Friday, September 28, 2012

Week 9: Macadamia and coconut crusted fish

I've had this recipe for a while cut out of the Chicago Tribune food section.  Even though I don't like coconut I thought this sounded good.  I have to admit it was just OK.  It was fairly bland without the pineapple relish.  Brian didn't like it because of the hint of coconut flavor.  I wonder if it would be better with chicken because chicken has more flavor?  Or maybe you need a more flavorful fish?  N2 ate it because they were forced to eat it.  I probably won't try this again with fish.  I do have a bag of coconut and half a bag of macadamia nuts left.  Not sure what to do with them!

Macadamia and Coconut Crusted Fish

tilapia fillets (I used 3 from Costco)
1/2 cup dry roasted macadamia nuts, finely chopped (I put them in the food processor)
1/2 cup panko bread crbums
1/4 cup flaked or shredded unsweetened coconut (I couldn't find this so I used regular sweetened coconut)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (can use cilantro or chives if you prefer)
1/4 tsp ginger
2 egg whites (I used 1 whole egg and 1 egg white)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used olive oil)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven t 450.  Make sure fish is thawed and pat dry.  Mix chopped nuts, panko, coconut, herbs, ginger, salt and pepper.  Put egg whites in another shallow dish and beat lightly with a fork.  Dip fish into egg whites and then into breadcrumb mixture.  Meanwhile heat oil in an oven safe skillet.  Add fish to pan.  Cook on each side until golden brown about 2 minutes per side.  Put in oven and cook until fish is done.  Mine took about 10 minutes maybe since it was still frozen.  Serve with pineapple relish.

Pineapple Relish

1 cup finely diced fresh pineapple chunks
1/4 seedless cucumber, finely diced (I used a regular cucumber and scooped out the seeds)
2 tbsp finely diced red onion
2-3 tbsp chopped parsley (you can use chives or cilantro)
1/2 tsp fresh lime juice (I used the juice of one lime)
drizzle of sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all in a small bowl.  Let stand about 20 minutes before serving.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Week 8: Ranch Chicken

I wasn't too sure about this challenge as I don't like Ranch dressing.  But I found a recipe that just uses a ranch dressing packets so I thought I would try that.  I was surprised that I liked this recipe!  Brian really liked it!  My kids did not like it but they don't like much of anything these days.  I did find that if I just ate the crust it tasted like Ranch potato chips which I did not like but as long as I ate it with the chicken, I liked it.

Ranch Chicken

1 cup Corn Flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp melted margarine (the original recipe said 1 cube, I had no idea how much that was!)
1 packet ranch dressing mix
chicken breasts (the original recipe says this is for 6-8 chicken breasts, I used chicken tenders and it made about 8 chicken tenders-you might need to increase the margarine)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.  Spray the cooling rack with cooking spray.  Mix Parm, corn flakes and ranch dressing mix.  Dip chicken in melted margarine and then dip in corn flake mix.  Coat well. Place on cooling rack.  Bake for 40 minutes or so or until chicken is done.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Week 7: Zucchini and Rice Skillet

I wanted to try this zucchini dish as well even though I already made 2 different dishes for the zucchini challenge.  This was really good and very much like the Santa Fe chicken dish I make.  I think I like this one better though!  The addition of the fire roasted tomato is so yummy!  My kids ate this but only because we fed it to them.  They did eat it as leftovers the following day wrapped in a tortilla.  They gobbled that up!

Zucchini and Rice Skillet

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium zucchini, cut in quarters lengthwise and sliced
1/2 medium green pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic (I accidentally used this can for another dish, so I used a can of fire roasted tomatoes and threw in 3 cloves of garlic)
3/4 cup water
1 cup minute rice
leftover rotisserie chicken (or cooked chicken)-as much as you want (I used about a breast)
shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a big chef's pan.  Cook zucchini and bell pepper (and garlic if you add garlic instead of using the fire roasted tomatoes with garlic).  Cook until slightly soft-about 5 minutes.  Add in the beans, fire roasted tomatoes and water.  I threw in the chicken at this time too to give it time to heat since the chicken was cold.  Heat until boiling.  Then add the rice, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for about 8 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Serve with cheese.

