Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread

I love homemade bread, especially sandwich loaves.  While artisan breads, like French bread, are more difficult to make at home and sometimes you can be better off buying from a good bakery, that's definitely not true of sandwich bread.  It's both super easy and it's almost certainly going to end up being tastier than what you can buy at the grocery store.  This recipe is no exception - it mixes together in almost no time in a stand mixer, and then rises and bakes in around two hours or less.  I used a sort of random selection of flours I had around the house to make a loaf that's a mix of white and whole wheat flours while still remaining soft and not at all dry.  You can use butter or oil in place of the Crisco if you like - both would probably lead to better flavor but the texture won't be quite as "sandwich bread"-y.

Soft Wheat Sandwich Bread (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)
Makes 1 loaf

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 T vital wheat gluten
1 T brown sugar
2-1/4 tsp quick-rising active dry yeast
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 T melted Crisco (or butter)
Additional whole wheat flour as needed (I used graham flour)

1. Whisk together the flours, vital wheat gluten, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Beat in the water and Crisco.  Knead either by hand or with the dough hook of a stand mixer on low speed, adding additional flour as needed to create a dough that is moist but not sticky.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled in a warm place, about 30-45 minutes.
3. Punch down the dough and shape into a log.  Place in an oiled loaf pan, cover, and let rise until doubled, 30-45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Bake the loaf for 10 minutes, and then reduce heat to 350 degrees.  Continue to cook until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 30 minutes.  Let cool before slicing.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tacos de Barbacoa

I don't know why I don't make big cuts of meat more often - they're often fairly inexpensive (particularly considering how many servings you get), and they're not actually all that difficult - you just have to have an afternoon at home while the meat cooks away in the oven.  I guess they just seem like sort of a "project", but I definitely need to get over that bias because this beef is absolutely delicious!  It's got a spicy kick without being overpowering, and it's totally melt-in-your-mouth tender.  The marinade comes together very quickly in the food processor, and is made mostly out of ingredients I had around the house.  The beef makes for totally amazing tacos with guacamole, queso fresco, and whatever other taco toppings you like - unless you're really into spicy food, I'd recommend skipping additional spicy toppings since the beef itself will give you all the spice you need.  Tim and I gave the tacos five stars!

You can make a quick and easy guacamole to go with these tacos, and it tastes so much better than the sort in a plastic tub.  Make just enough for how much you'll be eating that night since it doesn't lastFor each 2-3 people, mash up an avocado, the juice of one lime, some chopped cilantro leaves, and salt to taste.  You can also add whatever else you like in your guac - mashed up roasted garlic, finely chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, jalapeno if you want it spicy, etc.

The leftover shredded beef is great for making more tacos, but it's also fantastic in other dishes.  I turned some into a terrific sandwich - toasted bread, spread with Dijon mustard, sprinkled with a little grated sheep cheese, and then piled high with hot barbacoa and overnight pickles.  So delicious!

Tacos de Barbacoa (adapted from Crepes of Wrath, original recipe here)
Serves 4-6

2 canned chipotle chiles, with sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
Leaves from two sprigs of fresh oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
2 pounds chuck or rump roast
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil
1 cup chicken or beef stock
1 bay leaf
Corn tortillas, guacamole, and queso fresco, to serve

1. Combine the chiles, pepper, garlic, vinegar, lime juice, cumin, oregano, cloves, and nutmeg in a food processor. Process until well blended and set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
3. Cut the roast in to 3 large pieces and rub them all over with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. In a large oven-safe pot that has a lid, heat about some oil over high heat (enough to cover the bottom of the pot nicely).  Add the meat, cooking on all sides until browned.  Depending on the size of your pot, you might or might not need to do this in batches.
5. Pour the sauce over the meat and mix to coat well.  Add the stock and bay leaf, and keep the heat on high until the mixture comes to a boil.  Turn off the heat, cover the pot with foil, and then cover with the lid.  Place in the oven and cook for 3-1/2 hours, turning the meat over once in the middle of cooking.
6. Test the meat - it should be fork-tender.  If not, return to the oven until it is.
7. Place the meat in a bowl and pour the juices into another bowl.  Shred the meat with two forks, discarding any large pieces of fat that you come across.  Place the meat back in the pot, and place over medium heat on the stove to crisp the meat up a bit.  After about 8 minutes, add back in some of the juices until the meat is as juicy as you like.  Leftover juices can be strained and saved in the fridge to make spicy rice, soup, etc. - it's basically now super flavorful beef broth.
8. Serve the barbacoa on warmed corn tortillas with guacamole and queso fresco.

