Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grilled Sriracha Broccoli


Did you do any grilling over the long holiday weekend?
We enjoyed food off the grill every day, and it was fabulous! Saturday my dad made a ton of grilled ribs and chorizo. On Sunday we marinated and grilled some pork chops. But to me, the best thing we made all weekend was this Grilled Sriracha Broccoli.
On Monday night we had chicken cooking on the grill, and I was in the kitchen looking at a large head of broccoli sitting on my cutting board when I decided to make a glaze and grill it. We had grilled broccoli before so I knew it would work. But adding the glaze before grilling it was new, and I was excited that I was struck with this little wave of inspiration.




One tip before I get into the recipe - take your head of broccoli and slice it into three sections (if it's a large head). The 2 outer sections will look like the broccoli in the picture above - rounded on the outside with a flat edge to put on the grill. The middle section will look like the piece in the upper right corner of my platter seen below - flat on both sides.



The last time we grilled broccoli we made a chipotle flavored butter to melt over it when it was done and it was really good. This time the glaze was brushed all over the broccoli before throwing it on the grill and wow, it was SO good! It was spicy and sweet, it caramelized, the broccoli charred nicely on the edges, and because it doesn't take too long to cook the broccoli, you don't have to worry about burning the garlic in the glaze.




Grilled Sriracha Broccoli

Ingredients
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Sriracha sauce (or more for more heat)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Optional: 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 large head of broccoli cut into three sections
Directions
  • Whisk the first six ingredients to make your glaze
  • Pour the glaze evenly onto the broccoli and then spread with a brush
  • Place flat side down on a hot grill. Grill 4 minutes, flip and grill 2-3 more minutes until charred and slightly tender
  • Serve immediately


Friday, May 24, 2013

Bourbon Street Chicken



I'm sure you have all walked through the food court at the mall only to be approached by someone pushing samples of Bourbon Chicken. Funny thing is, when I was little I remember my mom loved those samples and would always have us walk by so she could get one. So when I saw the recipe for it on Christine's Kitchen Chronicles, the blog I was given in this A Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap, I knew I had to make it for my mom.

The recipe called for a good amount of red pepper flakes and while my dad and I would have loved it to be spicy, I knew my mom wouldn't like it. I only used 1/4 tsp, and then my dad and I just added Sriracha sauce to our plates. I also used a bit more liquid when cooking so we'd have more sauce.

My mom liked this, although she did say it was very different from what she remembered at the mall - that's probably a good thing! My dad and I liked it too, and my little one even ate it and kept asking for more Sriracha.

Thanks for sharing this recipe, Christine!

Bourbon Street Chicken
Source: Christine's Kitchen Chronicles

Ingredients
  • 2 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (For added heat, add a squirt of Sriracha)
  • 1/4 c apple juice
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c water (I used about 3/4 c low sodium chicken broth instead of 1/2 c water)
  • 1/3 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in a bit of water
Directions
  • Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned. Remove and set aside on a plate.
  • Add remaining ingredients and heat until well blended and dissolved. Add the chicken back in then bring to a hard boil.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook until thickened.
  • Serve over hot rice.
 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Pasta Salad Roundup

How will you be spending your Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial kick-off to summer?

I'm so happy to have three days to relax and spend with my family while eating some good food, I'm sure. And since my sister is coming home for a few days my dad is going to make ribs - yum!!  The weekend will end with the local Memorial Day Parade in which my dad walks with the Veterans of Foreign Wars. I'm so proud of him, and all of our soldiers, for the sacrifices they have made and continue to make for our country. So while celebrating the summer, please don't forget the true meaning of the holiday. Remember to thank a Veteran!

I have been thinking about what I will make this weekend - I love trying new things when I have the time to experiment, and when my family will all be together to sample new recipes. Hopefully I'll have some good things to post about next week. In addition to some new things, I know I will make pasta salad at some point over the weekend.


Over the past few years I have made it several different ways, and thought I'd put them all in one place for you. I loved each and every one for different reasons, and am going to have a hard time deciding which one to make this weekend! Which one looks the best to you?

