Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reader Challenge #5 (Strawberries and Cucumbers) | Salmon with Strawberry Cucumber Salsa

This is it folks, the last reader challenge. I had so much fun with all of your suggestions. I think my next personal kitchen challenge will be "obscure fruit or vegetable challenge" there is a really awesome market by my work and I always find things there that I have never seen before, and never have the gonads to buy and try to do something with. So, that will be my next challenge for myself. If you have suggestions throw them out, I can't guarantee that I'll find it, but if I can I'll buy it and try to do something with it.

Before getting to the recipe can I just tell you that I cannot, cannot stand when you are driving behind someone who is driving alone and they take their right arm and wrap it around the passenger seat. Why do people do this? I have never had the urge to pull the movie theater, yawn arm wrap around stretch to the passenger seat, what is the thinking behind this.

And another horrible thing. My father-in-law looks like Michael Douglas, the other day I tried to watch Basic Instinct and I couldn't because I kept seeing him in all the crazy sex scenes. *Shudder*.

So, I got this recipe from a website called Taste Book. Here goes:

  • 1/2 English cucumber, finely chopped
    1 green onion (green part only), thinly sliced
    1 Tbl. Fresh mint, chopped
    1 tsp. sugar
    2 tsp. rice wine vinegar
    1 c. fresh strawberries, ¼ inch diced

    Grill a nice fresh piece of salmon and top with salsa.

    Rating = Damn Good

    I  had left over salsa and just threw it in a tossed salad the next day and it was great in the salad.

    Thanks again guys, I really enjoyed this challenge.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Reader Challenge #4 (Beets and Kale) | Beet, Kale, Mango Couscous

Sorry it took me so long to post this, I actually made it last weekend, but  just haven't had the opportunity to post it. I was so glad to get beets as a vegetable because I recently found out that I frigging love beets. I mean, I love them if they don't come out of a can, if they are picked up fresh from the market, roasted and topped with a little sea salt. I actually planted some beets a little while ago, goodness I hope they make it because I would really love to go to the back yard next month and pull some fresh beets out of the ground. 

My Google search for beets and kale came up with a recipe from a blog called The Adventurous Eater, and a post titled "New Orleans Return" Lentil Salad: Beets, Mango, Kale, Caramelized Onion and Shallot I didn't really understand the New Orleans part until I put the whole salad together and realized it was all Mardi Gras King Cake colors. Definitely a festive looking salad. I made minor changes to the recipe, and going forward, I would make this recipe again, but instead of couscous I think I would use orzo pasta, I think that would be an even better option.

This recipe is very good - great for cookouts as the side dish can sit outside and you don't  have to worry about eggs, mayo or anything else going bad in it, plus it's really pretty.

Here's how I made it.

Beet, Kale, Mango Couscous
2 beets, ends removed and individually wrapped in tin foil with a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sea salt, crimped shut at the top, roasted on a sheet pan about 60 to 75 minutes; remove from the oven and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes (rub off skin with a paper towel once cool enough to handle, cut into a large dice)

1 small yellow onion peeled and cut along the grain in 1/4" slices, caramelized in a medium size pan with a combo of olive oil and canola oil and a pinch of salt over medium-low heat for about 45-60 minutes.

4-5 large kale leaves rinsed, deveined, and cut into large chunks, then sauteed/wilted for about 10 minutes over medium-medium-high heat then drained of excess juices.

1 mango, flesh diced (you can saute for a few minutes if you wish, I did)

vinagrette of 1 part balsamic vinegar, 3 parts olive oil, 1 TBSP dijon mustard, 1 TBSP honey, 1 pinch sea salt, healthy squeeze from 1/2 a fresh lemon

1 cup dry coucous prepared to package instructions.

Toss lentils with vinaigrette, add salt and additional lemon juice to taste. Add beets, onion/shallot mixture, kale, mango, cheese, pepper, and additional salt to taste as needed. 

Rating = So God Damn Good

Seriously, this recipe is amazing, try it, either with couscous or orzo past. Thanks for the recommendation I am so glad I got to try this combination.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Reader Challenge #3 | Kale and Bananas or Black Bean, Kale and Banana Wonton Wraps

When I got the challenge for Bananas and Kale I knew immediately that I would be doing some sort of black bean, banana, kale combination. I thought I was going to make empanadas, but after searching for an acceptable low fat dough recipe and not finding one, I decided the best alternative would be to use a wonton wrapper as my casing for the mixture. I used a black bean and banana filling recipe from vegetarian times and simply added wilted kale to the recipe. So awesome. I can't tell you how good the filling is, the smokiness of the cumin and coriander, the sweetness of the banana, the earthiness of the black beans....awesome awesome awesome. Chris thought they could have been improved upon if I had sprinkled the tops of the wrappers with cheese before baking them, I personally think that's gilding the lily a little, but he's entitled to his own opinion, and he's more than welcome to slab some grated cheese on his wraps if he wants. Now, what I will say is that maybe, a nice cilantro, mango, salsa would have been nice on the side, but I didn't have any so I just ate them plain.

