Thursday, April 21, 2016

Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa

I heart tacos!  And I especially heart carnitas tacos.  I used my usual carnitas recipe (linked to below), but made it in my Instant Pot using about 2 pounds of bone-in country-style pork ribs and scaling down the rest of the ingredients accordingly (this makes enough for about 3-4 people). Just add all the ingredients to the Instant Pot, hit the meat/stew button, and let the pressure come down naturally once the cycle finishes.  It will still make your house smell amazing but in about a third of the usual cooking time.  You'll need to turn on your oven to crisp up the pork at the end, but it's still a major time savings and with delicious results.  Here, the rich pork is paired with a super-tart raw tomatillo salsa, scallions, and sour cream for simple yet super-tasty tacos.  The salsa is medium spicy, so feel free to add more jalapenos or sub in a spicier pepper if you want it super hot.

Carnitas Tacos with Tomatillo Salsa 

Warm tortillas
Carnitas, recipe here (or make in the Instant Pot using the "meat/stew" function to speed things up!)
Tomatillo salsa, recipe below
Sour cream
Minced scallions

Top warm tortillas with carnitas, tomatillo salsa, sour cream, and minced scallions. Fold and enjoy!

Tomatillo Salsa (adapted from Cooking Light)

4 medium tomatillos
1/2 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 jalapeno chili, coarsely chopped (leave in or remove seeds to adjust heat)
1 cup lightly packed cilantro

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse well under cold water.  Quarter them, and place in a blender or food processor.  Add everything except the cilantro.  Process until well blended.  Add the cilantro and process again until well blended.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cantaloupe Margarita

We have been eating a lot of Mexican food lately, which has meant I've been experimenting with fruity margaritas.  This one from the latest issue of Cooking Light looked especially tasty -- cubes of cantaloupe are pureed and strained, and then combined with the usual suspects for a margarita: lime, tequila, and orange liqueur.  I found a fun blood orange liqueur, but you can use whatever you have on hand (Cooking Light recommends Grand Marnier, which I'm sure is delicious in this recipe, but is too pricey for me).  The result is a really tasty drink -- definitely one of those that does not taste too boozy, so it's good you have to mix it yourself so you know how much you're drinking! Yum!

Cantaloupe Margarita (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

2 cups cubed cantaloupe
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2-1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce orange liqueur
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 mint leaves

Purée the cantaloupe in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to yield about 6 ounces (3/4 cup).  Combine everything but the mint in a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Strain into two glasses over ice and garnish with the mint leaf.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ginger-Sesame Cod with Asparagus

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to try something a little different with fish and rice.  We often make this meal with paprika, lemon, and garlic, which of course is very tasty! But this twist uses Asian pantry ingredients to create great flavor.  I think of fish and rice as comfort food, and this dish definitely fits that bill -- none of the flavors are too intense, and everything feels warm and comforting.  Asparagus cooks in about the same amount of time as fish and adds green to the plate, so it's the perfect pairing.  Bonus: this dish will get dinner on the table quickly.  I start white rice in the Instant Pot first, and by the time it's cooked and the pressure has come down naturally, the fish and asparagus are finished cooking and everything is ready to combine.

Ginger-Sesame Cod with Asparagus

For the sauce:
2 T olive oil
2 T soy sauce
1 T sesame seeds
1/2 T sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger 
Pinch of salt
Steamed rice, to serve

To finish:
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small cod fillets

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Whisk together the sauce ingredients. Rub some of the sauce on the fish, and toss the remaining with the asparagus pieces. Arrange everything in a single layer on the baking sheet.
3. Let rest for about 10 minutes for the flavors to combine. Then roast 12 minutes on the top rack of the oven.
4. Serve over steamed rice.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Two tasty main-dish salads

Rotisserie chicken, crispy bacon, spinach, Boston lettuce, pepitas, green grapes, Gorgonzola, and creamy balsamic dressing

Thinly sliced steak, roasted asparagus, escarole, tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, blue cheese, and creamy balsamic dressing

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Steak Fries with Cheddar Sauce and Bacon

And now for something completely unhealthy...but very delicious!  Football season may be over, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some cheesy bacon fries while watching the Golden State Warriors CRUSH IT.  Or, you know, while watching Ben completely devastate some poor woman on the Bachelor finale next week. ("I love you" to two women?! Really?! Does he not know how this show works?)  Or while watching those primary results roll in.