Meats, cheeses, and veggies tossed with a light oregano vinaigrette make this Antipasto Pasta Salad my favorite.



This Caprese Pasta Salad tastes like summer with fresh tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella -



Grilling the veggies before tossing them with pasta and a simple vinaigrette gives this Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad so much flavor -



Bright and zesty with Mexican flavors, your guests will love this South of the Border Pasta Salad.




Looking for something totally different? Try this Sundried Tomato Pasta Salad.



Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Broccoli and Carrots



 I'm not sure if I ever mentioned this in my blog before, but when I was in my early 20s, I decided to eat vegetarian. It lasted for 8 years, and was mostly because I just didn't like meat. I was never a big meat eater growing up, and at 23 I had just had enough.

Now, I wasn't the best vegetarian at first, eating a lot of pasta and not replacing the protein I wasn't getting by not eating meat. The truth is, I wasn't really sure what I needed to do to make sure I was eating a balanced diet. However, I ended up learning a lot over those 8 years, and to this day still enjoy and am satisfied eating vegetarian meals. Also, I think that time period in my life is what got me into cooking - I had to explore and find new things to eat when my family was eating a meat and potatoes meal, so I ended up cooking for myself quite often, and eventually found it to be enjoyable and even therapeutic.

One thing I carry with me today as a former vegetarian is my love of tofu. I wish my husband liked it because tofu is my go-to dinner when I want something quick and easy to prepare, filling, healthy, and that will give me leftovers for another meal or two. I'm trying my hardest to get my 2 year old to eat it! She did a few times when I first gave it to her, but has been turning her nose up at it recently. I will keep trying!

The other night I was craving tofu, had some broccoli to use, and for some reason couldn't get my favorite restaurant, Buddakan, off my mind. The last time I made a dish to remind me of Buddakan was this Sweet and Spicy Asian Chicken with Brussels Sprouts, so I decided to use that recipe as inspiration for this Sweet and Spicy Tofu.


Making this took about 20-25 minutes, and I love using Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice. It is ready in just 3 minutes in the microwave - you cook it right in the pouch it comes in. Talk about easy!

Sweet and Spicy Tofu with Broccoli and Carrots
Original Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, separated
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu, water pressed out and cut into cubes (note, when cooking with tofu you always want to press out the extra water/moisture which will allow it to take in more flavors when cooking)
  • 10-12 baby carrots, cut diagonally into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 3 green onions chopped, and separated into green pieces and white pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm head broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 1 c vegetable broth
  • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste OR Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp flour mixed with 2 tbsp broth

Directions

  • Heat 1.5 tbsp of the vegetable oil in a large saute pan
  • Add tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Wipe pan clean, and then heat remaining oil in the pan
  • Add the garlic, carrots, and white parts of the onions; saute 2-3 minutes
  • Add broccoli; saute 2-3 minutes
  • Mix the broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chili garlic paste or Sriracha, brown sugar, and grated ginger. Add to the pan and bring to a low simmer.
  • Slowly add the slurry (the flour mixed with the 2 tbsp of broth) and stir. This will help thicken your sauce.
  • Return the tofu to the pan and let simmer until warmed through.
  • Serve over brown rice topped with the green parts of the green onions.



Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spicy Thai Noodles


I can't believe I never posted this recipe! I first made it several months ago (hence the winter-time picture without natural light!), have made it several times since, but it somehow got lost in my draft folder.
I first saw this recipe on the blog A Taste of Home Cooking, and she had actually made the recipe as part of the Recipe Swap she hosts. When I first read the recipe it reminded me a lot of vegetable lo mein because of all of the veggies. This is great as a main dish, or if you really want some protein to go along with it, a simple sliced, grilled chicken breast would be perfect.

One step you do not want to skip when making this recipe is toasting the sesame seeds. It takes almost no time at all, but adds both flavor and texture to this dish.

