Thursday, June 25, 2015

Honey Ginger Salmon


 

If you are a regular reader of this blog you have probably noticed I haven't posted anything with fish in it. 

It is not my favorite.

 Unless it's raw. Or a crustacean. Or made into a fish stick with a lot of tarter sauce.

Cooked fish is just so...fishlike. I am generally not a fan. My husband on the other hand could eat fish every day of his life.

After a recent trip to Japan (much more on that later) and a large consumption of fish and fish products I figured it was time to try out one of those floppy creatures in my own kitchen.

As a non lover of cooked fish things, this was pretty good. Chances are if you have a family member who is as hesitant about fish as I am, this may be worth a try. 

The sauce is really flavorful. Soy sauce, ginger and honey make a sticky crust on the outside of the salmon. It's really nice and makes the fish really tender. This is also so simple to prepare, it even works in a toaster oven!

Ingredients

1 pound of salmon 
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of fresh grated ginger (1 teaspoon ground ginger would also work)
4 tablespoons honey


 Combine the sauce ingredients in a large plastic bag. Let the salmon marinate in the bag for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, place the salmon and the sauce into an oven safe dish.


Bake the fish at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the fish  just starts to flake apart.


The fish went really well over a bed of fluffy rice along side some sauteed cabbage. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Almond Cake

 

 A moist piece of cake is one of my favorite things in the whole world. Tender, buttery cake with a hint of almond flavor just makes a gal's day. Not to mention the icing that goes on top just makes it even better. I got this recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook I received for my wedding. This butter cake recipe is so yummy already, but the almond flavoring just sends it over the top.

This easy recipe is perfect to bring to any potluck or would be a really good birthday cake. No matter when or where you serve this, people will love it!

 Ingredients

3/4 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
 1 1/4 cup milk

Frosting
2 sticks of butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 + cups of powdered sugar

 
First, the most important thing is to make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature.  Some would do this by planning ahead and leave everything out for an hour or so, but I typically use a much speedier method. For the eggs, place them in a bowl of hot, but not boiling water for about 5 minutes, this helps make the batter much fluffier.


Beat the butter with an electric mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add in the room temperature eggs, and sugar slowly. Beat this for about 2 minutes. Continue mixing and add in the vanilla and almond extracts.


In a small bowl (or large measuring cup) combine the flour, salt and baking powder.


Add about 1/3 of the dry mixture to the bowl of buttery fluffiness. Mix just until this is combined. Add in about 1/3 of the milk ( I warm the milk in the microwave for about 30 seconds until it is no longer cold) and mix well. Keep alternating these two mixtures, mixing well until you are out of both the dry ingredients and the milk. Make sure to scrape the sides and mix the whole thing for another minute. 


 Grease a 9X13 pan well and pour the batter in. Tap the cake pan on the counter a few times to release any bubbles that could cause holes in the cake. 


 Bake the cake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Let the cake cool completely before frosting. For the frosting recipe, combine all the ingredients with an electric mixture until the mixture is light and fluffy. If the frosting is not stiff enough, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar at a time until you reach the desired consistency. 

 

Frost the cake using the back of a spoon, cut and serve.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chicken Green Chile




Colorado is experiencing some weird, weird weather. Even more so than usual. In fact what is so unusual about it is how consistent it has been. It has rained almost every day for the last month and a half. 

The rain and clouds have chased away what is usually a sunny and hot time of year. Personally, I am ok with it.

If it's chilly and raining, you can make green chile. I love a good bowl of spicy, roasty tasting green chile. I usually make it with pork, but I recently tried it with chicken and it was just delicious. 

Green chile is great just on it's own in a bowl with a sprinkle of cheese and a few chips. It is also a great addition to beans and rice, burritos, tacos, nachos or even mixed with velveeta to make a delicious queso. It may even be good on a car bumper. It's just so tasty, almost anything goes with it. 

Not only is this beyond delicious, it is super easy to make. You can do this in the slow cooker, on the stove top or in the oven the way my mom does it. 

Ingredients 

2 - 3 medium sized chicken thighs (bone and skin included)
salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 27 ounce can of whole green chilies
1 14 ounce can of diced green chilies
1 14 ounce can of Rotel tomatoes and peppers
1 14 ounce can of Mexican style diced tomatoes
1 to 3 jalapenos, diced depending on taste
2 teaspoons of chicken base

There's not really a lot of instructions to go along with this. Just add some salt and pepper to you chicken thighs. Dump everything into a large, oven safe pot with the lid on. I like my green chile a little watery, so I fill up the cans about 1/4 of the way with water and add it to the pot. It also helps to  get every bit of the goodness out.  Cook for about 4 to 6 hours at 350 degrees. Shred the chicken and remove the bones. If it tastes flat to you, just add a little more chicken base. 


Yum.
 
That's it. This recipe makes a lot, but it does freeze really well for any time you need it.

If you are using a slow cooker, cook on low for about 8 hours and it should be perfect. For the stove top, simmer the whole mixture for about 4 hours, stirring occasionally.



Monday, June 15, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies



 Every once in a while, a girl just needs a cookie. Cookies are probably my favorite group of desserts for so many reasons. 

They are somewhat small, portable and come in so many great flavors. The outside is just slightly crispy while the inside is soft and chewy. Peanut butter cookies are some of the tastiest and the easiest to whip up when cookie cravings call for you.

This is a recipe I have been making for the last decade. I have tried others, but they are just not as good as these tender and butter cookies. This tried and true recipe comes from my all time favorite cookbook from Martha Stewart. I got the Favorite Comfort Food cookbook for my 13th birthday. Yes, I was a terribly cool child.

