Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tofu with Jalapenos and Tomatoes

After being away last weekend and having a busy week, I was feeling a bit run down. I realized that I hadn't been eating well, and also hadn't had much protein at all over the past several days. So for a quick lunch, I threw together this delicious tofu dish using things I had around - tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro.

Sometimes these types of dishes are the best. No recipe, no set plan, just making it up as you go along. I used the entire block of tofu so I'd have enough for lunch for the next 2 days.

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 block of tofu, pressed (to get the water out) and then chopped into 2 inch long and 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 sm jalapeno, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • Sauce: 3/4 c chicken or vegetable broth; 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce; a few shakes of sesame oil; touch of Sriracha sauce (to taste; also added more after it finished cooking)
  • 1/4 c broth mixed with 1 tsp cornstarch
  • Fresh cilantro, about a handful
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan or wok
  • Add tofu; cook until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  • Add a touch of olive oil to the pan. Add onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Saute 4 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Return tofu to the pan and add the sauce. Bring to a simmer. Add the cornstarch/broth slurry and mix well; bring to a simmer to let thicken.
  • Toss in the cilantro and serve over brown rice.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Shredded Chicken with Chiles

I was craving Mexican food like crazy today. While out shopping with my daughter and friend Jenny, we decided to stop for a Mexican lunch only to find out that the restaurant was closed. With Mexican still on my mind by dinner time, I decided to whip up some shredded chicken for tacos.

I poached the chicken in water, broth, and spices, then shredded it and let it simmer with chiles and tomatoes. Lime juice and cilantro added some brightness for a fresh and light summer dinner.

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 c water and 1/2 c broth (or all water or all broth)
  • Spices: a few pinches each of chili powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, Mexican oregano, salt, and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Chiles - I used 1 jalapeno and 1 serrano, minced
  • 1/2 of a 14.5 oz can of Rotel with the juice
  • 1/2-3/4 c chicken broth
  • A few pinches of cumin and chili powder
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Lime wedges and cilantro for serving
  • Warm corn tortillas
  • Fresh crumbled cheese (queso fresco or ricotta salata)
  • Place the chicken in a pot. Dump in the spices and cover with water/broth. Bring to a boil then let steadily simmer until done (internal temperature of 170, about 15 minutes). Transfer chicken to a cutting board to let rest for 5 minutes, then shred with 2 forks or use your KitchenAid stand mixer to shred (beater attachment, 1 min on low speed). 
  • Heat olive oil in a deep saute pan. Add onions, garlic, and chiles. Saute 3-4 minutes.
  • Add Rotel, juices, chicken broth, cumin, chili powder, and lime juice. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the shredded chicken and cilantro. Simmer on low until ready to eat.
  • To serve, heat the tortillas in a nonstick pan or on a griddle surface 20 seconds per side until soft and pliable. 
  • Spoon some of the chicken mixture into the center of a tortilla and top with crumbled fresh cheese. Serve with lime wedges and cilantro to taste.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Soy Cilantro Roasted Potatoes

I was given a great blog for the most recent Taste of Home Cooking Blogger's Choice Recipe Swap - The Cookaholic Wife. Nichole, the author, has SO many recipes and I spent quite some time looking through the recipe list. I saw several things that I really wanted to make, but what made my decision was the ingredient list in the recipe I chose -

Soy sauce, cilantro, and potatoes.

I use soy sauce in a lot of marinades and sauces, but I never, ever would have thought to use it with potatoes. And cilantro is my favorite herb, so that sold me.

The recipe I chose was for Soy-Cilantro Roasted Potatoes, a recipe created by Nichole (Nichole - I'd love to know what made you try soy sauce with potatoes - so interesting!!) You toss the potatoes with the soy sauce and cilantro, and roast them for about 45 minutes. The soy sauce caramelized, and the potatoes got nice and crispy. These flavors worked so well on the potatoes, and I will definitely make this one again!

  • 5 red potatoes
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro (I used a handful of fresh cilantro, then washed and roughly chopped it)
  • I added several shakes of garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray

1. Preheat the oven to 450.
2. Rinse off the potatoes and cut into small wedges.
3. Transfer the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, cilantro, salt and pepper (and garlic powder). Toss well to coat.
4. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Put the potatoes into the baking dish.
5. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Garlic and Spinach Rice

A few weeks ago Jon's dad came to visit from Maine. We love cooking for him as much as he loves eating when he's here. We cooked a few meals for him during this visit, including a great grilled feast that my parents also enjoyed with us.