Black Bean, Banana, Kale Wonton Wraps
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 clove garlic minced
2 bananas peeled and diced
2 cups chopped kale, stems removed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili pepper (or cayenne if you want it hotter)
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
16 wonton wrappers

To make filling, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion 4-5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add beans and garlic, reduce heat to medium, cook 3 minutes. Add kale, heat until starting to wilt, about 3 minutes. Stir in bananas, cumin, cayenne, coriander and salt, cook 2 minutes or until bananas start to break down and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro.

Let filling cool before making wonton wraps. When filling is cool using one wrap at a time, moisten the long end of the wonton wrap furthest from you, add about 1-2 tablespoons to the center of the wrap, fold the unmoistened long end over the filling, bring the short ends in over the wrap and roll to create an egg roll shape, seal with additional water if needed and place seam side down on cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick spray. Repeat until all filling is used.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.

Seriously, I almost burned my mouth off because they looked and smelled so good that I didn't let them cool all the way before I shoved them in my pie hole. Let them cool a little them shove them in your face and enjoy.

Rating = So God Damn Good

Friday, April 09, 2010

Reader Challenge #2 - Artichoke and Snow Peas | Brown Rice Salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Snow Peas and Artichoke Hearts

I am kicking the crap out of this challenge. I actually found two recipes for this combination, one a side dish and the other a main course. I decided that I wanted the side dish, but I may go back and make the pasta dish at a later time. 

This brown rice salad is awesome. I loved it. Hallie, you're a genius for thinking of this combination, and you know its good when your dinner guests ask for seconds and thirds. The recipe actually came from Fitness Magazine. I think this may be the first recipe I've ever found in a fitness magazine that I've actually made (internal thought: must look at more fitness magazine websites for recipes). Push HERE to be taken to the original recipe. See below for how I changed it just slightly.

Brown Rice Salad with Sundried Tomatoes, Snow Peas and Artichoke Hearts
1 cup snow peas (about 30) trimmed
1 jar marinated artichokes drained (6oz) (I fully realize this was cheating, but I just was not ready to tackle an artichoke yet)
1/2 cup fat free Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
3 cups cooked brown rice chilled
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
15 sundried tomatoes (dry packed) thinly sliced

In a large bowl combine all ingredients including baby spinach, toss well to coat the spinach and the brown rice with dressing. Serve at room temperature.

Rating = So Damn Good

I only have one more reader challenge, which is sad because I'm really liking this challenge.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Reader Challenge #1 | Asparagus Apple Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette

This picture sucks - sorry, I was rushing because we had dinner guests and the looked at me weird when I started taking pictures of their plates - I explained the whole blog thing to them, they seemed intrigued.

I AM LOVING THIS CHALLENGE. I'll post the recipes in the order that I get the combination requests. So, first, Brenna's combination of apples and asparagus. I absolutely love this salad; the blue cheese, asparagus and apples all work so well together. I wouldn't change anything about this recipe except that next time I would cut the asparagus onto smaller pieces, and dice the apple instead of slicing it, just to make it easier to eat - essentially so you just need a fork, not a knife and a fork.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, and was featured as a "Derby Day Menu" so I assume it would pair nicely with a Mint Julep, which I am sorry to say I have never tried. Every year when the Kentucky Derby hype starts, I tell myself to order one of this drinks while I watch the race and for some reason - I never seem to fulfill my own request. Has anyone had this drink? Does it taste like shit or is it really a nice drink, I mean it's not like anyone talks about this drink at any other time of year besides this horse race. Anyway. If you are planning a Derby Day party, add this lovely salad to your spread.

Brenna, thank you for this combination, I never would have looked for nor made this recipe without the suggestion, and I would definitely make it again.

Asparagus Apple Salad with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette | Cooking Light
1 WW point

1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
(I used a lovely blue cheese from France that I got at a specialty food store, I think having the more pungent blue cheese really added to the salad  don't get the pre crumbled crap in the cheese case at the local grocery store, get a good cheese)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups diagonally cut (2 inch) asparagus (next time I would cut it into smaller pieces)
4 cups torn butter lettuce
2 cups thinly sliced gala apples (next time I would dice them)

Combine first 9 ingredients stirring with a whisk.

Cook asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain. Combine the asparagus, lettuce and apple in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette, toss lightly to coat.

Rating = So Damn Good

Thanks Brenna!