Friday, January 29, 2010

Keeping With The Asian Theme

I found a new Asian recipe last week. It was posted on a message board I am a member of and I don;t know where it was originally from. But we tried it with the flank steak posted below and it was REALLY good. Everyone loved it...even the kids. I did double the original recipe and that is reflected here.

Sesame Noodles

1 (16 oz) package whole wheat thin spaghetti
2 large carrot, ends removed and sliced into thin matchsticks
2 heaping Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tsp good quality sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
12 green onions, sliced thinly, dark green ends removed
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
2 c. reserved pasta water

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in large bowl, combine tahini, peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and green onions. Stir to combine well and set aside.

In last 2 minutes of cooking time, add matchstick pieces to boiling water. Remove 2 c. pasta water from pan and set aside. Drain pasta and carrots and place into large bowl along with other ingredients. Add 1/2 of reserved pasta water and toss to combine all ingredients. Add sesame seeds, let sit for 1 minute and add additional pasta water to obtain desired consistency.

Serve warm or cold.

We ate it hot that night with dinner and I had leftovers cold for lunch today and it's great either way. I'm sure you could use reduced fat peanut butter to make it a little more figure friendly. It went great with the flank steak and would probably go well wit the chicken sates too!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Shrimp Lovers

We are huge shrimp lovers in my family. The only one who doesn't eat them is my 2 year old and that's only because she is in a picky phase. She started eating them at around 11 months old. So, I thought I would share a family favorite. This is my own recipe. I usually just wing it but when I made it the other night, I did measure so I could pass the recipe on. Here it is:

Shrimp Scampi

1 pound (raw) large shrimp, peeled and deveined (I like to use 21-25's)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 C dry vermouth (you could also use white wine)
The juice of 2 lemons (maybe about 1/3 C)
1/4 chopped fresh parsley
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs. unsalted butter
1 pound of spaghetti (or any thin pasta)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Preheat a pan over medium heat. In the last 5-7 minutes of the pasta cooking time, add the olive oil and butter to the pan. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the pan, cooking until they are almost all pink. Add the vermouth and lemon juice and a little of the pasta water. Add the pasta and the parsley to the pan with the shrimp and toss. Add more pasta water if needed to make a sauce.

My 5 year old LOVES this. It's one of her favorite meals.

I tried a new shrimp recipe the other night that was posted on a message board I go to. I also made the rice recipe that accompanied it. The recipes originally came from a Weight Watchers recipe blog which you can link to off the recipe titles.

Garlic Shrimp

1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tbsp Spanish olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
pinch paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or parsley
Lime wedges for serving

In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until golden, about 2 minutes being careful not to burn. Add shrimp and season with salt and paprika. Cook 2-3 minutes until shrimp is cooked through. Do not overcook or it will become tough and chewy. Add chopped fresh herbs and divide equally in 3 plates.

Scallion Cilantro Rice

1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 habanero pepper, diced (I used a jalapeno which is MUCH milder, even my kids ate it)
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water
2 scallions, diced
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh lime juice

In a small heavy pot add oil and saute pepper on medium heat. Add rice, water and salt. Boil on high until most of the water evaporates. When the water just skims the top of the rice, reduce flame to low and cover about 15 minutes. Shut off stove and keep covered an additional 5 minute.

In a medium bowl, combine chopped scallions, cilantro, lime juice, rice and toss until completely mixed. Makes approx 3 cups.

These were a hit with the family and I plan on keeping them to make again. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Family Food Memories

When I was growing up, we would spend Christmas Day with my dad's side of the family. My uncle, who was married to my dad's sister, was Italian and every year, he made braciole for Christmas dinner. Now he made it the old school Italian way which involved a lot of time and effort. And when I was little I refused to touch it because it had hard boiled eggs in it and I thought that the idea of meat, eggs and tomato sauce was gross. Once I grew up some, I loved it. I asked him once how he made it and I just remember it was long and complicated. Unfortunately, by the time I was ready to actually get the recipe from him, he was suffering from early Alzheimer's and it was too late. But I have started the tradition of making it at Christmas for my family but I also like to make it just because. I made it last night and several people asked for the recipe. Mine is actually a hybrid of this recipe and this one. So here is my version:


1/2 C dried, Italian style breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 C Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)
1/3 C grated provolone
2 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
4 tbs. olive oil
1 (1 1/2 lb. flank steak or any meat that is cut thin or marked as braciole meat)
4-8 paper thins slices of prosciutto
1 C dry red wine
3 1/4 C marinara sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through parsley) in a bowl. Add 2 tbs. of alive oil and mix well. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and set aside.

Lay the flank steak flat on a work surface. Lay the prosciutto slices over the steak. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the steak to cover the prosciutto completely. Starting at the short end, roll up the steak like a jelly roll to enclose the filling completely. Using butcher's twine, tie the steak roll to secure. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat, dd the braciole and cook until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Add the wine to the pan and bring to a boil. Stir in the marinara sauce. Cover partially with foil and bake, turning the braciole and basting with the sauce ever half an hour. After 1 hour, uncover and continue and baking until the meat is tender, about a half an hour longer. Total cooking time should be about 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the braciole from the sauce. Using a large, sharp knife, cut the braciole crosswise and diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Transfer the slices to a platter and spoon the sauce over the meat before serving.

I serve mine over polenta and my family loves it. Add a Caesar salad and you have a great Italian meal!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Asian Inspired

I love Asian food of all kinds…Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai…you name it and I like it and for me, spicier is better. So, here are some of my favorite recipes for when I feel like just staying in but have a hankering for Asian inspired cuisine.