We marinated and grilled sirloin kabobs using this marinade that I created a few years ago. It is sweet and spicy with ingredients like pineapple, soy sauce, hoisin, and chili garlic paste, and works so well with beef. Grilled veggies are a favorite in this house, so we grilled zucchini, peppers, and red onion. Finally, I finished the meal with a rice dish that I first saw on What's Cooking Chicago. The original recipe was for Spinach Leek Garlic Rice, but I didn't have leeks so I used onions instead. It worked just fine, but I would definitely like to try the dish using leeks at some point.

The rice was a hit, and people were going back for seconds. It reminded me a bit of a mild version of one of my favorite Mexican rice dishes, Rice with Roasted Poblanos, Spinach, and Queso Fresco. Come to think of it, some cheese crumbled over this rice would have been really good.. next time!

Rice dishes like this are easy dishes to start and then let cook while we were preparing the rest of the meal - this one didn't require a lot of attention at all.

Garlic and Spinach Rice
Slightly adapted from What's Cooking Chicago

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & drained
  • 3 1/2 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • Heat oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir to coat, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Add spinach and broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked and the liquid has absorbed, about 20  minutes.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper

Monday, August 20, 2012

Mexican Green Cilantro Rice

I love cilantro. I only had it for the first time about 10-15 years ago, and I now cannot imagine not having it in my life. Yes, I love it that much. It is so fresh and bright, and almost refreshing. I love using it in Mexican and Asian dishes, and pair it often with ingredients like lime, jalapenos, peppers, tomatoes, as well as in marinades for beef, chicken, or shrimp.

So when I made this Chipotle and Citrus Grilled Pork Tenderloin, I immediately knew I wanted a side dish that used a lot of cilantro. I decided on rice, and went in search of ideas. I ended up using this recipe for Mexican Green Cilantro Rice from the blog Girl Cooks World.

Cilantro mellows a lot when it is cooked/heated, so you definitely need other flavors to add some of the brightness back. I chose lime juice and garlic. This ended up being a creamy and fresh rice dish with the perfect amount of flavor. Even with all of the cilantro used, it was not overwhelming. I would make this again, and feel it would work paired with a variety of proteins from chicken and pork to beef and shrimp.

The recipe below is my adaptation (amounts were changed, I added lime juice, and I slightly changed the cooking method. See the link above for the original recipe).

  • 1/2 of a bunch of fresh cilantro plus some extra leaves for garnish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 sm white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chicken broth plus 2 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lime
  • Salt and pepper

  • Combine the cilantro and 2 tbsp broth; puree in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper .
  • Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot. Add the onion and garlic; saute 2-3 minutes. Add the rice, toss until coated.
  • Add the broth and cilantro puree and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until rice is done and the liquid has absorbed (about 20 minutes).
  • Squeeze in the lime juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Each person can garnish their serving with additional cilantro if desired.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Creamy Corn and Pepper Baked Taquitos (Appetizer)

Taquitos are something I have heard a ton about in a cooking forum I belong to as well as in the food blog world. A lot of people make them as an entree, but I decided to make them as an appetizer when my parents came for dinner a few weeks ago.

A lot of the recipes didn't contain cream cheese, but since I love My Enchiladas so much, I knew I wanted to use cream cheese. I also wanted to keep them vegetarian, and had some corn and peppers to use up. I used my enchilada recipe as well as this recipe for Oven Crisp Black Bean and Corn Flautas that I found on Yummly as my inspiration to create these delicious, crunchy, and creamy Corn and Pepper Baked Taquitos.

(for 6 taquitos; Amounts are approximate, I created as I cooked)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 each red and green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c frozen corn
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • A few pinches of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Approximately 1/4 tsp each chili powder and cumin
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • Salt
  • Cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Heat olive oil in a small non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and peppers; saute 2-3 minutes until soft. Add corn and spices, saute 1 minute. Add cream cheese and stir until melted. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  •  2 at a time, put the corn tortillas on a plate and cover with a wet paper towel. Put in the microwave for 12-15 seconds until softened. Use immediately.
  • Spoon some of the mixture onto the center of the tortilla and spread lenghthwise. Roll the tortilla tightly around the mixture and put on the baking sheet seam side down. Continue until you have filled all of the tortillas. Spray them lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle with salt.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until tortillas are crisp and lightly browned.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Recipe Swap: Autumn Salad

It's just too hot to cook! Do you find yourself saying that often over the summer? I do, and we usually end up cooking everything on the grill on hot summer nights.

The latest Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap featured recipes you can turn to when it's just too hot to cook. I submitted my Foil Pouch Cilantro-Pepper-Corona Chicken and was given a recipe for Autumn Salad with Homemade Dressing from the blog Kate's Recipe Box. I have to admit - I was hesitant about it at first. I am not a fan of fruit and nuts mixed with my food. In dessert, sure, but not in a salad or main dish.