I added more water (about 1 1/4 cup instead of 3/4 cup) thinking I would need more water with adding chicken.  That was probably too much water.  I had to heat it on the stove to let some water evaporate.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Week 7: Zucchini Cakes

I know I skipped week 6 but I haven't made anything with broccoli slaw that changed the ingredient.  I normally just use it raw and put it in my salads.

I actually made Zucchini Tater Tots first but didn't like them very much.  I think the onion needed to be cooked first or use less onion.  I also changed the ingredient by using half zucchini and half potato.  I froze the rest of the zucchini and potato thinking I would make them again but we'll see!

I made Zucchini cakes the other day when Brian wasn't home and N2 threw them up.  I thought they were good.  I have some leftover and I'm not sure how good they are left over.  They were nice and crisp and had good flavor.  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly except I used fresh garlic instead of minced.

Zucchini Cakes

Whole zucchini
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped finely, or minced
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese (I used grated)
2 eggs
1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

Cut off the top and bottom of the zucchini.  Grate the zucchini using the large holes of the box grater.  Combine all ingredients, minus the oil.  Combine.  Heat oil in a skillet until hot.  Take large spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture and drop in the pan.  Flatten slightly.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until the cakes are golden brown on each side.  Drain them on a paper towel.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Week 4 - Marcie's Taco Cups in Won Ton Wrappers

I completely stole this idea from Becky's pinterest page, but I didn't even use the recipe, I just made up my own.  I made these when Becky was here, but the first time I used just plain taco meat.  They definitely needed something else so that you weren't just eating meat.  The next day I added the corn and black beans, and I was much happier with the results.  I added halved tomatoes to the top of mine, Ben added hot sauce to his.   I really like these; they have a nice taco flavor and feel without all the carbs in tortillas.

Taco Cups in Won Ton Wrappers
serves 3 (or however many you want)

12 small wonton wrappers
leftover taco meat
leftover black beans
cooked corn
shredded cheddar cheese

Mix taco meat, black beans and corn.

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray.  Lay a wonton wrapper in each muffin cup.  Fill with meat mixture.  Top with shredded cheese.  Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

Week 3 - Marcie's Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes and Smoked Gouda

Yes, this is my third smoked gouda recipe for this challenge, but when I started searching for ideas, I found so many that I wanted to try.  So I bought one wheel of smoked gouda, and decided to try them all!

The idea for this recipe came from myrecipes but of course I changed it up some.  I didn't think the smoked gouda flavor came through very well, so next time I would try sprinkling the pasta dish with extra smoked gouda, and then baking it in the oven for 10 minutes (as the original recipe suggested, but I ran out of time and cheese and so skipped that).  Becky, Ben and I all liked this dish, but the kids ate everything plain.

Pasta with Spinach, Tomatoes & Smoked Gouda
serves 6

1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 cup chopped onion 
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups grape tomatoes, cut in half (next time add 1 can petite diced tomatoes)
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
5 cups baby spinach 

6 ounces uncooked ziti

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
 1/2 cup shredded, smoked Gouda cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until softened.  Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the spinach to the pan, stirring until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Combine pasta, chicken, cheese and tomato mixture, stirring to combine.  Serve hot.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Challenges

Here are our challenges so far this summer and what is to come!

Week 1: Spinach
Week 2: Lentils
Week 3: Smoked Gouda
Week 4: Won-ton Wrappers
Week 5: Limes
Week 6: Broccoli Slaw
Week 7: Zucchini
Week 8: Ranch dressing
Week 9: Coconut
Week 10: Crockpot
Week 11: Ginger root
Week 12: Cereal (bonus points if you use Rice Krispies)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Week 5: Lime Chicken

I'm not sure what to call this recipe because while it had lime in it, lime was not the predominant flavor.  I'm not sure what the predominant flavor was though!  It was very tasty anyhow!  The salad in the background also had lime in it.  I can post that recipe on my blog.  I found this recipe for chicken on All Recipes.