Whatever your poison, these fries are amazing.  The potatoes are crispy and salty and super tender on the inside, the cheese sauce is rich and gooey, and the bacon is, well, perfectly bacon-y!  What more can I say -- definitely worth the work to put this dish together when you're in the mood for an over-the-top indulgent treat.

Steak Fries with Cheddar Sauce and Bacon
Serves 4 (or less if you're really hungry)

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
Several slices of bacon
1 cup milk
1-1/2 T unsalted butter
1-1/2 T flour
1-1/2 cups Cheddar cheese
Generous pinch of salt

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and line two sheet pans with foil.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2. Wash the potatoes and trim off any odd bits (no need to peel).  Cut into large wedges.
3. Add the potatoes to the boiling water, and cook 8-10 minutes, until just tender.  Drain well.  Add to a large bowl and toss with a generous drizzle of oil, as well as salt and pepper.  Arrange in a single layer on one of the baking sheets.
4. On the other baking sheet, lay out the bacon in a single layer.
5. Roast the potatoes for about 50-60 minutes, until nicely browned, flipping once halfway through.
6. Add the bacon to the oven with about 20 minutes left, but check it early (at around 10 minutes), especially if you're using a thinner cut bacon.  As with the potatoes, flip the bacon about halfway through cooking.  When the bacon is done, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
7. While the potatoes and bacon are cooking, make the cheese sauce.  Heat the milk up in the microwave until hot, and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat a medium non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter in the skillet, and then whisk in the flour.  Cook for a couple of minutes, and then slowly whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce.  Let the sauce bubble for a few minutes, and then remove from the heat and whisk in the cheese.  Season with a generous pinch of salt, to taste.
8. To assemble the fries, pile up the fries in the middle of a serving platter.  Top with the cheese sauce.  Crumble or chop up the bacon, and sprinkle on top.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Pizza Night

Sauteed kale, lemon zest, goat cheese, pine nuts, garlic

Mozzarella, roasted red peppers, bacon, goat cheese, walnuts, fig balsamic vinegar

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Flavor Bomb Soba and Kale Bowls

One thing I really like about the Starbucks app is that they'll often run promotions that allow you to download free apps.  Recently, the My New Roots app popped up in their free app area, and since I love that blog, I decided to check out the app.  So pretty!  I decided to try the recipe for flavor bomb greens and noodles, and it was a big hit. The dressing/sauce has so many great flavors, including sesame oil, fresh ginger, lime juice, and honey.  It sounds like a lot of ingredients, but the sauce is very well balanced and so yummy.  The bulk of the dish comes in the form of greens and noodles.  We did kale and soba noodles, with about a 2:1 kale-noodle ratio.  But, you could easily sub in chard or spinach and other Asian-style noodles, and could tilt the ratio more in the favor of the noodle side of things if you prefer.  Finally, finishing touches of toasted coconut, sesame seeds, and cashews take things over the top!  Delicious and super healthy -- this recipe is definitely a win-win.  Bonus: leftovers are fantastic for lunch the next day.

Flavor Bomb Soba and Kale Bowls (adapted from the My New Roots app)
Serves 2 hungry people with a little left over

For the sauce:
2 T soy sauce
2 T sesame oil
1 T grated fresh ginger
2 tsp honey
2 tsp rice vinegar 
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 garlic clove, minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp Aleppo chile flakes (or to taste)

For the bowls:
4 ounces soba noodles
1 large bunch of kale
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut
3 T sesame seeds
A handful each of fresh mint and fresh cilantro 
Roasted and salted cashews, to serve 

1. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a serving bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
3. Stem the kale and slice it very thinly. Add to the bowl with the sauce and massage a few minutes, until the kale wilts a bit.
4. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the coconut and sesame seeds and toast for a few minutes, shaking occasionally, until just browned and very fragrant.
5. Add the noodles, coconut-sesame seed mixture, and fresh herbs to the bowl with the kale. Toss well to combine everything.
6. Top each portion with roasted cashews.