I also wasn't sure about the fall feel of the salad, and the fact that pears aren't in season right now. When I went to the market to get my ingredients, I couldn't find any pears that were close to ripe at all. So for this salad I drained and chopped canned Bartlett pears and it worked just fine. The other change I made was to use blue cheese instead of feta.  

The verdict? Yes, I really enjoyed this salad!! I already told my sister that I'm making it for Thanksgiving. I will make a few small changes* just to suit our tastes a bit better, but I would also recommend this salad as the recipe is written below.

Serves 2
3 to 4 c. chopped romaine lettuce
1 medium pear, chopped
1 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. pecans
4 slices bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (I used blue cheese)
2 T. Poppy Seed Salad Dressing (recipe below)
2 t. Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Combine lettuce, pear, cranberries, pecans, bacon and feta in a large bowl. Toss with dressing.

Poppy Seed Salad Dressing
Makes about 1.5 cups
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. cider vinegar
4 1/2 t. grated onion
1 T. ground mustard
1 t. poppy seeds
1/2 t. salt
1 c. vegetable oil
In a small bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Slowly add oil, while whisking briskly. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
1 clove crushed garlic
1 t. ground mustard (when I grabbed my ingredients to make this I realized I was out of ground mustard. I used 1 tsp Dijon mustard instead)
1 pinch salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and mustard powder. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

* Changes I will make the next time include changing pecans to walnuts (just a personal preference) and using either less poppy seed dressing or none at all (balsamic vinaigrette only). The poppy seed dressing added just a bit too much sweetness for my tastes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Grilled Romaine with a Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette and Blue Cheese

Have you ever grilled Romaine lettuce? If not, you must try it. The Romaine chars nicely and only slightly wilts, and gets a smoky and bitter flavor. Jon commented that grilled Romaine actually takes on some flavor - it's an otherwise boring green. But grilled, it's fabulous.

I saw this Guy Fieri recipe for Grilled Romaine with Blue Cheese-Bacon Vinaigrette and knew we had to make it. Bacon makes everything better! Bacon and blue cheese are a perfect pairing in my opinion, and when you mix in the balsamic over heat, you get a smoky-sweet-sticky dressing. My mouth is watering just remembering this dish! I recommend you serve the dressing warm over the Romaine as soon as it comes off the grill.

Grilled Romaine with a Bacon-Balsamic Vinaigrette and Blue Cheese
Slightly adapted from this Guy Fieri recipe

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus some to brush/spray on the Romaine
  • 2 tbsp chopped red onion
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, cut in 1/2 lengthwise
  • 2 tbsp crumbled blue cheese (or to your liking)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • Preheat the grill to high heat.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the onions and bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy, about 6 minutes. To the same pan add the balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside (try to time this to coincide with the lettuce coming off the grill - I loved the dressing served warm!)
  • Brush the Romaine with just a touch of oil, or spray with olive oil (I love my olive oil spritzer!). Place it on the grill cut side down, and quickly sear. This took about 3 minutes.
  • Pour the bacon-balsamic dressing over the lettuce, sprinkle with blue cheese, and garnish with additional freshly ground black pepper. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chipotle and Citrus Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Jon is always creating fabulous marinades for pork, chicken, and beef. I usually don't even search for marinade recipes - I just tell him what flavors I'm going for, or what I'd like to serve as sides, and he creates something that pairs perfectly.

However, when I saw this recipe in my Google Reader for Chipotle and Citrus Pork Tenderloin on Elly Says Opa, I knew we had to try it. Jon's dad was in town for the weekend, and my parents were also coming over, so it was the perfect time to try something new (I love that my parents enjoy trying all of the recipes I test!). Elly seared her pork on the stove and then finished it in the oven, but we decided to grill the pork.

 I marinated the pork for about 6 hours and it really took on great flavors. Smoky, sweet, and a bit tangy all at the same time. I served it with a Cilantro Rice dish that I'll blog about soon!

The Marinade (I doubled this)
Whisk together:
  • 1/4 cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice (1-2 limes)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 chipotle in adobo, minced*
  • 2 tsp. adobo sauce (from the canned chipotles)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom (I didn't have this so I used cinnamon instead)
 *Elly recommends using more chipotle peppers or adobo sauce for a spicier version

I used two 1 lb pork tenderloins. I placed them in a Ziploc bag and poured the marinade over them. I marinated the pork for about 6 hours, turning them around two or three times.

Grilling the Pork
When ready to cook, heat grill to high. Sear the pork on all sides, and then place foil on the grill and put the pork on the foil and loosely close it (this is a new method Jon has played with over the past several months that he really likes - the pork stays so juicy). Cook until the pork's internal temperature reaches 150 degrees (about 20-30 minutes). Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.