Lime Chicken

1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon mustard (or really whatever mustard you have)
4 cloves garlic, finely diced or minced
1 1/2 limes juiced
Zest of one lime
1/3 cup brown sugar (you could probably cut this down a little)
1/2 lemon juiced
freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons oil
Chicken breasts (the above recipe calls for 6 chicken breasts, I used 3 and there was a lot of extra marinade)

Combine all the ingredients, minus the chicken.  Put chicken in a bag and then pour the marinade over the chicken.  Refrigerate all day (about 8 hours-I did mine for 7).  Grill chicken on grill pan or outside.  I also read that you could bake it in the oven with some of the marinade.  If you use the grill pan, make sure that your chicken breasts aren't really thick and make sure to oil the grill pan before cooking.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Week 3 - Marcie's Barbecue Chicken Salad with Smoked Gouda

I have been loving salads lately, and this one was really, really good.  I served it to some of our friends, and I just laid out all the ingredients so that everyone could pick the ingredients that they liked.  It was like a make-your-own salad bar.

Barbecue Chicken Salad with Smoked Gouda
(serves a lot)

spring mix greens
tomatoes, chopped
avocado, chopped
carrots, julienned
broccoli slaw
jicama, diced
barbecue chicken, diced
smoked gouda, diced
bacon bits

barbecue sauce for dressing

you can also serve this with cornbread chunks, but we ate the cornbread separately.

Week 3 - Marcie's Smoked Gouda Stuffed Pork Chops

When I bought a chunk of smoked gouda at the grocery store and realized how expensive it is, I decided that I ought to use it in as many different meals as possible.  So, I picked three dishes, and I am planning on posting all of them.  This was the second dish I tried, and while the smoked flavor was good with the pork chops, the cheese was too melty when the pork chops were finally done, and it didn't have a good presentation or a fantastic eating experience.  I almost feel like you would need to partially cook the pork chop, then stuff it, then finish cooking it, but I don't know how that would work.  So anyway:

Smoked Gouda Stuffed Pork Chops
(serves 2)

2 thick boneless pork chops
4 slices smoked Gouda cheese
2 strips bacon, crumbled (or remainder of a bag of bacon bits that is about to expire)
1 tbsp parsley, chopped

Cut a pocket in each pork chop.  Stuff each pork chop with half the cheese, half the bacon, and half the parsley.  Cook in a skillet with a little bit of oil, about 5 minutes on each side or until pork reaches 145F.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Week 4: Lasagna Cups

Marcie picked won-ton wrappers for the food challenge and I knew immediately what I wanted to do.  I had seen a recipe for Lasagna cups using won-ton wrappers.  But then I had accidentally thawed some bean dip (or a version of it) and was going to make mini taco cups in won-ton wrappers.  Brian also wanted to use won-ton wrappers so we were going to have won-ton wrappers 3 ways.  Alas, we did not have enough won-ton wrappers and then our oven broke as I was about to put the lasagna cups in to bake.  I did modify the recipe since she just used ricotta cheese-I wanted it to be more like the lasagna that I make.

Lasagna Cups
makes 12 cups

2/3-3/4 lb ground beef
2 cups spaghetti sauce
1 cup (or so) part skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 tsp dried parsley (or use fresh parsley)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
24 wonton wrappers

Brown ground beef.  Drain and then combine with spaghetti sauce. (Just a note, I did have about 1/2 cup extra meat sauce which I just froze and can use to make these again or use for spaghetti).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine the ricotta, egg, parsley, Parmesan and mozzarella.  Spray muffin pan with non stick spray.  Lay a won-ton wrapper in each muffin cup.  Add a spoonful of the ricotta mixture.  Then add a spoonful of the sauce mixture.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Lay another won-ton wrapper down in each muffin cup.  Add a spoonful of ricotta and then a spoonful of sauce.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese.

Bake for 10-15 minutes (I did mine for 15 minutes).