Some other "big hunk of meat" recipes I've made and loved:

I'm sending this post off to These Chicks Cooked and BSI: Beef!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce and Chicken

Um, wow, this pasta is amazing.  I guess you can't really go wrong with a cup of cream and a cup of cheese, but still - I was really impressed at how fantastic it ended up coming out!  I'm sure this would taste even better if you used fresh basil as the recipe calls for, but we discovered our basil had gone moldy when we got home, and dried actually turned out to be a perfectly good substitute in this case.  The sun dried tomatoes in the sauce add a wonderful deep tomato-y flavor, and I think we all know that I'm totally addicted to roasted red peppers - they both go really well together in this pasta dish.  The chicken adds some extra protein which makes this feel more like a full meal - make sure to get it nicely browned to add good flavor, and to cut the pieces large enough so they don't get dried out (they should be on the large size of bite-sized...maybe two-bite sized).  We served the pasta with roasted asparagus - I'd recommend any lighter vegetable side dish since the pasta is so rich.  One important note, though - while the leftovers were perfectly edible, they weren't nearly as tasty as the fresh dish, so aim to make an amount that can be consumed in one meal.

Thanks to my friend Kristi for the recipe recommendation and the suggestion to include chicken!

Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce and Chicken (adapted from Epicurious)
Serves 4-5

1 T canola oil, more as needed
1 pound chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 pound dried pasta
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup whipping cream
1 7- to 9-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Put a large pot of water on to boil.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and when it's hot add the chicken.  Season with salt and pepper and saute until nicely browned and cooked through.  Scoop onto a plate and reserve for later.
3. When the water begins to boil, salt it and add the pasta.  Cook until just shy of al dente.  Reserve about 1 cup of pasta water and then drain the rest.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce.  Add a bit more oil to the pan if needed and then add the garlic.  Saute for a minute or so until softened, and then add the sun-dried tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Season with pepper and a little salt.  Saute for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant.  Add the cream and roasted red peppers, and bring to a simmer.  Simmer for a couple of minutes, and then lower heat until the pasta is ready.
5. Return the pasta to the pot, and add the chicken and the sauce.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese.  Cook over medium heat until the chicken is warmed through and the pasta is al dente, adding some of the reserved pasta water as needed to create a creamy consistency.  Taste and adjust seasoning.

I'm sending this recipe off to Presto Pasta Nights.  Thanks to Briciole for hosting this week!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Amazing Cheese Sandwich

My dad came up with this recipe out of some ingredients in the fridge, but I thought it was too good not to share!  After I tasted his sandwich, I had to make one of my own!  Although you might hesitate to pile lots of pickles on the sandwich, don't worry - these pickles are aren't super sour and won't overwhelm the other ingredients.  Depending on how many sandwiches you make, you'll probably have some pickles left over - don't worry, they keep in the fridge for quite a long time and they're great to snack on or add to lots of types of sandwiches.  The toasted bread is crucial here to provide some needed crunch.  Definitely eat this with lots of napkins, because the pickles make it more than a little messy to eat - but it's so worth it!  If you don't have Jarlsburg cheese, try something else - I also made a very tasty version with Ewephoria (my absolute favorite sheep cheese).

Amazing Cheese Sandwich

Italian bread
Grainy mustard
Jarsburg cheese, thinly sliced
Easy pickled cucumbers and onions, recipe below

Toast the bread, spread on the mustard, add a few thin slices of cheese, and then pile on the pickles!

