Friday, October 22, 2010

Girls' Night Out: Red Velvet Whoopie Pie

I don't want to get into how long its been since I was a care free co-ed living the college life but one thing is sure I don't see the girls as often as I use to. While we might not have ended the night by drinking till they kicked us out of the bar, it was still a great night and even better when I woke up feeling clear headed and remembering everything! With the temperature dropping and a pregnant friend to satistfy I decided to bake something fun for an after dinner treat.

As the notes say on the Food Network site - please don't expect this to come out exactly like a red velvet cake, whoopie pies are a bit closer to a cakey cookie. While I really liked them as is, I think that making them even more bite size would have been better as they were quite the mouthful.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mexican Chicken Stew and a give away!

Recently I have learned about an amazing new protein to use for dinner... boneless skinless chicken thighs! I know these aren't new but I have just always used chicken breasts. Since my resolve a few years back to get over my fear of raw chicken, I have come a long way. From only cutting partially frozen or cooked chicken to actually roasting a whole one, even if I did need help getting the giblets out! Now I have found out how tasty and delicious the thigh is especially when seasoned correctly. This dinner was made possible by one of my new favorite discoveries. Seasoning Rubs are such an easy way to add a lot of flavor with out many calories (careful though some rubs have sugar added)

Because the thighs are boneless, you can get this dinner done pretty quickly though I think that you would also be fine adapting this to a crockpot or dutch oven and letting the chicken cook down. Feel free to change the heat level of the dish by adding more or less hot peppers, my CSA just sent home a bag of the little hot ones and I couldn't resist them all cute colorful ...luckily they didn't over power things.

I was lucky enough to get a goodie bag of Goya treats from Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program that helped the make this dinner possible and want to share! Please leave a comment below and I will pick someone at random to win a prize pack with coupons and 2 recipe books containing some great easy dinners using Goya products.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Simply Indulgent: Roasted Vegetables with Seared Steak

Even though I love to cook, I have to admit there are many nights that I come home from work tired, annoyed, aggravated, hungry, over-worked and just not in the mood to cook. But unlike in the movies, a fairy Godmother never shows her face to cook me my dinner while I relax in a nice bubble bath (and while we are talking about that no one cleans the tub so I can take that bubble bath either!). This is where some stand by favorites come into play. This dinner is about the opposite of time consuming or thought provoking but it tastes good, pretty much cooks itself and it fancy enough that you could even serve it to company! What makes it even better is that a little prep in advance, gets this dinner on the table in the time it takes to sear a steak (about 15 min total including rest time).

The secret of this dinner is to peel, cut and dice the vegetables ahead of time and then dress with oil and herbs and roast. I try to do a big batch on Sunday or whenever I have a few hours of TV time to enjoy.  My veggie roasting involved 2 pans this time, one for harder root veggies (potatoes in this case) dressed with rosemary & thyme and one for some of the softer end of summer veggies: bell peppers, zucchini, eggplant, red onions etc with just some salt, pepper, olive oil and a bit of basil and oregano sprinkled on top. When its time to serve either heat in the oven for a few minutes at 350 F or about 3 minutes in the microwave (or a hot frying pan). Just don't forget the cardinal rule of veggie baking (and stir-frying): even size vegetables have even cooking times!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Phabulous Phish Pheast! a seafood extravaganza v.2

A while back we visited a friend out in Freeport, NY (Long Island) for the Seafood Festival and it was so much fun. It seems that seafood is one of those things that you love it or hate it... And we absolutely love it! After that adventure I kept making excuses to travel out to Long Island with a cooler stashed in the backseat to visit the fish market out on the pier, Two Cousins. Then we decided to kill two birds with one stone, he would come visit....with the cooler full of fish so we could have a fun visit and some delicious seafood! Seafood Extravaganza v.1 included some red snapper, fried calamari and fried soft shell crabs.

