Friday, January 28, 2011

Butternut Squash Triangoli

It has been one hell of a week. Work was crazy, the boy is out of town, and I have one really nasty flu. I'm doped up on Sudafed, Advil, and lots of tea. It's times like these where, if I am even hungry, I need something quick and homey that doesn't take a lot out of me to make. I had some Butternut Squash Triangloli that Trader Joe's now carries and figured I'd add some vegetables to my vitamin lacking body. You can substitute the peas with spinach, kale, green beans, really any dark vegetable would suffice.

I know I have posted a previous butternut squash pasta recipe before but this is a nice tweak on it. I add pancetta, shallots and peas and also make it lighter without the brown butter sauce. I add some of the pasta cooking water and along with the vegetables, makes a nice and light sauce.

Butternut Squash Trangoli with Peas:
1 Package of TJ's Butternut Squash Triangolini
2 oz. Pancetta
1 tsp butter
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup frozen peas
5 springs of thyme, leaves picked
Salt and Pepper

Bring a large pot filled with water up to a boil. While the water is heating up in a sauté pan, start cooking the pancetta over medium heat with the olive oil. Once the pancetta is crispy, take out with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel. Add the shallot and garlic to the pancetta fat and let sweat.

Once the water is boiling, add a hand full of salt and add the pasta. Cook for 4 minutes.

Once the shallot has cooked a few minutes, add the frozen peas, butter, the thyme leaves a touch of salt, and some cracked black pepper. Once the pasta is cooked, add it to the sauté pan with 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Gently stir to combine everything.

Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve with a caprese salad.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Homemade Kettle Corn

Popcorn is my comfort food.  I absolutely love it and sometimes loathe it.  Love the crunch, the airiness, and the playfulness of popcorn.  I HATE the fact that it gets stuck in your teeth.  I started making my own popcorn with kernels which makes it much healthier for you and you know what is going in your food that you make.  This recipe takes just as long as popcorn in the microwave but I think tastes much better.

Kettle Corn:
2 tbsp corn kernels
1 tsp vegetable/peanut oil
1 pinch of salt
few grinds of black pepper
1-2 tbsp. granulated sugar

In a deep sauce pan, heat the oil on medium high heat and add the corn kernels.  Add the pinch of salt, pepper and sugar and stir to coat all the kernels.  Once the corn starts popping, cover tightly with a lid and shake every few seconds until the kernel popping slows, take off the heat immediately.  Stir everything to combine and sprinkle with a bit more salt.  Pop in a movie, and enjoy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Strawberry Dreams

The Tipsy Pig in San Francisco makes a Strawberry Fields which is as addictive as a Dexter episode.  I changed it up a bit switching out the Vodka for Light Rum and added mint.  It turned out to be a really nice and refreshing drink.

Strawberry Dreams:

3 oz Light Rum
Juice of 1/2 a Lime
6 strawberries, roughly chopped
2 sprigs of mint
1/4 cup crushed iced
1 tbsp sugar or splenda
dash of white balsamic vinegar
Splash of club soda

In a Boston Shaker, muddle the rum, strawberries, lime juice, sugar/Splenda, vinegar, and mint.  Strain into martini glass, fill with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs.

Stuffed Poblano Peppers

I saw this recipe in YumSugar and I really like the idea of making a healthy Poblanos Stuffed with Cheddar and Chicken,  I've been house sitting for my parents for the past two weeks and the fact that they have a granite covered kitchen completed with a Viking range and a Bosch dishwasher makes their kitchen a lot more enjoyable to cook in.  I've been cooking up a storm and found a great recipe that I love.

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers:

4 Poblano Peppers
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (bake in a 400 F oven for 35 minutes with olive oil, salt and pepper)
salt and pepper
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1/2 Fresno Chili pepper, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. coriander
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
 3 tbsp. tomato paste
1-2 splashes of water
2 cups of white cheddar cheese, shredded

If you have a gas stove, place the Poblano Peppers directly on the flame to char the skin on all sides of the pepper.  If you have an electric stove, turn on the broiler and put the peppers on a baking pan, char the peppers on all sides.  Once the peppers are well charred, place in a paper bag or glass dish with enough room to cover with saran rap to steam them for 15-20 minutes.  Once cool, remove the skin of the pepper (it should come off fairly easily, use some cold water if necessary.  Slice one side of the pepper and take out the stem and all the ribs and seeds from the pepper.  Place on a aluminum foil lined sheet tray face up.