Spicy Thai Noodles:
Source: A Taste of Home Cooking

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 10-12 asparagus spears, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts (I omitted these)
  • 1/2 lb thin spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon Sriracha, more if you want it spicier
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Green onions, for garnish
Directions
  • Heat the sesame oil and vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  • Add the mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, onions (and peanuts). Cook for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
  • Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the honey and soy sauce then add the Sriracha.
  • When the noodles are done, add them to the bowl with the honey and soy sauce and toss to coat. Add the vegetables to the bowl and toss to coat. Serve in bowls garnished with toasted sesame seeds and green onions.


    Thursday, May 9, 2013

    Let's do Brunch! A round-up of my favorite brunch recipes

    There are a few special occasions - a baby shower, bridal shower, Easter, and of course Mother's Day - that make me think "brunch." A fresh and light menu, a wide variety of items to cover both breakfast and lunch, champagne, fresh juice, and lots of fresh flowers, loved ones, and a relaxing atmosphere - that's how I envision the perfect brunch.

    Here are a few of my favorite brunch recipes to help you plan your next brunch, whether it be for the upcoming holiday or just your next lazy weekend morning.




    I always serve some sort of egg dish for brunch. This was the first frittata I made for a family brunch, and it's still my favorite - Broccoli-Red Pepper-Potato Frittata. I love that the potatoes are mixed right into the frittata!








    I love the sharp cheese mixed with salty ham in this Asparagus Ham Frittata.





    You can't go wrong with French Toast, and this Banana Stuffed French Toast brings it to the next level.

     
     
    Or if you want a fix-it-and-forget-it French Toast dish, try this Cinnamon French Toast Casserole. You prepare it the night before your gathering and let the bread soak in the egg mixture. This recipe calls for cinnamon bread instead of regular bread, so it really has great flavor.
     
     
    These sliders are my most recent favorite new recipe and were a hit at my last brunch - Sweet Ham and Swiss Sliders.
     
     
     
    Chicken salad is always popular on brunch menus, and I definitely prefer a savory chicken salad over something with fruit or nuts in it. One of my favorites is this Southwestern Chicken Salad. It has just a little bit of a kick, crunch from the peppers, and some brightness from the cilantro. Serve it on croissants or sandwich thins to keep it light.
     
     
     
     
    I always have some sort of salad on my brunch menu. Here are two that I love - for a fall brunch, try this Autumn Salad. 
     
     
       
    Or for a spring/summer gathering, this Arugula Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing is light and flavorful.
     
     
     
     
    Or for a pasta salad, I love this Caprese Pasta Salad - it tastes like summer!
     
     
     
    For something sweet, some breakfast breads or muffins work well. I like this Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips or this Blueberry Banana Bread. I also like to serve fruit with the breads, like a bowl of fresh strawberries or grapes, melon or pineapple.
     
     
    And finally, when you are looking to add something heavier to your menu, maybe for a brunch later in the day, I recommend this creamy Vegetable Lasagna. You can even make this one the night before, and then just pop it in the oven to warm for your guests. 
     
     
     
     
     

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Arugula Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing



    Arugula is has such a dainty appearance that if you were tasting it for the first time you wouldn't expect the bold and peppery flavor. I think the name "rocket" is actually more appropriate based on the flavor. And although I found it funny when I visited London several years ago and first heard it called rocket, I may just start calling it that myself. Maybe my little one would rather eat something called rocket, too.

    This is a simple rocket salad (said in my best Gordon Ramsey accent) that looks and tastes so elegant. I served it at brunch, but it would also be the perfect starter course for a simple grilled dinner on a hot summer night.



    Arugula (Rocket) Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Dressing
    Source: Epicurious
     
    Ingredients
    • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus extra for shaving over the salad
    • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
    • 4 cups (packed) baby arugula
    • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    Directions
    • Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl. Cover; chill up to 3 days.
    • Combine arugula and tomatoes in large bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.
    • I added shaved Parmesan atop the salad
     
     

    Friday, May 3, 2013

    Sweet Ham & Swiss Sliders



    These little sliders have been seen everywhere over the past few months - superbowl parties, blog posts, talked about on cooking boards, and of course they are being pinned to Pinterest like crazy.

