbl mini chocolate chips
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Meanwhile, combine soy milk and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside for at least ten minutes (it should get a bit foamy).
  3. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the splenda, oil, and applesauce together with an electric mixer for 1 minute, or until well-combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with each egg added. Add the flour mixture and the soymilk mixture alternately to the splenda mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the zest and juice of the lemon.
  5. Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with flour-added cooking spray, line the bottoms with wax paper (great how-to instructions here), and then spray with more cooking spray. Pour the batter into the [ans, and sharply tap each one once to remove any air bubbles. Bake at 350F for 32 minutes, or until cooked through. Cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack; then carefully invert the pans onto the rack so the cakes can cool out of the pans for another hour. Make sure to remove the wax paper!
  6. To make icing, combine cream cheese, vanilla, brown sugar, and splenda; beat on high until fluffy and light (about 5 minutes).
  7. To make the actual cake, place one of the cakes on a serving platter. Frost with about 1/3 of the frosting, and place 1c. of raspberries on top. Make dots of frosting on top of the raspberries, until only 1/2 of the frosting remains. Top with the other half of the cake, and frost that as well (it helps to make a huge pile of frosting in the middle and then spread it out gently to the edges). Top with remaining raspberries, and chocolate chips.

May 10, 2013

Tofu and Vegetable Rice

I feel like my entire concept of meat has totally changed.

This week my Language and Composition Class was focusing on topics from the Sustainable Table, which discusses various food themes such as organic, free range, local, pesticides, etc. Part of the presentations I saw were on farm factory animals and also on the meatpacking industry.

I can't even begin to explain how horrified I was to hear about the things that animals have to undergo when they are being turned into our food. Did you know that baby pigs have their tails and teeth clipped off, which seriously limits their communication since pigs use their tails to communicate? Or that little baby chicks are de-beaked? Or that some cows are forced to become so large through the use of growth hormones that their legs give out under their own weight?
And these are just the minor issues that the poor animals have to face. Pigs get cut open while still alive. Chickens are hung upside-down before being shocked. Many animals are in such unsanitary conditions that they have to be pumped with antibiotics every day, which is awful. It's the most horrific scene imaginable. I had no clue that the meat I was buying was endorsing these horrible practices. 
I thought long and hard about going vegetarian-- after all, I barely eat any meat already and I love protein-rich vegetables sources like beans and tofu. But I have a family that eats meat, and likes meat, and that can't give up all protein sources. So I decided that, from now on, I am going to eat only animals that have been raised free-range (and, in the case of cows, grass-fed as well, because they get horrible digestion problems from the conventional foods). Also, I am going to focus a lot more on only eating meat once or twice a week, max, and avoid ordering it at any restaurants that don't get it from free-range sources. We are also looking into buying our eggs locally now, which is actually cheaper than at the store!


These cows looks a bit happier, don't they?

The reason I am talking about this is for two reasons. The first is this: we, as consumers whose money is powerful, need to be more aware. I don't expect everyone to change, but I think that if more people knew how the animals suffered then they would not want to be associated with such practices. I love the taste of meat, but I cannot morally allow an animal to die screaming in pain as its stomach is sliced open just so I can have a pork chop with my mashed potatoes for dinner. Please, educate yourself about where your food is coming from. At the end of this post, I have a bunch of links to direct you towards if you want more information.

 
The second reason is so you will understand the change in many recipes that I am going to post on my blog. They will be less meat-focused, often vegetarian entirely, and the meat I do use will call for various free-range or cage-free practices. This is better for the animals and, I believe, for ourselves-- by caring for the world around us, we become more responsible, compassionate, and kind individuals. I'm not saying that I am a saint or better than anyone else who eats conventional; that would be such a ridiculous claim! But I want to do what I can to become a part of the group that knows the pain animals are in. And the world needs as many people like that as it can get.


In light of this, I decided to make an absolutely divine Tofu and Vegetable Rice Stir-Fry. This dish captures the fresh flavors of spring by combining sweet peas, crisp red bell pepper, chewy mushrooms, bright green onions, and delicate summer squash. A spicy mix of hoisin, freshly ground chile paste, and lemon juice makes this dish complex, burning, and incredibly satisfying. 

Tofu and Vegetable Rice
Serves 4              Serving Size: about 1c.

Ingredients:

Marinade:
  • 2tbl freshly ground chile paste (Sambal oelek)
  • 2tbl hoisin
  • 1tbl honey
  • 1tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • juice of one lemon
Rice:
  • 6 oz extra firm drained tofu, cut into cubes
  • 4oz bella mushrooms, cut into cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small summer squash (such as zucchini or yellow), cut into cubes
  • 1/2c. sliced green onions
  • 1c. fresh or frozen peas
  • 2c. cooked brown rice
Instructions:
  1. Whisk together the Marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add tofu, and toss to coat. Allow to sit at ten to thirty minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat a large skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, red bell pepper, and squash to the pan; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until starting to turn tender. Add the green onions and tofu (with the marinade) to the pan; cook another 4 minutes on medium, stirring often. Add the peas to the vegetable-tofu mixture; cook 2 minutes or until warmed through.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the rice and the vegetable-tofu mixture, and toss well to combine (you want that marinade coating everything!) Serve with more green onions, if desired.

May 4, 2013

White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches

Warm weather.

Stressed students.

Extra cocoa powder that is dying to be turned into rich, fluffy sandwich cookies.

And a craving for smooth, creamy ice cream with a touch of sweet white chocolate and the brightness of fresh raspberries? 

How about White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches?

I thought so.

White Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream Sandwiches 
Serves: approximately 18             Serving Size: one sandwich            Calories/Serving: 116

Ingredients:

Ice Cream:
  • 3c. 2% milk
  • 2/3c. splenda
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 package sugar-free white chocolate pudding mix
  • 1c. fresh raspberries, broken into smaller pieces
Cookies:
  • 1c. fat-free milk
  • 1/2tsp white vinegar
  • 1/3c. sugar
  • 2/3c. splenda
  • 1/4c. light margarine, softened
  • 1tbl olive oil
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1c. whole wheat flour
  • 1c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp baking soda
Instructions:

To make the ice cream: 
  1. Combine the milk, splenda, and egg yolk and beat very well. Chill for at least four hours. When ready to make, remove the mixture from the fridge and add in the white chocolate pudding mix, beating for only one minute. Transfer to ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.About 5 minutes before the freezing is done, add in the raspberry chunks so they can evenly distribute into the ice cream.

To make the cookies:
  1. Combine the milk and vinegar in a small bowl; set aside for ten minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  3. Meanwhile, cream together the sugar, splenda, margarine, and olive oil with an electric mixer on high speed until very well combined, at least 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla extract and eggs; beat well. In a separate bowl, combine flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; sift to combine. Add half of the dry mixture to the butter-egg mix, mix until combined, and then add in all of the milk-vinegar mixture. Mix until combined. Finish by adding in the remaining dry mixture, and beat until the batter is well-combined. 
  4. Line a baking sheet with cooking spray and parchment paper. Using heaping tablespoons, spoon the batter onto the sheet, leaving about 2inches between each. The texture of the batter is reminiscent of a mixture between a cake and a muffin; not too thin, not too thick. Don't be alarmed if the cookies start to spread out slightly when you scoop them onto the pan: this is supposed to happen.
  5. Bake for 9-10 minutes at 375. Allow to cool on wire racks. 

To make the sandwiches:
  1. Freeze the cookies in a single layer for at least 1 hour. This is essential!
  2. Remove the ice cream from the freezer, allowing it to thaw slightly to make scooping easier. 
  3. Take two sandwich cookies, flat bottom sides facing up. On one of them, spread about 2tbl ice cream; top with the other cookie. Freeze for at least one hour in a tightly sealed container/Ziploc; if freezing for longer, give about 15 minutes to thaw before serving.

April 25, 2013

Salmon with Aspargus "Pesto"

You might get mad at me about this recipe.

I can think of a few reasons. The most likely would would be that you will pretty much want to make this asparagus pesto and slather it onto every single piece of food you eat for the next week. And that would be a lot of washing of the food processor. But it would so be worth it. I know, because I tried it. Bread? Check. Omelet? Check (don't judge). Pasta? Yeah, a definite freaking check. The asparagus adds a woody, fresh flavor; and it's an economical/environmental plus as well because asparagus is in season and costs next to nothing at my local store!

So yeah, you can get mad that you will be addicted. I kind of (not really) apologize for that. The second reason you might get mad is because, well... this isn't exactly a traditional pesto. Yes, the basil, lemon, garlic, and pine nuts are all there. But, well... I kinda sorta totally omitted the olive oil.

I know.
Trust me, though! You will not miss the olive oil one bit, because this pesto has all that wonderful richness and flavor of traditional, fat-loaded, salt-intense ones. I was reading up on pesto and was made a bit hesitant by a bunch of comments that basically said anyone omitting olive oil from a pesto is a greedy, health-conscious idiot and that it would ruin the flavor. I wish they had been able to try this recipe, because those comments couldn't be more incorrect! I know that olive oil is a "good" fat; but I also know that I can get my intake of that in other ways. I have managed to create a pesto full of deep, bright, and fresh flavor-- without loading it up with calories.

Maybe when you taste this pesto-laden, rich, savory salmon over a fresh bed of vegetables, you will forgive me?    

Salmon with Aspargus "Pesto"
Serves 4             Serving Size: about 1.5c vegetables, 1 salmon filet, and pesto            Calories/Serving: 358

Ingredients:
  • 1 and 1/4lb raw salmon, bones and skin removed, cut into four (4-oz) filets
  • 3/4tsp salt, divided
  • 3/4tsp pepper, divided
  • 8oz (1/2lb) uncooked asparagus
  • 1/2c. chopped green onions
  • 4oz (about 3c. packed) basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • Zest and juice of 2 large Lemons 
  • 4oz fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 (or 2 if strong is preferred) large garlic clove, finely grated or minced
  • 3tbl pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2c. fat free cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4c. chopped Swiss chard
  • 2 small yellow squash, cut into circles
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, sprinkle 1/2tsp of the salt and 1/2tsp of the pepper onto both sides of the salmon. Make four large rectangles out of aluminum foil, spray the center with cooking spray, and place a filet of salmon on each rectangle. Fold up the edges of the rectangle to make a pouch around the salmon, making sure the edges are tightly sealed. Transfer the packets to a baking sheet, and bake at 400F for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until light pink and cooked through.
  3. While salmon is cooking, cut the asparagus stems into quarters and boil in the boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until slightly tender but still bright green. Remove asparagus from the water; reserve about 1/2c. of the cooking liquid for later use.
  4. In a food processor, pulse the cooked asparagus until finely chopped. Add in the green onions, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, spinach, garlic, pine nuts, and fat free cream cheese. Pulse until very well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the reserved cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached. Season with 1/4tsp pepper and 1/4tsp fine salt. Set pesto aside.
  5. To serve, combine Swiss chard and yellow squash in a medium bowl. Evenly divide the chard-squash mixture among four serving dishes, and top with a filet of salmon each. Evenly divide pesto among dishes. Serves 4.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...