Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Satay-Style Almond Chicken with Bok Choy

I have come to really love my broiler.  At our previous apartment, we had the sort that was at the very bottom of the oven, and it was very fussy -- things were always sliding out of place at the wrong moment and there was more than one dish that ended up on the floor.  Our new apartment has the type that's just part of the regular oven, so you can use the normal racks and your own pans, and I now use it at least once a week to broil chicken for salads, brown fritattas, and crisp up bar-style tortilla pizzas,  This dish is a perfect example of perfect broiler food -- it's done in just 10 minutes or so, and gets great flavor.

The first step is whisking up a quick almond satay sauce.  You can also use peanut butter here; I just happened to have almond butter on hand.  The sauce requires no cooking, and is insanely good.  I kind of want to make another batch just to keep in the fridge for dipping everything and anything!  The sauce coats bok choy and chicken breasts, both of which cook super fast under the broiler.  I may have let my bok choy go a little long, but I love that charred flavor! Keep a close eye and pull yours out early if you want less browning.  This recipe would also work well with broccoli or green beans on the side -- any quick-cooking green vegetable.  Just adjust the cooking time and pull out the veggies when they are tender.  Also on the side: leftover balsamic onions from this winter chicken salad.

Satay-Style Almond Chicken with Bok Choy (adapted from Sheet Pan Suppers)
Serves 2

Olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 T packed dark brown sugar
1 T Sriracha
1 T rice vinegar
1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 large bok choy, trimmed, leaves separated and rinsed well
1/2 to 3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded thin and cut into 4 pieces

1. Preheat the oven to broil, and place a rack 4 inches from the heat.  Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and spray with oil.
2. Whisk together the almond butter, soy sauce, warm water, sesame oil, brown sugar, Sriracha, vinegar, and lime juice until smooth.  Set aside 1/4 cup in a separate bowl for serving.
3. Rub the bok choy and chicken with the remaining sauce to coat, and arrange in a single layer on the prepared pan.  Broil about 4 minutes, then remove the bok choy to a serving plate and flip the chicken. Return the chicken to the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until cooked through.  Keep a close eye throughout.
4. Serve hot, with the reserved dipping sauce on the side.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Cheese Fondue

This recipe is an oldie but a goodie. It got pushed way down my Blogger draft list and never got posted, but even though it's been a while since I made it, it's too good not to share!  This recipe was a favorite among my group of college friends, and my family now often makes it on Christmas Eve.  It's pretty much the perfect recipe for sharing with a group because it's interactive and sure to lead to some laughter as people drip melted cheese everywhere.  For dipping, we've enjoyed apple chunks, steamed broccoli, cubes of white or whole-grain bread, and pears.

Cheese Fondue

1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup dry blush wine
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups grated Gruyere cheese
Cornstarch, to thicken
Freshly grated black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon (more as needed)

1. Combine the vegetable stock and wine in a soup pot or Dutch oven, and bring to a simmer. Add the garlic.  Gradually whisk in the cheese, a bit at a time.  Don't add more cheese until the previous addition is completely melted -- this process will take a while but it's worth it!
2. Scoop about 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture into a small bowl, and whisk in 2 T cornstarch until smooth.  Whisk this back into the cheese sauce.  Add more cornstarch (using the same procedure) until the sauce is as thick as you like.
3. Season with pepper and lemon juice.
4. If the sauce seems lumpy, you can smooth it out by carefully mixing it in a blender until smooth.
5. Pour into a heated fondue pot.  Enjoy with chunks of apple, bread, or anything else you like for dipping.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Farro

I'm a huge fan of pork tenderloin -- it's quick, delicious, and inexpensive (at least when we stock up at Trader Joe's). Here, it's slathered with a delicious orange marmalade sauce and then roasted to perfection.  I selected this recipe mostly because we had orange marmalade in the fridge that I wanted to use up, and I was very happy with the results.  On the side is a cranberry farro dish that's loosely inspired by the side mentioned in the original recipe.  Quick-cooking farro is another of my Trader Joe's finds, although you may be able to find it other places.  It's ready in just 10 minutes or so, making it even faster than white rice, and way more nutritious.  Here, the farro is combined with juicy dried cranberries, sharp scallions, and a bold Dijon-lemon dressing.  You could easily substitute brown rice, quinoa, or any other whole grain.  Next time, I will definitely make a double recipe of this side, because I think it would also pack really well for lunch.