    I needed to find a reason to make them, so when I was planning my Easter Brunch I added them to the menu. I served them along side this Spinach Pie and a light arugula salad that I promise to post soon!

    My parents had just served ham at a family dinner the day before, and with so much leftover I was able to use it to make these sandwiches. They couldn't have been easier to put together so they would make a great dinner for a weeknight when you need something quick. I was expecting these to be good but wow, I couldn't get enough of them! I ate 2 and then split one with my sister. I loved the melted cheese and the sauce on top was to die for. Somehow we had a few leftover and even the next day they were really good.

    These sliders are featured on a lot of blogs, but I used the recipe Melissa posted on her blog I Was Born to Cook. She used onion rolls, but I just used 12 potato dinner rolls which fit perfectly in my baking dish. I was also able to use a little less ham than her recipe called for. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly. 


    Sweet Ham & Swiss Sliders
    Source: Adapted from I Was Born to Cook

    Ingredients
    • 12 Potato Dinner Rolls, separated into tops and bottoms
    • 12 slices ham, each sliced in half (see picture above) or 24 slices of ham
    • 24 slices Swiss cheese (dinner roll size each, so you can probably just use 12 slices, sliced)
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
    • 8 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 cup brown sugar

    Directions
    • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    • Place bottom halves of rolls in a baking dish - one that fits the rolls so they sit snugly would work best. 
    • Top each with cheese, then ham, then another slice of cheese. 
    • Spread a little mayonnaise on each top half roll and place on top of ham and cheese.  
    • Combine mustard, butter, garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl. Mix until combined. Pour evenly over rolls. Cover with foil and refrigerate until ready to bake (or bake right away).
    • Bake covered for 10 minutes, then remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until tops are browned and cheese is melted.





    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Crema - Bahama Breeze Copycat


    My friend Jen has a favorite dish from Bahama Breeze - Grilled Chicken with Cilantro Crema - and I have been promising her that I'd try to recreate it. I had never had the dish, so I had to figure it out from her description and from reading the menu online.

    I tried to find a copycat recipe, but could only find one for the cilantro crema, the part of the dish I already had some ideas on based on some things I had made in the past. So I experimented with the chicken, served it over mashed potatoes just like at the restaurant, and she said it was really good! I liked it as well - light and bright, fresh, and easy!

    I made creamy mashed potatoes with some cheddar cheese mixed in, but come to think of it, these Roasted Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes would have been perfect with this chicken! Next time.

    Here is what I did -

    The Chicken
    • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • 1/4 c olive oil
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
    • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
    • 1/4 c tequila
    Mix the oil, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice and tequila. Pour over chicken in a shallow dish or Ziploc bag. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Note, if you do choose to marinate it longer, add your lime juice 4 or less hours from cooking.

    Grill the chicken - cook each side for 3 minutes over high heat. Lower heat to medium and cook one more time per side until cooked through (internal temperature reaches 165). Transfer to a plate to rest for a few minutes.

    The Cilantro Cream
    Adapted from: Eating Well




  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon minced scallion greens
  • 1 teaspoon seeded and minced jalapeno pepper chile
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • Blend everything in a bowl using a handheld immersion blender, or a food processor, until smooth. Push through a sieve to remove any chunks. Chill until ready to serve.
    The Potatoes
    I grew up watching and helping my dad make mashed potatoes, so never really followed a recipe. Potatoes just need to be mixed and tasted again and again, adjusting as you go, until you reach the desired creaminess, saltiness, and overall flavor. For this dish, this is what I did:
    • 2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
    • Approximately 3/4 c of whole milk (have some extra on hand)
    • Approximately 4 tbsp butter, softened
    • Salt to taste (I probably use 2 tbsp - just keep adding slowly and tasting)
    • 1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese
    Boil the potatoes until tender; drain and return to the pot. Slowly add the milk and butter, mixing with a hand mixer. Add the cheese and continue to mix. Start to season with salt as you mix, continuously tasting and adjusting. Add more milk if needed, and adjust salt.