I have made this recipe so many times, I can make it from memory. If you or cook for someone who has a peanut allergy, almond butter works really well with this as well. 

Ingredients 

 

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup peanut butter (I use smooth, but chunky is also great)
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, plus more for optional decorating

Cream the butter and peanut butter together with an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add in the sugar and blend well. Crack in the egg and  pour in the vanilla and mix until combined. Slowly add the flour and mix just until the dough comes together. 

Collect 2 tablespoons of the dough and roll it into a ball. Place the dough on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until you have about 12 on the sheet. Dip a fork in a touch of flour and press it into the cookie dough making one pass vertically and one horizontally. Repeat this for all of the cookies. 

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for about 10 to 12 minutes. When the cookies are firm around the edges, take them out of the oven and let them rest for about 10 minutes. Moving these little beauties will cause them to fall apart. 

Once the cookies are cool enough to move, place them into an airtight container. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Fire up the Grill


Man Crates

What makes a great cookout? That is the question that has been posed to me by the company Mancrates. 

Never heard of Mancrates? They are a company that makes really cool gifts for men. They fill a crate with products that just ooze manliness and then ship it to you with a crowbar for your fella to open up. 

In celebration of the start of BBQ season they have asked me to include some of my favorite things that really make a cookout special. 

Clearly, the food is super important. First, I love to have guests bring a side with them so everyone gets to have something they like regardless of food allergies and tastes. Not to mention everyone has the opportunity to try out new things. It doesn't hurt that this creates a little less work for the host or hostess! 

Some of my favorite sides I like to add to any BBQ get together include:



 







All of these have great flavor and go well with whatever the host is making for the main dish.

As far as logistics go, the outdoors need to be considered. I am not sure if citronella candles actually help keep bugs away, but they at least give you the illusion they might combat those nasty biting critters.  I am also a big fan of things that provide some shade. Whether it be an awning, a tarp or umbrella, it is needed for us ginger folk to enjoy the out of doors.

As far as providing refreshments, iced tea and lemonade are always a safe bet. People can drink them as is, mix them together for an Arnold Palmer or mix them with whatever libation they bring with them.

As with most meals, my favorite part is the dessert. I love a good fruit dessert after a great BBQ. Fruit desserts a sweet, but not too heavy and hit the spot after a great meal.



 





Any of these or even some grilled pineapple with ice cream is a delicious way to end your cookout or BBQ. I hope you make some of these as you fire up your grill this Memorial Day!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thai Peanut Noodles


 

Thai curry paste is a superhero of flavor in any recipe you make. It reminds me of a bunch of clowns in a tiny car. Thai curry paste often comes in a petite little jar, but it has so much flavor and makes anything you cook taste like you put a ton of ingredients in it. The red paste is my favorite. It is spicy, tangy and it is so versatile in so many dishes.

One of my favorite ways to use this is with rice noodles with chicken and vegetables. The sauce is so yummy and rich but takes very little time to whip up. 

Try this out and you will love it!

Ingredients 


1 to 1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 green bell peppers, chopped 
3 Tablespoons red Thai curry paste
3 Tablespoons peanut butter
1 can of coconut milk
1 teaspoon chicken base
1 package of straight cut rice noodles
cilantro, chopped
red pepper flakes (optional)


Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the vegetable oil. 

Brown both sides of the chicken until the outside is golden. You could cut the chicken into small pieces now, but I really think the meat stays the most tender and juicy when the meat is left whole until the end.


Remove the browned chicken from the pan and set aside for a few minutes. Add in the green pepper and saute for about 2 minutes. Add in the curry paste, peanut butter, coconut milk, and chicken base. Stir this until the mixture combines. Return the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium low and cover until the meat is done on the inside. This should take about 15 minutes.


When the chicken is almost done soaking up all that yummy sauce, throw the rice noodles into boiling water. Cook these for only about 4 to 5 minutes, just until they are almost tender.


Once the rice noodles are done, take out the chicken and cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Add the noodles to the pot and stir the whole mixture together. If you want to add a little more spice, add in the red pepper flakes. 


Just before serving, add in the cilantro and give it one last stir. This is a great dish to spice up any weeknight meal!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies


Shortbread is one of my favorite cookies to serve people. They're never too sweet and they can be dressed up in all kinds of different ways to be extra special. Not to mention the butter flavor. Everyone likes butter. Well, good people like butter. 

This is my latest favorite way to make shortbread. I had read about putting Earl Grey tea into cookie dough. As a tea lover I thought it was a crazy idea to put loose tea into a cookie. As I would read the recipes the thought of gritty tea in my teeth made me cringe bit. However, many pinterest reviews couldn't be wrong, and they weren't. 

These cookies are fabulous. 

I am not usually a lover of Early Grey tea. It's just not my cup of tea.

However, in these cookies it is just fabulous. The lightly smoky flavor of the tea really comes through and there is absolutely no grit. 

Not even a little bit. 


Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour 
2 teabags of Earl Grey tea


First, blend your softened butter with an electric mixer. Make sure it is light and fluffy. Then add in the sugar, and flour. Beat this for about 30 seconds on medium speed. 

Add in the flour and tea. Then mix by hand until the ingredients are just combined. 
 

 The dough will be a bit sticky, but don't be tempted to add more flour until you have let the dough chill. 


 You can either cover the bowl with plastic wrap or dump the whole pile into a sheet of the shiny stuff. Then let this chill for about 30 minutes to an hour. 


Take about 1 tablespoon of the dough and form a ball. Then squish the ball to form an even disk of the dough. 
 

Bake the cookies for about 10 to 15 minutes at 350 degrees just until the tops are barely golden.

These are just a perfect snack that will brighten your day!