This time we had even more friends over and more seafood options including our first Iron Chef style showdown with a mystery ingredient! We decided that every guest would attempt a seafood dish and we would all have fun cooking together. And I have to say it actually did work out for the most part! But as always I decided to make about 3 dishes and so we decided to split dinner into two parts with a short rest in the middle were I finished my prep. The one big note for the evening was to get your mise en place all set and ready to go- while each recipe is easy in itself when you have 3 or 4 things to prep in a short time doing each little step takes time!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cajun Shrimp Lettuce Wraps & Salmon Ceviche

As part of the seafood extravaganza, I made quite a few dishes but these two stood out as the favorites of what I made! My original thoughts for the night included a fried shrimp po'boy but concerns over my ever expanding waist line and wanting something a bit fresher tasting over a heavy fried shrimp I kept the main idea but changed my execution. I kept the cajun spice flavors on the shrimp and the all-important creamy remoulade sauce but dropped the roll in favor of a leaf of Boston lettuce.   For my recipe, follow the link at the bottom of the post.

The salmon ceviche was my first attempt at this South American classic. While versions are served in many countries south of the border, I think that Peru is probably the most famous for it. I think that one of my first encounters with ceviche is at a restaurant in NYC called Sushi Samba which blends traditional sushi dishes with South American flavors for an exciting fusion cuisine. I took a look online to see if there was anything that matched up to what I had eaten there and serious eats had posted a recipe! I followed this recipe pretty closely but instead of making lox-like slices with the salmon I cubed it to make it easier for eating and added avocado as suggested in the comments.

Better Late than Never: Fresh Caught Tuna

While I work for a large company with a few thousand employees, my division is quite small - just 4 of us in the USA! Like most small offices we have our share of office chit chat and as is probably no surprise to my readers - I like to talk food! My coworkers are often subjected to pictures of my latest creation but I figure its just about even as they get to show off their children to me.

Over the summer, Mike was getting ready for a big fishing trip and I made my feelings know on fresh fish....YES PLEASE and MORE! Well monday morning came and as I strolled into the office Mile took me aside very seriously and said he needed to speak to me in private.... uh oh? Um it wasn't me? Luckily instead of a lecture I was gifted 2 lovely tuna fresh and beautiful I almost hesitated to cook them. In the end a quick sear  and some salt & pepper was all I could manage on these beauties with a simple side of steamed broccoli. Just another check in the delicious, local, fresh food doesn't need all that crap or a complicated prep to make it mouth watering column!

*FYI these pictures went missing for a while but some fall email cleaning unearthed them and this dinner was too delicious not to share - the fishing trip actually took place around the end of July*

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Comfort Appetizers: Healthy Tuna Melt

Appetizers enhance any social gathering, whether its for two or two hundred, miniature versions of your favorites are always welcome at a party. Here in the Tri-State area, there is one late night spot that everyone enjoys - your local diner. Its definitely better than takeout and you can hang out and chat about the nights events before you head home. Diners are known for their classic, comfort food available 24/7. This bite-size version updates some of the flavors with a fresh garden twist.

After getting started on this dish I noticed that I didn't have any mayonnaise available so a traditional tuna salad was out of the question.  I did have a lot of vegetables and the plain greek yogurt that I purchased for my breakfasts...everything I needed to add a bit of green to my dish.

To assemble
1) Use cookie cutter to create a round - brush with butter and grill each size 4 min till browned
2) Add 1 slice beer cheese (obtained from Findalay Market, Cincinnati, OH) and allow to melt
3) Grill slice of tomato and top bread
4) Add a scoop of tuna salad and a sprinkle of shredded cheddar

Tuna Salad
2 cans water packed tuna
2 tbsp plain greek yogurt 0%
1 small cucumber - seeded and diced
1 celery - diced 
1 carrot - diced
2 tbsp fresh cilantro minced
1 hot pepper - seeds removed - finely diced
salt & pepper