*I made my lasagna cups the day before and baked them 24 hours later.  The bottoms of the cups were not crispy at all, in fact they were a little soggy. Perhaps that is how they were supposed to be-I'm not sure if sitting for 24 hours did this or not.  They were still very tasty!  2 cups were very filling.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Week 2- Lentil Veggie Balls

I really wanted to try lentils because of their healthiness and how inexpensive they are.  I feel like I should eat lentils.  When I saw this recipe for veggie balls, I knew how I wanted to try lentils.  I'm sorry to say that while the flavor was quite delicious, the texture wasn't great.  They were grainy.  Brian thought the texture was just too similar-everything was soft.  I think doing a half lentil/half meat of some sort might work well.  I did modify the recipe slightly.

Lentil Veggie Balls
makes about 48 1 inch balls

2 cups brown lentils
1 large onion chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
7 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp (or so) dried thyme
2 tbsp fresh parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp tomato paste
3 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup combination of Panko bread crumbs and regular bread crumbs
1/4 cup combination of toasted almonds and toasted pine nuts, ground

Cook lentils in 2 quarts of water.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes until lentils are soft.  Drain.  Let lentils cool.

While lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in skillet.  Then saute onion, garlic, green pepper, carrots, thyme, salt and parsley in a large skillet.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft but not brown.  Add tomato paste and cook the mixture until the liquid is absorbed about 10-15 minutes more.  Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

When lentils and veggies are cool, combine them together.  Mix together bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, nuts and eggs together.  Add this mixture to the lentil/veggie mixture and combine together using your hands. Let this mixture sit in the refrigerator for at least 25 minutes.

When you are ready to cook the veggie balls, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Use additional olive oil to coat the baking pans (2 9x13 inch pans).  Roll the mixture into 1 inch balls, making sure to pack firmly, and place in baking pans, leaving space in between.  Bake veggie balls for 30 minutes.  Serve with pesto.

*This is the recipe I followed.  I would omit the nuts as they did nothing to add to the flavor.  I would also do 1 cup lentils and 1 lb of ground beef or turkey.  I only ate about 4 of these lentil veggie balls so this recipe makes a lot!  You could easily cut it in half.  This was a great way to eat lots of veggies without tasting too much!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Beet Won Tons

Since Becky was taking on the main dish with won ton wrappers which were thwarted by a broken oven, I figured I should do vegetables, and deep frying them seemed to be a great idea. 

Beet Won Tons

2 medium size beets
3 carrots
¼ onion
3 cloves garlic
24 won ton skins
2 oz asiago cheese, grated
1 egg white
½ t black pepper
celery salt
onion powder
garlic powder 

Grate beets, carrot, onion, and garlic.  Mix together in pot, add water, and boil until beets are softened but not mushy 

Add pepper and half the cheese to vegetable mixture.  Divide mixture into won ton skins and seal with egg wash. 

Deep fry won tons for 3 minutes or until golden.  Place on paper towel and sprinkle with cheese, celery salt, onion powder and garlic powder.  Let cool for 3 minutes and eat hot!

 This one pairs nicely with a Two Brothers Domaine DuPage or another sweet ale.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Week 3-Brian's Fondue Rice (Ingredient-Smoked Gouda

When I tasted the smoked gouda (which I've never cooked with before), I really liked its smoky-ness and an almost beer like flavor.  So I figured pairing it with lots of beer wouldn't go wrong.  Cheese + beer = fondue.  It went really nicely with a Fat Tire in case you are looking for a beer pairing for it.

Fondue Rice
3 chicken breasts, cut in 2” cubes
4 pork and apple sausages, cut in 2” pieces
2 bottles Hefeweizen or other medium ale
1 cup brown rice
½ t garlic powder
½ t celery salt
1 t whole cloves
1 t whole coriander
1 t whole mustard seed
1 t black pepper
½ lb asparagus, cut in 2” segments
¼ white onion, cut in 2” pieces
¼ red pepper, cut in 2” pieces
8 oz smoked gouda, grated
½ c skim milk ( I might do 1 c if I do this one again)

Add 1 c water, 1 c beer, 1 c brown rice to a pot.  Heat until boiling.  Simmer for 35 minutes

 Grind cloves, coriander, mustard seed, and black pepper.