Also on the side: simple roasted green beans + onions (just toss with olive oil and pop in the oven with the pork) and cubed honeydew melon.

Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Cranberry Farro (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 2-3

1/2 cup quick-cooking farro (i.e. Trader Joe's brand)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Olive oil
2 green onions, minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Lemon juice, to taste
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 T rice vinegar
1 T lower-sodium soy sauce
1 pound pork tenderloin

1. Combine the farro and cranberries in a saucepan and cover with water by an inch or two.  Add a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, until the farro is tender.
2. Drain, and then add to a serving dish with the green onions, Dijon mustard, and another drizzle of olive oil.  Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice and another pinch of salt, then stir and taste.  Add more lemon juice or salt to taste.  Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, whisk together the marmalade, vinegar, and soy sauce.  Divide into two small bowls.
4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat a cast iron (or other oven safe) skillet over medium-high heat.  Add a drizzle of olive oil, and when it's hot, brown the pork on all sides until well browned.  Glaze with half the glaze.
5. Pop the pork in the oven for 18 minutes.  Check to make sure the pork is cooked through (if not, pop it back in the oven for a bit.)  Then glaze with the remaining marmalade glaze.  Let rest about 5 minutes, and then slice and serve.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Fried Fish Tacos

I made this recipe a while back, and it's a definite winner.  When we originally made Aarti Sequeira's hometown fried fish, I knew it would be amazing in tacos.  So, I paired it up with some taco fixings, also from Aarti's cookbook, for some really fabulous fish tacos.  Rice flour makes the fish super light and crispy, and the lime-mint mayo is boldly flavored and extra creamy.  We used shredded red cabbage and scallions for our crunchy veggie element, but shredded carrots, radishes, or romaine would be fantastic as well.  Whatever you choose, make sure to have lots of napkins on hand because these are messy!

Fried Fish Tacos (adapted from Aarti Paarti)
Serves 4

For the mint-lime mayo:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
Leaves from 8 sprigs fresh mint (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp ground cumin
Zest and juice of 1 lime (more to taste)
Salt and pepper

To serve:
Taco-sized tortillas, warmed
Shredded red cabbage
Thinly sliced scallions
Lime wedges

1. Make the mint-lime mayo.  Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or mini prep, and blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning.  Set aside.
2. Then layer everything in warm tortillas: fried fish, a generous drizzle of mayo, shredded cabbage, and scallions.  Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the tacos.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Winter Chicken Salad with Candied Nuts, Balsamic Onions, and Blue Cheese

This salad reminds me of the type you'd pay $12 for at a fancy salad spot like Mixt Greens, but it's very easy to put together at home.  I think the key to satisfying winter salads is to add lots of luxurious add-ons.  In this case, simple sauteed chicken and greens are combined with spicy, crunchy candied nuts, balsamic red onions, and funky blue cheese.  The salad is super flavorful and really fun to eat.  I used leftover candied nuts from this Bourbon-Kabocha Squash Soup, but you can easily make a new batch for this recipe or pick up a package at the grocery.  For another shortcut, you can also use rotisserie chicken for the protein.  Either way, this salad made for the perfect blizzard food during Snowmageddon!

Winter Chicken Salad with Candied Nuts, Balsamic Onions, and Blue Cheese (adapted from From the Kitchen, original recipe here)
Serves 2

For the balsamic onions:
1 T softened butter
2 small (or 1 large) red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
2 T olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper

For the chicken:
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp balsmic vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

To serve:
Mixed salad greens
Crumbled blue cheese
Leftover spicy candied nuts from Bourbon-Kabocha Squash Soup (or make new ones)

1. Make the onions.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x9 or 9x13 Pyrex baking pan with the butter. Add the onions in a single layer, and then sprinkle with the oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Roast until tender and nicely caramelized, about 30-40 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so.
2. Prepare the chicken.  Trim the chicken breast of excess fat.  Place the chicken between two pieces of parchment paper and pound out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 2 pieces.  Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and season with salt and pepper.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and cook until cooked through, 5 or so minutes on each side.
3. Prepare the dressing. Combine all the ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid, screw on the lid, and shake to combine.
4. Assemble the salad.  Toss the greens with about half the dressing, and divide among two plates.  Top with the chicken, onions, blue chese, and nuts.  Serve with additional dressing as you like.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Nigel Slater's Mustard-Marmalade Chicken

