Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Asian Inspired Risotto

Gordon Ramsey would probably have my head if he heard me say my risotto was Asian inspired. But what's the fun of cooking if you can't get creative?

For the past several weeks I have been on such an Asian kick, cooking things like Spicy Sesame Soy Noodles, Asian Pulled Pork, Yakitori, Vegetable Lo Mein, and finally got to cook with Sriracha Sauce in this Grilled Sriracha Chicken. Seriously, I have been cooking so much Asian food that Jon's only request the other night was "not Asian!" He has loved everything, but needs a little break.

But before he said that, we decided to make the Grilled Sriracha Chicken for the second time in 2 weeks last week. I wanted something other than noodles for our side. I thought about fried rice, but prefer to cook rice the day before I fry it, and I was just an hour out from dinner. I ran with the rice idea though and decided to try adding Asian ingredients to risotto, leaving out the cheese.

It was such a huge success - almost like creamy fried rice!! It had so much flavor - woody mushrooms, bright ginger, and the salty and nutty flavors from the soy sauce and sesame oil. I will absolutely be making this again!

Here is what I did (and I made it all up as I went along) -

  • 4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • Approximately 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • Approximately 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp ginger, grated (separated)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 large crimini mushrooms, stems removed, chopped
  • 1 c arborio rice
  • 1/4 c white wine (was wishing I had sake - I will try that next time)
  • Green onions, chopped (topping)
  • Pour broth into a pot; add soy sauce, sesame oil, and half of the ginger. Heat over low heat.
  • Melt butter and oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, the rest of the ginger, and mushrooms. Saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add rice to the pan and stir until everything is mixed and the rice is coated and the edges are starting to turn translucent.
  • Add the wine and stir until absorbed.
  • Lower heat to medium and add 1 ladle of broth. Stir until absorbed. Continue adding broth and letting it absorb until the rice is completely cooked, but not mushy - it should still have just a touch of bite. This process usually takes me 15-18 minutes from the time I put the first ladle-full of broth into the rice and I start tasting the rice about 12 minutes into this process.
  • Top with green onions, adjust any other seasoning, serve immediately.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Recipe Swap: Yakitori

I love the Blogger's Choice them in the Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swaps. It is when you are given another blog, and you can cook any recipe in that blog.

This time I was given the blog Oishii and I can't tell you how excited I was! I knew right away that I had to make an Asian dish as the authors lived in Japan for a few years.

As I started to browse, I was checking off so many recipes that I decided to make 2 specifically for this swap. This first recipe is Yakitori, and I recognized it as something I have ordered in Japanese restaurants. The second recipe I chose was for Vegetable Lo Mein (see below post).

I was surprised at the simple ingredient list for the marinade - just 3 things in the marinade. But wow, the flavor these 3 simple things gave the chicken was incredible. Jon and I ate every last piece of chicken - delicious!!! And because of the sugar in the marinade, it caramelized while on the grill, making it sticky sweet. We loved this!

Here is the recipe. The original recipe calls for chicken thighs, but we used chicken breasts.

  • 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 1-2 TBS. brown sugar
  • 5 green onions (thick green onions work best)
  • 6-8 bamboo skewers
  • Combine the soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar. Pour over the chicken either in a shallow dish or ziploc bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or overnight. (I marinated the chicken for 8 hours)
  • Soak bamboo skewers in water for 30-60 minutes before cooking.
  • Slice the thick part of the green onions into 1-inch long pieces, reserving the thinner green part for another use. Set aside.
  • Heat grill to high
  • Assemble the yakitori. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade and put on the skewers, along with the green onion pieces. Grill for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Vegetable Lo Mein

This is my second recipe for the Taste of Home Cooking Blogger's Choice Recipe Swap.

The blog I was given, Oishii, had so many good recipes that I couldn't choose just one for the swap. I made Yakitori (see above post), and this Vegetable Lo Mein to go with it. The original recipe used leftover salmon in the lo mein, but I kept it vegetarian.

I have made lo mein a few different ways, and really enjoyed this recipe. I think this may be my new go-to sauce recipe for lo mein! We love spicy foods so using Sriracha in the sauce made us both very happy.