Easy Pickled Cucumbers and Onions (adapted from babble)

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup red or white wine vinegar
1 T granulated sugar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and stir well.  Refrigerate for at least one day, stirring occasionally.  Although the liquid won't completely cover the cukes and onions at first, they'll eventually soften and take up less space.  Pickles will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and are fantastic on sandwiches, salads, with pita and hummus, or just to munch on.

I'm sending this sandwich off to These Chicks Cooked!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Katie Morag's Porridges

These granola bar-like cookies actually come from a children's book!  My mom was reading the book to her elementary school class and they begged her to make the recipe for them...the rest is history!  This sort of sounds like a strange recipe with no flour, eggs, or leavening, but the cookies are amazing - trust me!  These cookies are seriously addictive - although they're sort of similar to granola bars, they have a lot more butter and sugar and so are even more delicious (and dessert-appropriate).  The maple syrup is definitely necessary to lend a subtle maple flavor to the bars.  Also, these are gluten free! (Just make sure to purchase oats specifically labeled as "gluten free," as some brands are processed on the same machines as flour.) 

Katie Morag's Porridges (adapted from The Big Katie Morag Storybook)
Makes one 8x12 pan

4 ounces butter (1 stick)
3 ounces brown sugar
2 T maple syrup
Pinch of salt
8 ounces rolled oats or quick oats
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1/4 cup golden raisins

1. Grease an 8x12 baking pan and preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
2. Melt the butter.  Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt.  Mix until the sugar is dissolved.
3. Add the oats and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips and raisins and mix again.
4. Press the oats firmly into the baking pan in an even layer.  Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  While the porridges are still warm, score them with a knife to make cutting them later easier.  Cool, and then cut into pieces. Store in an air-tight container.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pear and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

I can't really claim any credit for these sandwiches since my dad found the recipe and all I did was slice the bread.  However, I had to share it with you since it was so delicious!  These sandwiches are so easy to make, but they taste very gourmet...there's not even any cooking involved; you just slice up the ingredients and pile them onto toast!  The combination of creamy goat cheese, sweet ripe pears, and a little acid from the vinegar in the dressing is so tempting, and the walnuts add excellent crunch to the sandwich.  This makes the perfect lunch or dinner for a hot summer day when you don't want to heat up the kitchen.  

Pear and Goat Cheese Sandwiches (adapted from the Nourish Network, original recipe here)
Note: I've left off amounts here so you can adjust for any number of sandwiches and the ratio of ingredients you prefer - you really can't go wrong here!  If you'd like more specific measurements, feel free to click through to the original recipe.

Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red Boston lettuce, coarsely chopped
Soft goat cheese
Multigrain bread, toasted
Thinly sliced red onion, optional
Thinly sliced ripe pear
Chopped walnuts

1. Whisk together two parts oil to one part vinegar in a small bowl (approximately 1 tsp oil and 1/2 tsp vinegar per sandwich).  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add lettuce and toss to combine.
2. Spread some goat cheese on toast.  Top with onion, pear, and a sprinkling of walnuts, and then top with another slice of toast.

I'm sending this post off to These Chicks Cooked!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Turkey Black Bean Chili

Time for another installment of the Secret Recipe Club!  This is a fun blogging group in which each month members get a "secret assignment" to cook something from the blog of another member of the group.  This month, I cooked a fantastic chili from Jeanette's Healthy Living.  I made this chili for a friend from church who asked for help with meals, and it was a great choice! I wanted to find a soup recipe, since it seemed like it would be easy to transport and reheat, and Jeanette had lots of tasty options.  I eventually chose this turkey chili since it seemed like it would be hearty and full of delicious, warm spices - the perfect thing to take off the chill from this weather we've been having lately in the Bay Area!