Add remaining beer, garlic powder, celery salt, and spice grind to a pot.  Heat to low boil.  Add chicken.  Simmer until chicken is cooked.

Add sausage to chicken and place vegetables in a steamer tray on top of the meat.  Steam for 10 minutes.

Once all are done, heat milk to a simmer in a chef pan.  Slowly add cheese and rice over low heat. 

Once cheese is melted, add meat and vegetables (no additional liquid).  Mix together.  Serve.

It's a little on the gooey side (Noah thought it looked like Rice Krispie Treats-he was sadly disappointed by the cheese flavor!)

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 1: Spinach Pasta Salad

I finally got around to making my spinach dish and I made something totally different that I had planned to make.  I found a recipe for spinach pasta salad while trying to find a spinach and tilapia recipe.  I had one recipe pinned for Lemon Asparagus Pasta Salad and I combined that with Spinach and Tomato Pasta Salad.

Spinach Pasta Salad

4 cups spinach, cut coarsely or use baby spinach
several handfuls of cherry tomatoes cut in half
small bunch of asparagus cut into 1 inch pieces, cooked gently
6-7 oz small pasta-orzo or ditalini
3 oz feta cheese
half a lemon
freshly ground pepper
Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp capers, drained

Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.  While pasta is cooking, cook asparagus.  Combine spinach, feta and capers in a large bowl.  Once pasta is done, add about 3/4 cup of the pasta liquid to the bowl and mix to combine.  Drain pasta and asparagus.  Add to salad.  Add tomatoes to salad.  Sprinkle on freshly ground black pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Zest half the lemon over the salad.  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on the salad (half the lemon is a little too much).  Combine everything.  You can serve the salad hot, room temperature or cold.  I served it warm.

Brian thought olives would be a good addition to the salad but since I don't like olives, I vetoed that.  Don't go overboard on the lemon.

I'll post the tilapia recipe on my blog soon.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week 2 - Marcie's Red Lentil Curry

This is probably a very boring lentil dish (for David, especially), but I don't often make curries, and both Ben and I thought this would be worth making again.  I really liked it on the naan, but thought it was a little grainy when eaten plain.  I think of lentils as grainy anyway, though, so I was happy to find a recipe where I didn't mind the graininess.

Oh, and I only slightly modified the original recipe on allrecipes.

Red Lentil Curry
(serves 5)

1 1/2 cups red lentils
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger root, minced
1 (14.25 ounce) can petite diced tomatoes

Rinse the lentils until the water runs clear.  Cover the lentils with water, and cook until done.  I boiled mine for about 2 minutes, then simmered for maybe 5 minutes more.  I probably could have cooked them for less time.

Meanwhile,  saute the onion in the oil until softened.  Combine the next 9 ingredients (the spices) to make a paste, and add to the sauteed onion.  Cook for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the diced tomatoes and simmer until the lentils are done.  Drain the lentils.  Combine the lentils and the curry sauce.  Serve with naan and basmati rice.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week 1 - Marcie's Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto

I got this recipe from Laura (Halbert) VanHorn's blog, which she seems to have given up on.  I thought a lot of her recipes looked interesting, but this is the first one I've tried.  Of course I had to change a few things.  :)   Ben and I both really liked this.  Amelia ate the gnocchi, but said she didn't really like it.  Megan was still working on finishing her food from lunch, so she didn't get any, although she did steal a few tomatoes off my plate.

Gnocchi with Spinach Pesto
(serves 3)

4 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup almonds

1 box whole wheat gnocchi
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 cup feta cheese

Blend all pesto ingredients in a food processor.  You are supposed to add the oil last, but my food processor is small and it wouldn't blend up right without the oil being added at the beginning.

Drop the gnocchi in a pot of boiling water.  Boil for 3 to 4 minutes, or until gnocchi float to the top of the pot.  Drain.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet, add the cooked gnocchi, and cook for 2 minutes, or until gnocchi is golden brown.  Gnocchi will stick to the skillet.  Add tomatoes, cook for another 2 minutes or until tomatoes are heated through and starting to soften. 

Mix half the pesto with the gnocchi and spinach mixture, top with cheese and serve.

Freeze remaining pesto.