The first recipe is actually a combination of 2 separate recipes. The marinade comes from a recipe that I cut out of the July 2005 issue of Cooking Light. I have never made the sauce that accompanied that recipe but I am sure it’s delicious. The sauce recipe came from the Weight Watchers recipe forum on the Weight Watchers site. I got it years ago and I have no idea where it originally came from. First I’ll post the recipes as they are and then I will add my note at the end.

Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce


1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 8 strips
1 tbs. light brown sugar
2 ½ tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. bottled fresh ground ginger (such as Spice World)
1 tsp. grated lime zest
2 garlic cloves, minced.

Combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes. Thread chicken onto skewers and grill or broil until cooked through.

Peanut Sauce:

¾ C fat free sour cream
1 tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbs. reduced fat peanut butter
2 tsp. dark sesame oil

Whisk ingredients together and serve with sates for dipping.

Notes: Now first off I will say I use chicken tenderloins for this (I buy them at Costco). The only things I did differently with the marinade was I used fresh ginger and I let it sit more than 10 minutes. For the sauce, I do not use fat free sour cream. I used reduced fat and I also use a smaller amount, probably closer to ½ cup or maybe a little less. If you use the full amount, you lose the peanut flavor. But this is a favorite of the whole family. Even my kids love it. If you want the full recipe from Cooking Light, you can find it here.

The next recipe is a flank steak marinade I got from my next door neighbor back in CT but I have no idea where she got it. It seems to be Korean in origin but that do I know! Again, I’ll post the recipe as is then add my notes.

Flank Steak Marinade

3 1/2 tbs. brown sugar
1 tbs. maple syrup
1/2 C light soy sauce
1 ½ tbs. mushroom soy
6 tbs. roasted sesame seeds, ground
4-5 tbs. sesame oil (I use 5...I love the stuff)
2 cloves garlic,minced
2 scallions, finely chopped

Pour all ingredients into a Ziploc bag with a flank steak and marinate for AT LEAST 2 hours but preferably overnight…the longer the better.

Notes: I have never used mushroom soy. I just leave it out. I know it can be found in Asian markets but in CT I didn’t have access to them and here in FL, I just haven’t gone to one yet. Sometimes I grind the sesame seeds, sometimes I don’t. I also usually just crack the garlic and thrown it in so I can pick it out before I grill it. I use scallion when I have them but I’ve also used chives, regular onion and dried onion. No one has complained.

I also wanted to share links to 2 recipes by Tyler Florence. I’ve made them both and while they take a little effort, it is SO worth it. The first are his Shrimp and Pork Siu Mai Dumplings. The second is his Shrimp and Egg Fried Rice. I have made both for guests and got RAVE reviews.

So the next time you feel like Asian food but don’t feel like going out, try these. I hope you like them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Soup du Jour

When I lived in CT, I lived for the winters so I could make cold weather foods like soups and stews. Now that I live in FL, the cold days are few and far between but when they happen, I make the most of them. And this week the cold days are here to stay for the near future. That makes it a great time to share a couple of my favorite recipes.

The first one is a pasta e fagioli (pasta with beans). I got the recipe from my father-in-law who had cut it out of the local papaer back in CT. He said it was the Olive Garden's recipe but my guess is that meant it was a copycat recipe. To be honest, I've never had their pasta e fagioli however I do love their sausage soup. This is one of my husband's favorites and he requests it all the time.

Pasta e fagioli

1 lb ground beef (I use turkey)
1 small onion, dices
1 large carrot, julienned (I just chop it)
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
15 oz can tomato sauce
12 oz can of V8 (I use the low sodium one)
2 cans of diced tomatoes, 14.5 oz each (or you can use a 28 oz can. I personally hate cooked tomato chunks so I use crushed tomatoes)
1 can each great northern beans and red kidney beans, 15 oz. cans
1 tbs. white vinegar
1/2 lb ditalini pasta (I use a pound)
Salt, pepper and Italian seasoning to taste

Brown the meat over medium heat and drain the fat. Add the vegetables and garlic and saute for 10 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except the pasta and simmer for 1 hour. About 10 minutes into the simmer time, cook the pasta according to package directions. Add pasta to soup and simmer 5-10 minutes more before serving.

Now, I do not add all the pasta to the soup. I add pasta (drained, obviously) to each bowl and pour the soup over it. If I have leftovers, I keep them separate because if you don't, the pasta sucks up all the liquid and it gets mushy and nasty. Just toss the pasta with a little olive oil and keep it in the fridge separately. Then just add it to the end when you heat up the leftovers. This goes for all soups with any type of pasta.

Now on to my personal favorite, potato leek soup. I have no idea where I got this recipe and I just follow it loosely. But, I know not everyone likes to wing it so this is the actual recipe.

Potato Leek Soup

3 potatos, diced (I use Yukon Gold)
3 leeks, well cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme (If using dry use half that amount)
6-6 1/2 C chicken broth (I use the low fat, low sodium version or you can use veggie broth if you want to keep it vegetarian)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pot over medium-low heat. Add the leeks and cook about 10 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and thyme and cook about 5 minutes more. Add the chicken broth and increase heat. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with a hand blender or regular blender. Return the puree to the heat and add the potaoes. Simmer, uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from the heat and mash the potatoes then puree the mixture again. Season with salt and pepper before serving. I like mine with crusty bread (yeah, I know...carb overload) and a dollop of sour cream on the top.

There's nothing like soup on a cold winter day. Enjoy!