Turkey Black Bean Chili (adapted from Jeanette's Healthy Living, original recipe here)
Serves 4-6

Olive oil
1 large red onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 pound ground turkey
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1-1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
14-ounce can whole tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat (use enough to just coat the bottom of the pan).   Add the onions and cook until tender and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add more oil as you go if the pan seems dry.
2. Add the turkey and cook until browned and cook through, stirring  to break up the meat.  Add the spices and cocoa powder, stir well, and the cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the beans.  Using a pair of kitchen scissors, snip the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces over the pot, and pour in any additional liquid from the can. Stir in the chicken broth. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
3. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat for at least one hour to develop the flavors.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sticky Meyer Lemon Pudding and Giveaway Winners

This dessert reminded me a lot of a lime pudding my mom made when I was a kid, so I wanted to make it for her with some lemons from the tree in my backyard (it's overflowing right now!).  It's similar to a chocolate lava cake, but with lemons - you end up with a tasty lemon sponge cake on top and a creamy lemon curd/lemon sauce on the bottom.  The consistency of the sauce depends on how long you cook the pudding - we undercooked ours a bit so it was sort of saucy, but it definitely did not matter - it was still insanely good!  Obviously this pudding will still be very delicious with regular lemons, but it you have access to Meyer lemons, this is an excellent place to showcase them - their delicate, almost floral aroma really comes out and isn't overwhelmed by the other ingredients.

Try to eat as much of this as possible right when you make it - while the leftovers were still delicious, they definitely didn't quite compare to the pudding straight out of the oven.  Mom, Grandma and I ate this as dessert after a dinner of Moroccan Quinoa Salad, and it was the perfect rich sweet to pair with a light dinner - that way you can eat more of it!

Sticky Meyer Lemon Pudding (adapted from Fuss Free Cooking, original recipe here)
Serves 4-6

2.5 ounces butter, softened
6 ounces sugar
Zest of 1 Meyer lemon (grated on a Microplane if possible)
3 large eggs, separated
3 ounces all-purpose flour
1 cup low-fat milk
Juice of 3 Meyer lemons

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Beat together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest until pale.  Beat in the egg yolks one at a time.
3. Beat in the flour and milk in three additions (flour-milk-flour).  Finally, beat in the lemon juice.
4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to medium peaks, and then fold into the lemon mixture carefully.
5. Pour the batter into an oiled baking dish, and then place the baking dish in a larger pan.  Fill the larger pan halfway up the side of the baking dish with hot water.  Place in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the pudding is nicely browned and set on top (but still somewhat jiggly).
6. Remove the dish from the larger pan and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Giveaway Winners

Here are the winners of my recent cookbook giveaway.  Please contact me with your mailing address and I'll do my best to send everything out in the next week or so.  Two cookbooks - Blog Aid and Seriously Simple Holidays - went unclaimed, so comment here if you'd like either one!

The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook - tigermoonproductions
500 Cupcakes - Shumaila
Confetti Cakes - ladybird97
Cooking Light Annual Recipes - Erin Milne

I'm sending this recipe off to the These Chicks Cooked Link Party.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ginger-Vanilla Cupcakes filled with Pineapple Sorbet

A couple of years ago, I entered the 2009 Ice Cream Cupcake Contest with these Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream Cupcakes. After a no-show last year, I'm back with these ginger-vanilla cupcakes filled with pineapple sorbet.  I love the idea for this contest - ice cream and cake are already so delicious together, and they're even more fun and cute in cupcake form!  Plus, it's always a blast to see what everyone comes up with - there are some really creative combinations!

I came up with this particular combination from The Flavor Bible, which is one of my favorite resources for coming up with new recipes or flavor combinations.  It listed ginger and vanilla as flavors that go well with pineapple, which sounded perfect for a summer cupcake.  I was actually originally planning to make pineapple ice cream, but when I got home I realized I really didn't want to wait for a custard-based ice cream to cool overnight!  I decided sorbet would be easier, faster, and just as delicious, and I was right - this sorbet is super fresh tasting and full of pineapple flavor, and it seriously couldn't be any easier!

The pineapple sorbet is paired with ginger-vanilla cupcakes.  I chose the cake recipe to use up the whipped cream I had waiting in the fridge after nixing my original ice cream recipe, and then added ground vanilla and ground ginger.  It's an interesting technique - replacing the butter with whipped cream yields a light, tender, and delicious cupcake.  When I first tasted the warm cupcakes, I thought the ginger flavor wasn't strong enough, but after they cooled, I decided it was perfect - not too strong, but definitely there and a great complement to the pineapple sorbet.  Everything is topped off with a pineapple glaze and a golden raspberry to make for a delicious ice cream cupcake!  Thanks to the Cupcake Project and Scoopalicious for hosting the 2011 Ice Cream Cupcake Contest - creating these cupcakes was so much fun, and I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!  Be sure to check out their posts if you'd like to enter a cupcake (deadline is June 15).