In a saute pan, sweat the onions, garlic and Fresno Chili with some salt and pepper.  Once softened, add the chili powder, coriander, oregano and cumin, stir to combine and toast the spices a bit.  Add the chicken and the tomato paste along with a few splashes of water.  Stir to combine and taste for seasoning, adjust to your liking.  Add 3/4 cup of the cheese to the mixture and stir to combine, it will melt a bit.  Toss in the scallions and chopped cilantro at the very end.

Add the chicken and vegetable mixture to each pepper equally and then put the remaining cheese on top of the mixture in the pepper.  Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes till the cheese is bubbly and gooey.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cucumber Salad

This is my go to salad when I have any sort of Asian Dinner.  It's crisp, clean and tasty.

Cucumber Salad:
1/4 cucumber, sliced in half moons
2 tbsp sliced scallion (about 1 scallion)
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 pinches of white sugar
2 splashes of tobasco
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil

Make the dressing, then add the cucumbers and scallions.  Toss to coat and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Citrus Sesame Chicken

I saw this recipe on YumSugar that looked absolutely delicious, but needed some tweaking on my part.  You let the chicken marinade for at least 30 minutes (preferably 3 hours) and then bake in the oven.  It's a pretty healthy way to make some really tasty chicken.  I used drumsticks but you can use breasts or thighs as well.

Citrus Sesame Chicken:

6 chicken drumsticks
1/3 cup sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 tbsp. chili garlic sauce (I like Lee Kum Kee)
1 tsp. hoisin sauce (Lee Kum Kee)
zest and juice of each lime, lemon, and orange
1 1-inch knob of ginger, graded
3 garlic cloves, graded or finely minced
1/2 jalapeno, finely minced (with or without the seeds, depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. peanut oil

Toasted sesame seeds and chopped scallion for garnish.

Combine everything but the chicken and stir to combine.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary, you want it to be sweet, salty and spicy.  Pour everything into a zip lock bag and add the chicken.  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes, better if you can let it marinate for a few hours.

Take out chicken from the fridge and preheat oven to 425 F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (please don't forget to do this, you'll have one hell of a mess if you don't) and spray with non stick spray.  Place chicken on the sheet tray and bake in the oven.

While the chicken is baking, pour the marinade in a sauce pan and reduce the sauce till syrupy (about 7 minutes).  After the chicken has been baking for 10 minutes, take out and baste with the thickend marinade.  Put the chicken back in the oven for another 10 minutes and repeat the basting.  Take out the chicken when done, probably after 30-35 minutes of cooking. 

Garnish with toasted sesame seeds and green onion.  Serve with some brown rice and a cucumber salad.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Roast

Christmas this year was a little out of the ordinary, we had the boy, his roommate, my college roommate and her mother all over for Christmas Dinner.  Every Christmas we either do a Duck or a Standing Rib Roast.  This Christmas because we had so many people a Roast was not only requested but required.  This year I decided to do something different and add a breadcrumb crust.  It came out juicy on the inside, and crisp on the outside, most of all, everyone loved it.
Photo courtesy of the boy's roommate...

Standing Rib Roast:

1 4-5 pound rib in roast
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
1 tbsp. salt and pepper
1 tsp. sugar
few pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 - 1 tsp. chili powder
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. freshly chopped thyme
1 tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil

Take out the roast 1 hour before cooking, pat dry with paper towels, and let come up to room temperature.  Preheat the oven to 425F.
 Combine the breadcrumbs and all the herbs and spices together.  Add the olive oil in till the breadcrumbs will "paste" together or so.  Once combined thoroughly, press all over the roast firmly so it sticks to the meat.

Place on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side down, and put in the oven.  Roast for 45 minutes, turn the pan around, and check temperature of the meat.  Continue to roast the meat till it is medium rare (about 1.5 hours), you should take out the meat at 140 F.  Let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes (it will still stay warm) and slice thinly after resting, then serve.