Ah, Nigel Slater, how I love you and your recipes!  He has such a way of painting a picture of food with words, and even his simplest dishes are always full of flavor.  Here, a three (yes, three!) ingredient chicken dish that makes for a super simple and delicious dinner.  Orange marmalade and whole grain mustard pair together beautifully in a sticky glaze for chicken drumsticks.  These two glaze ingredients have a lot going for them -- bitter, sweet, and mustard-y with a little crunch.  We roasted asparagus in the oven at the same time for a simple side -- just toss with olive oil, salt, and whatever spices you like and pop in the oven a few minutes after the chicken goes in.

Nigel Slater's Mustard-Marmalade Chicken (adapted from Eat)
Serves 2-3

6 T orange marmalade
3 T whole grain mustard
6 large chicken drumsticks

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray with oil.
2. Mix together the marmalade and mustard in a large bowl.  Add the chicken drumsticks and mix to coat them with the mixture.  Arrange the drumsticks on the baking sheet in a single layer.
3. Spoon the mustard-marmalade mixture that remains in the bowl over the drumsticks -- it's fine if some slides off, but just pile it on as best you can!
4. Roast about 30 minutes, until cooked through.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Lunch Box: Fennel-Potato Soup with Black Beans

This soup is one of those dishes that is honestly pretty unappealing to look at, but that is amazing once you taste it! So, you should definitely give it a chance.  The potatoes make the soup super creamy, and the fennel adds a fun and unexpected flavor.  Black beans give the soup some protein so that it will keep you going all afternoon.  And finally, fennel and mustard seeds sizzled in hot oil are just totally delicious.  Add a lemon-y salad or a hunk of bread on the side if you like, although I actually found this soup pretty filling on its own for lunch.

Fennel-Potato Soup with Black Beans (adapted from Bal's Spice Kitchen)
Serves 4

1 fennel bulb, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth (if you use veggie, this will be vegan)
1 T fennel seeds 
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
14 or 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1. Heat a generous pour of oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the fennel and onion, and cook, stirring often, until tender (8-10 minutes or so). Add the potatoes and broth, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are completely tender.  Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat another generous pour of oil in a non-stick skillet set over medium high heat.  When it's hot, add the fennel seeds, mustard seeds, and bay leaf.  When the seeds start to pop, season with salt and pepper and add the black beans.  Cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.
3. Puree the fennel-potato mixture.  An immersion blender makes this easy, or you can transfer to a blender in batches (just be very careful with hot soup!).  Whichever you use, make sure the soup is as silky-smooth as possible.
4. Remove the bay leaf, and stir the beans and spices into the fennel-potato puree.  Reheat if the soup isn't as piping hot as you like it, or pack into containers for lunches and let cool before stashing in the fridge.

Other Lunch Box Posts:

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

My partner for this month's Secret Recipe Club was Lisa of Cook Lisa Cook.  I knew right away that I wanted to find a grab-and-go breakfast recipe on her blog.  I've been bad about eating breakfast lately, often grabbing something on the way into work, and so I wanted to fix this problem with a make-ahead recipe.  Lisa's blueberry-lemon-poppy seed muffins looked amazing (and I may make them some other time!), but ultimately I decided to go with her granola bars.  They're a favorite of her daughter's, and the flavors sounded fantastic.  I made a few tweaks based on what I had in my pantry, and I reduced the amount by half since there are just two of us.  The bars turned out amazing! I was worried they would be too crumbly, but once they cooled everything held together well.  I think my favorite part is the Rice Krispies...they add a light crunch that really makes the bars feel special.  And, you know, anytime I can eat chocolate chips and call it breakfast, I'm pretty happy! Thank you to Lisa for a really delicious recipe.

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars (adapted from Cook Lisa Cook, original recipe here)
Makes 9 granola bars

1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup Rice Krispies
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 T melted coconut oil
1 cup assorted "add ins" - I used a mix of pecans, chocolate chips, and dried cranberries
2 T honey
1/4 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line an 8x8 square baking pan with foil and spray with oil.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together and then press firmly into the baking pan.
3. Bake 15-20 minutes, until nicely browned around the edges.
4. Let cool 10 minutes, and then score into bars.  Let cool completely, and then cut into bars.  Peel off the foil and wrap individually.