Ginger-Vanilla Cupcakes filled with Pineapple Sorbet

Ginger-Vanilla Cupcakes, recipe below
Pineapple Sorbet, recipe below
Pineapple Glaze, recipe below
Golden raspberries, to decorate

For each cupcake you want to prepare, line a muffin cup with plastic wrap.  Slice a cupcake in half, and place the bottom half in the plastic-lined muffin cup.  Spread on a generous portion of sorbet, and then top with the top half of the cupcake.

Use the plastic wrap to remove the cupcake from the tin and make sure everything is relatively even.  Place the cupcake on a plate.  Spoon over some of the pineapple glaze, and then top with a golden raspberry.  Serve quickly before it melts! 

Ginger-Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes)
Makes about 20 cupcakes

2-1/4 cups (8 ounces) cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups cold heavy cream
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 tsp ground vanilla or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 T (8 ounces) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. Whisk together the cake flour, baking powder, ground ginger, and salt.  Set aside.
3. Beat the cream using the whisk attachment on a stand mixer (or hand beaters) until stiff peaks form - keep an eye on it and don't overmix!
4. Whisk together the eggs and ground vanilla in a small bowl.  With the mixer on medium-low, gradually incorporate the egg mixture into the cream; the consistency should be like mayonnaise.  Gradually whisk in the sugar.
5. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add about half of the flour mixture.  Fold in by hand using a whisk.  Whisk in the remaining flour by hand until no streaks of flour remain.
6. Divide among about 20 muffin tins, lined with cupcake papers.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are browned and a tester comes out clean.

Pineapple Sorbet (adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts)
Makes about 1-1/2 to 2 pints, depending on the size of your pineapple

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
Vodka, optional

1. Cut the pineapple into chunks and place in a blender along with any juices.  Puree until very smooth.
2. Measure how much pineapple puree you have.  For each cup of puree, add 3 T sugar to a small saucepan.  Pour in about 1/2 cup of the pineapple puree, and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  (If you rub a bit between your fingers, it should not feel grainy.)
3. Pour the warm pineapple-sugar puree back into the blender along with the rest of the puree.  Add a splash of vodka, if desired.  (This will help the sorbet stay soft in the freezer.)  Blend again for a few minutes until the puree is as smooth as possible.
4. Pour into a bowl, cover, and chill until very cold.  Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Pineapple Glaze

2 T butter, softened
Powdered sugar
2 T pineapple juice, more to taste

Whisk together the butter with about 1/2 cup powdered sugar until it is smooth and no lumps remain.  Add another cup of powdered sugar, along with the pineapple juice.  Whisk until smooth.  Continue to add powdered sugar until you reach a consistency you like.  You want the glaze to be stiff enough so it doesn't drip like crazy, but still liquid-y enough to spoon over the cupcakes. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Moroccan Quinoa Salad

I was instantly hooked when I saw this recipe - roasted peppers, quinoa, and Moroccan flavors definitely all float my boat.  My mom and I decided it would be the perfect dish to make and take down to my grandma's for dinner, and it definitely was - she loved it!   We roasted green peppers instead of red peppers just because the red peppers were so expensive at the store - they were four times as much as their green counterparts!  Although it made for a slightly-less-pretty salad, I think the taste was just as good.  You could also save some time and buy jarred red peppers, although you might want to increase the amount - I always find that the yield is a bit more when I roast peppers myself. 

The Moroccan salsa is perfectly balanced with warm spices, acid from the lemon juice, brine-y olives, and sweet raisins.  If you don't like the taste of olives, you could reduce the amount by half, although I didn't find the flavor overpowering at all.  The salsa pairs perfectly with slightly chewy quinoa, which also adds a boost of protein (especially important if you're serving this vegan-style, sans cheese, as the recipe was originally written).  However, I think barley or whole wheat Israeli couscous would also be great in this dish if that's what you have on hand.  Overall, this was a very tasty, light dinner with lots of great flavor!  I think this would also make a great lunch since it's good at room temperature - I'd pack the salsa and quinoa separately and combine them at lunchtime.