I usually use thin spaghetti when I make lo mein, but followed the author's recommendation to use Nasoya Chinese Noodles. These noodles are more than double the price of spaghetti, but they definitely work better and taste more authentic in this dish. When you buy the package of noodles (found in the produce section in my store), it looks like you won't have enough, but once you cook them you will have enough for 3 to 4 nice sized servings which meant leftovers for lunch!

I also usually add more veggies to my lo mein, such as baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, and bean sprouts, but this time I stuck to the original recipe only using broccoli, snow peas and mushrooms. Although Jon LOVED this dish, he said he would've liked more veggies. I think adding sprouts would work very well without taking away from the original recipe.

Here is the recipe I followed (minus the salmon; see original recipe above if you'd like to use salmon).

  • 1 package Chinese Style Noodles (such as Nasoya brand)
  • 3 to 4 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 cup snow peas, ends trimmed and cut in half (I kept them whole)
  • 1 c sliced shitake mushrooms, stems removed
  • Small head of broccoli cut into equal-sized florets
  • 3 to 4 tbsp soy sauce (I always use low sodium soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp hot chili sauce (such as Sriracha)
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste (I only used a pinch of pepper, no salt)
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions (3 minutes), drain, rinse with cold water, drain again. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok until very hot. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the broccoli and put a lid down over the veggies for about 3 minutes to speed up the cooking.
  • Remove the lid and add the mushrooms and snow peas; stir fry to about 2 minutes.
  • Add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chili sauce, mirin, brown sugar (I mixed everything in a bowl first), and salt & pepper to taste.
  • Tilt the wok so the sauce runs to one side; cook sauce this way over the heat for a minute or so until it begins to thicken a little (great tip!!), then combine with the veggies again.
  • Add the noodles to the wok and drizzle a little oil over them (about 1 tsp). Stir fry for a few minutes combining them with the veggies and sauce. As the author also mentioned, tongs worked great for this.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Grilled Corn with Chipotle-Lime Butter

Just like burgers on the grill, potato salad, pasta salad, and watermelon, corn is a food that screams summer. Last week I picked up our first corn of the season and decided to throw it on the grill.

We removed all of the silk, washed the corn, brushed the kernels with a bit of olive oil, and then closed the husks back up around the corn. Jon grilled the corn for about 12 minutes and it was perfectly done.

Instead of using regular butter, I pulled out some of the Chipotle-Lime Butter I had left from when we made Grilled Broccoli. What a great way to add flavor to the corn, as well as a little kick!

Chipotle-Lime Butter
  • 6 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 canned chipotle pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers
Mix everything together. Chill until ready to use. I have had this in the fridge for 2 weeks and it is still good!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Grilled Sriracha Chicken

Over the past several years I have been using a lot of chili-garlic paste in my cooking adventures. I had heard a lot about sriracha but hadn't seen it in my market, only in restaurants. Finally, a few weeks ago, it appeared on the shelves and I think I let out a little gasp of excitement when I saw that clear squeeze bottle with the rooster on it.

This simple, spicy, vinegary, red condiment has so many uses and really packs a punch. Over the past 2 weeks I have used it while cooking three times, and look forward to discovering many new ways to incorporate it into our meals.

We first used it in a marinade based on this recipe for Oven Baked Sriracha Chicken from the blog So Tasty So Yummy. We have used other spicy ingredients in marinades (chili garlic paste, jalapenos, etc.) but the chicken or beef never really takes on a lot of the heat. Well, that's not the case when you use sriracha in a marinade - this chicken had the best flavor and was full of heat! 

I used the original recipe as inspiration for this marinade -

  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cloves of garlic, pressed
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
I marinated the chicken for about 6 hours, and Jon grilled it to perfection so it was nice and juicy inside. This gets a "definitely will make it again" from both of us!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Grilled Mahi Mahi

Jon is the one who cooks fish in our house. He usually starts it in a pan and then finishes it off it in oven, but today he decided to throw this beautiful mahi mahi filet on the grill.