Moroccan Quinoa Salad (adapted from Sketch-Free Vegan Eating, original recipe here)
Serves 3-4

Moroccan Salsa
  • 3 bell peppers
  • 5 T olive oil, plus extra
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 T Meyer lemon juice
  • 2 T chopped fresh mint
  • Grated zest of 1 small orange, about 2 tsp
  • Quinoa
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • Garnish 
  • Chopped almonds
  • Crumbled feta cheese 
  • 1. Prepare the salsa. Heat your oven as hot as it will go, and line a baking sheet with foil.  Rub the peppers all over with a thin layer of oil, and then place on the baking sheet.  Roast the peppers until charred in spots and soft all-over, turning occasionally.  Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover with foil.  Allow the peppers to steam for at least 30 minutes.
  • 2. Slip the skins off the peppers and remove the seeds.  Chop into small dice and place in a heat-safe medium bowl.  Set aside.
  • 3. Heat the 5 T oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  When it is shimmering but not smoking, add the cumin and cinnamon.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Pour the hot oil over the peppers and stir to combine.
  • 4. Add the remaining salsa ingredients and stir to combine.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper - you may not need any salt, depending on how salty your olives are.  Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  • 5. Prepare the quinoa.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the quinoa and toast, stirring often, until the quinoa begins to pop (you'll hear it) and get slightly browned.  Then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.  Boil 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed.  Drain off any excess water.  Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • 6. Serve the quinoa topped with a generous scoop of the Moroccan salsa, and a sprinkling of almonds and feta cheese.  
  • Don't forget to enter my cookbook giveaway ... tomorrow is the last day to enter and win a new-to-you cookbook!

Cooling off on the back steps after an afternoon of cooking and baking...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Easy Chicken Salad with Sweet Red Chili Sauce

I cooked up this quick salad because my mom had some Thai ingredients in the fridge that she wanted me to use up.  Well, I didn't manage to actually finish anything off, but I did make some progress!  The chili sauce and fish sauce make for an assertive but slightly sweet dressing - tasted on it's own, I thought it was a little too in-your-face, but after it was tossed with all the other ingredients, it turned out to be perfect!  You could really throw in any veggies you have around the house - I used asparagus because there was some from my mom's garden (yum!).  Bell peppers or snap peas would also be really tasty. 

Although I call for chicken tenders here, you can definitely use chicken breast or even thighs if you prefer dark meat.  Chicken seems to be a lot less expensive here in Ohio than it is in California, and so I used the tenders that my mom had on hand!  Whatever you use, just brush on the sauce after cooking and cut into bite-sized pieces before tossing with the rest of the salad.  Either way, this meal comes together in almost no time at all and is perfectly satisfying on a warm summer night!

Easy Chicken Salad with Sweet Red Chili Sauce
Serves 2

1/4 cup freshly squeezed Meyer lemon or lime juice
2 T Thai sweet red chili sauce (such as Thai Garden brand)
1 T fish sauce
2 T canola oil

Canola oil, for pan
1/2 pound chicken tenders
Salt and pepper
6-8 thin stalks asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch lengths
1 small to medium head red-leaf lettuce, cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

1. Whisk together the lemon juice, sweet chili garlic sauce, and fish sauce.  Add the canola oil and whisk briskly to combine.  Taste, and adjust ingredients as needed.
2. Heat canola oil to cover the bottom of a skillet over medium-high heat.  Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper, and then carefully place into the pan.  Cook until nicely browned on both sides and cooked through.  Remove to a cutting board and set aside.
3. Add the asparagus to the pan, adding more oil if needed.  Cook until just tender, stirring occasionally.
4. Toss the lettuce with as much dressing as you like (you won't use all of it).  Brush additional dressing on the chicken, and then slice into bite-sized pieces.  Add the chicken and asparagus to the lettuce and toss together, adding more dressing as needed.