He keeps it simple, with just a bit of seasoning and some lemon. Here is what he did tonight -

  • 1 mahi mahi filet, skin-on (his was 1 lb)
  • Olive oil (preferably in a mister)
  • Seasoning - Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, onion powder, coriander, dried dill (fresh if you have it!)
  • Lemon
  • Rinse the fish in cold water and pat both sides dry with a paper towel
  • In the meantime, heat your grill to high and grease the grates
  • Spray both sides of the fish with a light mist of olive oil
  • Season the flesh side with the spices - the amount is up to you. He did a light sprinkling of each spice/herb.
  • Squeeze a bit of lemon over the fish.
  • Place the fish on a hot grill, skin side up. Flip after 4 minutes. Grill another 4 minutes with skin side down. Place a piece of foil on the grill and transfer the fish to the foil. Wrap it up and let it finish cooking, about another 3 minutes. NOTE: cooking times will vary based on the size of the filet.
  • To serve, squeeze a bit more lemon over the fish and garnish with green onions.
I have to say, this is the most beautiful piece of fish he has ever made. The flavors were light and subtle, and the crust on the flesh side was just perfect.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sauteed Kale

I don't know how, but until last week I had never tried kale. Maybe it's because I have never noticed it in my market, but I finally saw a bag last week and had to get it.

My first try was kale chips - I hear so much about them and have been wanting to try them for a while. Unfortunately we didn't like them. They were crispy, but once you started chewing they were a bit tough. But I had a lot of kale left and really wanted to try another recipe. I came across this Bobby Flay recipe for Sauteed Kale and decided to try it. The verdict - Jon and I both really liked it! I like that it cooks down, but not as much as spinach, so it still has some body to it.


  • 1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (I used chicken stock)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I totally forgot this)


Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Sweet and Spicy Marinade for Chicken

I didn't get any pictures of this one, but if you need to know, it looks like a piece of grilled chicken - perfect grill lines and great color.

I actually made this marinade, not Jon, and it was based on another marinade I created for beef a few years ago. It's bold, sweet, and spicy all at the same time.

I marinated the chicken for about 8 hours, but if you can do it overnight it will be even better.

The Marinade (for 3 chicken breasts; amounts are approximate)

  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp cooking sherry
  • 1/4 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp hoisin
  • 1 tbsp pineapple juice
  • handful fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp siracha
Note - I made the marinade without the siracha and used that for my daughter's piece of chicken. Then I added in the siracha and used that for our marinade.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Caprese Pasta Salad

Caprese Salad is one of my favorite things - there's nothing like a red, juicy tomato and some creamy, milky, fresh mozzarella. Top it off with some good olive oil, cracked black pepper, and the summery taste of basil and I'm in heaven. 

On Memorial Day I had planned on making a BLT pasta salad, but it was so hot that I really couldn't picture eating something using bacon grease and mayo. As I was thinking about it, I happened to look at my basil plant outside and I knew I had to use it. So I came up with this simple Caprese Pasta Salad.

  • 8 oz pasta - I used Rotini
  • 4 oz mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/4 c good olive oil
  • 1/4 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp mayonnaise (to keep the oil and vinegar from separating)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 vine ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • Fresh basil cut into a chiffonade; I used about 8 large basil leaves
  • Cook pasta; drain, rinse, and set aside or chill
  • Whisk together the oil, vinegar, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper
  • Toss pasta, tomatoes, cheese, basil, and dressing. Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.
The one thing to note about this salad is that the tomatoes don't last long in the dressing once it is chopped, so you only want to make enough for one day (I still ate leftovers the next day, but wouldn't serve it to guests). But it is so worth it to make it - it's like summer flavors bursting in your mouth!!

Cajun Mac-n-Cheese

Noodles were the theme for this Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap. The recipe I was given was for Cajun Mac-N-Cheese and came from the blog Tales from the Mad Men Kitchen.

I LOVE mac-n-cheese and usually go to this recipe when making it. It is super easy, very creamy, and freezes well so I make big batches every time I make it.

The Cajun Mac-N-Cheese recipe was a bit different, containing chunks of peppers and andouille sausage. I'm a purist when it comes to mac-n-cheese, but I also love trying new things and new recipes, so I was excited to try this, especially because it seemed like it would be spicy. 

Unfortunately I wasn't a big fan of this - I really wanted to like it, but it didn't do it for us. Even with all of the Cajun seasoning I used, the overall flavor was a bit flat. Here is the recipe I followed -  

  • Kosher salt
  • 12 ounces wagon-wheel pasta
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces andouille sausage, diced
  • 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes


  • Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 more minutes. Add the Cajun spice and flour and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes.
  • Add the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce and melt the cheese, about 1 minute.